Salty Self-Acceptance Yoga for Imperfect Bodies

 

just why?

Why is the nice lady trying to break her own leg?

Since the pandemic, I’ve been doing yoga at home. Yoga with Adriene, to be specific. I love her, and I feel like she loves me. But there is one problem with Adriene, and that is her physical perfection. She’s beautiful, slim and crazy limber. She can put her hands on the floor and her elbows are bent. She can rest her face on her knees, something I didn’t know humans could do. When I do Yoga with Adriene, I try not to look at her, which does cause problems.

the davids

One of these Davids is not like the other.

The “rock star pose” for example. Clearly Adriene and I are picturing different rock stars. She’s picturing David Lee Roth, circa 1982, thrusting his groin into the air whilst looking possessed by the devil. I’m picturing David Bowie in a suit, looking very dapper and hot,  gently cradling the mic. One of us is getting a better workout, and it’s not me.

So I decided to narrate my own yoga class for one. I put on the dreamy yoga music that incorporates waves sloshing in the background and sit on the floor in my pajamas. I picture myself leading a class. “Draw circles with your nose. That crackling noise in your neck is your body thanking you. Can’t move left shoulder because of that fall you had six years ago? Who gives a flying bleep? You’re here.”

ignore her

Ignore her.

We then move to Downward Facing Dog, which I can’t do correctly since breaking my wrist. “Don’t worry if you broke your wrist  and can’t do this right,” I say to my nonexistent students. “So what? Ignore every pain in the ass who’s doing it right.”

The narration continues. “Can’t bend as far as other people? Big bleep. You’re here. Those limber bodies haven’t gone through what you have. You had cancer. You have arthritis. You had children. Your body has endured, god bleep it!”

Onto the warrior poses… “You are such a bleeping badass! Look at you! I’d trust you with my life! Forget those Lululemon waifs! I’d pick you in battle, that’s for damn sure. Now get on that bleeping floor. The floor is your friend. Can’t fall if you’re on the floor. I don’t care how you get there, and take your damn time. No one knows your body like you do, goddess.

yoga kitty

If a creaky old cat can do it, so can you.

“And now, corpse pose. We’re practicing for the future, my loves, because guess what? Even those sanctimonious vegans are gonna die someday. Take a few deep breaths and feel good about yourselves. Thank your imperfect, lumpy, aging, wonderful body because it’s still here, god bleep it. You rock. You are awesome. Hot damn, look at you! You did a yoga class, bleep yeah! Now go home and pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy life. You deserve it. You deserve all the love, goddess.”

Admit it. You want me to be your teacher. ; )

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Fur babies

Back before I had dogs of my own, I vowed that I would not be the kind of pet owner who treated their pets like babies. I had children before we got Digger, so I already knew that as much as I would love my dog, I would love my children more (on most days). Indeed, I shuddered at the term fur-baby.

stripey

We all got to name one kitten. My sister chose Stripey. She was three. : )

Growing up, we had many, many pets. We had a dog, Ginger, before I was three or four, so I don’t remember life without her. Then we were on a hike, and we saw a cat in the rocks. We named her Pirate, as she had dark fur over one eye, and brought her back home. The next day, she gave birth to four kittens: Smokey, Blackie, Stripey and Topaz. My mom, who was allergic to cats, put an ad in the paper: “Beautiful kittens, must be destroyed.” Within a day, they were all adopted, including Pirate. (Of course we weren’t going to destroy them! It was just my mom playing the public).

patrick

Do I smell chicken from half a mile away? I do! Be right back!

Ginger died tragically at the hands of a careless vet during a routine procedure (we never forgave him; I swear Sainted Mother would’ve shivved him, given the chance). Then came Brandy, another Irish setter, whom my parents bred. Brandy, an extremely fertile dog who birthed twelve puppies. We kept two: Maggie and Patrick, fine Irish names. And so I grew up with three large dogs who took up space on the couch so that we kids sat on the floor. They slept on our beds. Red clumps of fur clung to our socks and entered our mouths as the dogs milled around the supper table, waiting for us to sneak them some stew meat.

dad and jenny copy

My handsome Dad and Jenny, our wild Appaloosa.

Then came Jenny, our horse, and shortly thereafter, a goat named Billy Jean. A cat appeared at the barn; we named her Annie, then switched the name to Andy when we took a closer look. My sister managed to woo the neighbor’s Golden retriever away from them (with their blessing), so we were up to four dogs for a time. Another cat appeared in our garage (that’s the lie we told our mother…my sister and I brought it home from the school parking lot and pretended it had just wandered into the garage).

Four dogs, two cats, a horse, a goat…our lives were overrun by badly behaved, leg-humping, furniture destroying, adventurous pets who wandered the neighborhood. Patrick, one of the Irish Setters, knocked up a neighbor’s dog, the same neighbor whose chickens he would “fetch” and bring home to us, still flapping. (Sorry, Brancifortes.) My horse would jump her fence and run a half mile down the road to see Mr. Williams’s horses. The goat would head-butt her door down and terrorize my cousins and me. She only loved my sister.

So when it came to having my own dog, I vowed that he would be well behaved, and treated like a dog, not a baby or wagging despot. Our pets would sleep on dog bets and cat cushions and eat only dog or cat food.

lutherWell, that hasn’t gone entirely to plan, has it? Tiny Willow was just too traumatized when she came to us. I had to let her sleep with me. I had to. Huck was semi-feral when we got him, so him sitting on my lap or lying on my pillow…that’s a gift, isn’t it? And Luther…Luther is so affectionate. So snuggly. He drinks my coffee leftovers each morning. And he gets cold easily, the poor beastie, so one must wrap him in blankies, obviously. He does occasionally lie on the floor, but only after gazing at me with sad, disappointed eyes.

I regret nothing.

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COVID clothes

lipstick

Sephora, I miss you!

I got dressed today. (Yes, this is blog-worthy). Around noon, after being awake for four-plus hours, I took a shower and put on something that wasn’t pajamas. Really nice black pants, cool white shirt, earrings, mascara. I put banana cream under my eyes (does it work? Does it matter? I don’t know). Pink lipstick. I probably look nicer than I’ve looked in many months.

Why?

No reason. Well, my neighbor is coming over so our dogs can romp together. Otherwise, I have no plans. McIrish is working, Dearest Son is back at college, the Princess has a shift at the hospital. It’s just Luther and Huckleberry and me.

But I felt the urge to wear something other than a battered pair of PJs.

clare et moi

With my pal Clare. We are both slaying in wardrobe.

As an author, I work alone most of the year, but when I leave for something professional, I dress for the occasion. Conferences, meetings, book tour…back in the olden days (2019, for example), I had times when I had to look the part.

Not anymore. I mean, sure, I’ve put on a shirt for Zoom meetings, but otherwise, it’s been PJs with the pair of yoga pants I bought ten years ago (I cannot bring myself to shop at LuLu Lemon or its ilk). Maybe some ripped jeans. (Not the cool kind of ripped jeans…the worn kind.

A few years ago, while writing Good Luck with That, which deals with self-acceptance and size, I decided never to buy anything that wasn’t super comfortable. I donated anything that required me to wear Spanx or control top anything, or just decided to wear them in my un-smoothed out, maternal, middle aged glory. Everything I’ve bought since then has been comfy and must pass the Hulk test—that is, when I hunch my shoulders together, the shirt cannot rip.

At best, I call this style “cool girl classic.” I have a crisp white shirt, but it’s asymmetrical. I have black leggings, but they have a little mesh at the ankles. I have a pair of pink jeans.

erica

A role model for the ages. Note that she is wearing a red sweater. Coincidence, I swear.

One of my life lessons, taught to me by reading an interview of Susan Lucci from All My Children, was to buy things that you liked when you saw them. Say you like that red sweater in the window. Buy it, because if you wait, it’ll be gone, and you’ll go to three different stores looking for a red sweater and never find it. I embraced that theory. Would Erica Kane lie to me? I think not.

I love window shopping, sidewalk strolling, meandering around Target just to see what they might have. But the pandemic has taken that away, and if I do have to go out in public, there is no wandering. There is only efficiency.

fauci socks

My Dr. Fauci socks, a gift from the Princess. A snazzy addition to any wardrobe.

This irks me. It’s been a year, COVID. Give us a damn break.

So today, I dressed up in cool girl classic clothes. I blew dry my hair with intention. The banana cream. And you know what? I do feel a little more cheery.
There’s no one here to see me, and when I see my neighbor and her dog, I’ll be wearing a giant pink parka, but underneath, I’ll know that I made the effort. And that’s worth something.

Hang in there, readers. The end is near, and in this circumstance, that’s a good thing.

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Word weary

boho?

Boho? Or just a deer who uses accessories well?

I’m tired of hearing and reading certain words, gang. Plus, I’m a little crotchety today because it’s January 17, and already this year has lasted half my lifetime.

Since I have absolutely nothing interesting to report, I thought I’d entertain you with a list of words I don’t want to hear anymore.

Boho. So overused. We get it. Relaxed, a little homespun, a little funky, as in bohemian. But lawd, I see that word everywhere, and often where it doesn’t belong. Just because you want something to be cool doesn’t mean you get to call it boho.

 

Baseless claims. Yes, they were baseless. Sixty-two judges were given nothing more than fever dreams. But man, I hope never to hear that phrase again.

mess

Messy? Or just poorly done?

Messy updo. Can you tell I’m doing the Princess’s hair for her wedding? There are a zillion lovely, tousled, romantic updos, but do we have to call them messy? Oh, and by the way, the messy updos take ten times more bobby pins than the tidy updos. Just saying.

Women’s fiction. Can’t we just call it fiction? Is there a sub-category called men’s fiction, or is that what Playboy magazine is for?

The Hamptons. I have a bad association with the Hamptons. I’ve never been there, but the words imply (to me, anyway) rich white people with nothing better to do than outspend their neighbors in cottages that have sixteen bedrooms. Granted, if someone who lived in such a cottage invited me to stay, I’d be there in a New York minute. (see what I did there?)

Staycation. I want a real vacation, damn it! We’ve tried staycationing! We’re tired of it!

The novel coronavirus. It gives novels a bad name.

cake

The only time moist is appealing.

Moist. A perennial un-favorite, except where cake is concerned.

Irregardless. It’s not a word, people. It is NOT a word. Stop using it. You mean “regardless.”

Binge-watch. Brothers and sisters, that’s all we’ve been doing. Let’s hope 2021 has us outside again, vaccinated and safe and enjoying the sunshine.

Okay, off the soapbox. Time to dream about food again.

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What I learned on my social media detox

Hello again! As you might know, I took my second annual social media break from December 15 till January 7.

flannery & mike in the snow

The Princess and her fiancé making a snowman!

It was rather heavenly, gang. Of course, I did miss you and seeing your news and chatting online with you. That’s the very best thing about social media—the ability to connect with readers so easily. But as we all know, hours can slip past as we scroll, click on links, read articles, chat with dozens of friends from around the world. Don’t get me started on Facebook Marketplace, which has filled the tag-sale hole in my world.

the kiddies

When all the presents are unwrapped…

Dearest Son thought that not only should I take a social media break…I should do a social media detox. That is, not go on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram at all. Since he is wise, I followed his advice. In order to avoid the kneejerk “let me just see what’s happening” click, I hid my social media bookmarks. For three weeks, during the lead-up to Christmas, the holiday itself, the much-anticipated end of 2020, the Georgia run-off and yesterday’s horrifying breach of the Capitol, I didn’t check in. I do feel it’s my duty as a citizen to be informed of what’s going on in the world, so I wouldn’t commit to a news blackout. But, at Dearest’s suggestion, I started each day on the computer by reading good news, then limited my news time to a non-editorializing source, and only for a few minutes.

Here’s what happened.

I had a lot more time. Like…hours a day. I didn’t realize how much time can be sucked into the category of social media. I thought I spent maybe half an hour twice a day on SM. I was wrong. It was a lot more.

my certificate

It’s official! Who wants their hair done?

During this time, I decided to take an online class in something fluffy but something I enjoy—hair and makeup styling. Readers, I am now a certified wedding hair and makeup artist! It was really fun, and so different from my day job of being alone, in my head. Now I know about contouring and highlighting and pore-minimizing, back-combing and pancaking. I used Sainted Mother as practice, and she looked gorgeous, gang. Gorgeous.

the hutch

The after view.

McIrish and I restored a hutch. We’d bought it on (cough) Facebook Marketplace a couple months ago, and it was filthy, battered, scratched and wobbly. It is now clean, repaired, polished and secured, and I am dang proud of myself. (And McIrish, but we always knew he had those skills).

I did more housework. I love housework…as it says in my bio, I am the descendent of a laundress. My grandmother used to iron my grandfather’s socks. Stains were for the weak, she used to say. Sweeping up pine needles under the tree? Aaaah. So satisfying. Cleaning the stove with a toothpick? The song of my ancestors.

I talked more with my friends. On the phone, via Zoom, even in person in some cases. I helped one friend with an organizational project. I took walks with another friend, and with my husband, trying to get a bit more vitamin D in me.

I tried new recipes (mostly in desserts, but also in a meal or two).

I planned some details for the Princess’s wedding, things only a mother would think of…how to take care of her on her wedding day, how to soothe her nerves and make sure she enjoys the day and everything goes smoothly (and yes, how to do her hair).

I worked on my book. : )

While social media can be wonderful, it can also wall us off from the real world. With balance, it’s a great way to check in with friends and be a part of what is an undeniably real part of our lives: the digital world. But without balance, it’s a way to way to waste time, to fuss over what people are saying, to be gleeful voyeurs while people are skewered for their work or their views…people who aren’t important to your life. It can be a way to procrastinate from our jobs and distance ourselves from the people who might be sitting in the very same room with us.

So thank you, dear Declan, for your wisdom. Your mother loves and appreciates you and is going to find you and smooch you right now.

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An unexpected angel

Well, it’s that time of year, so I’m going to tell you a Christmas story. It’s not the happiest story, but maybe it’s a good story anyway.

When my father was killed many years ago by a drunk driver, I was just out of college at the time and worked for his  company. My dad was a  printer and made those coffee table books and posters for museums like the Met and the Smithsonian. He loved fixing a shadowhis clients. Dad was the king of long-term business relationships…he remembered where a kid went to college, remembered special anniversaries, asked after parents. His clients loved him too. As my father’s employee and especially as his daughter, I felt I owed it to his closest clients to go down to D.C., where Dad did most of his business, and see them in person.

You can imagine how it felt to sit in their offices six weeks after my father’s death and have those folks tell me how wonderful my dad was, to have them cry and shake their heads in disbelief that their old friend was gone. But I wanted to make Dad proud—doesn’t every daughter?—so I let them hug me, thanked them for their kindness and told them how much my father had always loved working with them, and how much it meant to my family and me to know how highly they regarded my dad.

washington-dc-85539_640It was awful. To this day, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Add to this, I didn’t know anyone in Washington. I didn’t want to go back to an empty room, so I walked around, found myself in Georgetown, which was bright with Christmas lights, awash in wreaths and ribbons, all those posh shops and beautiful restaurants, the elegant townhouses and wrought-iron fences. Snow was falling, and the whole scene looked like a Christmas movie. Georgetown truly is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in America.

But I wasn’t really in the mood for a proper dinner. I spied to a Roy Rogers, figured I’d get a burger and maybe go to the movies and distract myself as long as I could before going back to my room. In front of the restaurant was a homeless man, sitting in the slushy snow on the sidewalk. “Can you spare some change, miss?” he asked. “Sure,” I answered. But I don’t have any right now. Come in the restaurant, and I’ll get some.”

homeless manThe guy was white, and he was dirty and skinny, reddish hair. I don’t remember his face too well, but he had a scruffy beard. He followed me in uncertainly—clearly he wouldn’t have been sitting on the street if that restaurant had welcomed the homeless. Up at the counter, I ordered two of everything—burgers, fries, coffee, milkshake (he could use some fattening up). Then I brought the tray back and asked him to eat with me.

He couldn’t believe I’d bought him food. He admitted that he would’ve spent my money on booze, and told me it had been a long time since he ate a square meal (if you could call it that) in a restaurant. “Most folks wouldn’t do this,” he said. “They wouldn’t let me eat with them.”

Before you think this is a story of my goodness, let me tell something. It isn’t. I was nervous. He did not smell good, this guy. I told him I was married (I wasn’t) and that my husband was meeting me in half an hour. I could’ve afforded to give him a hundred dollars, put him up in a hotel for the night, at least paid for cab fare to a shelter, and I did none of those things. I could’ve bought him a lot more than a hamburger and fries.

burger and friesBut he was thrilled, and I admit that it was kind of nice, sitting there under the disapproving gaze of the Roy Rogers manager. My new pal liked that we were breaking the rules…the rule was, he told me, that you had to buy something to come in the restaurant, and he couldn’t afford even a cup of coffee, being that he spent all his money on alcohol. He slept in his car most of the time, though he would go to a shelter tonight. He showed me a very old and tattered picture of a girl—his daughter. She would be in her twenties now, but he hadn’t seen her in a long time, and indeed, didn’t know where she was anymore.

At the end of the meal, I gave Ted the change from my twenty. He thanked me, and I waved as I crossed the street, sort of concerned that he’d follow me, take my purse, kill me, whatever. He didn’t. He just waved, a huge smile on his face. “God bless you, nice lady!” he shouted.

I’m guessing that Ted has died by now. Life on the street, alcoholism, illness…I’m quite sure I’ll never see him again. But I wish I could, because if I did, I’d thank him for giving me the chance to do something decent. I’d tell him how grateful I was that he showed me his most precious possession, that worn picture of his child. I’d apologize for being afraid of him, and thank him for reminding me just how much I had.

starsMost of all, I’d thank him for being nice to me. I was a lost soul that night with an awful ache in my heart…and Ted, he helped me. In the season of angels and miracles and hope, I think that Ted was a sort of angel, because that homeless man gave me a place to sit, a person to talk with, a chance to look outside of myself, at least for a little while.

 

So here’s to you, Ted. Hope you’re okay, wherever you are. And maybe someday, we’ll meet again.

 

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Dream Come True

little declanDearest Son turned 22, and we watched home movies this morning. I made brunch at his request, and the Princess, her fiancé and my mom came over for eggs and bacon, pancakes and donuts. His sister gave him a retro label maker, much to his delight. His future brother-in-law gave him a great t-shirt; McIrish and I had bought him two suits for his future; he’ll wear one as man of honor this spring at his sister’s wedding.

We always had the birthday celebrant give their sibling a gift to thank them for being a great brother or sister. This year, Declan gave Flannery a replica of a mug of his she covets—the one their great-grandfather used to drink from, so now they can both have “Poppy’s mug.” She was very touched.

His godparents came over for a quick visit on the porch (with masks, of course, and six feet apart), and while we couldn’t hug them, it was awfully nice to see them. After they left, we put a candle in Declan’s pancake and sang to him, then fell upon the food like starving animals.

seems like old timesThough we didn’t get a lot of snow in Saturday’s storm, it stuck, and it was enough for sledding. Out we went into the bright, cold air, and took our turns on the sleds, solo or in pairs. Even my mom was game and went down behind Declan, shrieking “Declan, don’t hurt me!” as we all laughed. She later admitted she loved it. She always has.

Inside for more home movies, some of which made us laugh till we cried. Dearest Declan bravely tolerated many maternal shows of affection throughout the day. Then the Princess had to go to work. I baked chocolate chip cookies, and McIrish left for the firehouse. Dearest had a cheeseburger for dinner. We might watch a movie together, just mother and son.

mom and declanOh, it was a perfect day, dear readers! I think back twenty-two years to a very sick mother and a tiny preemie, a terrified husband and father, a brave little toddler. A day like today is nothing short of a dream come true.

What a lucky, lucky mom I am!

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Our most pathetic Thanksgiving ever

dwight schrute

I’d like to file a complaint.

Hello? I would like to enter the contest for most depressing Thanksgiving, please! Yes, yes, I know that many people had depressing Thanksgivings this year, and many more will come home infected with COVID and be even more depressed, but I’d still like to enter. I can? Thank you!

This year, we had planned a wonderful, anti-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving. We didn’t ditch the gratitude part…it was more the turkey-with-all-the-trimmings we opted to skip. The Princess and her fiancé went to visit his family, so it was just the three of us—Dearest Son, just home from college, McIrish and me. Sainted Mother was quarantining with her COVID-infected brother (he’s better now, thanks!). The only nod to tradition was that I made a pie.

And that was the first harbinger of doom. I’m a really good baker. I’ve won many blue ribbons at the local fair. Apple pie? I could do it in my sleep. The crust was perfect, mind you, but I couldn’t find the apples McIrish likes best. So I substituted with another tasty apple.

Which was not good for pie. Nay. The pie was soupy. Soupy, I tell you! I was, in a word, ashamed. This just doesn’t happen to me. My reputation took a hard hit. Oh, the boys were kind about it, but I could see the despair in their eyes.

what we pictured

What we pictured.

We had planned a movie marathon and a Chinese food extravaganza. I have been dreaming about this sort of non-Thanksgiving for years, and 2020 gave me my chance. On Thanksgiving morn, we lounged around in our pajamas, eating donuts and not watching the parade. Around 1:00, we decided to order the food. Pulled up the menu and went a little crazy adding things—dumplings and sesame noodles, egg rolls, moo shi pork, spicy scallops with garlic, and yes, General Tso’s chicken. The list went on and on, because we had no food in the house, not wanting to go grocery shopping and expose ourselves to the masses the days before Thanksgiving.

Then, we hit “order.” A moment later, we got the message that online ordering was not available today. “They must be so busy,” said I. After all, so many people were having micro-gatherings. Chinese restaurants would be killing it today.

So I called. The phone rang and rang. “Wow!” I said. “I can’t even get through!” After several fruitless redials, I tried another establishment, painstakingly entering the dozen or so dishes we wanted. This time, my online order went through.

A moment later, the phone rang. “Hello?” said a woman. “This is Great Wall. We’re closed today!”

“You are?” I said, stupefied.

They were.

I called five more places. They were all closed. Every single one. Even the ones listed as “Open on Thanksgiving.”

not as pictured

The real deal was not as shown.

McIrish, always great in an emergency, came up with an alternate plan. “I’ll run to Stop and Shop and grab some frozen Chinese food, but I have to go now, because they close in 40 minutes.” Off he and Dearest dashed.

“Get PF Changs!” I called. “They’re great!”

Well, they’re great in the restaurant. In the frozen food category…yuck. They’re awful. Everything smelled weird and turned to mush. Even the crispy green beans were tasteless. We had to open the windows to get rid of the smell.

But, we were still grateful, damn it. “What movie do you want to start with?” I asked. Dearest read from his list of movie choices. He and I had never seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and what better time to see a classic than on Thanksgiving afternoon?

We ate the nasty food, all of which tasted the same, and gave the movie a shot.

It’s a classic, you say? It was awful, we counter. “How long is this movie?” I asked several eons in.

“It just won’t end,” said Dearest.

Screen Shot 2020-11-30 at 12.33.21 PM

We had high hopes.

We all felt the movie had aged poorly with its awkward, slow close ups and “realistic,” meandering and repetitive dialogue. The plot was unbelievable—can one really steal a school bus, charter a boat and procure a prostitute when one has no money and is in fact an escapee from the state mental facility? The last 10 minutes were action-packed, or so I hear. I dozed off.

At least there was soupy pie for dessert. I skipped it and got some ice cream instead. Dearest retired to his room after a brief discussion about who should be blamed for choosing Cuckoo’s Nest. McIrish and I then poured ourselves some wine and watched reruns of The Crown to console ourselves.

i'll never quit you

Vanilla ice cream, you never fail me.

As holidays went, it sucked. But you know…we have each other. We have our health. Our pets. Our snug little house. And for that, we are truly thankful. Also, for ice cream. For PF Changs frozen food, not so much.

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Day in the Life of a Writer

it's not like this

This is not what it’s like.

People often ask me if I write every day. The answer is no. But I work every day. Every single day.

When you’re a writer, it means everything you in order to produce
a book is A) done alone and B) comes from your brain. There is no curriculum. There are no substitute writes who will drop in and write a chapter or tweak a character because you’re sick. If you take a vacation, in the back of your head is the page count, lying ignored. You can’t help yourself…you have to add a few notes here and there.

You talk to your friends about your characters and their lives. You ask them for input, maybe. You research. You might join a forum or a Reddit thread about people who’ve been in those positions. Maybe you interview someone. You visit the setting, if you’re lucky, and you fill pages with notes to make sure your book will deliver an appropriate and multidimensional representation. You take classes or workshops from time to time. You answer reader mail and post online. You reply to professional emails. You mentor other writers. You’re always editing or promoting the book you last finished.

LOL

LOL…no. Not like this, either. Come on.

So it’s a mixed bag of what exactly you’re doing…at least, for me.

But when I hunker down to write the first draft, here’s my routine.

Wake up.

Caffeinate.

Find a quiet spot (my office, or the upstairs couch, depending on how cold or hot my office is, or our little house on the Cape).

Start a sentence.

Then, hopefully, the writing gods will be good to you. You’ll finish that sentence and write another, or maybe many! You’ll continue until soggy-brain sets in…it might be ten hours, it might be 45 minutes. You decide that you’ve started in the wrong place. You revise. Or you don’t. You just keep blasting through, years of experience telling you this can be fixed later.

more like this

It’s more like this.

When you stop and rejoin humanity, it’s through a Twitter check, or a news check, or a family member who, you vaguely realize, has come in and might be talking to you.

Repeat as many times as possible. J

That’s where I am now, gang…hoping for the writing gods to smile on me. Brain cluttered with details that I’m trying to sift out and sort. Sentences begun and finished. Begun and deleted. Begun and revised.

Wish me luck!

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Li’l Flannery

I bought a human head.

Okay, okay, I bought a fake human head. But still.

first day of school 2007

My bébés on the first day of school, 2007

I’m going to be doing my daughter’s hair for her wedding in June, and here’s the thing. The Princess doesn’t love to have her hair done. There’s a window in which she’ll let me practice on her, and then the window closes. I’m pretty good with hair, having once had long hair myself, and having been the kind of mommy who loved braiding and brushing my daughter’s hair.

My grandmother used to French braid my hair, and I loved it. My own sainted mother had more of a sadistic approach to hair—the “Hungarian water torture” in which she dumped ice cold water over our heads to rinse the shampoo, or the time she just cut off my ponytail because my hair was tangled, and she lacked the patience to comb it out (I still resent your Prince Valiant jokes, Mother!). And so I vowed that, should I have a little girl, I would be the kind of mother who knew how to do hair.

And I was. Flannery went off to the first day of school for twelve years with French braids. Every day, she’d sit on the living room floor while I brushed and styled her hair. She had hairbands and barrettes and clips. She still lets me brush her hair—it’s incredibly thick and silky, and it’s a Zen-like experience.

Thence cometh her engagement. We looked into having a professional stylist do her hair on the wedding day, but those services are few and far between on Cape Cod (and ridiculously expensive…$800? For one person?). “No matter!” I said. “I can do something.”

And, bless her, she trusts me. So we’ve had two “sessions” in which I’ve given some lovely wedding updos a try. Flannery winces and sighs and, a couple of times, has admired the end product. But wedding hair is not first day of school hair. Wedding hair has to stay in place. It has to have texturizing spray and dry shampoo and heat protection and flat ironing and back-combing and ten thousand bobby pins, and my daughter’s time is limited.

IMG_6873So I bought Li’l Flannery here. She is a practice head made just for these purposes.

I love her.

When I got the notification she had arrived at the post office, I texted McIrish. “My head is here! Please pick it up!”

Li’l Flannery has immediately become a family joke. I sent the Princess a picture of her new sister. “Is she your favorite daughter?” she replied. That night, as I was in the bathroom, McIrish poked LF’s head in and asked, “Do you need anything?” resulting in my screams. Later, when he was asleep, I clamped her to the counter and combed her hair over her face so she’d be the first thing he saw when he got up for work in the morning.

I took her to the Cape with me this weekend, figuring I could practice up here. Texted the family and said I had locked Li’l Flannery in a closet and feared for my safety. The next text said “Mommy isn’t here, and Li’l Flannery doesn’t like you”…as one does on Halloween.

IMG_6878I’ve become quite fond of Li’l Flannery. We did hair last night till one a.m. and she did not complain once about my pulling those little neck hairs. I’ve perfected flat iron curls and a French twist on her. I’m sure Real Flannery will be quite pleased in our next practice session.

For now, she is clamped to the counter, patiently waiting for me to do some writing and then perhaps wash her hair.

Hey. It’s a hobby.

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