Yes, you are finished writing your book

One of the best phrases a writer can say is: Move On.

I don’t mean that in a crazed I-can’t-do-this-I’m-a-terrible-writer discouraged way. Those words are an affirmation of your hard work and progress and completion.

“What do you know about your writing?” was this week’s topic at Montclair Write Group‘s Zoom Support Group.

K.B. needs writing prompts. Every Saturday, the group’s Free Write Zoom meeting gives writers three prompts to write from for 20 minutes each. He said they keep him writing. He knows he is a good writer because people tell him he’s a good writer.

C.S. needs to write that cliché $hi##y first draft. He feels confident afterwards, and he continues.

G.L. knows her writing is strongest at her beginnings and endings.

Me? I am a good writer. Somedays I’m a great writer. Somedays I’m a fantastic awesome-possum writer. No matter, I am always a good writer.

My just-released memoir, Star Trek, Mom and Las Vegas: A Grand Adventure is independently published at this moment, only available on Kindle.

There are parts about this book that I feel fantastic about and some places that are good. Any writer can feel the need to write on and edit and rewrite and tweak and edit forever. Since I’m published on Kindle, I can upload new text at my whim. This gives me endless opportunities to rewrite and fix the parts I’m less thrilled with from good to great parts and then into fantastic parts.

If I gave into temptation, I would upload updates past my generation into Stardate 2377.

Nope. That’s what I know about my writing. It’s good writing, some of it fantastic-great, and I’ll never get anything else completed if I obsess over it. I hit the Publish button. That memoir book is done. Time to move on. My next latest and greatest awaits.

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Reflecting good and bad on #AtoZChallenge 2021

Every year, I tell myself that I will love the annual #AtoZChallenge, and every year, I’m disappointed in something.

Daily blogging is hard, which is why I don’t do it. Too often Life happens and writing does not. Can I do it one month each year? Every April: Sure, no problem. Every May: A lot of stress for a project I didn’t complete.

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I fell behind publishing alphabet posts after Letter D, a disservice to both my readers and myself. My completed, published posts were irregular after that, and too many currently sit in my Drafts. I will finish these half-written works of art–which is easier to do since the posts aren’t blank pages–and publish them this month on the Letter Day they match. That’s the best I can do for April given that today is May 3rd.

Did I choose the right challenge theme? Alphabet Haiku, two years in a row, this year with a twist.  I forget how hard it is to write these. I love writing haiku. That’s the easy part.  The problem is everything else. 

I adore each of my #AtoZChallenge poems, but designing them in phone apps like Retype and InstaQuote takes time.  Each haiku took longer to write than expected.  I became obsessed with perfection and the Word Finder tab on  thefreedictionary.com choosing words that begin with [letter]. This is a FABULOUS site for finding anything word-related, and I don’t use all caps lightly.  You’ll find Scrabble words; grammar help; words that contain/end/begin with [letters]; oh, and definitions.

My goal this year was to pre-write my posts. By doing that, I could sit back and peruse other blogs and enjoy a carefree month of reading and commenting. I don’t mind leaving some of the April spontaneity out because any post is spontaneous when it’s written.  Besides, any Scheduled post can be updated to be more modern at whim. Each April, I want to find new readers and make connections. For me to pre-plan a month of posts, I need to start this process at the beginning of March not the beginning of April.

Yay!  Frappuccino time.

I chose three media outlets to publish on: my blog here, Twitter and Instagram. That was fun. 

Twitter’s #sixwordstory hashtag is something I’ve used more recently in 2021.  A tight six words creates a stimulating challenge.  My rule was to tweet any Letter on their specific day.  As such, I couldn’t tweet my Letter A and B stories on May 2nd; only Letter B, and A was lost. I wrote these stories everyday until around Letter R.  It’s a fun hashtag, but like my haikus, it became exhausting looking for words.

Instagram is where I engage the most.  This was the only outlet I completely achieved my daily letter goal.  Many of my outstanding AR photos on my PokemonGO Instagram account will show up on my year-end Top Nine. When it’s easy, you enjoy it; when you enjoy it, it’s easy.  Other #AtoZChallenge posts are clever and delightful; check them out.  There are at least two blogs I found to explore, plus three accounts I now follow.

I missed commenting on daily posts, but I’m making up for that. Without the daily posting pressure, and having almost-ready-to-publish posts, I have the #AtoZChallenge Master List to peruse topics and browse blogs. Now that other bloggers don’t have their daily posting pressure, replies and comments may come easier. The hype has died down; we can all relax and enjoy.  I’ll look for the #AtoZChallenge Roadtrip.

Will I do this again next year?  Probably; I’m stubborn about completing things. I like to think I know what makes #AtoZChallenge satisfying for me. If I start now, I can finish next April by April.

How was your experience?

Reflections 2021 #atozchallenge

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Your recycling is your memoir #AtoZChallenge

Your recycling is a snapshot into your life.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter Y

Tuesday was recycling night, “Brown Goods (Paper/Cardboard)” per the township calendar.

Tuesday, I took a nighttime neighborhood walk in the easy spring air. Intriguing items put out for pickup:

– Weight Watchers chocolate snack bars. I recognize the box design.

– Pampers diapers for Swaddlers. Several boxes. A new baby.

– Amazon Prime box. It took me a long time to realize that the logo is a smiling arrow.

– Mirror. I’ve never seen the Mirror close up, only in TV commercials. That’s why I know the logo. The box is shorter than I imagined it would be.

– Two Domino’s pizza boxes and 12-pack case of Sprite.

– Nespresso machine and natural daylight face mirror. Cushion chairs. This feels like someone’s new beginning.

– Bug zapper. I can’t read the brand, but the oversize picture of that stereotypical silver tube is all I need. Summer is kinda soon away; backyard gatherings, too, I presume.

– Corelle dishes. I wonder what happened to the old ones? Are these an upgrade? Are they a different pattern or style. Replacement? Addition?

What does my recycling say about me?

Tuesday, our hodgepodge of boxes and papers is stuffed inside an old moving box.

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eXceptionally difficult letter, that X – #AtoZChallenge

Next to the letter Q,  X is an intimidating letter.

X is strong.
X crosses out.
X marks the spot.
X blocks entrances.
X crisscrosses threads that hold items together.
X adds hope through fingers and toes.
X begins Xe: a noble gas, an illuminating element.
X replaces Christ during winter holidays.

Why try to follow that? Y thinks it’s a good idea.

Wax unorthodox
soapbox mix.  Conflux transfix.
Redux?  Perplex?  Yes.

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Querying publications takes a strong soul – #AtoZChallenge

Queries go out; rejections return.
#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter Q

My writing is fabulous and should be published everywhere. That’s starry-eyed me. I know my awesome work is not appreciated by everyone nor suited for every publication, but editors don’t have to be so gosh darn rude about it. My latest rejection feels personal.

Dear D.W. Hirsch,
Thank you for submitting your haiku to [Publication] for consideration. Though we are honored that you chose to share these with us, unfortunately we are not going to publish them. We received a high volume of submissions, many of which were outstanding. We are unable to provide individualized feedback on your work, but we want you to know that this is not a reflection of its quality. We wish you the best finding another home for it.
Sincerely, [Editor]

The key line, which could have been left out, is: We received a high volume of submissions, many of which were outstanding.

I’m not outstanding? Ouch. I imagine a woman with a snooty upturned nose saying, “How dare she? This isn’t worthy of our magazine. Reply with our You Suck But We’ll Pretend That You Aren’t email.”

Of course it’s a reflection of its quality. If it wasn’t, I’d have a signed publication contract right now.

I could say, “It’s just some online publication, a specialty one at that. How many people actually read that thing?” Obviously enough people do, otherwise there wouldn’t be a need to seek submissions. I never dismiss a publication of any kind.  It may be small and targeted, but it’s valuable.  This publication accepts fiction, poetry, artwork and creative nonfiction. You’d think I’d fit in there somewhere.

I could say, “If you don’t like [this animal creature], you will never have an interest in reading this…unless you know someone who’s published a story in it.” Even then, I don’t know how many of my friends would humor me and read it without any interest in the subject material. They wouldn’t get my Star Trek as much as I wouldn’t get their Downton Abbey.

I do say, “Receiving a rejection means that you are sending material out into the world. Good job.” My focus is on productivity, because it’s too easy to procrastinate and watch YouTube videos rather than write.

Do your productive self.

Question quitting, quash
quandary, quiet quarreling,
quest quality, reach.

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Maybe you will write a letter today, or tomorrow #AtoZChallenge

My friends, how do I love thee? Let me count the stamps.#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter M

April is a month of showers before flowers, as well as other events:

In 2001, United States Postal Service designated April as National Card and Letter Writing Month, which is what I’m focusing on today.

“Compare sending someone a text message and getting a love letter delivered by carrier pigeon: No contest.”~Bryan Callen, American actor.

I discovered Letter Writing Month from write_on website, whom I thought  officially created that in 2014.  Somehow, years ago, I received a free package they mailed to me containing 10 note cards, a pen and a sheet of inspirational ideas.   I used one or two cards to write letters.  Then I stopped.  I always knew April Letter Writing Month was there, but I only thought about it in April, or maybe mid-March.

The website was static a few years, but now has current April 2021 posts along with cards for sale in a similar design ones with similar designs as mine were.a lot of promotion to buy note cards from eggpress and Hello!Lucky.  There’s a little too much promotion and selling for my taste.  The designs are similar to the cards I received, and I’m not a fan of the caveman-styled artwork, but the campaign is spot on.

These days, I don’t need another daily challenge.  The potential problem with anything daily is that skipping one day can make people feel soooooo bad about themselves, inadequate and sloppy.  The point of anything is to do something good that makes you feel good.

I have all the elements to send my friends Happy Mail, which is anything not a bill or store coupon.  I have sets of matching stationary/envelopes including my childhood Hello Kitty and Japanese notepaper; you never outgrow Hello Kitty.  I have a stash containing Hallmark’s Lady & the Tramp plus a half-used sheet of Mrs. Grossman’s stickers, those original ones. I have Forever postage stamps from when the panic was real and postage rates were increasing in 2007.  Not the boring Liberty Bell, mind you, but Batman, Wonder Woman, Harry Potter, Jazz Legends and American Inventions.

I write about my day, as if my friend was next to me, as if this was an everyday conversation.  There is nothing elaborate or planned out, not necessarily interesting.  It’s my slice of life.

“I’m in a coffeeshop drinking Sumatra coffee”
“It’s 10pm, and Law & Order is on the background.”
“Today the birdhouse fell off the  rope”
“Tomorrow I’m going to buy a dishwasher because the heater broke on ours.”

I don’t need a properly-formatted salutation, because I often write too much and have to squeeze five words into the last inch of space, so I only have room for:
                                                   <3 Di
(which is a heart for those of you whose device doesn’t show emojis).

write_on is presenting Writing and Drawing Kindness at 2pm Eastern on this Saturday, April 17. Sign up for tickets. It looks like fun.

Mistress, Majesty,
Musician, Mentor, Model,
Maiden, Mermaid: Names.

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Kudos to words in #AtoZChallenge

“Kerfuffle” is not a word I use often, and I need to find a way to do that.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter KI adore fun words.  I bet you do, too.  “Percolate” is one I do try to mix in my writing, and not because I’m a coffee junkie. “Whimsy” is something I bring to my blog.  If you’re reading this, I hope you think so, too.

Elle Driver from Kill Bill: Vol 2 said it best: “I’ve always liked that word…’gargantuan’… so rarely have an opportunity to use it in a sentence”

When I grow up, I want to create names for paint colors.

  • .
    These could be writing prompts.

    Those are just the one-word names; the creative explosion is in the more descriptive, emotional two-word names.

    I do want to say that I painted my room “Bootie Time.”

    Of all the words I do like, I don’t like the word “palpable.” I don’t know why, but you’ll never convince me otherwise.

    How can I use underused words?  Thoughts and ideas percolate in my head.

    Knowledge keeps keyboard
    karaoke kerfuffle
    kindhearted.  Listen.

    Kerfuffle.  There you go.  What can you come up with? Color me curious.

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Journey along the #AtoZChallenge

Journeys begin with a thought.
#AtoZChallenge 2021 banner
“I want to publish a book.”
“I want to be healthier.”
“I want to travel to San Antonio.”

The first step is changing “want to” into “will.”

I will publish a book.
I will be healthier.
I will travel to San Antonio.

Knowing that, you can make things happen. Budget time; plan the steps; examine finances; consider options; and play with ideas.  Anything you want to do, and I mean really want to do, you can.  Sometimes challenging creativity is needed, and sometimes you need to creatively challenge challenges.

Jotter journals junk
jargon joins jabberwocky
jubilant knowledge

I will take a nap after writing this blog post.

What are your thoughts today?

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Haiku and having fun with #AtoZChallenge

Have you found a new favorite blog to read?

I have. I found two that are fun:

  • Marquessa Life is just a story. And I’ve got a pen
    She’s writing short posts inspiring women.  I’ve always had an affinity about the strong woman character, as in TV shows The Closer and Major Crimes.  I believe the phrase “Like A Boss” should not exist, because those words are found in planner stickers women use; you’d never hear a man say that phrase.  Not that men shouldn’t read this blog; it’s one insight into the thoughts of women.

I planned writing a list using the Rule Of Thirds, but I think two is a good start. I’ll share more as I explore and experience.

Horizon halo
hear howl harmony, hoot hiss
Habitat intro

Check out the AtoZ 2021 Master List of bloggers here and have fun!

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Flying high-ku for #AtoZChallenge

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter F
Feel like flying today?

“Hello, how are you?” the coffee barista asks me.

“I’m fine” –which I am– “How are you?”

“I’m doing okay,” the barista replies.

Okay is not a fine thing to be. We can challenge ourselves to be better than okay. No one should be okay; we should all be fantastic and awesome and fabuloso. Right now, I need to be better than my fine, so I challenge him.

“Okay?” I ask. “Just okay? Come on, you gotta be better than okay.”

Here’s an aside: I love it when folks are in a good mood and share that. Whether it’s because the weather is nice or it’s 10 minutes before closing time, I want to know. Share your good mood, good experience so I can feel more than my reflex response of fine.


“Okay, I’m good,” he says. “Tomorrow’s my day off.”

“So you should be feeling great.”

“I’ll feel great in about an hour and half.” Closing time.

“Good enough. I’ll work on being great, too.”

I love it when a conversation comes together.

One of the best conversations I’ve had in the past year was with a convenience store associate. I asked her how she was and she said, “I am spectacular.”

“Wow. Spectacular?” It’s 10am, and I haven’t had my coffee yet, which I’m paying for at that moment.

“The sun is out, I woke up breathing, there’s gas in my car, I’m thankful to come in to a job I love and see people like you shining.”

I was breathless keeping up with her.

“I’ll work on being spectacular,” I said.

“You do that because today is a good day to be alive, and any day you’re alive is a good day.”

Finally found faith
from fifty fairies flying
forward facing glare.

Will you be spectacular today?

Are you already?

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Desire this haiku for #AtoZChallenge

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter D

Does doing what you want always get you your desired end result?

I doubt it.

Do you know why?

I don’t.

As long as it’s legal, I’ll try it again. This time, I’ll do something different. Reaching for a goal by repeating your actions is useless.

Many times, it’s my outlook.  I have to remind myself not to say that “want to do” something, but that I “will do” that something.  Do you hear the difference?

Accountability.

Delicious Dirty
Dancing.  Decide dare defy.
Doing everyday.

What about you? Can you commit to yourself? Of course you can. Will you?

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Letter C: Chocolate-filled #AtoZChallenge

Chocolate can inspire almost anything, including haiku.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and so many holidays these days involve some type of candy. Fourth of July has its S’mores. Christmas defines candy canes. Easter has chocolate bunnies, and Halloween has everything.

Last weekend was warm and sunny, so we drove into Denville for handmade ice cream at the Denville Dairy. Two doors down is Sweet Expressions, where homemade chocolate everything is their specialty, along with caramel-covered popcorn. Easter Bunnies lined the aisle as I entered. There were coconut and maple cream filled chocolate eggs. What I had never seen before was milk- and dark-covered Matzoh.

 

Continue craving
chocolate.  Creamy.  Crispy.  Chip.
Crunchy.  Delicious.

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Be a part of #AtoZChallenge in 2021

Beginning is often difficult, but continuing can be harder.

I started repainting my office/craft room in 2020. Maybe it was 2019; I lost track of time these recent 12 months. Oh, I can still use the room, move around, function in it, but painters tape is still around door frames, and at least one electrical outlet needs to be painted under.

Where’s the motivation? Moreso, what is the reward? Scrapbooker Tiffany Spaulding of Totally Tiffany talks about Big Benefits. Take your big project, break it down to smaller tasks and then reward yourself after each small task is done.

I watch her videos, half-interested and half-background noise; her voice is soft yet authoritative, in a kind way. I’m great about breaking tasks down to smaller ones, but I have lacked rewards. I used to think they were unnecessary, but to finish, I need to plan rewards as well.


If I finish one section or task, I get to watch a YouTube video. If I finish another section task, I can go out for coffee or make a second cup at home. I can binge-watch two episodes of something. I can read two AtoZChallenge blogger posts or one chapter in a book; finding out what comes next is the motivation to come back.

I can take a nap. That’s the biggest reward of all.

Begin by being
brave best buddies bright balanced
boundless continue

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Haiku: Day 1, Letter A of 2021 #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to Day One–or Day A–of the AtoZ Blogging Challenge 2021.
#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter A

Every day this month, excluding Sundays, bloggers challenge themselves to write posts using the corresponding alphabet Letter of the Day to inspire the posts. Most writers choose theme throughout the month: Horror Movies; Cat Characters; US Navy Ships; Home Crafts; Places Visited; and so much more.

Some of these themes sound blah, but some of them are wicked awesome. You gotta check out the Master List of participating bloggers and their themes.

Me, as announced in my Theme Reveal post, is Alphabet Haiku with a Twist.

Anyone always
absent allows anything
absolute begin

Join me here tomorrow when we begin.

 

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MY 2021 #AtoZChallenge theme is…

It’s that time of the year for the Blogging AtoZ Challenge reveal, and for 2021 I will be creating Alphabet Haiku, with a Twist.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 banner

It’s the perfect match. April is National Poetry Month, and I’ve enjoyed writing haiku since, oh, for more than 15 years.

My 2020 Alphabet Haiku series features a daily haiku with each of the 5-7-5 syllable beginning with the day’s letter. The Letter C is one of my simple, favorite ones.

This year, I’m doing the same EXCEPT the last word in every haiku will begin with the first letter of the next day’s letter. That word begins next day’s haiku.

Always advertise
advantage and accept all
accolades bestow.

Bestow best buddies
bravado by boosting bold
beliefs champions.

Champions can choose…

…and so on. I love this extra challenge.

These haiku, I composed them just now while typing this blog post. They aren’t even the official ones, but this was a fun three minutes.

What’s your #AtoZChallenge theme?

Never tried it and are now intrigued? Go to the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge website.

Don’t dawdle, do dance,
discover delightful dares,
dear diverse entries.

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A peek inside my journal: Dare to dream

Friday, 8-18 [2006]
1:25p
Haggerty SB

                      It’s SB-Detroit Tigers Day!!
                      I got a photo w/Paws, the Tigers mascot & 2 w/pitcher Brian Inge. #15 There’s been a line out the door since I arrived. But, I got a good frapp & Brian handed it to me.
                     I’m nibbling on a White Cheddar Brioche–“not quite a bagel, nor quite a croissant” said my barista–as lunch. It’s about all I can stomach–my writing clips have been mailed to Ann Arbor.
                    I have dared to dream.
Since I applied online for this, I have imagined me interviewing. I’ve practiced it, sitting @ my computer, relaxed as if it were real.  I’m snappy, eloquent, & to demo my talent, I whip out a tape recorder for a quick mock interview.
                    I have dared to dream I am worth $50,000 yr.

Journal: August 18, 2006

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Start your new year with new writing

It’s a new year, a new start and time for a new journal.

Do you journal? If you don’t, now is an excellent time to start.

A journal has been at my side since college.  They began as a way to pass the time and boredom by writing stream of consciousness before a doctor appointment, meeting a friend for dinner or sitting by myself in a coffee shop.  Since modest beginnings, they’re now a catch-all for my life: jot notes; transcribe interviews; sketch; poetry; lists; reminders; overheard conversations and remembering the time of my life. It’s the one chronological thing in my life, a free write without critique or proper grammer.

Each journal lasts weeks or months, depending on where I go and what I do.  Do I write in it every day?  No, but I’m prepared for inspiration or boredom. I always carry pens to write with, at least 2 colors, but that’s a story for another day.

I write to the end of each book, not wasting one page, but at the end of December 2020, my navy soft-cover Moleskine told me it was time to let go.

I needed to start something new in 2021, to leave 2020 in the pale, stupid past.  My journal agreed.  The four cream-color lined pages at the back will stay empty of writing. Fitting, that emptiness. We parted strong.

My journals-in-waiting rivals anyone’s TBR pile. The stash box holds gifts, presents, souvenirs, apologies, purchases, decorations and everything in between.  Which one will speak to me? Write in me.

The first one I picked up, first only because of how the journals were organized, was a Moleskine special edition LEGO hardcover. I have been craving hardcover for awhile, needing something sturdy  to support and  organize my purse.  I placed it aside, needing to feel every one of them.

The journal that enters 2021 with me

What did I want?  Ring bound. Stitched. Small. Pocket size. Square. Lined. Cream blank pages. White lined paged. Blue grid. Decorated pages. Thin lines. Wide lines. Hardcover. Soft cover. Bare cardboard cover. Fabric. Faux fur. Glitter purple covers. One might think too many choices, but I adore options.

It came down to LEGO and owls, owls only because of its stitch binding and softer firm cover. Will it fit in my purse? Yes, but it’s wider and I could struggle with the zipper.  Does it slide into my writing bag? Yes, but it could bend too much.  I was trying too hard to justify not using another Moleskine.  I wasn’t feeling it.  It didn’t make me happy right now. LEGO it was.

There’s a real LEGO block on the cover. I guess that’s part of the “special edition” to it. After unwrapping the book, I saw and felt how the block’s hard, pointy edges could scrape everything from the inside of my bag to my fingertips. I peeled it off, sacrificing some fingernails with the hour-long yanking procedure.

No sadness “ruining” the book.  My journals are not pristine.  I have plans to use that LEGO block on an altered cigar box I’m crafting. As for the ripped cover, I will cover the torn square with something, but I don’t know what. A sticker seems obvious, but what? For now, the the space is mostly glued down and feels solid enough.

My journal and I are happy. We breathe the open air. We both live to start a new year together.

Here’s to you finding your writing pages in life.

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Looking back to look ahead: a Journal entry

A look back into the real world.  
Interesting that this journal entry was written in the color pink, the same as my journal entry now in 2021.  Coincidence?

Sat, Jan 3
2015
3:50p
SB @ Horsham

He wanted to try this new SB–not “new” but new to us–and here we are. In the time I posted to Instagram & pulled out journal, he went to the car & got Yahtzee. PSU men BB in 4 hours.

4:28p

We split the Yahtzee games. Always good. Our only card sweep was by K.

Yay Instagram! A memoir follower/followee @evelynlauer rec’d a book by a friend of hers, “Rules of Inheritance,” a memoir of a girl who loses her Mom & dad as a college kid. Her writing sounds like me. Or at least how I want to sound. Part of it, anyway.

K ordered the $11.50 book for me via Prime. It’ll arrive Tues. Kindle $=$10.99

K is restless. I can tell. And so I ask him, just to confirm.

“Yeah, but you’re writing & I don’t want to interrupt your flow.”

{*4 heart emojis*}

And I’m still sipping my tall Carm Macchiato.

Feels like a good place to stop.

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The Big Santa Talk

The key to spreading holiday joy is a jingle bell necklace.

December 2017
Our first Christmas back in New Jersey

My husband and I watch the family of elves walk into the coffee shop.  The three adults are dressed in festive holiday wear: red fur boa, red and green button-down tops, spotted green skirts, each carrying an LED lite up wand.  They are elves right down to the pointy toe red shoes.

The two young girls—I’d say 10 years old, but I’m terrible with ages—are really into it. They’re dressed in flouncy tulle skirts, elven helpers floating on frills.  Part of the excitement must be the dress up and wearing makeup, even eye shadow.  Perhaps part of it is helping mommy and being a big girl.  I like to think less selfish thoughts: they’re enjoying seeing the smiling faces.

They brighten up this stark yet hip and trendy coffee shop.  The floor is diner-white hexagons.  The white brick painted walls surround this cavern of white tables, square and just big enough for dueling laptops, phone and coffee cup. The shop is brightened by smiles carrying candy canes. It’s kind that the shop owners let them come in. Of course, they’re not soliciting or selling–nothing except joy–so maybe that makes it okay.

They pass out jingle bells necklaces, the good dollar store quality.  No pushing, nothing intrusive, just outstretched hands. I’m sure if you waved them away, no big deal.  Of course I take one.  Surprisingly, my husband does, too.

“Oh, very masculine,” he says, slipping it over his head, not fussing just smiling.  He notices the colors:  his is green necklace beads with a red ball while my necklace beads are red with a green jingle ball.  We match, but opposite.

I ask the mom what’s the deal?  Turns out she and her family–sister, aunt, goddaughter, daughter–have spread silly playfulness and jingle joy for three years.

“A few years ago, we had The Big Talk about Santa,” she tells us.  “We decided to turn it into something positive, that we’re all Santa’s helpers and we have good in our hearts.”

Is it just the holidays when we all feel good and happy and giving?

“Christmas,” she says, “It’s not just one person.”

Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

Are you the writer you were in 2011?

Today’s post is inspired by an email, reminding me of a writer I used to be.

Monday morning. Coffee. Egg sandwich. “Where are you now?” hour on NJ 101.5 streaming on my app. Empty planner pages with two appointments written lightly in pencil. Laptop asleep. I wish I was.

Open email, first time since last week. Perfect timing. This email from yesterday, Sunday:

> From: admin@atcsforall.com
> Sent: Sun, Sep 20, 2020 9:46 pm
> Subject: Your membership at ATCs For All – PLEASE READ
>
> Hi ScrapPea
>
> You haven’t visited the ATCs for All Forums in a year. Hope you are
> well and everything in your real life is OK.
> As soon as you are able, please log in/visit AFA, to keep your
> account intact.
> If you don’t have time to stay and play, that’s OK…just log in!
>
> We are in the process of updating the members list and anyone who
> hasn’t logged in for 365 days will be removed. If you are
> interested in keeping your membership intact please log in soon.
> Your Gallery and iTrader will also be removed at that time. We are
> not keeping a record of ratings. So if you wish to keep them intact
> please log in/visit as soon as possible.
> Thanks,
> Staff of ATCs For All

It’s been a year since I rejoined?!?

It’s been one year?

It’s been one year.

Once again, I felt the thrill, and the guilt, of the similar email I received one year ago.  At that time, I was reminded of the vibrant artist trading card (ATC) community in Michigan. Those who played with paper there connected me to online outlets, feeding my addiction to this tiny art.  I lost both my in-person and virtual interactions when I moved back to New Jersey.  I didn’t realize how much I missed it until one year ago, the memories resurfaced:

> From: admin@atcsforall.com
> Sent: Sun, Sep 29, 2019 3:47 pm
> Subject: ATCs for All needs your help…
>
> Hello,
>
> You may or may not be aware that our Site’s server fee is paid for
> by our generous members who have a paid subscription.
> The fee for our server is $449 a month.
>
> As of today’s date we have enough to pay for the October server fee.
> After that it will depend on, if we get enough donations to keep the
> site running.
>
> Please consider becoming an AFA Friend or renewing a lapsed
> subscription as soon as you can.
> You can find out how to here:
> http://www.atcsforall.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2659
>
> If you have any questions, please let me know.
>
> The future of our Site depends on the generosity of our members….
>
> Thank you,
> Carole Cadek

I renewed immediately.  I am going to play with paper.  What’s new there? What’s familiar? Did these folks miss me?  I can’t wait to find out. I bookmarked the website on my phone.

Then I forgot about it for one year. Which brings us to today.

My ATC artwork was published last week in Issue 3 of Molecule.  Creating that artwork was the first time I picked up paper and glue in at least one year. A deep thrill creating the art, each detail planned to look accidental yet was exact to precise detail.

I want to do more of this, I told myself. Now I have an excuse: keep my account and my interactions alive.

I’m in, roaming the site, looking at new ATC swaps, familiar names and avatars.

What’s my avatar?  I have no idea.

Hey, I changed my password. Do I need to change anything else?

Oh, yes I do.  My profile. 

What I wrote and the way I wrote it…. The past me is not today’s me. I looked back and saw myself as the newbie on March 5, 2011. It’s a fascinating, quirky and embarrassing User Profile.

~ To be Continued ~

Posted in Art & Scrapbooking, Writing | Leave a comment