Life Update #93

1. I’m happier. It’s a mysterious thing to wake up one day and discover that everything is ok when it seemed the opposite of that. I credit a large portion of the turnaround to running in sandals and reading the book BORN TO RUN. I don’t exactly know why or how, but I’ve come to love running after five years of torturing myself with it. Now, granted, I’m not sure about the whole marathon thing I’ve signed up to do on May 31st, but running 8 miles or so, even in the early morning, is just about my favorite thing right now.

2. So, church is often difficult. I think just about everyone knows that. However, I sometimes force myself into believing there’s something wrong with me when I don’t love it, or when I skip a Sunday. Midtown is definitely the perfect church for me, and my lethargy is not at all a reflection of Midtown. It’s just that achy feeling that comes with caring and wanting… However, quitting Surge has helped with that, because I don’t feel quite as much like I have to do or be something specific, regardless of how it might conflict with what I actually am. I also miss reading books I want to read, rather than ones assigned to me.

3. I’m still querying the manuscript, and I think being finished with it has eased some stress. I’m super-slow with querying it, though, so don’t get your hopes up just yet. Also in the writing category – I’m considering not starting my next manuscript until after this summer. I may take a solo road trip for a few weeks, following my whim, which is a lovely thought, and helpful with the not feeling depressed.

4. Work stuff is far more challenging (in a good way) than it’s ever been. Secretary duties are still rolling out slowly, and the changes in how people treat me catch me off-guard, but I’m enjoying the humbling experience. For instance, there was some interpersonal conflict that I got thrown into the middle of (regardless of having actually nothing to do with it really at all) this week, and just when I was at my most judgmental… oh-so-very sure that everyone except for me was very silly, I discovered that the conflict was caused by some incredibly noble and admirable choices by one person. I also discovered that the person who seemed most reasonable and kind was actually the one who was least reasonable and kind. Consequently, I discovered that I ought to probably trust in the experience and intentions of my fellow leaders… and I found myself running up against that same wall of I-hate-feeling-vulnerable-!-!-! that seems to be my Achilles’ Heel. I thought I’d talked myself through that one by now, but evidently not.

5. I’ve been super-busy. I don’t know why I am this way, but I very clearly disengage sometimes, and then years go by before I re-engage, and I don’t even realize I’ve re-engaged until someone expects something of me and my brain starts being all, “Who are you to expect anything of me?” and then my brain follows up with, “Oh shit! You have every right to expect that of me! I better get my ass in-gear!”

6. The Hilsts moving has shaken my brain up a little bit. I’m sad to see them go, and it often doesn’t seem real, because, even though I have other friends who are equally as close with me as the HIlsts, it’s a loss that I don’t want to experience. We will see one another, and I suspect Ashly will still be the first person I turn to when I’ve had too much wine and need to text someone about Sean Bean… but I’m sad I won’t be able to go for a run, and end up at the Hilst home. The holidays may be ever-so-much-sweeter, though with the travels. :-)

Other headlines:

Considering adopting a desert tortoise.

Enjoying Facebook – Who knew?

D & D Stands for Delightful and Dang it!… I’m a Nerd

Jordan! Where Have You Been All My Life?

Having Longer Hair … Worth it for the Feeling Pretty

Take Two with the 2nd Roommate???

Snow Patrol – “Crack the Shutters” Sexiest Song Ever!

Reading Leviticus… Because I’m a Weirdo

and… Sub Headline: Who Knew so Many of the Required Sacrifices are Almost Exactly the Same as Each Other?

Getting the Band Back Together: Bible Study with Steve and Lori?

Remembering Who I Used to Be

Getting back on Facebook has been interesting for me. The thing about not having it is that I don’t have much connection to the pasts I’ve left behind. I don’t have photographs. I don’t have folks popping up in my newsfeed, reminding me of the days when I used to be a youth leader, softball hero, or when people called my “Flo.”

Getting dinner with Donna this week was fun, but it was also a bit of a rude awakening. When I last spent time with her, I was a shockingly different person. I rarely watched R-rated movies; I never cursed; I set my cruise control even in town, to ensure I wasn’t speeding. The first moment I realized the difference at dinner was when we were getting ready to order drinks. I’m not sure Donna would have gotten anything but water, had I not already ordered myself a glass of wine… then, when the server suggested we get a bottle for the both of us, I was like, “Absolutely!” I felt a bit of curious concern from across the table, as if I’d just supplied evidence of my degraded character, but, as always, that may have been my projection rather than the person sitting in front of me.

The wine ordering is oddly important to me… I think I learned this from the Hilsts and the Johnsons, but I think the point of alcohol is to recognize how wonderful and mysterious the world can taste. Of course, this isn’t always a right sort of spiritual reverance, but it can be. And when I’m getting dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in ages, I think we should drink good wine, and even indulge in dessert.

She didn’t feel that way. She got a bunless burger, which keeps some of the pounds away, sure… but it just didn’t seem like dinner with a friend. It didn’t feel like the evening of abandon I was seeking.

The first thing she wanted to know about in my life was also unfortunate. “Are you seeing anyone?” Now, okay, I get that’s an enormous part of people’s hopes for me, and it’s even a medium-sized portion of the hope I have for myself, but I also hate that people ask about that before anything else. Why don’t they ask if I’ve published my book yet? Why don’t they ask about travel or really anything? I haven’t seen Donna is like 6 years… why about the marriage?

So, we talked about that for a bit, and then we talked about Donna’s niece, who was in the youth group when I led… and we talked about her upcoming marriage, which has been upcoming for as long as I can remember. The last time I spoke with Niece’s father (Sir), he was talking about how in love she was, and I just wish there wasn’t so much emphasis on marriage. It makes me want to put my head through a wall.

Then, there was the talk about youth group. Donna went from one big church to another, which is fine. She went from leading one youth group to leading another, which is also fine. That just isn’t what I did. I think I struggle with a need to constantly be making progress. I don’t like to settle in, because I fear complacency… so it was weird to listen to her talk about the upcoming youth camp and how magical it is going to be, because I remember giving most of my life to church kiddos for a season. I remember the lock-ins and lessons, the Wednesday nights and service opportunities…  and I can’t imagine much that I’d less like to be doing with my summer than returning to that time in my life.

So it was hard for me to settle in with Donna. It wasn’t as easy as I expected. We’ve lost the common ground we once had in many ways, and it felt achy, probably because I thought having dinner with Donna would be like having dinner with the Hilsts or the Johnsons. I thought it would be a “Stolen Dance,” but it was just a bit too disconnected, because I’ve changed.

Why I Want to be a Melon

I’m generally indifferent to babies. They used to frighten me, but being around the Watton kiddos changed that a bit. Also, as I get older, I feel less likely to ever have children, partly because I’m older, but mostly because I know what I’d be giving up, and I feel unwilling to give it up.

Two of my closest friends had a baby. Her name is Madelyn, but we call her Melon, and I’ve decided that I want to be just like her.

You see, my favorite thing about Melon is that she doesn’t think at all about how she might be inconveniencing others. She doesn’t worry about how her poop or pee impacts anyone or anything, while, for me, bathroom breaks on road trips are pretty much the most stressful thing ever. It honestly feels rude for me to ask folks to stop a car so I can pee. However, Melon just takes care of her business.

My second favorite thing about Melon is almost the same. She breathes. When she’s reaching for something that’s just inches from her, she doesn’t worry about making it seem like her reach is effortless… she breathes harder in those moments of easy reaching than I do when I’m running a race. It’s not that I want people to think running is effortless for me – I actually just don’t want them to think about me at all, and it seems like the best way to keep people from noticing me is to stop breathing sometimes. I want to be like Melon, because it never occurred to her to give herself permission to breathe. She just breathes.

So, okay, I know that sounds silly, but I honestly admire Melon for those two reasons, and I wish I didn’t have to work so hard to give myself permission to breathe and to pee.

Spring Break Update 2015

Work has been enjoyable of late, so I was oddly concerned about Spring Break breaking my rhythm. I honestly didn’t feel like sitting at home for a week, and, since I’ve recently begun querying agents, I didn’t have much to write. Don’t get me wrong – I’m planning the next manuscript, and I’m enthusiastic about it, but it isn’t yet time to start writing the thing, because I haven’t gotten the characters and conflict worked out in my head just yet. I haven’t even hit that moment when I’m ready to build outlines. I’m just thinking. Therefore, there is no significant chunk of writing to be done this week.

So, my concern for the week was how to fill the time. This is the first break from work that has probably EVER concerned me in this way.

Still, there are always things to be done… people to see, messes to clean up, errands to be run. I began by spending an evening with Steve and Lori, which is how nearly every break from work begins for me. However, this time, there was a distinct purpose: reset the check engine light on my car. I borrowed their code reader, and we worked it out. The next morning, I woke up bright and early, and drove my ancient car down to the emissions place. I went through the whole shebang, passed, and decided to take the long way home. Ten minutes after passing, the check engine light came back on, and I celebrated. I felt a distinct sense of, “I’m going to start my own band and we’re going to lead a revolution!”

Next, I spent a good, long while at the sbucks, finishing up the registering of my car.

Next, I went to the Tucson Festival of Books, which was delightful. I love the festival for so many reasons, but a new one that I observed this time is how beautiful it is to hear authors speak, because of the subtleties that cling to those who care about language. Example: I can hear the difference between “affect” and “effect” when an author pronounces the words… it’s lovely.

In addition to the beauty of authors’ speech, I also heard some incredibly writerly ideas that fueled my drive to be published. The authors spoke of how “great” only has real meaning in its aspiration, and how Joseph Heller evidently examined his success with Catch-22 and tormented himself a little bit about his inability to write another book as good as that one… until he concluded that the reason he’d never written anything as good as Catch-22 was because nobody else had either. That made me smile.

One more thing that struck me at the festival this year was the number of authors who’ve written books in multiple genres. When I read about writing online, there’s such a push to build a “brand,” which often means writing the same type of book again and again, so that readers who love one type of book will come to rely on you.

But I don’t want to keep writing the same type of book.

I want my next project to be for adults. I want it to be satire. I want it to be hopeful. I want it to be a clear and immediate separation from the first book.

So it’s reassuring that other authors have found success in crossing genre barriers.

I left the festival, went home, and walked.

I’m at an interesting place with the running, because I’m about to start legit marathon training (it doesn’t count until you’re more than half way there), and I’m super-excited. However, I’m supposed to be tapering this week, because I’m running a race this weekend… but I don’t feel like tapering. I feel like running. That’s never happened to me before, so we’ll see if it’s an asset in the race this weekend.

Finally, I paid my taxes, then went to church.

At church, things were falling into place in a frustrating manner, mostly because God seems to have laid out a path for me that I’m hesitant to walk. I sort of wish (in a half-hearted way, of course) that He’d leave me alone. I know that’s not really what I want, and that His plans for me are better than my plans for myself, and yet, I still would rather do what I’d like to do.

I’ve been slightly obsessive lately about the secretary position. It’s a highly secular thing for me to be doing, and sometimes I feel as if God is separate from it and I’ll have to keep myself from drifting, but it seems He’s weaving things together and placing me where He would have me. Also, there was one of those odd moments when someone I hardly know cursed around me, then apologized and proceeded to say something like, “I hope you’re not one of those good, Christian girls.” I was all, “Actually, I am.” Then he felt the need to explain his aversion to Christianity, and we were able to talk like normal human beings. It ended up being nice, but you never know where those things are going to take you in the long run.

Other than that, I’ve got a race to run, a tattoo to get, books to read, people to see, and relaxation to have. I’m looking especially forward to getting dinner with Donna Brenda, who I haven’t spent time with in ages. I reconnected with her on Facebook, because, yes, I now have a profile. It includes false info about my age and a few other things, but it exists. And I intend to figure out how to get it to stop posting every single time I update a book on Goodreads… I don’t intend to be “that person” on your newsfeed… I just don’t know how not to be just yet. Give me a month before you block me. :-)

Willfully Putting Myself Forward for Judgment

I think you should all know that I’m currently working on getting my manuscript represented.

I’ve officially been rejected once, and I suspect I’ve been rejected a second time… it just isn’t confirmed yet.

The process of traditional publishing requires that I start by getting an agent. Basically, I have to hook an agent in a 3-paragraph letter, so that he/she will read my first chapter. I have to hook him or her even more in the first chapter so that he/she will read a partial (maybe like half) of my manuscript. I have to hook him or her so well in the partial that he or she requests the whole manuscript, and I have to get him or her to love the whole so much that he or she wants to work with me.

It’s obviously a really difficult task.

Thus far, my emotions are fairly stable, but I did just have the first true moment of doubt when I thought, “What if no one wants it?” Then, I proceeded to self-publish the book in my mind, with little success, and then I spent the rest of my imaginary future, writing books and self-publishing them, even though no one was reading them.

It was all very sad until I realized that I’m probably at least 50 query letters away from deciding to self-publish. I breathed a sigh of relief, and decided to check my inbox one more time… just in case my dreams are already coming true and I just don’t know it yet.

My First Leadership Summit

Being the Secretary Elect of my local teacher association has some benefits. A little over a week ago, they sent me to Anaheim.

Some awesome things: I got to spend some time with the other officers, and I find them to be delightful human beings.

There’s a dude named Brian, who shares some of my introverted tendencies. Additionally, he isn’t afraid to apologize, he observes some of the underrepresented chivalries… like opening doors for a lady. Between him and Wacker, I felt completely safe and taken-care-of for the whole weekend. Thanks to Wacker, I did not have to drive even once, and he was really great about making sure we all got bathroom stops when we needed them. Those of you who’ve traveled with me know how important the not driving and the having a bathroom are in my life.

On the lady side of things, I felt like I had a lot in common with Jessica. She teaches English Language Learners, so we have some people and a lot of situations in common. Additionally, she’s a runner, and I intend to persuade her to run races with me, including, but not limited to, Ragnar. :-) Kat and I had a nice, long walk the first morning we were in Anaheim, so I felt like I got to know her a little bit better than the other three. We talked about her kiddo and fella, and I’m enthusiastic about getting to work with her.

Other than the people, there were some excellent speakers at the summit, including TED Talker Extraordinaire Sir Ken Robinson. I didn’t particularly enjoy the dude who wrote that book about taking the stairs, but mostly, I hated him for trying to sell to me in such an overt and selfish fashion. I’ll probably buy Ken Robinson’s book and boycott the other guy’s. :-)

One last thing: I got to hang out with Mr. Morrill, who I’ve written about on the blog here before. Basically, he’s the best teacher I ever had, and he deserves much of the credit for my current career and writerly aspirations. He’s the president of the Arizona Education Association, and yet, he made specific effort a couple of times to talk to me, which gave me some warm fuzzies, and made me aspire to impact kiddos the way he impacted me. In many ways, I felt like others really wanted his attention, and I often refuse to compete for anyone’s time, so I mostly left him alone. Also, it might be impossible for him to live up to my high school memories, so I’m fine keeping my distance a bit, but it always gives me a smile to see him.

Last, but not least, I managed a nice 9-mile run while there, which is more of an accomplishment because I had to get up at 4:30 in the morning to make it work. People who run with me much at all know that I’d rather run when it’s 110 degrees out than get up early to run. I’d rather risk being mugged at midnight, than get out of bed before 8:00 a.m. But, I did get to run around California Adventure and Downtown Disney, which was pretty cool. It’s probably top 10 runs of my life… somewhere behind like 4 Ragnar runs, but in front of my first half marathon. :-)

Ragnar 2015 and How I Tore My Pants :-)

Okay, so I’ve been slacking on my blogging duties of late. I promise I have several good excuses, though.

First and foremost, I’ve not had a weekend to myself for a bit, and I don’t have the interwebs at home. This is the first solid chunk of time I’ve had to myself since Valentine’s Day. I totally don’t say it like that to make you sad for me. I honestly don’t even remember what I did on Valentine’s Day, so it couldn’t have been all that bad.

So… since the V-Day, I ran Ragnar 2015, which is my new favorite Ragnar I’ve ever run. Mostly, I enjoyed running a respectable distance without suffering very much.

Also, I ate it pretty hard, which hasn’t happened to me in at least a decade.

Basically, I was on my second run of the race. It was nighttime, maybe like 8 or 9 p.m. and I had 7.8 miles to run. I started off pretty slow, and several jackasses blew past me. I knew I’d eventually run a few of them down, because they were mostly dudes, and their egos frequently get them into trouble on a race like Ragnar.

There was one dude in particular who blew by me, and slowed way down about a half-mile ahead of me.

So I did what you do in Ragnar. I hunted him. Slowly.

It took me something like three miles to catch him. He looked relatively fit, which always makes the triumph all the greater. The problem was that right around the time I intended to leave him behind for good, we starting hitting the stop lights. So I’d leave him behind, and then he’d catch me at the light. Then, he’d blow across the intersection like a bat out of hell, because men who aren’t runners, but who run are like that. In about 5 minutes, I’d pass him again, and then I’d run into the next red light.

We continued on in that annoying pattern for something like 3 more miles.

And I was pissed.

When we finally hit a spot where there were no lights in sight, I took off. I even passed another dude soon after that because I was so highly motivated. In Ragnar, you call it a kill when you pass anyone, so I was feeling pretty good about my 2 kills. I could hear the sounds of the exchange in the distance. I was enjoying the run, feeling like a barbarian in the night…

and I don’t even know what happened, but I ate it. Hard.

I hit my right knee first, then both hands, then my left knee.

Then my left calf cramped up like nobody’s business, so I shot both of my legs into the air and went into happy baby pose, trying to get my calf to calm the hell down.

That’s when my second kill came up to me.

“You alright?” he asked.

“Oh, yeah. I’m good,” I told him, still lying on my back with my feet in the air. He looked at me with severe pity.

“You sure?”

“Yeah. I’m just going to sit here for a minute.”

He left, and I struggled with my calf some more.

Then, I saw him. The jackass I’d hunted for a solid 6 miles… that’s an hour of the race. He was at least a quarter-mile back, but there was no way I was letting him have the victory.

I jumped up off my ass, and starting sprinting as fast as I could. My left calf wasn’t protesting as much as I’d anticipated, the right knee of my pants was def. ripped, and there was some blood, but my left knee didn’t start to bruise for at least an hour after the fall. Also, kill #2 was up ahead and I had every intention of deleting his zombie kill on me from my record, by returning the favor.

“Sorry, man. That was embarrassing,” I said as I passed him once again.

He just shook his head as I ran past.

I sprinted across the final intersection and into the exchange, where I slapped our bracelet onto Shirley’s wrist, but I was dumbfounded when she didn’t move.

“I can’t go,” she said.

“What? Why?”

“There’s an accident up ahead. They aren’t letting any runners out.”

So as my two kills caught us yet again, I tried to keep my broken heart to myself. They trotted into the exchange, and their teammates got to leave at the same time mine did, in spite of my ridiculous efforts to improve us from 9,083 rd place in the race to 9,081 st (I made up those numbers).

Regardless, I got to feel like quite the badass, and I’m looking forward to my next race.