Friday Morning Thoughts: Writing

This writing thing is a lot of fun! It’s also a lot of work, but I’m really enjoying the process of figuring it all out, creating stories, getting those stories on the page and knowing that people enjoy my stories (I’ve actually showed them to people not my husband and they like them! They really, really like them! OK, done channeling Sally Fields.) Writing this blog is also fun, even though I’m not here as often as I feel like I should be and would like to be. Honestly, I sometimes forget I started this.

I finished with all my teaching responsibilities yesterday and now I’m looking forward to uninterrupted writing time, minus a few hours next week when I’m grading exams and calculating final grades. Beyond that, my time is now truly my own. If this whole new direction thing is going to work, I have to put my butt in my chair, or at least a chair, and write. I did discover last summer that while trying to write research at a coffee shop does not work for me, it does work for writing fiction. I can totally do the hipster laptop and latte in a coffee house thing. Who knew?

The plan is to get the first chapter of my book up here in the next couple of months. I’m working on a cover and editing it right now. I hope it’s not too presumptuous of me to think that the occasional reader who stops by here will also decide to read it. I am optimistic, but then, as I’m discovering, that’s not a bad thing (as my ornery blog name might suggest, I tend toward the cynical).

My other plan is to write something here at least twice a week, if not more often. I don’t want to get too angsty, but I will be writing about life issues, writing issues, and anything else that pops into my head. Perhaps even politics (it is my field after all). We’ll see.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Friday Thoughts: Attitudes

For a while now, I’ve been trying to make sure that I arrive at work in a good frame of mind. When I manage it, the day is definitely brighter and more productive. There are times when I arrive and begin my day feeling pretty good and optimistic, and then something happens to wreak my carefully created mindset. An email from administration or a student or the dean or simply hearing some news about a program/project on campus. Pretty much anything that brings reality crashing in too early can wreck a mood immediately. I have one colleague who is very good at maintaining a sense of optimism and hope in the face of things that appear to spell doom. I am trying to follow her example and maintain an optimistic, or at least not totally pessimistic, attitude.

Granted, this is all work-related and does not affect the rest of the world outside of campus. Nevertheless, it winds up indirectly (and sometimes directly) affecting my life and tends to create a negative cascading affect. This cascading effect then leads to me having a bad attitude towards work (as I do recognize the source of the bad mood), which means I don’t want to go in the next day, or I spend the next day phoning it in. Neither of these are useful attitudes, nor do they help to make me feel any better.

This week was not a particularly bad week. I gave exams on Tuesday and Wednesday, which meant I only had to teach one class Monday, and the usual load of three on Thursday. Pretty easy, and not nearly as tiring, compared to a normal week. But, it was also one of those weeks where a number of threads and pieces of information came together and a more complete picture started to form. This is not a pretty picture and foretells of more chaos in the coming weeks and months.

However, I’ve managed to maintain my good attitude towards work. Why? Well, the picture that is taking shape is reminding me and emphasizing for me that I am making the right decisions going forward. In fact, I feel like I will be followed by others. Still others will remain trapped of their own volition (tenure tends to remove your ability to recognize when you should jump ship).

So, my attitude today is one of refining my route and moving forward along it. I will keep moving forward and work at keeping my attitude positive and resilient.

Go have a positive weekend!

Friday Thoughts: Oops, I did it again

Totally didn’t get to my morning post. Still writing syllabi like a fiend. Oh, hey. What if a fiend really did write syllabi? What would those look like? Hmmmmm. Must. Work. On. Syllabi. Must. Not. Get. Distracted….

Seriously, back to work. More later.

Friday Thoughts: Late Afternoon…

I missed blogging this morning due to sheer, unadulterated sloth. Just didn’t feel like moving off the couch. This has happened before and in the same time frame. The closer it gets to the start of the semester, whether fall or spring, the less inclined I am to do the work that’s required of me. Every semester I swear I’ll get an earlier start so I’m not hammering along as the semester starts. And, like clockwork, every year, two weeks before the start of the semester, I’m doing any but prepping classes. At this point in my career, I’m just going along with it.

I’ve been avoiding the news, aside from skimming headlines to make sure we’re not involved in yet another war, or that California hasn’t fallen off the continent after the “Big One” earthquake. I’m a much happier person if I just keep up with news and information versus dwelling on it and getting into meaningless Facebook arguments. And, I find that I like the happier me much better than I do the deeply involved and “very concerned” me.

This may seem like a “no duh” sort of statement, but actually recognizing that I feel happier is something of a revelation. It’s a lighter feeling; I have more energy to pour into other aspects of my life.(even class prep!). I pay more attention to what’s going on in my immediate surroundings and more attention to the people in those surroundings. I sat on the bus this afternoon on my way home and just watched the neighborhood go by, looked at the people on the bus and tried to guess where they were going and from where did they start (the family of tourists was pretty easy since son was holding a map and checking it as the bus made stops). Just idle speculation with no real purpose, but enjoyable nonetheless. And, bonus: I didn’t wind up with a crick in my neck from staring down at my phone. Win!

Home, doing laundry and looking forward to a quiet evening with Mike. Enjoy the weekend, all!

Friday Morning Thoughts: Good-bye 2018

To paraphrase the opening line of Anna Karenina, happy families are all alike. Unhappy families are unique in their unhappiness; or as is sometimes the case, in their weirdness. Here we sit at the end of 2018. I’m currently sitting in my father-in-law’s house while his wife cooks breakfast. So far for the last four days we’ve done a lot of eating and a lot of driving between father-in-law and mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Always an interesting balance.

This year, FiL’s wife had several different families over (she has four children); daughter and family live in the house behind this one, and one son and his family were up from LA until the day after Christmas. Another son and his kids came down from Sonoma for a visit yesterday. Mike and I have only met most of these people once, maybe twice. We ended up going for a walk for an hour or so to get away from the chaos and our feeling awkward and out of place. Somehow, that never happens with my family. Or at least I don’t feel like it does. Even Mike says it feels different. Maybe it’s because we are now the elders of the family and therefore we are keeping things together. But, I don’t see the significant others/partners sitting apart from the rest and it seems that Mike and I do at some of his side of the family gathering.

That feeling got me thinking. How out of place do people feel in blended families? In this case, my FiL has been with his wife for 25 years; he’s seen these grandkids, and now great-grandkids grow up. They call him Grampa Jim. Mike & I are not really a part of this family as much as my FiL would like it. Sometimes it’s almost as if people want my MiL to just disappear. Which, of course, is not going to happen, especially not for my husband, her eldest child. I don’t know. I’m rambling, but it’s been a weird week.

Today will be a day of hanging out. I will try to get some writing done and maybe we will go for a walk. Tomorrow, we head down to Santa Cruz to visit with Mike’s other sister and her family. And, meet up with mother-in-law and first sister-in-law (are you confused yet? I know I am). As usual, I’m just along for the ride. We head home this weekend and back to our comfortable routine. We’ll shake that up soon enough.

Friday Morning Thoughts: Family & Christmas*

It’s the Friday before Christmas, which this year falls on a Tuesday. We are in California visiting family. Between the two of us we have several visits to make. In my case, my family does a big pre-Christmas Christmas the weekend before the actual day. This means that everybody gets together at one house and we eat, hang out, and exchange gifts and generally raise a ruckus. In other words, a lot of fun.

My husband’s family is our other crew. This is a bit more complex and jigsaw puzzle-like. We have to juggle my father-in-law, his wife, my mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law, and brother-in-law and wife. This usually entails Christmas Eve in one place, Christmas breakfast in another, and Christmas dinner in yet another. We drive around the Sacramento area A LOT.

It’s always nice to be back in California for the holidays. I have to admit, I don’t require a white Christmas in order to get into the spirit. A warm Christmas works just fine. What makes Christmas a bit more challenging out here is the amount of planning and re-planning that goes into each visit. I know that we’re not alone in dealing with this; plenty of other people travel back and forth between parents. Hell, there was even a movie, Four Christmases, that took on that challenge. We only have three and one of those is not on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, so I feel lucky. We get to spend time with family, eat good food, and be back in California.

We even braved a mall today. And, made it out alive! At least we’re not flying to Portland on Tuesday.

*OK, so it’s Friday afternoon. Whatever.

Friday Morning Thoughts: Jumping on the offensensitivity* bandwagon

Lately, it seems as if everybody is looking for reasons to be offended. The latest petty reason that’s come to my attention is the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”.  Bored Panda had a short piece that highlighted an English teacher’s discussion (maybe it could be called a reverse fisking) of the lyrics of that song. In that discussion the teacher explains that given the social mores of the day (1940s) the woman in the song is trying to figure out a socially plausible reason for spending the night with the man. He’s also working on persuading her to stay. In the end, as the teacher notes, yes, it could be seen as “rapey” (the guy is working hard to get her to stay), but it’s also a level of empowerment for the woman as she wants to stay, but has to figure out a way to do so without harming her reputation.

I posted this link on Facebook with the simple comment that this provided an interesting take on the song. The reaction was mixed, but what stood out to me the most was the response of a college friend (really not a good friend, just one of those you happen to reconnect with on FB, but who was not a close friend during college). This woman is far to the left and swallows anything coming out from the opinion arbiters on that side of the political spectrum almost without thought. And, her reaction to my post was no exception to that. Full bore “how dense can you people be?!” response. I initially responded with asking if she’d read the entire post, and copying the images of the teacher’s tweet/instagram response. A few minutes later I reconsidered and deleted my comments hoping she hadn’t seen them yet and wanting simply to ignore her comments. No such luck. Another comment along the lines of “I can’t believe you’re such an apologist for this crap!”.  This one I’m ignoring.

This friend is typical of many on the left, or those who wish to be seen as on the left, who simply do not want to engage in any kind of discourse (while loudly proclaiming that they do). I know this is not a shock to many people, but when I run across it proclaimed so blatantly, it just sticks out; and most especially sticks out when it’s an otherwise competent and intelligent person. I am getting stronger about speaking out and holding my own ground as opposed to employing a go-along/get-along strategy. Mostly I’ve grown tired of getting yelled at for holding views that differ from what is considered by the woke crowd to be wrongthink. I’m just done. You want to be offended? Fine. Be offended. Spend your energy in a useless fashion. Me? I’m gonna be over here enjoying life.

Now, I’m off to ignore Facebook. 

*I first saw the word “offensensitivity” in a Bloom County cartoon. All credit to Burke Breathed and Opus.

Friday morning thoughts: Change

Sarah Hoyt had a great post about emerging from a cocoon and being a different person than you were at 7 or 18 or last night. That got me thinking about changes in my past and changes coming up in my future.

Right now, the Center of My Being and I are figuring out when we are going to move back west of the Rockies. We want to be closer to family; his parents are aging, all but one of his siblings and closest cousins are in California, my cousins are up and down the West Coast. It makes a lot of sense to move back. It is also an absolutely crazy idea. I have tenure; an impossible-to-fire-me job. Why the hell would I think about giving that up for the insecurity of adjuncting, or working in the “real world”, or, as I will be doing, writing full time?

There are many reasons for doing something that appears to be quite crazy on the surface. For one, I can’t expect him to remain 3,000 miles from his family when he put up with my parents in close proximity for as long as he did. Secondly, I made a promise when we first left California, that after tenure, the next major move we made would be because he found the cool job. Finally, I’ve come to realize over the last two to three years what my father was talking about when he fussed that tenure was a trap of sorts. I scoffed at the time and said, how can having a guaranteed job be a trap??

Well, I found out. You get to the point where you will put up with innumerable indignities because you KNOW you can’t leave this job…you have tenure! You fight the EXACT SAME battles again and again and again. A really ugly version of “Groundhog Day.” The same colleagues react the same way to the same battles…it really never changes.

I had a sabbatical last spring (OK, so tenure has some really great bonuses…sabbaticals are one of them). As I settled in to do research (the reason for the sabbatical), I realized that this just did not make me happy or interested or anything. I started teaching myself German (you have to totally check out Gabriel Wyner’s site fluent-forever.com…no, I don’t get paid for endorsing it, it’s simply that good) and had a blast and now I’m coversationally fluent. I also read my first ever self-help-figure-yourself-out book. Rather eye-opening. Then, I added an opening line for a book to a FB comment string…then I started writing…Now, 11 months later, I’m about to finish my first ever work of fiction. I have plans for two more in this series; I’m building another world for another series; I have outlines for at least three short stories.  I’m having a blast AND with indie publishing, I can do this. This makes me very, very excited and happy.

So, we’re leaving. Not sure exactly where to yet, but west of the Rockies or thereabouts.  And, I’m going to become a recovering Academic. And, I’m really very happy about it.