The “October’s Over” blues

Between Halloween Thanksgiving, I usually experience a serious lull. The weather starts to move from “crisp” to “cold.” The leaves are mostly gone from the trees by this point, and the ones that are left are about as inspiring as pieces of torn-up paper bags.

This is pretty much how I feel this week:

October is really, really over.

This year I have been trying to stave off the blues, but – here they are! I don’t want to do much, I don’t want to work out,  my sinuses are throbbing, and I want to eat 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies and never look back.

I have been taking walks, though, because the weather has been pretty warm and sunny. I know that I’ll regret NOT taking walks once the snow comes, and that’s what motivates me.

Lately, the days have felt like spring. Too warm, too sunny, too blue. It’s been absolutely wonderful.

A sunny, wonderful walk.

I  hate to wish away any chunk of time, but I long for Thanksgiving. All of that cooking and baking puts me in a wonderful mood. And then – well, then, there is a whole glorious month of anticipation and a growing landscape of twinkly lights to pull me through.

There ain’t no easy way out.

So, I just spent the past 20 minutes writing a whiny post about having a bad day, and guess what? Just writing it out kind of turned my day around. Thank you, schedule, for making me sit down and write.

The title of this post is from the chorus of a Tom Petty song. Someone once asked what the theme song for my life would be, and I answered, with no hesitation, “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty. Every time I sit down to write a blog post, this is my ritual. That is the first song I play. It reminds me of how far I have come and how far I still have to go. It makes me feel 100% positive that I will get there some day. And it also reminds me, as if I really need it, that the only way out is through.

I love Tom Petty for a multitude of reasons. He has principles and beliefs about his industry, his craft, and himself that he does not violate. He knows his boundaries and he flourishes within them.

I once did an exercise in a creative writing class where we, the students, were given pictures of doorways. The exercise, doled out to us piece by piece as we wrote, was to walk up to the door and notice all the details. Then it was to receive a note from our muse saying that “the muse” needed to talk. Then, it was to open the door and see our muse there. I saw Tom Petty. Then, it was to imagine and write out the conversation that we had with our muse. In my writing exercise, he just asked me what was up – why wasn’t I writing? I gave him some excuses about life being hard and work being sad and awful, and it being winter. And me feeling depleted. And do you know what he said to me? “Bullshit, man.”

And do you know what I said back? “I know.”

But here is what Tom Petty as my muse left me with: You have everything you need for the dream in your heart. You just need to take one step. And your muse is there for inspiration, whenever you need it.

The Story of Us: Part 3

This is the third part of a series called The Story of Us. Follow the link to find all of the posts in the series.

So, last time I left you in my story, I was about to become seriously, depressingly, heart-and-bank-breakingly underemployed. But it was only going to last for a couple of weeks.

Ten Months. Ten months is how long I had to work at just above minimum wage and not make my bills.

The first week that I started at the news stand, Mr. Thor trained me one night.

He was training me how to close the store, and we almost didn’t get out on time – because we talked so much. We talked about astronomy, computer programming, grilled cheese, and everything in between. I never once felt nervous or judged, I never second guessed any word that came out of my mouth.

That night, I google stalked Mr. Thor and realized that he had graduated from Cornell with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

He was a real dork. Brilliant! Not just one of those guys I always seemed to meet in Ithaca who seemed freakishly intelligent but have approximately 5 minutes of intelligent conversation saved up. I swore that very night that Mr. Thor would remain in my life. This guy was seriously cool. Great to talk to. Funny and kind. I desperately wanted, no – needed, to be this man’s friend.

Over the next few weeks, I realized what a nerd Mr. Thor truly was. He walked 20 minutes across town to work, and he carried a duffel bag filled with books and notebooks so that he could read and take notes during the lulls in the night shift. He read books on physics and language and astronomy. He ate PB&Js and drank coffee.

Over the course of November and December, Mr. Thor and I started to develop what felt like a real friendship. We talked about movies and books and asked each other how our days off were going. We went out to coffee. He came over for dinner. Near the middle of December, we went to a concert together.

By the way, I consider the concert our first official date – he paid and I left my glasses in the car and was blind all evening so that my brown eyes could steal his heart.

The night of the concert, I drove him home. We had just enjoyed the type of wonderfully weird evening that only Ithaca can provide. As I idled on the street outside his house while we said goodbye, I had no idea that something magical was about to happen – something that would change the course of my life forever.

Right after he hugged me? Mr. Thor asked me for my e-mail address.

Monday, Monday

I intended to post another installment of The Story of Us today, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet. I promise I will post Part 3 soon.

Today, I want to tell you about a thought that has absolutely haunted me for the past year or so.

“…How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

The quote is from Annie Dillard, who sneaked her way on to my list of favorite authors about 6 years ago. She is not always easy to read, but she is rich and dense and lovely.

I once gave her book The Writing Life to a friend I thought was a magnificent writer and that friend said, “Reading this made me realize that I am not actually a writer.”

Annie Dillard is like that. Reading that book actually made me sad to realize that I probably WAS a writer, and such was my lot in life.

Here is the whole block of text that follows the quote above. I find it so true about the importance of a schedule, probably not only for a writer, but for other creatives as well. The world is too intriguing, there is too much to explore. If I don’t nail down the hours, they always seem to float away.

“What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living.”

Adventures in Blogging

This week has been so great for me. Making myself produce multiple blog posts per week has forced a schedule into my life, which has worked wonders for my mood. I can’t believe it. I have been SO happy since I started blogging every day. 8 pm is my blogging time, and I write a post for the next day. Sometimes, to get ahead, I start posts on my lunch break. I decided not to write posts more than 2 days ahead AND to still post when I wanted to just get on here and ramble (see today).

And, you guys, WOW! I have been getting the best, most thoughtful comments. The people who read and comment here (admittedly, at this point, all friends of mine from the past and present) really read and comment. So:

Dear commenters: you’re smart and funny and I’m glad you’re here.

Dear lurkers: I am also glad you’re here, and I would love you to comment if something strikes your fancy.

Dear person who found my blog by googling “i hate ms. thor”: Am I the right person? Do you really hate me?

To wrap up my ramble, I am going to celebrate that TWO! people I know with blogs are participating in NaBloPoMo. Which, every time I type? I type as NaNoWriMo.  sigh.

First, a real life friend, Elena Cambio at Fred In The Can.

Second, an online friend of several years, fancypance.

Both smart women who I am lucky to have in my circle. Check them out!

P.S. today is the last day to sign up for NaBloPoMo, so, if you have a blog- consider joining in, will you?

The Story of Us: Part 2

Find Part 1 here. This is part of a series called The Story of Us.

I think that the story of us actually needs a bit of  a lead-in – just a sliver of the story of me and how I came into the picture.

Although I have spent most of my life in New York state, I did call Nashville my home for a few brief and amazing years. I went to concerts, parties, more concerts, more parties, still more parties, more concerts… I was surrounded by music and fun people. I thought I was home for good.

And then I started to miss my family.

I sat alone on Thanksgiving morning 2005 and cried while I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and ate a Nutri-grain bar.  Although I loved Nashville, I decided that day that I had to move home.

About a year and a half later, I got laid off. I was not upset to receive the news – this was my chance and I was going home! In August of 2007, I moved in with a friend who lived in the hills outside of Ithaca. I had started putting out resumes and had secured a couple of promising phone interviews before I moved back. I assumed that, although I had a paltry severance package (6 weeks of pay), that momentum would keep right on rolling until it developed into a full-time job, and I would be working again in NO time.

Six weeks came and went.

In October, I still didn’t have a job.

My paltry severance package was running out and, at this point, the only communication I was receiving from potential employers was coming fast and furious in the form of boilerplate rejection letters wishing me the best of luck with my continued job search.

Then, one day, my phone rang. It was not a call to tell me how great my resume was and that I would be interviewing at Cornell the next week. It was PJ, the manager at a local magazine and tobacco store in Ithaca. I used to work at another branch of that magazine store – it was my first job right out of high school. PJ wanted to know why I hadn’t called her yet. I had completely forgotten that I reconnected with her when I was in Nashville – just in case nothing else came along.  Well, what luck. Nothing else had come along, and she had a full-time position open.

You can imagine that I was thrilled at the possibility of going back there. Thrilled at the prospect of slinging “dirty” magazines, tobacco, lotto, and coffee. Overjoyed at making close to minimum wage.

Still, low income was better for me than no income, and I took that job. My first day was in late October, 2007. It was temporary, you know?

Maybe a few weeks or a month. Just until I found another job.

“Mother May I?” Syndrome

Yesterday, I posted the first post in a series called The Story of Us. Come back tomorrow for Part 2.

Did you ever play the game “Mother May I” when you were a kid? In this game, the goal is to reach the person who is acting as the “mother” – and that is also the person who gives you permission to move forward. In order to move forward, you have to wait for the person who is playing the mother to say something like, “Amy, take 3 giant steps forward.” And then, you have to ask “Mother May I?” And the “mother” can then say yes or no.

At least that’s how I remember it. It’s kind of like Simon Says, in that you have to have someone else’s permission to do anything at all.

Sometimes I catch myself living my life like I am playing Mother May I or Simon Says. I get a great idea, I think of a “move” I’d like to make. And before I even have a chance to get started, I think I don’t have permission. It’s not that obvious, though. Sometimes I just seem to think something is silly. I don’t believe that my idea is fleshed out enough to move forward. So, metaphorically, I kind of ask “Mother May I?”

And, imagine it – the universe never responds.

This is something I want to work through in the coming year. I want to live like I don’t need permission. I want to stop being apologetic about my weirdness and embrace my unique ideas.

And you should, too.

The Story of Us: Part 1

I went to a cousin’s wedding last weekend. I sat with another cousin (I have several cousins, believe me. I have been to 5 cousin weddings in the past couple of years. Plus, my own wedding, which I will count, since I am a cousin.) and she was asking me about the story of me and Mr. Thor.  You see, we didn’t have a cousin wedding, where cousins could sit with other cousins and talk about still more cousins. We – SHH! – we eloped.

And it was awesome.

You may think that now, every awesome wedding I attend makes me regret not having a wedding. For example, at my most recent cousin’s wedding, the bridal party entered the reception to Star Wars music, and the groomsmen had light sabres.

But, see, I wouldn’t have thought of that. So there is no need for me to feel bad because I didn’t have a wedding. Instead, I feel good. Good about the man I married, good about the day I got married, and good about the dinner I ate that night. It was so fun, and so low-key, and so US – and isn’t that what the wedding is actually about, anyway?

So, some people don’t know the story of how two socially awkward weirdos who have never dated or been in relationships before met each other and fell in love and got married 4 or so years later.  We don’t have a particularly riveting story, but it’s ours… and I really, really like it.

So, I think that’s how I will start filling up my blog this November. I will write about the story of us.



I was thinking about signing up for NaNoWriMo this month, but really, I kind of knew beforehand that I just didn’t have it in me this year. Also – and I know this seems kind of bizarre coming from a person who dreams of writing for a living – I don’t really WANT to write a novel. I want to write a blog, I want to write poems, I want to write some short stories and short nonfiction, and I maybe want to write my “memWAhh” about my life in the CIA – er, wait. 

Anyway, rather than go for one insane goal during this month, I decided to go for a different insane goal this month: NaBloPoMo. It’s a challenge for me to update my blog once per month, and this thing I have just joined requires posting every single day. I have tried this before and failed, but I think that things are lined up just right this month for me to actually be able to pull it off. 

So, if you read, please comment if you don’t see me posting. If you blog, will you consider going insane with me this month? You have until November 5th to decide. 🙂

P.S.: I may be a huge dork, but I love that today is 11/1/11. I keep looking for reasons to write the date.

P.P.S.: I finally hit over 10,000 steps on my pedometer yesterday. First time ever!

P.P.P.S.: That’s all, really. Thank you for reading my blog!