the pattern is Elijah
Just a short note to tell you that finally you can listen to me music again. You can find it under the “hear me sing“-category.
Excuse me, I’m going back to the keyboard for NaNo. If I can keep this pace up I’ll be finished by Sunday. Normal reading and blog-visiting will be resumes in short order.
I know I have been quiet over the last week or so. That’s because I’m a bit busy here. Though I’m contemplating not finishing NaNoWriMo on a daily basis I have been struggling to write on and on. It seems that I really am teaching more this year than last year because my afternoons are packed. Which means that all writing that hasn’t been done by lunch has to be done in the evenings. Urgh. I have been falling behind during the week slow and steady, last Thursday a did a whopping 3,000 words, and was on top of my game for about 20 hours when I decided not to write on Friday because I was just so tired and drained. On Saturday we went to a town near the Alps to spend a day practicing awareness, and while that was a very good thing to do it didn’t help the word count that much. I had planned to write on the train, and did so at 7.30 in the morning but on our way home – not so much.
Then a 3,000 words day on Sunday again, okay days on Monday and Tuesday, and then I decided that taking a guitar lesson was more important than writing on Wednesday… So if only I can write about 4,000 words today I’m good again.
You might ask why taking guitar lessons may be more important than meeting my NaNo-goal for the day, well, I have a new student. A student who is learning electrical guitar, and has been doing so for half a year already. So now I am practicing like mad to catch up with the things she already knows how to play, while teaching her the things I know how to play, and she doesn’t. Fun.
And it is, fun, I mean. Imagine playing distorted power chords over an amp. While I tend to be a little nervous about the sheer amount of noise I generate, after a while, when I manage to let go of the fear of my neighbors getting angry with me, it’s quite liberating. I’m literally rocking, and I haven’t felt like this since I quit playing drum set fifteen years ago.
So now you know why I haven’t been visiting your blogs much.
On top of all that I am not that content with my story. I find that I like making imaginary people, and I love making up their imaginary lives, I only don’t like to make up stories. Stories don’t work like real life, you have to have tension and conflict, people and situations have to change, otherwise why bother. Only while I see several possibilities to insert conflict or drama into my story I have been very reluctant to do so. I think I’m okay with this. Nobody has to read it anyway. But that means that writing stories probably isn’t the best thing for me to do. But I leave contemplating that for after I have completed my “novel”. For now I leave you with the beginning of my novel:
She thought about leaving. Right now. Never to come back. Maybe pack a bag, take her credit card, toothbrush, laptop computer, a few clothes, and leave. Walk to the train station, or better yet, take a train to the airport. Take a flight somewhere, anywhere and start over again.
These thoughts were always most appealing to her in moments like these when she slowly walked her son to kindergarten, her thoughts drowning in his incessant talking about robots. His hand in hers, his feet dragging. She felt like she had to carry him the whole way. As if he was leaning back on purpose. As if she were an ox pulling a plow through ankle high water on a rice field. Already she was looking forward to her tiny sliver of freedom. On her way back she would be able to put on her earphones and listen to some music.
If somebody had told her ten years ago that she would live a like this some day, she would have laughed hysterically. A life as bland as this, as routine and boring as this and still she’d answer every „How do you do?“ with „Fine!“? Incredible.
This is only midlife crisis, she thought. It will pass. I have a good life now. But not very exciting, a small voice in the back of her had chimed in. Who wants exciting? Only peace breeds art. Peace maybe but not boredom.
She hadn’t felt bored for decades. She thought she couldn’t feel that bored anymore. Then she had a child. Not that she didn’t want to keep it. Not that she didn’t love her son dearly. But there were so many boring things in her life now. At least she didn’t have to change diapers any longer but the sheer ennui of bringing a fiver year old to dress or undress, brush his teeth, and drink his water sometimes threatened to drown her.
„You have to find the serenity in everyday tasks.“, her friend said. „When you scrub the toilet with awareness it stops being boring.“
„I don’t mind scrubbing toilets.“
That earned her a bland look from Jasmine.
„What I do mind is spending time with the person I love more than life itself and feeling so bored that I wish to drop dead this instant.“
„Well, every marriage has its ups and downs but I didn’t think Justin were that boring.“
„I’m not talking about Justin. I’m talking about Leo. Five year olds aren’t exactly the epitome of intellectual stimulation.“
„But he is such a delightful little boy.“
„Yes, he is.“ For about twenty minutes at a time.
Iris realized that this conversation was futile. Maybe she better talked about this with other mothers. Having a best friend who was childless did add a little friction to their relationship. How could she explain to Iris how much energy she needed to put into this little person day after day? How could she explain that she didn’t find Jasmin’s quest for the perfect man the most important thing in the world anymore? That despite everything she said to the contrary she didn’t really believe she would find him?
I have to talk to other mothers. Somewhere out there I’ll find a friend. I will.
I had written this post in the morning, and as of now I actually managed to write about 4,000 words. So I’m on track again. Thanks to spirit helpers or angels who helped me and also to my dear husband who spent about 90 minutes cooking lunch on the wood stove. All of a sudden I’m feeling much lighter …
I don’t know if you have heard about it but Chani from Thailand Gal started a blog carnival accentuating the positive. I like that very much and so I want to write about something positive as an introduction to all the fabulous posts that come together in this space.
I remember, a little more than twenty years ago, when people started to be concerned about the environment for maybe the first time ever, I had heated arguments with my father about recycling and such, and he said, people would never do this. Lia wrote a post last month and reminded me how much has changed over the years here in Germany. Especially in that regard. I read somewhere that Germans are recycling champions. I can tell you why: the government decided that it was a priority (but really it was the people because the green party kept growing and growing), and then they made it easy to recycle and hard to throw things in the trash.
Germans don’t recycle this much because they are morally superior but because they want to pay less for garbage removal. But really, Lia says it so much better than I, go over and read her post please. Anyways, even my father who thinks that collecting trash for recycling is stupid puts everything in his yellow recycling bag and has several separate trash bins to collect compost, and paper, and glass, and plastic, and all the rest.
So, change does seem possible. And ever individual counts.
And aren’t you glad that for once I managed to write something short in this month of NaNoWriMo, and NaBloPoMo? But please don’t let that stop you from enjoying the wonderful posts on our Just Post list this month:
The Just Writers
Aliki with Affordable Guilt and on unreasonable expectations
Blog Antagonist with Not a drop to drink
bon with Dear Margaret Trudeau
Chani with Restorative Justice … and when community comes together
Crazymumma with Untitled and i just left my yoga class
Get in the car with Philanthropy Thursday
Glennia with why poverty matters
Her Bad Mother with No Shame
Jen with Respect Your Mother, 13 million reasons, little boy lost and
my first mothering
Jennifer with potatoes for dinner
KC with A physician’s perspective on universal health care
Mary Alice with Philanthropy Thursday
Mother Woman with On
the library strike
Painted Maypole with My Pink Ribbon and gratitude and giving
Slouching Mom with Smog
Sober Briquette with This pacifist gets all patriotic
and Sunday dinner left-overs
Susan Wagner with Wrinkle in Time, or Thoughts on Turning 40
Susanne with Art and creativity are pivotal
Suzanne Reisman on BlogHer with More Contraceptive Use, Fewer Abortions and with Combating The Stereotypes and Injustice Surrounding Male Rape
Thordora with Mentally ill lighter sentences
Maggie with Respect and Old Age and environment
League of Maternal Justice with Mission #3
It’s Not A Lecture with something good in facebook for a change
Mom’s Speak Up with American People = Bush’s ATM
been there with BlogDay for Mothers ACT
From the front lines with Philanthropy Thursday
Cecilieaux with what makes pedophiles look good
A Commonplace Book with nooses: why now?
Snoskred with please help do what you can to stop internet scammers NOW
Jenn with do you know me
Julia with what’s in a number
Thordora with It’s not so easy being hard
Julie with Imagine, tie a red ribbon round my daughter’s wrist and take me to toxic town
Biodtl with no child insured, either and why I can never vote Republican
Mimi with brave new boobs post
Jangari with another pseudo apology and more white exceptions to grog bans
Roy with let’s have a wake! chivalry is dead
Mrs. Chili with shouting it from the rooftops
Mary G. with ouch that hurt and letter to danier leather
Alejna with hungry
Ancors and Masts with how would you deal with it?
Beansprouts with I believe
Fortune and Glory with Oneness and Bomb, bomb Iran
Riversands Feeding and Gardening project with Mothers who volunteer
Princess Mouse with The Power of Community – How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
Permaculture in Brittany with Houston, we’ve had a problem
Small Meadow Farm with Reduce Reuse Recycle
The coffee house with Positive Thinking/
The chickens have escaped! with No eggs, just rats
Beyond the fields we know with Mama says Om – Divided
Trailer Park Girl with what if
Well, I already feel very geeky having gotten my very own domain and server space and having installed my blog all on my own. (Interestingly this feels more geeky than having installed my husband’s blog. Weird.) Also for my birthday I got a couple of ThinkGeek tees and how much geekier can you get than that. I have been running around in t-shirts with jokes I had to explain to everyone by the way. And then they didn’t get them anyway. Jokes like, “There are 10 types of people in the world…” But maybe one only gets this when a) being involved with computer programming and b) having started working with computers at a time when everyone had to learn binary.
To prove my geekiness I can proudly tell you that I almost had followed a career as a computer programmer. Really. Just when I had earned my MA in music education I was offered a job as a programmer. I chose to become a college professor instead and, well, that didn’t work out as planned.
My beloved PDA had shown signs of heart battery failure for some time. It started about a year ago but with a hard reset (and the loss of all my financial data) his health was restored if not to its old height then surely to an adequate level. A couple of weeks ago it started again. I had to recharge it once or twice a day. Well, I knew what to do, hard reset again (this means wiping the whole hard drive of the PDA and restoring all programs and data), but – nada. The problem persisted.
I talked to one of my students about it, a teenager who collects PDAs and small computers and who put a screwdriver to his sparkly new cell phone, and he told me to change the battery. Easy option one would think but, to be frank, one not encouraged by the manufacturer of that PDA. He advises you if ever your battery should be faulty you should send the PDA to the company to get a replacement. That would have been an option if it hadn’t involved a) being without my PDA for days, maybe weeks, and b) paying at least half of the price of a new PDA.
I would have opted for buying a new PDA but then they aren’t cheap and the new ones don’t come with cameras or microphones. Well, to cut a long story short (and you thought I couldn’t do that), I ordered a new battery and – tada! – put it in my PDA, and – tada again! – it still works beautifully.It was all very exciting. First I had to wait for the battery for ages. Long enough for the original battery to fail completely so that I lost ten days worth of data. (Always do backups, always do backups, especially if you already know that your machine is having battery problems.) Thankfully it was a slow week and the main thing I lost was the record of how much I weighed that week. Because I weigh myself daily and put the weight into my PDA which then shows me a little graph. It had been going up anyway and so I didn’t care that it was lost.
When I wrote an e-mail to inquire about my battery I found out that while they had recorded both my order and my payment the had then mysteriously failed to connect the dots and to ship anything. Ah, German customer service! I received a reply saying, “We have received your order. For mysterious reasons the battery wasn’t shipped. It will be shipped today. End of e-mail.” Now, this is why I love ordering overseas. While I hadn’t expected the PDA parts store to wrap their goods in pink tissues paper and include a handwritten note like HagRags or u-handbag or (there are exceptions to German customer service) Woll-Sucht I would have appreciated a “Sorry for the wait.” immensely.
Well, my battery arrived on Saturday. I demanded quiet and peace and while my son and husband were occupied with soldering new electronic parts into electrical guitars (Really, I kid you not. Well, my son wasn’t actually soldering anything, he is not quite five after all.) I spent about thirty minutes prying the label from the back of the PDA. If I ever plan to do that again by the way I won’t remove the whole label but only cut away a tiny part of it. (There are instructions here and here. They are very helpful, especially when you read them both through before starting.) The next problem was finding the right screwdriver. Since we inherited something like a whole electronics workshop from my husband’s father I was sure we had the right screwdrivers. But I was wrong.
That day I was very grateful that nowadays shops in Germany are open on Saturday afternoons too because just ten years ago I would have had to wait until Monday morning. So I bought three tiny screwdrivers and some wood for our stove. Came back and spend about an hour or so trying to open the casing without breaking the whole thing. This is how the inside of my PDA looks like:
The other thing we didn’t have was double-sided tape. So if I ever open that thing again the battery will clonk out. But I doubt that I will. The life of a PDA is short. I have learned that it is supposed to last for three years if used between 20 and 40 minutes daily. Mine has been used much more than that because I used it to listen to MP3s and play games on it too. By the time the new battery gives in there probably will be something else wrong with it. But maybe not. We’ll see.
So. Are you a geek? I’d say everybody who is into blogging qualifies. Or not? Discuss.
Speaking of discussion I’d like to remind you of the Just Post roundtables for October. If you have written or read a post about matters of social justice, please send me the link to diapersandmusic at web dot de until the 7th. On the 10th Mad, Jen, Hel, and I will be putting all the links up again.
It’s that month again. National Novel Writing Month.
And I will be participating. I already did it last year, and so I have a feeling that it is do-able. I’m a hopeless optimist and so I’m convinced that of course this year I will be very disciplined, I will write 2,000 words every day without fail, in the morning.
Well, yes, I find that funny too. My husband? Not so much. You have to remember that I didn’t only do NaNoWriMo last year but also FAWM (February Album Writing Month), and Script Frenzy. And while I do have a note from Script Frenzy that entitles me to an open-ended sabbatical from all housework, really, that would be a little too much to ask of my husband. Especially since he teaches much more students than me, and does more housework too. (And has a blog or two and music to make.)
So, there has been a bit of a debate going on whether it is a good thing for me to write a novel in a month again. I was all committed though I start to regret it already. I have had great plans of writing thousands of words in the first few days and so far I have been struggling to write anything. See, that is so typical of me. Instead of being proud that I wrote 3,790 words of my new novel, I’m disappointed because I had wanted to write 6,000 words until today. Which was a bit of a silly plan because while we have vacation again there also is no kindergarten. No kindergarten means less productivity. Add to that my attempt to do housework, and a major procrastination tendency… And you end up with enough words to write 50,000 in November but not enough to be ahead.
Also I’m not caring about my characters much. This year I’m writing about a 40-year-old mother in midlife crisis. There are definite resemblances to me but she isn’t me. Not at all. I decided that after last years drama with aliens and psychics and teleportation, and my screen play about evil witches killing off female drummers, this year I’d write something real. Maybe even with feelings. Who knows.
Of course I had planned to prepare myself. Last year I prepared food in advance, I bought all Christmas presents, the only thing I didn’t do was an outline or any character planning. I meant to but I never did. Well, this year I prepared nothing since all that preparation last year only mad October more stressful but didn’t help much for November.
The only thing I definitely wanted to do this year was thinking about my novel in advance. Maybe even outlining it. But I couldn’t. I wrote to Sofia about it:
For my next book, I will be making an outline and Susanne , a toytown writer, doesn’t know if she could use an outline… but the thing is she uses an outline for everything else why not her writing. she uses one everyday and her writing should not be any different. For each thing she sews and knits there is a pattern and even though she may not follow it, the pattern allows her to see where she is going.
That made me think (I know it doesn’t take much for that). She is right. I’m using outlines and patterns and such all the time. Even in music I play songs that already exist. But there is a difference, at least for me: knitting and sewing and cooking all start with a vision of the finished product. I see that in my mind and then I think about how to create it. Writing to me is more like musical improvisation. I just start singing somewhere and see where it takes me. I repeat things, I do something new, it shapes itself as I do it. I’m not much interested right now in telling a story I already know. And my reluctance to outline has to do with the structure of NaNoWriMo too.
You’re not supposed to write parts of the novel before November. The whole thing has to be written in those 30 days. Otherwise it would be cheating. If I were to start writing about my characters or an outline or something, I’d end up writing parts of the novel before starting. So I need to write about the characters and the novel to find out about them and, well, there you are.
Of course that’s quite exciting. I don’t know anything about my story yet. Well, not much. The only thing that I’m ding this time around is end the writing day by starting a new chapter and writing a synopsis of it on top. Like, “Chapter two, in which Iris gets a new job and makes a list.” That is my starting point for the next day.
Oh, and this year I’m writing in English. Which means that I have to have my browser open all the time to look up words. Ahem. Very productive. But still I’m afraid I won’t be able to comment and read as much as usual. Those 2,000 words a day have to come out of somewhere.
Are any of you doing NaNo too? Or NaBloPoMo? National shoe-whatever? Naknitalong (there is something called NaKniSweMo on ravelry, but I am not on ravelry so I can’t tell you about it)? National drawing? Or are you level-headed like my husband and don’t partake in silly competitions?