Blowing Off Dust

It’s been so long, this blog has acquired a patina.

Seriously.

It’s so out of date, I might as well label it “Vintage.” But instead of fixating on sorry appearances, I’m just going to jump right in and start writing. That’s right, I am.  It might be messy and chaotic and contain typos and not be at all important or tremendously well-written, but I’m going to write it. Mostly because you’ve caught me riding the emotional roller coaster that happens after we relocate to a new state. Again.

Okay, to be fair, Massachusetts isn’t exactly new to us, we’ve just returned after a six-year hiatus. This time I demanded  we chose a nice house in the ‘burbs rather than the heart of Boston. What can I say, I wanted to live near the beach this time and own a car without dents, dings and gouges. I wanted a driveway instead of street parking and neighbors who probably don’t sell crack. Also, we have these three little kids and it turns out good schools are pretty much a big important deal. Huh…who knew?

So we’ve landed on the South Shore in a town we liked to visit back when I was first pregnant and Dave was still in law school. We’d drive down here to hit the beach during heat waves and wonder what it would be like to live in this place. If you’d asked me, I never would have dreamed I’d be sitting at a kitchen counter in the same town ten years later, rocking a little bit of a paunch and having birthed two additional kids.

I’ll never fail to be amazed at how, just when I think I’m comfortably settled somewhere, the universe throws a curveball our way. As it turns out, Maine didn’t want us anymore. Or maybe all the reasons we landed in Maine in the first place had simply run their course. After all, it was our move to Maine in 2010 that threw me onto the emotional rollercoaster that resulted the birth of Narragansett No. 7. And this silly little blog led me to grad school in Maine where I befriended some of the most important and supportive people I’ve ever had in my life. These are people who read some very raw work – memories of childhood buried so deep, that as I began writing my memoir, it felt more like projectile vomiting than any type of creative process. And they still love me, but grad school has ended and we have all retreated to our laptops.

Last fall, as I was attempting to throw myself into a post-grad school routine, I took on the home preschooling of our youngest daughter. Remember Kate? The one with a penchant for the filthiest of potty words? Anyway, it seemed our formerly cooperative preschool had begun to turn into something resembling an MMA Cage Match. For one thing, I wasn’t really into mandatory parent meetings where parents called the other parents “fuckers” and routinely threatened legal action over a case of head lice. Uh, uh… these are the preschool years, people. PRE. SCHOOL.

So, I fantasized about a nice, mellow year. One where I’d help Kate learn her upper and lower case letters, make sure she could count to at least 50. A year filled with play dates to keep her (us) socially involved and away from rabid women hell-bent on mandatory fundraising via lame calendar raffles. I thought, Oh , I’ll totally have time to write! Hell, I thought I’d be done with this memoir and sending it out to agents by spring. I conjured the image of a stress free summer in Maine.

Well, that’s not how my year went. Not at all. You see, as much as I thought Maine was our place – no matter how much I adored our beautiful home – it seems the universe had something else in mind. When we stopped paying attention to all the little messages that it might be time to move on, the universe or God or whatever force always seems to put David or I right where we need to be when we need to be there, started making Maine far less lovely.

From Dave’s insanely shitty job to the loss of friendships, missing cats, dead pet lizards, Joe’s continued difficulty in the school… It all piled up and pointed us to the door.

So here I am, sitting at the kitchen counter of a home in a suburb south of Boston – the one where I never imagined I’d live – and I’m wondering what the universe has in mind this time.

It feels good to come home.

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Punching Out the Donuts (Guest Post featuring Of Woods and Words.”

As a college undergrad, I had a tendency to freak out about my chosen major (English) and the career path I’d have to negotiate after graduation. Turns out, my freak outs were totally justified; I graduated in spring 2007, right as the great recession began settling heavily on the world’s shoulders.

To alleviate my growing panic about “the real world,” I’d often call upon my professors during office hours to “talk it out.”  Since they’d all chosen to stay in the (what I consider) insular world of academia with their own English majors, their insight was rather limited. Still,  a couple of them said something to me during those talks about how I could make a living with my writing that I’ve never heard before or after.

“You’ve just got to keep punching out the donuts,” they said.

Maybe I misheard them.

Writing was supposed to be angst-y, inspired, imaginative, fulfilling. It wasn’t supposed to be a repetitive task like punching out donuts.  The whole reason I’d chosen to study English and focus on my writing was because I loved discovering stories, finding new angles, and gaining a deeper understanding of the world around me and my interactions with it. In short, I wanted to be a writer because it was the most exciting thing I could think of to do with my life that I was actually qualified for and capable of.  (After brief consideration, I decided to leave Mt. Everest for other braver souls to summit.)

Now, four years out of college and still working away at making my living as a freelance writer, I’m starting to get what they were trying to say about those donuts. I think they were saying (metaphorically of course . . . they were English professors) that writing is a job.  A really freakin’ awesome job if you ask me, but a job all the same.  One you’ve got to stick with, through the good, the bad, and the nonexistent feedback, to succeed at . On Twitter the other day, I spotted a tweet that summed up the donut philosophy perfectly: “Note to my 15-year-old self: don’t become a writer. It can get boring sometimes.”

There are many mornings when I rise early to get my required writing done before heading off to the 40h/w job.  There are plenty of mornings when I’d rather catch a few more winks of sleep or spend that precious alone time at the desk sipping my black tea while reading through other bloggers’ recent posts.  But my words must come out. Articles, commentaries, and blog posts all have to get written. There are deadlines and payment involved, not to mention, important “platform building” for if I ever (oh please, please, please) get a book contract.

“Dogged” and “panic-stricken” often describe my writing lifestyle better than “exciting” or “glamorous.”

I’m totally punching out donuts these days. And those donuts aren’t always especially inspired, imaginative, or fulfilling. But you know what? Sometimes they’re down right delicious.

Ada blogs at Of Woods and Words about writing and rural living.

Don’t fear: Ms. Narragansett No. 7 herself will return TOMORROW!

Slumps and Old Stuff

Maybe I’m totally over thinking things but I think that when I slid my manuscripts into that manila envelope a few weeks ago, a bit of my inspiration slid inside and took a ride courtesy of a good ol’ United States Postal Service truck. I’m riding a nasty slump. In my defense, the past two weeks have been just slightly busy with pediatrician appointments and preschool functions. My duties as a mommy officially got in the way of my duty to write, and read the pile of books that are on the required reading list.

What to do?

Well…I’m going to ride it out. I’m going to move through this next week and try not worry about it. I’m going to get up tomorrow morning, drive the kids to school,  maybe clean a toilet or two and attempt to bang out some words. I’m not going to worry about whether they suck or not. This week, I’m going to spend 20-25 hours writing and get myself back into the groove.

On Thursday I’m heading to the Brimfield Antiques Show. Without children. For nearly three days.

I have a feeling I’ll be coming back slightly refreshed and with a few new treasures. If I’m really lucky I’ll have a story or two in my back pocket. Seriously, if you collect antiques, you know that there is no better place to have a run-in with crazy than an antique show.

Photo Courtesy Country Living

In case you haven’t heard about it before, Brimfield is a fantastic antique show in Massachusetts. I haven’t been able to get there for about five years and I am beginning to count the hours. My budget for the show took a hit thanks to the deposit we placed on grad school, so I’ll be limited in my purchases this year. No matter, I’m just thrilled to go and soak it all in.

Wish me luck…on the slump thing and the treasures!