The End

This is it! I made it! You made it! We all made it. 

Until next year, happy slicing!

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30 Days of Brand New Writing Habits

I have always been an early morning writer, thinker, grader, planner.  At night, my brain is way too tired to do any sort of production, and can only consume–that’s my sacred time to read, watch TV, or mindlessly scroll through a news feed.

But the morning, after a cup of coffee or so, is when my brain likes to flex its muscles and get going.

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I started this habit in high school, or possibly earlier.  All I can recall is that once I began working at a diner after school when I was a sophomore, I didn’t want to do any homework once I got home.  So I’d set my alarm for 5 am, do homework at the kitchen table in the early morning dark, get ready super fast, and beat my teacher into her homeroom to finish things up there.

This habit persisted into college, when I continued working jobs in the evening and on weekends, and instead arrived to King Library in the pre-dawn hours nearly every morning.  I’d park my car on one of the dark tree-named streets in Oxford, trek to the library, and stake out a study carrel in which to complete my work in the hours before my 9 am classes began.

Again, I kept up my early morning productivity when I began teaching, rolling through the Starbucks drive-thru at 5:30 am sharp on my way to school, where I usually arrived around 6:15 so as to allot myself a full undisturbed hour of work time, with no copy room competition.

Even after baby arrived, I remained an early bird.  I got some bonus sleep in since I didn’t have to be dressed and presentable anywhere, and could write at my desk in my pajamas at home for a few hours until my little nugget awoke.

But during this month, I have learned something:  writing is hard.

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Not just the cognitive act of producing something intelligible.  I’m talking about making the time, finding the time, to get my butt in the chair (or bed, where I’m currently typing) to do the writing.  It is hard to carve out that space every single day, weekday or weekend, holiday or not, school day or not.

I haven’t been able to fall back on my early morning productivity in order to write daily.  Sometimes I have to use that time to plan for the classes I’m teaching.  Sometimes I have to write a post for my other blog, Three Teachers Talk.  Many times, this month in particular, baby is teething and is up all night and I just cannot drag myself out of bed for #5amwritersclub when I didn’t get Ruthie back to sleep until 4:15 am.

So, I’ve started late-night writing.

This is SO out of character for me.  I have not, in at least 15 years, done something cognitively productive in the pm hours.  This month, more than half of my posts have been published in the evenings, and several of them have been posted quite close to midnight.  For someone who is usually asleep by 8 pm, this is absolutely mind-blowing.

Another strange habit I’ve developed is that I actually type things on my phone, if I’m on the go–like when I was out of town for Kristy’s wedding, and publish posts using the WordPress app.  This is also super out of character, since I LOVE my MacBook Pro and feel like I can only write on it.

One other new writing habit is that I’ve had to jettison some things in order to fit writing time in–I have read fewer books, written fewer entries in my notebook, and watched fewer episodes of Netflix than I usually do in a given month, thanks to prioritizing writing.  I can’t say that I think those are good things to have abandoned, necessarily, but they were the things I could sacrifice in order to write–unlike, say, taking care of my daughter.

So, thank you, Slice of Life challenge, for forcing me to develop some new writing habits.  I didn’t know if I could write for 31 straight days, but I’ve made it 30 so far.  After tomorrow, my goal will be to continue posting Tuesday slices, and hopefully more when I have something I’d like to write.

Let’s hope that will be yet another new writing habit I develop thanks to this challenge!

The Last Day of Vacation

The last day of vacation is always the saddest.

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My hubby has been home for the past week, and it has been absolutely glorious.  Granted, I was gone for four of his seven days off (at my best friend’s wedding out of town), but the three days we’ve had together at home have been wonderful.

We’ve spent a lot of time accomplishing random things on our to-do lists, like selling my old single girl car that we never got rid of after buying a minivan; hanging curtain rods in Ruthie’s room after discovering with terror that post daylight savings time meant broad daylight during her bedtime; storing outgrown baby gear in the crawl space under our house and hauling out the spring goodies; getting some car repairs done; going to all of our dentist and doctor’s appointments.

Today we finished all of our major to-dos and decided to go for a walk to the ice cream parlor across the street for a reward.  We situated Ruthie in her stroller, donned hats and t-shirts, and walked over to the Mountaineer Ice Cream Shop.

Of course, because this is West Virginia, the shop also sells guns, fishing gear, and assorted home decor items.  But we weren’t there for any of that–we were after one of the over 100 flavors of ice cream offered.

Because I couldn’t decide, I got a half and half of strawberry and cookie dough chip, and we wandered out onto the porch of the store to enjoy.  We sat in a rocking double Adirondack chair, Jon holding Ruthie and me holding the ice cream.  I took turns feeding everyone bites–Jon liked the cookie dough chip while Ruthie preferred strawberry.  We watched the cars go by, customers come in and out, people walking their dogs, all with the mountains in the background.

Of course, by the time we got home, it was way past dinnertime and the day had flown by.  I threw together a quick fish dinner, which turned out to be accidentally super delicious, we got the baby in bed, and now we’re finishing a last episode of our show on Netflix before vacation officially comes to an end.

It will be super painful to set our alarms for the first time in a week, I am sure.

The last day of vacation is the worst…but I’m already looking forward to his next week off in June.  The anticipation will just have to hold us over until next time!

When An Actor Becomes a Role

One of my all-time favorite movies is the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. I love Keira Knightley in the role of Elizabeth Bennett, and Matthew MacFayden’s Darcy rivals the dreaminess of Colin Firth. 

While I’ve seen Colin Firth and Keira Knightley in lots of other roles, I hadn’t ever seen MacFayden before I saw him as Darcy–nor did I see him in anything else after that. 

For me, MacFayden was Darcy, plain and simple, in the same way that Harrison Ford was Indiana Jones and Sean Connery was James Bond. 

So, it came as a surprise when my husband was watching Netflix and I spotted Matthew MacFayden on his screen. I’d ardently ignored his show until that point, but tuned in when I realized that none other than Mr. Darcy was the star of Ripper Street. 

While I haven’t gotten into a new show in quite a while, I started paying attention to this one only because of Darcy, but started to enjoy its similarities to some of my favorite mysteries in book and TV form. 

So, now that baby is in bed, my hubby and I are enjoying a quiet evening of me having my pants scared off by the threat of Jack the Ripper, while simultaneously enjoying seeing Darcy anew…and yes, that is what I call him. I have no idea what his character’s name in this show is. 😉

Books That Take Forever to Read

I love reading, and I love finishing books. I generally read at least a hundred books a year, and generally, I read several books at a time and finish each one within a few days. A week max. 

But this year has been weird–there are several books that have taken me months to read, like Ava Dellaria’s Love Letters to the Dead, which I started at Christmas and just now finished, or Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which I started in November and am still working on. 

Normally I abandon books if I don’t finish them quickly, but I really want to read these books and it’s just taking me forever. 

That’s sort of how my whole life has been since having a baby–I have goals and things to do that used to take me a few days but now require weeks or months. I don’t want to abandon things, but they take me forever. Some things I know have a deadline I’ve just had to postpone for a few years–like finishing my PhD. 

I know that the balance of my life will resume when Ruthie gets a little older, but for now it’s strange to reflect and see how much motherhood has impacted lifelong habits like my reading. 

Feeling Pampered

In the past three days, I’ve had a full manicure and pedicure, my hair and makeup both professionally styled, and worn a gown custom fitted just for me.

Tonight, after a seven-hour drive home and over a month of less than five consecutive hours of sleep at a time, my husband is taking care of feeding our daughter, giving her a bath, and putting her to bed.

 

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For some reason, tonight’s lounging in bed, snuggling with my cat, browsing Netflix, and knowing that I’ll get to sleep since my hubby is on vacation and can get up with Ruthie if she wakes, feels so much more indulgent than the past three days I’ve spent in best-friend’s-wedding land.

I don’t know if this is something that happens when you become a parent, or if it’s just a function of aging, but all I know is I am having more fun laying around doing nothing than I did getting primped and pressed with good friends–and I had a considerable amount of fun doing that, so the fact that I’m feeling so happy now is kind of a big deal.

Either way, I hope your Sunday night has been relaxing and indulgent, too.

Wedding Day

Whew.  It’s over.

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My best friend is now a Mrs., my feet now have blisters, and my hair will probably never be the same after all of the bobby pins that have been jammed into it.

Today was a LONG day, but a beautiful one, and I’m so happy that everything went so smoothly.

But boy, I am tired.

My Purse

My purse, on any given day, is quite heavy. Today, as I’ve schlepped various and sundry items to my best friend’s wedding rehearsal and dinner, my purse feels more like luggage. 

The contents vary, but there are always a few items inside no matter what. One is my writer’s notebook, which I take everywhere with me. Another is whatever book I’m currently reading. My wallet, keys, phone, lipsticks, chapsticks, tissues, bobby pins, pens, hand sanitizers, nail files, and smashed receipts are also always crammed inside. 

In addition to the usual contents, tonight I also have several mini bottles of liquor to relax the bride-to-be, band-aids to soothe high-heel-beaten feet, a thermos for much-needed coffee tomorrow morning, extra makeup for touch-ups, nail polish for touch-ups, seating chart cheat sheets for the reception, Advil to soothe, and a big bottle of water to keep us all hydrated. 

I feel like Mary Poppins with my big purse, but that’s fine with me. I just hope my best friend’s big day is practically perfect in every way. 

Decisions I Didn’t Think Through

I realize it’s pretty early in the day, but here are some hastily-made decisions I’m already kicking myself for:

  • Not packing last night for the 4-day trip I’m leaving for at noon
  • Not folding the laundry I washed for said trip
  • Not doing the dishes last night before bed, so that I had to do them first thing this morning before I could make any coffee
  • Bringing my daughter to bed with me last night because I was so tired when she woke up at 2 am
  • Not being able to pack, now, until baby wakes up
  • Not being able to shower until baby wakes up 
  • Settling down in the one spot I know doesn’t get Wifi in our house and getting too comfortable to get up
  • Having my least social cat, Lizzie, get too comfortable on my lap in same spot, thus pinning me to the wifi dead zone 
  • Letting Lizzie snooze instead of dislodging her so I can reach my now-cold coffee
  • Forgetting to turn my 4:45 am alarm off so now I’m stranded, awake, outside any sort of space in which I can be productive, for at LEAST another hour. 

I’m with Rachel–I just shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions. 

Happy Thursday!

Binge Watching Cooking Shows

My friends think I’m weird for many reasons, but one of the major reasons is that I don’t have a television in my home.

I don’t mind being weird–my friend Lisa calls this “adorkable”–but people seem really confused when they come over for the first time, get the grand tour, and see eight bookshelves but no TV.

(I’m not exaggerating on the bookshelves.)

I do enjoy TV to help keep me company when I’m doing some other task, so I subscribe to Netflix and marathon various shows while cooking, doing laundry, or packing for a trip like I am right now.

Because I’m always multitasking while watching TV, I don’t really like shows with plots I have to follow, or dialogue that requires a lot of deep analysis.  So it makes sense that I am drawn to reality TV, but given that I enjoy plots and deep analysis in general, I can’t really handle The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

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Which brings me to cooking shows.

Ina Garten, Alton Brown, Rachael Ray, Emeril Lagasse, Julia Child, Gordon Ramsay, Giada de Laurentiis–oh, how I love you all.  I’ve had several cooking shows I’ve been addicted to over the years, and I can watch them for hours on end.  Whether it’s a how-to-cook style of show or a competition, I am never bored by this genre.  Maybe it’s that I feel like I’m always learning from cooking shows, or maybe it’s that I can immediately apply whatever recipe has been made during the episode.

Either way, my evening of doing laundry and packing for my trip was made much more enjoyable by watching three episodes in a row of The Great British Baking Show (especially Paul Hollywood’s blue eyes, which remind me of Paul Newman’s blue eyes, swoon!).

And now, I will finish watching this thrilling competition centering around baking meat pies, and pray that my daughter sleeps through the night tonight.  Woohoo!