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Writing

Writing

My biggest reason for blogging (aside from an overly optimistic and definitely unrealistic desire to attain some level of fame) is to maintain at least some of the writing skill I developed in college. Some days the writing is easy and I find myself weeping over my keyboard at how beautiful my words are, but other days, like today, the words and ideas just don’t come together. My sentences are about as poetic as the bag of garbage I need to take to the trash can and my thoughts are about as deep as . . . as . . . See? I can’t even think of an appropriate comparison. (Let alone the literary term for what type of comparison I’m looking for.) Sigh. Today the juices just aren’t flowing and it’s about time I stopped wasting time drafting and deleting posts. As a peace offering to the writing gods, here are some sweet pictures of the little people. Perhaps they can convince my muse to return.

 

Solar Powered Clothes Dryer

Solar Powered Clothes Dryer

It’s strange that a rope strung up between two trees could bring me such contentment. If the extraction of all the original clotheslines from pretty much every backyard in our neighborhood is any indicator, I certainly don’t think most people feel the same way. Or at least they’ve forgotten that they should feel that way. There’s just something about the simpleness of it. A row of sun bleached diapers fluttering in the breeze or a collection of Men’s pants almost as tall as me suspended by tiny wooden clips drying effortlessly in the sun. A baby kicking her chubby legs and cooing as she stares in wonder at the canopy of leaves high above our heads. A little boy squealing with delight as he plays peek-a-boo in between dangling sheets. My mind wanders as I move up and down the line touching on the deep and the trivial. The chirping of the birds and scrambling of the squirrels overpowers the distant whirring of cars on the interstate. Slow Down, the Universe seems to whisper.

During the winter months, I miss this. The dryer is an amazing machine. But, as warm and fluffy as it makes our clothes, it just doesn’t give me the same feeling.  It shuttles its cargo around in a rush, beeping at me when it’s done. Workaholic. At the first sign of spring, Noel loops the rope around two of our yard’s loyal trees, pulling it taught with a Bowline knot on one side and a Tautline knot on the other. I standby with a basket of wet clothes, both of us waiting to soak in the sun.

PS DIY Outdoor Clothesline and brilliant Indoor Space-Saver Clothes Dryer Rack

 

Facelift

Facelift

Not only is my husband smart and good looking, but he is fluent in multiple different languages. Make that multiple computer languages. Pretty dreamy, huh? Seriously though, Noel has some crazy coding skills that he recently put to use on this here blog. We’ve been talking about giving the blog a makeover for awhile now and making it less of a mom blog. (No offense to mom blogs. It just didn’t seem fair to have Noel seem like a guest poster.) Back before we had kids we both blogged fairly equally about quirky, random things and we’re hoping to get a little bit of that back.  To preemptively answer some concerns about the new changes, yes we will still post pictures of our adorable kids, no not every post will be about insulation (just some 😉 ), and yes we will do our best to be funny. We still have an awesome header that’s in the works, but decided it was about time to reveal the new theme. If that anticipation doesn’t give you incentive to keep checking back, we don’t know what will. Update: The header is now done!

Just Shut the Door

Just Shut the Door

One of my favorite things about the internet is the plethora of free tutorials you can find. I’m glad that there are crafty people out there who like to share their creations, but am sometimes disappointed by their ability to relay information. (See, one more reason why you should take your English classes seriously 😉 ) Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a tutorial and have read the instructions a million times and my eyes are tired from squinting at photos I want to contact some of these tutorial writers with this simple message, “Hello, I see you have a talent for creating, but seem to be lacking in your written communication skills. Perhaps I can offer you my services for a small fee. I promise allowing me to rewrite your tutorials will not only make you seem smarter, but will make your blog much more popular and likely increase your sponsorships and ad revenue.” Instead, I usually just lay down whatever mangled project I’ve been working on and shut the door on my chaotic craft room. Given the alternatives of insulting strangers or throwing my sewing machine at the wall, it  just seems like the best thing to do.

In good creating news, I have finished a few simple projects. I’ve tried to save the simpler projects for the end of my pregnancy since sewing can be physically agonizing the larger I get.

Side note: I swapped out the chair at my sewing desk for an exercise ball. It actually makes my ribs and back hurt less as I sew. I’m kind of psyched to try using one during labor, but can’t bring myself to call it a “birthing ball.” Maybe I’ve just taken one too many exercise classes.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Here are the most recent successful (and easy) projects I’ve undertaken.

Burp cloths with a feminine touch

and Baprons (tutorial here).

Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis

Let’s be honest. I think about blogging a lot, more than is probably normal. I find myself composing as I fold laundry or drive the car. I jot down ideas on scratch paper and have a slew of drafts that I’ve lost interest in or never deemed publish-worthy.  To be fair though I’ve been composing in my head for years now, even before the blog. I blame this on all the years I’ve dedicated to trying to become a writer. Amidst the editing, deleting, and publishing I sometimes pause and ask myself, “What is my purpose in doing this?”  and honestly, I still haven’t come up with a solid answer – at least not a singular solid answer.

Sometimes I’m jealous of other blogs, whether inspiring or irritating, for having a solid theme or designated purpose: crafts, politics, fashion, literary, journal, business driven, mommy blog, whatever. Maybe it’s because we have two very different writers on this blog or maybe it’s because we’re “well-rounded” or maybe we’re simply weird, but I have a hard time pigeonholing our writings into any one category. Sometimes I like that I can’t quite put a label on the sum of our writings, but other times this lack of cohesion and perhaps identity bothers me. At times like this, I don’t write. I just puzzle and mull. I’ll draft about how I sometimes want to punch out moms that complain about how their three-month-olds don’t sleep through the night, but delete it because I can’t see anything productive coming out of being a hater. Then I’ll move onto a post about a recent craft I did, but drop it because it seems boring and braggy. The literary posts get neglected because they take so much effort and rarely get much attention and a bunch of other random posts get shot down for being potentially offensive, too preachy, or plain old boring.

Generally, I’ll end up with a post about Cooper because it’s safe. It will at least please the family and doesn’t take as much creativity on my part. Plus, these posts always get a plethora of comments, which surely doesn’t hurt my confidence. Still, every time I end up here I pause with my cursor over the publish icon, wondering if this really is just “one of those mommy blogs.” Maybe it is, it’s hard for me to tell. Is that bad? Also hard to tell. Ugh. And on comes another dry spell on the blog as I retreat back to the comfort of my journal (Yes, I’m old school like that.) where I can write and write and not worry about what anyone thinks.

As a reader I hope that the hodgepodge of  topics isn’t too much of a turn-off. I guess that’s just how we are: a crazy mixture of ideas, feelings, and purposes. I hope you can also excuse the fact that as a writer I am sometimes a hot mess. Now do you see why I’m not on Facebook? That’s just more stress than I think I could handle.

Spring?

Spring?

The Poetry of Bad Weather

Someone had propped a skateboard

by the door of the classroom,

to make quick his escape, come the bell.

For it was February in Florida,

the air of instruction thick with tanning butter.

Why, my students wondered,

did the great dead poets all live north of us?

Was there nothing to do all winter there

but pine for better weather?

Had we a window, the class could keep an eye

on the clock and yet watch the wild plum

nod with the absent grace of the young.

We could study the showy scatter of petals.

We could, for want of a better word, call it “snowy.”

The room filled with stillness, flake by flake.

Only the dull roar of air forced to spend its life indoors

could be heard. Not even the songbird

of a cell phone chirped.  Go home,

I wanted to tell the horse on the page.

You know the way, even in snow

gone blue with cold.

– Debora Greger

I love the lines in the poem where the students wonder if all the dead poets have “nothing to do all winter . . . but pine for better weather?”  We’ve had some really nice weather lately. The past couple of days have been stroller pushing, park playing, chaco wearing, jacket forgetting kinds of days. I officially blame the weather for the plethora of half completed drafts I have yet to finish and post. The forecast indicates that winter will be making a comeback, and perhaps the writer in me will come with it. In the meantime, I think I’m due for today’s dose of Vitamin D therapy.

Our Blog: A Small History Lesson

Our Blog: A Small History Lesson

This blog is old, like 97 in blog-years old. It was created using Moveable Type at a time when Blogger was barely a twinkle in Google’s eyes. The first post was published in 2003; Noel was living in the Alaskan bush and started the blog mostly out of sheer boredom. Since internet journaling wasn’t yet popular it wasn’t even called a blog, it was a weblog.

When we got married I didn’t take any interest in the blog for a solid year. Around that time I noticed that some of our married friends had shared blogs and I started to feel a little jealous. Noel added me as an author and we both shared the duty of writing infrequent posts about the injustices of school, the Logan weather, and occasional trips we took. The blog was mostly followed by Noel’s family and more specifically Noel’s mother (who is still our number one reader by the way).

Over the last year the blog has changed a little bit. We had a kid. Even though we didn’t want Cooper to steal the show, he inevitably gets mentioned a lot. I always thought this would be a turn off, but though it pains my writer’s heart, the posts with pictures of Cooper are always more popular than any of my musings.

Many of our newer readers think that I am the sole contributor and probably think that I must be bored much of the time. Which, let me assure you is false on both accounts. Now that I’m not writing papers or discussing scholarly literature I’ve kind of clung to the blog as a way to preserve my writing abilities to some degree. Sometimes I waste Cooper’s entire nap restructuring sentences until I find them at least passable to be read by other eyes. Noel periodically still posts (see previous post for example), I just don’t think he needs it the same way I do.

Our blog has evolved a lot in its 7 1/2 years of existence. The blogging world has picked up a lot of momentum lately and there are so many people’s lives and opinions to read about. We haven’t given in to the siren call of Facebook yet, so it’s a bit difficult for us to measure our internet “friends,” but I always love it when someone new comments or adds us to their blogroll (yes, we know, even if your blog is private :)).  Thanks for taking the time to read. We’ll most likely be here for at least another 7 1/2 years offering up more random thoughts and quirky updates.

Why Nothing I Write Will Ever Be a Classic

Why Nothing I Write Will Ever Be a Classic

When I was doing my student teaching, one of my 9th graders asked me, “Merket, are we ever going to a read a story that isn’t depressing or about  death and dismemberment?” As I honestly stopped to think about it I realized that there would only be one short story, “The Gift of the Magi,” and truthfully half of my students still found that story to be depressing.I’ve been thinking about writing lately. I’ve liked writing for a long time. When I was in elementary school I created a series of picture books that I sold to all my elderly neighbors and in high school I wrote truly embarrassing, dramatic pieces about my interactions with boys I had crushes on. In college, my writing matured somewhat as I became a pro at literary analysis and technical essays. During my final year of school, I took an Advanced Creative Nonfiction class where we spent the entire semester perfecting a single essay. My essay explored the fallacies and realities of love which seemed mundane compared to the theme of mental illness and apostasy that pervaded most of my peers’  works. Towards the end of the semester I met with my professor to get some feedback. We sat in his tiny closet of an office and this experienced writer said to me, “I feel like you’re holding back in your writing. You’re missing something, something . . .  sexual.” All I said was, “Oh” then I took the rest of his advice and left.  Trust me, if that was missing it was intentional. If you’d asked me what the essay was missing, I would have said faith.

Earlier this year, I read My Name is Asher Lev for the first time. The book is about a Jewish boy who discovers he has a great talent for art. As he grows up, he has to choose between never living up to his potential as an artist or truly becoming an artist, but estranging himself from the people he loves. (Hopefully Potok can forgive me for that oversimplified plot.) I found the story both troubling and compelling, in other words, thought provokingly good. As I read, I realized that I’m not willing to strip myself down and put everything on paper. There are some things that I just hold too personal to make public and too many people I wouldn’t want to risk offending. Honestly, if being published means tearing out a part of myself or burning bridges, then I guess it’s not for me. While I will probably never earn any sort of fame for my prose, I think I’m ultimately okay with that.

Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block

Some family members expressed concern about our welfare since we haven’t blogged in over a week. Don’t worry. We weren’t consumed in the fire (not even close) and our plane from our Labor Day trip landed safely. My creative muse took a vacation, but hopefully will be back soon. It kills me when I can’t think of anything to write, or worse when life is too poetic to be captured by my limited abilities. I wish I had the makings of T.S. Eliot, Steinbeck, or Terry Tempest Williams, but I don’t. Still, I think there’s something to be said for living life fully as opposed to capturing it fully. Here are some things I’ve been living for lately: