Happy New Year!

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?  I don’t normally make them, at least since high school, but last year I set a goal.  It was to get my book published.

I didn’t complete it, but it encouraged me to start the process.  This year’s goal (I prefer that word to resolution) is the same.  I think I will continue to make this my resolution until it happens or I decide to self-publish.

What is your New Year’s goal and/or resolution?

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Doing Battle on the Football Field

I attended the Texas Bowl yesterday, where I cheered the University of Illinois Fighting Illini on to victory.  It was incredibly fun, but I also had an interesting insight.  Football is a little like war.

It has probably been said multiple times.  This is not a new concept.  The piece that I realized came when Kamryn, a friend of mine, said that she was surprised at how emotionally involved she got in the game.  She is a U of I alum, and I grew up cheering for the Illini at home basketball games.  As she started late at the school (she was a transfer student) her school spirit was somewhat less than other graduates of the university (like my dad).  I may have been a die-hard Illini fan as a child, but I went to a completely different university and now have my own favorite teams.  Neither of us had attended any type of Illinois sporting event for years.

Yet somehow we were both on our feet, swaying to “Hail to the orange” and yelling “I-N-I!”  Even though we were sitting surrounded by Baylor fans, the memories of cheering and singing came back, and the adrenaline rush of watching our team score a touchdown filled both of us. 

This is how football feels like war.  We are loyal to a “side,” and even if our loyalty is fleeting, it is all-consuming.  The other team becomes the “bad guys” for the duration of the event, and while no one wishes injury or death on the opposition, you are cheering with great sincerity for them to lose.

An interesting perspective to keep in mind as I am preparing to write a battle of my own.  🙂

A Printer Called Chihuahua

I had a compact, cheap printer in college that sat on a shelf on top of my monitor.  It was perfect when I switched to a laptop; together they took up less than half of my desk.  This little printer had an attitude.  If the paper went in incorrectly it would jam.  If there was too much paper, it would pull two or three sheets nearly at once, ruining all the pages and requiring a reprint.  I ended up babysitting the thing during any large print jobs.

I called it the Chihuahua.

The printer died a few years ago, requiring a replacement.  I have recently found myself once again without a printer, and today (thanks to some gift money) I bought a new one.  Inexpensive, small, with limited capabilities, I think it is the updated version of the Chihuahua.  It’ll be interesting to see, once it’s connected and in use, if it lives up to its predecessor.

Now I have a printer.  You know what that means: time for query letters!

Writing Letters

I use writing to deal with emotions and thoughts that I don’t know how to express otherwise.  Besides poetry and emotional writing practice, I’ve written (un-sent) letters to coworkers, friends, family, and even significant others.  These letters are a chance to put what I’m feeling down on paper.  Once they are written down, they usually stop circling my head and dominating my thoughts.

Here is my dilemma: at what point are un-sent letters not enough?  At what point do I use those letters to organize my thoughts and present my emotions, my responses to situations, to the person who needs to hear them?  The few times I have shared letters with someone went incredibly poorly; instead of giving that person insight into my side of the issue, they inflamed an already volatile situation into a full-scale argument.  (Granted, I know now that the other person involved was never going to listen to my side of things, so I can’t take his reaction as the only possible response.)

I am in another situation that I fear has gotten to the point that writing down how I feel and keeping it to myself is not going to suffice.  It’s hard to be upset with someone for not considering my feelings if they haven’t heard my feelings.  So here again is the question: when is writing letters not enough?  When is it worth exposing myself to a possible negative or angry response so that the person in question has heard my side of the story?

Steps to a Story: a necessary thank you

When I was home for Thanksgiving, I had the chance to visit with some of my mom’s side of the family.  At that point, I asked a huge favor of one of my cousins.  I have to thank him profusely for helping me out with Matthew’s story.

You see, my cousin Bryan is a retired Marine who had been stationed in Iraq.  The favor that I asked of him was this: to tell me what he looked at, what he noticed, when he entered a town.  I figured that if anyone in my family could give me an idea of how a soldier sees the world, it would be him.  (I do need to mention that my mom suggested it first.  Credit where credit is due, after all!) 

Bryan asked for some time to think about his answer, and a few days later came through with the information I needed.  I know that it was probably not an easy or comfortable thing to do, reflecting back on that time.  Today I incorporated his response into my story, and into Matthew’s point of view; it made me think of things differently than I see them, and I am incredibly grateful to my wonderful cousin for his contribution to the story.

A Merry Dragon Christmas!

My first Christmas alone turned out to be a good one.  It also turned out to be a dragon Christmas.  🙂

My secret Santa gave me, as part of my gift, a fabulous dragon pop-up book.  My parents gave me How to Train Your Dragon on DVD, as well as the matching ornament.  I promise to be surprised, because he hasn’t given it to me yet, but my friend Jack told me he knitted me a stuffed dragon. 

Even besides the dragons, this was a good holiday.  I got off work early yesterday, which makes for a nice, longer-than-normal weekend.  I spent a wonderful (albeit rainy) Christmas Eve with friends and dogs, Skyping was a fun way to open presents with my family, and while all of the Chinese restaurants we went to were closed, I did get to have Mediterranean food for dinner.  🙂

I hope you had a wonderful holiday!  Don’t forget the last part of Bonded posts tomorrow. 🙂

Creature of Habit

Tonight my dog Eli and I went to visit friends for the evening.  He enjoys these visits as much as I do because my friends have two dogs, Illy and Georgia, who adore him.

Watching the dogs play and do all the other things that dogs do I realized that dogs are the epitome of creatures of habit.  The girls’ routine is different from my dog’s routine, and watching him adjust to that is always interesting.  Eli is used to being walked and then fed sometime between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. which means that even if I walked him at 3 a.m. (a very rare occurrence) he still insists on going out again by 8.  Even if it means he has to wake me up.

He also has the ingrained routine of going out as soon as I come home from work.  It doesn’t matter what time; even if I work a half-day, he needs to pee the moment I walk through the door.  Bedtime (which means another walk and more food) is a bit more flexible, but he’ll start to whine and bug me if it gets to be too much past 10 p.m. without going outside.  I think the main motivator there is his stomach, not his bladder.  Apparently he has a completely different routine when he stays with our friends; tonight the girls got dinner at their usual time and he stood where his bowl would be if he were staying longer than an evening. 

If only it were that easy to establish a habit in people (or at least in myself).  I tried to set an evening routine that included writing about a month or two ago.  It stuck for a while, but life got in the way.  Perhaps if I was less social and spent more time in my apartment, it would be easier.  I’m just hoping that I can get some serious writing done on Sunday, when I’ll be home alone with few tasks.  🙂 

Hope your holiday weekend has been great so far, and continues in the same vein!!

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