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BY Dana

03/01 Direct Link
There's a field—there's always a field. And that field might be green with corn stalks and life or it might not be. It might hold nothing but dirt and the promise that once it was productive. And even those fields, the ones seemingly lost to time, somewhere out in their middles enclose a house—windows broken, roof caving in—or a barn—red and weathered, falling on itself. And there among the detritus of a life well-lived (or not), the ghosts of people past still work the rows, staring through haunted eyes as the interstate traffic rushes past.
03/02 Direct Link
Every time we drove into town, we'd turn our eyes to the left to see if Grandma was looking out her front porch door. She did that a lot—that watching—either sitting on the steps in the cool summer breeze or standing in that doorway, hands clasped behind her back, eyes watching the busy road to see which cars would turn up her street and maybe into her yard. She's been gone for almost three years now, yet every time I'm home, I turn my eyes to the left as I drive past and hope to see her there.
03/03 Direct Link
Grandma always used to wear a turquoise ring, and when she died nearly three years ago, I asked my mom if I could have it, so she saved it for me. I've been thinking about Grandma a lot lately; actually, thoughts of her are almost always on my mind. We were really close. My sister and I spent a lot of time with her as kids, and she taught us how to make homemade noodles and do cross-stitch. I remember how her nails were always painted mauve, and that ring was always on her finger. Now it's on mine.
03/04 Direct Link
That time I got lost in the woods out on my childhood property: how I stepped off the trail for just a second—"Just a quick look at those Dutchman's Breeches, Dad. Okay? (Oh, how I loved those flowers that looked like pants belonging to a gnome.) How I bent to examine those tiny white blooms; how I stood, gazed up at the tops of the trees and spun around, my arms wide; how I came back down to earth to find that I was alone. How I cried. And how my dad laughed. Our house was still in sight.
03/05 Direct Link
Sometimes my mom would make chocolate chip cookies. She didn't bake often, and she never told us when she planned to, so it was always a pleasant surprise to get off the school bus, race up the driveway ("Last one there is a rotten egg!"), throw open the back door, and come face to cookie jar with the chocolaty surprise. (She'd save my sister and me spoons of cookie dough, too—this in the days before anyone worried about raw eggs and salmonella.) Even now, I can hear the clinking of the yellow cookie jar's cover as we reached inside.
03/06 Direct Link
Sometimes there's a struggle, a conflict between what is actually said and what needs to be said, a war over words and context that results in the painstaking process of combing through nouns and verbs and adjectives—and adverbs, too, if you don't choose to despise them, as so many people do—and trying to choosing the right one—the "perfect" one—and all the while, in the back of the mind, a voice that every writer knows all too well taunts: "You are talentless. Your writing sucks. Everyone is better than you. You'll never make it. Better give up."
03/07 Direct Link
My son is learning to write, and when he sits down with his pencil and journal, that's what he does—he writes. He doesn't agonize over word choice; he doesn't worry about spelling or grammar; he doesn't torment himself with thoughts about what his reader will think... He simply does—he writes. When did I lose that ability to be free? Why do I agonize and worry and torment myself with oppressive thoughts? When did I start comparing my work to other people's and declaring myself no good? Today I say No More. Release, release. Release.
03/08 Direct Link
Maybe there was something to yesterday's (false) bravado because last night I got over my writer's block and completed the poem that had been tormenting me for days. I feel better now, like the others I still have to write—nearly thirty more—will come more easily, if such a thing can be said about writing poetry. It's funny how something I enjoy so much—something that I consider to be a part of my essence, a part of the person I am—can cause me so much stress and worry and anxiety. It's hard not to hear the negativity.
03/09 Direct Link
The walls are closing in, it seems. This morning I watched a video in which a man—an official of some sort—explained what people should do if they ever get stuck in an elevator. My claustrophobia and I watched with interest. I wish there was a video for the other elevator-like contraption I seem to be trapped in right now—the one where I'm feeling the crushing weight of deadlines and no time. In a related note about my writing: I spoke too soon yesterday. It would probably be better not to speak of it at all. Jinx.
03/10 Direct Link
Everyone is two-faced. I don't mean that in a bad way, necessarily. But I do think that we all have our public sides and our private sides, plurals because of our tendency to act in different ways in different situations and with different people. I for one don't always love the faces I present. I find I'm more patient with strangers than I am with my family, and while that's good on one hand it's so wrong on the other. It's no wonder that families disintegrate. I can't be the only one who does this. I know I'm not.
03/11 Direct Link
I wish I didn't have such a tendency to play the what-if game. What if I hadn't done this; what if I had done that... It's a waste of time and energy, and all that kind of thinking does is lead to real or imagined regrets. The point I need to drive through my mind is that the life I'm living is the life I have. No matter what paths I took to get here, this is my here, and it's dumb to dwell on choices that might have led somewhere else. Remember that, Dana.
03/12 Direct Link
I'm surrounded by paper in all its forms—scraps and strips; crumpled pieces and flat ones; loose-leaf and in a notebook... I've been working on a project for the past couple of weeks, and instead of picking up my "mess" as my husband would prefer—(I know this, although he's never said)—I like to leave my "process" lying out where I can see it. Putting it away would only serve to turn off my creative mind, I think, but seeing all my work spread across the room makes me feel like I'm always writing, even in my mind.
03/13 Direct Link
Sometimes I feel like I waste so much time as I try to think of things to write about. Other days the words come quickly, often when I least expect them, and sometimes they surprise me. Today is one of the harder days, where I'm not sure what to write and instead blather about that very problem, which seems stupid on one hand and genius on the other—stupid because it's a say-nothing kind of entry and smart because this non-topic is producing words.

What I should write about (but can't) is how burdened I feel.
03/14 Direct Link
There's so much wrong in what you said that I don't even know where to begin, and even though I don't know you from Adam, as they say, I just want to shake you and make you see, and I realize how improper it is for me to think this—how un-PC I must sound—but I don't care. I'm tired of people talking out of two sides of their mouths; I'm tired of so-called religious people championing "causes" that are about as far away from Biblical truth as they can possibly be. Clearly, society is a mess.
03/15 Direct Link
There's nothing like the thought of a looming deadline to make my writing mind take a vacation. For the past several weeks, I've been working on a huge project (fun, but huge), and as I watch other people nearing the completion of their own huge projects—(they're working on the same huge project as I am)—I do what any self-respecting person does: I panic. And what happens when a writer panics? Well, she can't write—at least that's the way it works for me. I keep hoping the panic will turn to creativity—and soon. Maybe it will.
03/16 Direct Link
I need my lazy Saturdays, and today hasn't been one of them. We had to get up early to take the kids to see The Cat in the Hat at Barnes and Noble, and after that, we had to do some shopping for the kids' picture clothes and shoes. We finally arrived home about a half-hour ago, and now I'm scrambling to do all the things I need to do—things that would have fit into my day just fine had we not had to go out. Okay. Complaining done. Sometimes even adults just need to whine a little.
03/17 Direct Link
I'm not Irish, so I don't usually give much thought to St. Patrick's Day, but my husband is—and so, therefore, are my kids—so this year I decided to make a little effort. I'm cooking corned beef, and my son and husband are sitting at the kitchen table and cutting shamrocks out of paper, which they're then coloring and hanging from ceilings throughout the house. It's fun to see my husband doing the arts and crafts thing; that job usually falls to me. It was also fun listening to my daughter proclaim to everyone at church, "I'm half Irish!"
03/18 Direct Link
Peer pressure never ends, does it? You'd think it would at least lessen once you leave school, but I think it just changes form instead. It's not as overt—or maybe it is overt but in a different way. I keep mentioning this huge writing project I'm doing with a group of writers. Well, you could easily find peer pressure within our group. It's not on the surface—everyone is kind and helpful—but the pressure is still there underneath. It's an unspoken competition where everyone tries to be the best and finish the fastest. Peer pressure again...
03/19 Direct Link
Isn't it funny how when we're young, we can't wait to get older, but when get to be a little older (and wiser) we realize how fast time goes and wish we could have it back? Both of my kids can't wait to get bigger, and I can remember feeling like that as well when I was a child. Every minute seemed to drag on forever. Now I can't find enough hours in the day to do everything I have to do—so frustrating.

My kids can't wait to grow up. I just want time to slow down.
03/20 Direct Link
I've been dreaming in haiku. I guess that's what composing poetry for hours each day will do. I love being lost in my writing. Those days don't happen often enough—days when I feel free, when the words just seem right. I'm learning that there's nothing like a deadline to inspire my creativity. I would have thought the opposite to be true—that stress over a deadline would only stifle me. I'm glad that hasn't happened. I still have a ton of work to do on my project, and there are times I get anxious—but I'm writing. I'm happy.
03/21 Direct Link
We all sat together on the school bus: me, my younger sister, and our cousin. I sometimes wonder why we all had to cram in together. Was the bus really that full? Doubtful, but who knows? It was a long time ago, and as I've aged, I've learned that there are a surprising number of things I've forgotten. Regardless, we all sat in that green seat, and I was the "lucky" one on the aisle, half on, half off the seat, backpack on my lap. I don't miss those days. My son loves riding the bus. Must be different now.
03/22 Direct Link
I'm not very good at playing with my kids. I used to think that was because I'm an older mom, but now I'm not so sure. Today I tried playing pretend with my daughter, but all I kept thinking about was how much I wanted to do other things—and I felt so guilty for those thoughts. Maybe I'm just not cut out for this part of motherhood. My mom told me years ago that she regrets not playing with my sister and me. She said she wasn't good at it...

I'm just so afraid I'll miss something.
03/23 Direct Link
Randomness:

• I still haven't come up with a theme for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. It starts on April 1.
• The kids are getting their pictures taken today. I hope they both cooperate.
• I just started a new diet. The day has barely begun, and I'm already starving. In related news, I'm not looking forward to today's date with the treadmill.
• I'm almost halfway through my writing project. I have a lot of work to do this weekend.
• The sun is shining. I think today is going to be a good day.
03/24 Direct Link
No one tells you just how much guilt you're going to carry when you become a mother. I've been a mom for six years, and I feel guilty about so many things—things I had intended to do with my kids that just didn't get done, things I've said, promises I've made but wasn't able to keep... It's a long list. I have regrets in my own life, too, but those are easier for me to handle. I guess wishing for a rewind button won't help, so I'm trying to look at each day as an opportunity to do better.
03/25 Direct Link
I think about my grandma a lot. I wish my kids could have known her. We went back home to visit her in the nursing home a few months before she died. I don't think she knew we were there. She was conscious, but she kept her eyes closed and seemed to be in her own world. My mom asked for a picture of all of us—me, grandma, her, and my daughter, who was the only granddaughter in our family at that time. Someday I'll show that picture to my kids and tell them all about their great-grandma.
03/26 Direct Link
The cat is meowing in the basement in that one tone she seems to have, over and over until I feel the sound starting to eat through my mind... There are days when even the smallest things seem to bother me. From the living room, I hear the toys my daughter is playing with—the mooing of a cow, some nameless tune—and I'm glad she's having fun, but the noise is just too much today, and I envision myself grabbing masking tape and putting it over the places where the sound comes out. Why are children's toys so loud?
03/27 Direct Link
I'm getting to the time of day when all I want is a nap, despite the venti Starbucks with an extra shot that I drank not too long ago. I don't sleep very well at night. It's my own fault, really. I don't go to bed until after midnight, and I have to get up at 5:30 a.m. Back when I was young, five hours of sleep would have been fine; those hours would have seemed like eight! Now, though, when the alarm rings I feel as though I've just lain my head on the pillow. I'm old.
03/28 Direct Link
I have a love/hate relationship with my to-do list. I usually love it. After all, it keeps me focused on the things I need to do, and I get a lot of satisfaction from crossing stuff off. Today, though, I'm not so enamored of it. It's my enemy. It taunts me; I can almost hear its nagging voice lecturing me about everything that needs my attention, and all I really want to do is drink coffee and surf online and watch old episodes of Gossip Girl on Netflix. I wonder which one of us will win?
03/29 Direct Link
The kids are in the kitchen coloring pictures that will welcome the Easter bunny when he arrives this weekend. I can remember those days of excitement like they were yesterday. I loved Easter—and probably the candy more than anything else! The night before, my sister and I would set our Easter baskets side-by-side on the living room floor, knowing that when we woke up the next morning, the Easter bunny would have hidden them. They were always so much fun to find! Now my kids look forward to the same tradition. Their excitement makes me feel young.
03/30 Direct Link
I have so much writing to do this weekend, but the noise level in the house right now is very high—the TV, the kids' guitar, their games, yells, everything... I can't think, and I feel panicked: that old, panicky feeling I used to get the night before my college and grad school papers were due and I realized just how much more work loomed in front of me—much more, of course, than I had ever imagined. In some ways, I thrive on deadlines, but when I can't get things done due to outside interference, I just get frustrated.
03/31 Direct Link
Billy Joel has a song called "Pressure," and that's exactly what I'm feeling right now. The poetry project I was invited to participate in—the Pulitzer Remix—goes live tomorrow, and the Blogging from A to Z Challenge is starting as well. I have two-thirds of my poems written and ready to post, but I don't have anything done at all as far as the blogging challenge goes. I'm stressed. I feel those loaded guns that Billy Joel talks about—they're in my face. Maybe I'm just freaking out and everything will be fine if I can just breathe...