Aug 31, 2010

62 Days

Summer is over. Yeah, I know there are still 20-some-odd days left of it in September, but let's be real. There are red leaves on the tree outside my house, football is about to officially start, and my family has been chattering about going apple picking. Summer is over.

That means we're just that much closer to the start of NaNoWriMo 2010, and I couldn't be happier. I'm not looking forward to the shorter days or not being able to play outside with Griffin after work, but I have been longing for those chilly days on the weekend when I can snuggle with my laptop and put onto paper (er, computer screen) what only existed in my head before that. Creating characters, flawed and broken, yet resilient. Describing in detail places I've visited or have longed to see in person. Plot twists and turns. It's all so exciting and it's only 62 days away.

It's not like I don't write any other time of the year, but there's something about that contest. The pressure to write every day. The camaraderie with other writers who understand the frustration and the love/hate relationship with writing under such a tough deadline. And then there's my favorite part - the freedom from perfection. The goal is to just write. Don't worry about finding the perfect word. Forget about how cheesy or awkward something sounds. It's a first draft. Because of NaNo, I successfully silenced my inner critic, and believe me, that was no small task.

Last year was my first NaNoWriMo...and I won (which just means I reached the goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. I didn't really win anything, although I did get an awesome certificate that I proudly hang in my office at work). From that experience, I came away with a half-completed novel that I eventually finished in July. I am slowly working on revisions and hope to have those completed before November 1st so I can start NaNo with a clean slate and new ideas. I do have an idea, by the way, and I'm really excited about it.

So I have a lot to do in the next 62 days - revisions on my first story, basic plotting of my new idea (I've already started that), and a name. I seriously need a name. I cannot, in good conscience, start NaNo with a novel called "Untitled." That's not going to cut it.

I encourage everyone who enjoys writing even the slightest bit to sign up for NaNo this year. I'll even be your NaNo buddy (if that's not an incentive, I don't know what is).

Happy writing!

Aug 26, 2010

Where do we go from here?

Patrick didn't get the job. We didn't even talk about it last night. Neither of us brought it up in conversation - it was much easier to ponder the Cubs' fate next season, or why Griffin likes to throw things when he's tired. I used to obsessively think about things. I could ruminate on one topic for days on end until I was exhausted. I guess I still do that at times, but for the most part, I just do my best not to think about certain things. This is a good example. When I called and told my mom, she started to ask questions. What did they say to him? Do you think he wanted too much money? I simply told her I didn't want to talk about it anymore. It was the truth - my brain was already on overload and I couldn't think. I didn't want to think.

But here I am talking about it, right? The original reason I started this blog over four years ago was to journal my thoughts. I gave up on the pen and paper journal years ago, and thought this would be a good substitute. So I feel that I can comfortably blurt out anything I want to say without forcing anyone to listen to be feel sorry for myself. If you don't want to hear about you, you just stop reading.

I really thought Patrick was going to get that job. It seemed too good to be true - type of work, location, salary and benefits, etc. I could get all philosophical and talk about how there's something better out there for him. The Perfect Job. I could say there's a good reason why he didn't get this job. But you know what? I don't think those things. If there is a good reason, I'd really like to know what it is. And the perfect job? I don't think that exists. In fact, I don't see an end to this anytime soon.

Patrick sold one of his prized possessions the other day so he could bring home some money. It made me sad to watch him sell it. Here I go feeling sorry for myself when there are thousands of people in our same situation. But guess what? This is my life. I'm sure in a few days this will all pass and we'll be right back where we were before. Struggling, but healthy and happy.

Aug 25, 2010


I'm anxious. Anxious and sick. Patrick got a call yesterday about the job he interviewed for a few weeks ago. It was his second interview and it was down to him and one other candidate. They told him it would be a few weeks before they decided anything, so we weren't too worried. OK, I'm lying. I was freaking out. Why? Because November will mark one year that Patrick has been unemployed. One year. It has been scary, frustrating, humbling, and migraine-inducing.

They called and left a message asking him to call back. He did, but had to leave a message. So the waiting continues. We assume he'll know their decision today. My gut tells me he didn't get the job, but I don't know if that's really my gut, or if it's a defense mechanism so if he doesn't get it I can say, "I knew it."

I know I'm putting entirely too much weight on this one job, but when you're closing in on a full year of one paycheck and unemployment, it's that much more important.

Aug 23, 2010

When every day was perfect and you knew it would last forever

Tonight I went back in time almost 20 years. Back to college and back to my first love.

In June 2008 our basement was affected by the floods. It wasn't horrible, but it caused enough damage that Patrick had to pull up the carpet and rip out cabinets. Things were packed into boxes and placed in overhead cabinets and in the garage - anywhere we could find empty space. One month later Griffin was born and everything changed. The carpet and cabinets were reinstalled, but no one really had time to go through those boxes. This afternoon I pulled out a box labelled "Books" and found spiral bound copies of my master's thesis, various school papers, and a composition book. The second I saw the cover of it, I knew what it was. I hadn't opened it in years, and the spine cracked when I did. What I found transported me back to a time in my life when responsibilities were few and my emotions were high.

I've kept journals since I was 14 years old, but this book was different. It was filled with handwritten letters that I never sent to my very first love. When I wrote them, I never intended to send them to him. It was just my way of dealing with all of my emotions.

I started reading them and I couldn't stop:

October 5, 1992

I often think about that one night last year - almost one year ago to be exact. We went for a walk to the park. It seemed like we were there forever. We went on the swings and I jumped off and you chased me. That old man walking his dog stopped us to say how beautiful the night was. We laid down in the grass and talked for hours. I remember how infinite the universe seemed. I felt like I was floating, hovering over the world. We talked until the sky turned the blue that falls somewhere between night and day.

That was 18 years ago. He and I don't speak anymore. We had a weird fight on the phone a number of years ago - a misunderstanding, I guess. I was too proud to call him and he was too scared to call me. So we never spoke after that.

He was the first person I sat and talked with for hours on end. He was the standard on which I judged all other relationships. He was my best friend for so many years. Sometimes, like tonight, I miss him.

Aug 18, 2010

The first time in my life I ever quoted Tom Petty

The waiting is the hardest part.

It is. And it has been for months now. I'm a bit reluctant to even post this because now that I've linked my blog to Facebook, anyone that I'm friends with (and let's face it, most of those people aren't really friends as much as they are acquaintances or ex-boyfriends or people that I was just dying to know how they turned out after our awkward phases in junior high). My point is that any one of those people can now read this - the blog that I started years ago as a way to replace my personal journal. So you might ask, "But Tracy, why on earth would you make public all of your private thoughts?" The simple answer is - I never thought anyone would ever read this. However, I have written and posted things that I do want people to read. So I battle with how much I really want people to know. At this point in my life, it doesn't really matter anymore because I just don't care what acquaintances from high school and college think about me. I so wish I felt that way back then.

Having said all that, some of my real friends know how rough things have been lately in my household. We went from a two-income, financially stable family to a single-income, financially unstable family. To put it in perspective, I work for a local non-profit as a grant writer/fund raiser. For those of you who can't read between the lines, non-profit = I'm not rolling in dough. I have a steady paycheck and I do OK, but we have a mortgage and day care and utilities and food and oh-my-god-if-Griffin-needs-one-more-round-of-antibiotics-or-inhalers-I'm going-to scream. The bottom line is we owe more than we make.

I am grateful that Patrick is getting unemployment each week, and even more grateful that while it must be a total blow to his ego to have to file an unemployment claim each week, he does it for all of us. We went about two months on just my paycheck and it was very difficult. One of the things that upsets me so much is that we are quickly approaching the one-year mark for him being without a full-time job. I bite my tongue all the time so I don't add any additional stress to his life by mentioning that I'm the only one with a job. But it's true. I am solely financially responsible for my family and my non-profit paycheck doesn't cut it. We're ridiculously behind in our mortgage and I get calls ever day from debt collectors. And it's not like Patrick hasn't been trying. He is waiting to hear back from a local company about a recent interview - it was a second interview, in fact. Any day now we should hear whether he got the position or if the other candidate got it. I'm so anxious about it because right now he doesn't have any other interviews lined up.

And I'm not just saying this because I'm his wife, but I can't imagine someone passing him up. He's smart, loyal, easy to get along with (unless you live with him, and then the abundance of coffee mugs that clutter the counter will drive you batty). Sometimes when I tell people that my husband is unemployed, they look at me a little strange, especially when I say it has been well over six months. Why can't he find a job? What's wrong with him? Is he not looking hard enough? There's nothing wrong with him and he is looking. He's either overqualified (no one wants to hire a guy with his MBA who is really looking for a more permanent, better-paying job) or he's underqualified (he doesn't have the exact experience they're looking for).

I'm not even sure why I engaged in this rant. I'm stressed and overworked and I'm looking at some freelance writing jobs to help bring in more money, which only means that I am going to be even more overworked and stressed.

In the meantime, we just have to wait and see if Patrick gets this job.

Oh Tom, however did you get to be so wise?

Aug 11, 2010

You're still here, but I already miss you

In case you didn't know, it's August. It's August 11th to be exact. Duncan started eighth grade today and on my way into work, I found a tiny, red leaf on the sidewalk. What happened to summer? Wasn't it just yesterday that Duncan went to the end-of-the-school-year party? Didn't we just sit in the bed of the pickup watching the Fourth of July parade?

This happens every year, and every year when the leaves start to change color and the temperature begins to drop, I vow that the next summer I won't let it slip away so fast. I vowed the same thing this past winter. Every night I drove home from work, the sun long gone and the tree branches like crooked fingers in the sky, and longed for warm days and green grass beneath my feet. This summer, I told myself, I'm going to enjoy every day. And here we are, August 11th, and I'm once again wondering what happened.

I did take a week of vacation just after Griffin's birthday so we could spend some time together. We ran errands, played in the pool, and went to the zoo. I tried my hardest to soak it all in. While Griffin played in his sandbox, I sat on the porch and closed my eyes, knowing that I would never get that moment back. The neighborhood was silent. The only sound was Griffin's laughter. That was wonderful, but it wasn't enough. Those days slipped by so quickly, and before I knew it, I was picking out my clothes for the next work day.

I envisioned sitting on our porch late at night, taking in the summer breeze and pointing out the constellations to Griffin. He loves being outdoors, and he loves to point into the sky and shout, "The moon, mommy!" But we never did that. I wanted to eat dinner in the screened-in porch at the back of our house. Griffin and Duncan could chase each other in the backyard and we could enjoy our meal while listening to the crickets or the distant buzz of a lawnmower. But we didn't do that, either.

On my drive to work this morning, I noticed how green and full the trees were. How come I never notice that until the leaves are about to change?

But there's still time. There's still time to show Griffin the stars and eat dinner outside. There's still warm nights to take walks and watch Griffin chase after bubbles.

There's still time.

Aug 9, 2010

Total Copout (aka Picture Overload)

I'm swamped. At work. At home. Things are just crazy, so that's my excuse for not actually writing a post, but only posting pictures. Besides, I'm really behind in downloading all of my pictures. So here you go. Enjoy:

Aug 2, 2010

A little hard to admit

* photo courtesy of flickr

During my pregnancy I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. That rocked my world and my diet. Up to that point I had been eating rather well - fruits and vegetables, very little sweets, lots of water. Thanks to non-stop nausea from weeks 7 through 15, I didn't even gain my first pound until I was halfway into the pregnancy. It was only a few weeks later, when I finally got my appetite back, that I found out about the diabetes. Everything I wanted to eat was off limits. I only ended up gaining 16 pounds by the time I had Griffin. I'll be the first to admit that when I found out I was pregnant I worried about gaining too much weight. I know I shouldn't have been thinking about that, but I did, and I know I'm not alone. I was 35 years old, so my body was different from what it was ten years earlier.

I was happy that I only gained the 16 pounds (and I ate a healthy diabetic diet), and I was even happier when I got home from the hospital and saw that I lost all but three pounds. I ended up losing all the weight in about 5 days and eventually lost another 7 just by walking a colicky baby throughout the neighborhood three times a day. I was finally below my pre-pregnancy weight (I was not happy with where I started when I got pregnant). I kept it off for a while, mostly because of all the walking and the stress of a newborn.

Something happened along the way. I don't even know when it was, but the weight slowly started to come back. I think I can start to trace it back to when Patrick's dad was in the hospital and then in hospice. I was home alone with Griffin, who was 6 months old at the time. He was having trouble sleeping (I swear he could sense the stress in our house), and was waking up every 45-60 minutes. I barely slept. When I'd visit my father-in-law at hospice, someone would inevitably offer to run down to the cafeteria and pick up coffee for everyone. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I'd ask for a Coke. I never drink pop before 12 PM. I never have, but I did then. I kept pushing it earlier and earlier, and before I knew it, I was drinking pop at 10:30 AM. My point is I started drinking lots of pop back then. Everything kind of spiraled out of control after that. It seemed like everyone was depressed and under a lot of stress. I was tired and depressed and didn't feel like exercising. Just a lot of bad habits.

So here I am, two years after giving birth and I actually weigh two pounds less than I did when I was nine months pregnant. Seriously. Two pounds less than being nine months pregnant. Gross.

I know it doesn't really look like it (I can hide it well), but it's very obvious to me. I'm uncomfortable and depressed about it. So I'm finally trying to take control of the situation. I have never been on a diet in my life, aside from the diabetic diet. I did great with that, but I had a really good reason to stick with it. I need to eat better (and less) and I need to get back to exercising. It sounds so simple, but I know it won't be.

So wish me luck!

Two pounds less than full-term pregnancy weight {shudder}.