I hear: Pod Save America and Ane Brun

Hey.

I don’t have anything funny or uplifting to say out the gate. My writer friend asked me to list my “happiness touchstones” and send them to her. I haven’t done it yet, but if I should decide to write them out, the list will contain any activity coupled with “while alone” or “when alone” or “while no one is touching me” or “in a dark and lonely corner.” I love my babies and they make me laugh, but shit.

I haven’t finished any books in the last few days. I’ve decided to take a break from consuming audiobooks because then I get uncomfortably off track with my podcast listening. Therefore, I probably won’t burn through as many books as I had.

The podcast I’m loving lately is Pod Save America. The hosts are three (or four? I can’t be sure) Obama speechwriters, and they are as wonderfully conversational as three (or four?) enraged Obama speechwriters can be when discussing the current political climate. It’s a funny podcast, if you still have it in you to laugh at anything that is happening nowadays. Most of the episodes run at about an hour, and they typically post two episodes per week.

I try to listen to a new album each week. I haven’t done this for a few weeks because I am still trying to get back into life as it used to be lived way back in April when all of the sicknesses hadn’t happened yet. This week I’m going to be getting into Ane Brun.

All righty. I’ll write at you next time.

I write: Accountability

I am supposed to have two pieces of writing ready to share with my writers’ group on Saturday. Here’s one:

I was in the hospital.
I’m going to use that as
an excuse.

Critiques? Comments?

I actually do have something that I started in November when my writing penpal and I challenged each other (and ourselves) to write every day. I think our target was to write 500 words a day. Some days it happened, some it didn’t. I liked having a person on the other end who was expecting my writing at the end of the day. Having her there gave me a reason to do the thing I enjoy most. Since November, we have fallen in and out of contact, but we’re going to try to get back to sending each other some work on a regular basis.

I wonder how Saturday’s group will go.

I want to start submitting some of my writing for publication and to contests, but there is plenty of work to do on it before that happens.

I am so impatient. Why can’t it all happen right now.

I read: Quiet and On Being, and what else is up today

I think I should start a podcast called “The Introverted Mother” where I spend the 30 minutes of airtime locked in a small, dark closet with headphones on, sitting in silence. I could call it “work,” or “a creative project,” but really I’d be recharging, as they say. Would you listen?

My husband has the day off work and is doing house projects while our 21-month-old daughter stomps around and yells out for “nummies” from Mommy. Since the hospital stay and the traveling husband and the upset schedule, the littlest one has been nursing like a newborn. Unlike newborns, though, this one can lay herself across my lap and pull at my shirt while whispering “nummies now.”

I am “working” right now — yes, on business stuff, but also on finding some semblance of sanity while my messy office’s door is shut tight.

I recently started reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Man oh man am I an introvert. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I guess — although there seems to be. Cain argues that extroversion is much more highly valued (at least in America) than introversion as evidenced by the open work spaces and the encouragement to collaborate. She even discusses how extroversion is supported in elementary classrooms.

I consider myself an irritated introvert. I remember going to a leadership camp of sorts in high school and being disgusted by the jumping, hyper, balloon-gripping greeters at the entrance. When my dad saw them, he just laughed and said, “Have fun.” That was the same leadership conference where every single audience member was instructed to stand at the end of every single speech that was given and shout, “That was O for Outstanding!” while making an “O” shape with our arms. I didn’t do it. I also convinced some of the people in my group that it was impossible for every single performance of every single speech to be “outstanding.”

The podcast I picked to hear this week is On Being. I am two years behind, but I remember liking it. And it’s produced here in Minneapolis, so there.

Let me know in the comments what you think of things.

My time in the hospital

I wonder for how long I’ve been ignoring the messages my body has been yelling at me. Certainly I should have known that the sensation of vertigo was enough to leave work, but I was so eager to get back to seeing clients after having had laryngitis for a week that I decided that nothing was going to keep me from doing just that. I was upset with myself for being sick so much. I was frustrated that I had to cancel so many sessions. I was worried that I was going to be fired. When I didn’t have a voice to use to call the group managers to tell them I wouldn’t be there, I read a whole lot into the responses I got from their e-mails. Were they pissed? Were they going to look elsewhere for services? I wish I weren’t so sick all the time.

In mid-April, I had some stomach troubles. I am used to this, but some were bad enough that I had to cancel a couple of sessions and meetings. A couple of weeks later, I caught a cold, which very quickly turned into laryngitis. This, too, I am accustomed to having happen — in the last couple of years, it seems that I lose my voice when I get a cold. There went another few days of sessions. The Monday after my cold hit, I finally had enough of a voice to use to sing in my sessions. I was determined to be fine that morning, and more determined yet to get back to my normal schedule. Being sick is just as much a mental exercise in guilt as it is a physical experience in discomfort or pain.

I felt well enough through my first session, though I remember thinking that I was feeling some dizziness on the drive away from the client. The sensation got worse, and coupled with a headache that originated in my temples and radiated to my eyeballs. But, I still had a voice, and I didn’t think whatever this crap was could be contagious, so I drove on to my next client. There I was, face to face with my client, and I was having trouble focusing — not my attention, though that was compromised, but my sight. Needless to say, I was not the best therapist in that session. I was simply trying to get through it without having to move for fear of falling over.

Though I hadn’t seen my next few clients in a couple of weeks, I called off the rest of my day and carefully drove myself home where I wept to my work-at-home husband about what a failure I was for being sick, yet again.

Having two kids under the age of four does not lend itself well to being a sick mama. But my husband never complains when he needs to take the full responsibility, and I went to bed and was miserable with body aches and fevers and chills the rest of the night.

The vertigo was so bad in the morning that I couldn’t sit up, so I pulled over my phone and e-mailed my day full of clients saying, another time, “I am sick.” I spoke to a nurse who said I might have the flu, and then my doctor said that I’d have to go in for an appointment to be prescribed anything. I wasn’t able to drive, so my husband took me in.

At the appointment, they weren’t able to measure my blood pressure on the machine because it was so low. The doctor said they’d have to run some blood tests to see what it is, but that since they’d need to send it over to the hospital, I might as well just go to the emergency room.

I’m busy calculating how much time there is left in the day before we have to go pick up the kids. I knew a trip to the ER would be lengthy.

When we got to the ER, they said I should’ve been brought over by ambulance because I was so hypotensive and my heart rate was so high. I thought, “How much would that have cost?”

I figured that once I got to the emergency room, I’d get IV fluids and feel immediately better. This was not the case. We were there for a few hours. They ran a number of tests on me. My husband was with me until he had to go to pick up the kids, and at that point, we learned that I had to be admitted.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law is local and was able to help with the kids’ bedtime. I spent time between blood draws and fever spikes e-mailing my clients to tell them I wouldn’t be seeing them that week.

The second day in the hospital was the worst. I had had a 102.9 fever the night before and hardly slept, and that second day I was emotional and embarrassed for being there. The doctors said I had two separate infections that had gotten to my blood and gave me sepsis. I was dizzy because my blood pressure was so low. I also had developed a rash on my arm, and they were concerned that the infection might have gotten to my wrist, in which case antibiotics wouldn’t help. I had an echocardiogram because that particular strain of strep could affect the heart. I was on two antibiotics, and then they changed one after learning about the certainty of strep. I didn’t have an appetite.

On the third day in the hospital, I wasn’t dizzy and I was finally comfortable. I was in the hospital for four days, and they discharged me with a PICC line so that I could have daily IV antibiotics on an outpatient basis for two weeks.

I’m done with the daily treatments and have a follow-up appointment this week.

My parents were able to come up and stay with me for much of the time I was getting treatments. I chose not to work during that time, and will be going back to seeing clients tomorrow. All of my clients were understanding and gracious. All of my clients wished me well.

Throughout this whole thing, I’ve mostly been in disbelief. I am sad when I hear my son tell people that I was in the hospital because I was sick. I am mad that I wasn’t able to play with my little people while I was stuck there, even though they did come visit me every night.

I wish I weren’t so distracted that I let everything get so out of hand. I wish I paid better attention to myself so that I could be better for my family. In all of it, I feel like I was the inconvenience, disrupting the flow of the day.

Anyway. That’s my account of my hospital stay.

Perhaps I am back at it

Hey.
I had a rough few weeks.
My husband was out of town, I have two babies, I got sick, etc., etc.
But, here I am.
Over the weekend I went to the conference “Writing the Novel & Crafting Your Career,” given by The Loft Literary Center. Sure, I haven’t written the novel yet, and sure, I am unsuccessful in getting myself into the habit of writing on any sort of regular basis, but I felt compelled to go and be surrounded by other writers. (Do I consider myself a writer? I don’t know. Not yet, maybe.)
I was inspired and simultaneously devastated. I knew I’d feel those feelings. One of the panelists I heard phrased it nicely — she had a lot of “overhead.” I have a lot of overhead. I have a full-time job (not in writing), I run my own practice (not in writing), I have two little kids, and my husband travels for work. I have a lot of overhead. What was devastating and deflating was to feel the excitement about what could be, some time, maybe, in the far-off future, but knowing that there isn’t any feasible way I’m going to get any kind of quality writing project done any time soon.
That same person was on the panel consisting of debut novelists, telling the audience about what their processes were in getting their novel written, getting an agent, getting it sold, and having it published. That person’s process took 14 years. You know what? That seems like a realistic timeline to me, actually. Fourteen years. Maybe I can do that. Should I put an alert on my Google calendar?
The podcast I’m featuring this week is The West Wing Weekly. I remember watching the show with my dad when it was airing. I love it, and have yet to finish the series. I like this podcast because it breaks down each episode with actors who were in it.

I hope to be back here again sooner rather than later.
Bye.

So far, so good: The book I started today

I am about five or six chapters into Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami, and thus far, I’m intrigued and excited for the rest of the book.

As far as I’ve read, I’ve learned that the main character, presently 36, suffered a rejection from his four very best friends years before. They didn’t die; they simply said they no longer wanted to see or speak to him. They gave no explanation. I wonder how it’ll go…

The podcast I’m featuring this week is Song Exploder. I’m a musician and feel professionally obligated to care about music. This podcast helps me to enjoy it. The interviewed artist breaks down a song and how he or she wrote it and created it. I think it’s fascinating.

Look out for a spoiler-review of Sweetbitter.

I’ll find you later.

Does this count?

I didn’t make my word count for last week. Dang. I’m not super sure I’ll make it this week, either, but perhaps.
What I’m writing: Tweets. Does that count? Nah.
Hey, but I finished Sweetbitter. My final grade: A D. I believe I will post a spoiler of sorts here in a bit.
I have a goal to enter the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. I also have a goal to write a poem to submit to it.
I’ll talk at you later.

This week I will consume grammar

Do you use Goodreads? I use it like Facebook for readers: A place where I loiter about, looking into other people’s windows and judging their choices while not inviting anybody into my house. (I never write reviews. I wish I did. I should. But I won’t for now.) Some people would simply make a list of the titles they want to read, but there is something so much more satisfying in clicking the “read” button and seeing the number in my “currently-reading” shelf fall than scratching out a few words on a piece of paper. But, I got a little obsessive a few years ago and decided to list any and all books I want to read or re-read on my “to-read” shelf. Right now, there are 498 titles there. I wonder if I’ll live to read them all. That’s kind of a crazy thought.

I’m in two live-and-in-person book clubs, and one of the clubs chose a book a couple years ago that I have yet to finish. I have re-started it several times, but it remains on my “currently-reading” shelf, and damn it if I don’t finish something I start. I’m re-committing to it. I will finish it. One day.

https://www.amazon.com/Monuments-Men-Thieves-Greatest-Treasure/dp/1599951509/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1488225384&sr=8-3&keywords=monuments+men

I am still reading Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler, and am getting close to the end. I have to be about 70% done with the book, and I’m still waiting to know what the damn conflict is, or why I should care about any of the characters. I hope that, in the end, the main character completely writes off the two other important characters and decides she hates the restaurant and the city and goes back to “the Midwest.” I doubt that will happen. If it does, I’ll give it something better than the C I’m grading it right now.

The podcast I’m featuring this week is Grammar Girl.

Though my writing here may not show it, I’ve always been fascinated by the rules of language. I wanted to study linguistics for a little bit in college. I did, for one whole semester. This is a great podcast for word nerds and writers. The episodes tend to be 15 minutes or shorter.

That’s it for today.

I mother: How I loathe to cook

Listen. I have it easy. I know that. My husband likes, maybe even loves, to cook. I really, really wish I didn’t have to deal with food at all. Did you watch Fringe? That one show on Fox a few years ago? With the scientist who eats Twizzlers and plays with brains and a cow? In their alternate or parallel universe or whatever it was, they had egg sticks. I remember that one character peeled back the plastic on a string cheese-looking thing that packed the protein of an egg. Sometimes, I wish I were an astronaut for the food. So contained and convenient!
My husband likes to do all things food — he does all of the grocery shopping, too. On occasion, I’ll add some items to the grocery list. An example: “String cheese. Kraft, no off-brand shit.” All of this is to say I don’t have to deal much with food until Husband leaves town. Today is a weekend before Husband goes out of town. I am freaking out about dinners while he’s away.
Listen. I love to plan and to schedule. I plan ahead. If I could, though, I’d have the same thing to eat every day. Egg sticks and coffee. The kids, however, need better than that.
What shall I do? The big kid, who is 3 1/2, reliably eats peanut butter and that’s about it. Sometimes he asks for peanut butter without the bread. ? The little one, who is 18 months, reliably eats anything you put in front of her.
There’s always pizza, and some day, egg sticks.

I write: What I’m writing nowadays

What am I writing nowadays? When do I do it? What good questions I ask myself nearly every day. Sometimes the answers are “nothing” and “never,” but I want the answers to more often be “something” and “whenever I can shove it in a 30-minute block of time between working and mothering and wife-ing.”

I did have two flash fiction pieces published late last year.

The Dog in the Moonlight was published in Flash Fiction Magazine.

Copycat can be found at 101 Words.

Next, a big fat novel! No, not really. Not for a few more years. I’d have to truly start it first. My writing accountability partner and I share 1,000 words of original work every week. By that I mean she sends me her 1,000 words, and I send her 1,000 words of excuses for not creating work. Now that I think about it, I wonder if that would meet my word count… However, my project at the moment is to write a stand-alone piece of fiction in a 30-minute chunk of time whenever I can do it. Ideally, that would be every day. Realistically, maybe twice a week. Maybe.

I’ll keep this space updated on that progress.