State of the Writer

I’m juggling three WIPs with novel aspirations plus a handful of short stories, a few of which fit the theme of the compilation I’m trying to put together and my motivation to finish anything at all is about… I’ll say 20%. The motivation is present but the desire to act on it is not.

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Part of it is “What am I doing this for?!” and part of it is, “I really should be doing other things,” and yet another part is, “I could use a new challenge.”

Let’s address them, shall we? Because this is my blog and I say so.

 

I REALLY SHOULD BE DOING OTHER THINGS

Like what, Eda? Laundry? I got a load in the washer and a load in the dryer; what more could you be doing about the laundry situation?

Cleaning the house? Pfft. You have a toddler. “Clean” is relative. Take 52 seconds and put some of the toys in buckets and VOILA, the house looks clean.

Calling the dentist? Yeah, you should do that. But you’re going to make your husband do it instead, so don’t worry about it.

Finding a way to make more money by working from home? No. Two jobs and a toddler is enough, woman. Give yourself a damn break.

 

WHAT AM I DOING THIS FOR?

Why are you writing? Because you’ve always wanted to and now you have the time and the community to share it with and free platforms to post it to and if you’re motivated enough, you can try to sell your work. So what if it doesn’t sell or no one reads it. Write it anyway, just for fun. Tell yourself a story. Get all those extraneous thoughts and What If scenarios out of your head and onto (digital) paper. Do it because you can and you like to and why not?

 

I COULD USE A NEW CHALLENGE

So could we all, girl, but you have a lot of challenges right now. Work, kid, life, dog-sitting. New challenge doesn’t need to be New Hobby (and you don’t have the money for a new hobby anyway). Read a new book. Download a new workout routine. Find a new iPhone app. Leave the big stuff like Get an MBA or Travel to Europe or Become a Certified Zumba Instructor for when you have more time and/or money.

 

BUT SOMETIMES I’M TIRED AND JUST NEED TO CHILL

Then chill. Watch an episode of Baywatch. Scroll through Buzzfeed and take a “Which Cheese Are You?” quiz. Then, when you’re done, go back to writing.

And if all else fails, write a blog post about why you don’t feel like writing. See? Now you’re written. Good job!

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You could do worse than Hobie Buchannon

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Junior Lifeguard will save you and be your friend

I’m only 5 seasons in to Baywatch reruns but I gotta tell ya, Hobie seems like a decent kid. He’s a cool kid, of course, with the surfing and the boogie boarding and skateboarding and whatnot (or is every SoCal kid that kind of cool?) but he’s also kind and fair and empathetic. The kid talks to social outcasts, makes friends with homeless and handicap people, he doesn’t hesitate to jump over piers or run into trouble to save someone, and when he overreacts, he thinks about it and says, “You know what, Dad, you were right. I’m sorry I snapped at you.” I wouldn’t mind raising a kid like Hobie.

 

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He’s a Teen who’s also a Wolf

He reminds me of Scott McCall in that way: kids who are thrown into extraordinary circumstances who still manage to make pretty good decisions and have some perspective about how their actions might affect others. They’re confident and compassionate and take on leadership roles with grace and humility. That’s not easy for boys, certainly not in the 90s and not really now either. There’s an expectation of teenage boys to be rowdy and irresponsible and lacking in empathy and I love that there are role models out there in the media for an alternative.

Because those boys exist in real life too. The kids I work with at my after school activity are proof enough that decent, goodhearted, intelligent teenagers exist and they’re not all stereotypical nerds and goody two shoes; they’re just cool, funny kids who care about others.

I’m gonna feel like such a jerk if Hobie turns into a douche in later seasons. Scott McCall, so far, has continued being pretty great, for a Teen Wolf.

I Prioritize

I’m on mental vacation again and it’s not because I’m lazy or “not a writer because a writer writes every day*.” It’s because I need to prioritize, people. We all do.

*Bullshit. There’s nothing wrong with taking a day off. Or a week off. Or a couple of years off if that’s what you need to do to get your head right.

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False. Get a life, please.

A few things happened yesterday that put me in a “hey, might be time for a break” mood. The first was that I somehow copied over the entirety of one WIP with another. So I have two files, named two different things, with exactly the same text. And no back up. Sooooo… that story is gonesies. How did I do this? I don’t know. Try doing anything with a toddler screaming and pulling your fingers and see if you don’t make any mistakes.

The second, I went on freaking Facebook again which just makes me miserable and I should know better. I like being informed to a certain extent but there’s only so much I can handle. Within one swipe of my finger, I saw a story about another goddamn white teenager getting away with rape because boys will be boys and so forth, a story about a 10-year-old black boy who was chased by the police because he sorta looked like a robbery suspect (coughblackcough) and was thoroughly traumatized by the event but has no recourse whatsoever, and a story about a police officer who gave a baby a bath because he was covered in poop and vomit when his drunk mother was arrested.

You guys, I just can’t. I can’t handle that much awful in the span of 3 minutes.

I thought maybe writing about some of it would help me cope so I started a satirical piece called “Leniency for Rapists” but EVEN SATIRICALLY, the thought made me ill. Then I tried to write a blog post about how I tried to write satire and it just hurt my heart all the more. That was the third yuck of the day.

Add to all that a tired teething cranky bratty toddler with a tolerance level of 0% for all of life’s daily frustrations and it made for a half-ton of suckage that I was just not prepared for.

Rather than diving into the drama of another story, I would much prefer to snooze in a mellow haze of happy home life. The kid is chill today. I’m not interested in anything more dramatic than Baywatch (yes, I still watch it. Don’t judge.) And writing will have to take a back seat to mental health for a few.

Priorities. I got ’em.

Lesser Evils are Still Evil

The lesser of two evils is still evil. And no, this is not a political post. This is about various levels of mistreatment and how the least awful can easily be mistaken for appropriate behavior by comparison.

I’ve had more than my fair share of jobs, partially because I often work more than one at a time (sometimes, more than two) and partially because I have a heightened sense of self-preservation and No Problem with job-hopping if it serves my sanity. Because of this, I’ve seen a colorful assortment of work environments and corporate cultures.

What I can tell you for sure is that:

1 There’s always one nutjob in every workplace

2 There’s always someone who’s been promoted who should not have been

3 There are more barely functional adults in the modern American workplace than you could possibly imagine

And

4 When trapped in the monkey house, you adapt or you suffer.

My last full-time employer was a company held together by ideological duct-tape and routine, the leader of which was a irrelevant megalomaniac whose occasional presence in his giant office often left hand prints in the dust that accumulated on his desk. His vice president only spoke to others when he couldn’t get his computer to work and spent most of his time “working from home” writing grants that he was never awarded. The next two leadership positions were held by women who busted their asses every day to no avail whatsoever and who eventually gave up trying, came to work to collect a paycheck, and played their fiddles while Rome burned.

The training I received from the human resources rep on a complicated procedure came down to her repeating how copy/paste works and why that makes everything easier than typing it out every time. And the president once said to me, after I had edited and formatted his PowerPoint presentation, “I tried to make it so simple that even you could understand it.” And not maliciously, mind you. He actually expected me to giggle and agree. He was surprised when I stared and squinted instead.

The professional development manager, by contrast, seemed like an OK dude. He deferred to me on matters I understood more than him, asked for help instead of demanding it, thanked and complimented me when I accomplished an important task, and talked to me like a goddamn human.

Until… I told him I was pregnant. He was my supervisor at the time and I had already laid out a working plan for how much time I would need off, how things would work while I was away, and a general timeline of events. His response was, “Oh, okay, well, congratulations, that’s great!” Then he got up from the conference table we had been meeting at, motioned for me to follow him down the hallway, and asked on the way, “So was this planned or not so much?”

Wait, what? Was my pregnancy planned? Is that… um… strictly speaking, an appropriate question… to ask anyone, ever?

“You know, sometimes things happen,” he joked… because he was the good guy… in the office full of… not so great… people. I mean, the smarmy head of research who considered himself so charming he could get away with anything spent a lot of time getting away with staring at his coworkers’ boobs. The scheduling guy who had lost over 120 pounds in the last year often commented to others how easily they could lose their extra weight with just a little effort. The head of that other department I had nothing to do with treated me like his own personal secretary and demanded that I pause all other projects to help him and, while I’m at it, bring him some coffee. Surely, surely the good guy didn’t suggest that I got myself knocked up irresponsibly and was now dealing with the consequences.

OK, no, we’re not actually talking about real evil here. I told you, this isn’t a political post. But it took me several months to figure out why I was so taken aback by Mr. Good Guy’s comment. At the time, I thought it was rather too personal a question to go shouting down an office hallway. It wasn’t at all where I was headed with the conversation (see above, re: plans and timelines). And as a fairly confident employee who is rarely intimidated by workplace authority figures, I was surprised and embarrassed by my stuttering response.

I was so ready to forgive the comment and move on simply because it wasn’t the worst I had heard. But not being the worst doesn’t make it OK. It was ridiculously inappropriate and understandably offensive and I shouldn’t have stood for it at all. Looking back, I’m angry at myself for letting it go.

The lesser evil is still evil. The less horrible behavior is still horrible. And for real, people need lessons in Adulting before they bring their bullcrap to the workplace because this isn’t even remotely the worst workplace horror story I have. It’s just the lesser of the lot.

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No Love for the Kitties

kittybathI watched a video today of a kitten in an empty tub playing with tennis balls. The tub was not your standard symmetrical bucket, like the one most of us stand in to shower every day but fancy shaped with fancy hardware and probably just one impressive feature of a rather fancy bathroom belonging to someone who clearly has more money than me. It wasn’t my first thought, this judgement of bathtubs, this assumption of wealth, but I did notice. And so did someone in the comments.

Something about spoiled kitties and spoiled people and must be nice-itudes, which by the way, is why I try not to read the comments. Kitties just want to have fun, ya’ll.

And honestly, it is not hard to spoil a cat. They delight in such small things: toilet paper tubes and plastic bottle tops, bits of turkey from your sandwich or just a food bowl you can’t see the bottom of.

All this just leads me to believe that the worst parts of the internet are just petty people with too much hate in their hearts to contain the darkness. Who complains about a kitten playing with tennis balls in a bathtub? Honestly.

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Bob’s Discount Furniture is Ghosting Me

“Ma’am, I am so sorry for this confusion. It must be very frustrating.”

“Yes, thank you for validating my feelings,” I said, “but I’m less interested in a therapy session than I am in the mattress I ordered. Can we use this time to figure out where it is and whether or not it is coming to live at my house anytime soon?”

“Well, unfortunately, I can’t give you that answer right now. We’ll have to reach out to the shipping department and see if we can’t get this straightened out. They usually get back to us in about an hour then I can give you a call back and let you know what’s going on.”

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It’s not me, it’s your mattress.

Ya’ll, Bob’s Discount Furniture is ghosting me. I’ve had that exact same conversation FOUR times over the past 2 weeks. FOUR TIMES I’ve been told I’d get a call back and so far, THREE of those times, I did not get a call back.

I don’t think Bob’s is that into me. I think Bob’s is just trying to let me down easy by promising to call and then not calling. But here I am, tearing out my hair and questioning my worth as a human woman because, “WHY DON’T YOU LIKE ME?! WHY WON’T YOU CALL?! AND WHERE THE HELL IS MY DAMN MATTRESS?!”

Sometimes it’s better to be honest, friends. “Listen, it’s not that you’re a bad customer. You’re a great customer! You buy things and pay for them and occasionally post pictures on Facebook of the nice things we sell you. But, in this case, it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to work out. We totally lost your mattress. And we’re sorry. We’re happy to refund your money and throw in a bit of store credit so you can find another mattress. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is.”

And maybe I’d cry and maybe I’d feel rejected but I would pick myself up, dust myself off, and go find another mattress that isn’t lost.

Don’t let me down easy, Bob’s. Tell me you lost my mattress. Make amends. Give refunds. Incentivize me to keep shopping with you instead of writing nasty Yelp reviews about how every time I call to ask about the mattress I ordered and PAID FOR, you blame shipping, you promise to “figure it out and get back to me”, you tell me you’re sorry for my hurt feelings but then completely refuse to take responsibility or, you know, fix the problem.

In love and customer service, you close the loop. YOU CLOSE THE LOOP so everyone can move on with their lives!

 

 

Christmas Tree, You Betray Me

 

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I held it for ONE SECOND!

 

Consider it a lesson learned: I will never pick up anything glittery-looking at Christmas Tree Shop because it will undoubtedly BE covered in glitter.

It will not be glitter-infused paint or plastic. It will not have a protective outer layer. It will be 100% get everywhere, stick to everything, never truly leave you glitter.

More importantly, though, I will never hand my child something glittery-looking from Christmas Tree Shop because a toddler covered in glitter is not nearly the tornado of fun you’d think it’d be.

 

 

Cartoons Be Sexist, STILL

It’s one thing when you’re watching reruns of Tom and Jerry and you see some sexist trope. You roll your eyes, remember what the world was like when it was made, and move on. But when cartoons written, drawn, and filmed within the last couple of years rely on some outdated stereotype, you have to ask yourself, “What freaking world are these people living in?”

“They’re girls. Girls like to shop,” says the dad on the Safety Patrol short that played today on Disney Junior. From the people who brought you Doc McStuffins, Sheriff Callie, and the new crown princess Elena of Avalor–girls who straight up REPRESENT female empowerment as an accompaniment to pink clothes and sparkles rather than its antithesis–goes right ahead and uses some trash, “women be shopping” joke to appeal to the poor adult audience that has to watch cartoons with their kid.

Ha, ha, I’m an adult and I understand that reference. Women DO be shoppin’. Right? Am I right?! Oh Disney Junior, your adult humor is spot on… in 1986 during the height of the backlash against the feminist movement of the 70s. It’s funny because we’re post-feminist, right? Women are equal now and it’s ok, right?

No, sir. Not when an Olympic athlete’s husband gets the credit for her performance. Not when a presidential candidate can get away with calling women gross and fat pigs and laughing about it instead of apologizing. The modern world has yet to see any signs of post-feminism, thankyouverymuch, so this bullshit aimed at CHILDREN in 2016 is unacceptable.

And I’ll tell you what else, since I’m rant-happy anyway: I’m tired of eyelashes representing the female version of something. I’m tired of there being a “female version” rather than just including females to begin with. I’m tired of female cartoon characters making bedroom eyes at male cartoon characters. I’m tired of internet trolls claiming ruined childhoods over any attempt at diversity. And I am so very tired of children’s programming that feature teams of boy characters with one token female.

Aren’t we better than this yet? Can’t we try to be? Isn’t it our responsibility to fix the crap that screwed us up as children so the next generation doesn’t have to suffer the same neuroses?

Props to Louise for telling her dad, “I don’t like to shop.” And you don’t have to, little homegirl. Not ever, if you don’t want to. Don’t let men like your dad or the stupid dudes who write his dialogue tell you what you should like and who you have to be to make their understanding of the world easier. You and your brother keep calling your safety violations and party fouls, or whatever. Don’t let the man get you down.

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The Perspectiveless Slump-Frown

Just another example of how unpracticed we are at empathy, whenever I tell people I work on Sundays, I get the slump-frown in response.

“UGH! You have to WORK on Sundays? That sucks!” And then their bodies unconsciously respond by dropping all their emotional weight at once, pulling their shoulders and the corners of their mouth down with it.

Well, no, actually, it doesn’t. I rather like it. It’s quiet and peaceful, I can concentrate, and when I’ve finished an appropriate amount of work, I can take writing or social media breaks without guilt or paranoia.

But these slump-frowners aren’t considering what my work life is like. They’re not thinking, “You spend every other day at home with your son, chasing him around, listening to him scream and giggle, unable to go to the bathroom by yourself or sit quietly drinking your coffee at all, ever, and Sunday must be a nice little break from that.” They’re too busy thinking, “I spend every weekday in whatever hell my workplace gives me, Saturdays are for errands, and Sunday is my one day of rest at all, ever.”

Sunday is my one day of rest, too. I’m sitting at a computer in a mostly quiet room blogging and searching the internet for things to do with my son during the week.

I’m not saying I’m always the bestest at putting myself in other people’s shoes. I’m working on it. I think it’s just that I have worn the work-a-day shoes so I know both sides of this particular conversation.

Tell you the truth, if I had to choose between the childless work schedule I used to keep and the childfull nights and weekends work schedule I have now, I choose now. I still get up early every day. EVERY day. I still have tasks that need to be accomplished by end of day. I still bust my butt to keep all my balls spinning and my plates in the air. But now I get a squishy little love muffin to snuggle and a silent peaceful Sunday, gettin’ stuff done at work. I win!

Spider Dreams and Grocery Nightmares

I had a dream last night that my husband and I paid for our groceries–6 jars of peanut butter, a jar of mayonnaise, and a banana–in cash and received “Shaws Bucks” in return.

“Excuse me,” I said to the cashier as she began ringing up the next person in line. “What is this? This isn’t cash.”

“No, ma’am,” she rolled her eyes. “That’s Shaws Bucks. You can use them like cash.”

“Yeah, but here, right? What if I want to use them somewhere else?”

“Um… no, ma’am,” she said in conspicuous teenage disgust, “they can only be used here. At Shaws. Because they are Shaws. Bucks.”

“No, no, no. I do not want Shaws Bucks. I want cashy money. I gave you cash, you give me my change in cash. Go get your manager.”

She sighed and rolled her damn eyes again and then TOOK MY CART over to the manager. The manager then explained to me that they are no longer giving cash back but I could use my Shaws Bucks like cash at any Shaws. When I explained that I wanted CASH that could be used like cash at any establishment that accepted cash, she said, “OK, but I’ll have to take your groceries back in return.”

What?! WHAT?!?

Then the dream changed and there was a spider and every time I got close to it, it would get bigger. Yuck.

So if dreams are a subconscious way for our brains to deal with issues, Shaws Bucks are clearly my response to the discount furniture store that I recently purchased a mattress from only to have delivered… a Furniture Repair Kit.

Thanks, discount furniture store. Not only is my new “mattress” too small and very uncomfortable, but now I can’t even get my damn change or peanut butter from the grocery store. And exactly how big is that spider going to get, hmm?

It was a rough night.

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