My Attempts at Youth are Backfiring

I've changed over to a new face cream, one that's "age-appropriate" for my current circumstances.  Those circumstances being that I am NOT the 20-something my heart and emotions and even dreams feels that I am, but I am, in actuality, ooold...er.  Let's just say my insides don't match my outsides. However, my outsides have argued that hormone fluctuations are really wreaking havoc on my skin so I decided to try the next phase in skin care and forgo the cream meant for younger selves that I have been using for years and still really love and move on to the more intensive, "age-defying" cream.  (I'm so down for denial and defiance.) 

But instead of feeling plumped and refreshed and oozing in collagen I find myself walking around with a slight, never-ending headache that at first I attributed to a neck kink or fire smog or the stress of watching 13 Reasons Why (because I finally stopped avoiding it like a pussy and watched and cried and now want to hug every teenager who comes my way, except that's ultra creepy even for a mom, and I want my son to watch it but if I push too hard HE WON'T WATCH IT AT ALL! and it's important! so strategies to get a teen to watch, anyone? anyone? Bueller?) but it turns out I'm having headaches because I think I'm allergic to the freaking face cream.  Like the scent that I didn't think much about, lightly perfum-y but doable (and it should fade throughout the day right?), just insiduously burrows into my skull.  So again, instead of being renewed with a youthful glow I'm walking around with a little furrow between my brows and a slight scowl of pain and an overall tired expression that is basically aging me as we speak.  That was not advertised on the bottle.  

(Or again, it could be watching 13 Reasons Why. Which I can't quit even if I wanted to.)

Back to 20-something face cream and teen dramas.


Today's Theme Is Do What You're Avoiding

That's why I'm writing this post. I've avoided my blog. I've been avoiding writing in general. Not all summer. I had a good run in the beginning. I've had a lot of introspection and a lot of deep thoughts but it's been scattered.  I've been writing in pieces.  That might sound confusing if you're not a writer. You're writing, so that's good, right? But when you're writing in pieces that often means you're not finishing. It's a lot of jumping around.

There were some deaths this summer. People I knew, people gone much too soon. There have been shootings. Everything all in a row like it always seems to happen. I've been sad. Not depressed or distraught, just sad in a deep way. Just heavier. Sometimes there is so much going on in your head and your heart that you can't get anything out.

But it's hard because it feels like you owe it to get it all out. Owe to whom or what I don't know. Maybe that other person who might be going through the same thing?

So... I knew the victim of a workplace shooting. I lost a family member to sudden cancer. I know a family who lost their child to cancer after years of fighting. There were all too young for what happened. I don't often talk about these types of tragedies because they're not my stories to tell. (And I feel very strongly that I don't deserve attention for other people's pain.) But in this cycle of avoidance that I've been in, I suddenly feel like I should speak my experience. Especially in the wake of other mass shootings. It's been utterly heart-wrenching. Those days where everything just seems very heavy and seeped in sorrow. Those days where anxiety rules and won't let go. Those days where nothing seems to improve. I feel it, too. You are not alone. You are never truly alone, even when it feels like it. 

And yet... I still believe in people . I still think the world is full of amazing things. I still have faith.

Perhaps the greatest weight is that the world holds both all the time. And we have to hold it, too.

I'm not saying anything new here. I'm not offering any solutions. I think I'm just saying... I've been sad. It's OK to just be sad. It's OK to grieve that life is hard. It's OK to still smile, too. To keep going.

(I thought I was avoiding writing. Funny how that happens, huh? As all these feelings crash down.)

Love you guys.        - wg 


I Don't Want to Jinx Myself...

It is the end of the school year!  Usually by this time, there have been so many events and and extracurriculars and end of year of projects (besides getting up at the ungodly hour of 7:00 o'clock every morning for months!) that we're all a little bedraggled and ready for a good summer rest.  Summer plans are made but the day to day is vague and heavily reliant on "nothing".  But I don't know, this time it feels different.  There is energy in the air.  It feels like something is about to HAPPEN.  I don't know what exactly, but it feels like purpose is stirring. 

*shiver* Ooh! It's all vague and oracular and delicious feeling.  (I should totally write horoscopes. But not, you know, ones tied to astrology because I don't know anything about that.  Except my ADHD and talking shit is so Gemini.)

Maybe I'm just not as tired, maybe I'm ramping up with the sun.  I feel like writing a lot.  I think about writing all the time.  So perhaps, this summer, will be... extra productive?  (Don't jinx, don't jinx, don't jinx.)

Fingers crossed please.


Remember Kids... Don't Google and Blog

I seemed to have tweaked a muscle in my collarbone.  I wasn't even doing anything, just sitting at a meeting and when I moved it felt funny.  I didn't think pulling that particular area was even possible.  I mean, I can't flex my breasts like Dwayne Johnson can.  Especially not both girls separately.  He really gets them going so that seems like he would pull a boob eventually.  (I suppose I should call them "pecs" but that just seems silly.  We all know he's boob popping.)  I figure there must be a gene that lets you isolate those muscles.  One I don't have.  (I had to immediately go google that by the way.  If the government is really tracking all of our google searches then I bet there's a file on me somewhere that is a real interesting read.  (Google results were, sadly, inconclusive.  But don't worry Google, even though you let me down, I still love you.))  I also don't have that gene for rolling your tongue into a straw.  But despite that I HAVE taught myself to sort of whistle weakly!  Like an airy, tuned hiss.  I am very proud of that.  I can do two, maybe three notes.  I might, someday, be even able to do a limited variety of bird calls!  A girl can dream.

I guess I'm kind of addicted to internet searches.  I google stuff all the time!  Sometimes I go to bed and then something pops in my head and I have to look it up or I can't sleep.  Have you ever tried to sneak google so your family doesn't catch you?  (Me too!)  I'd like to say I can quit at any time but I'm not sure that's true.  I blame it on my parents and the educational system.  I collect knowledge like a magpie.  Then I promptly forget that knowledge because I'm old and I have to google it again.  It's an addiction that feeds itself!  Well, I do remember random juicy facts like platypuses only have one working ovary and toilets come in different heights.  Because I totally need to know both of those. (Actually, the toilet one comes in handy. I'm short.)

Anywho, if I've really pulled a muscle in my collarbone a quick search says I need to stick rice on it?  Wait, no, that's an acronym, R.I.C.E.  Yeah, that's too much work.  Did I mention that I have a short attention span?

Holy shit, I just googled the rolling tongue gene and it's been debunked!!  Our educational system LIED!


The Evil Laugh Goes, "Mauve Mauve Mauve!"

Ugh!  I did not mean to let so much time pass between posts.  Things got real busy real fast.  I got called for jury duty right about the same time that I realized I needed to plan whatever we were going to do for the summer, and also at the same time that I needed to get a bathroom remodel going because, oh my god, our bathroom is falling apart. 

I mean, it's functional.  It works, you can use the toilet and take a shower and all that.  Just try not to pay attention to the dripping faucets (3), broken drawer (1+), the mineral buildup that even acid won't eat through anymore, and the mysterious stains that look unmysteriously like (ahem) mold.  The last time it was updated was somewhere around '89/'90 so...  You know when people say things like "My bathroom/kitchen/bedroom is perfect! I love it! I'm going to keep it this way for the rest of my life!!"  Well, I can tell you from personal experience, 30 years later a lot of stuff is going to be broken.

But I gotta give it to the previous owners... lasting 30 years shows they bought quality stuff!  However, I am over 80s mauve and colonial blue.  SO. OVER.

For those of you who don't know what mauve is... behold!  This is almost the exact shade of our bathroom tile. Everywhere you look.

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As part of the compendium of hideous mauve items you can also enjoy a mauve skinny tie or skinny jeans.

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The jeans are a slightly more palatable shade. However, I don't think those hips are real. Or maybe her waist. Something was definitely photoshopped there.

Here's a beautiful cake in mauve! But let's face it, out in the end, it's not gonna be pretty.

Image result for mauve

In fact, when you type "horrible things in mauve" in google, Barney the dinosaur pops up!  Although technically, Barney is horrible purple.  Mauve as well were quite a number of bridesmaids dresses that are just trying too damn hard.  There is also a book, "Mauve:  How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World"!

Um... my bathroom thanks you?


Keeping Menopause Classy

I gotta tell you I'm not digging this menopause thing.  It's painful, lumpy, awkward, and odd.  There are also smells.  Years ago, I put together a whole list of the Things They Don't Tell You in Lamaze, all the silly, gross, funny details and shared experiences of pregnancy.  I'm half-tempted to start a new list for menopause.  Except I'm really hoping it'll be over before I have enough for a list.  Really, really hoping.  Who I am kidding?  I've already got enough; I just don't want to relive them. 

The symptom I'm currently enduring is my boobs growing.  Because, apparently, one out of five women's breasts get bigger during menopause!  Who the hell knew that?!  It never even occurred to me that could happen.  I believed that once you were done growing, except by pregnancy or purchase, your boob size was set.  But no!  At first I thought my girls were just bloating, like maybe I ate too much salt.  Then I thought my bras were worn out, that's why everything felt weird.  Then I got mad at the manufacturers for changing the design of my favorite bra because it used to fit!  Damn you bra manufacturers!  Just stick with the design already.  My ta-tas were sore and sensitive, too.  That's when I realized it was hormonal and I thought, "oh, well, the swelling will go down soon".  But it hasn't gone down.  I bought bigger bra sizes and they still didn't feel great.  In fact, some days I don't want to wear anything at all, except now I've got flotation devices bobbing all of the place.  Then I went and got professionally fitted.  It was the fitter who casually mentioned breast growth during menopause.  I still didn't think that was happening.  But my hooters kept swelling, everything kept hurting, it all just seemed out of place.  Finally, digging through the internet, I read up on it.  

One out of five.

The worse thing is how blind-sided I felt. It's not like they went over this in that puberty class in 5th grade. "As your body goes through hormonal changes you may experience sore breasts, mood swings, acne, possible weight gain, and painful cramping. Oh, and by the way, you'll go through all of that again when you have kids. AND when you go through menopause. Enjoy!"  That would have been helpful.  Or any class on menopause would be helpful!  How about just an informational luncheon? Older ladies coming together to share a new chapter of The Talk.  "Well, dear, things may start falling out of your twat now. Or it'll dry up. It's hard to tell. "  It's the stage that no one covers.  You'd think there would at least be a pamphlet on menopausal breast growth because one out of five is, you know, kind of significant.

And that's just the tip of the tender iceberg.  Everyone hears about hot flashes, insomnia, and mood swings, but there's a whole slew of other symptoms that I, at least, had never heard about.  Enough wacko symptoms to make you think you're going crazy.                

So if you've got a menopause story, feel free to share it. I'd love to be crazy with company.

            - wg


Music for the Mid

Things have been alternately busy and pokey lately, in that way that culminates in having too much to do one day and not caring to do anything at all the next. On the busy end, my kiddo (who is suddenly much too grown up) finished his play for drama and his drum show and then went off on an 8th grade D.C. trip during spring break. Whoof! (Yeah, a whole lot could be unpacked there but I'm putting it on hold lest I go maudlin.) And in two weeks he has auditions for high school! (Oh, my heart.) In between all that we have a bathroom remodel coming up and I'm trying to organize summer plans. 

And then there are those moments where I just stare for way too long at this game on my phone that involves making matches and hatching dragon eggs. Come on, everyone needs a dragon.

So while I sort out where my head has gone while my legs went in another direction I'll leave you with a bit of music.

This is Vola Tila, with New Behaviour.  Cheers!

 


Writing Slowly but Surely

I seem to be in a good writing groove at the moment (knock on wood, fingers crossed, step on a cat... wait, no). I've hit a pocket of ideas for the second book that I'm exploring and it's turning into some interesting copy.  I have a rough outline and an idea of the big story arc, but I'm still definitely in the experimenting phase.  I actually really enjoy this part.  All the small details start to come out but it's still very open and organic. I begin recognizing layers of themes; ones I intended but also surprises that develops as I write.  It's always fun to see what your unconscious comes up with when you're not paying attention.  (Sneaky, sneaky unconscious.)  I get to play while I'm writing and that's always more fun than "hurry up and finish and/or fix".

I'm still not the fastest writer but I'm happy if I'm steady. I find I waffle between being furiously jealous of "fast writers" and slightly disappointed in the results of said fast writing.  I mean, a lot of the time when I read someone who says they're a fast writer it's still really good (then, oh the jealousy).  But sometimes, sometimes I'll read something and it feels... well... rushed. 

But I'll be honest, the envy still wins out.  If I could get to twice my current word count and still feel like I'm playing... I'd be very, very happy.  ♥


Mark Your Progress and Take a Deep Breath

I wrote this a year and a half ago...

    "Occasionally I come up with mottos for my life. It's entertaining and sometimes pithy. Or maybe they're just mottos for the moment, since I keep changing my mind and creating new ones. But one of the overarching lessons I keep running into through my trials and tribulations is this one: Stop holding back, Girl!    

    Which is a little scary because I'm not exacting a shrinking wallflower.  And maybe that is the point because I think I need to scare myself a little."

I never posted it; it's been sitting in forgotten draft mode this whole time.  It's interesting to see where I was then.  That unfinished post was about my tendency to curb my gut instincts.  It was about letting my fears get in the way of starting things, of second guessing that I knew what I was doing, or that what felt right was too strange, or what I wanted to accomplish was too much.  It's funny how often the strength of our power and the strength of our doubt mirror each other.  I was essentially afraid to trust myself. 

But part of me must have remembered that motto because since then I've finished a novel and I'm starting another.  I've pushed myself out of my comfort zone a number of times.  I've tried new things.  I was successful at some things and not others.  I've been proven wrong when I thought I knew something and I learned because of it.  It was hard, but it was great.

Lately I've been getting a lot of messages from the universe that seem to boil down to an entirely different motto...

Let go. 

I just got used to not holding back, to getting things done, to just do it!  I accomplished quite a bit in the last year and a half.  I've gotten real good at being in control of all the details to accomplish things!  I became the master of my own destiny.  Except now I'm supposed to... not be the master.

*groan*  I'm not sure which motto is scarier.  And have no doubt, I am scaring myself, I am uncomfortable.  I know (with the gut instinct I've learned to trust) that in another year or two there will be more progress, there will be more accomplished, there will be more learned, and there will probably be another step and a new motto.  I know this!  But I gotta ask... why does every incidence of growth require so much dang discomfort? 

(Until then, breathe and repeat... "May I open to my experience just as it is. May I open to my experience just as it is. May I open to my experience just as it is." Taken from the Self Compassion Pause.)

                 - wg


More Cooking for Slackers

Anyone who knows me (or has visited this blog before) knows I am not a cook. I can bake up a storm and make anything with sugar, I'm just not skilled with, like, the stove and meat and stuff. Plus, Keen's food tastes way better than mine, and even if I'm a crappy cook that doesn't make me stupid. Given a choice I'll eat the tasty dishes, thank you very much. But I have been trying to expand my skills over the years, considering I have a young'n to provide for on the days when my husband isn't home. Tonight I made this delicious, easy casserole and now I'm going to share it all with you just like those professional cooking blogs! Aren't you excited?

Step 1.  Get your husband to poach some boneless, skinless chicken thighs for you. (Pan frying is OK, too.) Point out that the chicken will go bad if he doesn't cook it or entice him with whatever favors he prefers. (This is a family blog so I'm not going to go into detail.) Firmly turn down his offers to "teach you" how to poach. That's just his enabling tendencies.

Step 2.  Get a frozen Stouffer's Mac and Cheese family size dinner! Microwave that sucker according to directions. No, really.

Step 3.  While the mac'n'cheese is cooking, chop/shred the chicken into chunks. They might fall apart like mine did. I tried making them into those cute little chicken blocks you see at the store. I don't know what happened there.

Step 4!  Season the chicken with assorted spices, because did you know that poached chicken is super plain? Yeah, me either. I used salt, pepper, celery salt, and poultry seasoning. It was easy. I just threw the spices on the chopping block and mushed it around with a spoon.  

Step 5!  Pull the mac'n'cheese out of the microwave and transfer it to a slightly larger pyrex dish. Then microwave 1 cup of frozen peas in a separate bowl until cooked. I used Trader Joes peas so you know they're all healthy and organic and crap 'cause they use those special organic freezers that keep the healthy bits in.    

Step 6!!  When the peas are done drain the pea water (ha, pea water), then mix them and the chicken into the mac'n'cheese.  Stir well.

Step 7!!  Top with shredded cheese and bread crumbs. Both of which Keen fortunately had! Then pop the whole thing back into the microwave for another 2-3 minutes until everything is heated through.

Step 8!!!  Scream at your family to come look at the almost homemade looking, delicious creation you have made!! Threaten to take away your child's video games if they do not comply. 

And finally... eat. Yum! Bask in the validation.

Thank you. Thank you very much.             - wg


Babies to Menopause Went Faster than I Expected

Well, this blog has unofficially gone from having a baby to entering menopause. I say "unofficially" because while my hormone levels are technically well in the grooving to the oldies range I'm still having spotty encounters with Aunt Flo, and while I love and honor Auntie in my life, it's really about time she stop popping by. It's not you, it's me. OK, some of it is you. You never call, you're kind of flighty. You're always talking about cats and making a mess. You eat all my chocolate. I'm done.

Anywho, I think the confluence of high hormones and cranky Aunt is making my OBGYN's head explode a little as he has insisted on doing a biopsy. (Because, you know, the medical community... they'll do one study on women in the 80s and then insist that every woman is JUST LIKE those twenty women in the study always!* Then they'll go back to testing important medicine like penile enhancement.) Do you know what a uterine biopsy is like? It's like changing a tire, except instead of using the jack to hike up the car you use that on the girly bits to crank open muscles meant to hold in a baby roughly the weight of a bowling ball. Those muscles? They're like barre workout strong! (I took a barre class once and it kicked my ass. Sore for days.) Then after you've cranked the muscles open, you take a long pokey stick and scrape your insides. Scrape your insides!! Because you get to feel everything. So. Much. Fun.

Well. Two weeks until we get the results for that. Which kind of reminds me of when we were trying to have kid number two; there was a lot of waiting. It wasn't that long ago. I mean, over the course of my whole life, fertility to non-fertility really kind of flew by. Say, if I live to 90 that means only about 30ish years were baby-making years. That's kind of weird. Especially since I started this blog because I had a kid.

But that also means that for most of my life I won't be having periods, so WOOT! New chapter, baby!

               - wg

*Not based on scientific fact. Just lots of observation.


Redheaded Barbies Rock

I was cruising curvy Barbies (because yay! real women!) on Amazon, and of course I go for the redheaded one, even though she's not actually as much of a redhead in real life as she was online. More of a strawberry blond. Not even a true ginger. (Commit Mattel.)  But! She's got a butt! I've got a butt! AWESOME! She's super pretty, too. Just beautiful if she were a real girl. Now I kind of see why some people get obsessed with dolls and then do too much plastic surgery. (Not really.) 

So despite the disappointing lack of redness I'm glad I bought her. Then Mattel made it up to me because as an afterthought I searched for other redheaded Barbies and I found...

GAME DEVELOPER BARBIE!!!

She's got punk red streaked hair! And glasses! And jeans! And AND an army green jacket over her nerdy grey t-shirt!

HOLY CRAP, this is me!!! 

I have never seen my style epitomized in a doll before. She is lacking a booty and her hair is long and straight instead of short and curly. But you know, it's pretty damn close. The essence is there. I bet she watches anime and Doctor Who, too.

My two as yet unnamed redheaded sisters. Although I'm thinking Cat for the hot curvy one. Cat's a feminist. Obviously.

Barbie IMG_5353 adjusted


My nerdy girl is going to need more time for her name. If you got ideas shout 'em out in the comments. I need some inspiration. Here she is spending too much time on the Internet again. Twinsies!

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My husband smiles every time he sees her, my punk nerd Barbie. Lucky me.  ♥         

Barbie IMG_5347

 


My Time at SFWC 2019

On Valentine's weekend I attended the 2019 San Francisco Writers Conference (SFWC).  I've gone to this conference three or four times now and I always come away inspired... but I have to say this last trip I just really enjoyed myself!  I met great people, I liked the sessions, and it felt extremely personally productive.  (Pretty funny considering I didn't write a lick while I was there.)  I had a consultation with Agent Laurie McLean that was especially helpful. (Thank you!)

I know there are writing conferences out there that are focused on the craft of writing, with writing workshops or mentorships, and I'd like to try one of those sometime. However, what I like about SFWC is that it includes business and industry view sessions, such as how to get started online, marketing ideas, or discussing trends in a particular genre.  Maybe it's just the marketer in me but I love those sessions.  I'm all about learning the industry in order to succeed.  In particular, I feel like I learn what I'm doing right as a writer and that's very validating.  Second, I learn what I may be doing wrong in a way that let's me course correct in actionable ways.  And third, I come away with tips, data, and inspiration. Yay!  (I wish I was this type A in highschool; I would have gotten better grades.)

And big win... I met a lot of other cool writers, several of whom were interested in writing groups or swapping critiques!  I also approached presenters several times during the conference, either for professional advice or just to chat, and everyone was open and nice.  Writing conferences can feel overwhelming, if not downright terrifying, so I think that friendly attitude goes a long way. Especially for those writers who may be more introverted.  (I mean, I was a mess of nerves the first time I went and I'm not a shy person at all!)     

For writers out there thinking about attending a conference, especially one with a business bent, I recommend checking out SFWC*. 

         - wg

*Totally not a paid plug. I just like to gush.


Where is the Chocolate?

I have been slogging through loglines/elevator pitches for the last couple of weeks.  I have discovered that it is much easier to write a logline before you write the actual book!  This sounds like a disaster but it's actually helpful, because when I have the book complete I do that writer thing where I blather on like, "Well, it's about this girl who has a temper and gets bullied for her special needs and then she's trapped, and there's magic and homeless people and, oh! and there's this bad guy and then another bad guy, but it's really about belonging and self-empowerment couched in the metaphor of Alice in Wonderland and there's spirituality and chocolate and mushrooms and..." 

There is no chocolate. Why is there no chocolate?

I just have too many of the details living in my head, breathing their importance down my neck, clambering for attention, screaming for sugary goodness. "Don't forget me!"

However, my second book that I've just started, where I have nothing but a few thousand words and a preliminary outline?  That logline popped right out.  I was half asleep even and poof!  (Speaking of which, why hasn't anyone invented the machine yet that can capture the brilliant ideas we have while we're sleeping?  It could be an app even!  Just stick that electrode on your forehead, plug it into your phone, and snooze.  That would be SO USEFUL!)

So THAT is my new plan... write the pitch before you write the book. 

That and completely silly pitches for stories that don't exist keep popping into my head.  I'm just calling that practice. Like this one, in movie narrator voice of course...

In a world ruled by sorrow, where the horrific SKINBEARS use tears as currency, the perpetual perky PETRA must team up with the dour CANDYMAN to beat the system or have her smile crushed out FOREVER!! (ever… ever…)  She only wants to smile… but it may be HER DEATH!

*dun dun DAH!!!*