Saturday, May 30, 2009

Random Saturday

I haven't blogged for a while, so I am going to make myself post something.

Here's a photo of Zeke on his blankie. The little rascal got out yesterday when I came home from the store, hands full. (Note to self: Have hands free when entering the house until Zeke is leashed.) He took off down the street as fast as his little legs could carry him, ears flapping in the wind, stopping only to pee on the stop sign before he turned the corner. Fortunately, another couple was walking their dog and he stopped to sniff. The gentleman grabbed his collar so I could catch up. I babbled my profuse thanks as I scooped him up in my arms.

At least I can pick him up easily! He seemed to know he was licked and didn't struggle.

Random thought: I've met a lot of people lately who are in second marriages. Or whom I didn't know were in a second marriage until now. The irony is that most of these people seem to be blissfully happy, whilst those of us still mucking through our first marriage seem to spend quite a lot of time, well, mucking through. It's ironic that the experience required to know oneself thoroughly and to choose a really excellent partner, seems to come from being married to a bad partner. Or perhaps those in their second round are trying harder, in order to overcome their fears of losing another one. Or, which is more likely, the subset of those who have experienced divorce or loss who are willing to re-marry are the optimistic type who tend to succeed.

I wouldn't know, and hope I never do! I'm happy for all of them, and glad I didn't have to go through that. But it does make me think about the choices we make, and how our experiences add to our self-knowledge.

Work: None in sight. Mark has been laid off for two months now, and I'm getting nervous about the Fall. Praying very hard to know whether to seek full-time employment. The union is saying not to expect work for a year, but Mark thinks that may not be accurate, particularly with his certifications. However, he doesn't expect to work as steadily as he has been since I've known him. He says that there are tons of projects waiting to start, but the banks won't finance them. I'm so glad we dumped all that taxpayer money into the banks, which we, our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will have to repay, aren't you??? GRRRRRRR!!!

I have been assuming I could support us if I had to, but now I'm realizing that I've been out of the statistics field for so long that I may not be able to get a job again. I wouldn't mind being a lowly analyst, but I don't think it would pay enough to keep us going once the unemployment runs out. And teaching just doesn't pay enough, period. I have zero hope of selling my novel and don't know if I'll ever finish it. I just haven't got the heart for it. 54 days and counting.

I'm sorry I'm so depressing today! See, this is why I haven't blogged.

Well, it's a bright sunshiny day and we have free tickets to the Motor Sports Park, then we are going to two birthday parties. So I'm going to try to forget all about it and have a good day!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Amelia P. Emerson on Publishing

I am re-reading one of my favorite mystery-adventure series, the Amelia Peabody stories by Elizabeth Peters. In The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog Amelia has some interesting things to say about publishing which echo my sentiments exactly. She is supposedly editing her private journals for publication, and has just quoted one line of Keats in attempting to describe her experiences as a female archeologist in Egypt during the reign of Queen Victoria: "What mad pursuits! What struggles to escape! What wild ecstasy!"

Amelia writes:
I am informed by a certain person of the publishing persuasion... that if an author wants to capture her readers' attention she must begin with a scene of violence and/or passion.

"I mentioned - er - wild ecstasy," I said.

The person gave me a kindly smile. "Poetry, I believe? We do not allow poetry Mrs. Emerson. it slows the narrative and confuses the Average Reader." (This apocryphal individual is always referred to by persons of the publishing persuasion with a blend of condescension and superstitious awe; hence my capital letters.)

"What we want is blood," she continued, with mounting enthusiasm. "And a lot of it! That should be easy for you, Mrs. Emerson. I believe you have encountered a good many murderers."

This was not the first time I had considered editing my journals for eventual publication, but never before had I gone so far as to confer with an editor, as these individuals are called. I was forced to explain that if her views were characteristic of the publishing industry today, that industry would have to muddle along without Amelia P. Emerson.

How I scorn the shoddy tricks of sensationalism which characterize modern literary productions! To what state has the noble art of literature fallen in recent years! No longer is a reasoned, leisurely exposition admired; instead the reader is to be bludgeoned into attention by devices that appeal to the lowest and most degraded of human instincts.

The literary person went away shaking her head and mumbling about murder. I was sorry to disappoint her, for she was a pleasant enough individual - for an American.

I must agree with Amelia here (and presumably Ms. Peters). These stories are extremely entertaining, and contain quite a lot of action and a fair amount of very discreetly referenced passion, as well. But they do not "bludgeon" the reader into attention as so many other books seem to do. There is a brutality about entertainment these days, whether written or in movies, that I find repulsive. I actually find myself bored during long, intense action scenes, such as that at the end of Batman Begins (which just happens to be on television tonight, which is why I thought of it) or the battle scenes in The Return of the King, which I skimmed in the book as well as fast-forwarding on the DVD.

At the same time, I am almost as likely as any other reader (I think) to close a book that fails to capture my attention on the first page.

What do you think, Above Average Readers of This Blog? Is it the physical events of a story that capture you, or is it a voice such as Amelia's? Or an unusual setting or circumstance? Or something else?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Cave Picnic

Hi Everyone! Today Marenya is hosting a picnic in her cave at "Come In Character." Since she can't get out, she's invited everyone to hang out with her underground today. You are invited to bring a food or drink item to share (since she's getting awfully hungry and thirsty down there), and some kind of tool or weapon to help her get out. If you have a special ability, that can be your weapon.

I hope to see you at our "Cave Picnic!"

Cave Picnic

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm in Love!!!

Meet Zeke, our new dog. He is a beagle-dachshund mix and just the sweetest little 1-yr-old ever. He's even quiet. He only barks when he wants our (or Teddy, the older dog's) attention. Somebody must be really missing this little guy. He was a stray and never claimed at the pound. I can't imagine why.

He's doing pretty well right now. Our main problem is the crate. He doesn't mind being crated, but there isn't any room in the master bedroom for it, so I have him in the office. He hates being separated from his new "pack," especially since we've been keeping him "tied on" with a leash all the time. Last night he was carrying on so much, clawing the cage, that I was afraid he'd hurt himself. So I went in and lay down on the guest bed in that room. He settled down right away. I guess I'll be sleeping with the "baby" until he gets used to the arrangements. I told my husband it's just like when Jeff was transitioning to from the crib to the twin bed and I had to lie down with him until he fell asleep.

I'm not really a dog person; I've always preferred cats. But I've fallen in love with this one. He's one lucky guy... and so are we. So far, he and Teddy are getting along pretty well. Ted doesn't seem jealous. He just wants Zeke to leave him alone, which is difficult since Zeke desperately wants Ted to play with him. In the photo on the right, Teddy actually picked up on of the balls as if to say "go ahead, kid, make my day!"

However, Jeffrey really enjoys throwing balls for Zeke to catch. Yesterday Jeff had a friend over, and the two boys tuckered the doggy out, which is when I took this photo:

Zeke's motto: If you've got the ball, I've got the time!

Friday, May 15, 2009


I am really struggling today over what to do. It's the first day of my summer "break". I have five weeks between now and the start of my summer class. I am home alone this morning... the house is dead quiet. I would love to just open my little file and try to get back into my story. I've been so depressed about the whole thing lately, and almost determined to give it up permanently. But there's something about opportunity. Like murder: means, motive and opportunity. I have the means (the computer), I'm wavering on the motive - is it worth it? I'm still not sure. And then there is opportunity.

I could forget about everything and write for an hour or two. But, the house is a disaster, we are bringing the new puppy home tonight, the checkbook needs balancing, I have to do the grocery shopping and plan the meals for the next few days, and I haven't even had a shower yet. This is how I got into trouble before. Saying "the heck with it" and following my muse.

I must deny the muse a little longer. I'll never be successful until I learn how to keep my priorities straight, and frankly I'm tired of always being on the edge of disaster. I feel like a dog who's burned his nose on a hot pizza. I fear even the smell of my novel right now. I wiped it off the hard drive, along with all of the photos I had for inspiration. It's gone. I have it backed up on a flash drive, and the older versions are on CD as well, and I've emailed most of it to friends. So there are plenty of copies out there.

For the moment, however, it's not readily available and I think that's a good thing.

Phone... gotta go.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Something Beautiful - Natalie Grant

I've been wanting to post something more upbeat here. It's been such a crummy week! So, I thought of this song.

I haven't figured out how to embed You Tube videos into blog posts, so I'll just post a link:

Something Beautiful

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Literary agent Nathan Bransford likes to include puppies in his posts. This post does not have a puppy in it, but perhaps there will soon be one.

This week, we made the decision to get our son a puppy for his birthday next month. It's something my husband and I have been talking about for a while. DS is an only child, and our older dog, Teddy, has never quite forgiven him for being born. Ted isn't hostile to DS, he just ignores him. Even when DS throws a toy for him to fetch. It's rather heart-breaking.

DS is turning seven, and we think he's just the right age for a pet of "his own," though I know I'll end up doing most of the care. That's okay with me. Perhaps it will soothe the baby bug that still bites me from time to time.

However, after another of my middle of the night anxiety attacks, I realized that this puppy thing is another source of my anxiety. Although I really do want DS to have one, and I long for a cute little "person" to brighten up our lives, I'm not sure I'm quite ready for this change. We have a small house, and having two pets underfoot could be quite annoying. But, I always wanted three children so I guess this is the closest I'll get. And we've already told DS, so it's too late to change our minds.

Money is another issue. With DH out of work for the foreseeable future, I'm afraid we will come to bitterly regret the cost of another pet. But at the same time, his being home will facilitate housebreaking the new addition. It's the perpetual Catch-22: we either have time, or money, but not both.

I have thought long and hard about going back to work full time, but have decided that it's just not feasible right now. The problem is that any job I take would require an excessive commute, and we don't have child care options if DS should be sick on a day that I have an important meeting. It just won't work right now; he's too young. And things are going so well at the college. I really, truly love teaching. Whenever I pray about it, I feel that I shouldn't rush into any job right now. "Wait," the Holy Spirit says. So, I'll wait. And try to pick up the book again this summer.

I just hope the dog doesn't eat my manuscript!

Friday, May 8, 2009

something is not right

In the middle of the night
Miss Clavel turned on her light
and said, "Something is not right!"

I've been feeling like Miss Clavel all week. I can't put my finger on it, but something is terribly wrong around here.

I admit I've been under an extraordinary amount of stress lately, and quite a lot of things are wrong, including car problems and my husband being out of work, but even so, it's all part of life's normal ups and downs. I shouldn't have this unshakable feeling of je ne sais quoi. It's affecting everything I do. I keep looking over my shoulder, expecting the boogie man to jump out at me.

Perhaps my horrible, terrible, no good, very bad week has brought up some of my post-traumatic stress from last year. I still struggle to get over my experience in my last job. It was truly horrifying. And perhaps this feeling comes from the fact that I happened to see someone from that situation on the street the other day. Fortunately, he didn't see me, but it did shake me up just a little.

You know, that's probably a big part of why I'm feeling this way. It's the feeling of danger. That you can never, ever escape the past. Whenever I think I've finally put it all behind me, something will come up again to taunt me.

My husband says, "Forget about it. It's over."

He doesn't understand. It's never over. People hold grudges. They talk. Spread rumors. Having lived my life in blissful isolation until a few years ago, I didn't realize this. But now that we are entrenched in Small Town America, I'm learning what life in society is really like. If you have done something to offend someone, they never forget.

Not that anyone has actually *said* anything to me, but I hear the way they talk about other people, and I know that someone, somewhere, is talking about me.

Perhaps I'm just unusually sensitive to all of this. I admit to being a perfectionist. I can't bear to think that I have let other people down. This is not pride. It is mortal fear of being rejected, and a constant effort to do one's absolute best so that no one can ever hold anything against you. Which, of course, is impossible.

My head knows this, but my heart just doesn't get it yet.

P.S. Of course, it did occur to me that perhaps God has withdrawn some of His grace from me because I've stopped writing. He did tell me to do it. But I just can't please God and also take care of my other responsibilities right now. It's just not possible, and things at home have been awful lately. I'm trying to figure it all out, but I know the answer will come in its own good time.

We walk by faith, not by sight.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday, May 2

I changed my header again. Somehow the castle seems appropriate today, with the bright green of a rainy Spring day outside my window.

There are just two weeks left in the semester. It's do-or-die time for the students, who are getting pretty panicky. I feel bad for some, because I know they've been trying and are still struggling, and I'm losing patience with others who seem perplexed by this whole concept of "college." I gave three tests this week, which means I have about 100 papers to grade this weekend. Yuck. And, out of the goodness of my heart, I told my two statistics classes that they could correct their tests so I will have to re-grade those next week. Double yuck.

I have to admit, I'm starting to enjoy being a person instead of a writer. This is scaring me. But I'm actually slowly making headway around here, and it feels good. I still think about the book in the back of my mind, in a distant, dreamy way, and sometimes I feel a terrible pull to start writing again, but I'm able to squelch it when I remember how bad things were before. I really don't know what to do. So for now I'm doing nothing.