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Archive for the ‘Pity Party’ Category

Holy fuck, I’m forty.  I’m sure my mother is cringing right now as she reads that statement.  Not for the fact her youngest daughter is “over the hill”, but more that she wasted so much money on my English degree for my writing to rely on F-bombs.  She doesn’t understand there is actual shock behind the realization I’m middle-age.  Which aptly earned a good-hearted and earnest “fuck.”

I’ve passed the hump.  The mystical line where “so many opportunities” lived on one side. Now I’ve traveled to the harsh reality of “this is the life I chose.”  It’s been a difficult process for me.  I’ve had lovely people try to be supportive by reassuring me “it’s not so bad.”  People recollecting their best forty-something stories.  They laugh and smile because what else are they going to do?  They could say the worst sentiment ever, which is “it’s better to turn forty than not turn forty.”  Ugh, seriously people, I’m not that self-pitying.  Or maybe I am.

I’ve written this blog ten times over.  Sometimes I choose to highlight all the fun I’ve experienced this year.  Other times I want to talk about the stuff I still plan to do.  Both come off as trying to prove to myself that this isn’t so bad.  I’m living the life I want, right?  What more could I want?  (To be thirty again, that’s what.)  I’m grabbing life by the balls and playing by my own rules.  I’m cliché-ing this blog to death without any apologies.  This is living the dream, right?

I’m not sure if I’ve always been this worried about forty or if I’ve worked myself into a tizzy for blog entertainment.  If the latter, I didn’t do myself any favors.  Here I am, with the day facing straight on, and I lack the grace many have shown when their day arrived.  Maybe they weren’t poised, but they didn’t take to a blog to write about it.  Or maybe they did and I missed the link.  Go ahead, console me and put it in the comments.

Most wonder why?  What’s my problem with getting older?  Honestly, I’m not really sure.  I guess I never really thought it would happen.  Somehow youth goes on indefinitely even though I love all the things that have come because of age.  Having an eleven year old son would be awkward if I followed it up with only being twenty-one myself.  Traveling to Mexico, San Francisco, and Seattle never would’ve happened on my twenty-something budget.  Rocking mature friends who are normal enough to hold jobs, smart enough not to get arrested, and daring enough to put their noses on strangers wasn’t always something I found in my early thirties.

So if I have all that, why do I hate this number?  Maybe because then it’s over.  I won’t be wondering what it’s like to be forty because it will be what I am.  I’ve celebrated with parties all year long with the excuse of this milestone birthday, with even more spectacular events still to come.  Really what I’ve discovered this year is turning forty has encouraged me to be fearless.  To not put off to tomorrow what I should have done yesterday.  Visit old friends.  Tell people they matter.  Dare to keep chasing a dream.

In fact, I now finish this blog with the day already here.  I’ve been humbled by the love shown to me today.  Bestie threw an outrageous shindig at our office.  (Seriously, it was so spectacular I shocked her with a hug.)  I’ve received birthday wishes from long time friends and friends in far away places.  And I ended the night with a small home celebration where Hubs covered every counter with confetti while the kids blew party horns.  It’s these things which give me pause, to enjoy what forty really represents.  It symbolizes all the wonderful people I’ve met, the terrific adventures I’ve taken, the soul-filling family I’m blessed with.  I will be lucky to have the same reflection when I turn fifty.  Because turning fifty is better than not turning fifty, right?

This is 40 year old me. (Early in the morning.)

 

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Every so often everyone has “one of those weeks.”  You know, the kind where even the simplest thing becomes a monstrous undertaking.  The dark cloud brings with it the foulest mood.  Unimportant conversations blow up into the biggest dramas.   Simple statements sting like critical judgements.  There really isn’t anything that’s good when one of those weeks comes.

Last week sucked.  Every last corner in my life was infected.  I could list through all the things, but what fun is that?  What I did want to share was it was the first week where I had three baking jobs for my in-home bakery.  This was a big deal on the bakery front.  I should’ve jumped for joy with more business.  It would’ve been an amazing success, if it didn’t land on one of those weeks.

I had a boy’s 1st birthday cake to make.  It was a two tiered Bubble Guppies themed vanilla cake.  Simple enough since I’d decorated the cookies last week and was over the moon excited with how they turned out.  I couldn’t wait to build the cake so I had a display for their beauty.  I made the pastry cream early so it had time to set and thicken.  I baked off the cakes ahead of time to make sure I wasn’t rushed at the last minute.  I was ready on Wednesday night to assemble with plenty of time to spare for my Friday delivery.

I should mention how I didn’t start until 9:00pm on Wednesday because I had to attend a mandatory CPR training for my work.  I still may have been holding a little grudge from the long class filled with bad jokes from our instructor.  Hubs stood at the kitchen’s edge when I said “I wonder if I should build a frosting dam for this custard.”  He said, “It looks pretty thick.”  “Yeah, it will probably hold up.  It did before when Tia made it for the Boston Cream cake,” I said and started to build.

I got on the third layer when I realized I’ve got major problems.  The weight from the additional layers oozed out custard along the sides.  Hubs could feel the intensity in the room and said he’s going to bed.  Correction, he ran away to bed.   After a long profanity string ran off my lips, I tried to salvage the disaster.  I whipped some frosting to spackle the sides.  It didn’t work.  I dismantled the layers and tried to dam the layers.  The damage was too far gone.  I spent over an hour trying to repair something I knew wasn’t salvageable and I created this:

disaster cake

This wasn’t a picture I borrowed from a fifth grade baking disaster.  It’s not an example from letting my 8 year old go crazy and make anything she wanted.  This was a whole hearted attempt by me.  I should’ve held up a newspaper to prove this was less than a week ago.  I’m supposed to be a pseudo-professional and I made that.  It didn’t matter how much I tried to force it, nothing made it better.  I gave up around 10:00 p.m. to the fact this cake was lost.  I put it off to the side, baked a new one, and cursed it was just one of those weeks.

The next morning I recommitted to get through the week.  Nothing else.  I wasn’t going to try to save it or make it better.  I only wanted to get to the end of it without too much damage.  I started from the beginning with a new filling and built the cake.  When Friday morning arrived, I had this:

bubbleguppiescake

And while I’d like to tell you this was the happy ending to the the week, the truth is after I took this picture and loaded the cake in my car for delivery, I discovered I forgot one of the character cookies.  Even this didn’t finish off easy.

Here I am on the other side.  I ran away from the week by going camping with the kids.  I stole back a couple days from this week to remind myself why I do it all.  I chatted with the kids over smores, spent uninterrupted times with Hubs around the campfire, and rewarded myself with reading a book in the afternoon light.  It reminded me that even when a week is total shit and you wonder if you’re really ever going to get through it, Sunday night will show up.  And when it does, you will inevitably wish the week was a little longer.

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Yesterday was my birthday.  I don’t mention it for the obligatory “Happy Birthday” everyone throws at you once they find out.  I got plenty of those on Facebook and enjoyed each of them because I’m ridiculously curious to talk to everyone I’ve ever known in my entire life.  Birthday brings a subdued mood and may have added to the frustration mentioned in the last post.  The difficulty doesn’t have anything to do with upping the age with another number.  It has more to do with the reminder another year has passed.  Those year-end wrap ups people start doing on December 1st where they look back to see what’s been accomplished over the past 12 months?  Well, it starts for me one month early.

What did I decide I’ve accomplished in the last year?  Or, more like, where did I feel I came up short?  That’s the funny part.  I had a great year.  The details of my year wrap up will be saved for a blog post in December.  But addressing the question of where I felt I came up short?  I am very happy with the year I had.  Why so subdued, you ask?  Because my birthday time brings with it this air of deserving more.  Maybe it’s because I was spoiled with gifts as a child or have watched too many episodes of MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16.”  (No, I don’t really watch.)  Regardless, as one of my favorite quotes says, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

My work friends spoiled me on Friday with spot on gifts and no desk decorations.  The kids surprised me with lovely homemade cards where my eight year old son included a poem that worked in the words “doggie doo.”  (How can you beat that?)  Hubs stuck with tradition and bought an awkward gift he thought was going to be perfect but left me with the perplexed look of “has this guy really lived with me for the last twenty years?”  It even ended with the in-laws watching the kids so Hubs and I could enjoy a lovely date night of dinner and a movie.

It screams perfection.  What more did I want?  One friend said she had a dream earlier in the week she gave me an agent for my birthday.  (If it were that easy, it wouldn’t be as special.)  I bought tickets this week for the Airborne Toxic Event show next month.  So I even got a bit of Mikel for my birthday.  Maybe I wanted Ed McMahon showing up on my doorstep with a large check?  (Is he even still alive?)  Or surprise trip to Paris because that’s what all the romantic movies do?  I’m not quite sure.

Looking back the morning after, I’ve only come to one conclusion.  The only thing which would have made the birthday better was if Mikel himself jumped out of the cake.  Knowing Hubs bought a small ice cream cake, it wasn’t too likely.  Or maybe I didn’t look hard enough and he’s actually in our freezer.  But maybe it was because no one knew this was the perfect gift for me.  Now they will frantically start working to see how they can kidnap Mikel* and cram him into a baked good because that’s how awesome they are.  I’m very lucky to have such wonderful people in my life.

Special shout out thanks to all you wonderful peeps!  I very much appreciate the gift of your support to this blog.

*Watch your back, Mikel.

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November brings one of the writing world’s most advantageous challenges–NaNoWriMo.  For dedicated writers out there, it shares the mob mentality of writing fifty thousand words in the month of November.  (A ginormous feat, people.)  To the non-writerly people, it’s an impossible name to pronounce and instead sneer like it’s a venereal disease when a writer says they are going to try to do it.  Hopeful writers begin the month with heavy optimism, which flickers out about day three.  It’s similar to the mad rush of Weight Watchers enrollees on January 1st only to give up by mid-month. 

For the last three months I’d been looking forward to the upcoming NaNoWriMo.  I’d been knocking around an old idea I’ve spent a lot of time outlining in my head, which would make it a good contender for the fast paced month of writing.  The major obstacle between NaNo and me was meeting the self-imposed deadline to finish the first draft of my current WIP by October 31st.  I knew I wanted to have that locked up to allow the distraction in November  from the project to allow it to breathe.  But the end of October crept up quickly between Halloween costumes, day job work events, and the normal family fare.  It was October 20th when I realized I wasn’t going to make the deadline and therefore would cop out of NaNo.

The realization was paralyzing.  The feeling of standing at the dock while the party barge of writers sailed on without me.  The disappointment dripped over into all aspects of my life where I was grumpy at the day job, biting the heads off my small children for interrupting, and overreacting when something didn’t go my way.  (More than usual, Hubs.)  It didn’t make any sense to have such a negative reaction to something which wasn’t that big of a deal.  This wasn’t a deadline at work where there could be financial impacts.  As an unsigned author, there isn’t an editor or agent waiting for the copy.  Instead, the date was only a parameter set by me so I could work on another project.  But it didn’t matter, the damage was done.  I wasted the next four days writing crap.

At the end of my rope with my pity party, I made a new date with myself.  This wasn’t a number on the calendar, but instead a solo outing on a Friday night to the local Starbucks with my computer under arm.  In their seating section, I treated myself to a coffee, enjoyed my iTunes clashing with their very loud overhead of eighties tracks, and sat uncomfortably close to some douche who insisted on taking the chair right next to mine.  And it was great.  I pumped out a few pages, tweeted some hilarity, and got my chi back on before heading home to put the kids to bed.

On October 31st, I accepted I needed another week (maybe more) to finish this draft.  A writer friend from Twitter asked if I was going to do NaNo. I explained although I had plans to, it wasn’t going to work out like I’d hoped.  She said she did it last year and was going to give it a go in 2011 as well, but may need the occasional poke to still keep with it.  She went on to explain she didn’t write for the first two weeks last time, but got caught up after pumping out 14K words in a weekend.  After the obligatory mental joke about “pumping out,” the reality hit.  Missing the deadline didn’t mean I couldn’t participate in NaNo, it only meant I had to go at it a different way.  (Please insert you own “going at it a different way” joke.)  Maybe my NaNo is 25K words on the new project in half a month.  Maybe it’s tweaking 10K words on the current WIP and outlining the next.  Or it could be just getting as far as I can by December 1st.

On Tuesday night, with the burden of the looming deadline erased from my mind, I had a great night writing the WIP.  It rejuvenated a fire to continue with the hope of finishing sometime soon.  Because what I found was if I let the deadline take over the project, nothing salvageable will be created anyway.  And if that happens, instead of only missing a deadline, I may have killed an idea which could have been something great.

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Pushing through a set back is harder in your mind than on paper.  Emotions bounce around like a ping-pong ball in your head to dizzy yourself from the reality of the situation.  There have been a few set backs lately which I’ve let play havoc with my self-confidence.  I’ve tried to stay busy with making lists, creating story boards, and writing new projects to get past my funk, but it hasn’t made a big impact on my self-pity.  That was until I got a much needed smack in the face with a little perspective.

I curled up on my bed with my tail between  my legs, my ear buds pouring out my favorite songs, and positioned my laptop to plug away at more work to ignore the pity party in full force in my head.  My writing text books and idea journal stacked near to give some reassurance I can do it.  But my heart still hurt, wincing at sensitive areas while my mind berated myself for being so thin-skinned.  Facebook was pulled up as my first stop on my road of writing distractions (to be followed by Twitter, blogs, etc.)  Scanning through “FML”s, updates on television series, and the occasional profile picture changes, I came across the story link of one of my neighbors.  Their nine-year old son was diagnosed with cancer at seven, but was known to have had a clean scan in April.  The boy looked well this t-ball season when he played my son’s team (crushing them, in fact.)  No one could have seen it coming when a routine scan last week showed the cancer had aggressively returned and riddled his body.

Evan’s mother has a blog to update the public about his progress.  Last night, I read through their last seven days where their lives were turned upside down and dragged through the fiery pits of Hell.  My pettiness of not getting something I hoped for was washed away with sobbing tears as I read her gut-wrenching words of a mother trying to save her son.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t fiction.  It’s their family’s reality and it stuck with me all day.

While the goal of writing is to draw the reader in, their story did more than tell me about how they are coping.  It broke my heart by reminding me how helpless feels.  It reminded me about all the beauty in my life and how lucky I am.  Other things can seem important , but they’re not.  It’s just stuff.    Nothing shakes you to the core faster than to hear about people who are fighting for something worthwhile. 

So I will suck up my dented pride, slap myself back to reality, and make sure I’m doing my damnedest every time to make this world a better place for all.  I hope this reminds you to do the same.  If my words aren’t convincing enough, you should read hers.

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Free Fixes Everything

Fresh off of rejection from a writing contest (one I really had high hopes for) I decided to treat myself to a non-fat mocha this morning.  I pack up the kids early and head over to Starbucks before a torturous photo session with five children under the age of eight.  When I arrive to the drive-in, the line is long.  But this is the treat I promised myself to end the pity party started yesterday.

After 15 minutes, pity turns to rage.  (I guess these are the steps of healing?)  I become so irritated with the line, I consider driving out of it just to put the drinks out of order.  A confused barista trying to figure out what went wrong might just be the thing to bring a smile back to my face.  Contrary to my normal instincts, patience wins out.

The barista says “Chai Latte?”  With a heavy sigh, I correct him with the mocha order.  He nods and disappears behind the sliding window.  (Okay, who left the line and messed up my order?)  He comes back to make some small talk about plans for Thanksgiving.  After a few pleasantries, with me being on my best behavior, he leaves again to collect my drink. 

With my $5.00 extended, he says the magic words. “It’s on us because you had to wait so long.”  The generous offer surprises me.  I’m speechless for a second with probably a very confused look on my face.  “I hate waiting,” he says.  Like someone out there likes to wait, but I’ll take it because he’s giving me something for free.  I thank him several times and roll away with a new smile on my face.

It was a small token of appreciation for waiting, a free drink.  Appreciation which came at a good time since I was feeling down.  I drove away with spirits a little raised, savoring the treat, and damn glad I ordered the Venti.

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The Agony of Rejection

The title says it all.  Didn’t make it into the top 25.  Pity party commenced.  Will get out of funk…sometime.

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