Monthly Archives: January 2013

I’ve been thinking about…

I am all over the place. I have so many interests, so many things I want to do, so many things I’m not doing. I had an interesting notion today that I thought I’d write about. Her it is:

Notion(s) of the Day
We humans tend to define ourselves by things that are separate from us. I’ve had this feeling for many years that I had to have a career in order to be somebody – to count – in this society. I was going to be a dancer, but I didn’t really want to be a dancer. I liked dancing in college and grad school, but I didn’t feel like I was really a dancer when I compared myself to other people who I believed to be bonafide dancers.

After grad school I got a job that was just a job. That wasn’t enough, so I thought that if I could become a writer, a real writer, I would be able to find my place in the world. I’m still trying that out. We’ll see what happens.

What I do for a living now is make technology training videos. It’s my thing and I’m good at it. I also manage the social media presence for my group at work. I’m good at that too. I also do some graphic design, but I don’t dare call myself a graphic designer. I think I’m good at that too, but don’t tell that to any real graphic designers.

I’m interested in fitness and nutrition. I’ve considered going to school to be a fitness trainer or a nutritionist.

I like blogging, and if I had time I’d blog about all my interests, but I don’t have time. I need a zillion dollars. With a zillion dollars I could do whatever I want.

I want to be a blues singer, but I need to improve my guitar skills. I want to be an actress. I could be an actress. I want to be an artist, but I need to improve my drawing skills.

This is what goes on in my brain. All of these notions are why I haven’t accomplished any one big thing in my life. That must be the way it’s supposed to be, because that’s the way it is. That statement calls for another blog post which would require some extensive reading of philosophical tomes. I won’t be writing that blog post.

Maybe my life IS the one big thing in my life. That is some kind of deep!

I’m happy that I wrote something today. Yay for me!

What Happened at the Office

The office building was modern. It was made of a lot of metal and glass, with a little of the native limestone thrown in, perhaps to make it look as if it belonged in the medium-sized Midwestern town. The building’s interior was modern as well. The high ceilings featured exposed beams, pipes, and ducts. The walls were white and the floor plan open- no cubicles; although people with the term “manager” behind their names sat in glass enclosed offices.

150 people or so worked on each of the four floors; each of them involved in some kind of knowledge work. What they did at this company is not important. They were ordinary office workers, doing the type of tasks that people did in the year 2012. It was an ordinary office except for one rather strange thing.

Every day at precisely 10:17 a.m., the pig emerged from the east wall on the first floor and ran the length of the building. Upon arriving at the west wall, he turned around and began racing down each of the desk-lined rows. He would squeal joyously when passing groups of workers having an ad-hoc water cooler meeting, interrupting their attempts at casual collaboration. He would grunt disgustedly at the women who appeared to be afraid of him, or those whom he suspected had thoughts of knitting him a sweater. Those who were on the phone would be forced to end their conversations and tell the other party they would call back in a few minutes. It would only be a few minutes because the pig would disappear into the east wall at exactly 10:23. Everyone in the office would then go back to what they were doing.

One day, a Tuesday, the pig didn’t come out. 10:17 arrived, and all was quiet. The people who sat closest to where the pig normally entered were the first to notice its absence.

Bob Jordan said something to Shelly Hawkins who sat to the right of him. “Something’s not right,” he said.

Shelly turned to him and said “what’s not right?”

Bob scratched his head. “I don’t know. Something just doesn’t seem right.”

Shelly shrugged and continued her work, but she was somehow distracted.

At the other end of the floor, Jim Tracy and Doug Barnett were conversing at the water cooler.

Jim said, “If we wait until September we could…” but then he just stared into the distance. Something was off, he thought.

5:00  came and the workers on the second, third, and fourth floors shut down their computers, boarded the elevators or descended the staircases, climbed into their cars and went home. For them, it had been an ordinary day. The people on the first floor sat at their desks and stared at their computer screens. Night came; all was quiet.

At 9:00, Bob Jordan looked over at Shelly Hawkins and whispered to himself, “A pig.”

Shelly looked at Bob. She had heard him say something, but hadn’t really understood. Something compelled her to stand up. She slapped the top of her desk as she stood. She gasped and shouted “The pig! The pig didn’t come out!”

Everyone in the office awoke from their collective stupor and began speaking to each other about the pig that had emerged from the wall and ran around the office every morning at 10:17 for as long as any of them could remember.

“How could we have forgotten that?” People asked incredulously. They started laughing.

One woman asked the group, “What if the pig doesn’t come back?” She began to sob. She remembered wanting to knit a sweater for the pig.

This was a sobering thought for everyone. The room fell silent. The co-workers looked at each other, and then looked at the east wall, secretly willing the pig to appear. It did not appear, so one-by-one they turned off their  computers, picked up their bags and purses, and headed out the door.

Everyone went home, not knowing what would happen the next day.

Smiling pig

Daily Prompt; Ready, Set, Go

Because I’m not in the mood to write, that’s why I’m doing this. I have 10 minutes to make this post. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be.

Today went on and on. I didn’t even get to work super early, but I worked hard I think. Can you really call using your mind to create content and share content on the Internet work? I don’t know. Digging ditches is work. Making steel beams is work. I don’t do those things, so why am I so tired?

I think I’m tired in general. I’m tired of the mundane, the same old, same old. I want excitement, I want warm weather, I want the beach, and the mountains. I want to get out of bed whenever I want to. Alas, this cannot be.

I did do good “work” today. I finished a script for a demo video of a new web application. I even started making the video, so I can’t complain.

I want to feel like I have the time to write. I don’t want to feel that if I don’t write tonight I will never be a writer. I will fail. I don’t want to write under my own duress. I don’t know if fI spelled that correctly, but I don’t have time to look it up. I’m on the clock.

I’m getting on the treadmill tonight . I do twenty minutes because it gets tedious quickly. You hear from people like Dr. OZ that you should do 30 minutes a day, but I’m doing what I can.

Two minutes left. Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show is on the the background, and it’s a distraction. They’re talking about Republicans and Democrats. I’m so tired of politics. It’s so fake. What’s real in life? That’s what I should have written about.

I’m running out of time and I’m hungry.

Winter Cornfield, Winter Sunset

There was a field at the end of a road called Sunset Ave. Sunset was an apt name for the road because when you traveled on it, westward, late in the evening; you were treated to the sight of the sun’s final journey across the sky in our part of the world. This setting sun is a perfect circle, big and orange, sometimes red. You can only sneak quick glimpses of it, but you see its warm glow reflected in the open, limitless sky. The sky can sometimes seem pink, sometimes purple, and other colors that don’t have names. They don’t need to be named because they exist only in this sunset. Today you can see the white streaks made by jets that have taken off from, and landed at the nearby airport.

The field lies below the quietly darkening sky. The corn was harvested a few months ago, and now the ground is brown and knobby. From where you stand, you can’t see details, but you think it must look like Thomas Hardy’s Egdon Heath. You remember envisioning the brooding Eustacia Vye pacing on the heath when you read The Return of the Native in high school.

A group of Canadian geese have made this field their temporary home. You hear them honking gleefully in the distance and then see them overhead in v-formation, making their way to the field. Thirty, forty, fifty of them plod along in the dried corn stalks. They peck at the ground, eating whatever it is that geese eat. A band of big black crows join the geese. Crows are bold. They strut across the barren field as if they have the right. The two species co-exist. The field is big enough for all.

Cars whiz along Sunset’s cross street, their occupants heading home to do the ordinary things that people must do. A driver puts up a hand to shade her eyes from the setting sun. The sun speeds its pace, just a little.


Some advice from the Internet

I started writing a short story about 20 minutes ago. The beginning looks good so far, but I’m lazy. As soon as I started writing I was thinking, ugh, this is hard. I’m tired. So I decided to take a break. I really don’t know if I can just quit my job and start writing full-time. Well, there’s the fact that I can’t afford to do that. Perhaps I shouldn’t worry about it eh?

I get a bunch of emails every morning from LinkedIn groups I belong to. I think I’m in about 6 groups, and I usually only skim a few of the updates. I should cut back. I did run across an article posted in one of those emails, or on the LinkedIn home page itself, about words you should never use to describe yourself. Here’s the article.
The author says you shouldn’t use words like “Innovative,” “Dynamic,” and “Guru,” because these are all terribly cliche, especially on social media sites.

Could I instead say I’m “Avant-Garde,” “Electric,” or “A Guiding Light”? Those sound ridiculous too. But this advice was written in a blog post on the Internet so it must be taken seriously.

Maybe the next time I update my resume I’ll call myself “The Sheriff of Blog County”? What about “The Princess of E-Delights”?

Maybe I should think again about becoming a full-time writer so all of the great literary works on my resume can speak for themselves. There’s some incentive to get back to that short story.

A late coffee

I’ve had three cups of coffee today. I shouldn’t have another one, but I want one.  Am I craving the coffee or the ritual? The warm mug in my hand, the hot liquid gliding over my  tongue and down my throat. I bet if I make another cup I won’t drink it all. What a wast of a K-cup!

I got on the scale this morning and the number I saw was much lower than it should be. When I stepped off, the error indicator appeared on the screen. I stepped on again, and I got a number that was higher than I wanted. No error message.I need to cut out the unnecessary sugar, and I need to workout every day.

I’m still contemplating a cup of coffee.

Do you ever feel like you live in a bubble, or a snow globe? Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in my circumstances. Do I mean trapped by my circumstances? I understand why people do stupid things that wreck their lives like cheating on a spouse or taking drugs. Life can be monotonous. We have to do basically the same things everyday just to keep ourselves alive, and for those of us who have dreams of doing something great or important, we have to do more. So you work and eat and pay bills so you don’t end up homeless. After that  you do these extra things, like writing blogs, to try to make yourself great. Is it worth it? What if your dreams never come true? I guess you can at least say that life was a little more interesting because of all the extra effort you put into it.

I’m still thinking about coffee. It has no calories.

I like going to bed a night. The bed is a safe place. I have my husband at my side, my chocolate lab/pit bull puppy at my feet, and our chihuahua at my head. It’s not comfortable, but it ‘s safe.

I have two goals for this evening: Do at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, and stop fooling with the iPhone or iPad for the night at 8:00. I think that will help me sleep better. The coffee I’m about to have is not going to help at all.

I have a million pictures of my “puppy”. She’s a little over a year old and still acts like a puppy. So I call her a puppy.

Ernie and Sadie

Ernie and Sadie

How do I write fiction?

So I take stabs at fiction writing from time to time. I tend not to be happy with what I write because the stories always seem to be about a woman who’s kind of lonely and depressed. Basically this character is me for most of my adult life. I don’t want to write this character because it just feels like me wallowing in self-pity. On the other hand she was real and she was miserable.

In this post, I’m attempting to reframe the kind of passage I would normally write. I need to make my alter-ego (usually called Sheila for some reason), a little lighter and a little more like-able. I’m not the same unhappy person I used to be. Maybe Sheila deserves a taste of the good life too.

This is an exercise to help me figure out what kind of fiction writer I am.

Version 1

She was waiting for something extraordinary to happen, and she knew that waiting alone was useless. She knew that she’d have to take some action and make something happen. All the self-help books said that. But she was scared. She didn’t like leaving her apartment. She wasn’t agoraphobic, but being away from the safety of her home made her uneasy. She didn’t think she was agoraphobic, but sometimes, when she was in a crowd at a shopping center, she got a little panicky. Her heart would race, and she’d feel a bit light-headed. If she stopped for a few moments and pretended to look at some merchandise on a store shelf, she could take some deep breaths and compose herself.

Version 2

Something extraordinary was about to happen. Emaline had waited all morning for the impending moment. This was exciting! She was wearing what she called her ‘Super Fancy Party Dress.’ The dress had a black lace bodice with a black satin skirt. It was her dress from junior prom in 1988. Sure it was a bit old-fashioned, but it still qualified as fancy.

The extraordinary thing that was about to happen was a result of months of hard work and planning. Emaline had gone to every open-mic, talent show, dance recital, and poetry reading in town, secretly recording performances with her little digital audio recorder. She was collecting talent!

You might wonder how an audio recording of various examples of local talent could result in an extraordinary event in the life of our Emaline. Well, that’s what this story is about.
There might be something there.

A side note:

I’m narrowing the scope of this blog so it’s more about writing, and other artsy things. My other blog “A Learning Experience” will be about my struggle to find a career, perhaps in Instructional Technology, perhaps in some job that doesn’t exist yet, but has to do with online content curation. I’m all over the place! I really just want to be a movie star, or a blues singer, or an herb farmer, or …

Oh well, on with the beautiful struggle!


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