Tag Archives: writing

a moody maniacal monday menagerie of imaginary management magic

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ahhhh! there is so much going on right now. my action figure life peaks plaintively from behind this blinking cursor…my friend and frenemy…and i’m left wondering where all of this input is supposed to settle in my brainscape. a lost week and some lost momentum, and now i want to believe that this blur forms one bigger, messier image…the kind of image that begs a wider viewpoint in search of its broad, obvious pattern, a pattern i won’t likely see until my deathbed or later.

so i’m down here in the weeds, and my thoughts argue like schizophrenic contrarians as i sort out my today, tomorrow and someday lists. the toughest concepts i consider are cluttered with possibilities and probabilities, and little pieces of scrap paper that say things like, has boston been kicked out of the wild card race yet? and ooh, saints 2-1…when’s a good time for a football party? or i wonder if a truckload of mulch in the back yard would make the last month’s worth of dog crap go away?

i want to do too much, i know. my bucket list is 5 lifetimes long. sigh. take a deep breath, trish. as i do, my mind skips around on wilco tunes i heard live last night, to the place where i recharged my soul the way i do, by sitting in front of screaming speaker stacks. now it’s monday and i’m thinking about my trip at the end of this week and the details that go into business travel and vacationing with a two year old. at the same time, i’m wondering when i’ll get my daughter down to see her grandparents in florida again, when she’ll grow into a big girl bed or out of of diapers or how i will manage preschool next year. someone asked me this weekend if i had a costume picked out for my dog for halloween, which made me look at them funny and then wonder if i could just take him for another overdue walk and pretend he’s my daughter...oh, this? i found a new pattern and some fabric on sale…what does roscoe say, honey? 

and there goes everyone telling me to get ahead of myself again. (a lyric drifts maniacally through my headit’s still summer somewhere, and i guess i better go there…). meanwhile i’m trying to remember to get the trash to the curb, take my medicine on time, get my daughter to daycare and home, make a follow up appointment for the bleeding kidney thing, figure out when i can weed the front yard, get my animals to a new vet, get my teeth to a new dentist, my car to the new tire and brakes store (right next to the new tire and brakes money machine), and (EGADS!), i could do this forever. holy overwhelming life. one day at a time, trish, one day at a time. oh, and there’s still that full time job thing.

i think this is my midlife crisis. i’m not sure what it’s supposed to look like on a woman. i want to begin my second half, the next 40 years, if only for a second, with all my ducks in a perfect little squawking row….so i guess i’ve got about 9 months to sort it all out. Haha! is it so strange that i want to start with a fresh and clean to do list of tasks and dreams, in place of the churn i feel each morning as a i wake? still, i’m willing to bet that’s a dragon i can’t catch, no matter how earnest the chase. somewhere in college, everything i i thought i needed to do fit on a list. i kept that list tidy and up to date (three lists actually, non-electronic, cross-referenced in case i lost one – um, yes, it was clinical and i’ve addressed the issue). i’m not even sure when i lost control of that list…or when the somedays turned into tomorrows, then todays and then yesterdays. i’m guessing it was probably about the time i started Living.

and now it’s all about priorities…lists that never end, items that simply slip from place to place in order of perceived importance, relevance…some that linger at the bottoms of those lists only to nag and drag at my sleep in perpetuity. the best i can do is prioritize well. i’m writing this realizing, for the 100th time, that i will likely never feel, “all caught up” again. sigh. it’s almost too much.

so i’m going to crawl back to my coffee carafe, try to sort through some of these priorities and cheer up. i want a simple life. is there such a thing? for trish? perhaps keeping that simple life alive in my imagination is how i prioritize, how i keep the outrage to a lovable, livable roar, and the closest i’ll get until it’s all as simple as soft food and activities of daily living. some people like to tell me that if i don’t slow down, i’ll get there sooner than i think. sigh. i’m 39. my child hasn’t even started pre-school yet. i haven’t officially opened doors on my own business yet…the one i see as the backdrop for the “second set” of my life. did i miss intermission? i could have used the pee break.

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plans and painkillers…out the window and through the looking glass

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so there i was, just blog, blog, blogging along…i believe i mentioned something about wine and pills, or was it whine and pills? suddenly, out of the darkness emerged a villain not even actionfiguretrish could challenge by herself…and so our intrepid heroine goes down in torturous, multi-colored flames of delusion and pain. plans? what plans? i missed a pig roast, wasted concert tickets, fell behind at work and home…you know the drill.

ever have a kidney bleed all on its own for no apparent reason?  me either. ever have an infection bad enough to make your kidney bleed and not even know it? me either. anyhoo, enough about bleeding things. the point is, i’m at home on my beloved sofa, in my beloved writers’ living room, surrounded by Jack K. and my library of books and vinyl, on the first day back that feels something like normal…at least normal for me. ahhhh.

so, i apologize to all 11 of you who stop by to read my blog sort of regularly. i thought about writing while i was institutionalized but something about an opium haze sapped my concentration and led me instead on somnambulatory adventures to hospital room bathrooms and giant, noisy, futuristic, tubes meant to elucidate my sorrows.

i don’t have any grand lesson to share here. even the one i peddled from my soap box two fridays ago really didn’t help me out much until my body was screaming in a plaintive, dying whisper…like yelling in a dream…”Geeeeettttt Ouuuutttt (-side to the car and get your butt to the ER).” it’s like tornado warnings….sometimes you get enough warning to get all your important papers, your kids, your pets and anyone you know without a basement into party mode complete with special drinks named after the storm. other times, it’s all you can do to dive under a table and pray. maybe it was that dive under the table that bruised my kidney.

so today is really a big thank you to the friends and family who reached out, cared for my daughter, covered me at work, sent good wishes and told me to sit the heck down until i was well. this is a shout out to all the incredible staff at the INOVA hospital where i sojourned and watched the clock, whining for pain meds every few hours. and to my second roommate with the possessed hospital bed, who made the visit funnier and much more interesting than it could have been; and who made me feel sorry for the very infirm older lady who spent quite some time trying to convince her caretakers that the bed sometimes moved on its own. her wasted words reporting a ghost in the machine were lost somewhere between her startled non sequiturs upon waking every ten minutes from the realistic nods that come with strong pain meds. sometimes she yelled them in german. “sabberst du oder hast du tollwut?” sometimes in accented english, “i said, ‘no porkchops in my jello!'” she was 6’1″ and over 300 lbs. she can shout anything she wants.

i missed writing this blog, but really, my ramblings are incoherent enough without brain addling fevers and iv drugs. and though i’m still recovering, i am finally looking at my laptop again, pondering and pontificating, and lamenting the new facebook landscape that rolled into town when i was staring down the nurse call button and watching jerry springer. did you know jerry springer was still on tv? reruns i presume. or perhaps that was an opium nightmare. please forgive me, Universe, my options were so limited. i actually had to bang on the side of the tv to get reception for that show. and it’s hard to read a good book when your eyes perceive everything in triplicate.

i could write at least five columns after the people- and hospital-watching i did this last week. they’d probably be funnier to me than you, so i will try to shake off my hospital stay and move on. this actionfigure is convalescing with laundry, pets and my baby girl…my sweet 2.5 year old who brought her bee pillow to my bedside to cuddle, told me that i wasn’t sick anymore and wanted to put a bandaid on my back to fix it. (requisite, “awwwe.”)

now my oral pain meds are sinking into my soft tissue, so i must stop typing before this thing grows twice this size and half as interesting. life and its curveballs….this was not part of the plan. sigh.

funhouse receives wrong mirror shipment, house of horrors missing reflections

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ok, fine. i have to get in here and write something before the amount of aggravation in my bloodstream overwhelms my sarcasm gland. today is one of the ones where people keep expecting me to deliver things i’ve promised and meet deadlines who clearly have plenty of friends already, as evidenced by how well others meet with them on a regular schedule.

i’m also having a very passive-aggressive day with my various forms of electronica. i’ve been taking things very personally…like slow response times from my laptop and its inability to prevent all operator errors and/or to stop the release of curse words embedded in various programs designed to frustrate me. i’m wasting precious time trying unsuccessfully to concoct a plan to hurt my computer’s feelings the way it’s hurt me today. i’m accepting all suggestions, short of the Office Space stomp.

in other words, i’m cranky and it’s obviously someone else’s fault. i started out ok this morning, but so far i haven’t been able to pull together the perfect, flowing work day that then translates into the perfect, flowing week-long routine, or the perfect, flowing lifestyle of grace and fitness, comfort and ease. what the hell is wrong with me??? i’ve had 4 whole months since my divorce, a good 20 years of adulthood, 2.5 years of motherhood…certainly no interruptions, life changes or setbacks to speak of…why aren’t i and all my days perfect and exactly how i want them to be? ARG!

breathe, breathe. am i alone on this one? how am i suppose to succeed without keeping myself to impossible standards? i look around my world, and for many folks, they don’t seem like impossible standards at all. i see them everywhere…people who are happy, fit, balanced, hardworking, successful, kind, nurturing, magnanimous, consistent, on time…these people volunteer, love the outdoors, train for marathons, raise special-needs quads, work on their third masters degrees, publish short stories and academic papers in their off-time, remember everyone’s birthday and still send christmas cards in november, right after daily yoga and at least an hour of meditation.

but see…here’s the thing…i know better, intellectually speaking. i just need to feel it. so i’m spending a lot of time today trying to be happy with my imperfect performance in this life. i’m trying to take my own advice, and to stop looking at myself through the funhouse mirror of losers in my head. i’m here blowing off some perfectionist steam so i can stop blaming everyone and everything else for all the reasons i’m not happy, fit, balanced, hardworking, successful, kind, nurturing, magnanimous, consistent, on time….all the time.

shake it off, trish. we can fail at things and not be failures. we will always fail at things, so i really, really need that to be true. i’m in a giant hall of funhouse mirrors today and i’m ready to get to the funny-looking reflections instead of these creepy portraits of self-loathing. ok, self-loathing is a bit strong…most of the time. the funny thing about negative feelings, self-images, grieving, fear and pain is that no matter how much we intellectually understand their role in the human experience, they still suck at the time. even this little aggravating, sneaky hate spiral kind of thursday morning stuff.

breathe, breathe. laugh, laugh….(i’d seen this some time ago, but was reminded yesterday of its brilliance…thank you best friend and the Universe…you knew i would need this today):

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/05/sneaky-hate-spiral.html

“it takes a genius to whine appealingly” (F.Scott Fitzgerald)…my brilliance explained

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my daydreams are partying in back of my head like kathie lee and hoda…like i left the dream TV on after watching some important stuff with coffee. now as i start work and a fresh day, all i can hear is them jabbering away back there, laughing and drinking away the a.m. hours. they act like i’ve nothing more pressing to do than think about travel destinations, sample world wines and talk in perfectly reasonable tones about doing the mediterranean on a budget. (whose budget?)

so this scowly american working girl sits here on a couch, heming and hawing at her calendar, distracted, sitting far from the imaginary studio audience now oohing and awing at all things leisure. she glances up from lists and emails, staring longingly at the daydream screen and the villas showcased in her favorite romantic writing towns. she drifts momentarily into the smokey, swirly vision of herself, pen (or laptop) in hand, staring out of an ages old window onto a lush, rocky, watery greek landscape. she’s got a pair of traveling pants from a soul sister somewhere in her suitcase, a tow-headed angel giggling in latin with cute little black-haired children in the tiny yard behind the apartment she’s rented, her inamorato in the kitchenette heating water for rich, foreign coffee beans….

…and back here in the states (real and mental), she’s got a Blackberry reminding her she has a full time job to do today, insurance companies to call, brakes to budget for and a two-year old whiner where a winery would be in the daydream version of mommyhood. that scowly american working girl is me, with a pain in my neck, a pain in the attitude, and a leak in the “fuel for stuff i don’t wanna do” tank. actually, it sounds like i’ve got a 39 year-old whiner whose tone could easily be corrected by the proper placement of a winery in her real life. (…and back to fantasy land i go….)

sigh. so i’m trying to shake the I Must Have Nothing To Do Today Show images out of my head and replace them with visions of real responsibilities met, boxes checked, plans made, ambitions forwarded. i’m trying to pull my head away from a frantic search for shortcuts. i’m trying to do it with less whine, and without resorting to morning wine. yeah.

it’s all about hard work, trish, even for action figures. that’s right. that’s what gets the early worms, the spoils and the right to use righteous quotes about working hard. i suppose that an end vision of leisure and sloth is not exactly the motivation one needs to slog through the lean years. i suppose that vision won’t win me any admiration awards. no one exalts a life of sloth in memorable, oft-quoted eulogies. i suppose i could call my loftier purpose a goal, and my villa in greece a daydream…and i can imagine that if i do enough good and difficult things, i will catch glimpses of that mediterranean view from time to time in my life. i really do admire people who find their passion and work at it until they die…who work to affect something, learn something, teach something, give something…i sometimes daydream that i will do all of those things.

but not today. today i need a mute button and some gratitude for the chance to work at all…(grumble, grumble)….mimosa anyone?

banner air-conditioner harvest this year…the almanac says it’s almost time!

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well, i played like a rockstar and ended up driving last Wednesday in nighttime rain and fog and glare and not much traffic at all. i did just fine. turns out that working my procrastination muscles pumped up my eye muscles until no strain or weather could stop me! i forget the power of procrastination sometimes…its mysteries are endless.

the neighborhood in Portsmouth, VA where i stayed was way sketchier than any road i took to get there. this whole gig quickly began to feel like an indie movie or stephen king novel…for so many different reasons.

i stayed in a historic Olde Towne Portsmouth hotel, right at the intersection of High street and Heroin road, down a couple of blocks from Hooker’s Corner, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, and the oft-photographed, colonial era Going-Out-of-Business district, according to my in-room tourist map. i arrived late night, dragging luggage and expensive equipment from my rental car in the alley behind the hotel, over the broken glass and gravel path, onto a single patch of concrete sidewalk, through the front doors, up the stairs (with desk guy blandly watching my struggle the whole time), across the baroque Lobby of Grandeur, all the way up the elevators to my 3rd floor room with a view and a broken deadbolt. comforting.

i wedged my suitcase under the door handle and strolled over to the two curtained windows overlooking the steeples and historic brick apartment buildings of Portsmouth. The floodlight outside the window next to my bed made it a little tough to see the night skyline, but really illuminated the beauty of the rooftop air conditioner garden planted in tidy rows, already waist high at the end of a hot, damp summer. i could tell it was recently watered and well-tended…each row of equipment with its own irrigation pond. it’s clearly been a fruitful year for the air conditioner growers in the tidewater area.

as i added up the odd details of this little American locale, i felt more and more removed from the eastern seaboard i’ve come to know and closer to the strange new england towns that so often open odd, foggy, quirky tales of horror and intrigue. there was little i could do but laugh and start taking notes. for all my best intentions heading down south with workout clothes, there was no gym at the hotel…drat! (yay!). despite all the words i planned on posting, the internet was down, always reported by the front desk as “up in a few more hours.” power surge? empty promise? a cover for false advertising?

just for effect, there was an almost complete lack of cel phone coverage in my DeadZone of a room. i had better contact with the mainland when i was in Japan than in this hazy little harbor town. then there was the 350lb half-naked, cigarette-smoking, staring man hanging out of a 5th floor apartment window across the rusty way, the young morning desk clerk with her proud 4-toothed smile, the dusty fake plants in my room that coordinated nicely with the maroon, light-blue and gold bedspread from a 1985 overstock sale, the randomly selected bathroom amenities like shower gel and conditioner (but no soap or shampoo), the booklet in my room featuring ads for a hotel restaurant that no longer exists (or that perhaps is only visible through the eyes of the criminally insane)….the fact that one of my students reminded me of Brick Tamlin but with less humorous non-sequiturs…the ice-spitting air conditioners in the conference room taking aim at students and expensive laptops…i’m sure there’s more that will make it into my novels and novelties one day.

but i want to be clear that i’m not complaining. i didn’t get any Hilton Honors points for this stay, but it made Portsmouth far more interesting to my quirk-seeking eyes than a free USA Today or Crabtree & Evelyn soaps ever could. i’ve stayed in worse, even when worse just means boring. i can easily say i was less impressed by the hotel room i booked in the parking lot of an outlet shopping mall in Charleston, NC, even with its free hot-breakfast buffet and immediate access to chick-fil-a and lightly discounted lucky brand jeans.

of course, as always, the people i taught and who hosted my stay down there helped make the whole thing terribly delightful and funny. we quickly established a sarcastic rapport, found a beir garten to wash down some hilarious observations after class, and stumbled to the perfect spot to watch my saints lose their NFL opener. on day two, we all laughed heartily, after grinding our teeth a bit, when the lunch cafe we frequented began a brick-drilling project during our final meal together. in two days this group of 9 already had inside jokes enough to call us a clique (a funny one, not a bitchy one).

so once again for me, it’s the interesting, the unusual, the out of place, the unexpected, the unnatural, the unanticipated, that make the colors and scents and sensations of a place mark a spot in my memory, my heart. there is romance in crappy maid service, hilarity in irregularity, a story in every strange character’s face…especially the ones who don’t wear chain-brand name tags, the ones still holding on to more glorious times, the ones without much to lose who will converse with a traveler and give her a taste of this beautiful patchwork of people, perspectives and purpose…the taste of portsmouths and pittsburgs and point lomas and patuxents…a proper portion of all places, each perfect with imperfect personality.

my travelin’ bone is tired, but resting comfortably, next to my alliteration bone…they will both be up for more itchin’ and walkin’ and talkin’ in a few short weeks. san diego, here i come, boring and bland be gone!

the captain has turned on the think for yourself sign, please remain present with your intellect securely fastened

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i’m lost this morning, trying to find a simple and novel idea for arranging a few hundred words. my head is thick with morning fog and a packing list. i wish i could wait and leisurely stroll through some words in a few hours when i’m less pressed and of wider eyes. but in a couple of those hours, i should be talking to an airport bloody mary and prepping for a midday miami flight. i suppose i could be so savvy as to post from airport bars and hot spots, but i have a romantic relationship with remaining somewhat unplugged during transit. it’s a stretch for me to listen to my ipod on a plane anymore…only because i romantically hold on to the “out of pocket” notion previously associated with airline travel. my ipod usually just makes the cut, harkening back to romantic days spent snuggling my sports walkman and its boatloads of extra batteries.

how long ago did they start to allow wireless connections on flights? how long ago did the ubiquitous charging station begin to ensure we had little or no excuse to fall out of touch? the only reason i carry my laptop with me on a flight is because i don’t want it totaled in my checked luggage…i’ve never pulled it out in the air. when i fly, i write in paper journals, keep wireless switches not just off but out of sight and save my online work for later. i only read what i can wrap my little fingers around in my anachronistic ink-on-paper fantasy world.

but today, i could write a post, i suppose…observations of american tourist(er)s, jots of jokes, perceptions, ponderings…i could type away at pontifications on the noises, scents and breaths all around me…but once i embrace electrons there, in transit, i lose all my excuses for, among other things, why i will be working a less exciting assignment in my hotel room tonight instead of submitting it from american airspace today.

soon there will be no tunnel of time-to-myself, no mountain(s out of) range, no awkward passenger glances in 30 torturous seconds of elevator silence, no TSA or FAA or common decency rules regarding appropriate public communication levels and/or methods…even the “i was driving” excuse will someday fade. all of it will go the way of the busy signal, the endless no-one-is-home-ring, the answering machine, the “i couldn’t hear you yelling, mom” excuse…the best we’ve got now is, “funny, i didn’t get your voicemail until just now! i don’t know what’s wrong with my phone!” i pray that crossed communications never completely disappear. i hope that technology only gets so good at invasive contact. i hope that people will keep their expectations for instant, invasive contact at bay, while keeping with them an expectation of occasional privacy and sequestered personal time. i hope we remember to stay in our own shoes, pick up our heads and look around at what’s happening in our moment, in our worldview, in our ears, hearts and minds…i hope we remember to stop wondering what people we know are up to right this second and check out what the people we don’t know are doing right around us.

i sound like such a nostalgic dinosaur about all of this. perhaps this is the generational disease about which i will gripe and that i will treat with consternation, perturbation and the GenX equivalent of something my grandmother called liniment. oh my achin’ sentiments. we’ll see when the part of me that’s tempted always to play in this e-world overrides the part of me trying to hold on to romantic notions of unplugged solitude and delayed communications gratification.

meanwhile…i’m sure i’ll check this blog page once or twice from an airport bar seat…and my gmail account…and facebook…that’s the tempted part of me…unless i find an actual breathing human with which to dissect this trend or the MLB postseason…or pick up a gripping novel…or find a gripping, fluffy magazine through which to rifle…or some inspiration for poetry penned in blue ink, not a font…or a charging station seat and a few good tracks on my ipod. regardless, i’m off to the romantic world inside my head and suitcases for a while. i apologize in advance if you end up in my voicemail today…and one more time if i don’t return your calls or texts until friday, all while incredulously complaining about the undependability of even the smartest smartphone, and secretly lauding its ability to cover mine.

mangled monday missives – stop and smell the dog farts

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wow, one weekend-long headache and trish is a bit grumpy and distracted on an mangled monday morning. i will go with the commenter (and dear friend) who blames all of this pain on my obvious and glorious summer awakening (unrelated to my individual disgruntled morning awakenings, or dreary middle of the night toddler-soothing awakenings of late). my headache and flagging attitude, along with a busy monday schedule, mean that these paragraphs will be short today.

i’m trying and mostly succeeding at keeping my momentum and optimism in play every day, despite several anchors and irritants that i’m suddenly dragging through the sand and my eyes. i’ve got a 105lb dog with the runs…and subsequently, a house that smells largely of dog farts, nuanced by the pungent cat food scent wafting around the main floor. tomorrow is garbage day…it’s a veritable cacophony of subtle monday morning stenches. i’m sure my toddler’s room will be refreshing after her unsettled night in diapers. thank goodness for the strong smell of coffee and febreze noticeables.

i started this blog weeks ago with a “hey, i wrote something” entry, and today i will keep it going with largely the same sentiment. a baby crying, a neck hurting, a dog farting and a monday sun hanging high already…this day is asking a lot of my patience and Love and dwindling coffee bean supply. i’m here this morning at my computer like a gym hamster on a LifeFitness wheel of words…workin’ muscles just to say i did. it’s hard to feel the value of that kind of practice in the moment…the begrudged breaths, cynical muscles, stretched linguistics, rolling eye strains…but somehow just having pushed your way through it…through the base running drills and cardio climbs…by drinking down the metaphor milk and pushing through more word crunches…it all helps…it all checks a box, feeds another dream, inspires another wish and turns “one days” into “todays,” much to my own surprise sometimes. it’s how we humans operate, even though we can’t always see the process in play. i’m falling for the romance of the word my father tried so hard to sell…discipline.

so as i ramble through some sentences, and trudge through some morning prep and an office drive, i will sip at my coffee beans, find my gratitude and a bottle of aleve, and pat myself on the back for a run or two around the wonder wheel. i’ll start the day and my interactions as gently as a i can…push the aerobics instructor voices out of my head and out of my way, cheer and sneer at the morning joggers on my commute, and shake hands with this week that promises much…as much as i make of it.

peace, kids. and you too roscoe…that last airy audible, i’m sure, is wafting my way with olfactory gifts…and that’s my cue…