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My first day writing one hundred words was thirty-one days ago on March first. I remember writing that I expected to learn the power one of one hundred words. I remember not knowing what Iíd write about; I thought Iíd settle into a series of related posts though my expectations werenít settled on which subject the series would center on. I posted that first batch, unsure that Iíd complete a month but determined to try.
I succeeded and now know how quickly the bank of words gets spent and that this is good practice for writing tight and editing tighter.
Every five years or so he gets an invitation to their birthday party.
That the three of them celebrate big birthdays together reminds him that theyíve stayed friends while they cut him loose to be friendless for thirty years. He was far from a dud. Any one of them would trade their career for his; he made twice the money of any of them. He was married to the same woman, too, though the marriage had been harder to hold than the job had been. He had four kids, now grown.
Still, his loneliness stung him when the invitations came.
He hated lawyers. He didnít even put a presentable veneer of courtesy over his contempt, except when being honest was against his best interest. He was proud that he was ever aware of his own best interest and that although he made a good show of being trustworthy and honest, heíd jettison those virtues in a second if they got in the way of his best interests. At those times he counted it the best quality of all to look out for number one.
In court he minded his manners and flattered them, but later he sneered and ridiculed them..
The painting Iíve worked on for two weeks is nearly finished. This means that there are hours more work I will do on it, but the basics and most of the thinking through the rest are done. All that remains is to do the actual painting, including finishing details. Undoubtedly problems I hadnít foreseen will come up. Unforeseen problems have presented a huge challenge to me; not solving them, but rather remembering that painting is fun and learning not to stress when I am uncertain about how to proceed. For a worrier, grabbing the brush and forging forth is scary.
French author Marguerite Duras said, ďMen like women who write. Even though they donít say so. A writer is a foreign country.Ē
Marguerite Duras would know that better than I would. My experience fascinating men is very limited, my having met my husband when I was very young. We got from ďinterestedĒ in one another to ďmarriedĒ to one another during that stage of life when all that is required to fascinate someone of the opposite sex is to
the opposite sex of them.
Our children donít intrigue potential lovers through their writing either, unless one counts text messaging.
My job presents a different challenge than people expect. I work outdoors, supervising grade school children during their long recess.
I work at a school, but minimal paperwork is involved. I work outdoors during a protracted cold and snowy winter but I cope. After freezing your bedoodahs often enough, you learn to wear warm layers and not to care how unbeguiling the protective upholstery leaves you looking. In the heat preceding and following winter, you bring along cold drinking water so weather isnít the real challenge.
Truly sharing yourself with the students, both the easy and the difficult is exhausting.
Author Jane Hamilton was being interviewed on public radio today. She expressed her belief that the boom in writing will lead to the situation of having more writers than there are readers to read what is written. She cited a statistic to illustrate how overpowering the coming flood sill be: a new blog is started every second of every day.
For me, who writes and only feels that she functions when she writes every day, I already know that much writing goes unread, even though itís freely offered. I have an unvisited blog to prove this. Still, I must write.
The last class of this painting class session was today and since I didnít enroll in the next session, I didnít feel the way I normally would at it. Usually I feel that Iíve accomplished something when I look at the work Iíve done during the session. I should have felt that euphoria today; Iíd painted well and painted bravely. Instead as everyone around me compared schedules and connected with future classmates, I felt like an outsider and one who wanted to be let into the club again. Still, working in my own direction is important. Iíll rejoin in July.
There are buds on the shrubs in my neighborís yard! Iím delighted to see them, more delighted than I would have expected the little nubs to make me, but itís been a remarkably long and harsh winter here.
Iím old enough that some years ago I realized that the number of changes of season and Christmases that I would live to see was no longer a reassuringly large number, but that each one that now passed was to be noticed and cherished, not rushed past to get to some other experience.
Iím happy to have realized this while time remains.
When I was an elementary school student, Good Friday afternoons were spent in church. No one had to force me to go. In fact, no one had to go with me at all. It just seemed like The Right Thing to Do and when I was a young girl, I wanted to do the Right Thing. Sometimes I think I didnít get much imagination and couldnít think beyond The Right Thing and sometimes I think I got too much imagination, enough to fantasize The Right Thing to The Interesting Thing.
Today Iím quiet, at home keeping my visiting daughter company.
Tomorrow is the first Easter in thirty years for which there are no colored eggs or baskets. The one person in the household under 21 is no more likely to miss the dayís sentimental trappings than he is to appreciate its religious significance. The next eldest must be headed back to college before noon, making a proper family Easter dinner impossible. Her older brother will need to rush back to his Real Life and will leave soon after her. The eldest is simply a Grinch who hates all holidays.
This is not the way family and holidays used to be.
Itís almost past Easter, an Easter very different from previous ones. I used to concoct as perfect and meaningful a holiday as I could, but as my familyís beliefs settled on faith in chocolate and a good dinner but none of the dayís spiritual aspects, my enthusiasm wilted.
Even this shadow of the past ďrealĒ Easters manifested a miracle of deliverance. I nearly gave the group food poisoning by treating the magnificent ham as if it were pre-cooked, not raw. Instead we had pancakes. And thereby God saved us all, proving His love is constant, though theirs has not been.
The official start of each day for me is writing Morning Pages, an exercise is described in Julia Cameronís ďThe Artistís WayĒ, a book intended to help stalled artists to regain creativity and commit art again. The term ďcommitĒ is mine, not Cameronís. I think it suits the act, which for me includes a brave and even defiant attitude. Where I live people settled into adult life do not express themselves by making art. They dress well and make beautiful homes, they become l successes in their careers, but they do not risk art-making.
I feel like a freak sometimes.
Iím midway through spring break from school and have next to nothing to show for the free time I so looked forward to.. When I go back to work and students and coworkers are gushing about where they traveled and what they did, Iíll have nothing to share. Itís said that traveling enlarges oneís outlook; I am living proof that not traveling enlarges oneís derriere. Sitting at the computer and munching while I surf the net has made the chair seem narrower than it was at the beginning of April.
This means that technically I do have something to show.
I am listening to music that was new when I was in high school. I remember telling my mother that I liked it, quoting it: "The words of the prophet are written on the subway walls." She sniffed, saying all young people always sang things like that.
That was our last conversation about music. I don't know why hearing about what I like elicited that negative reaction. Perhaps she felt that new music took something away from the music she loved from her own teenage years. Maybe she couldn't love mine anymore than I could do more than tolerate hers.
When I didnít say I wouldnít go, I certainly never thought I would actually go. I was merely exercising my incredible powers of just getting along which have been made strong by decades of daily practice and application.
Of critical importance in this is refusing to really think about any source of conflict or difficulty. Iíve been putting off definitely refusing for a month and that is where I made my mistake. In the space I got from not definitely declining, understanding the actual damage I was doing our friendship worked its way into my mind.
We leave tomorrow afternoon.
What kind of adventurer packs for every eventuality so that there is no possibility left for unexpected happenings? Far from an extended expedition into the uncharted wilds, Iím going to spend a long weekend in a larger city than I live in every day. I know that there are stores with shelves stocked with anything I could possibly need but Iíve packed absolutely everything here.
Those stores are bound to have plenty of things I will just want with all my heart, too. Leaving some empty space in my overnight bag for stowing unexpected treasures might be a good idea.
There was no point to ruining two monthsí knitting by binding off the shawl while I was too tired to keep my eyes open, so I set it aside half off the needles. Next morning when I had to get on the road to Minneapolis, I put it in the car. I thought finishing the last stitch there with you would make success sweeter still.
You sat on one side of the bed working on your article and I was at the foot stitching madly away when I realized that the yarn would run out before the unfinished stitches would.
Forty stitches to go and Iíve run out of yarn. One way to solve the problem is to tink back to put the bound off stitches back on the needle. Of course, that would mean having to tink back the row before it and then to bind off the shawl, having plenty of yarn to do so.
That sounds so sensible!
Until I remember that each row of the soft, lovely thing has 390 stitches. To make the bound off stitches ďliveĒ again, Iíd have to laboriously undo 350 stitches. To begin binding off again, Iíd have to undo 740.
Itís hard to write tonight when all I want to do is to be done with the day.
This morning I felt resolute and capable of setting a purposeful direction. I was clear about what I wanted to work towards and I believed that while I might not reach the final perfect state in my goals, just honest effort in working towards them would improve my life. I listed steps to take, improvements to make, and lived this whole long day.
Now at its end, I count two successes and innumerable failures. I end with this one hundred word post.
Just back from one trip further than I want to drive, Iím planning to go back within a month. As much as I donít relish going alone, Iíd rather go solo than go with the person who will go with me. Alone I only have the car to drive, while the companion is lethargic and dour by nature and requires steering. Any enthusiasm or cheer that would be appropriate to be show will have to be wrestled into him. Since the purpose of the trip is to celebrate a graduateís accomplishment, cheer is required. Do I have enough for two?
Iím reading a few books these days and it feels strange and nice to be reading again. I was a complete book nerd when I was in school, often stopping at the library two or three times a week. Iíd find an author I liked and then read through the libraryís collection of the authorís books. I asked for books for Christmas. I remember writing the opening chapters for a novel when was twelve. After I married, I tore through mysteries while my babies slept. When my eyesight aged I stopped reading, but now, wearing dollar store specs, Iím back.
This one hundred word post per day project has taught me one thing, though not what I sought to learn, which is the skill of packing ďpunchĒ into my writing. Iíd hoped to begin using powerful verbs and expressive modifiers, but before achieving that, Iíve learned that I simply donít have anything worth writing one hundred words about every day.
Itís taken two and a half months to discover this nugget. I suspect that the people who know me knew this even before I started posting here. They also know that having nothing to say doesnít stop me from writing.
Today it really felt like summer is here. The strong breeze was hot and humid and felt good to us, who havenít felt humid heat in the air for over six months. The winter was long and harsh and just two days ago ragged snow flakes fell, a welcome sight to no one. Weather forecasters kept predicting temperatures that never developed; people took to taking two jackets with them whenever they went anywhere, a light one for the temperature theyíd been led to expect and another, warmer one to actually wear. Those warm jackets look tired of the cold, too.
I have failed at this. When I woke up this morning I remembered that I hadnít posted yesterday so rushed here to catch up, feeling very much like the ten oí clock scholar, late with no good reason. Seeing that I didnít post on Saturday either surprised me and brought regret along as well. I donít think this late entry will count at all, but to not attempt to sneak it in would equal quitting altogether and I donít quit. That is not testament to strength of character; rather it is a sign of limited imagination.
So will this post?
Wishing that I had a real inspiration today, I begin typing and trust that if I act with faith, an idea will show up.
Painting still isnít happening, though I put pigment on paper on Saturday. It was in the same spirit as my typing here this morning. I show up and if I do, some inspiration will too. What happened is that when I woke up the next morning and saw my random marks on the paper left on its side to dry, I thought that it was an interesting thing and might be made into something after all.
Iíve taken a break from the news.
Bad news flows unceasingly from all sources. It seem that there is no end to bad news and that no responsible person fails to keep abreast of all of it. Gloom is the standard mood of any meeting of people, whether they work together or have just bumped into each other at the market.
Humans have always had misfortune and misery to deal with, but until modern times, the sorrows were of their own small group. Communication advances let us know all the worldís crimes and heartbreaks.
Iím overwhelmed. Iíve turned it off.
I took the pieces Iíve painted into work today, ostensibly to trim them to size on the office paper cutter, but I welcomed it when one of my colleagues asked me to show her my work.
I do enjoy painting and drawing, I keep the idea that I do these things just for the fun I have doing them, but bringing them to the point of being finished and then slipping them away into a brown paper sleeve I keep for them makes me miss a final step, which is to have them seen.
What does that indicate? Vanity? Maybe.
The entire evening was spent desperately shopping online, spending any amount it takes, finding a place that would ship overnight and paying a premium for that, too. I need a special gift and fast. The day after tomorrow is my daughterís birthday. She lives too far away to go see her and I feel like Iíve got a party Iíd like to throw her, presents Iíd like to give her, a scrumptious cake Iíd like to bake for her, and candles Iíd like to light atop it all stuffed in my chest, squeezing my heart which is lonely for her.
The flu that seems poised to become a genuine pandemic is a powerful force.. Elders are frightened, government spokespersons deliver sober cautions, and the WHO pandemic meter has moved from its usual relatively low mark to a height thatís prompted dramatic and sometimes ineffective measures to prevent the serious illness from spreading across borders.
High alarm has grown too common to fully trust. Remember Y2K? Comficker? Now even normal rainstorms and snow storms incite dark predictions of danger. Weíve grown blase, Iíd thought, but I was wrong.
My fearless teenaged son panics about being in groups, including classes at school.
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