Danger! Expectations!

“You’re doing NaBloPoMo? Why?”

“It’s a bunch of mommy-bloggers and foodies, and they don’t write very well. Why associate yourself with them?”

My colleagues and friends expect bad writing about subjects that don’t interest them, and that’s what they find when they browse through the NaBloPoMo blogroll.

My experience has been a little different.

The first time I joined the NaBloPoMo challenge, I didn’t know what to expect. I did it for the personal discipline: committing to 30 days of personal writing seemed like a good way to get out of my techwriting mind-set and gain experience with a different type of non-fiction creativity.

It worked. I still don’t post as regularly as I’d like to, but I’ve experimented with a lot of different ideas and techniques: memoir, art research, social issues, photo essays, rants, and idle musings. It’s fun!

Part of the challenge commitment is to read and comment on other bloggers’ posts. Yes, some of them don’t write well. It’s been interesting, though, to watch some of them improve over the four years I’ve been doing this. One young woman, whose first language is not English, has gone from haltingly expressed teen angst to fluent descriptions of culture clash as she grows to maturity.

Mommy bloggers? Yes. Foodies? Yes. Some of them don’t interest me, but others are wonderful. There’s Stacey, of PositivelyStacey.com. She’s an English teacher, so her writing doesn’t make me cringe. And just when I lapse into thinking of her as “only” a food blogger, she comes up with something like “16th Avenue Tiled Steps ~ a Hidden Treasure in San Francisco” or “A Dozen Ways to Be a Better Human.”

Then there is Sojourner’s Sojourns. Sort of a mommy blog, sometimes. Sometimes, more like a foodie blog. Sometimes the posts are low-key sales pieces for her hand-crafted herbal remedies, and sometimes there are articles on exotic travel destinations. Always well-written, though, and usually with outstanding photographs as illustrations. I love it.

expect boring = get boring

If we expect boring bricks, we see boring bricks. If we expect bright skies and clouds shaped like dinosaurs, maybe—just maybe—we’ll see something strange and wonderful.

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Hand and Eye

eye in hand, John DilworthToday was another lost day, as far as work and personal projects are concerned. I spent the day in doctors’ offices and outpatient surgery.

The bad news:
I’ll probably have to have surgery to correct the trigger finger on my left hand. I’ve already had two steroid injections in the joint, and there’s a limit to how often they can repeat the injections without permanently weakening the tendon. Bummer.

The good news:
After laser surgery, my left eye is now clear again except for a few floaters. I’ll return to have the right eye done in two weeks. Yay!


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Sidetracked again

pod desk to eliminate distractions

I had planned to start a major assault on the stored files I wailed about on Sunday, but I let myself be distracted by a bunch of stuff.

First, before I could sit down at the desk in my new staging area, I had to rearrange the furniture (one of my favorite procrastination techniques).

Next, it was the weather. It was a beautiful day, so I went for a walk. Ran into a neighbor I hadn’t seen in a while, so we talked long enough to catch up with the major events in our busy lives. His dog—a gentle three-legged poodle mix rescued from the local shelter—was sniffling a bit, so we discussed vets and antibiotics and pilling techniques before I headed home.

A glance at the calendar reminded me that I had some errands to run, and while I was out, I decided I might as well drop off a box of donations to the thrift shop and pick up some more cat food.

Even after Andy left for his tutoring gig, I found reasons to put off sorting and filing (or scanning, or shredding, or recycling) those boxes of 40-year-old files.

  1. I had to choose the next book for my Teaser Tuesday and Third Sentence Thursday book posts. As usual, this involved actually reading bits of a dozen or more books before I found something appropriate.
  2. The shoes I was wearing started tearing at the point where the leather met the rubber sole, and a blister was forming. Can’t have that! Changed shoes, and put the torn pair aside for a trip to the shoe repair shop in my next errand day.
  3. All three cats were feeling neglected, so I spent some time kitty-fishing with The Brats. After that, I had to sit and cuddle Midnight for a while. (Can’t have my beloved former feral getting in a snit because The Brats get more attention than she does!)
  4. Then, I realized I hadn’t heard back from the people I was expecting to meet in New York next week, so I fired off several emails. I also emailed the friends who want to get married in our living room in December, and my cousin in Denver, and a friend who wants to meet me for lunch this week.

By then, Andy was home and it was dinner time.

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For most of my life, my year has begun in the fall.

School, choir rehearsals, meetings for professional associations and clubs, theater and concert seasons all start in September or October. New clients generally come in the fall, in a hurry to spend allocated funds so they won’t disappear in the next budget cycle. Fall is also when I begin most new personal projects: knitting, furniture rearrangements, attic cleaning, wardrobe weeding.

Right now, I’m listening to the excited voices of the kids in the school playground across the street, and watching the neighborhood squirrels fighting over acorns.

What shall I begin next?

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This afternoon we went to a “Lunch and Learn” program dealing with life transitions, specifically, moving from a large home to an apartment or assisted living facility.

No, we’re not planning a move any time soon, but we’ve been discussing an eventual downsizing from our huge 3-story home to a more manageable space. We’d rather do the planning now, than in a rush when one of us breaks a hip or we can no longer keep up the house and garden.

Our problem is…what are we going to do with all this STUFF?

To be fair, it isn’t our problem, it’s my problem. The overwhelming bulk of this STUFF is mine: boxes containing 40+ years of work files, school files, clothes I might fit into again someday, and things I might need in the future. The rest of the boxes hold things I inherited from my pack-rat mother, including stuff she inherited from my grandmother.

I’ve known for a long time that I’d eventually have to deal with all this STUFF, but we live in a very large house with a large basement and three storage rooms in the attic. When I ran out of room in my office or my closet, I’d pack stuff up and put it in the attic. And, there it stayed, out of sight and out of mind.

Out of sight, that is, until a nasty storm in the spring of 2012. High winds and driving rain for several days resulted in the ceiling of Andy’s closet falling down. Apparently there had been a slow leak, with water coming in through the roof, and down through the walls. We hadn’t seen any signs of water, until the sheer volume of water was too much to trickle down through the walls. Bam! Wet plaster all over the floor and Andy’s clothes.

We hired a roofer to do the repairs. He discovered that the previous owners had put four layers of roofing on the house. Building codes only allow three. Oopsie.

The result? A complete tear-off.

roof tear-off

Of course, before we did the tear-off, we had to remove all the STUFF from the three storage areas in the attic. It filled the guest room. And my sewing room. And the 3rd floor hallway. And most of the stairwell between the 3rd and 2nd floors. And the 2nd floor hall. And my office.

boxes of stuff

I’ve been working on this STUFF for two years, one day in the attic, the next in my office, a little bit here and a little bit there. I can actually see the floor in spots, but it is taking so long, and it still feels overwhelming.

Hence, our attendance at the Caring Transitions session this morning. Most of the presentation was information we knew already. But one thing she said really hit home:

Don’t try to do everything at once. Pick one small area, then sort/file/donate/trash until that one small area is done. A whole room may be too big to manage, so start with one corner or even one shelf. And only handle each piece once!

Aha! Baby steps! I can do that!

Tomorrow, after my weekly housecleaning, I’m going to set up a staging area in our room-sized 2nd floor hall. A small desk, a trash bin, a shredder, a box for donations, and a small—a very small—filing box. And I will proceed in baby steps, one carton at a time.

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