Tag Archives: November

Mornings Like This

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Yesterday, a warm wind entertained us.

The temperatures were above normal, the strong breeze felt balmy and – I swear – it smelled like spring.

“This must be our Indian Summer,” one person after another suggested.

A day like that is a pleasure, any time of the year.

In November, it’s a gift.

Today, it’s raining.

After a night of the soundest, most uninterrupted sleep I’ve had in weeks, I woke up early.

Rosa Parks would like her walk. The little dog has made several trips outside on her own already, dashing for the shelter of the wild cherry tree, then running back in to demand her reward. The walk can wait for daylight…and at least one cup of coffee.

I woke up, as usual, with a dozen tasks playing ’round in my head that need to be done immediately. I turned on the computer before I turned on the coffeepot.

I remember, like a happy dream, what my life was like before bookkeeping became such a large part of it.

Now, with the Beacon, my life is filled with record-keeping chores. What did I have to worry about, before spreadsheets and Excel files? What joy, when the only address I had to keep track of was my own!

It is amazing to me how much time it takes to keep track of nine hundred and seventy-one subscribers. If I’m not changing addresses – and it seems that they do nothing but move! – I am updating renewal dates, changing names or altering the manner of delivery. Then there are the problems of issues that don’t reach the subscriber: I need to retrieve the address and send out another copy. Other times, issues come back to me, undelivered. That is a mystery that needs to be solved, as it results in addition postage fees. Wouldn’t you think that the list of subscribers that did not receive their Beacon would match up with the stack of returned magazines? But no.

Advertisers are a separate bookkeeping necessity. Two, in fact, as picture ads are a different database than classified ads. Billing seems complicated and difficult, but even harder is keeping them up to date. Once, a man came into the hardware to angrily admonish me for continuing to run his ad months after the property had changed hands. That was the first I’d learned of it and, though I was sorry, I have yet to identify¬† which exact ad is his, so I’ve been unable to remove it. Since I’m still struggling with billing, at least he hasn’t been asked to pay for it!

For Dion, the “Mailroom Specialist” who labels and sends the magazines, I need to send a check to cover postage and his small fee, then convert my updated subscriber spreadsheet into two Excel files: one for first class, the other for standard delivery. I also need to find time to talk to him about the issues that aren’t making it to the recipient, and the ones that are coming back to me. And, I’ve received a few calls because – though the payments are up-to-date – the labels say the subscription expired last year. What’s going on with that?

These are the thoughts and worries and many unfinished tasks that interrupt my sleep and drive me out of bed before dawn.

This morning, to be greeted by darkness and rain.

Mornings like this, I wrap myself in the fleecy bathrobe. I pour coffee into my favorite little cup: thin rim, sturdy round handle, decorated with a pattern of blackberries. I add real cream (well, real “half and half”) rather than 2% milk. I give Rosa Parks a chewy biscuit that will keep her busy for a while. I thank all the forces in play for the rain, that contributed to my good night’s sleep.

And all is right with the world.

What I Do

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Day two of my thirty day writing challenge.

I’m in that obsessive state of mind.

I couldn’t fall asleep last night for the excitement! I retrieved my journal from its low shelf to check the blog ideas I had listed there. I found my good, smooth-writing ink pen to make lists of new ideas. I pulled out one book after another.

I read about twenty pages into The Writer’s Devotional by Amy Peters, which is designed for reading one inspirational page per day.¬† “Each day of the week highlights a different aspect of a writer’s life…” Mondays are ‘Writers on Writing,” and that is the inspiration for this post today.

I finished another chapter of Mary Karr’s new book, The Art of Memoir. Her The Liar’s Club was one of my favorites, and started me on a whole tangent of memoir reading. It promises to be a wonderful, insightful book, but I didn’t feel like I could learn all she has to offer before today’s post.

Next, Theodore Roethke, On Poetry and Craft. He’s a favorite of mine, and the book is heavily marked with my underlines and exclamation points…but I deemed it too much to absorb in one night, and returned it to the shelf.

Finally, Do the Work by Steven Pressfield. A thin volume that I picked up in a bookstore several months ago, I hadn’t done more than glance at it until last night. Well, it’s simply brilliant!

“When you and I set out to create anything – art, commerce, science, love – or to advance in the direction of a higher, nobler version of ourselves, we uncork from the universe, ineluctably, an equal and opposite reaction.

That reaction is Resistance. Resistance is an active, intelligent, protean, malign force – tireless, relentless, and inextinguishable – whose sole object is to stop us from becoming our best selves and from achieving our higher goals.”

The book is made up of short chapters composed of paragraphs with startling titles like “The Crazier the Better,” “Suspend All Self-Judgment”¬† and “Welcome to Hell.” He spends an awful lot of time talking about resistance, and how it attacks. The first way? Making it seem necessary to research rather than just get to work.

Exactly what I was doing!

In fact, one of the things I always do.

None of these patterns are new to me.

First, I obsess.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a new art project, a diet, an exercise program, or this blogging commitment…obsession is first.

You’ll here me say things like:

“Oh, yeah, I started a new series of paintings…no big deal.”

“…just thought I’d try to lose a few pounds is all.”

“Just trying to move a little more.”

“Yes, I’m writing every day in November. A lot of people do it.”

But what’s going on in my mind is more like:

“OH MY GOD THIS IS GOING TO CHANGE MY ENTIRE LIFE AND I’LL FINALLY BE FAMOUS {SUCCESSFUL/LOVED/RESPECTED/YOU NAME IT}…IF ONLY I CAN PULL THIS OFF!!!”

And that’s when resistance sets in.

That’s when research begins. When hours investigating how it’s been done before, by others, or how others think it should be done, take the place of doing. When long lists of possibilities, “pros and cons” and things I’ll do when I am successful at whatever the undertaking is…actually undermine the possibility of success.

That’s how I roll.

Don’t worry, I’ll get over it.

In my sixty-three years, I’ve learned to ride this wild horse of my life. I recognize the highs and lows, the craziness and the obsessions. I push through it.

I just keep going.

Guilty Pleasures

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It had to happen sooner or later.

I have nothing to write about.

Or, rather, nothing I care to write about.

I woke up today to icy snow covering the ground. I don’t want to write about it.

I learned, this evening, of the death of another friend. I don’t want to even think about it.

Thirty days in November is a long time for a writing commitment.

I’m prepared, though.

Nancy Roman, who can be found at <www.notquiteold.wordpress.com> writes a witty blog about life, aging and other matters. She is also a newly published author. Her book, Just What I Always Wanted, is widely available and very enjoyable. In October, Nancy wrote about her own guilty pleasures. Thinking it was a grand idea, I wrote down her categories, in case I should find myself with nothing to write about.

With a nod to Nancy Roman, here’s my list:

  • Movie: Though I never saw them when they were showing in theaters, or even when those hairstyles for women were popular, I have found that I really enjoy the early Die Hard movies. I could watch them annually, right along with A Christmas Carol and all the other Christmas movies.
  • TV Show: I don’t watch much TV, but I really like The Biggest Loser. Not only do I like to watch the show, I like to watch it while eating what is often the largest, doughiest meal of the week: macaroni and cheese or a big plate of spaghetti, something like that.
  • Book: I read plenty of good books, plenty of books in general. In the guilty pleasure category, I’d have to place the mass produced mysteries that are not exactly literature, but that capture my attention.
  • Food: Macaroni and cheese…no-bake cookies…home-made noodles. Not all on the same plate, or even the same day, but I can easily overdo on any one of these.
  • Snack: Krunchers potato chips. If I have them, I can’t stop eating them. A large bag is treated as a single serving portion. I cannot buy them. Ever.
  • Money Waster: Magazines, definitely. I subscribe to several, and will pick up others just for the short bit of mindless entertainment they offer before having to be recycled.
  • Time Waster: Words with Friends. Though I have to say I’m a pretty fast player. I’d waste a lot less time if it weren’t for the ads that pop up between each turn.
  • Song: My all time favorite feel-good song has to be Dire Straits, I Want my MTV.

There they are, my guilty pleasures, for all the world to see. What are yours?