Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend Movie Marathon

As we all know, life has been nothing short of crazy with many more downs than ups. That's why I was grateful for three days off for Memorial Day weekend, and I was even more excited that the Turner Classic Movies channel planned to do a weekend of World War 2-related movies starting Friday night.

But I also wanted to get a huge chunk of work done on my novel. Thankfully, I was able to do both!

First up on Saturday was Nazi Agent. Conrad Veidt, best known for playing Major Strausser in Casablanca, played twin brothers, both German immigrants to America. Unfortunately, one is a Nazi agent while the other loves America and the freedom and opportunity it's given him. It's a terrific espionage flick.

Second was Hotel Berlin. Set in Berlin right before Germany's surrender, it follows the conniving, sometimes traitorous actions of several different people at the hotel. A favorite German actor of mine, Helmut Dantine, plays a German resistance leader who escapes from Dachau and is trying to hide from the Nazis.

Next on the list was  Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur. I own this on DVD and have watched it several times, yet I never tire of it. Robert Cummings plays an ordinary American who is framed for a work of sabotage and gets caught up with Priscilla Lane as they try to bring the real saboteurs to justice. It's Hitchcock at its finest.

Of course, the day wouldn't have been complete without Humphrey Bogart! Across the Pacific is set on an ocean liner traveling to Panama with Bogart playing an undercover Army intelligence officer trying to find out what the devious Sydney Greenstreet is up to with his collaboration with Japanese spies!

I finished the evening by watching some of Tora! Tora! Tora! about the attack on Pearl Harbor, but didn't watch all of it. 

Do I regret spending the entire day on the couch, watching World War II classic movies and writing? Not in the slightest. I needed a "me" day where I put everything on hold for the day: the responsibilities of being a single parent and taking care of the household by myself, the financial worries, my health, etc. 

Of course, it's imperative to remember why I had this weekend in the first place - the men and women who've sacrificed their lives for their country. That is what Memorial Day is about - remembering them. While we tend to have picnics and drink beer and go to the lake in what is ostensibly the beginning of summer, that kind of celebration has never sat well with me. For me, it's a sober day, one for reflection and remembrance.

Today I've watched two Clint Eastwood World War II movies - Kelly's Heroes and Where Eagles Dare. Both are excellent (and yes, I own these on DVD, as well!). 

Tonight, however, I'm attending a Memorial Day service at my local veterans memorial garden. It will be a fitting end to a long weekend.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Writing...And Not Writing

When I first started writing back in the sixth grade -- oh so many, many moons ago! -- I had a hard time keeping things short and simple. I would write pages and pages, whether for history papers or short stories, and my English teachers frequently told me I needed to cut things down a bit. I tried, but I kept thinking, "But I have so much to say!"

But something changed. Now it seems I don't have enough to say. I struggle to get enough words on the page.

I don't understand what happened. Did I grow up, thus knocking my childlike creativity for a loop? Did learning more about writing stymy my creative process? Or did the fear of failure, of people reading my work, swarm into my head and blot out the fun of creating?

Probably all of those things and more. But it really bothers me. I used to be able to sit down and write to my heart's content, but now I feel like it's excruciating even to write a simple blog post.

I think it might be resistance. Somewhere along the line, I got it into my head that writing was hard and it wasn't supposed to be easy. Then my internal editor stepped in, and started demanding I write a certain way, and that further bottled things up.

Steven Pressfield writes a lot about resistance in The War of Art (I own a copy which I think I gave to my mother to read and never got back...) which is where I first heard the term. There's something holding me back, and it's tug is so strong that it's keeping me from doing what I really love. I can almost physically feel the barrier between me and the words - it's a concrete wall, and pushing through it takes an incredible amount of energy.

But really, all I need to do is just write.

Getting to that point, though, is the problem. Why? I honestly don't know. Of course, it could be that I have an incredibly thick skull (recent events have proven this) and it takes awhile for things to sink in. My family is a stubborn bunch comprised of Germans, Italians, and Poles, so it's really no surprise. But writing is my dream. It's my passion. It's what I want to do. Why, then, is it so hard to do something I love?

That is the essential question.

Maybe I need to challenge myself. Maybe I need to make a commitment to write daily for awhile and see if that helps. Maybe that means a blog post every day for a month. And I need to stick to it. No excuses.

I'm not going to let this stop me. Even when it's hard to sit down and let the words come, I will do it. I can do no less.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Healing Is Not Linear

Y'know, this divorce business really stinks. I've felt the spectrum of human emotions over the last few months. Sometimes, I'll have a really good week and get only a tinge of sadness here and there. Other times, I'll endure a few days of depression and crying, all the while wondering if this will ever end.

Healing is not linear. It goes up and down and sometimes it goes backwards.

The good news is that it's getting better. Easier. Less painful.

The bad news? I feel like I'm dealing with the same stuff over and over again. I'm trying to let go. Trying not to feel like what the soon-to-be-ex does is any of my business, like who he dates or what he does with his spare time. But old habits die hard. We were together for 18 years. It will take awhile.

There are several large stumbling blocks that I must overcome. One, of course, is the knowledge that he will have a girlfriend at some point - and much sooner rather than later, I'm sure - and I will have to deal with seeing them together. That cuts me to the core. Yet there's also the competing knowledge that I am glad to no longer be with him and a twinge of sorrow for the next woman that comes along who will have to deal with him. Indeed, when making a list of the pros and cons of our relationship, the cons definitely win out. Yet those few pros are incredibly hard to get over.

Another stumbling block? Learning to be alone. When you go from having a partner in your life to going it alone - especially in such an abrupt fashion - there's an element of whiplash to it. Honestly? I've been doing a pretty darn good job so far. But there are days where it all becomes too much.

I had one of those days yesterday. I went to the grocery store, an activity my husband and I always did together, and it just became overwhelming. I almost burst into tears in the check out line, but managed to hold it together until I got into the car. I cried. And then when I got home, I cried some more. This morning, I cried at work. Yes, I am one of those people who will run to the bathroom and bawl, then wait until my face doesn't look like a red, splotchy mess to go back to my office.

Good times.

There are the little things, too. We used to text each other through the day: now that is gone. When I was in the middle of a rheumatoid arthritis flare, he'd check on me several times to see how I was doing. Gone.

But you know what else is gone?

Holding my breath when his latest burst of anger exploded through the house. The disappointment when he refused to go to a family event with me. Money arguments. The stench of alcohol on his breath. And oh so much more.

My house has now become a place of peace. It's calm and soothing. And I feel a lot of pride for holding things together, even if it's something little like keeping the dirty dishes out of the sink and cooking my own meals instead of bingeing on fast food. Maybe it's the responsibility ingrained in me from my upbringing, but I refuse to give in. I refuse to quit. Oh, there are days when I do nothing but lay on the couch and watch TV because I don't have the energy or motivation or emotional capacity to do anything else, but after awhile, I get tired of that, too.

But I know this: I am healing. It's just going to take awhile.

Missing My Manuscript

After I finished the first draft of my manuscript, I wanted to take a break from it, get some distance before I started revisions. That didn...