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Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Coming up with posts these days is hard. Yeah, it’s summer and the status quo is gone, but I don’t think that’s the sole reason it’s been tough.

 

And right about now, you probably think I’m going to tell you what I do feel is holding me back, right? I wish. Because honey, if I knew, I’d pick it up, take it outside and give it a thump.

 

It’s been a good summer. Wonderful, really. We were lucky enough to do a lot of traveling. We flew to Las Vegas and took our daughter. We traveled to Los Angeles and took our daughter. We ventured, once again, to the North of Ireland and managed to get, not only our daughter, but both our sons and one of their girlfriends to join us.

 

And, we were blessed to be able to do so. This summer in particular, needed to be busy. I needed the distraction and it was, in no uncertain terms, provided. Opportunities fell into our lap through work stints and whimsical excuses, and we pushed ourselves beyond what we really should of done.

 

And it was good.

 

Good to run. Get away from the things that lurk in the night. The dark shadows behind closed curtains. Those monsters that breathe heavily beneath the bed.

 

And I drank it up.

 

The opportunity.

 

Yep. Swallowed it whole.

 

But as they say, what goes down, must come up. I dunno know. Maybe it’s the other way ‘round. Or perhaps I’m just upside down. Whatever the case may be, reality is back and it’s the one doing the thumping now.

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I’m just in from a coffee shop. Alright. Yes, it was Starbucks. And, surprise, surprise. There were 4 people in there with MacBook Airs. And they looked pretty much how I would’ve looked, had I also brought mine.

 

They were scarfed and sweatered. Fenced in by open books, cords, pens, mugs and, of course, phones.

 

At first, I was envious. Thinking how I long for days of doing nothing but writing. It’s a glorious feeling, you know. To be sure of your purpose. And for it to be something you enjoy. Something you find fulfilling. Albeit scorching and torturous at times.

 

And while I waited for my order, I, for the zillionth time, imagined a world where writing is my only focus. A world, that in reality, will never be. And, that’s okay. In my heart of hearts, I really wouldn’t want that, would I. I mean, where would my family be? Where’s my home in that scenario?

 

I don’t ever want to be without those things. Those distractions as they are sometimes referred to.

 

Anyway, what started as pre-beverage envy ended in post-coffee realization. Not one of those blessed little lambs was actually using their laptops. Every single one of them was on their phone.

 

Texting. Liking. Sharing.

 

Wasting.

 

Using valuable time. Precious, hard-to-come-by freedom. To generate useless statuses and insignificant tweets.

 

But, in truth, I really have no clue what they were doing on their phones. Never mind judging whether whatever they were doing was insignificant or useless. They may have been replying to agent’s proclamations, “CONGRATULATIONS, we sold your novel!” Or throwing out a few likes in support of fellow writers. Perhaps sharing triumphant news of a book deal.

 

Who knows? Like I said, not me. I just tend to make wild assumptions when I’m coffee-deficient.

 

So, I admit to suffering from misplaced projection. Putting myself in their chairs. Surrounding my own being with beloved writing gear. Staring into productivity-stealing space. And spending too much time on a phone of my own.

 

But luckily, the coffee-sufficient me sees the advantage to having, what one might call, an overactive imagination. Next trip, the phone stays in my pocket.

 

What? You didn’t think I’d turn it off, did you!

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I don’t know where I’ve been, so I guess I can hardly ask you to know either, right? But if you’ve been wondering at all, I thank you.

 

I wish I could tell you I’ve been writing a novel. Or busy becoming addicted to exercise. But that would be so not the truth. Though I have been busy. Doing other things. Parenting. Cleaning. Working. My make-up magic.

 

And yes, I have been writing.

 

A different type though.

 

I’ve been writing articles. Copywriting. Which I am finding terribly interesting and incredibly educational.

 

And strange.

 

Although they like the way I write. My style. My tone. It has to match the tone of the publication. So, I find myself changing the way I write. My style. My tone. For publication. It’s a new world to me. One that I’m enjoying. In a different way from blogging.

 

A very different way.

 

I realize my blog is a blurp. Meaning, I am allowed, here, to spill onto the page. In any flavor. Color. Texture I want. And I’m so, so thankful for that.

 

But, I am also extremely thankful for the structure, feedback and guidance of copywriting. It’s teaching me so much. And, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a sense of euphoria in being paid to write. In knowing someone is willing to pay for my writing.

 

Because they think it’s good enough. After 20 edits, but still…

 

So, if you’re concerned at all about me going MIA again, or ensuring that my state of euphoria goes uninterrupted, let me know. I can always set up a Hazy PayPal button.

 

No really. It would be no trouble at all.

 

And if you don’t want to pay off my mortgage?  Well, I’ll still be here. Because I love this place. Paid off or not, it’s home.

 

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I accidentally spent most of the other morning in tears. Not one, not two, but cheek-soaking, hair-matting amounts of tears. Tears chased by gulps of air between grabby sobs—-tears squeezed from the epicenter of my very sad heart.

 

I started out upbeat. Honest. House to myself—an almost impossibility nowadays—I lay in bed, my hands rubbing together greedily as my head flooded virtual To Do blanks with productive and satiating tasks. 
Now, you may be surprised to learn that although I do treasure my time alone, I do not love the absolute silence that comes with it, so, for comfort, I often turn on the TV. But this particular morning, that was a mistake of epic proportion.

 

I need only say three words – Marley and Me.

 

Sure, I’ve seen it before. We took our kids to watch it back in 2008, so no big deal, right?

 

Not right.

 

Life, perspective, time, age, loss, choices, experiences…all of these things can change the way we absorb and process things.

 

Big time.

 

I didn’t choose. I didn’t flick. The TV came to life and there it was. Dropped instantly into a world with a family much like my own. Complete with mom, dad, (who happens to be a writer—score) two sons, a daughter and a dog they all dread, but mostly plain old adore.

 

And, after many years of loyal shenanigans, he, the dog, simply dies.

 

I lie. It wasn’t simple. Far from it. They, the family, had to decide to let him die. And, much like my family’s past ordeal, it was not so much optional, but a surrender of suffering, a kindness. No matter though. Once it’s in your hands, you always, always feel like you chose to end the life of a living being and it’s utterly breaking.

 

I could hide the remote. I could cancel my cable. I could ban all pets. I could avoid attachment. I could toughen up. Or, I could embrace what it is to be compassionate. And human.

 

It’s okay to be emotional. It’s alright to take time. It’s okay to let it linger. (Now don’t be singing. We all love the Cranberries, but this is a serious post) It’s alright to feel. It’s okay to love. And it’s acceptable not to move on any faster than the pace of a slow moving cloud.

 

You’re allowed to well up every time you see a Beagle…or a box of Black Magic at Christmastime…or a jogger…or a brisk walker sporting an Irish cap…for as long as you like. Forever even.

 

It means you’re not a dick.

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Two years ago today…

As all good things must come to an end, I thought life with Rowan would go on forever. No, you’re not confused. You needn’t read that sentence again. It’ll still say the same thing.

You see, I’ve been known to remark once or thrice that she really must be the World’s Worst Dog. I haven’t hidden my rants or rages. My sputterings and spews have been no secret. I have openly complained and cried in frustration. I’ve fallen and forgiven for all to see. I’ve been a martyr at best.

You understand, right? I mean, she filled my life with insane and unnatural amounts of hair and stained my carpets to the brink of despair. She chewed up precious belongings and sabotaged our prized Wisteria. Her incessant howls cost us neighbors and got her ixnayed from our camping roster. She dragged garbage out over the floors and snatched lavish steaks off the barbie. Walks were harrowing horrors as she pulled and strained with all her might. She vanished when unleashed and ignored our frantic pleas for her return. Yes, without a doubt, she was the world’s worst dog.

But this week, she lay at my feet, panting and whimpering, immobilized and pained. Helpless.

And all I could remember were her ears flapping in the wind, her saucer eyes and her soppy, sweet demeanor. As my family spread out to sleep on the couches and the floor because she could no longer make the trip up to our rooms, I thought of the way she once guarded our house and made us feel safe. While we set our alarm for her 3am meds, I envisioned the way her legs splayed out to the sides as she scrambled to meet us each time we came through the door. While we hand-fed her a homemade turkey and quinoa mix with little sips of water, I wished for the once annoying click of her nails on the wooden floor. And as we changed out the cool packs soothing her collapsing neck, I swore I heard all the laughter she’d brought into our home over the last seven and a half years.

This week, she could do none of that. She simply lay, gasping, blinking, scared and scarred and I realized what I must’ve known all along. She wasn’t the world’s worst dog. She’d be my family’s best memory.

Rowan aka: Ro, Rowey, Rosa and The Ro Show January 23, 2006 ~ August 22, 2013

Rowan aka: Ro, Rowey, Rosa and The Ro Show January 23, 2006 ~ August 22, 2013

Note: Rowan was taken from us by an inoperable case of Intervertebral Disc Disease

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Hayley Mills

Hayley Mills

I was almost a Heidi. However, some distant cousin, thrice removed, whom I haven’t seen since I was six and was not actually related to at the end of the day anyway, was born mere weeks before me and snagged the name first.

 

Who’da thunk?

 

So my mother figured calling me after her favorite teen actress was a much better idea and I ended up a Hayley instead. And because we are of that befuddled British bunch, that name was never used.
I have been called by my middle name my entire life. Yes, right from the get-go. A name my parents thought they’d made up. My dad’s name with an a on the end, Alana. (Rhymes with Savannah, never to be confused with banana) And really, there was not one other Alana to be found in my early years; I’ll give them that. In fact, I didn’t meet another Alana until I was fourteen, which in child years, is an entire lifetime.

 

Not to offend all the Heidi’s of the world—it’s a lovely name—but I’m glad I’m not one of them. A name not only states who you are, it can shape who you become and I am who I am because I had to repeat my name several times when meeting someone new. Because I had to enunciate it slowly and clearly over and over—painful for a shy young girl. And because I was made fun of by kids who feared all things new and foreign.
I’ve evolved and strengthened a certain way because I wasn’t one of the five Lisa’s in the class, just as the Lisa’s are who they are, in part, because they had to vie for individual identity at every turn.

 

Branding someone is a hefty task. One loaded with potential and possibility. Obviously, we’re given our names at birth, sometimes even before, and rarely do we get to pick them. In combination with many things throughout life, we are kneaded with the experiences and interactions we have because of our names.

 

This is why they often bring me to a halt. I’ll be plodding along; engrossed in creating an opening scene, and…urrrrch…I need a name. It sometimes stops me for hours. I have even been known to write short stories in such a way that I don’t need to name anybody. Not a single character. Sometimes it’s a copout; sometimes it just works well with the tone of what I’m writing.

 

So you can imagine I had an agonizing time creating the name for my blog. Looking back on my “brainstorm list” now is embarrassing. At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to write about—ahem, we need not note that not much has changed there—so picking a name for it was, needless to say, challenging.
I’m a Make-up Artist by trade and beauty blogs are extremely popular, but I figured out early on that I didn’t want to start off writing about beauty, or, be pigeon-holed to just that one topic at the very least.
So in the end, Hazy Shades of Me was born from a combination of my indecisiveness, much play on the metaphorical and cosmetic connotations of shades and shadows, my desire to be as uncommitted to one subject as I possibly could, and, of course, my long-lost first name.
Maybe you pick names that have meaning for you? Or for your character? Or your subject or story? Perhaps your storyline determines your decisions?
Do you decide on the fate of your subjects before their birth or after? Maybe they tell you who they are, or do they mold to the names you chose for them? Have you ever changed a subject’s name mid-way through?

 

By some miracle, I have never, ever, had one pang of regret for the decisions I’ve made in naming things that cannot be changed—my children, my pets or my blog. Someone clearly has my back in that department, for which I am eternally grateful.

 

As a writer, I know there are many different answers to the questions I’m asking and that they will even vary coming from the same person, depending on which story or topic they’re writing or referencing.

 

I’m curious. How do you name the important things in your world?

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Like Julie Powell to Julia Child, I am going to ride the coattails of Donna Tartt off into the wordy, smooth posting of a flighty blog entry. After all, when you can’t write yourself, writing about what someone else has written is, well, material. She’ll understand—we’re BFF’s after all.

 

Truth be told, there was no decision on my part to join a Book Club. I was dragged by the neck, warned there would be much wine-drinking and minimal book-talking and that I’d just have to suffer through because I simply had less than no choice in the matter.

 

And I’ll admit that I didn’t decline their multiple demands, err, invitations too loudly, for any more than six months, because, to be honest, I was in need of a reminder that reading is not a device designed to torture me for my failure to produce anything of substance.

 

Or, just anything.

 

At all.

 

And because I’d forgotten that reading can be done for the simple fact that it brings immense pleasure. Because I’d lost sight of the light it spreads and the inspirational notion that anything, whether observing or creating a world of fiction, is possible.

 

Infinite anythings.

 

How could I have forgotten?

 

Not to fret. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt brought it all back.

 

I don’t review books. I have trouble being that presumptuous. But I do like to share things I learn from, things that entice me to reach for more, things that make me entertain possibility—things that make me forget how envious I am, long enough to merely bask in their bewitchment. This book was that. Bound by incredibly long sentences and crisp with incomplete fragments, it proves that just because Word underlines it in red, you don’t have to correct it. Full of undisguised emotion and weighty character, words I had to look up and succinct sentiment. I nearly phoned Ms. Tartt to ask if she has ever actually been a thirteen-year-old boy at any point in her lifetime.

 

It was a truly gratifying read, but my reasons may differ from yours. I was seeking to be both grounded and lifted. Shaken and stirred. Simultaneously tamed and teased. Oh, and I needed something to not discuss at Book Club.

 

It took Donna Tartt eleven years to write The Goldfinch. I’ve got at least that left in me, wouldn’t you say?

Donna Tartt in her Paris hotel room, promoting her book , The Goldfinch (Photo courtesy of theguardian.com)

Donna Tartt in a Paris hotel room, promoting her book, The Goldfinch (Photo courtesy of theguardian.com)

 

 

 

 

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