it’s very nice being off the world!

solitude, so restorative
solitude, so restorative

Usually when I’m “off the world” it’s because I’m on the other side of the world, on vacation. But last Friday, when I finished work for the day, I stepped off all by myself. And it was wonderful. I wasn’t completely off the world, of course. I got a wonderful haircut Saturday afternoon (if you’re in Austin, this is the place — go see Natalie. Best haircut I have ever gotten, ever.). I talked to Marnie on Saturday, as usual; I had a bunch of back and forth with Katie; Lynn called and Cyndi called with good news.

Otherwise, it was just me alone in my house. The weather was kind of glum, needing to rain but it just wouldn’t, so I was happy to stay indoors. I kept the television off — usually it’s background noise, but it marks the time in such a fast way. Half-hour gone. Half-hour gone. Half-hour gone. Day, gone. I made a few playlists of quiet music for those times music would be good, but I spent a lot of time in silence. Boy did I need that.

One thing I wanted to do was get my house clean. It was all brand new when I moved in so it was shiny and unspoiled, and while I’ve kept it clean and neat I haven’t really done deep cleaning. So Friday I hunkered down and got the whole house clean. By the time I was finished, it was late to make dinner so I had a glass of wine and some cheese and crackers. A nice finish to a busy day. Over the weekend, though,  I made some REALLY good food, boy:

Miso and Soba Noodle Soup with Roasted Sriracha Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms
Miso and Soba Noodle Soup with Roasted Sriracha Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms

Here’s the recipe for the soup; it’s very simple, but a lot of steps. ALL WORTH IT. That was my Saturday supper. Sunday morning I got up and made my dinner because it needed to spend the day getting all married and flavorful. At the last minute I added the avocados.

Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers and Avocado in a Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette
Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers and Avocado in a Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette

Holy cow did that have a lot of flavor. There’s a bit of cayenne in the salad (I added twice as much as the recipe called for). Here’s the recipe — just wonderful, and simple. The most complicated part was boiling the corn and cutting it off the cob.

I wrote a lot. I read a lot. I made things. I meditated. I did some yoga. I took a long hot bath with lavender salts. I made some little floor blankets and bibs for Oliver, since I loved doing that kind of machine quilting for his giant quilt. I ordered the little foot I needed for my machine and I was off to the races.

quilting in progress
quilting in progress
finished stack of baby goodies
finished stack of baby goodies

And then last night, as my weekend retreat at home drew to an end, I lit the fire, made a pot of tea, pulled out Gracie’s quilt which is unfinished, and watched Top of the Lake on Netflix. I’d been uneasy about finishing her quilt for a lot of reasons, but after talking to Katie and Trey I suddenly understood that I did need and want to finish it. And sitting there in the quiet, after my beautiful weekend, it all made sense to me in a deep way. I quilted her name into the quilt, and it felt like my way of saying goodbye to her and leaving some of my own beauty and love for her in the world. It’s my way of loving Gracie after being fully ready for our sweet Oliver, whose arrival is imminent.

handquilting, still and always my favorite handwork
hand quilting, still and always my favorite handwork

I heartily recommend taking a weekend just for yourself. Yours will look very different from mine. I feel like a new person as this busy week gets off to its start. Happy Monday, everyone. xo

the sadness of insecurity

doubtIn late 1993, when I decided to go to college, I was living in Huntsville, Alabama. I had three very young kids and so my option was the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In my situation, there was no chance of applying to a variety of schools and then picking which one I wanted, if more than one accepted me. UAH is a small campus, though quite good for engineers and space-related programs, since Marshall Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal are there.  Of course I was not interested in those programs — my plan was psychology, and that department (while fine!) was certainly not one of the top programs in the country, let’s say. Not that I knew how to think about any of that, not that I knew how to find out anything at all about schools.

I was absolutely terrified. I was so sure they wouldn’t accept me. I was so sure they would receive my application and the people in the office would laugh laugh laugh. I believed that literally. I believed they would stop working, pass it around, and laugh so hard. I graduated from high school in 1977, and my high school was destroyed by a tornado a couple of years after that so I felt overwhelmed by getting my high school transcript — anyway, they weren’t going to accept me so all that work would be for nothing. I had a friend pushing me hard, encouraging me, asking me every day about what I’d done, did I reach anyone at my old high school, etc., and without him I know I wouldn’t have persisted (then, at least). And the SAT….had I taken it? I didn’t remember, didn’t know anything, didn’t know, and anyway they were going to laugh at me and say no.

Well, I think it’s the case that at UAH, if you can pay the tuition you can come on in. 🙂 When I got my acceptance letter I was in shock and utter disbelief. Me? They accepted me? I’ll never forget how long it took me to understand what I was reading, it just didn’t fit with my expectation at all. And the sad bit is this: While raising my three kids and working, I finished college in 4 years (transferring to U of Arkansas at Fayetteville halfway through), I graduated with a 4.0 GPA and honors beyond summa, I was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (rare to be given to a graduating senior), and I was accepted by all the graduate programs I applied to. Yeah, I was really a big risk for UAH.

My encouraging friend knew that, but I didn’t. I truly didn’t. Maybe my friends didn’t know why I was so afraid. I look at it now and if I step outside of myself I shake my head… really,Queen? I wish I’d learned a lesson then, that the only way to ensure something won’t happen is not to try — I wish I’d learned that. I did learn that lesson later in my life, thankfully, so I have at least two instances in my life of getting something I wanted because I went ahead and tried anyway.

And so I did it again. Last night I submitted a writing sample and my application for a prestigious summer writing program in New England, I am too superstitious to be more specific than that. They accept so few people that I believe the odds are against me so this time, my belief I won’t get in is a numbers game instead of a disbelief in my ability. I think what I submitted is good. And submitting it felt really good, a big loud HELL YES to myself. The announcements will be made late March, when I will be distracted and tired and busy with my new grandbaby Oliver, and I will be honest here about the outcome. Because the ‘yes’ will be a joyous piece of cake (except for the tuition), but the ‘no’ will need some thought and processing and I tend to do that here.

It is true, I’m finding, that having taken this chance on myself anyway makes that terrible voice I wrote about yesterday sound a little more pipsqueakish. It does. And putting Dixie’s voice in my head as a countervoice has probably done the trick. I wish I’d thought of that a long time ago.

shut the hell up

“Who do you think you are!”

“Why do you think anyone would be interested in anything you have to say?”

“You’re full of shit.”

“You’re nothing but a liar, and if you tell, no one will ever believe you.”

“You’re nothing.”

“You’re nothing.”

“You’re nothing.”

“What makes you think anyone’s interested in what you have to say?”

this woman is NOT my  mother but looks like her to a frightening degree. her voice is the one in my mind.
this woman is NOT my mother but looks like her to a frightening degree. her voice is the one in my mind.

Welcome to my mind. Not all of my mind, of course, but the part that tries to shut me the hell up. The part that sneers at me, that exists solely to knock me down a notch or hundred.

This voice drips with contempt. It assures me that it has known me since before I was born, and no one knows me as well. No one knows who I am but that voice, no one knows the corners of me the way that voice knows me. And who do I think I am. Just who do I think I am.

This voice is screaming at me because I’ve decided to go ahead and try something, I’m going to do something with my own writing — or try to, anyway. I keep putting my hands over my ears and going into my bathroom to look in the mirror. I put my hands on the sink and lean towards the mirror and say, “You are too a writer.” I say that over and over, even though I do not believe in the Power of Affirmations. But this is not an affirmational effort, this is an effort to shut that voice up, to claim that I know more than she does.

Please, this post is not about whether I can write or not. I’m not wanting you to leave comments about my writing, whatever you think about it. This post is about cruelty and harshness and the way our inner voices can have so much power.  It’s quite terrible, how truthful they sound — because for many of us, I suspect, these terrible inner voices are the sounds and words of parents, whether they were meaning to be dismissive or not, whether they were simply not paying attention or trying to destroy, as in my experience.

But of course I haven’t heard her voice in real life since 1987 . . . on purpose. So at this point I am responsible for that voice, for maintaining it in any way, for giving it any weight or credit. I know it’s not as simple as just brushing my hands off and walking away, it’s not as easy as thinking, eh, shut the hell up. One way to talk back to it is to go ahead and prove it wrong. Just go ahead anyway. Oh yeah? Who do I think I am? I think I am a writer — good or less-good, strong or weak, but I am a writer. I am, actually. A writer is someone who writes, and I must write every day. Why do I think anyone would be interested in anything I have to say? Well, let me just see! Will people be interested? I think enough will, I think some people would like it, and that’s enough. One needn’t be the Best-Selling-Author-Of-All-Time to have something to say, to have people interested in it.

One of the many risks in going ahead and trying something is that I will fail, and that mocking voice will then sneer, “See! You are nothing.”  I’m preparing myself to fail and I have a lot of ways to think about it. Everyone fails when they first try something new, I have to have permission to do that or I will be too clenched and frightened — and that may guarantee failure. Failure is giving up.

I’m not a unique snowflake; lots, maybe most people have critical inner voices. If you don’t, I am so very happy for you, from the bottom of my heart. If you battle a critical inner voice—whether you’ve learned how to get around it or whether it’s an ongoing struggle—I’m very curious about your approach(es).  My dear friend Marian has written about it, and has developed a successful program to help people with this struggle. If you have found something that works, and if you are willing to leave a comment, I’d love to hear about it.

My not saying more about what I’m trying is not about caving to that harpie voice, it’s much more ordinary than that. It’s just about superstition. It it happens, you’ll be among the first I tell. 🙂

I hope it’s a good week for us all, with some blue skies in the mix, some laughter and happiness, and all kinds of things to be grateful for. xox

UNCLE

kittyDoes anyone say that anymore? Uncle — as in, “I give up! I surrender!” I’ve heard the young’uns say “I call bullshit on that” which seems to mean something different. When I was a little kid, bullies would get you on the ground and hurt you, until you said uncle.

And so today I’m calling it: UNCLE! UNCLE! A pox on January 9, and the days leading up to it. Hello, trouble, I knew you were hanging around in the alley because you are always hanging around in the alley, and now you’ve shown your face.

One of my oldest friends has had a severe health setback, and it’s a scary time for those of us who love him, and his wife. There are many more questions than answers, and it appears that their lives will be different than they’d expected. As always, it’s the uncertainty that adds the heaviest weight to the situation, right now. A lot of anticipation and hope for news was dashed yesterday, and so today the blanket of new but vague reality is settling.

My husband got a call this morning that wasn’t the worst news that might be possible, but it’s the next-to-worse.

News from Marnie about some unexpected seismic changes, private details but surprising and unsettling.

I have no work and none on the horizon.

Uncle. Seriously. Uncle. Screw around with me, whatever, but when you start screwing around with the people I love most in the world, that is enough. Seriously. Enough.

And yet, it all stops short of the worst news it could be. My friend is alive and there doesn’t seem to be any expectation of losing him. My husband could have gotten the worst news, but he didn’t, and while it’s possible, it probably won’t become the worst news. My daughter has a lot of plans and is enormously talented and has lots of great support around her. Surely I will get some work soon, and there are some changes I can make to my website that might help. (But if you know anyone who has written a book, please put them in touch with me!)  And so it’s not the death of a dearly loved friend. It’s not the loss of livelihood. It’s not a whole rug being pulled out. It’s not impending homelessness.

This morning, after hearing the first bit of stomach-dropping frightening news, I was thinking about writing about the FGOs without ever dreaming that the day would just keep hammering that nail. The FGOs, the fucking growth opportunities. A long time ago I was talking to a friend about a set of big troubles in my life and she shook her head and said in a near-mumble, “Nobody likes the FGOs.”  She glanced up and saw my puzzled expression and explained it, and it’s been part of my regular vocabulary ever since.

No. No one ever likes the FGOs. I sure don’t. I can appreciate the growth when the FGO is long past (long, long, long past), and after 55 years of FGOs I can recognize the G part when bad things start happening…..oh no, this is horrible, and this will change me in some way…..I’ll make some meaning some day, I’ll find some new depth or resource eventually. But goddammit I am sick of having to do that! I’m sick for my dear friends, who have already had too many FGOs in their recent lives, and who should instead have spa months and glory times and just rewards. I am sick for my family members, who should have nothing but the fruits of their good labors. I am scared for me. UNCLE.

I’m thinking of Churchill’s great line, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” It’s what there is to do, but doing it with intent is a little different.  Because even if we do surrender and just “give up,” we actually do keep going, even if we’re being dragged along. What else is there to do? You still have to do your things, you can’t really just crawl into bed and pull up the covers until it’s all gone. It doesn’t work that way. So, instead, to just keep going because it’s the way to get through it (wherever “it” takes you), knowing that you are the one who is walking, you are taking steps one after another, you are breathing and there are things you can do, that’s different in some way.

And so here is a bigger test than yesterday’s test, though it’s now long past my morning ritual. Still, that doesn’t mean I can’t pause and take some breaths, put my feet on the ground and feel them there, take some deep breaths into my body and feel them there, drink some water and feel it going into me, open my arms and realize that I am alive and this is life and I can do what I can, and help where I can, and I am a lot.

But come on. Enough.

an easy test

Granted: It was a wonderful day yesterday because I spent the day with my daughter Katie, planning a baby shower and making baby things and having lunch. Who couldn’t have a wonderful day under those circumstances?

Well, I could’ve failed to have a wonderful day. I’m worried about my work, I’m worried about a lot of things, I’m anxious about how to get more business, I’m scared because I haven’t made any money in an ongoing period of time and there’s no work on the horizon to speak of. I’m distracted, frightened, scattered. The situation is not desperate, and I can help myself with the emotional aspects and there are things I can do, a variety of things. So it isn’t that any of this is huge and FRIGHTENING, it’s just that it’s there, swirling around underneath. And it could’ve kept me distracted from my day with my sweet daughter.

But yesterday morning I did my new morning ritual. My alarm woke me up softly at 6:30, and I stretched. Before I opened my eyes, I took some deep, slow breaths. I thought about how grateful I was to have another day of my life ahead of me, and I thought about getting to spend it with Katie. The best part of the ritual, the part that made a difference for me, was thinking about what I wanted from the day, which was this: I wanted to be present with Katie. I wanted to really be with her, and be engaged with our baby shower planning. I wanted to really be with her and not turning my mind away swirling with work and money worries. Since I had this opportunity to have a whole day alone with her, I wanted to truly have the day. And so that’s what I thought about before I got out of bed.

Then I took some more slow deep breaths and smiled, and got out of bed. Mindfully made my coffee and green smoothie, breathing in the smells, watching. Sat in my living room in front of the fire, in the quiet, and drank my coffee and smoothie. Several minutes later, I read my folder of pages, closing them as I moved through them, then did some personal writing. At the end, I stood up and stretched my arms straight up, and then out, and as I knew I would, I cried. My heart felt open and I was ready for my day.

fairies
bibbidy bobbidy boo!

Did it work? You know, it really did! It worked on so many levels, even though it wasn’t a magic wand. I felt ready to live this day of my life. It felt sacred, not to make too big a deal out of that. And it helped me be very clear about my day with Katie, and what matters to me. It didn’t magically delete my worries, it didn’t wipe out those things I know and am concerned about, but it gave me what I needed to deal with them when they arose throughout the day. I just smiled and remembered that this was my day to be with my oldest daughter, a day in both our lives, a day shared, preparing for her son, my grandson, a precious day. That’s what yesterday was set aside for, and if I was distracted by other things I would not be there with her, and I would have missed it. Starting my day with that quiet thought and clarity about what I wanted from the day was key.

I’m sure if my worries were greater, more frightening, more consuming, it would be much harder. I’m sure if my alternative was not as wonderful as a day with my daughter it would be much easier to give in to the worry and fear. Maybe by the time I’m facing that situation again — and I will, because that’s the rhythm of life — maybe by then I’ll be stronger from having practiced this lovely morning ritual.

Like everything, the challenge is not allowing the ritual to slip into mindless rote actions. By the 43rd time I start my day like this, I’ll just go through the motions (even though that’s the exact opposite of what the ritual is), unless I take care with it. Even on those days I’m less mindful than others, it’s still a lovely way to start a day — stretching, pausing, smiling, breathing and smelling coffee, reading a bit in the quiet, stretching and opening my arms.

All throughout the day I want to say little things, tell you funny things, or interesting things, or amazing things I hear about or see. Facebook tickles my fingers, then. I’m thinking about a way to integrate some of that here, we’ll see. For now, the quiet is just so wonderful, and my days have felt more whole in some way, less zigging around. Happy Thursday, everyone, I hope it’s a good day in your life today.

ritual

As part of my project for this year, I am thinking about the word stable — this year, not from an external perspective but from an internal point of view. Since I have a life-long habit of dashing through things and doing as many things at once as possible, one thought I’ve had was to slow things down and be more mindful in the moments.  One way to do that is to create rituals for particular events or moments. Obvious possibilities:

  • morning
  • dinner
  • bedtime

Do you have a morning ritual? For so many years mine was hurryhurryhurryhurry and get everyone up and out and dash to work. In New York, when I worked in publishing on Madison Avenue, I woke up at 4:30 every morning so I could sit in the quiet with a pot of coffee and read and write, to prepare myself for the stressful day ahead. I’d leave for work between 6:15 and 6:30. When I went out on my own as a freelancer, I kind of lost the whole structure of morning because morning had always been focused only on getting my kids to school, and me to work. Now that work is in the next room and there’s no boss but me, I’m just in a mode of reacting. If I got no sleep, I sleep in if I can. If I have a Skype meeting with a client, I set an alarm. I mostly just wake up when I wake up and then wander into the living room.

ah, so lovely..
ah, so lovely….

Starting the day in a reacting mode is OK enough, and aren’t I lucky to be able to sleep in when I haven’t gotten sleep! All those earlier years in my life, it didn’t matter one bit if I got no sleep, that alarm went off, kids had to be up-and-at-em’ed, I had to get to work. Sorry, me, no indulging how bad you feel, gotta go, gotta split, move it move it move it. I can be kinder to myself now, and I’m so grateful for that. But I want to develop a morning ritual that nourishes me in a quiet way, that starts me on my way in a mindful, stable way. My “must-do” morning tasks (aside from dressing and grooming) have always focused on coffee, reading, and writing, and if I don’t get to do those things I feel kind of wonky all day, as if I left my keys or purse somewhere and I can’t quite place it.

I have a tendency toward grasping control and will make an Excel spreadsheet with colored cells that feed data to a secondary sheet that creates graphs and charts of the data before God gets the news. Wake up, 6:00. Boil kettle and grind beans for coffee, 6:02. Drink coffee and read, 6:10 to 7:00. Shower, 7:00 to 7:15. Etc.  Then it’ll occur to me that if I make another column alongside those in which I enter the time I actually do each thing, I can chart where the routine works and where it fails…..and BLAM I give up on the whole thing. But look there, what I said: ROUTINE. This is a routine, not a ritual.

What is the difference, really? Routines and rituals are both a series of tasks, maybe performed in a certain order, a to-do list. But the difference is a chasm, and that chasm is intent. Focus. Meaning. Here is my normal morning routine:

  • wake up when I wake up (most mornings, though if I need to set an alarm for an appointment it’s usually set at 6am)
  • make my coffee and green smoothie
  • read and write while I’m having my coffee, and when it’s finished I get to work. Some days I dress and some days I don’t, depends on whether I’m going out that day and how I’m feeling.

Turning this into a ritual wouldn’t necessarily mean tossing out those things — no coffee! get up on purpose! light candles! — although some might fade away and others come into the mix. Shifting to ritual would mean I engage the morning, I pay attention to what I’m doing rather than moving on autopilot or being distracted by my monkey mind. Since my goal is internal stability and quiet, and since I want to live and not just exist as much as I can, here’s a thought for a morning ritual. I’ll give it a whirl tomorrow and see what works.

  • Set an alarm for 6:30 but choose a soft song for the alarm. I use the alarm on my phone and can pick any song in my library. I have another app that has a variety of sounds that would be fantastic to wake up to. For the first few minutes after I wake up, stretch and think about how lucky I am to have another day in my life. Focus my first thoughts on what I want from the day on a human level rather than a getting-work-done level: I don’t want to waste this day, such a gift; I want to be compassionate to myself and other people. Take some deep slow breaths and stretch. Smile.
  • Make my coffee, being mindful at each step. Cold water filling the kettle, coffee beans grinding — smell that smell, so rich — grounds in the French press, boiling water over the grounds, take a deep breath when I stir it before adding the plunger. Make my green smoothie, noticing each step. Smell the almond milk, the banana, the spinach, the peaches. Watch the whirling mixture become thick and creamy.
  • Spend the first tastes of coffee and smoothie just noticing the flavors and textures. No TV. Read the set of things I read, making any notes about things I want to keep. Write.
  • Stand up and stretch, an arms-up stretch and then an arms-out stretch to finish the ritual. This stretch almost always brings tears to my eyes for some reason — an open-heart position that I hope sets the path for the kind of day I’d like to have. I want as many open-heart days as I can have, don’t you?

The challenge will be doing this on “those” days — you know the ones. You oversleep, you slept badly, you’re really worried about something that is truly worrisome, you have unpleasant or even terrible tasks to do in the coming day, you feel crummy in any way, you’ve suffered a blow of some kind, you’re mad or hurt or overwhelmed. And just because you know those are the days you most need the thing that will comfort you doesn’t mean you can do it.

Here’s an old song that always feels like a beautiful morning to me — “Sunrise,” by Barry Manilow. It’s my current alarm song and it always wakes me up with such a nice feeling. Maybe that’s because of who I was when I listened to it in 1977, maybe it’s just those opening piano notes. Happy Wednesday, everyone. xo

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this maybe might just work

Day two sans Facebook report:

nofacebookSo far so good! The craving I anticipated didn’t really materialize. I guess I am an all-or-nothing woman, at least in terms of breaking a habit. That’s good, because I was worried that I’d be just as distracted by not-going-to-Facebook as I was by going to Facebook. That didn’t happen once, all day long. Winning!

There are sites I deeply enjoyed in my feed, though, and it’s how I kept up with some of my favorite bloggers. I was puzzling over how I’d manage that, because my goal is not to completely disconnect myself from an online world, but rather to contain it. So here’s what I did, if you’re considering a similar disconnect and have a similar worry:

lists

  1. Make a list of the probably short list of folks you really want to keep up with. I already had a bunch of lists that allowed me to focus a quick Facebook visit — that’s the old list there, to the right. Just above that list is the ‘family’ list. Make a new friends/family list of just the most essential folks. For the rest, Sunday night I culled through the various lists and decided which sites were the most important and opened the web pages for them (turned out there was nothing in the politics list worth keeping, surprise). Not the Facebook page, the websites themselves. (Turned out there were 11, and they were all book and reading sites.) Then I found the blogs I’d miss too much and opened them. (Turned out there were three.) So eleven websites, three blogs, and one friends/family list = 15.
  2. Make a bookmark folder on your toolbar called DAILY READ (whatever you like, obviously). Bookmark each of the essential sites into that folder, as well as the Facebook page for the essential friends/family list. (You’ll still see Facebook, and that seductive red number up top that shows all the stuff you’ve been missing, but for some reason I find it easy to ignore it because I’m just looking at my essential people, and for information only, not to comment.)
  3. In Chrome, I can right-click that folder on my toolbar and select ‘Open all bookmarks.’ It asks me worriedly, “Are you sure you want to open 15 tabs?” Yes, darling, I’m sure. Pling! Pling! Pling! Pling! Pling! Pling! There they are, the full extent of my online reading for the morning, with my coffee. I start at the far right and scan, close / scan, close / scan, close all the way across the set of tabs.

(Another note: the thing about Facebook is interacting, and I don’t plan to pause to click ‘like’ or leave comments, that’s one of my entry ports to getting sucked in. BUT I see what’s happening, and if something good or bad happens, I can contact my friend separately, one-on-one, which is what I’d rather do anyway. And to that point, since the Facebook Messenger application is a separate app on my phone, you can still contact me through that IM if you want, easy as pie.)

I’ve only done it for two days now, but it’s great. While I drink my coffee in the deep quiet, I have my defined set of pages to look at, and when they’re closed they’re closed. I haven’t felt tempted to peek into that bookmark folder and “just see” anything. I’ll open the whole folder again tomorrow morning and check in.

When Marc was here, he traded in his Droid for an iPhone and we spent a lot of time getting him set up. The way he had his Droid set up seemed to notify him the moment an email came in — instantaneously. He wanted his iPhone to do the same thing, which we were unable to achieve. The most frequent push option for email seems to be 15 minutes. He was so aggravated by that, even though I told him all he had to do was open his email and pull down, and it would check email for him on the spot. (This is so funny, because he doesn’t get much email at all.) I asked him why he’d need instant notification at every moment, why 15 minutes wasn’t enough? He said he’d want to know the moment I emailed him because it might be important, and when I told him I’d text or call him under those circumstances he still wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to be notified immediately for everything. It’s easy to feel that way, and Facebook exaggerates that feeling with its endless loop of new post! New post! New post! New post! ad infinitum. Checking my little folder of 15 things once a day is enough. Whatever new stuff comes in after I check it will be there waiting for me the next day.

Progress! And I worked a lot more yesterday, and felt really good about that. It’s kind of fun to keep feeling the pulse but then at night there’s that corresponding feeling of having wasted a precious day. This is it, and while working isn’t the way I’d most want to pass the hours of my life, working gives me money and money lets me live and do the things that do matter. Reading the Internet doesn’t.

Brrrr, y’all, super cold, but at least we here in Austin aren’t in the polar vertex that put Chicago in the deep freeze. Stay warm if you’re in this hemisphere, and enjoy your summer in the other hemisphere! Poetry group in the palace tonight, good times. Wouldn’t hurt you to read a poem today…. xoxoxo