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BY Dana

07/01 Direct Link
I'm a small-town girl now living in a big city. Is it weird that I don't like driving downtown? As long as I've lived here, I've never gotten used to all the traffic, one-way streets, and irate drivers. Today, though, I made a breakthrough of sorts. I took my kids to Central library—smack dab in the middle of people, cars, construction, and horrible, horrible traffic—for storytime this morning. I'm happy to say I made it! I even parked in a towering monstrosity of a parking garage and managed to find my way out of it. Ha!
07/02 Direct Link
I guess I spend a lot of time in my past. Most of my friends don't seem to think about the things that happened years ago—decisions they made, both good and bad; relationships they became involved in; career paths they chose not to take... I think about these things a lot and have a tendency sometimes (depending on how I'm feeling that day) to beat myself up for the road I didn't choose or the person I left or some other random decision that I imagine would have changed the course of my life had I just known better.
07/03 Direct Link
Two days ago, my friend and I made a pact that we'd each write 500 words a day. Yesterday was the first day of our challenge, and I wrote 436, a little short of my goal but still respectable. My word count for today? Zero so far. My biggest problem is I've started to become a writer who goes from project to project, never able to settle on one for long. Honestly, I have no idea what I'm going to write 500 words on today, and that scares me. How can I call myself a writer when I don't know?
07/04 Direct Link
It's hot outside today, and the sky is threatening to open up. In a couple of hours, we'll be heading to the town hall to see the Fourth of July parade, eat lunch we'll buy at one of the many booths, and watch while out kids play a few games. I wish I had a magic wand that could make the weather just a little cooler, a little less muggy. I don't do well in the heat. Most summer days I prefer to sit inside our central air-cooled house, writing and reading and watching the sun through the glass.
07/05 Direct Link
I'm tired today. Yesterday was a long day—a long, hot day—and I wish that today was cooler and more relaxing. It's not. I'm getting the family ready for a weekend trip, which means tons of laundry and scribbled lists of things to buy and bring and trips to the grocery store for food and the wine store for a hostess gift... When I was a kid, I remember my mom saying that it would be nice if there were two of her. I always laughed. I get it now that I'm grown. There's always too much to do.
07/06 Direct Link
I've been to New York City several times, and each time I'm there, I want to stay. Some of my blogging friends—writers and poets and actors—live there, and sometimes I think about how exciting it would be to join them, how wonderful to be a part of such a community of creative people. I once dreamed of living in an apartment building there, a sort of artists' commune, where people discuss their favorite writers and their latest screenplays and the poems they have written while sitting at their windows and watching the rest of the world walk by.
07/07 Direct Link
With everything we hear in the news each day, I think it's sometimes hard to believe that there are still good people in this world, but I learned this weekend that they do exist. Today, as my husband, kids, and I drove home from visiting our relatives, we stopped on a small road because our dog needed to get out. The ground at the roadside seemed solid, but when my husband pulled over, our van sank into deep mud, and we got stuck. Soon afterward, many good, caring people stopped to help us; their genuine kindness and concern overwhelmed us.
07/08 Direct Link
My son will be taking his second karate class today, and if last week's class is any indication, this afternoon my daughter and I will sit in plastic chairs behind a glass wall and watch as the kids complete moves they're instructed to do, and I will smile when I see my son laughing and feel happy that he's so excited about learning new things, and all the while, another part of my brain will be listing the things I need to do, the projects I want to complete, the words I desire to write, and my smile will grow.
07/09 Direct Link
It's my daughter's fourth birthday tomorrow, which means that I'll be up most of the night—maybe even all of it—baking and decorating her cake. She's requested a princess theme this year, specifically Sofia the First—so that's what I plan to do. I'm winging it this time; the only plan I have is the one in my mind, so I hope the cake turns out the way I envision it. We shall see. I'm sure she'll be happy with whatever I make, but I am and always have been a perfectionist, so I want it to be right.
07/10 Direct Link
Today is my daughter's fourth birthday. I stayed up for most of the night last night baking and decorating her cake, and today I took her and her brother to the Museum of Play. That museum is becoming quite the birthday tradition with us; it seems like the kids always ask to go there as part of their birthday celebrations. And why not? There's so much to do, and they always have a great time. My wish would have been for me to be a little less tired, though. There was no way my slow, exhausted brain could keep up!
07/11 Direct Link
Things That Make Me Happy Today:

1. I found Jen Lancaster's new book at the library.
2. Our daughter, who turned four yesterday, told us she had "the best birthday ever."
3. I took the day off from doing laundry. Yay!
4. The story ideas I've been thinking about lately have started to become a little clearer to me.
5. My son had an idea for an art project and just completed it. It's beautiful, and I told him so. He had the proudest look on his face.
6. I'm alive.
07/12 Direct Link
These are the things I don't remember: What R was wearing the last time I saw him and what his voice sounded like; the color of A's eyes; the reason I let K stay, even though I knew who he really was; the look on G's face when I couldn't give him an answer; what it felt like when P wanted to hold my hand; that night in my apartment with B, the first time I ever thought of this house as home; those first words I said to P; the way it was the first time... (I regret these.)
07/13 Direct Link
My friend, who's a year younger than I am, texted me this morning to say that someone at the Y thought she was her baby's grandma. Yikes! Does it really start this soon? We're not old. We don't even look our age...

Today my family and I went to a parade over in the town where my husband grew up. He saw several of his former classmates and had a great time. I'm glad. I'm also glad because he's thirteen years older than I am, so I'm just a child compared to his friends. I needed that today.
07/14 Direct Link
I'm at the age now where I look at someone and think, "She's so young." It's weird because when I was that age—in my twenties—I wouldn't have classified myself as young. I mean, I know twenty-five isn't really old, but still I always felt wiser and more mature than the people twenty years older seemed to think I was. Now I'm that twenty-years-older person, and I refer to twenty-year-olds as "kids" and think about how I didn't really know anything when I was their age—even though I thought I did.
07/15 Direct Link
My kids are only four and six, and already I'm starting to feel like a soccer mom. My son has a karate class this afternoon, and it doesn't end until suppertime. That means, of course, that I either have to scramble to come up with a meal when we get home or make something in the afternoon that we can reheat after the class. I chose the latter this week. On Monday, my daughter will start a dance class that meets every day and gets done—you guessed it—at suppertime. Karate, dance... I've become a slave to the kitchen.
07/16 Direct Link
I'm listening to "Stairway to Heaven" right now. It's one of the highlighted songs in my History of Rock class, which I'm taking through Coursera. I'm having a great time learning about how rock has evolved from the 1970s to today. I think the class will be even more fun when I get to what I consider "my time"—the eighties and early nineties. I've heard these older songs, of course, but the songs of one's own childhood are special, I think. I'm sure the professor will talk about singers like Michael Jackson and Madonna. I'm looking forward to that.
07/17 Direct Link
At this moment—well, in between typing these words, that is—I'm having a strange Facebook conversation with someone I know only from a poetry project I did last April (and that was online—I've never spoken to him in voice). I wonder if he's lonely. Whenever someone starts chatting with me out of the blue, I always get the paranoid feeling that the only reason he or she is talking to me is because there's no one better online at the time. Ha. (I hope I can laugh at that. If it's true... Well, let's not think about that.
07/18 Direct Link
What is it about the summer that makes it feel busier than the rest of the year? I swear, I have more things packed into June, July, and August than I have in all of the other months—Christmas included. Where are all the "lazy hazy crazy days of summer" that Nat King Cole sang about? Not here, that's for sure. Today I'm taking one kid to the dermatologist; yesterday it was storytime; tomorrow it's the library. Yeah, most of these are "fun" errands, but I'd still just really like one day when all I have to do is nothing.
07/19 Direct Link
I have so much to do, yet I feel I can't do anything. Clearly, I'm overwhelmed. It's the "there are only so many hours in a day" thing, and to be honest, most days I'd rather not spend those precious hours folding clothes or scrubbing toilets. Yes, maybe I have let too much clutter pile up around the house. I need to box some of it up and take it to Goodwill, but again (honestly), most days organizing crap is the last thing I feel like doing. After all, I'm not a hoarder. I'll get to it. It's really okay.
07/20 Direct Link
I need more artistic friends. Whenever I talk to creative people, I feel more creative. Right now, I'm chatting on Facebook with my poet friend again. (It's not so weird this time.) He's talking about some of the poems he's had accepted recently, and I feel like picking up a notebook, going somewhere quiet (outside, maybe), and writing some poetry. He inspires me; all artist do, really, no matter what their medium or genre. Even fashion designers make me feel creative. I watch Project Runway, and my hand itches to pick up a pen. It's a wonderful feeling.
07/21 Direct Link
I haven't taken college classes in many years, but now that I enrolled in some Coursera courses, I'm remembering how much I dislike those first tests and quizzes of the semester. I have to take my first quiz in the next few days, and I don't like not knowing what to expect. I'm probably over-preparing: I've been studying all day, and even though it's a subject I love—the history of rock music—even it gets old after I spend hours and hours going over names and dates and theories. Once the first quiz is over, I'll feel better.
07/22 Direct Link
Today is day one of my four-year-old daughter's mini dance camp. Like my son's karate class, this is yet another suppertime activity, which I don't care for much at all. Even though I'm not crazy about getting up and ready to leave for events and appointments early in the morning, I'd rather do that than have to think all day about the fact that I have to go somewhere in the late afternoon. It kind of ruins the day, you know? There's no time to do much in the morning except wait; late-afternoon events kind of loom.
07/23 Direct Link
I have five minutes to write one hundred words. Can I do it?

The poetry book I ordered from Amazon last week arrived yesterday. It's a writing text called The Practice of Poetry, and it was recommended by the poet friend I mentioned started chatting with me on Facebook unexpectedly last week. I haven't had much time to look through it, but the exercises I've seen seem good. I need something to help jump-start my creativity; I'm hoping this book will do the trick.

Three minutes. I made it with time to spare.
07/24 Direct Link
When I was a kid, I could never understand why adults would say they need more hours in a day. The days seemed plenty long enough to me, especially during those times when I was waiting for something to happen, like our annual trip to the state fair. The days leading up to our departure always seemed so long; if my parents had gotten their wish for more hours, I would have had to wait even longer. That was crazy thinking! Now, though, I'm older, and I wish for the same thing my parents did—more time. Much more time.
07/25 Direct Link
The summer is going by too fast. I feel like there are so many things I haven't been able to get done, even though the kids and I have been busy most every day. I don't like this. I want everything to slow down; I want to feel like I've accomplished the things I wanted to do, like I've spent each day doing everything I could to make this the best summer for the kids. As it is, I feel like I'm failing at that task. My parents wanted more hours in the day. Boy, do I understand that now...
07/26 Direct Link
Do I thrive on deadlines? I can remember many nights in graduate school when I'd sit in my office, frantically scribbling a paper that was due the next day. I even did my master's thesis that way. I don't remember feeling any panic then about the looming deadlines, but when I think about them now—how I always left everything to the last second—I cringe. Why did I do that? Then again, I guess I still have a bit of a tendency to do that now. We're going on a trip very soon. Am I ready? Of course not.
07/27 Direct Link
It's a chocolate-pudding-for-breakfast kind of day. I make no apologies.

I've been thinking about the way we parents put our children ahead of ourselves, even in the little things that don't really matter all that much. Case in point: We're going to a get-together this afternoon at a house that has a pool, but there's a forty percent chance of thunderstorms. I don't mind, since I'd honestly be more comfortable if the party were indoors instead of in the heat, but my kids love to swim. Because of them, I won't wish for rain.
07/28 Direct Link
The get-together yesterday was fine in the beginning, but it ended in such a completely twisted and anger-inducing way that I can't even bear to think about it. Suffice it to say, the day concluded with me standing over a sink, trying to scrub fabric paint out of my kids' good clothes.

On a related note, guess where we're going today? Ten points if you guessed a clothing store...

In other news, my husband opened the window where a giant spider was trapped between the screen and the glass. See why I'm not sleeping?
07/29 Direct Link
No word on the spider's whereabouts. We'll bring you more as the story develops.

When someone close to you tells you that last night was really fantastic and you can't quite remember, is that bad? I mean, I've been lucky enough to have spent some lovely times with others, but unless the time was absolutely fantastic, I don't remember every little detail. So this morning, "Someone" couldn't stop talking about what had gone on last night. I smiled and nodded in the right places, but I'm clueless— and a little upset. It sounds like I missed something good.
07/30 Direct Link
I'm spinning my wheels. We're leaving for our two-week vacation soon, and no matter how many lists I write and errands I plan to run, I just can't seem to get motivated to pack and get ready. I wrote a long list yesterday; that list turned out to be the extent of the day's preparations. Today I'm supposed to go and pick up a few items we'll need, but I'm finding myself coming up with things unrelated to the trip that I want to do instead: write, read, even cook. I'll be scrambling at the last minute—as usual.
07/31 Direct Link
Last day of the month again. There are a lot of lasts, when you think about it. A lot of firsts, too.

This morning my self-employed editor friend was lamenting about how he has too much work to do and how all he wants is a break—some time to travel, some time to enjoy the things of summer. I asked why he couldn't do those things. He's the boss; he sets the rules. The solution seems so simple to me, but then I'm not the one in the situation. A mile in his shoes and all.