Monday, November 14, 2016

newspaper subscription hell complete with daemons

Have you ever been so frustrated by something so petty that you're almost ashamed, except the thing frustrating you is something you really want to get resolved and you make a hundred good-faith efforts that get you nowhere except more frustrated and you just want to raise the window like in the movie Network and yell "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore"?

If not, I envy you but I'm not sure I understand you. We obviously don't even live in the same universe. How do you even know me....?

If so, hello old friend, welcome to my petty party, climb aboard.

Here's my gripe. (And it's not about the election. So relax...)

We have one real local honest-to-goodness traditional newspaper in this town. We have subscribed to this paper for years and years and years. Until recently. Not because we decided to un-subscribe. But because apparently they have "new subscription software" that is causing issues. And their issues are causing me issues.

Monday, August 29, 2016

wholehearted parenting

Lately I've been reading work by Dr. BrenĂ© Brown. If you aren't familiar with her, she is an author, speaker, and research professor who has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. You want to improve your life? Listen to her talk about those four topics (like in the audiobook The Power of Vulnerability) and I promise you will hear yourself growing!

I think I like Brené so much because I am a touchy-feeley-empathic person who appreciates evidence, where she a sociologist-sciencey-research person who appreciates empathy and provides evidence in a language I can understand. Because I feel so strongly about the importance of her work, I will probably write more about particular topics that resonate with me. Today I am writing specifically about parenting.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

politics, musicals, and compromise

"You can't always get what you want."

A true statement and a great Rolling Stones song that was oddly used by one of the political conventions. Which is weirdly appropriate, because it is a GIANT understatement when it comes to politics. Especially this election year.

"You can't always get what you want."

Anyone who has lived past kindergarten has figured this out the hard way.

At some point most of us learn that to move forward in life, we have to compromise. Sometimes it's not that hard, like choosing between hamburgers and hot dogs at a cookout when you'd hoped there would be steak. Sometimes it's only a matter of giving up some minor standard or even choosing "none of the above", like refusing cake at a party because it's commercial cake from a grocery store bakery and we prefer only scratch cake made with pastured butter, free-range eggs and gluten-free locally-milled einkorn flour.

But sometimes we have to choose between A and B when we don't like either option and a choice HAS to be made. Maybe A and B are actually totally appalling to us and we'd really like to choose C or D but they aren't that great either and actually don't stand a chance in hell of happening. Sound familiar?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

moon landings, birthday cake, and hope

Today is a special day - my brother's birthday. Ray and I are more than siblings. We're friends, confidantes, partners-in-crime, each other's best audience, best critic, best support, best humorist, best ear, best shoulder. In his honor, I am posting a story from my book "Leaving The Shallows", a story I wrote about his 2nd birthday. Happy Birthday bubba - I love you to the moon. And back.
It was the summer of ‘69. July 20th to be exact.
I was 5 years old. I lived in a small, safe town in a small, safe house, with my little brother Ray and with our parents, who loved and cared for us, who loved and cared for each other.

I was unaware of the tumultuous world outside, of Kennedys and assassinations and Chappaquiddick, of presidential elections and Zodiac killers, of Vietnam and civil rights, of sit-ins and bed-ins, of oil spills and invasions, of midnight cowboys or that Dorothy was dead.
I didn’t know people with darker skin were treated different from me.
I didn’t know people hurt each other. Especially not people in families.
But I did know two things: It was my brother’s second birthday. And it was a night when the world was going to change forever.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

stories and gems and cake

I wrote something new.

That shouldn't be monumental news. I write every day. After all, I'm a professional writer.

But I don't write for myself enough. Don't write enough about the things that move me, that move you, that matter at a heart level.

I decided the only way to change that is to put myself in situations where I have no choice, commit myself to a deadline and either sink or swim.

Apparently passion and ability and the whooshing of time flying by are not great motivators for me. But embarrassment at not fulfilling a commitment? That will motivate me every time.

I had great success with the piece I wrote about my experience with postpartum depression. I read this at the Sottile Theater in May as part of Listen To Your Mother Charleston.

But I haven't written anything since. Not really.

So when I heard about a reading sponsored by Truth Is and set at a brilliant dessert place in West Ashley, I didn't even stop to think it through. I contacted fellow writer and organizer Karen Mae Black and said "count me in!"

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

weird as me: friends, stories, and David Sedaris

I wrote a story for David Sedaris.

Let me clarify.

David Sedaris is a pretty good writer of stories. If you haven't heard of him, he's sold a few books (9 books, >7 million copies), traveled a bit (lives in North Carolina, England and France and shops for culottes in Tokyo), shares his humorous tales with a few audiences (sold out houses), speaks regularly on a few radio stations (NPR and BBC ring a bell?), and has been featured in a few local magazines (local if you live in Manhattan or, you know, the world).

So David Sedaris does not need my story. But when I had the chance to meet him in person a few weeks ago, I had one ready for him, just in case. Because he collects stories like some people collect, I don't know, whatever collector type people collect. And I like to be prepared.

Friday, April 22, 2016

creativity, fear and the dream deferred

Is it ever too late to be what you might have been? To take your dream out of the box and put it back in motion?

Sometimes, unfortunately, it is.

If you dreamed of playing for the NBA but you are now 43 years old and overweight, then yeah, that ship has sailed. Sorry...

But what about the other things we aspire to, desires we've long held, dreams that aren't limited by age or weight or time?

In A Dream Deferred, poet Langston Hughes speculates about what happens to dreams and desires that are put aside for later.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
When I first read this poem in high school, I assumed Mr. Hughes had covered all the options. When a dream is deferred, it is somehow destroyed, ruined, kaput. Get it, got it, good.

But now that I have lived longer, I think maybe there are other possibilities.