Thursday, June 30, 2005

Got Health?

No, I don't. I don't have health. I haven't been healthy in five years. And now I'm going to complain about it. A lot. Loudly.

I don't really want sympathy (although chocolate would be nice), but as this is a blog and thus my personal thoughts and feelings, I'm going to vent.

It all began two months after I gave birth to my daughter five years ago. Tired of the side effects from the birth control pills, I decided to try something new - the Depo Provera shot. "Birth control you only have to think about four times a year!" Yeah, that sounded good, especially since I kept forgetting to take those pesky pink pills.

I was young (just turned 25) and, might I say, rather stupid of how the medical profession works. Besides, my cycle was back to normal, I was losing the pregnancy weight, and I had a beautiful, healthy baby.

But that day in the doctor's office, as I asked the nurse if this shot would cause me to gain weight ("Maybe a little, but if you watch what you eat, you'll be fine), I never knew that five minutes of convenience would bring me five years of hell.

The most noticeable of all was the weight gain. You don't go from a size 9 to a size 16 in one year. You just don't. I gained 50 pounds in a year. A year! I couldn't wear long sleeve shirts because they made me too hot - even in the winter. During the summer, I barely stepped foot outside because I just couldn't handle the heat. My cycle went haywire and I never knew when it would stop and when it would start. Sometimes it wouldn't stop - not for days and days.

I went to the doctor and he thought it was my thyroid. I told him about the shot and he said, "Yeah, I hate that shot. I tried to talk my wife out of taking it." But he never said, "Oh, yes, that is what is causing your problems." He just put me on medication for hypothroidism.

For the next year or so, I explored other alternatives as my weight continued to spiral and my self-esteem plummeted. I sought the advice of a natural doctor who charged me over $200 for a bunch of herbal supplements. Great, more pills! I went to my gynecologist and told him about the shot - he looked at me over the top of his glasses, pursed his lips, and said nothing.

Headaches, blinding headaches, irritability, hot flashes, hormone imbalance, tightness in my neck and shoulders, weird cycles...it kept going.

After I moved across the state to go to graduate school, I sought out yet another doctor. She diagnosed me with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and put me on some more medication. The main components of this syndrome are 1) ovarian cysts (which I have) and 2) insulin resistance (which they've now found that Depo causes).

When I asked her if the Depo shot had anything to do with my health, she said absolutely not - she hated that shot because it messes up your cycles.

YET - as I continued to look on the internet and interact with people who had had this hot, the correlation between women with PCOS and those who had taken the Depo shot was frightening. There IS a connection - I'm positive. But getting someone in the medical community to admit it will likely never happen.

Five years after taking that shot, I am still not right. I can't wear the cute little clothes I used to, even after I had my daughter. I hate looking at my body in the mirror. I hate all the medications I take. I hate the blinding headaches I get. I hate the lack of energy I have, hate even more that I have to force myself to exercise and sometimes feel worse when I'm done. I hate the constant trips to the doctor.

But most of all...

MOST OF ALL...

I hate the anger. I am so angry at myself for taking that shot without doing my research. I'm so angry that it affected me so terribly, that it took my health away so quickly. I'm so angry that the medical profession and the pharmaceutical companies are getting rich off this stuff. I know some women do fine on it and that's great - but I wasn't one of them. And the more I hear, the more I know I'm not alone.

So the question remains: "What are you gonna do 'bout it, Mel?"

Y'know, it takes energy to embark on the weight loss/get healthy journey. You have to get your mind in the right place to do it. And the way I feel all the time just makes me want to curl under a blanket and sleep when I get home.

I've been trying to walk more, watch what I eat, but my eating habits are so tied in to my emotions that I blow my "lifestyle change" eating habits more often than not.

I'm looking at another visit to the doctor next week and my husband just shakes his head. He just wants me to get WELL, no matter how much it costs. And to tell you the truth, I don't even want to add up my medical expenses since that fateful day five years ago.

I've thought about going completely natural - health food kick! But you know what? I'm poor. I can't afford to go to those health food stores or even buy the stuff at Wal-Mart. Plus I've got four other mouths to feed.

Excuses, excuses, I know!

I'm not a patient person when it comes to weight loss. And I *must* get that mindset if I want to be successful.

But with my metabolism/hormones/insulin resistance/whatever-the-hell-is-wrong being out of whack, it's twice as hard to lose the weight.

Or maybe I am just a really really really big wuss.

I've lost the weight before - running stairs and working out with my brother (who was a college athlete). Ten pounds in a month. That's about right. I had the mindset then. I also wasn't working, didn't have my husband at home (who is a terrific cook), and had tons of free time.

But how do I get that mindset back?

One way or the other, I've got to figure it out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I'm A New Fan!

Of Christian Bale, that is.

Hubby and I went to see Batman Begins last night and...oh my. That man is very hot. And sexy. Oh yeah - he's a good actor, too. ;-)

But more than Christian Bale, the movie was absolutely wonderful. Bale did an excellent job of conveying the angst of Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman. I feel like I know the character much better than from the previous movies.

Supposedly they're going to make this the "new" Batman series that will follow much more closely to the comic books and fiction books.

So yeah, I didn't get any writing done last night, but hubby brought me home Chinese and took me to the show. Not a bad evening at all!

In other news...

I've let the whole career thing settle into my brain for awhile. I want to mull it over, see exactly what I want to do with my life. Thanks so much for all your comments. You're right - I AM using my degree - just not in the way I envisioned. Our state historical society is here in town and I'd love to volunteer, but I just don't have the time to do so - especially when I'm not getting paid. I've always said that if I win the lottery, I'd love to volunteer at a museum or historical society. But there's always those darn bills to pay...

Hubby is going to look at jobs, etc. after my stepsons go to Kentucky to see their mom for a month and a half. Right now, we've got a nice weekend getaway planned - we love to just rent a hotel that has a swimming pool and stay the night. It's just downtown from where we live, but it's something fun to do and relatively inexpensive. The boys leave on Tuesday, so we want to spend as much time with them as we can.

As for me - I'm hoping to get a bit of writing in tonight. :-)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Musing About the Future

After my rant of yesterday, hubby and I unfortunately got into an argument last night. His biggest fear is not being able to find work. My husband doesn't really have a "career" right now. He joined the army right out of high school, served as a medic in the first Gulf War, and then worked in Europe for another eight years doing various oddities.

His skills are tremendous. He has no problem finding work. But as far as a career goes - well, that's a different story.

We are very different in these two areas. I earned my BA and MA in History. I'm not using my degrees right now. Which is okay - for awhile - but I'm itching to somehow combine my history and my writing into one career.

Hubby doesn't have a degree. He's had several jobs, but nothing as far as a career.

We might be at an impasse on this whole issue. I hope not, but darn...I don't want to live in the same town the rest of my life. Granted, I moved clear across the state to go to grad school, but I still live in Nebraska. I've never lived anywhere else. I want to change that.

Hubby is thinking of going to school now - unfortunately, his G.I. bill benefits have run out - it's been too long. But when they take a look at our income, any college is going to be more than happy to give us money! LOL

I keep thinking...if I could just get my writing career off the ground, we'd be okay. We could move anywhere and I could write full-time.

But I want something more. I want to be able to use my history career - even if it is part-time as a volunteer.

The saga continues...

Monday, June 27, 2005

A Little Agitated...

On a whim, I recently applied for a job with Colonial Wiliamsburg. I thought I had an interview - but it turns out my stepson wrote down the wrong number and the wrong company. I still don't know who called me, but I figured it must have been CW since I haven't applied with anyone else since I started this job. But it wasn't.

I was quite excited by the prospect of possibly working at Colonial Williamsburg. It's my dream job. And what's more - I would be using my master's degree.

I just got off the phone with my husband and said he didn't have to worry about the potential to move to Virginia anymore since there was no interview. He said he was never worried about it.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because we can't just up and move."

I remained silent on the phone and quickly turned the topic of discussion to something different.

Here's why I'm mad. My husband lived in Europe for eight years. He traveled all over. He's had adventures. And now it's like - he's done. He doesn't want to move again, doesn't want to uproot anymore. I understand that.

But what about me?

I have this MA degree that I'm not using. I long to be where the history that I love is. That means either New England or England. But sometimes I feel like I will never be able to pursue my dreams unless I do it right in the town I'm living in now. And the opportunities I want to pursue are NOT HERE.

I've traveled to England. I've traveled several places around the United States. But I haven't even begun to tap all the places I want to see.

I greatly fear that if I want to make a big career move, like moving halfway across the country, I will be doing it by myself. I don't want to do that again.

Sigh..................

I don't want to give up on my dreams. I don't want to stay in this town the rest of my life. If I am given an opportunity somewhere, I want to take it. But is that being selfish?

I guess what bothers me the most is the dismissal I feel from my husband. He knows how badly I want to move to Virginia or England and find a job in the history profession. But yet...I don't think he will make the move with me. I understand that he's done a great deal of moving in his life (and he's only 33), but darn it - should I sacrifice my dreams so he doesn't have to pull up roots again?

Another sigh.......

I just devoured a bag of M&M's - (thankfully, a small one!).

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Revelation!

Well, it's not really a revelation 'cuz I'm sure all you gals know - if the husband and kids are gone for a few days, you get A LOT accomplished.

I still had my daughter with me this weekend but we had such a great time. We just returned from a long walk and she's outside playing with the dogs (oops - just dog - the big one, Tiny Bear, just snuck into the house. He likes to sit on the cool basement floor).

Went out to lunch with my brother and had a nice time. He's a history buff like me, but he only has a BA. I don't think he'll get his MA - says he doesn't like school. And really, who can blame him? I loved going back to grad school for the first semester - after that, nope. I remembered that I hated studying for tests and doing papers because I had to, not because I wanted to. Big difference. I really enjoyed going to class just to learn new stuff. But I hated taking notes for tests, etc.

Had a moment of panic when my husband's pick-up wouldn't start - I really really REALLY did not want to call him. He had to replace the fuel filter in my car today - he's had ENOUGH of working on cars, so much so, in fact, that he's not coming home until tomorrow. At any rate, my brother figured out the problem (loose battery connection), so I was very very thankful to God for getting me out of that situation!

I've also been working on my character charts and GMC's for "The Rake's Lady" - just really organizing everything. I have a tendency to forget certain character traits, etc. I figured this time around, I'm going to have charts to help me out. I've got to improve over the process I used on my last novel - that one was too hit and miss.

The laundry is almost done, need to do a few dishes from supper, but otherwise, the house is pretty darn decent. It's been a very nice couple of days. Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, as well!

Girls Day Out

Well, it turns out my car didn't start because the alternator was bad. Thus, my husband and stepsons didn't leave until 11 a.m. this morning. My husband did all the work himself, with the help of a friend, so we didn't have to pay a mechanic, thank goodness. But he called me a few hours later and said the fuel pump went out again. He just replaced it on Wednesday! Looks like that parts store is going to be hearing from hubby. My hubby said he was ready to blow my car up. I don't blame him. We've had nothing but trouble with it for a week now.

I did accomplish quite a bit on my list. I slept in (and ooh, did it feel good!) and last night, I tackled my laundry room. It's a very small room and I had my rubber stamping stuff on a small table in front of the washer and dryer. But I haven't done any stamping in months, so I decided it was time to clean it up. The table had become a catch-all for all sorts of things, so I cleaned that up, straightened the storage room, swept, did laundry, and was completely exhausted by the end of the night.

After lazing around most of the morning, my daughter and I went out for lunch and then headed over to Hobby Lobby. We didn't find the "squishy things" but got distraced by lots of other stuff instead. I found a lamp on clearance - beautiful and matches my living room perfectly - that was originally $70 and I paid $14. That's a deal! I couldn't pass it up.

We headed over to the grocery store and came home hot and grouchy. My daughter asked, "Mom, is your nose sweating?" LOL! And yes, it was. Neither of us handle the heat very well. Since hubby took my car this weekend, I have his truck and believe me, it's not the greatest vehicle in the world. But it gets us around.

I did watch Frenchman's Creek this afternoon - oh, it is as good as I remember! (If you have a chance to watch this movie, please do - it is just wonderful). I think the last time I saw it, I must have been in junior high or high school. It is such a lovely, lush romantic film. My daughter watched Stitch: The Movie, so we were both happy.

Then it was cleaning time. I couldn't handle sitting still for much longer, so I tackled the living room and kitchen. Now I have at least three areas of the house that are CLEAN. And I guarantee you, five minutes after all three boys come home, it will be a mess again.

I did manage to get my Ben and Jerry's Lowfat Yogurt and watched The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I love that movie. Sad, yet terribly romantic. I'm such a sucker for these old movies. I can watch them over and over again.

I didn't get any writing done today, but last night before I drifted off to sleep, I did think of my opening scene - the actual first few sentences I want to write. The first scene is very important to me. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want it to say.

My daughter is sacked out on the couch watching Disney's The Three Musketeers (Mickey, Donald, and Goofy) and just devoured a pop tart and a glass of milk.

It's been a nice, relaxing day - exactly what I needed. :-)

Friday, June 24, 2005

It's Friday For Sure

My car wouldn't start this morning. The battery was completely dead, for some strange reason. I hooked up the battery charger and waited. Nothing. Hubby rushed home from work (he only works about a mile away) and used his truck to jump start my car. It worked.

But, I was late to work, late to daycare, and you know what?

It's Friday. I didn't care.

I had a meeting at work today, had an early lunch, and have zippo motivation to get moving on my copywriting duties. Why do early lunches make the rest of the day go by soooo s-l-o-w?

At any rate, my husband is taking off for home this weekend with my two stepsons, so it should be a great chance for father and sons to bond before the kids leave for Kentucky for the rest of the summer. My daughter and I are staying at home. I've been gone for two weekends in a row and I NEED REST - translated: I want to sleep in.

I have a few things I want to accomplish this weekend:

1) Clean the house. From top to bottom.

Now really. Is this going to accomplish the whole "resting" thing? Probably not. But I can't take it anymore. I've let certain areas of the house go for too long and it's driving me close to the yawning pit of despair. (Do you remember the Pit of Despair from The Princess Bride? The albino said it to Wesley - "This is the Pit of Despair!!!!")

2) Go to Hobby Lobby with my daughter to find the "squishy things."

I don't know if I'll find them or not, but this week in my daughter's daycare, they learned about the heart, lungs, brain, liver, etc, and they had these little gel-like organs to show the kids. She showed them to me and asked if we could go to Hobby Lobby and find them. Well, sure. I don't know if we will find them, but at any rate, who can refuse a trip to Hobby Lobby? www.hobbylobby.com

3) Writing!

I need to sit down with my next historical, tentatively titled "The Rake's Lady" (although I think that's rather boring and very Regency-esque sounding, but it will do for a WIP), and figure out the next step. I'm taking a different approach on this novel - one that I hope will be a large improvement over the numerous edits I had to make on the last novel.

4) Watch Frenchman's Creek

Yay! It's here! I absolutely ADORE this movie. I'm going to grab a pint of the trusty B&J's Lowfat Yogurt Chocolate Fudge Brownie and settle in for a nice, relaxing evening.

5) Exercise.

My dog and I went for a great walk last night. Very fast-paced, which I like, because then I know I'm getting a lot better work-out than just a leisurely stroll. The only problem with taking my daughter for a walk is that I will not walk as fast simply because she has to stop at every single ant pile and wilted flower. Not that I mind on a normal walk, but when I'm exercising? Kind of counter-productive.

I'm trying to decide if I feel motivated enough to work now.

Hmmm...nah, not so much.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

What is Digital History?

In my quest to constantly find my career path in the historical profession, I emailed my graduate advisor and asked him for some advice. He was so gracious as to point me in the direction of what might well be the wave of the future for historians - digital history.

My local university has hired two digital historians, so I'm thinking this latest craze is not a craze at all.

Digital history basically offers computer resources to help in research and teaching. This means that primary documents (letters, diaries, etc.) are scanned or re-typed to put online in order that more people can have access to them. Instead of taking a trip to the archives in Washington D.C., someone in Nebraska (like me!) can just look at the documents online. Primary texts are not the only things being digitized. History books are also being presented online, as well as online and virtual exhibits. There is even an academic journal entitled Journal for the Association of History and Computing, which represents the American Association of History and Computing, organized in 1996. So this is a fairly new step in the historical profession.

By using computers in the application of historical studies, history becomes more accessible to more people. We've already seen an explosion of historical sites within the past ten years.

Archives, museums, and historic sites are increasingly using digital history to reach a bigger audience.

Of course, there's nothing quite like going to the museum, site, or archives and holding the documents in your hands. It's a rather difficult feeling to describe. When I went to the archives for my thesis project, I actually held a German soldier's Soldbuch, rather like a documentation of everything he did and everywhere he went during the war. When you think of how many people touched that particular book, where that book was - in the deserts of North Africa, the frozen climate of Russia, and then to a small fort in Northwest Nebraska...well, it's just mind-boggling.

Still, I'm excited by this new venture into history and I will undoubtedly explore it more.

www.digitalhistory.com

http://mcel.pacificu.edu/jahc/JAHCindex.HTM Journal of the Association of History and Computing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Character Interviews

I've recently re-discovered a very useful tool for developing characters. For me, thoughts and ideas flow like the proverbial river when I sit down and actually interview my characters.

It's not a stiff, formal interview - rather it's an intimate look into their lives. I ask questions, they respond as though I were a lifelong friend. They tend to tell me exactly how it is and thus, I can translate that into my story.

Some people probably think interviewing an imaginary person is quite strange. Non-writers would probably think me crazy, but you have to be a little bid addled in order to write.

I'm discovering that I have a better grasp on my characters, my plot, and my GMC this time around. My first novel was full of mistakes (which I think I fixed), but it was also a learning process - an invaluable one.

But if you're having trouble with a character and can't get him to "open up" to you, try an interview. You can do a search online and find "character interview questions" that just might jumpstart your plot and your story.

In Other News...

I took a two-hour nap last night and thus, didn't get to bed until late. I'm tired today and trying to keep my eyes open. It doesn't help that I have a ton to do today at work and do not have time to be tired.

I'm also looking into a new field called digital history. My university offers courses in it and I just might delve into it. Might be a new career.

Grandpa had a test that came back very good - so we're still in a bit of a waiting game on that score. But at least we're starting to get more answers than not now.

Tonight's goals: walk, eat a good supper, and finish reading a friend's manuscript. Oh yes - and the dreaded laundry.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

*Yawn*

I'm too tired at this point to do a new post. I'm back at work and thankfully, don't have much to do. I'm going to spend the day mindlessly surfing the web in search of future career plans. I've decided I want to combine the publishing with the history, so I plan to get a job someday in academic publishing or some other type of history-related publishing.

For updates on Grandpa, see my post from Monday! (which I wrote late last night).

Monday, June 20, 2005

Blessings...

I'm back home.

The drive across Nebraska isn't as bad as across Kansas, or so I've heard. But I don't think I've ever done the Kansas drive.

But you don't want to hear about that!

You guys are just so awesome for caring and leaving me such encouraging comments.

And your positive vibes and prayers must have done some good because my grandfather is out of ICU, sitting up and talking, looking ten times better then he did on Friday. My dad told me that he didn't think Grandpa would be alive by the time I got there on Friday. I didn't think he'd make it through Friday night.

But lo and behold...a miracle. I couldn't believe the improvement. I thought for sure this was the end and I think a lot of my other family did, too.

But Grandpa's spirit isn't quite ready to let go. And that's just fine with me.

He's still very weak and they're doing more tests on him to try and get some further answers on his condition. I don't know that he'll be able to come home for quite some time, if ever. But he just simply amazed me with his recovery. And my grandmother! Wow. She is so strong. I can't believe how determined she is to care for her husband, to be by his side no matter what. That, my friends, is true love. They've been married for over 55 years.

Back to work tomorrow. I had a lot of time to think about my career and my future while driving and I'm excited to get started.

And then maybe I'll tell you all about my car adventures over the weekend... ;-)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Update on Grandpa Shorty

First - I want to thank you all SO MUCH for your wonderful comments. It is such a blessing to have such caring friends. THANK YOU.

My grandfather's real name is Albert, but I've always known him as Shorty. I asked him one time why he has such a nickname and he said it is because he was the youngest of all nine children (his parents emigrated to American from Italy shortly after they were married and all nine children were born in America) and he was rather sick as a child, and didn't grow as tall as they thought he should at that age. Thus, the nickname "Shorty" was born.

I arrived yesterday at the hospital and went to see him in the critical care unit. He was asleep and I nearly lost it just looking at him. I so hate to see him this way, a mere shadow of his former, vibrant self that I remember so well from childhood. When he woke up, he asked to see my daughter and I. Molly is only five so it was rather scary for her to see him with the tubes trailing across his face and body, and she didn't stay long. He seemed to drift in and out of a state of reality.

I'm not very confident in the doctors at this point. Grandpa is so weak that I don't know if he would be able to survive any surgery.

My dad called me this morning and said that Grandpa was better today. A few of the tubes have been removed and he's more coherent.

At this point, it's touch and go. He's so weak that I don't know if any treatment for whatever ails him would do any good. And that's the thing - they're not quite sure what ails him. That is the toughest part of all to deal with.

Anyway, I'm at the city library right now and thought I'd pop in for a moment to let you know how things are. The drive wasn't too bad - just my daughter and I across the long, flat state of Nebraska. I'm very glad I brought her because my grandfather kept wanting to see her. He's always completely adored her.

I did manage to make use of the drive to do a bit of plot work on my novel. It's such a long stretch of highway - pretty much 400 mile straight line - that you need to do something to keep you occupied, otherwise you'll shrivel up from boredom.

Hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

AWOL Again

My grandfather is not doing well. He's in the hospital and the prognosis isn't the best. He just turned 80 in April, but he hasn't been healthy since his heart bypass surgery two years ago. I left work today in tears because it just feels like the black cloud is hovering. I hate it.

Dad called me this morning on my cell phone and I just cringed, knowing that the news wasn't good. It wasn't. Grandpa fell again and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital.

My grandfather has always been a big part of my life. I loved to listen to his stories of growing up and working on the farm, of his Italian heritage, of his love for the New York Yankees. He used to call me "turkey legs" when I was little because of my chubby calves. When we played slapjack, no one wanted to get caught by Grandpa because he always slapped the hardest.

I know death is a part of life, but darn it - it's the waiting that is the worst. Somehow, you just know that a person isn't going to live very much longer. I know that now. I dread it, yet I don't want him to suffer anymore. He is a shell of his former self, the man that I adored and still do.

I guess my grandmother is staying strong - she is a remarkable woman. Her own health was declining a few years ago, but when my grandfather took a turn for the worse, it was as if she called on her inner reserves of strength and rose to meet the challenge. She has been caring for him ever since.

Tomorrow morning, I'm leaving for home - a five and a half hour drive that I will undoubtedly make by myself since hubby needs to work because of those darn bills. I worry for my Dad - of us three kids, I think I am the closest to him and I really want to be there as a support system for him. He is the oldest child in his family, so a lot of the decision-making and responsibility will fall on his shoulders.

I hope to check in if time permits, but I won't have direct access to a computer very often.

Hugs to all...

Melissa

Life Changes

Since I'm 30 now (and it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be - lovely birthday), I've been thinking about what I will do in my thirties.

Here's a list.

1) Travel
My best friend's sister has a very good possibility of working in England for two years. I visited England back in 1995 and fell in love with the country. I guess maybe I'm an Anglophile, which I will not apologize for. *grin* If her sister's job goes through, then we are planning to make a trip next summer. My husband has friends in Germany and his ex-mother-in-law loves us all (strange, I know! She even emailed me birthday greetings yesterday!) and we would be able to stay with her.

2) Publish the book.
I always thought I'd have this one accomplished in my twenties. But, simply put, I wasn't focused enough. I was too concerned with finding a husband, getting through school, looking good (a.k.a. not worrying about what I shoveled into my mouth because my metabolism ROCKED) and having fun. Now, I'm married (will be six years in July), have a mortgage, a good job, a master's degree, and an adorable little girl. It's like the "I must haves" of the twenties have been fulfilled. Now, it's on to the "I wants" for the next decade.

3) Earn enough money.
I've been thinking about this one a lot. My parents (divorced a few years ago) are both broke. My husband's parents (also divorced a few years ago) are also broke. My grandparents are broke. There is absolutely no way I'm getting an inheritance. And that's fine. But I want more for my children. Not materialistic things, but I want to be able to help them out if they need it. "Need $1000 for a vet bill? Here ya go." My husband and I are barely scraping by and it bothers me to no end. I have this degree and frankly, I'm not using it. I want to make more money. BUT, I'm not going to sacrifice my happiness for it. Thus, my husband and I need to evaluate our financial situation and see what choices we can make to improve our bank account.

4) Live in England
I have a dream that surpasses all others. I want to live in England. Maybe just three months out of the year (the hot, humid summer months here in Nebraska), but that would be enough. I've been fascinated with England for such a very long time that it feels like home to me. When I visited in 1995, I didn't want to return home. I vowed to go to grad school in England and I did try. But then I met my husband and, well, you know the rest.

5) Better health
I haven't been healthy in five years. Literally five years. My weight has spiraled, I'm on way too many medications, and I want it to stop. My brother has agreed to be my trainer. Even if I can't fit into that size 7 dress I used to wear, I want to be healthy so that I can be around to accomplish all the above-mentioned goals. But more importantly, I want to be there for my daughter.

The trick about all these goals is remembering them on a daily basis. It is very easy for me to run into Barnes and Noble and see a good book and buy it instead of saving the money for a trip. I'm very spontaneous that way.

Five goals. Five dreams. All within reach.



Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Thoughts on Turning 30

For some reason, turning 30 is a lot harder than I thought. I'm no longer in my twenties, but my twenties weren't all that great to begin with. From 20 to about 24, I graduated from undergrad school, got a job that had nothing to do with my degree, partied, dated loser guys, partied some more, and then...I met my husband. And from about 24 until today, I had a baby, earned my master's degree, published two children's books, and bought a house. I'm thinking the latter half of the twenties was a lot better than the first.

But it makes you wonder what the next ten years will bring. I hope and pray a published novel is in there somewhere. And I'd love to get a job using my degree, although I really like my job right now. And winning the lottery would be nice...

My co-workers decorated my desk, one of them brought me balloons and flowers, and we're all going out to eat at a great Italian place for lunch. My brother is bringing me cake tonight and I got a gorgeous lace shawl from my mom. Turning 30 isn't so bad after all...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Summertime Memories

What happened to my love for summer? Before I hit high school and college, I absolutely adored summer vacation. I'd curl up in a chair (in the nice, air-conditioned house, of course) and read my Nancy Drew books and Wizard of Oz books. Or I'd lounge on my bed with a special fudge chocolate brownie (thus the fascination with Ben and Jerry's Lowfat Yogurt Chocolate Fudge Brownie!), listening to music, and lazing the days away. Sure, there were softball and baseball games, family get-togethers and long, lazy summer nights out on the deck, listening to the chatting locusts. And then there were the times Dad would drag me out to the bean fields with a machete (no kidding) to chop out the weeds choking the crops. I hated those times, the hot sun beating through my shirt, looking down the long line of beans and wondering if I'd ever finish. Also hated irrigating because I couldn't start an irrigation tube to save my life. I liked doing housework while my two brothers did the farm work. They didn't think it was a fair trade-off. *grin*

But those memories pale in comparison to the others. And I have to wonder...what happened?

The short answer - I grew up. I got married, had a baby, got a job...and the lazy days of summer were still tempered with the fact that I had to go to bed at 10 p.m. and be up by 7 a.m. to hit the morning traffic jams. My hormones went wacky after the birth control shot (I will spare you my raging rant on this one) and heat started to affect me more and more, to the point where I cannot stand to be outside of my air conditioned house until the sun goes down.

I didn't have a problem being by myself as a youngster. I craved it. I loved isolating myself away from the world and diving into my books. That's why summers were the absolute best. My Mom didn't work, so I was able to stay home and do whatever I wanted. I read, did crafts, built my own Barbie doll house...

And then one day...

I decided I could write a novel. I set up shop downstairs with an old school desk and my Mom's manual typewriter. Down in the nice, cool basement, I plugged away, writing about the French Revolution and two lovers caught up in its fiery rampage. One of the songs blaring on the radio was, appropriately enough, Richard Marx's "Endless Summer Nights." And whenever I hear that song, it takes me back to those days when writing wasn't a chore, it wasn' t a job, and writer's block didn't even exist.

How do we reclaim those memories? Can we somehow recapture those feelings and channel them into our lives today?

Now, summer is the worst time of year for me. I can't be out in the sun, hate to be hot, and get incredibly grouchy if I do either. I can't swim, don't want to learn (okay, I do, but still can't get over my fear of water) hate the beach, hate bugs, and loathe how I look in shorts. But give me a thunderstorm full of loud, clapping thunder and torrential downpours and I'm in seventh heaven.

Our childhood shapes so much of who we are today. Why, then, did I suddenly go from loving summer to hating it? The added responsibility? The hormonal changes?

Or maybe, just maybe, it's because I turn 30 tomorrow.

:-)

Monday, June 13, 2005

Rejuvenated!

There is absolutely nothing like a weekend getaway. If you're struggling with your writing or life in general, I highly recommend it! And another thing I highly recommend: www.thebluebelleinn.com I have never been in such a gorgeous place. The gal did so much work on it - when she bought it, the house was very run-down and needed a lot of tender loving care - and that love shows when you walk inside. The food was wonderful, the conversation lively, and the relaxation immensely satisfying.

I'm eager to try some of the great things I learned at the writing workshop. It was a small group and thus, it was rather intimate and lovely. Even better - I made new acquaintances and forged stronger bonds with the other gals who also went. We gabbed the entire trip! They also bought me 15 minutes of time with a massage therapist at the writing retreat as a birthday present. Thanks, gals! You're the best!

I'm ready to write again!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Off for the Weekend

I'm taking off for the writer's conference tomorrow. Quite excited! Hope you all have wonderful weekends, and I'll catch up with you on Sunday or Monday.

Let's all gets lots of writing done this weekend! :-)

Feel the Excitement!

I felt it last night. Sitting on my front porch swing (which my wonderful hubby made for me), I poured through my notes for "Robert's Story" (which does not yet have a title) and finalized a few things on the plot, made a list for what I needed to research, and did some character work.

And then I felt it. The excitement. The anticipation. The joy.

I cannot wait to write this book. I have never had a book gel so well - after I initially got through my plot hurdles, with Rene's help - with how my characters relate to one another, the black moment, everything. But what astonished me most of all last night was that I actually had a theme for my book. My last book, I don't think I thought about theme as much as I should have. I'm sure it does have a theme, but I don't know that I was consciously aware of it when I wrote it.

That is why we learn from every book that we write.

I am pumped to get the process started.

But there is one thing holding me back...that old fear.

I worry that once I sit down to put my thoughts on paper, it won't be nearly as good as it is in my head. But when is it ever as good? Probably never. Despite that, I fear I will be stifled. That every word will be a drop of my blood on the page. In short, that the writing won't flow.

How do you deal with this? I sometimes think I really really think too much. And this hampers my ability to enjoy the process.

It goes back to turning off that internal editor. And the internal judge. And just writing.

Easier said than done.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Got organization?

It looks like I'm not an organized writer. I don't have storyboards or lots of diagrams with plot points and subplot points and character arcs, etc., etc.

But I wonder if I should have those things.

My mind often feels very cluttered. The only time it does not is when my desk is clean, the house is clean, and my children behave. In other words, my mind feels cluttered A LOT.

I think I suffer from a lack of focus. Honing in on one particular aspect of life is often quite difficult for me to do and I think my writing suffers because of it.

I've toyed with the idea of buying First Draft in 30 Days, but I would probably use it for the first five, then forget about it. I do that a lot.

So I'm not quite sure what my writing method is. I always write out a basic outline - not with Roman numerals, but just a page or so. I know where I'm going, but sometimes, I'm not quite sure how to get there. The sagging middle is not my friend.

Tonight, this is my goal: go over all my notes for my next historical, which I do not have a name for yet, and get organized.

With my nice, clean desk, I have no excuses!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Those Darn Shots...

My daughter went for her kindergarten physical this morning. I didn't know they planned on giving her her immunization shots today, but they did. We were just fine until the dreaded needle made its appearance. I about started crying, as well. Poor thing. She cried and said, "That hurts!" and she was right. Shots do hurt, no matter your age.

Since the doctor is only a few blocks from where I work, I decided to take her with me to work for a few hours until she settled down. She merrily drew pictures for everyone in my department and I actually managed to get a few things done. But then it was back to daycare and when I came back to my office, I felt bereft. Her pictures were still here, hanging on the wall, scattered across my desk, and I suddenly wanted to go pick her up and take her home.

The first day of kindergarten is not going to be fun...

On the writing front...

I made it through my block last night and wrote a few pages. Woo hoo! The clean office definitely jumpstarted my creativity - as well as the clean house! My kids cleaned it for us, so naturally I gave them $10 to persuade them to "keep it up." :-)

Monday, June 06, 2005

A Sense of Place

Now that my office is clean - and I've put some carpet on that cold, concrete basement floor, I feel more creative.

Wonder why that is?

I can work in clutter. I've been known to write a thesis in the midst of clutter - open books, notes strewn everywhere, Hershey's Kisses wrappers thrown around, and a bottle of Diet Pepsi- yup, I can work like that.

But for some reason, I feel more creative now. I can't wait to go home and sit at my new and improved office. I always swear to keep it this way, but that never happens. I wonder why that is...

Of course, I've always been this way. Creative clutter, I call it.

I'm headed for a writer's retreat this weekend at a delightful bed and breakfast which you can see here: www.bluebelleinn.com A bunch of us are going from my RWA chapter and we're traveling in one vehicle, so it should be a great time. Lots of girl talk!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Those Darn Yucky Days

I had a yucky day today. I'm not quite sure why it hit me so hard. I even exercised this morning - took my dog for a nice, long walk. Hubby took the kids to the local fun center and so I had the house to myself.

Perfect writing time, right?

Wrong-o. Not today.

Everything just sort of got to me today. My health, my weight, my writing...so I went shopping. Not exactly the best thing to do when you hate how you look. I used to be a size 7 all throughout college and only went up to a size 9 when I met my hubby. It was the horrid birth control shot that started this roller coaster ride.

But I digress. I shall not bore you with the gruesome details!

I came home and popped in a James Bond movie - Goldeneye. I've been on a real movie kick this weekend - just didn't want to do anything else (besides that research trip to the library yesterday).

And for some really bizarre reason, I felt completely restored after I watched it. Was it the movie or the Reese's peanut butter cups I found stashed in the cupboard?

At any rate, I felt like cleaning. So I marched down to my office in the basement and went at it. Sweeping, dusting, organizing...I can see my desk again. If I had a digital camera, I'd take a picture and show you, but alas, I don't. So you'll just have to take my word for it.

I don't know if I'll get to my writing tonight, but it's okay if I don't.

My characters are acting a bit stiff right now - not sure why. But I hope to break through their block. I might be writing it in the wrong POV - I've done that before and switched it, and it worked out great. So we'll see what happens.

Onward! :-)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Writing Life or Lack of It

I'm beginning to think I cannot follow a schedule. I can't reach the goals I set for myself, even when they're attainable. I am sick of my headaches and sick of being overweight. I know I can lose the weight, yet mentally, I'm not prepared to begin that journey.

I want to be able to sit down and write at the drop of a hat because I can't do otherwise.

And I also want to win the lottery.

Can you tell that today is one of those days? Yup. A rant day. A day where I am harder on myself than any interrogator. A day where I have time to work on my writing, time to go for a walk, time to make a plan for my life - and I don't want to.

I feel like I'm in a funk right now. My house is a disaster and it's not helped any by the kids who seem to think I am their full-time slave. I see dirt everywhere, yet feel so overwhelmed that I don't even want to think of cleaning it. Hubby cleans, but not lately. He's busy with his own projects. I feel like there is so much I need to do - lose weight, get in better shape, change my diet, finish the novel, be a mom, keep a neat house, do the bills, etc., etc., etc....maybe I am having a case of Superwoman Blues. Yup, that's right. Superwoman has landed her invisible jet and is now sulking on the couch with a pint of Ben and Jerry's Lowfat Yogurt and watching movies. Popcorn litters the floor, the dust is three inches thick, the kids haven't had their supper, and there's mud on the walls. Chaos reigns, but she flat out doesn't care.

Tomorrow is another day...

Friday, June 03, 2005

Old Movie Marathon

I just bought two movies on ebay today (yes, it's a very slow day at work and it's a Friday). One is a Cary Grant flick called The Grass is Greener that I absolutely adore. The other is Frenchman's Creek with Joan Fontaine based on Daphne du Maurier's book (yes, I also read the book!). I found The Ghost and Mrs. Muhr and Laura at the store last weekend.

I watched a bit of Von Ryan's Express last night and I hope to finish it up tonight. I'm one of those people that can watch a movie over and over again. Some I'll only view once, but there are many that I will pop in for a lazy Sunday afternoon or Friday night.

I've always loved old movies. Back when we had cable - which I absolutely do not miss - I used to watch Turner Classic Movies and American Movie Classics. I remember one day I watched old movies all day long and absolutely loved it. There's something very poignant about them. I often think the acting is better in some cases than those we have today.

But there's also an innocence to them. It's very rare to find movies of the 1930's, '40's, and '50's with graphic sex and violence - even the WWII thriller movies aren't that bad. And the language? Well, the F-word and others weren't even a consideration. And y'know what? Those movies are not any less because of their absence.

Of course, movies were pretty racy in the 1920's before the Production Code came into being - one that stipulated the moral aspects studios should follow. But I don't think it changed the concept of movies as art, either. Some of our best loved films come from the Golden Age of Hollywood - Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Rebecca, and The Wizard of Oz, to name a few.

I wonder why we moved away from this period of innocence. I don't believe that Hollywood itself was innocent - they had just as much scandal, drug abuse, and addictions as actors do today. But our culture has escalated into a much more violent period. Why?

Something to ponder...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Spring Walks

I love to take long, meandering walks. And I say meandering because my dog usually pulls me in an assortment of different directions. For me, the best time to walk is in the early evening, around 7:30 or 8 p.m. (If it's not too hot.) Roses are in full bloom here in a myriad of colors - dark red, pale peach, creamy white, and soft pinks. Gorgeous. I usually get a bird's eye-view of them, too, when my dog decides to stop and mark his territory, jerking me towards the bushes. Some would say he walks me, not the other way around.

At this time of the day, you'll find people mowing their lawns, relaxing on their front porch swing, or cocooned inside their houses with the t.v. blaring. It's the time right after dinner (or supper, as we call it) and right before bed, a time to relax and muse over the day, spend time with family and friends, or read a book. I love it.

I've also started implementing a "walk break" for myself at work. Right now I take a walk around the neighborhood in the afternoon. Not only am I getting exercise, but I'm getting away from the computer for awhile. I hope I can keep it up. But I know that when the weather starts heating up, I'll confine myself to the air-conditioned office and do my walking on the treadmill at home!

I've also used walking to mull over a lot of my story ideas. I've had some great break-throughs while walking and I know a lot of other authors use this method, as well.

I just realized that my thoughts are not very profound today. *shrug* Oh well. I'm not feeling in a very profound mood. I have my moments - few and far between - but today is not one of them. :-)

I must say, though, that I found a wonderful pick-me-up from some of the photos at author Gena Showalter's blog. http://genashowalter.blogspot.com All I can say is YUM!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Announcing a New Blog: Villa in Tuscany

Why did you start writing? For money? Fame? Acclaim?

Probably not.

I'm guessing you started writing because you love stringing words together. You love to tell stories. You love to delve into people's emotions.

In short, you love to write. It brings you joy. (Most of the time!)

That's what Villa in Tuscany is all about. Remembering that joy. Relishing in it. Rediscovering it.

The three of us - Rene, Olivia, and I - want to keep that joy alive in our own writing. Thus, we've launched a new blog where we focus on the joy of writing in all its varying aspects.

Come join us!

http://villaintuscany.blogspot.com

One Day at a Time

I've always tried to live with this mentality: One day at a time. Unfortunately, when I implement it, I fail spectacularly. But for this...