A New Approach: Books on the side

It’s been four weeks since my last post. To be honest I thought it had been longer. It feels like it’s been longer, but that’s probably because of the time of year that it is (was)-
back to school time.
Back-to-school is always a pretty busy time of year so I probably shouldn’t be too hard on myself for slacking off on my blog, but I am a little disappointed in myself. I’ve started and then abandoned a blog more times than I can now count, I’ve lost track. I’m not proud of this, I’m actually a little embarrassed by it. I don’t like to be the type of person who says they’ll do something but then doesn’t follow through.

So here I am again, four weeks later, picking it back up. And I actually had to sort of make myself do this today. Pitiful.
There are several reasons why I decided to come back to this blog today, several reasons why I decided to keep plugging away.

  1. A lot of people know that I am attempting to be a “blogger”, some people even consider me a writer. I want to live up to this if at all possible, or at least give it more than a half-ass try.
  2. My husband got me this nice, expensive laptop for Christmas last year and the whole point of me asking for it was so that I would be able to blog. I need to do what I said I was going to do. It’s important to me that I be true to my word.
  3. I realize there needs to be more to me and my life than husband and kids.

One day my kids will be grown. They’ll be gone. Even if they still live close to home, even if they still live at home, the kids I know and adore today will be gone. Because they won’t be kids anymore and it will be oh-so-different. I know this because my son is fifteen. Obviously I can’t hold him and kiss him the way I used to. It’s a different relationship now. Luckily, my daughter is only eight so I can still hug her and hold her and smother her face with kisses. XOXO  And it’s a good thing too, otherwise I would be very lonely right now.

But one day that will change too. My daughter will grow up and I won’t be able to hold her anymore. And then I’ll have to get a puppy.

My point is, I know there has to be more to me and my life than my family. I don’t want to wait until the kids are grown and gone to start something for me. I want to already have it in place. Besides, I think it will make my kids respect me more and help them see me as more of an actual person. Having interesting, successful parents- parents they can be proud of- is important for kids. It’s good for the development of their own identities, and it’s good for the adult relationship between parent and child.
This is why I think it’s important that I keep blogging and writing.

I’ve almost always wanted to be a writer. I can remember thinking in fifth grade that what I wanted to be when I grew up was a writer. And from then on that’s what I always talked about doing. But I’ve always been too scared to actually do it. Besides, even if I did write an entire novel, how in the world do you get published?! Where do I send it? Who do I send it to?
I’ve tried looking into this a little bit but it’s so overwhelming, and now with ebooks and the internet making it so easy to self publish- it seems even more overwhelming to me.

However, I don’t want to give up on writing entirely. So I came up with a plan to help me keep going. First, I have given myself permission to choose something else to do in addition to writing. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before, I don’t know why I thought I had to choose one or the other. For about the last 6 months I have thought about taking some art classes. I’d also like to (maybe) do some “crafting”- but to me that still falls into the art category. I told my husband the other night,
“Hun, I don’t think I want to be a writer. I think I want to be an artist.”
He said ok.
I then said, “Would you be disappointed in me if I decided not to be a writer?”
He said no.
What I didn’t say in that moment was that I think I would be happier doing art vs. only writing. Writing can be exhausting!  Not to mention frustrating and depressing, at least for me. Most of the time I put a lot of time and effort into something but end up with very little in return- almost no one reads it, and I myself am rarely ever completely satisfied with my end product. I can’t stop editing!!! Writing is a very solitary thing, perhaps even isolating. It can be very lonely, which can be depressing. And I’m not saying anything that many, many other writers (if not all writers) have said before.

With me being already so prone to depression I figure I should have something else in addition to writing. Something that is easy to share with others, something that will naturally lead to me being around other people rather than alone with my laptop. I think art can fit that bill. Art classes are plentiful, accessible, and affordable.
And I used to be pretty good at it back in school. My creations were always being chosen to be shown in various shows…. But I never got to see them. My parents never took me to the events where my art was being displayed. That makes me so sad. That’s another reason I want to try it- I want a second chance to experience that. I think it would be good for me; good for my psyche, good for my soul.
As I mentioned above, when I write I am rarely completely satisfied with the end result, but when I do something more creative- something that involves color and the use of my hands-  I’m more likely to feel satisfied, even happy. And, like I said, it’s easier to share with others. For example, card making. Occasionally I will make cards- birthday cards, thank you cards, Christmas cards, etc. It’s fun and it’s very purpose is to be shared with someone else. I want to do more of that kind of thing.

But I don’t want to give up writing entirely. The most realistic way for me to continue writing is actually this blog, especially if I do it in more of a journal style. That’s the kind of writing I’m best at anyway- less structure, just let the random thoughts flow. If I allow myself to do that I’m more likely to sit down and do it. I wanted this to be a book blog, that’s the type of blog I’ve wanted to do from the beginning, but I discovered something. I love to read, but lately when I’ve been reading with the specific intention of writing a review/blog post it takes away the enjoyment that I usually get from reading.

So I realized that I needed to take a step back and rethink this blog. Should I give it up altogether? Should I completely change the type of blog that it is? I didn’t want to do either so I found a middle path. I’ll continue with the blog but switch to a more intimate, diary-like type of approach. I’ll focus more on the details of my life and inner world. Considering everything I’ve been through (and what I continue to deal with), all the therapy I’ve done, the tremendous growth I’ve experienced– I have a lot to offer. Maybe that should be the main course and books can be on the side. I’ll still want to share my thoughts on books sometimes, but not always. I have to allow myself that flexibility.

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Self-soothing my way through depression

Ho-hum. ; (

I’m a little bummed.

Sorry for the lame rhyme…

But I really am a little upset, maybe even more than a little- maybe a lot. I’m a lot upset! I’m mad and sad and frustrated and… I think, basically, I’m a little depressed. I’m sure lack of sleep has something to do with it, and a sinus headache…. But mostly it’s because I’m putting a lot into this blog and I’m not getting much in return. It’s very disappointing.

Yeah, yeah, yeah– I know I need to give it more time. It hasn’t even been a year. And I know there are other things I need to do in order to gain followers and readers. But I put a lot of hard work into “The Alice Coincidences” and “Ripple, the Water-Spirit”!
And for what!? I get zilch! Nothing! Nada!
And it isn’t fair. It’s good stuff- I know it is, and I think it deserves to be read by somebody. It may not be the best writing or blogging ever, it may not be award-winning, but it is good; and, like I said, I put a lot of hard work into it. And a lot of time! I deserve for it to be read, not ignored. (To be fair, I did get three likes on Ripple, the Water-Spirit.)

I’m sorry I’m whining about it but not talking about solutions, or even asking for them. What to do to make this blog more successful is not the point of this particular post, neither is wallowing in self-pity. Given my mental and emotional challenges (anxiety, depression) it’s best for me to not wallow in self-pity, it can snowball very quickly. Although “snow” isn’t really the best visual representation.

Wallowing in self-pity can get pretty dark pretty quickly. For example, all because I was a bit sleep deprived, had a headache, and was feeling disappointed about the lack of activity on my blog, I was ready to completely give up- just delete the whole thing and then cry about it. That’s probably not an entirely atypical reaction, I’m sure many bloggers have felt like giving up- especially when sleep deprived.
However, it got worse. From there I started to question my whole life! I started to become majorly dissatisfied with my house, with myself, with my position as a stay-at-home parent. I started to go down the path of thinking that I have no value at all, that I’m not good at anything, I’m pathetic, I don’t do anything “cool” or significant and I never will, my life is pathetic, I’m pathetic, everyone probably looks at me like I’m pathetic, why bother with anything- everything is pointless…

In other words, I was spiraling. I felt very, very sad and quite hopeless- that is depression. And it’s a problem. I shouldn’t start questioning and doubting myself so harshly just because a blog isn’t going the way I had hoped. It’s okay to be disappointed, but it’s only disappointment– a temporary emotional state. My perspective was obviously way off kilter. I had to remind myself that there were still plenty of reasons to be happy.

It was time for a little “self-soothing” and some left brain activities. So I made myself mentally list all of the little things that make me happy, and what activities I could do that would calm me down. I learned about self-soothing in one of Dr. Marsha Linehan’s books on Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I think it may have also been her book that talks about engaging the left brain when the emotional right brain gets too hyper. At any rate, they’re both about calming down when you feel yourself becoming emotionally overwhelmed.

So, like I said, I made myself think of what makes me happy.
What always makes me happy no matter what? What do I have that will always be there, solid and true, and can’t be taken away or denied?
Well, obviously my first thought was books– namely, Harry Potter and Jane Austen. Because, no matter what, I always have them.
At almost any time I can open a copy of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone and poor, abused, orphaned Harry will find out that he is actually a rich and famous wizard. Every time I open a copy of Jane Austen, her beautifully written words will be there on the page- chocolate for my brain- and the heroine will prevail.
Harry Potter and Jane Austen make me sooooo happy.
My list got easier from there. Next thing I know I’m thinking about how much I like the light-blue interior lights in my car. I decide to wear my red stripped shoes because they make me happy when I look at them. The shoes make me think of my current favorite nail polish, Cherries in the Snow- a bright and cheerful pinkish-red.
Color therapy.
Cherries in the snow reminded me of my snowflake-themed adult coloring book, which reminded me of other color infused left brain activities, like card making and cross-stitching. I think about the Christmas cards or cross-stitch project I could work on. Or I could make a thank you card for my mother-in-law.
I keep going with the Christmas theme. Christmas makes me so happy!  I think about lighting my Holiday Garland scented candle, or going to that one gift shop at the mall that smells like Christmas year round. Or I could go to Macy’s and sample the perfumes.
Aromatherapy.

All very good ideas, but I ended up not doing any of these things. I didn’t need to. Just the thought of them, just simply knowing they were there as options, was enough. Reminding myself of what makes me happy saved the day!
I’m very thankful, and very lucky, to have been introduced to the work of Dr. Lineham and her concept of self-soothing .

What makes you feel better when you’re feeling low? What are your self-soothing activities or exercises? What’s on your Happy list?

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I actually completed my ‘About’ page. I’m satisfied and pretty proud.

Simply put, I love books and I love words. And that’s what this blog is about.

The name says it all. Words and Plots: The words and plots of my favorite books, the words and plots of my life. Hi, I’m Mindy Parrish. I love books, I love to read. My family is crazy.
Books saved my life.

Other (more wordy) ways to describe this blog,

A well organized, well researched, masterfully articulated blog showcasing masterful articulation….
A blog highlighting and celebrating creative, intelligent, inspiring language and stories….
A blog about novels, books, stories, writing, poetry and prose…
A blog about my passion for words and the art of storytelling…
A sophisticated wonderland of quotes, reviews, insights, and intelligent reflections!

Well, I can’t make promises regarding the sophisticated wonderland or intelligent reflections, but I can promise there will be lots of quotes and lots of enthusiastic “reviews” of my favorite novels and short stories. I can also promise venting and raging, monologue style lamentations, and random angry ramblings regarding personal family drama.
After all, “my babbling capabilities are infinite.” (~Lorelai Gilmore)

 

 

I’m Back, Part 1: We’ve got a lot of catching up to do

Sheesh, I’ve got a lot on my mind….

Obviously, first of all, I have to address my 8 month absence. Eight months! That’s embarrassing. It’s not that I didn’t want to write, or that I didn’t have any material or ideas- lack of shit to say is definitely not my problem. If anything I have the opposite problem- too much to say and too many ideas to contend with. I become a bit oppressed and overwhelmed by all of my thoughts and ideas. I try to tell my right-brain that its creative demands are unrealistic but it won’t listen, it just keeps chattering on. It’s fun and all, but also exhausting and it kind of kills my motivation.
However, the main reason I suddenly abandoned this blog, even though it was going so well, is because I didn’t have a working laptop or PC. It was torture trying to use our old, outdated, virus ridden laptop! Torture! That thing couldn’t even handle a simple Word document! The most basic tasks couldn’t be completed in a normal amount of time, if at all.  I tried to make it work, but I eventually had to concede that persisting in what was clearly a lost cause was looking less and less like dedication and more like insanity or obsession. I didn’t have the time or patience to deal with it- what rational person does? What should only take an hour to do was taking four hours. It became too frustrating and disappointing so the right thing to do (for the peace of our household) was put it on hold until I could get a new laptop.
So, for Christmas I told my husband I wanted only one thing- a new laptop. Not just any laptop, but a Macbook. I had heard good things about Macs. I did some research and I was sure I wanted to give Mac a try. Obviously it would cost a lot more but I thought it would be worth it so my husband ordered one for me. I got my Macbook the first week of January and here I am now, finally able to give blogging another go!
I realize that my laptop issue accounts for only half of the time I was “gone.” So what happened between January and now? What stood in my way for those 4 months?
First, it was recovering from the holidays. Once winter break was over and the kids finally went back to school I spent a few weeks alternating between cleaning and re-organizing the house and sitting down to do absolutely nothing! Next, believe it or not, I joined a gym and I was going almost everyday. I was doing really well! But then…. then disaster struck.

About mid-February I had a terrible argument with a friend. This, for me, is a very unusual thing. I’m not a confrontational person. Disagreements make me very uncomfortable, even just minor disagreements that probably wouldn’t bother most people. Unfortunately, what happened with my friend was a lot more than a minor disagreement- we weren’t fist fighting or anything like that! But, still, it was a pretty heated argument and it sent my anxiety soaring. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I have PTSD (among other things) so anxiety is a major issue for me. I’ve done a lot of work in order to be able to manage it and keep it from ruining my life. It took about a week before my anxiety finally started to subside. During that time, in order to dissipate the anxiety, I listened to music, made sure I completed my regular daily chores, and even went to the gym a few times. I was starting to get back to a normal anxiety level, the negative thoughts that had been looping incessantly in my mind had finally slowed down, but I was still a little on edge. The next thing that happened sent me over the edge.

No one in the world can cause me more anxiety than my mother. You might laugh at that statement, but I’m tellin’ you that this is not the normal ‘oh my mom is so annoying’ kind of thing. When I say my mom makes me anxious I mean she scares me. When I was little, even when I was a teenager, she scared the hell out of me. My mom…. I don’t even know how to explain her…. Especially not in a concise way. Once again I feel myself wanting to over explain and add too much detail.
I’ll try not to.
Well, like I said, throughout my childhood my mom scared the hell out of me. Why? Because she’s unpredictable, insecure, needy, emotionally abusive, full of rage, has a bad temper and is capable of violence. Oh, the stories I could tell you…… However, it’s been about six years since the last time I was in a situation with her where I thought she might hurt me, and almost twenty years since she last physically attacked me, but I’m still afraid of her. That fear never left. How could it? Because even when the physical abuse stopped the emotional abuse continued for a long time. Eventually I was able to create boundaries- physical and emotional- that she hasn’t crossed in about five or six years. But 2 months ago she crossed that emotional line…. and I lost it. I lost it.
It all started with the kids…
Overall she’s been a really good, healthy grandmother to my kids. She certainly has been a much better grandparent than she was a parent. Obviously she has less stressors in her life now than what she did when I was a child so she’s able to be more calm and patient. However, over the years there have been little things here and there…. things that we didn’t like, things that the kids didn’t like- things that made them uncomfortable.
Recently it got to the point where the kids decided they didn’t want to spend the night at her house anymore. My husband and I had already reduced their time over there as it was, but one Sunday afternoon, after my mom dropped them off, they told us they did not want to go there again. Apparently she had gotten emotional the day before, she was crying and repeatedly questioning them about something they said. Long story short, all they said was that they didn’t want to go to the grocery store. Kids don’t like to go to the grocery store! It’s a very normal, very typical thing. But not for my mother….
Me asking her to please not take them to the store because they don’t like it- I might as well have said, “They don’t want to be seen in public with you, they don’t like you.”
Instead of coming to me to discuss her hurt feelings (not that her feelings should have been hurt!!!) she interrogated the kids. They were very uncomfortable-even a little scared- and it was not the first time she had made them feel uncomfortable with her constant questioning, but it was the worst. So that was it. They had had enough and they started to tell me things they had not told me before- nothing to alert the authorities about but, still, things that I don’t think are appropriate to repeat on a blog. After what they told me I knew there was no way they were going back to her house without us. Ever.
But how to tell her that?
I avoided that conversation for as long as possible. I was so nervous about it. I mean, if she cries and interrogates them because they don’t want to go to the store with her, how was she going to react to me telling her that they don’t want to go to her house?!  Not to mention all my years of past experience reminding me of what she’s capable of when you tell her something she doesn’t want to hear.
So, needless to say, my anxiety regarding this matter was quite elevated.
And don’t forget to add in the anxiety I was still feeling after the argument with my friend.
Now here is where “disaster struck.”
After two or three months I could no longer avoid it. My mom texted me about seeing the kids, specifically about them spending the night with her. We exchanged a few texts and I gathered my courage and told her I needed to talk to her about that. Now, I could have taken the easy way out and continued to text her, but I wanted to be an adult about it. I didn’t want to be afraid of her anymore. So I decided to tell her over the phone.
I told her only 2 of the things the kids had told me. I certainly did not tell her or even indicate to her that we had all noticed a pattern.
At first she seemed to take it ok. She denied it of course. She all but said the kids were lying. That alone was hard enough to process… Either she really didn’t remember doing and saying the things she did, or she was lying and she’d rather accuse her own grandchildren of being dishonest than take responsibility for what she did. I don’t know which is worse or which is more scary… I just simply did not comment on that. I tried to steer the conversation towards the future, like, “Hey! No worries! We can all still hang out, you can just come on over to our house!” I mean, that’s pretty much what I said.
Anyway, like I said, she seemed to take it ok- at first. It even seemed like she was trying to laugh it off and make light of it. But then, little by little, that evil spirit that lives inside her started coming out. And then she did exactly what I should have known she would do. I can’t believe I didn’t see it coming-  She blamed me.
She. Blamed. Me. She started back up with the emotional abuse of the past.
It started while we were still on the phone. One minute we were talking about the kids and I was inviting her to my house, to the movies, to dinner- all of which she declined- and then the next minute she starts talking about me, and about our lack of a warm and fuzzy mother-daughter relationship. We have never had a good relationship. Ever. Not ever. I described her to you- unpredictable, insecure, needy, full of rage, bad temper, capable of violence….
I don’t know what happened to her during her own childhood, but she was broken long before I ever came along. And it is so hard to accept that she will never see the truth, but she won’t. She never has and she never will. In her version of reality I refuse to have a relationship with her and she has no idea why. And that is just absolutely insane.
This is where I struggle the most… Not only did I have to live with her abuse for over twenty years, I have had to struggle to overcome the damage it did to me, AND I’m to blame for the state of our relationship?! It’s just too much. I just can’t believe it. I mean, why in the world would I distance myself from her if I didn’t have a solid reason for it? Why doesn’t she think about that? Does she honestly believe that I don’t engage in a relationship with her just because…. what? I’m a bad person? I just don’t feel like it? No reason at all? Does she really not see that perhaps she might play a role in why things are the way they are?
I do know that she thinks part of the problem is that I don’t “know” her. Okay… once again I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone when she says this, and it’s not the first time she has said this. It’s such an infuriating statement because it is so untrue, it’s the exact opposite of reality! I think to myself,

I don’t know you?!??!  Woman, I know you like prey knows its predator. Knowing you was a matter of survival.”

The real problem is that she doesn’t know herself.

Anyway, like I said, she blamed me. Not only for our lack of relationship, which she has always blamed me for, but also for why the kids don’t want to come to her house anymore. Even after we got off the phone she wouldn’t let it drop. She continued to text me even though I wasn’t responding. It was her final text that really put me over the edge. She texted, “Unfortunately kids learn from their parents.” I’ll paraphrase the rest. She basically said that because I don’t have a relationship with her and because I neglect her the kids are following suit. I set a bad example for my kids. That’s why they don’t want to go to her house…..
So…… it has nothing to do with her or how she behaves or that she makes them uncomfortable and dresses inappropriately! Nope. It’s me- the one who has always encouraged and fostered a healthy relationship between her and her grandchildren despite the  fact that she was terrible to me! How screwed up is that?!

Well, I tried to hang on. I tried not to let it get me down. I did the things I had done before. I listened to music, I tried to keep up with my daily chores, I tried to stay focused on the present moment- especially when I was with the kids…. But I think that’s when I stopped going to the gym. The anxiety and depression were really pulling me down. I was just so mad- so mad!– that she would blame me for anything! I was fuming… and I couldn’t seem to let go of the anger, it just kept building and building, and all of the memories and emotions from the past just kept coming and coming and coming; and then they stayed stuck on a loop- continuously circling and circling, looping and looping in my mind.
I lasted a week before I finally succumbed to the internal madness and stopped fighting the urge to be crazy. I just wanted to be crazy! I wanted to go out and be wild! Fuck it! What did I have to lose??! My father’s an alcoholic! My mother’s crazy! My mother abused me and now she blames me! She abused me but I’m a terrible daughter!???  Well fine then- fuck it! I’m out of here!….
So, like I said, I lost it.

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I went and bought a six pack, drank all of them within a span of 2 1/2 hours, blasted music throughout the house as loud as I could, screamed and hooted and hollered at the top of my lungs, and started to pack a bag. I decided I was gonna go to Jamaica or Vegas. Woohoo! I really did pack a bag too. I made sure I had my passport and a credit card in my purse and I left. At the time, I considered it to be a real possibility that I was going on vacation somewhere, maybe even out of the country! Somewhere where I could dance all day and all night! And I wasn’t coming back for a month!
You might be wondering, “where were the kids when all of this was going on?”
They were in school. My son did come home in the midst of it but I handled it in a very honest, very transparent way…. That’s a whole other story- a short one and not a bad one! He was ok. My husband also knew what was going on and he was only 10 minutes away so we were good. I made sure my son got my daughter off the bus and took her to a friend’s house. She never saw a thing.

In the end all I did was hang out with an old friend for a few hours that night. We actually had a really good talk, she was very helpful. She has similar “mama-drama” issues so she understood, she knew what to say. We were at her house for a while then we went to a bar, it was kind of dead but the music was good. I had fun. It only took a few hours and I was ready to go home. I missed my house, my kids, my husband, and my cat. Not surprisingly, by the time I left the bar I was pretty exhausted, and I was so grateful to have all of that to go home to.

So… that’s what I’ve been up to the last 8 months. Ha! Well, that and recovering from all of that. I’m back in therapy and I’ve started reading again too! Finally! I felt I deserved a treat so one day I went into Barnes & Noble and let myself get a few things- including a beautiful hardback book of short stories, The Snow Queen and Other Winter Tales. It was perfect for me! I have been absolutely loving it and will share more about it in my next post.

 

Making Progress: Blogging, but not reading

In my last post I said that I haven’t been reading lately, which was kind of a lie…. I have been reading, but not anything new. One night a few months ago I picked up the Tao of Pooh again because I couldn’t sleep. It’s an interesting, mildly entertaining read and -most importantly- it was helping me fall asleep. After about 2 weeks The Tao of Pooh was getting annoying so I stopped reading it and started reading Jane Austen instead. I started with both Mansfield Park and Emma and decided to stick with Emma. I’ve been reading that for the last few weeks whenever I’m having trouble falling asleep. Reading Jane Austen is, for me, like eating a warm, gooey grilled cheese sandwich or chocolate chip cookie- it’s comforting.

Sarah Addison Allen wrote, “Sometimes it’s a comfort just to have a book around.”

That’s how I feel about Jane Austen novels. Having them there is a comfort, reading them is soothing. So when I read a Jane Austen novel I’m not reading it to read- I’m reading it for comfort, to relax and calm down. It doesn’t exactly count as reading. Know what I mean?
I swear I’m going to read a new book soon! But not just yet. I’d rather wait until the kids are back in school. Only 8 more days now.
But what to read? ….What to read…?

Think, think, think.

Hmmm… I went to the Dublin Irish Fest this past Friday. Dublin is a suburb of Columbus and its annual Irish Festival is HUGE. Of course I loved it, I always do. It’s amazing. There is so much to do and see and hear at any given moment. It’s a very inspiring atmosphere and it gave me an idea about what I might read next. I discovered last summer that Oscar Wilde is the author responsible for some of the best, most famous quotes ever, and he was Irish. Two of my favorite Wilde quotes:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

and,

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

There is such wisdom in that one especially. Such wisdom. And the same could be said for the company we choose to keep, or the TV and movies we choose to watch. What you put into your mind, who and what you surround yourself with, will undoubtedly influence your personality. I’ve seen and experienced this time and time again.
There are two other quotes I’d like to mention. I can really relate to these.

“I am too fond of reading books to care to write them.”

and,

“Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.”

The last one is basically why this blog exists, the reason why I wanted to start a blog in the first place. I am completely enamored with intelligent, creative language, but that doesn’t mean I’m really good at it! (Oh, how I wish I was!) So I substitute the wit of others in place of my own. Like Mary (played by Jennifer Lopez) says in The Wedding Planner, “Those who can’t wed, plan.” I say, “Those who can’t write, quote.” Or, “Those who aren’t quick, quote.” I think I’m a decent writer, but I know I’m not quick witted- not verbally and not when I’m put on the spot. I’ve had my moments here and there, but it’s not often. However, if I have the time to think about it and write it down, then I have a better chance of displaying some amount of wittiness, but nothing profound. Nothing like Oscar Wilde, or Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees. That entire book is quotable, it’s just one big quote- the whole thing! That’s what prevents me from attempting to write a novel- I don’t think I could write anything that’s as good as what I read. I’ve said I want to write books since I was ten, but so far I’ve been too much of a chicken to do much about it. Sad, isn’t it?

But, you know what makes me happy?
Sally Field as Miss Betsey Trotwood, that’s what!
Sally Field as Miss Betsey Trotwood?! Are you kidding me?!
What delicious bacon-wrapped goodness is this!? What did I do to deserve such a treat?

Much earlier this year I read my first Dickens- David Copperfield. Before reading it I did a little research about the novel and one thing that came up consistently was the strength and quality of the characters, and it did not disappoint. Enough cannot ever be said about the characters in David Copperfield. I could go on and on about that novel but truly it deserves its own post so it will all have to wait until then. Now, back to Sally Field. One night last week it suddenly occurred to me that I had been wanting to see if I could find a David Copperfield movie on Netflix. I ended up finding the TV movie (from 2000) on YouTube and watched it that night. I was up until 3 am! And I was so very pleasantly surprised to see Sally field as Miss Trotwood, I only wish there had been more of her!

When I do start reading maybe I’ll read David Copperfield again…. Or maybe it will be something by Oscar Wilde…. The Importance of Being Earnest… Or The Picture of Dorian Gray…. Hmmm…

Hermione would know what to read next.
Hermione would know what to read next.

Well, this certainly has been an eclectic post. Not the most organized or creative mass of words or ideas, but at least I did it. Getting something out there is better than not posting at all.
My next post will likely be on Monday, August 10th, and will mark (for me) the return of Moon Post Monday. It’s an idea I came up with when I was working on my last blog. I sort of stole the idea from another blog that I like and occasionally read, A Witch’s Ashram. (Formerly a WordPress blog but now on patheos.com.) The author of A Witch’s Ashram does Mantra Monday. I realized that I could do something similar with my collection of “moon quotes.” I love the moon; not for any profound or mystical reason, but simply because it’s pretty. (And doesn’t burn me, unlike the sun…) So over the past few years I have recorded or made note of dozens of moon quotes. Many writers have been inspired by the moon so those quotes are easy to come by. The Monday Moon Post can be as detailed and substantial as I want, or as simple as I may need at the time. It’s the type of post that can be done ahead of time and scheduled for “publishing” at a later date, which makes it a realistic way to ensure I post at least once a week- which, as you know, is essential to a successful blog.
See you Monday….

Starting to see some light

Wow, my first post for this blog was quite lengthy and didn’t contain any visuals- sorry about that. I did go back and add an awesome pic of Alice (as in Wonderland) doing a facepalm.  That first post did, however, contain profanity- which is unusual for my writing- but damn it I needed to vent!
Okay, okay, I’ll stop.

I dumped a whole mess of personal info in that first post. What’s really funny is that when I first attempted a blog (years ago) I had no intention of including anything personal at all. I wanted to focus only on books, quotes, movies, and music/song lyrics. But keeping the personal stuff out of it has proven to be unrealistic. It certainly doesn’t make for very good writing, at least not for me. I have found that it is very difficult to share my thoughts and knowledge without including the grit and chaos that has lead to them. If I mention books like Toxic Parents, The Feminine Mystique, Courage to Change, Emotional Blackmail, Stop Walking On Eggshells, Goddesses In Every Woman, Dance of the Dissident Daughter- I want to be able to say why it is that I’ve read that book. Even the fiction books I read have a connection to the personal, and if I include that then I have a better chance of inspiring readers and giving them something to relate to.

Speaking of personal, I wrote that first post on my dad’s birthday! I didn’t realize that until today. And, speaking of my dad, I actually saw him last night….
First let me say that I never call my dad. I’m not proud of that. He’s always the one doing the calling. Half the time I don’t even answer, but that’s because I know he’s been drinking and sometimes I just don’t have the patience to handle it. It’s not like I can have a real conversation with him. His personality during his intoxicated state has gotten worse over the years. It’s bizarre, sometimes even Twilight Zone bizarre. I could have a field day with adjectives attempting to describe to you what it’s like, but I’ll save that for another time.

Anyway, I do feel guilty for not calling my dad. I feel guilty when he calls and I don’t answer, and I feel guilty for not seeing him. Half a year can go by without me seeing him and he’s only a 15 minute car ride away. Lately it seems like every time I’m on the phone with him he mentions that he hasn’t seen us. So I’ve been feeling a little more guilty than usual. However, I should clarify that Al-Anon helped me bring my guilt down to a more realistic, more manageable level, and although I feel some guilt it certainly isn’t debilitating or unhealthy. Still, it’s there, and it motivated me to do something for my dad. He is, after all, a human being and I know he loves me (and my kids) even if he isn’t capable of having a real relationship with us. So I asked my brother if he could bring Dad over to my house.
(My dad doesn’t drive. No car, no license. Long story.)
Like I mentioned in the last post, my dad lives in a sketchy neighborhood so I don’t want to take my kids over there. Also, my dad’s apartment is difficult to be in because of all the cat hair and years of cigarette smoke. There is a sticky film over everything and the once white walls are now brownish.  We all feel like we can’t breathe and our eyes start to burn. My husband and daughter have asthma and allergies so there’s just no way they can survive in there. The kids feel very uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel like a safe place. We actually stopped visiting years ago for those reasons, and because we would all have to shower and put our clothes in the wash as soon as we got home! When we left his apartment we would smell terrible! I would be nauseous the whole way home. These are the reasons why I asked my brother to bring him to my house instead.
So, we saw him. Of course he was intoxicated. I like to use the word intoxicated sometimes because ‘drunk’ sounds so harsh… I expected him to be intoxicated, but he was very intoxicated. He couldn’t even walk straight. I was afraid several times that he was going to fall, and it seemed like he was having trouble focusing- his motor skills were off. He had trouble reaching for the door knob on our back door, then he couldn’t get it open. It took him a few tries. I think my brother had to help him. It was a very, very sad thing to see, and it was also strange to see it but not say anything. None of us even looked at one another. I felt like we were all pretending it wasn’t happening… But that isn’t necessarily true.
I mean, what can we say? What is there to say? He is what he is and we know it. No one is necessarily denying anything simply by being politely silent.

My dad and brother didn’t stay long, and as terrible as it sounds, I was glad. I was relieved when they left. My dad was trying to join in the conversation we were having, but it was clear that he didn’t really know what we were talking about. And he looks so unhealthy. So unhealthy. He looks terrible! But of course he does. A person can’t smoke and drink to excess for decades and not end up like that. I could hardly even look at him, and I felt bad about that but…  I don’t know how my brother can stand to see him like that so often. Then again, Nick has always been very loyal. And even though it was hard I’ve decided I’m going to see my dad again- not often, maybe once a month- but I’m going to make an effort. He’s sick. Alcoholism is a disease. I’ve been treating him like a pariah and a leper for too long. And, frankly, I don’t know how much time he has left.
So…. Well…. Yeah… I saw my dad. And that’s that.

Moving on… As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a few ideas about how to occupy my time in order to add meaning and purpose to my life, to expand my world. This blog is one of them. I really hope I can keep it going this time! My other ideas are volunteering in my daughter’s classroom (a very real possibility), going back to Al-Anon (very doable), having lunch with my friends who work full-time, and visiting my friends who are stay-at-home moms. Even though they have small children, and both of mine are now in school all day, that doesn’t mean we can’t still hang out. And I bet they would like that- they’re probably lonely too!
When I was in college I volunteered for the Suicide Prevention Hotline, I could do that again. I’ve also looked into some unique fitness opportunities like Pure Barre and aerial yoga, but Pure Barre is pretty expensive so that’s probably out. I’ll keep looking for things like that though. Or, here’s a thought- maybe I’ll get a job!
“The word today is job.  J-O-B.”
Okay, not really today, but maybe soon. It feels so strange, so wrong to not have a job, and especially to not even be looking for a job. This hasn’t happened since I was 16. Up until May 21st of this year I had a job, but the hours were at night and since we could finally afford it- I quit. Now I know more than ever the things a job can give you in addition to pay. So, anyway, sometimes there are part-time positions available at one of the local libraries. Or I could volunteer at the library- I love being around books!

Speaking of books, that’s what this blog is supposed to be about! The title, after all, is Words and Plots. Clearly that title implies books, novels, stories…. Clearly that title implies a sophisticated wonderland of quotes, insights, and intelligent reflections! The strange thing is I haven’t felt like reading lately, which is unusual for me, but I know what caused this accidental book sabbatical. I overloaded myself with reading. No, really. I was reading non-stop! Last summer I re-read all of Harry Potter, and then in the fall and winter I read several more novels back to back. From October to February I read The Wolf Gift (eh), half of The Wolves of Midwinter (eh), 2 Jane Austen mystery novels (loved them, will read more), Girl With A Pearl Earring (very interesting, really liked) and David Copperfield (LOVED). And these are just the ones I can remember. I think there was 1 or 2 more. I also did a few very time consuming blog posts/book reviews back in October, but they were taking up too much time (stupid old laptop!) so I abandoned the whole project. Yet, here I am, still with the same old laptop, trying again. It really is a shame I wasn’t blogging as I was reading all those books, the inspiration was flying through my head as I read them. Such a missed opportunity! But, like I said, I can try again. I’ve accomplished two new posts so far and I feel pretty good about it already. Today I’ve been blogging from my kitchen table, but Saturday I was at Starbucks so I was at least near other people- possibly even seen by a few. Actually, one guy even spoke to me- something about how standing is better than sitting. Thank you Random Stranger!
Until next time…