Tag Archives: writing

How Does One Make the Perfect Life Choices?

I’m sitting in an airport waiting for a delayed flight, wearing bright orange compression socks, thinking about the latest book I’m writing. It’s been harder to write.

The main character is divorced. She was pregnant when her husband left her for her friend and she had to quickly get a job. She goes back to school to get a secondary education degree because her bachelor’s was in English.  

She had planned on getting a Master’s and possibly a Doctorate in English but then she met John. They fell in love. He got a job and they got married and she didn’t get a Master’s. When she got pregnant with their first child, she kept working. Then the two of them together decided she would stay home with their son. After childcare costs, it made more sense. And he made enough. Plus, she believed her kids would be better off if one of them could stay home. He made more, so she stayed home. She often thought about getting her Master’s, but then a kid would get sick and she wondered how she would do it all. She kept putting it off.

Until the day her husband came home and said he wanted a divorce.

She doesn’t think much about her choices (Why bother? It won’t help) until she has to work with a graduate of hers who has just finished her bachelors and wants to go get her Master’s. But she met this guy….

So Grace looks over at all of her decisions.

And this is where I’m stumped.  

Of course women should get an education and support themselves. Of course they should accomplish all they want to accomplish. But what if the two spouses decide that one parent could stay home. They think it would be better for the kids. But then the spouse who stays home loses potential income. Loses years of experience. May pass up on education that would help because they put their trust in their spouse.

Is this possible anymore?

Do both parents need to always work because relationships seem to be so fluid these days?

I stay home. Yes, I’ve had different jobs and done different things, but when I thought of applying to be a substitute teacher and saw they wanted 3 professional references, I started to cry and didn’t finish the application. I couldn’t think of a professional reference. Sure, I had people who would give me a reference, but I hadn’t worked for anyone in years.  

At the same time, I think having one parent able to stay home is great for a family. I think I’m slowly going insane, but besides that, I think it’s a good idea. If possible.

I had a parent home until I was about 12 or 13 and then I would come home and be alone for about an hour. It wasn’t that big a deal. I would do my homework and watch Days of Our Lives. The worst thing I did was eat a whole box of Kudos and then throw up. I never ate another Kudos again and I’m not even sure they make them anymore. They probably heard my story and realized they didn’t have a future.

But I remember when I missed the bus and I couldn’t get a hold of anyone. I was scared. I thought I’d have to stay at the school over night. My neighbor came and got me and it wasn’t a big deal except for the 30 minutes when it was.

I’m around if my kids forget their lunches or nice clothes for a presentation. I pick them up for appointments and make sure things generally run smoothly.

Except for those times when I mix appointments up and I show up at the right time a day late. Or when I give each kid a different kid’s lunch so when I see one on the counter and it says my youngest’s name but I know I gave him something, I just eat that lunch myself.

I’m not a very domestic stay at home mom but I’m a “I’m here if you need me” one.  

As I write from my character’s point of view, I wonder if this is still a good idea.

If I went back into the workforce and actually used my law degree, I would never make the money I would’ve made had I stayed working. I’m so far out of the game, I wonder if I could get a job.  

Some people volunteer and keep up their resume that way. I haven’t kept a file of what I’ve done. I think I was taught you don’t get credit for volunteer work. It’s a service. (And if it gets around that I’m a helpful person, people may actually ask me for help. No one wants that.)  

So what’s the answer?

Is staying home still a viable option?  

How does one make the perfect choices in life? And never regret them?

I would love to hear your views.

#IamWriting

I’m having a writer problem. I don’t think it’s writers block because I can still make stuff up. But I’m unsure there’s much of a plot.   I need a third character who has serious issues and that isn’t happening. 

I have one character who hates another character and a different one who doesn’t like her ex-husband and there’s a nurse and a police officer and a bunch of Fed-Ex-like delivery guys.  And a girl named Grace.  A guy named John.  And some other people.  

So with that being the basis of the story, I’m sure you’re shocked I have a problem.

But, alas, I do.

So I’m doing what anyone in my situation would do. 

I’m watching true crime documentaries. 

I watched the OJ show when it was on and then I read and watched all I could on it.  (Okay.  This wasn’t a documentary.  Although there could be a documentary on John Travolta’s eyebrows.  But I watched a bunch of news shows about OJ as well.). (And I watched Oprah.) 

 Then I watched 30 for 30 Fantastic Lies about the Duke Lacrosse team in 2006. 

Now it’s The Staircase.  I just started this.  This is about a woman who fell down the stairs. According to her husband. But police don’t think that could’ve been the case. 

I keep thinking I’ll find a disturbing character in one of these shows. And I’m finding disturbing characters. They’re just too disturbing. 

Any suggestions are welcome. 

And Chocolate.  I need lots and lots of chocolate.

And more shoes. 

The Question of an Affair

For about a month, I was paralyzed when I tried to write. I wasn’t sure if I should write fiction or personal essay or what.  
I always seem to write about women and things women deal with. I think this is because I’m a woman dealing with things.
But I could be wrong.
So I’m writing about women dealing with life based on some real life experiences. It’s a huge miss-mash and mostly dialogue, but I’m writing. And that’s the point.
But I don’t understand the motivations for one character and I don’t know what to do about it
One of my characters had an affair. I am not happy about this. I don’t know if I’m mad she had an affair because she was married and the guy she had an affair with was married and that’s just wrong or if I’m mad because I don’t like her as a character. Is there something wrong with her innately? Or am I upset at her actions? If I were friends with her when she had the affair, would I be more understanding? Or am I more upset because I’m friends with the character who was married to the guy she chose to hook up with? Or is it all 3? Or was that 4?
I have no idea.
But I do know that the words are coming and I look forward to writing. I am going to have to edit out quite a few “I wanted to punch her in the face” sentence fragments, but that’s not for a while.  

(Before you think I’m overly violent, I am borrowing that phrase from a friend who will punch you in the face if you tell her you are eating clean. I don’t think she likes the phrase “eating clean.” But maybe she just likes punching people in the face. Hard to know.)
In fact, there is going to be so much editing, I’m not thinking about it. Half of what I’m writing will end up on the cutting room floor. The subject of the piece has already changed from the affair being the central theme to being a stay at home mom being more the central theme… And how vulnerable stay at home moms are.
And because that’s becoming a central theme, I think the affair upsets me even more.
What do you think about affairs? Do you think it would matter if you were friends with someone who had one? Would you be more understanding? Would you end the friendship? Would you maintain the friendship to try to “help” your friend? Would it matter if your friend was single and the guy was married or if your friend was married and the guy was single? If both were married? Is there ever a reason to make it okay?
It’s all just so confusing. I’m going to watch The Bachelor and see if it enlightens me.

Surrey International Writers’ Conference

I went to SIWC this year.  It was a very good time.  I got to see good friends and I got to spend a day in Vancouver where my friend and I rode a tandem around Stanley Park while wearing helmets and looking totes fab.  I’d never been on a tandem where you could change gears.  I guess I still haven’t technically because when I tried, the chain came off.  But a nice guy helped us get it back on after my friend was already covered in grease.  We only thought we were going to die twice and the poutine we had in McDonald’s afterwards was poutine from McDonald’s.

Good Times.

I’ve got to say I love Vancouver.  It has the greatest little water taxis and people are incredibly nice and the food was amazing.  We even got to walk East Hastings Street which we found out very quickly, one should not do.  And if one finds oneself on said street, one should go to another street.  But I did find a great place to buy gear if I ever decide to become a stripper.

Then we went to the conference and Jasper Fforde. was there.  I love Jasper Fforde.  He wrote The Eyre Affair and tons of other books.  You should read them.  They’re amazing.  But this was the first time I was going to meet an author I had read before finding out they would be at the conference.  And I was very excited.

And I let everyone know.

On the first day, when they introduced everyone, I watched for him and memorized what he was wearing so that during lunch I could stalk him.  But then his name tag was turned around and I wasn’t positive it was him.  Luckily the author/SIWC board member in front of me asked how I looked familiar and I said I was a Calgary writer wanna be and then I told her I was trying to stalk Jasper Fforde.  She then politely called over to him so that I knew that was him for sure and asked him a question.  It was all very well done and not creepy at all.

Then I went to the two panels he was on that day.  Or maybe it was only one.  When I saw him in the hall, I started talking to him and we had a wonderful chat and I knew that my plan to go to every one of his classes was the correct one and still not creepy at all.

And just to show how not creepy I was, I even saw him in the club room and didn’t go and try to steal the egg roll off of his plate.  (Seinfeld reference there.)

The next day I went to another panel class and then it was time for the “Lunch with a presenter” lunch.  They make the presenters sit with us commoners.  And I wanted to sit at his table.  But he kept talking to people in the buffet line.  So luckily a SIWC volunteer saw me and asked how my stalking was going and if I was going to sit at his table and I said yes but I didn’t know which one it was because he wouldn’t get out of the stupid buffet line and then he finally did and actually sat down right behind where I was standing which didn’t make it awkward at all to turn around while holding a plate of food and nonchalantly sit across from him.

Then I went to two more of his classes and then asked him to sign four books and then I walked away to never see him again.  Sort of.  I mean there was still half a day but I’m only good at stalking for two days.  Then I get tired.

Overall, it was the most successful stalking I have ever done.  (It’s actually the only stalking I’ve ever done unless you want to count volunteering for Montana Book and Toy bookstore so I could be near David Sedaris all night Tuesday, but that was more a civic duty.)

And I feel good about it.

I should get these for stalking

I should get these for stalking

Where Have I Been?

I have a lot to catch you up on.  My family and I went to Honduras and I went to a writing conference where I learned Ned Stark is NOT Tony Stark’s dad.  But the reason I have not been here lately is (laziness but let’s not be honest about this) due to a traumatic event in my life.

That's an elk hoof.  or foot.  No longer part of the elk.  And that's my kitchen floor.

That’s an elk hoof. or foot. No longer part of the elk. And that’s my kitchen floor.

My husband shot an elk.  Not a big deal.  But then when my son asked if they could bring home a leg for the dog, my husband said, “sure.”

While everyone was gone, the dog brought it into my house and dragged it around.  (Once you bring an elk leg home, the house is no longer yours.)

I screamed.  I locked myself in my room with Oreos.  But the side door was open and the dog brought the elk hoof INTO MY ROOM.

I called a friend’s husband to come remove it, but once he got on the phone, I felt too proud to ask him to come over to move the hoof 2 feet to the porch.  I made him stay on the line as I kicked it out the door, however.  And when the skin wrapped around my ankle, I screamed.

But it was out of the house.

I thanked Chad for being there for me and then I hung up the phone.  Only for the stupid, yet fast, dog to bring it back inside the house but this time to the door of my bedroom.  I quickly shut all doors leading out of my bedroom and waited until my 8 year old got home so he could take care of it.

My husband posted on Facebook how dead he was and the majority suggested he buy me a pair of shoes.

As luck would have it, I had a new pair that I was saving as a reward for something.  (I buy myself rewards before I figure out how I’m earning them because I’m more motivated to do something- anything- then.)

They were incredibly expensive shoes (for me.  Not Jimmy Choo expensive.  But more than Nordstrom Rack.)  I was saving them for something big.

But I’ve decided to listen to the people and wear them as a reward for battling an elk hoof and coming out alive.

That elk has ended up being the most expensive chew toy my dog has ever had.

(Although you may think I would be willing to go through this again for another pair of shoes, you would be wrong.  I would much rather earn them by finishing a manuscript or running a half marathon.  Or getting a minimum wage job and saving up.)

The shoes deserve their own web page so expect to see them soon.

What’s your Opinion on What’s Appropriate?

I’m thinking more about what I’m writing lately.  I got called out on a blog post and a Facebook post.  Perhaps I don’t think before I write as much as I should.

At the same time, my English professor did tell me “Don’t change the names of the guilty.”  (I feel as though I should add that my English professor was Louise Plummer.)

But do the names need to be included at all?

I thought I wrote an incredibly vague post and then found out not everyone thought it was vague.  (And then I found out it could apply to more than one person I knew and so that caused some confusion because I realized it was too vague.)

What do you think?  Do you think you should feel bad about misinterpretation or a joke?  Should a person remove a post if it is taken the wrong way?  Or does it depend on how wrong it was taken?  Is this blog my interpretation so I can say whatever I want or does that disrespect others around me?

Should I shut down the blog and stick with fiction?  Remove myself from social media and just watch others from my desk?

Move to Hawaii and learn to surf?

Okay.  Having tried surfing, I think that last one won’t be happening.  No matter how many 19 year old boys try to teach me.  And I’d prefer England over Hawaii.

But I think I’m digressing from the point.

I recently listened to a Fresh Air Podcast on the Univision anchor Jorge Ramos who was thrown out of a news conference by Donald Trump’s body guard.  It brought up freedom of the press and avoiding topics you don’t want to answer.  (Trump didn’t want to answer specific questions about his immigration policy.  It’s a great podcast and brings up some great points.  Listen to it.)

But is a personal blog the same thing?  Do I have the same freedom to write my viewpoint the way I see it?  Is there a line?  Can I say what I want unless it’s just mean?

I read a blog once where the author posted pictures of little kids and made fun of the fact four or so girls wore the same style dress.  Is that too far?  Are little kids the limit?  Would it be okay if it were four women wearing the same dress to the holiday party?

What do you think?  I’m interested to know…

(And I am also completely willing to go surfing in Hawaii if someone wants me to go with them.  I want to MAKE IT CLEAR I’m not against surfing in Hawaii.  I would love to surf in Hawaii.  I love Hawaii.  I love surfing.  I’m leaving any statement about 19 year olds alone.)

Hugs.

If you need three pieces of camouflage luggage, you're bringing too much while hunting.  (This statement applies to no one in particular)

If you need three pieces of camouflage luggage, you’re bringing too much while hunting. (This statement applies to no one in particular)

 

How CrossFit Increases Spirituality

Today, my husband and I finished the intro for CrossFit.

Congratulations to us!

Except

I don’t want to do the real class.  The intro classes scared me to death.  It was hard.  Really hard.  And there were a lot of squats.  More than necessary.  I don’t care how many times Kyle tells us it’s an everyday activity.  No one does that many squats in any everyday activity I know of.  And if you do, you should just stay down.

And I promise to never do another activity that makes me squat then throw a ball against a wall.  Especially an activity that makes me do that over and over for five minutes.

It really hurts.

I don’t like pain.

And now I’m working out every day of the week and then praying during the weekend.

I’m a writer.  I’m supposed to have soft, uncalloused hands and carpal tunnel syndrome.

But next week, we start the real class.

I guess I’ll be praying on week days too, then.

(I would include a picture, but my phone is on the ground and I can’t squat down to get it right now.)

FISHBOWL BOOK LAUNCH

September 12th was Bradley Somer’s book launch for Fishbowl.

IMG_3744 Rebecca Stanfel and I drove up to Calgary for it.  It’s a mere 6 hour drive if you actually know where you are going.

Therefore, it took us 7.

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Macleod Trail is under construction. DO NOT TAKE THIS ROAD. But if you do, you can strike up a nice conversation with a bride you will drive next to for half an hour.


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What is nice about Canada is the fact they let you know that they are not putting down recycled roads from, say, Toronto, but they are using NEW asphalt.

Brad knows how to throw a party.  He did a few readings, had a band and then had a drag show to tie everything up.  (Which it did.  Read the book.)

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Everyone is riveted!


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I’ve never seen the Sound of Music in drag but I also haven’t laughed this hard in a very, very long time.


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This is the world’s greatest writing group of which I am not a part. But they are Canadian so they were too polite to ask me to get out of the picture.


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Rebecca and me! We had such a great time. Everyone should road trip with her. NOW.

I loaded up on chocolate and gripe water with alcohol to give to my kids when they aren’t really sick but think they are so it looks like I’m doing SOMETHING and headed home.

I highly recommend going to Brad’s next book launch which he doesn’t think he is going to do.

But he will.

And if he doesn’t, we can just all meet up at his house on a Tuesday at about 6:15pm for dinner.  I hear Poutine is AMAZING.

 

Holy Toledo, Batman

I am having serious issues.

Thank you for not commenting.

I’m experimenting with writing personal essay and articles.  I’ve been blogging for so long that I don’t know how to write correctly.  I’m used to just throwing my thoughts down on a piece of computer screen and calling it a day.

And now I’m trying to combine blogging with five paragraph essays and seeing what happens.

Due to the fact that I cannot seem to do more than two things at once, I’ve pushed away blogging.  (The other thing I’m doing rotates between housework and studying Spanish.)

So I’m going to be honest.  I’m about to write a few blogs that will come out over the next week or so.  I’m going to talk about my amazing new cooking ability; the book launch I went to in Canada with drag queens; and how to end global warming.

(The book launch had drag queens.  I did not go to Canada with any.  Although that would’ve been a blast.)

Then I’m going to ignore you and try to write brilliant and global pieces on canning; coming to grips with being a feminist and a stay at home mom; how I have no domestic training and yet my children are not malnourished; and how to end global warming.

And I’m editing to get ready for the Surrey Writing Conference.

And trying to train this dog.

And giving up white sugar and flour.

What can I say?  This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever tried to do.

All while ending global warming.

This is an abstract image of my life.

This is an abstract image of my life.

Fishbowl

I’m very lucky to be friends with Bradley Somer.  Everyone should be.  Here’s his number.

I’m also very lucky to have received an advance copy of Fishbowl.

It is wonderful.

I loved reading it.

And before I tell you why, here is the synopsis you can find on Amazon.

A goldfish named Ian is falling from the 27th-floor balcony on which his fishbowl sits. He’s longed for adventure, so when the opportunity arises, he escapes from his bowl, clears the balcony railing and finds himself airborne. Plummeting toward the street below, Ian witnesses the lives of the Seville on Roxy residents.

There’s the handsome grad student, his girlfriend, and his mistress; the construction worker who feels trapped by a secret; the building’s super who feels invisible and alone; the pregnant woman on bed rest who craves a forbidden ice cream sandwich; the shut-in for whom dirty talk, and quiche, are a way of life; and home-schooled Herman, a boy who thinks he can travel through time. Though they share time and space, they have something even more important in common: each faces a decision that will affect the course of their lives. Within the walls of the Seville are stories of love, new life, and death, of facing the ugly truth of who one has been and the beautiful truth of who one can become.

Sometimes taking a risk is the only way to move forward with our lives. As Ian the goldfish knows, “An entire life devoted to a fishbowl will make one die an old fish with not one adventure had.”

I cannot begin to tell you how much I wanted to move into this building and watch all of this happen.  I fell into the characters’ lives and didn’t want to leave them.  I DID NOT want to know what the construction worker’s secret was while I DID want to hug the lonely building super.  (Except not really.  He sweats a lot in his job.)

I questioned how much of me was the grad student’s girlfriend whose talent was falling in love when I was dating a grad student in my 20’s.

“Kate is aware of her affliction of falling in love more quickly and for fewer reasons than most need.  Its not that she doesn’t realize the heartbreak this has caused in her life, but she refuses to quell her romantic heart because it brings her joy as well.”

I do not want to admit to how much this was me in college.

It always amazes me how much can happen to different people all at the same time.  Brad has captured how lives cross without people even realizing it.  He has captured birth and death and everything in between.  He captured how we all just want to be happy and have good lives.  But we all do that so differently.

At least the people at the Seville on Roxy do.

This book is the perfect read for cool, fall nights when you just want to sit down and have a cup of hot chocolate with a group of friends.  People you can sit back with and just smile because each one is in your life.

I loved it.  You should read it.

(Why are you still here?  You should be at your local bookstore.  It’s okay.  Leave your computer open.  I’ll be here when you get back and we can discuss how good Claire is at her job.)