Category Archives: Hobbies

Resolved: ‘March’ing On!

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Ok, I promised. Now that it’s officially March, I can share my new Resolution of the Month with you! Aren’t you excited?? I can feel your anticipation vibrating through my keyboard as I type this. Seriously, I can. I’m sure that you’ve been doing nothing at all for a month but waiting to hear about my next resolution. (If you haven’t detected the sarcasm yet, I’m truly sorry for you.) But for the three – or four, on a good day – of you who actually read this, I’ve got a new goal. And it actually fits in with my Life Plan, so that’s a win-win, right? I sure think so. Hold onto your hats – here it is…

Writing.

Yep, that’s right. Writing. See, I’ve been pretty good about daily blogging lately. At least the mechanics of it. The quality? Not so much. My brain has been in a dry period the last couple of weeks, so some days have been a real stretch as far as finding a topic. But I’m not just talking about blogging here.

If I really want to be a Writer (and the capital ‘W’ is oh-so-important) I need to make writing more of a priority. I already carry a journal with me everywhere, in case something just hits me or I need to vomit excess thoughts out of my brain to make space for the day-to-day stuff. That’s not what I’m talking about here.

I need a dedicated time and space for Writing. Daily. I mean it. Not just a few minutes in the park between checking Facebook, eating lunch and reading my book o’ the day. Serious Writing Time. I want to make it a priority. Which makes sense, if I want to turn this little passion of mine into a career someday. Trouble is, time is at a premium for me. Correction – time during which my brain is coherent is at a premium. I’ve got plenty of time if you count the hour in the morning before my coffee kicks in or the two hours after the minions are in bed. But it’s hard for me to count that as Serious Writing Time when my brain resembles a greenish poof of cotton candy during those times instead of seriously alert gray matter.

See my dilemma? It’s a biggie. So I’m asking for suggestions here. Writers – how do you schedule non-negotiable time for writing into your day? How did you transition into a Writer? Moms – how do you find that solitude that’s necessary for free-flowing thoughts? What’s your perfect writing space? Manuscript or computer?

I’m open to any and all ideas here – please keep ’em coming!!

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Filed under Careers, Hobbies, time management, Uncategorized, working moms

This Was My Brain…

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… last night. See, I had a dream. And it was seriously messed up. It was pretty disturbing. Like, beyond disturbing. For some reason I was back playing oboe – all of a sudden, at my current age with kids, fam and all that – and auditioning for summer programs. That was a beatdown. Forget about my old nemesis, extreme performance anxiety. For some reason this particular summer program was located in Big D and had an interview component to the audition process.

Yuck. Throw in the fact that I was, um, at least a decade (and that’s putting it mildly) older than the other applicants. I don’t even remember the playing part of this weird dream audition. But apparently it was good enough, because I got in.

Fast forward to The Night of The Big Concert. I met the Spouse and minions for early dinner across town. (? why didn’t they just bring me dinner?) I’d asked them to bring my concert attire with them and decided to change in the bathroom. This was a bad idea. For two very important reasons. First – I’d asked them to bring one of my OLD concert dresses. Like, from my Former Life as a Musician. Before I had kids. That’s bad enough, right? Wrong. Second – apparently I hadn’t tried it on before asking them to bring it to me.

Of course it didn’t fit. But you know what? I made that sucker fit. And headed back across town with a tight deadline.

And then it hit. Traffic. Awful, horrific traffic. Gridlocked. The kind of traffic that makes it impossible to get more than a mile every fifteen minutes. I was stuck. Panicked. Performance anxiety? That was nothing compared to my normal Type A anal-retentiveness about time – magnified ad infinitum by the stupid traffic situation. Finally made it to the concert hall – just had to park the car.

There were no parking spaces in the parking garage or on any surrounding streets. None. Zip. Zero. It’s a miracle I didn’t pop the already-strained seams on that dress hyperventilating while running for it to make it on time.

Didn’t happen. I was late. By five minutes. Had to wait outside the concert hall for the first piece to finish. And then had to walk past the Spouse and minions – seated in the front row – up to the stage to explain to my section leader why I was late.

He wasn’t having it. Yelled and belittled me as only a true musician-egoist can. Dismissed me. Totally. Told me to forget it and go home, then proceeded to ignore me while I dragged my sausage-casing black taffeta self back to the car. Oh, and I’d forgotten where I put the car in my delirium – and hadn’t remembered to snap the ‘Find My Car’ app on. Seriously. I was a blubbering, sniffling mess in that stupid dress and heels, limping up and down parking ramps.

Now, if you’re still reading, you’re thinking one of two things. Either – she’s crazy, or – that is some wild kind of messed-up stuff going on in her head.

You’re probably right either way. But here’s the catch:

I DID get stuck in horrible traffic on my way home last night. In fact, it took two hours to drive my normal 21 miles. Ridiculous. And I was late to the minions’ Cub Scout thingy because of it. So that almost makes this dream a sensible reaction, right? Right. At least that’s what I thought.

Until I mentioned it to my boss. Not all of it, just the fact that I dreamed about getting stuck in traffic and panicking about it. She freaked out, asking me if I feel trapped in my current work environment. Turns out she’s big on dream analysis. So of course I had to be curious and Google around.

You ready for what I found? It’s creepy. Sure you’re ready? Ok, I warned you… Here’s what Google dream analysis had to say:

“Gridlocked traffic could represent a feeling that things in some aspect of your life are bogged down, or it could represent your state of mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

“Walking, driving, or any form of traveling can represent: The passage of time, or making progress or moving forward in life, or moving along your life path.

“Being stuck can represent: feeling unable to make progress or make changes in your life, feeling stuck in a certain situation, possibly an awkward one, or feeling that you’re “stuck in a rut” somehow.

“Playing a musical instrument can mean that you have something to express or say, or you have a need for a creative outlet.

“Performing for others can represent: the idea of attention focused on you, or of your or your efforts being noticed or highlighted, a feeling of self-consciousness, of being observed, or of being especially concerned about others’ opinions about you. Some possible meanings include: an actual, expected, or imagined audition, feeling evaluated, judged, or “put on the spot” by others, applying for a job, university, etc., wanting approval from others, being tested, or trying to make a certain impression on others.

Dang. If that doesn’t hit all the nails smack dab on the head. Huh.

As a matter of fact, I am frustrated. Feeling stuck. Knowing the long-term goals but caught in the day-to-day vicious circle of routines. Creative? Um, hello? This whole writing thing? Check. Attention? Yeah, that’s been lacking lately.
Everything in that stupid dream analysis web site is dead on.

Scary, huh? But it sure does make me think.

Now I’ve gotta do something about it.

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Filed under Dreams, Hobbies, Music, working moms, writing

Insomniac Haiku

It’s been one of those weeks. I’ll save the details for tomorrow’s post (or maybe later today if I get time) but let’s just say that I’ve had my share of stress. Definitely. And after last week’s hallucenogenic dream episodes, the doc decided to change up my meds a bit. Which is a good thing in the long run, but really messes with my sleep in the short term.

Sleep has been a luxury this week.

The other night I finally caved, got up and went to the living room with my journal to write. And looking around the room, I was inspired by what I saw. Here are the midnight results. Prepare to be amazed…

Thirteen dirty socks
strewn around the living room –
Who’s missing their mate?

-And-

Two cats sleep – in a
pile of smoky gray softness,
Purring through dreamland.

-And-

Inside myself, I
watch life passing by without
anyone seeing.

Can you tell I was getting bummed about the insomnia? Since I still wasn’t getting sleepy, I did the one thing that usually works: turn on the TV. Looked for an infomercial, but they all seemed too interesting. So I resorted to my never-fail: LMN. But darn it, the movie was actually interesting – star crossed lovers and all that… Oh, will they or won’t they?? Continuing my haiku theme:

Unspoken thoughts – that
used to be words. Shall I not
hear you say ‘My love?’

And of course, just as I got into the movie… I fell asleep. I’ll never know what happened to Titus and Meriwether – if they got togehter, died, etc. Sadness.


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Filed under Hobbies, Insomnia, Laundry, LMN, Moms, writing

Seriously, I Need Help!

I realized this morning that I have a serious problem. A Very Serious Problem. I’ve been stewing about it for most of the day (well, stewing is relative. In the sense that it’s been nagging at the back of my brain while my body has been busy with a zillion other work-related tasks, that is.) Here it is: I have no real time to read. And for once, I have too many books.

Too many books, too little time. In between my 6 AM alarm, getting self, Spouse and two minions out the door, hour-long commute to the office, full workday and the hour (sometimes hour-plus) drive home – there just isn’t time left. Add to that the fact that, once I get home there are family activities, homework to check, minions to spend time with/prepare for the next day and Spouse to chat with – and there’s JUST NO EXTRA TIME!!
And, truth be told, reading is my real hobby.  I would rather go a day without breathing than reading. I mean it. Writing is a close second, but I really don’t think I would survive long without immersing myself in a good book (or several.) The current dilemma is that, between Barnes and Noble and Amazon gift cards, my reading stash has grown and I can’t decide what to read first. I fall into my normal pattern of staring blankly at the pile of books (and my Kindle) like a deer in headlights. Waste all of my time trying to decide what to read rather than reading. Bummer. It really stinks, especially given my lack of time.
Diehards would tell me to suck it up and get up an hour or two earlier to ‘enjoy some quiet reading time just for me.’ Who are they kidding? Those peeps have obviously never tried the kind of 12+ hour days full of required stuff that are the norm on my docket. Argh!!
So what exactly is in the oh-so-tempting pile? I’ll tell you. And it’s even worse now because I got a box from Amazon yesterday. Books, of course. Here’s my stash:
1.       A Storm of Swords – this one’s kind of on the back burner. I got burned out by all of the head-rolling.

2.       This Side of Paradise – always have loved Fitzgerald and Zelda.

3.       Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen, of course.

4.       Quiet!I actually just finished this one. An interesting study of introverts and society.

5.       Outliers – Just started this one but it seems good already. Gives reasons for refuting the ‘hard work is the only thing that determines success’ idea.

6.       Case Histories – new novel

7.       The Liars Club – another new novel.

Can you see my dilemma?? What do you think? Which should come first?? And how the heck should I manage my time?!

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Filed under Hobbies, Reading, time management, working moms

Still Hobbily Challenged

Since I don’t think I can make a hobby out of Downton Abbey or Gosford Park, I’m still looking for a ‘real’ hobby. The Spouse is fully in support of this, probably because if I do find something to do in my (very rare) free time he won’t get nagged about the ever-present sports – Cowboys, Rangers, Mavericks – that rotate through the house on a clockwork-like schedule.

I’m just not that big of a sports fan, so it gets irritating.

So a couple of weeks ago, over the holidays, the Spouse went on a cleaning spree. Yes, you read that right. An Actual Cleaning Spree – which for him is rare, given his borderline hoarder classification. And his inspiration? Something I said. Yep – you read that one right too. Apparently in the course of some casual conversation I made the comment that I didn’t really feel like I had a spot in the house that was ‘mine.’

He actually felt really bad about that, and had to agree. So what did he do?

That guy spent the next two days moving all of my old crafting bins and stuff out of Minion 2’s closet, rearranging the kid stuff, shoveling (yes, shoveling) out his side of our dual closet, and moving unused/out of season clothes up to the top racks that no one has ever used. With a ladder. And – get this – he moved my craft bins into the empty corner of the closet, researched (and found! and bought!) folding tables, put the new table in the empty area and arranged all of my things. The table even fits my sewing machine plus leaves room for a work area!

Ta-da! I now have a crafting corner!

The problem?? WTH to do with it? I’ve fretted about my lack of a hobby before. Since my sewing projects of old consisted of clothes (the only formal I actually bought back in the day was my prom dress) and girl stuff, I’m at a loss here. If I had more confidence I would tackle drapes for the media room and it’s tricky arched window. Hmmm. I’ll have to think on that one.

Or I could move in there and use it for my writing space. The cool thing is, if I close the closet door I actually have a quiet, peaceful little room. And theoretically no one would know where I was. Bwahaha…

Still a third idea that popped into my head last night was that I used to paint. Oils, acrylics, you name it. I did it. But oils get expensive, messy and take about two weeks to dry once finished, so I’ll need to think on that one. Acrylic painting is much easier and cleaner, but you don’t get the wonderful blending of texture and color that oils make possible.

Hmmm..

So I guess I’ve got no excuses now, folks. All I need is some free time where I’m not totally exhausted from my two hour daily commute, eight hours of work and trying to keep the house from looking like a total sty.

Easy, right??

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Filed under Hobbies, organization, Space Saving, time management, working moms

Cool Gaming Chicks

Who knew they were out there? I sure didn’t. I wonder if this was even a classification back in my gaming days. Probably not, since my gaming days were way back. And even then, I gamed in spurts.

Where is this coming from? Well, it was a cold (for H-town) and dreary weekend in the ‘burbs. Blah. Took the minions to the bookstore to spend their gift cards from Christmas and scored some new books for myself too. Real books! With actual pages! But then the Y-chromosomes kicked in at home.

The G4 Network. Top 100 Video Games of All Time. Five hours of clips and commentary about each and every game. Total suburban testosterone-fest. It was like a siren song for the three Y-chromosome peeps in my house. And I must admit – my former gaming side got sucked in. I’ve probably never even heard of 75% of the games there, but once you start watching you just can’t stop. I mean, it’s akin to admitting failure to NOT watch all 100 games and see the entire list, right?

Right. At least, that’s what my Saturday-afternoon-rain-fogged-brain told me. And you know what I found out?

Apparently, it’s cool to be a gaming chick today. Who knew? Back in my closet gaming days (we’re talking Leather Goddesses of Phobos, Wizard and the Princess, Zork, Bard/s Tale and a few of the other text games) it was hard to tell if there were any gaming chicks. At least in my neck o’ the woods. If there were, they looked the same as the guys, for the most part.

They never looked like this:

This is Morgan Webb. Apparently she’s something of a big deal in the tech/gaming world. And she and her Keira Knightley lookalike self were featured commentators for the 100 Top Video Games series. So I got to look at her. A Lot. But seriously, a gaming chick with a sense of fashion? To-die-for-hair? Heck, if I’d known that I could actually look like a girl, play computer games, talk intelligently about them and earn a living – I’d have had a totally different outlook on my career path. Really. But back in the day my need for conformity (let’s face it, my need to NOT be heckled) kept me from going down that road. Well, that plus the fact that most of the gamers I knew were also hugely into D&D, which just wasn’t my thing.

Oh, I picked up the gaming bug here and there. Myst. Zork Nemesis. Civilization 2 and 3. All huge time-suckers. And I loved it. But honestly, am I the only one who has a stereotyped picture of a gaming chick in my head? My personal vision involves anything hipster-ish, multiple piercings, lots of black and skater-boy beanies. Think Lisbeth Salander. But without most of the psychosis.

Heck, I just finished pondering my lack of a hobby the other day. Maybe I need to embrace my inner technogeek and let my true colors show. Whaddaya think??

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Filed under Hobbies, Uncategorized

"You Need a Hobby"

So I have been told – more than once – that I need to get a hobby. Sure. Easy enough, right? Just get a hobby. Right. Just pick one up and do it. Easier said than done. To me a hobby needs to be something for which I have a passion and truly enjoy – not just something to do. And that’s a real problem because I have this nasty tendency to overthink everything. Yes, everything. Well, ok, not everything. Certain decisions, like what kind of toilet paper or laundry detergent to get, are just no-brainers in my book. But everything else? Big problem. Lots of overthinking going on. And overanalyzing too.

So, hobbies. Right. That’s where I was going with this. You’ll have to excuse me today – brain is still coming back from the fog of Christmas and a few days of vacation with the entire boy-clan at home. Anyhoo, I started thinking about my past hobbies. Aerobics. Weight lifting. Running. Pilates. Yoga. I spent years doing those. But, really, shouldn’t a hobby be something you like doing? Yup. And I really hated most of those – except when I was able to tell someone that I ran X miles the day before. That felt kind of good. But still not really enjoyable.
About the only kind of exercise I ever really looked forward to was Zumba. Yes, Zumba. Even though I’m sure watching my uncoordinated self try to do some of those moves was pretty entertaining for everyone else in the class, I loved it. But the budget wouldn’t hold up to the gym fees, so that went out the window. The Spouse even got me Zumba for the Wii. Have I cracked open that box yet? Heck no. Maybe it’s time.
I know plenty of people with hobbies. I do. One of my friends designs and screen prints t-shirts. Yep – you read that right. She actually went out and bought a real live screen printing machine to speed up her work. And she won’t go into business with it, because she says she wouldn’t enjoy it then. Makes sense. But I definitely don’t need a hobby that would bring lots more stuff into my house. There’s too much crap and clutter there as it is.
Last year around the holidays I spent lots of time with a group of women who crocheted. Couldn’t be too hard, right? If that many people were able to do it and talk/listen/carry on entire conversations and watch TV while doing it?
Wrong. I tried. Something about the little bitty needle, written directions that made no sense and YouTube videos that all seemed to feature right-handed people. I’m a lefty. The world is made for right-handers and it stinks. Plus, just when I thought I was getting the hang of it, my cat decided to jump right in and gnaw through my yarn. Another bust.
I’ve talked with knitters. I used to knit. My mom taught me as a kid, and we had a rocking collection of handmade potholders if I do say so myself. But just reading about charts and repeats and numbers – that sounds too much like math for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like math – on my own terms. But we didn’t get along well in school. At. All. So that kind of takes away the enjoyment factor that should be important in a hobby.
Tennis? I used to teach at a school with a large population of ‘tennis moms.’ These were a rare breed. I never knew that it took so much time and effort to get all made up with full hair to go and play tennis. Not to mention the designer shoes and sportswear. Who knew? But apparently it’s fun. A colleague’s husband was a tennis pro at one of the clubs frequented by these mommies, and he always said they were the easiest to teach. Show them a few tips, and then spend the rest of the hour listening to their gossip about who was doing what on Facebook. Seriously. Not sure that fits my budget or idea of a good time either.
So that brings me back to writing. Sadly, I get most of my ideas on the drive to the office. So I want to immediately get them down in writing when I get in. Bad idea. Not sure the office people would understand about that one. But I do carry a journal and write stuff down when it hits me.
Ok, so I’ve got a hobby. But writing is also a dream of mine. To Write For a Living. To Be Published. I’ve sent off a couple of things here and there. I have. I’ve got the rejection emails to prove it. One online site told me that ‘personal statement essays’ are not considered by their firm. Personal Statement Essay? Never learned that genre in school. Somehow I think it’s a made-up name, kind of like ‘literary nonfiction’ in the district where I taught. Hmmm…
I’ve looked at other options too. Wrote a piece that – in my opinion – was at least as good as some of the junk I’ve read in magazines, and looked for contact information to send it in. I found these guidelines on a popular women’s magazine site. They look for:


Marriage articles with an emphasis on strengthening the relationship

Short parenting features on how to deal with universal health and behavioral issues

Reporting on exciting trends in women’s lives

“Writers are advised to read at least the last six issues of the magazine (available in most libraries) to get a better understanding of appropriate subject matter and treatment. We prefer to see detailed queries rather than completed manuscripts, and suggest that you provide us with some ideas for sources/experts. Please enclose two or more samples of your writing, as well as a stamped, self-addressed envelope. “

What’s a query? No clue. So I guess my piece about a woman trying to escape her abusive polygamist husband while battling an addiction and searching for her soul mate wouldn’t be a good fit. Dang it. And I thought I had a good hook, too. And other web sites have been just as discouraging. Apparently you have to be published in order to get published. Kind of like looking for entry-level jobs that require experience when you have to work the job in order to get the experience.
Guess I’ve got a LOT of learning to do. But hey, at least I’ve got a hobby now, right? All I need is unlimited time to explore it…

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Filed under Blogging, Careers, Hobbies, Moms, Publishing, writing