That’s the way it goes…sometimes.

July 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

All day long I am busy with work.  I am busy calling clients explaining a complex software to them, or fixing problems or finding solutions to their wacky problems.  I know I am using my brain.  I am problem solving!  But…I want something more.  Is it just a generational thing?  I read an article that each generation has viewed work differently.  Work, in general, seems to be an important topic these days.  Here’s how I understand the generational differences (from an article I read somewhere): The generation before Baby Boomers (I don’t remember their official name) didn’t care about taking factory jobs.  They just needed a job.  Baby Boomers didn’t mind taking on the grunt work at a company.  Their goal was to move up the ladder, but they knew they had to start at the bottom.  Gen Xers didn’t look to a job for fulfillment.  Instead they cultivated hobbies!  (This was the era where after school sports and activities were mostly developed.)  The current generation–the Millennial Generation–wants to have a job with meaning.  They want to do something, to make a difference.  They don’t mind taking a lower paying job as long as they are having a positive impact on the world, or at least the community.  I think some of these ideas are from the book: The M-Factor.

Funny I bring this up because I’m not a big fan of labels as they can be limiting.  I don’t want to say anyone completely falls into one generation’s philosophy of “work”.  I’m not sure where I fall, but somedays I’m Millennial. (Like today.)  All that to say, it is interesting to think about how culture changes from one generation to the next.

I like having my hobbies after work.  On Tuesday I met my friend Natalija for Chinese and conversation on just about every subject.  I met with my running group on Wednesday and ran 7.5 of hills.  Today I met my friend Amy for happy hour and chatted about relationships.  I have my writing group every couple of weeks.  I read and write on the weekends.  Every night I talk to my dear Benjamin.  Maybe in all of these activities I find personal fulfillment, whatever that means, if that should even be a goal.  Then, I think, life isn’t supposed to revolve around ourselves.  It’s not about getting ahead or getting published.  The externals don’t really matter in the end.  Maybe the ordinary life can be extraordinary.  Okay, it is getting late, and I’m going to start philosophizing incoherently (if I haven’t already) and that won’t be fun for anyone.

In order to blog about more interesting things, I think I need to be more diligent about reading.  Also, my goal this fall is to pay attention to the primaries.  I usually get so bored by politics, but I think I ought to care.

Time to go to bed.  Good night.

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Short Shorts!

July 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

I wore my new shorts on my run today, and boy are they tiny!  I pretty much felt like I was running in my underwear, but I’m not trying to impress anyone on the trail.  The plan today was to warm up for about 2 miles, and then run as fast as you can for another two miles.  Only, I heard that we had to run fast for one mile.  During my warm-up, I ran with Tseganesh who is much faster than me, and then I booked it for the fast part.  Ryan, our running coach was standing on his bike at where the trail split.  I yelled up to him, “This is where we shag, right?”  Side note for non-runners: Shagging is a running term that means to run very very slowly after a sprint.  I still think it is funny to say.  Ryan yelled back, “Nope, another mile to go.”  In the 85 degree sun, I was beat.  After the shag, we had to sprint again for 1.3 miles.  By the end, the sweat was dripping into my eyes and the salt stinging my eyes.  That is a new flavor of pain.

Okay, I’m going to be a girl here (because I am).  You’d think I’d be dropping the pounds, but not so much.  I know I’m gaining muscle and losing fat (ostensibly), but I wish I could see those numbers go down.  I suppose the real goal is to get fit and feel good, and I do so I don’t want to feel bad about myself.

Hmm.  While I haven’t been writing, I think I know where I’m going, at least in the very near future.  Like Adam says, it’s like driving in the dark with the headlights on.  I can see about twenty feet ahead of me, but I’m not sure what’s up ahead.  It’s a busy week for me, but I think I’ll get some writing time in on Sunday.

Cheers, faithful followers.

Dreaming of Dreams

July 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

During my first year of college, every morning at the breakfast table (it was a school of 36 and we all ate together), I would proclaim, “I had the weirdest dream last night!”  My kind classmates all listened and laughed at the appropriate moments, but listening to someone else’s dream, I know, is not as captivating as listening to a real story.  But, I do think dreams are meaningful.  I am by no means an interpreter of dreams, and I’m not sure that’s even possible to do, but I ask that you come along with me in the adventure of my dream last night.

I had a dream last night in which my grandmother (who passed away in March) died and was about to be buried at the cemetery.  Right before they lowered the casket in the ground, a man I assumed to be a physician, opened the box and did one last check.  Behind the opened lid, he yelled, “She’s alive!”  It turns out her heart was still beating.  She was not buried, and I ended up keeping my grandma, still in her casket, in my room.  I would straighten her shoes, or fix her hair and talk to her.  Then one day she smiled.  Up until this point, she was dead except for her beating heart.  Some time later when I was next to her, she opened her eyes.  I said something to her and then she spoke!  Not long after that, Grandma was walking and talking and communing with my family.  We sat together on the couch one afternoon, and I said, “Grandma, you’re doing so well.”  But not long after that, I became uncomfortable with her aliveness.  I sensed that what was happening was not natural, and that she should in fact be dead.  I consulted doctors, and I can’t remember what they said, but I only remember wishing she would pass (again) soon.

After this dream ended, I dreamed another dream in which I was talking to my boyfriend, Ben.  I called him and told him about my strange dream.  When I was telling him the part about the physician checking her body right before it was about to be buried, he asked, “They do that?”  I said, “Yeah, it’s a common procedure.”  After telling my boyfriend, I told another friend who didn’t want to listen to a boring dream, but I demanded her attention.

I had a few more dreams before I woke up, but I find it interesting that this dream was so powerful that I dreamed of telling someone else about it.  I don’t know what this dream means for my life, but I’m interested in what it represents.  The idea of reviving someone or something that has died, back to life in vain.  The strongest emotion in my dream wasn’t happiness that my grandma was back, it was the sense of discomfort with her being alive after she had died.  It didn’t seem natural, and I think I felt a little guilty for being responsible in doing so.

Ian says to write down our dreams because maybe we’ll be able to use them in our work.  I might have to come back to this dream at some point.  Anyway, I’m on my way out the door for church, but I’ll be back later.

Compelling Characters

July 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Yesterday was a good day for a couple reasons.  First, I got a voicemail from my nephew Sullivan (who is two, by the way) and he said: “Hi Auntie Woofie!  I miss you!”  Adorable.  Then, I met with my writing group and I always come away encouraged and excited to keep working on my book.  And!, we got word back from the agency.  Encouragement and criticism from them, but they said they’d read our books in a year.  I am flattered, and hope that I can maintain momentum.

I am new to writing fiction, and creating characters is very difficult for me.  You’d think I knew my characters by now, but I have trouble picturing them.  The agent’s criticism was that my protagonist is not compelling enough, and I completely agree.  Ian gave me a little exercise and told me to read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I’ve read (and loved) many of his short stories, but for some reason never read his so-called masterpiece.  I have a low-key weekend ahead of me, and I’m looking forward to getting to know his characters (and how he develops them).

I own a copy of The Scarlet Letter, but it’s a cheap, paperback copy.  I might be getting a little snobby about my books, but I like a nice type face, and smooth pages, rather than those rough newspaper pages.  A quick stop at Half-Price Books, and I found a Norton Critical Edition for seven bucks.  Success!  I started to read the introduction, “The Custom House”, but today (really, this whole week) has been incredibly mentally challenging at work and so after reading a few pages, I grew tired, so I turned to the tube.  The film, Delicatessen, arrived from Netflix yesterday and I started to watch it, but I’m not sure how committed I am.  The French are so strange!  (Especially the sex scene in this movie.)  I’m not sure I’ll finish it, and I guess I didn’t really know it was a about a butcher who chops up people, and finding out that doesn’t thrill me.  (How did I not know this?)  I can’t for the life of me remember who told me to watch this one.

Right now I’m watching the Red Green Show while my bed sheets toss about in the dryer.  In about 30 minutes, I’m going to curl up in fresh sheets.  Yum.  What an exciting Friday night, huh?  I’ve got to get my sleep for a 14-miler and the Flugtag!  More about that tomorrow.

The Time Trial

July 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

I had been looking forward to the time trial at Club Run, that is, until about 20 minutes before I started running.  During my two-mile warm up, my legs felt like cement and my breathing was heavy.  I ran with Tony and I kept talking to him so I would be distracted about the “race”.  I practiced breathing deep breaths and imagining that this was just another long run.  We came to a stop and lined up for our long-awaited time trial.  “Run as fast as you can, comfortably,” the coach said.  I’m not sure what that means.  Running as fast as I can is rarely comfortable.  But run fast is what I did.  Around Lake of the Isles I panted so loudly, walkers would turn around to see a sweaty girl bearing down on them.  I felt like I was going to die.  At a quarter mile to go, Ryan yelled, “Kick it into gear now!”  I started sprinting, near death, I thought, but crossed the finish line in 16:55.  Based on that time, our coaches have some algorithm to calculate our marathon time (and it isn’t x13).  I was hoping to run an 8:30/mile pace, and I did it!  Whew.  It was tough though.

I sent off my pages for my writing group tomorrow night.  I’m really looking forward to it.  Goodnight, all.

People is sometimes kind.

July 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Read here if you are interested in that subject line.  And if you read that, you can also know that I sometimes miss my days of teaching English.  While it was an incredible challenge, being a part of someone learning a new language is hilarious.  Yep, it’s all about me and being entertained by students.  (Hope you caught my sarcasm there.)  I think I might teach a class this fall at the English Learning Center on Chicago Ave.  I miss those loud Somali women!

I have been writing tonight!  For my novel!  It’s going okay.  Almost a month ago, teacher Ian suggested I use the Aphrodite and Hephaestus mythology as inspiration.  So I just wrote the scene in which Hephaestus catches Aphrodite in bed with Ares.  My story has different characters, but draws on the characterization of the classic myths.  I don’t want to reveal too much of it just yet.  I have an idea of what happens next in the book, but I have to figure out how to get from one episode to the next.  Sometimes I think writing comedy would be easier, but when I write a comedic scene, it is so cheesy.  Anyway.  I’m glad to be writing, and I’m looking forward to my meeting with my writing group on Thursday to get feedback and ideas.

I have an itch to make Ethiopian food right now, but I’m quite sure I don’t have the necessary spices.  Boo.  I might attempt something anyway, with lentils, cayenne pepper and onions.  I’ll write of my culinary adventures tomorrow.  Adios, amigos.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Writing

July 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have not lived up to my promise of writing (here or elsewhere).  But, I don’t want to get down about it.  I think the one thing that inhibits my writing the most, is my sour attitude about it, and how much of a failure I feel like if I don’t write.  I have been reading a lot.  I gave up on Trading Up by Candace Bushnell.  I did not like her characters at all.  Or the plot.  Or the writing while we’re at it.  I’m listening to Walks With Men by Ann Beattie, which I like.  I get slightly distracted listening while driving, which is hopefully a good thing because I do need to pay attention to the road.  I have two running books I read snippets in them, every now and then.  Born to Run and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.  The title will probably make you groan like it made my boyfriend.  It is his memoir about being a runner and a writer, and I find it more compelling than the Born to Run book.  Both running and writing are fairly solitary activities, and you have to learn how to pace yourself and build up to writing for long stretches at a time.  The only reason I’ve been running as much as I have been, is because I’m in a running group, and I think it would certainly help if I met my writing group more often too.  Murakami did not think about being a writer, but one day thought he should write a novel.  He hand wrote 200 pages, sent it into a contest and won, and pretty much became a successful writer.

I often think about talent and gifts.  I’ve been told by many people that I ought to write, and I am praised for it.  But when I don’t feel like it or if I haven’t been praised for it lately, I lose all self-confidence in my abilities.  But more and more, I believe that feelings, while truthful, aren’t always a reliable indicator of the truth.  Hmm.  That just came out without me thinking about it.  But feelings in relationships wax and wane, and it is good to pay attention to feelings and emotions, but it doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t love for or in the relationship.  My shaky confidence for being a writer is almost utterly dependent on others, which I think is unhealthy.  I feel good about it when people say I’m doing a good job.  I feel crappy when I’m not hearing praise.  Maybe it comes easier for some, but I’ve read so many writers say what a struggle it is to write.  So, I don’t think it is a question of talent.  I think it is hard work (and out comes my Midwestern work ethic).  I think anyone can run a marathon.  I think anyone can write.  I also think some people have natural talent for athletics or language or music, but humans are amazing.  I realize there are a couple ideas going on in this paragraph, but just roll with it.

Okay, total segue, but I watched Inception last night.  It blew my mind.  I loved it.  On the drive home, my mind was whirring with possibilities for a new book and that excited me.  But it also got me thinking about the human brain and what an amazing machine it is.  If I could start my life all over, I think I’d like to be a neuroscientist.  I think more than anything, the brain fascinates me.

I really do need to write tomorrow and I will.  I was going to spend Sunday afternoon writing, but I went to the lawn in front of the state capitol building, and I had a gorgeous afternoon soaking up the sun and brainstorming about my novel.  Ben is a good literary consultant if you’re in the market for one.  Even though I didn’t write, I know where I want to go.  Writing a novel is just making decisions, I’ve heard.  Sometimes I don’t even know where I want to go for lunch, or on vacation, or what I want to do in my life, and yet I have to make small and big decisions for my characters.  It’s hard work.

Thanks for reading, my faithful followers.  I’ll try to be more diligent.  Ta ta!

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