Category Archives: writing

Better Together With Time Apart

Song Lyric of the Day:

To realize the hand of life is reaching out / To rid me of my pride, I call allegiance to myself

half•alive / “still feel.

No, this is not a post announcing a separation. Lately, though, Rich and I have been working to give each other solo time. For years now, I’ve complained that even though he’s promised I’d get alone/quiet time to write and do non-household-related things, it’s almost never happened for one reason or another, whether through my own fault or his. So to shut me up and make me happy, he recently said we needed to make a point to prioritize solo time and finally make it happen.

For the last several weekends, I’ve grabbed my laptop and a book and headed out for a solo lunch, followed by writing time. So far I’ve only gone to local Paneras, which is where I wrote this post. That way I can kill two birds with one stone: I can eat lunch while I read a bit, then enjoy using their free Wi-Fi to help me do book research and update my blog. Also, I’m not a coffee drinker, so I’m not sure I’ll ever head to a local cafe to write unless it has a decent lunch menu. (If any locals are reading this, I’d love to get recommendations on local haunts with free Wi-Fi.) Eventually I’ll go somewhere different for a change of pace. I might hit Lawson McGhee Library downtown as it’s the only library branch open on Sundays, which is usually the day I get to pop out for solo time as we’re typically running errands and doing house projects on Saturdays.

I recently found this list on The Write Life of places to write outside the home, and it has some great ideas. For instance, I never would have thought to hit a museum to get some writing done. I like the public park idea, but given that the weather here is all over the place lately, that’s probably not in the cards for me — I really don’t need to catch a cold right now. I love the idea of a coworking space, but (1) it could be cost-prohibitive and (2) I haven’t heard anything through the grapevine about the ones that exist here in Knoxville. Again, maybe a local can share what they know about these spaces.

As for places in/around the house to work, that’s where things get tricky. Sebastian is an avowed mama’s boy, and trying to shake that kid off my trail is not easy. Our house is a good size, but have you ever tried to hide from a toddler? They’re basically smaller, more committed, more relentless bloodhounds. They won’t rest until they’ve hunted you down. I could simply close the door to my home office, but Sebastian — who has freakish strength for an almost-2-year-old — would just bang on the door until he either knocked it off the hinges or I cracked and let him in. You remember how the leper pirates knocked on doors in The Fog? That’s pretty much Sebastian’s knocking style.

I could turn on the heat lamp on chilly days and hang out on our screened-in porch as long as the curtains stay closed. Or I could hole up in the guest room downstairs; I’m pretty sure Sebastian wouldn’t think to look for me there. Then again, the dogs might give me away, too: “She’s in there, kid. Now get us a treat as a thank you.”

I’m really enjoying my new solo time, and have to thank Rich again — in writing — for making sure I get it. (In case you were curious, his solo time is usually gaming nights with buddies.) You know those couples who have no problem working together, living together, and spending all their free time together? Those couple who seem to never argue or get on each others’ nerves? Yeah. That’s not us. Rich is my best friend, but that doesn’t mean I need or want to spend 24/7 with him, and I know he feels the same way. We both think some alone time is healthy for our relationship. It’s also critical for our sanity. Time apart is making us better together since we’re now both getting dedicated time to decompress and just do what WE want to do, even if for a few hours a week.

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Medium Post: Things I Wish I’d Known As a New Mom

After being on Medium for who knows how long, I finally wrote something for it, a piece about motherhood and parenting. You can read it here.


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One Day Post at a Time

Song Lyric of the Day:

So, bless my heart and bless my mind / I got so much to do, I ain’t got much time

Alabama Shakes / “Hold On

I’ve made my peace with not being able to update here every day. I work outside the home most days, and it’s hard to find the time to write on a good day, nearly impossible on a bad/busy/interrupted day. I can always go the nocturnal-blogging route again, but I’ve been working hard to get to bed at a decent time on weeknights. I had lights out at 10:45 the other night — that’s a recent record. If I have lights out by 11:45 on most nights, I’m ahead of the game.

It’s OK that I haven’t posted a lot lately as not much is going on, other than life getting a bit overwhelming here and there (more on that another day). We drop the kids off at camp or Abuela’s house and day care, go to work, pick up the kids, and have family time in the evenings. We take care of household chores as time permits once the kids are in bed and based on what else we need to do, like cleaning up the trail of destruction I routinely leave in the kitchen when I cook. I am not a neat cook by any means; Rich once commented that when I cook it looks like the kitchen blew up. He’s not that far off with that assessment. On weekends we bust our asses catching up on housework and errands we can’t get done during the work week, because once I’m home from work and the pants have come off, I’m not going out again.

There’s a reason that the big bloggers I read post daily or at least with regular, scheduled frequency — they work from/at home and their blogs are their source of income. Which is obviously not the case for me. If I did have those 40 hours (plus commute time) at home every week, and didn’t have to work? Oh, the things I could get done:

I’d have the house looking like a show home, gleaming like the top of the Chrysler building (ha).

I’d actually — heaven forbid — plan meals and cook on a semi-regular basis. Well, at least more than I do now, anyway.

I’d get laundry done in a timely manner instead of a crap-the-kids-don’t-have-any-clean-shorts-left manner.

I’d be able to run errands at my own pace sans children.

Things would be more organized than they currently are, with things in the proper place instead of carefully controlled chaos.

I could work on landscaping projects early in the day before it heats up too much for me to be outside.

I could update my blog with some regularity.

I could work on my book and maybe even finish it someday.

Toys wouldn’t always be scattered all over upstairs in Hurricane Sebastian’s wake.

This is all also assuming that we would still have Sebastian in day care most days, but if I didn’t work outside the home he would not spend as many hours per day there as he does now.

I would be killing it as a mom and wife, instead of feeling like I fail in a million different little ways every day.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

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Write On

Song Lyric of the Day:

It’s time to begin, isn’t it? / I get a little bit bigger, but then I’ll admit / I’m just the same as I was / Now don’t you understand / That I’m never changing who I am

Imagine Dragons / “It’s Time

I’ve written some here about my writing aspirations and countless failed attempts at bringing them to fruition. So despite the chaos going on in my life right now (my stomach is eating itself from stress at this point), I’ve decided to try and make myself accountable. To myself, anyway: I took the plunge and signed up for National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. As of tonight, day 1 of the project, my word count is only 830. Baby steps, right? The goal is to reach 50,000 words by the end of the month. I chose the story that’s been on my mind (in my imagination?) the most lately versus the one which I’ve written more of (8700+ words so far). We’ll see how far I get. If an impending nervous breakdown doesn’t get me first.

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Flying Solo for a Few Days

Song Lyric of the Day:

Sun is shinin’ in the sky / There ain’t a cloud in sight / It’s stopped rainin’ / Ev’rybody’s in a playin’ / And don’t you know / It’s a beautiful new day / Hey / Hey

Electric Light Orchestra (E.L.O.) / “Mr. Blue Sky”

I’m on my own for a few days. Rich is off to Hampton Roads to visit a lot of our friends and attend one friend’s graduation. Sounds like fun, right? So why did I stay behind? Because both brothers-in-law will be away this weekend, leaving both my sisters alone with my little nephews. So as much as I wanted to see Joan, Sharon, Kathy, Christian, Kristen, Matt, Elaine, Dale, Sallie, David, and all the others, I had to stay behind so I can be here in case the siblings and nephews need me. Not to mention our fur kids needing to be taken care of.

As with any time Rich is out of town, I have grand plans for how productive I’ll be. I’m going to work on both my books, including an agent query letter for the first one — finally! I’m going to post hundreds of photos I’ve been sitting on to my Flickr albums! I’m going to exercise every night! I’m going to take care of lots of tiny home improvement projects! I’m finally going to teach Troubadour the “bang, you’re dead!” trick! Will any of that come to pass? Um, we’ll see.

More realistically, I’ll manage to exercise a few nights, write a few pages, have my sis and brother-in-law over for dinner, and manage to not kill Troubadour. Provided my sweet, overly ambitious puppy doesn’t attempt anything along the lines of the other night’s Great Pork Chop Heist, he and I should be fine. Still, I do plan on taking advantage of the solo time. And Rich has ordered me to relax on at least a couple of nights, which I fully plan on doing.

One thing I have managed to stick to lately is daily writing exercises. I bought myself a pretty journal from Borders the other day with the sole purpose of dedicating it to writing exercises, and so far I’m doing pretty well with it. If I can at least stay the course with that while Rich is gone, I’ll consider my solo time a success.

I really do want to post photos this week, though. My new baby, my Canon EOS Rebel XS, arrived the other day, and I’ve been getting to know it and taking lots of photos (of course). (I got a great deal on, although the price has already gone up from when I bought it.) I’ll be sure to post a couple of new photos here when I do.

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Back to the Grind

Song Lyric of the Day:

So I drift through these days of appointments and promises made / They will all end up broken and quickly replaced / Weeks are slow, days drag on

Bright Eyes
/ “Contrast and Compare

I didn’t sleep at all last night. I don’t think I even started to fall asleep until about 3:45AM. Go figure — I told Rich just the other day we’d screw up our sleep patterns since we were staying up so late over the holidays, and guess who has trouble sleeping the night before going back to work? Bah. On top of not sleeping, I had one of those nightmares that lasts all night long, so I was stressed, too. Every time I did manage to doze off, bam! I was right back in my nightmare. Fingers crossed I get some good sleep tonight.

Despite my exhaustion, I managed to not only stay awake at work but to be productive, too. And going back to work after 12 days of not working, staying up too late, and sleeping in until noon? SO HARD. Now I need to go work on my book and then journal right before bedtime. Speaking of, you know what I discovered last night, journaling for the first time in something like 10 years? My handwriting has totally gone to hell. Thank you, computer age. Well done.

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Song Lyric of the Day:


I’ve / Become so numb / I can’t feel you there / Become so tired / So much more aware / I’m becoming this / All I want to do / Is be more like me / And be less like you

Linkin Park / “Numb”

Last month I celebrated a milestone birthday. The epiphany that has been gestating for a few months crystallized. I am no longer satisfied just working for a living. I want a career that challenges me, fulfills me, and interests me. For almost a year I had that as a Technical Writer at my company’s corporate office in Virginia Beach. I was given the opportunity to learn different graphics programs, including Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat, and ClearEdge. I not only enjoyed learning these programs, I enjoyed using what I learned to finalize technical manuals for delivery to our client. Not only did I have a fun job that I loved, I worked closely with three great people with whom I am still good friends.

Now I work in our Hampton office. I am still a Technical Writer, but I do not actually get to write anything. Or edit anything, for that matter. I certainly don’t work with any graphics programs. Transferring to this office was not something I wanted to do, but had to do. In government contracting, there are no guarantees. You go where the contracts take you. In my case, that’s a 52-mile round trip drive every day.

If I could go back in time, I’d find my college advisor and beat the sh!t out of him for encouraging me to pursue my English degree in Technical Writing. If I could have seen into the future and known this kind of professional malaise and ennui was what my degree would get me, I would have studied something else.

Granted, I am not living in an area known as a hotbed of magazine or book publishing. Moving to New York City or Chicago to pursue that is out of the question at this time. So I make do with this.

What would I go back and study instead of Technical Writing?

Forensics, maybe. I’ve been interested in forensics since high school, long before The New Detectives and CSI became a part of our pop culture.

Drama, maybe. In the past year I have acted in a couple of locally filmed TV shows filmed at New Dominion Pictures in Suffolk. Turns out that pretending to be a Medical Examiner’s Clerk and a Bad Guy’s Girlfriend is infinitely more interesting than being in a cube all day.

Maybe I’d just do what I’d wanted to do in the first place and major in Creative Writing. Again, a pox on my advisor for advising me to switch to Technical Writing. “No one will hire you if they see ‘B.A. in Creative Writing’ listed on your resume,” he said. Sigh.

Some people feel a calling to help others and become teachers, cops, nurses, doctors. Others want to serve our judicial system and become lawyers or judges. Still others find work to suit their mechanical skills and abilities.

Me, I can tell you who directed, wrote, starred in, and produced a movie or TV show. More often than not, I can even tell you what year it was released or aired.

What am I supposed to do with that? Other than play lots of trivia games and visit a lot.

That is my big dilemma: what to be when I grow up.

Hopefully, I’ll figure that out soon enough.

Fear not. I will not use this blog solely to whine about my lot in my professional life.

I have plenty of other stuff to talk about. Really.


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