Summer has officially begun

Hello, friends! Are you enjoying the summer? I am…when I’m not working hard at indoor extracurricular activities — like writing. Yes, writing! (What, you thought I was talking about something more fun?)

I’ve been out of touch because I’ve been pounding the keys these last few weeks. Have I been crafting Pulitzer Prize-winning stories? A new novel? Screenplays exposing the destruction of the environment by corporations, secret/not secret government survellience programs, or the vain and nonsensical trend of celebrities making up stupid baby names just because they can?

No.

No.

And…no.

Actually I wrote a 900+ word essay about dating — yes, dating and meeting my husband — to submit for publication in an anthology (about dating) with about the same speed as I can muster to read a book. That is, not fast, about 30 words per night. Let’s just say that, despite the light subject matter, I’m a little rusty at the whole writing thing. The good news is that I finished and submitted it and can go back to working during my lunch hour rather than trying to squeeze in other things…at least until I start drafting my children’s book. Wahaha.

On an entirely unrelated note, I have managed to get out in the evenings for walks with the family or bike riding. A few days ago Joe and I rode along the North Shore of Pittsburgh. All was well until I looked behind us and saw that the crystal blue sky had become a very, very ominous shade of gray. We were nowhere near our cars, so we rode harder to try and beat the storm. At one point we passed a guy walking on the path, who shouted melodramatically to me, “The storm is coming!” I shouted back, “I KNOOWWWW!” and pedaled even faster. It was like I was biking for my life with that annoying music from the Wizard of Oz playing in my head.

 

In the end we arrived at our cars, hooked the bikes up on the bike rack, and moved his truck and my car under a bridge safe and sound. Joe said he’d never seen me bike so fast. Maybe I need to add severe weather simulation to my exercise regimen?

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Spring fever

When I re-started blogging in January I decided I wouldn’t put pressure on myself to post at any specific frequency. My goal is to post once a week and, for the most part, I’ve been able to do that. I’d also like to write compelling, funny, relevant and/or thought-provoking posts, but who am I kidding? This is a personal blog about my midlife mayhem (a fine reality TV show title)! I think up ideas all the time, but some are just downright inane when compared to what’s happening in the world today.

But I suspect you don’t you come here expecting hard news and careful introspection, so here’s a round-up of my last two weeks:

Garage sale madness continued, then not.

Remember the mega sale in April? No? Well, I do and not just because I’m scarred for life from the experience of hauling in and hauling out, storing and sorting family wares for 2 years. They talk about house remodeling sending people to the brink of divorce? Prepping for a garage sale comes close to that. Anyway, I’ll always remember the sale because we made $500 for us and another $100 that went back to family members. Woohoo! Last weekend we decided to try and unload even more at a local “Junk in Your Trunk” sale. These are like flea markets and popular in the UK (called “car boot sales”). We made another $75 and then donated the remaining items to Goodwill. I don’t have the stomach to do this each year — and I hope we never have that much stuff again — but it boosted our vacation fund AND helped to clean out my mother-in-law’s and our house. Bonus: Our neighbors can stop thinking we’re the Clampets moving stuff in and out of our house all the time.

Oh, mother.

Oh, brother. I’ve wanted to write about recent experiences with my mother and mother-in-law – after all, part of my return to blogging was to connect with other members of the “sandwich generation” – but it’s just not my place to write about it in detail. Suffice it to say, I’m worried about each of them and, if I’m being honest with myself, about how their decisions are impacting or will impact my life. Welcome, guilt-ridden Sandwich Member! I’ll leave this topic for now, but will share more later. This weighs on my mind.

I am writing, then not, then I am, then not, then…

Decided I need to buckle down on this. (Again. And again.) After all, now that I’m focusing back on what’s in front of me and no longer busting my ass looking for “other opportunities” I can devote energy to what I enjoy, including writing. I spent time last week writing a query/pitch to collaborate on a book with an independent publisher. I’ve also drafted an essay to submit for an anthology. I, of course, think I’m wonderfully qualified for both of these opportunities. Others may not, but you have to be in it to win it. P.S. Notes, ideas, images for my novel continue to bounce around in my head. I’m hoping they’ll make it to paper this summer. Which brings me to…

Ready for summer “vacation” more than the kids.

Like T-Rex, I’m burned out from the school year and have been suffering from spring fever. This week we spent three long nights at wonderful-but-long school concerts and events – did I mention they were long? We’re finishing up taekwondo lessons next week before taking a break for the summer. (The kids protested at first, but I think they’re so pooped out now they don’t mind.) I’m so ready for summer: we’ll go biking, swim, relax, run around camp…

Oh, wait, I still have to go to work every day! Well, I’m still looking forward to the all that fun crammed into evening hours before 9 p.m. and weekends. Yep, can’t wait for that relaxing, “unscheduled” time.

How about you?

Motherhood is not a roller coaster

Here’s a little essay I wrote about Mother’s Day. It appears online, along with many others, at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms — I hope you can take a few moments today to enjoy the ride!

People say motherhood is like riding a roller coaster, but I  think of it as visiting the whole amusement park.

It’s true that we moms experience our share of heart-pounding thrills, those  moments when exhilaration and panic meet. They include a child’s many “firsts”:  His first steps. The first time she performs a solo onstage. The day you know they will leave you to go off to college or to live their own lives.

Raising kids makes us moms want to scream, too – but not in the hands-waving,  “I’m having fun” way! (More like the Edvard Munch way!) From the time my kids  were infants I’ve grit my teeth through stages I thought would never end, only  to be surprised when a “good” stage of childhood ended far too soon…usually  just as I had it figured out. I’m lucky, though. My frustrations have been over  things like tantrums and missed homework assignments; maybe a few outbursts over  my lack of time and sleep. Many moms deal with far worse.

People like to compare motherhood to riding a roller coaster, but a roller  coaster can’t convey the bumper-car silliness of watching your son goof around  in the backyard with his buddies. Or the lazy-river-calm of rocking your baby in  the middle of night. Or feeling like you’ve won the biggest prize in the world  when you see your teenager show extra kindness toward a classmate who’s a little  different or, unexpectedly, toward you.

I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned as a mom and yet how little I know  sometimes. Motherhood has its highs and lows, but it isn’t a closed, predictable  loop. With every sight, every sound, every ride, every day, I discover something  new about my children and myself.

[Now, doesn’t that make you want to visit Kennywood or your favorite park?!]

Just do it already!

Here’s a great piece from The Onion about following your passion…or not.

Because when you get right down to it, everyone has dreams, and you deserve the chance—hell, you owe it to yourself—to pursue those dreams when you only have enough energy to change out of your work clothes and make yourself a half-assed dinner before passing out.

Yep, that’s about it.

Have a great weekend — and, hey, it’s okay to just sit around and watch basketball!

Eat Pray Love…Write

I recently finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love memoir. Overall, I enjoyed the book and it got me thinking about many things:  where I would go if I had a year (a YEAR!!) to travel,  how I changed and grew through the experience of  divorce, the role of prayer and spirituality in my life, what kind of pasta to make for dinner… and writing — my need/desire/dread of writing my second novel.

I’ve been formulating a story for at least a year now; these characters are making noise in my head. I’ve mentally written the opening scene. Yesterday I got out my trusty pad of yellow-lined paper to begin making notes.

The signs are all there that I must do this. Now, I just need to do it and, boy, it’s gonna be a lot of work.

From Gilbert:

Thoughts on Writing

“One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: “That’s actually not my problem.” The point I realized was this – I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write.”

“Writing is not like dancing or modeling; it’s not something where – if you missed it by age 19 – you’re finished. It’s never too late. Your writing will only get better as you get older and wiser. If you write something beautiful and important, and the right person somehow discovers it, they will clear room for you on the bookshelves of the world – at any age. At least try.”

Writing is just a thing. It is a lovely thing, mind you, and it personally means the entire world to me, but I still recognize that it is just a thing. It is a thing that you can choose to pursue with your life because it excites you, or because you have a flair for it, or because it seems more rewarding than toiling away in an office. Sometimes it even works. Not always, but sometimes

“There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, ‘Dear saint–please, please, please…give me the grace to win the lottery.’ This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust, ‘My son –please, please, please…buy a ticket.” – Eat, Pray, Love

 

Taking a bow

Don’t think of this as good-bye.

Well, okay, maybe a little.

Friends, after months of periodically mulling things over, noodling, waffling, and otherwise staring into space for extended periods of time I’ve decided it’s time to end my run here at One-Woman Show. For over two years I’ve shared my tales of juggling life, laundry and love, and blogging has been a part of this juggling. But in the last six months or so I’ve realized how important it is for me to simplify my life a bit more, or at least to focus my time and energy a little differently. And with that comes choices.

For now, I’m choosing to focus on new — and renewed — pursuits instead of blogging:

Like writing a new humor column at The Imperfect Parent!

I’ve spent the last year dishing about single parenting and divorce in my Dinner for One column, but it’s time to change focus, particularly because my single days are winding down. (Woohoo!) So, I pitched an idea to the editor for a new yet-to-be-titled humor column and he liked it. I’ll be starting in late June so check back here or at the Imperfect Parent website for more details!

Like writing and submitting articles, essays…and, eventually, another novel.

I didn’t discover a love of writing until my late 30’s; I didn’t discover blogging until 2007. I’ve often wished I’d made these discoveries earlier in life, but now I understand (or at least begrudgingly admit) they came into my life at exactly the right time.

This blog has helped me find my voice and hone my writing style. It’s also opened up writing opportunities for me — other potential blogging gigs, my first column — plus helped me connect with potential agents, authors, writers, and, yes, readers like you whose feedback and friendship I value so much.

What I haven’t spent as much time doing as I’d like to is writing outside of OWS. I’m excited to change gears now and do more pitching and submissions. Build my portfolio. Collect those clips. Get more paying gigs! Start work on Novel #2.

I don’t know how or where this will all go, but I have confidence it will go somewhere.

I want to (or maybe I have to?) give it a go.

Like volunteering — through blogging!

Yes, you read that right. I’m combining my interest in non-profits and writing by helping to start a blog for HEARTH, a great organization I’ve been involved with for about 5 years. HEARTH helps up to 15 single moms and their children find their footing again – through safe housing, mentoring, parenting and life skills classes — plus a lot of hard work on the women’s part. I hope I can keep up with them as an occasional guest contributor.

Like spending time away from the computer.

Despite all I’ve written about, well, writing, I’m looking forward to spending more time outdoors, more time exercising (because I’m actually exercising again!) and just enjoying more of life with the wonderful people in my life.

That’s what I really want to do when the curtains close.

Oh, there is one other thing.

 

 

Heh. I’ve always wanted to say that (and it’s true). 😉

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading and sharing your comments here.

I’ve loved blogging at OWS and wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself blogging again someday. In the meantime, I’m linking to some of my favorite posts below. Please enjoy them… and see you real soon around town or the internet!

Susan

Best in Show / Vintage Susan/ One Woman’s Favorites to Write:

I Will Beat Myself Silly with a Limp Lizard (One of my all-time favs!)

Scenes Not from an Italian Restaurant

Italian Genes Do Not Equal la Dolce Vita

Query Me This A really fun one to write. Seriously, I cracked myself up.

Party Moms Gone Mad

Complicated Like This

This is My Life

Take A Flying Leap (or Watch Me Take One) Probably the last time you’ll see me jump out of a plane on purpose!

You Tarzan Me Be Jane

Embarrassing Dating Tales I: Mothballs and Me

And MORE Embarrassing Dating Tales: Dwight Was Right (oh, and these are just the “best” tales – oy!)

Wake Me Up Before You BloNoGoGo – A pseudo tribute to NanoWriMo…and if you don’t know what that is, well, never mind

My Life in Poetry (or Not)

Dating and the Patience is a Virtue Experiment

Better yet, when my patience finally paid off:

A Blog, A Law and a Little Luck – Part I

…and Part II (yeah, it’s good 🙂 )

Lucky 13

I’ve had the benefit of being part of my local blogging group, Pittsburgh Bloggers, for the last 2 years, plus a newer mom bloggers group in the area. With Pittsburgh Bloggers, we meet quarterly at a watering hole down by PNC Park for drinks and conversation (and, ironically, no blogging). It’s been a great way to put a face with a name, to network and meet new friends. Heck, it even helped my love life! But I’ve always wanted to meet some of the other bloggers I read — those in cities far, far away. So, back in January when I first found out I would be going to San Francisco on business, I boldly decided to pay for an extra night in the hopes my favorite bloggers in the area would like to meet.

They did!

(Or, they claimed they did!)

Actually, I think these are the only bloggers I know from San Francisco, but that’s besides the point. The point is that I was — and still am — pretty darned geeked about meeting Dadshouse, Depot Dad and Single Mom Seeking in real, offline life!

First, I spent the afternoon with David from Dadshouse. We met in North Beach, where we had lunch outside in the sun at one of the many wonderful cafes, and then a delish steaming cup of cappuccino at the famous espresso landmark, Cafe Trieste. Aren’t you impressed already?! Seriously, it really didn’t matter where we were; David is smart, funny and easy to talk to. And talk we did, about blogging, love/dating — if you read Dadshouse, please let me state for the record that his dating tales are FAR more interesting than mine ever were! — kids, and writing. I find it interesting and a bit of a relief that I’ve found someone who apparently writes his blog posts as slowly as I do! It was interesting, too, to hear more about his novels and their (his?) journey towards publication.

The one thing about David that didn’t impress me so much was his skills as a tour-guide. We walked by this beautiful cathedral across Washington Square and he made a sweeping gesture like he was about to tell me its history, and proclaimed something like, “And over there…is a really old church.”

Doh!

(That’s for you, David 🙂  )

After a brief stop back at my hotel, I met Rachel from Single Mom Seeking and we headed back to North Beach, this time to the equally wonderful Cafe Divine, to have dinner with Jim, aka Depot Dad. (Sidenote: Jim knows Chef David Wees from his Omaha days. Funny how they both ended up in SF. Highly recommend the restaurant, btw.) Let me say that Rachel and Jim were both as I pictured — down-to-earth, warm, funny and very genuine…and genuinely likable. (Rachel also has the most beautiful blue eyes!) Again, the conversation was easy and relaxed, like we’ve known each other for a long time. We talked about so much in a relatively short period of time: what’s happening in our lives, our kids, the blogosphere, and love — dating, relationships, and I suppose in not such an obvious sense, the love of friends. Perhaps even new blogging friends.

We didn’t stay out late, but it’s amazing what you can fit into a few hours. Jim and Rachel had to pick up their kids, and Jim was a little worn out after his latest rounds of treatment. But, it was so worth it, and I hope to vist again. If you ever get the chance to spend a few hours with the bloggers you’ve connected with, I say go for it! Really, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Friday the 13th. Lucky me!

P.S. For those of you who read both Dadshouse and Single Mom Seeking, you know there was…oh, how shall I say… a bit of hubbub last week between the two. I’m not going to comment except to say, yes, I talked to each of them about it; yes, they’re both moving forward; and, no, I didn’t have to break apart our meet-up plans; we planned separate outings on Friday due to scheduling, which always seems trickier for single parents. What I will say is that while each of our “voices” sound different, I believe our intentions in blogging are the same: to express ourselves and our opinions in a manner that is geniune to who we are. As readers, we’re going to like some styles and stories better than others — maybe some of the time, maybe all of the time. As writers, we know just how powerful the written word can be.

Which is why I hope that, someday, they’ll have a chance to talk…whether they decide to blog about it for us or not.

PPS. Would you believe I brought my camera to SF, but forgot to bring it both times I went out. Definitely a double Doh!