May 29, 2009

Friday 5 for May 29: Longs and Shorts, Again

1. What is the longest you’ve gone between haircuts? Seven years.

2. What is the shortest hour of the day? The first one. I think it has something to do with that first cup of coffee and not wanting the day to start rolling.

3. What is the longest line you’ve ever stood in? Waterpark, for "the big slide."

4. Who’s your shortest adult friend? Define "short." If it means "shorter than me," that would be my cousin -- 5' tall, and she wears a size 5 shoe.

5. Who among your current friends have you known the longest? Emily the Eldest Cactus. We met on the first day of 4th grade. I was fascinated with her long blonde hair and the fact she'd been "homeschooled" (What's that???) and traveled the country with her family in an RV.

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On Painting "Hula Holokū"

It's 2:30 A.M. It took me 3.5 hours to complete Hula Holokū.

I'm surprised by that, because a drawing takes no less than 9 hours. This is only the second acrylic painting I've done; I expected it to be a multi-evening project.

I feel better after painting, though. Way too strange that I departed from writing, but whatever it was I needed to express is indeed expressed.

Not sure what I'll do with this one. A photo submission is in order, but the original.... If I don't find a place for it here at home, there are plenty of family members who would want it. Or, I could save it for that exhibit I've been meaning to have for -- what -- ten years? Yeah, that'll happen.

I just hope I can fall asleep. Revved up like nobody's business.

May 26, 2009

Personal Market Targets & Publication Stats 2008-2009

Writing & art opportunities are really kicking up. I've got to be extremely careful about over-committing in other areas. I could sabotage it all before I even really get started.

I've really enjoyed writing the column for AcadianaMoms magazine. That's a monthly commitment I truly look forward to, even if I've had trouble keeping to a solid deadline. I never fail to find inspiration when it comes down to the wire. Never a dull moment in this family, and I like to think I'm highly teachable. That makes for a constant influx of ideas.

Now, Lafayette has a new pet magazine: Animal Lovers Guide of Acadiana. I've been aching to write for an animal interest publication. How lucky was that to stumble across the premiere issue on dog-park day? First sub for that one is fired off.

Also received an invitation to sub to Kumu Keli'i Chang's Houston hālau newsletter. Format is completely flexible, so it could be an article, art, fiction, and/or poetry. I have a mind to sub it all, though not all at once.

And, Dr. Billy Fontenot of Louisiana State University at Eunice recently sent out a call for submissions for next year's issue of The Louisiana Review. Formats are art, fiction, and/or poetry. I think I'll go for three out of three there, too.

Reviewed and updated my submissions log tonight: All-time publication rate of 50%.

2008 - 2009 Publication Stats (so far):
  • 40% of lifetime submissions were published 2008-2009.
  • 70% were published locally.
  • 85% offered compensation.
  • 75% nonfiction works, 25% fiction & poetry.
Surprisingly, the bulk of sold works were local nonfiction. I've always thought I'd break into print through fiction. I'm not discouraged, though. Writing professionally, no matter what the content and format, is writing professionally. Once one is accustomed to the process, she has a substantial headstart in placing more ambitious works.

I think I'll have a nice, solid foundation by the time we get our property and I get my little writing studio built. I have 100% faith I'll be right where I need to be to start on that larger work. I have patience, and I'm committed to THAT.

May 24, 2009

People We Don't "Get"

Thinking about those things I "get," and those things I "don't get." Getting or not getting is often the line drawn between indifference and judgment.

We "get" someone we know. They're good in our book. Immediate respect, if not acceptance.

We don't get someone we know. They're underdeveloped, undereducated, psycho, or a whole 'nother pie in the Venn Diagram. Whatever the case, they're still beneath Us.


Perhaps they're saved from immediate rejection because we're intrigued. Intrigue postpones judgment until we know enough to make a judgment call. Then, they're either 1) chaff for the chaff pile, 2) so out-there, they're cool (and we're even cooler because we "get" them), or 3) the same as you and me, but aware of elements of existence we may have never heard of.

Nothing is stupid.

Some people train all year to take the title of the next Anyfood-Eating Contest. Well, why would someone take competitive eating so seriously?

Could we at all imagine a "good" reason? For just a moment? Could we bet it all that no competitive eater has a good reason for choosing her aspiration?

I believe there is at least one "good" reason, one reason that would serve as a tiny artery, carrying empathy from one polarized creature to another. If we knew that answer, we might be so much slower to judge competitive eaters. We might "get" them.

Some folks I don't "get," but suspect there may be at least one story with which I could sympathize, which would shatter any preconceived notions I have and perhaps strengthen my character:
  • strippers
  • (pseudo-religious) Elvis fans
  • nudist families
  • mail-order brides
  • gangsters over 35
  • serious (and successful) artists who have no time for humor in life
  • defense lawyers
  • priests who are ordained very, very young
  • professional boxers
My question is, "I don't get it. WHY?"

And now that I think of it, any one of these individuals would make a great protagonist for a book.

May 23, 2009

The Louisiana Review - Seeking art & literary submissions

The Louisiana Review, an annual art and literary journal of Louisiana State University at Eunice, is now accepting submissions of art, fiction, and poetry for inclusion in the Spring 2010 volume.

From The Louisiana Review website:
The Louisiana Review publishes fiction, poetry, and art. While we gladly consider publishing quality work from any source, first attention is given to Louisiana artists and Louisiana/Southern United States-themed pieces.

Submissions are accepted year round. No previously published fiction, poetry, or art.

Include a cover letter with name, address, phone, and email (if available). Please include a short biography and association with Louisiana, if any.
For additional submission guidelines and details, visit The Louisiana Review website, or browse the journal MySpace page.

The Louisiana Review -
The Louisiana Review (MySpace) -

She didn't flinch.

Sometimes, we wonder what we'll do if we ever "go There." If we're lucky, we can hold to our own boundaries if we decide we will never go there.

But what if "There" comes "Here"?

I'm an Avoidant. I think I was probably born an Avoidant. Big Sis clarified at one of those There junctures many miles back. The truth of it stung, but that was a side effect of immaturity.

I must be some measure of mature now, so I don't think those kinds of truths really sting all that much anymore. Not that I'm cynical, but not much surprises me these days. If Big Sis were to tell me I'm delusional, I'd "Hmm...," do a quick retrospective survey, see that she's right, and then hit the drawing board to draft ways of dealing with it.

There it is. And it's okay. I'm not fazed a bit. As a matter of fact, and oddly, I'm sort of welcoming the challenge. The psyche builds up callouses after a while; I think I'm ready to test mine a little.

-- Not that that's an invitation to the universe to start dumping on me. Be kind, please.

No, I can handle it today. I don't know much, and I don't know many, but the ones I do know are beautiful in their imperfection. I wouldn't change them a bit. And I wouldn't want any, anyone else in the world.

I lied. There are a few things left in the world that surprise me -- one being I find myself speaking from a position of strength and self-authority. Awlbee Dam.

Exploring Hypomania

3:17 AM. I did very well trying the melatonin for sleep; it's an effective supplement, but I think the present set of symptoms are too great to penetrate.

Dropped off to sleep at 12:55. I did reach R.E.M., but the last (guessing) third of the sleep session was thin enough I was mildly coherent and remember it. If I do the math, I probably slept for two hours.

Now, I'm awake and feeling refreshed. It's the middle of the night, for Pete's sake. I shouldn't be awake and feeling refreshed. But rather than waste the time playing Scrabble or feeding my face, I continued research on my symptoms, since they're fairly pronounced at the moment, and I'm acutely aware of them.

Research led me to Hypomania, or "A mild form of mania, characterized by hyperactivity and euphoria."

Says Wikipedia:
According to the DSM-IV-TR, a hypomanic episode includes, over the course of at least 4 days, elevated mood plus three of the following symptoms OR irritable mood plus four of the following symptoms:
  • pressured speech; rapid talking
  • inflated self-esteem or grandiosity;
  • decreased need for sleep;
  • flight of ideas or the subjective experience that thoughts are racing;
  • easy distractibility and attention-deficit (superficially similar to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder);
  • increase in psychomotor agitation; and
  • steep involvement in pleasurable activities that may have a high potential for negative psycho-social or physical consequences (e.g., the person engages in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments).
In the hypomanic state, people may feel like they can't slow their mind down, and that the speeding thoughts are crafted exceptionally well. Some examples are speaking or writing in rhyme or alliteration without planning it first; quick responses to people talking; or the ability to improvise easily on the spot.
Six out of seven -- four symptoms of which first grabbed my attention and led to the research in the first place.


I'm not seeking a label (although on many levels, a label would help me feel a lot better about it all), because accepting a label may mean committing to a specific treatment plan, which may not be necessary or entirely effective.

What I want is a definite, established coping strategy. Thankfully, I think I've already crafted a strategy quite similar to the ones below.

From Hypomania Part VI: Coping...
Jodie, who has been free of serious episodes for three years, has learned to take her pills without resentment, has limited her social activities and involvement in various projects, and has established a regular sleep schedule and other routines. Especially important, Jodie has developed "the capacity and insight to see episodes coming on." For example, when she finds herself talking very quickly and craving excitement, she implements her "action plan."


Susie, for instance, knows her main triggers are family stress and caffeine. When she finds herself buying more than one lotto ticket, visiting adult bookshops and writing late at night, she goes to battle stations. This includes limiting her coffee, restricting her access to cash, turning off her computer after 6 pm, and not going to night clubs on her own.
Recently, 'Ailina recognized a pattern in her proclivity to commit to more projects and activities than are humanly possible to manage. Periods of intense planning and optimism are extreme, recurring, and in time, predictable. The end result, however, is always misery when her plans inevitably fail.

Having recognized the changes in her thought patterns, behavior, and consequences of action, 'Ailina is learning to limit her involvement in activities and projects and to allow for a "cooling-off period" before committing to a new opportunity when it arises.

Like Jodie, 'Ailina understands the importance of monitoring her own body and mind, so when symptoms flare --
  • talking rapidly and excitedly
  • compulsive rhymes, puns, and witty turns of phrase
  • rampant inspirations coupled with a sense of self-limitlessness
  • surging activity
  • social bravery (clearly uncharacteristic, as aggravated social anxiety is her "norm")
  • low requirement of sleep
  • friskiness
-- she can take appropriate actions to control the ensuing damage.


Awareness and acknowledgment are the first steps.

May 22, 2009

Friday 5 for May 22: Lessons

1. What kind of out-of-school lessons did you take as a kid? karate, ballet, jazz, tap, gymnastics, karate, karate, karate

2. What valuable lesson did you learn this past week? I can trust my one-and-only with my heart.

3. Who in your life really needs to be taught a lesson? Oh, I can think of a few, but as the Bible says, "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Matthew 7:5) Lottsa beams in this eye o' mine.

4. What kinds of lessons would you love to have a private teacher for right now? "Focusing Your Inspiration: How to tap your muse and keep her"

5. What steps have you taken to lessen the impact of these rough economic times? Hmm..."one of these questions is not like the other; one of these questions is not the same." Quit karate class, cancelled Blockbuster by mail, cut my own hair, pass on frozen entrees. Now, I need to work up the self-discipline to avoid PetSmart.


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May 21, 2009

Day's Thought Samples - 5.21.09

Domestic Wildlife Spotted Today:
  • 1 wolf spider
  • 3 cockroaches (full-grown)
  • 1 adult skink (approx. 6" long, nose to tail-tip)
  • 3 geckos
  • 2 beetles
  • 1 wasp
(Found this guy treading for dear life in Cleo's waterbowl.)


Day's Thought Samples
  • while hosing down the deck:
    "Some people have only one novel in them. I wonder if I'm one. That would be kinda depressing, anticipating it all these years only to realize one book is all I've got. One message, one book. Could my life culminate in the expression of just one message? Harper Lee only had To Kill a Mockingbird. If I'd written To Kill a Mockingbird, would I be satisfied? Or would I feel like I'd somehow failed?"
  • in the bathtub:
    "If I dropped the phone into the water right now, would I die? It's not like it's plugged in. It's only got a couple AA batteries. I might not die, but I'd lose my call. That would really stink. This is a great conversation."
  • listening to Journey:
    "If I were singing karaoke and drunk, would I be able to hit that note?"
  • picking up Bunny from gym:
    "I hope I don't smell as bad to everyone else as I do to myself. It's not like I can say, 'Sorry. Been doin' yard work.'"
  • in the van, after talking to Bunny's gym coach:
    "Wow. No wonder she was staring at that one spot on my face. Big chunk 'o mud right there."
  • waving to the new neighbors as I pulled into the driveway:
    "I wonder if they'll end up hating us because we're so chaotic."
  • cleaning the kitchen:
    "I hope I haven't been drinking the cup of coffee I made last night."

May 20, 2009

Cacti Never Die

I might compare my capacity for tending friendships to a remote locale that sees only two seasons -- full spring, and drought --both extreme. During the season of growth and renewal, friendship is a lovely, thriving thing, bursting with fresh, shared experiences and deep bonding. But inevitably, the land slips into a time of dry, seething silence when I bury beneath the dust into mute withdrawal.

I have loathed this about myself. Before I truly understood it, I used to punish my conscience for being selfish, lazy, and thoughtless with the people who love and trust me. It got to where every time I felt the dry time coming on, I scanned the list of bridges and wondered which ones I'd burn this time.

Honestly, I've never needed much (or many) in the way of friends. One or two (including Miner) bordered my universe. I guess a person can get away with that when they're young, but as we grow older and our lives and personalities become more complex, so does our need for a variety of connections.

Now that I'm grown and I find my reach to friends expanded, I guess I'm more aware of different people's needs in relationships. Being at times unable to meet their needs, I've had plenty experience studying the aftermath of a dissolved friendship, examining exactly how it "fell apart."

I've learned friendships -- even the really, really great ones -- may dissolve in time. Blame it on life. People move, people work overtime. They change interests or fall in love or have kids or change philosophies. Many, many ways life may shift a peg out of a groove. Yet that doesn't mean the structure was never solid.

Still, I think my case goes a little deeper than that. Everyone's got her own equilibrium, her own formula that keeps her balanced and allows her to distribute her energies to survival, maintenance, and pleasure. Some functional equally in all three.

I think I'm the type of person who can function and function well in only one area at a time. This month, all may be right as rain. I'm ready to take on the world, fill my schedule, do it all! Multitasking is my middle name. Bring it on.

The next month, it may be neither about me or you, but about trying to catch up and keep up. Must organize, review, plan, clean, rearrange. It's a time of preparation. Postured for the next thing, but largely unavailable to anything outside the front door.

Or the next month -- God forbid -- it's all I can do to make sure the kids are clean and fed. Forget the world. Forget schedules. Forget cleaning and rearranging. Just leave me alone and let me rot here.

Each season passes. It's the one thing I can count on. I know the present will always change, and I also know my present connections will change. I've also accepted some friendships may dissolve much more quickly than others. That's always painful, but not always regrettable.

When the dust clears and 'Ailina crawls up through the packed dirt into the sunshine, the land's going to look different. There may be a few trees missing, flowers withered away. Maybe the bleached bones of a critter or two.

But there will be the few cacti who by their very nature continue to stand when I can't and haven't. For however long I'm gone, for however much the terrain has changed, I can expect to hear them say: "Hey, you. Welcome back. Long time no see."

May 18, 2009

Love & the Cycle of Vulnerabilities

One should care for a friend's/lover's vulnerabilities as she would a newborn child.

This year in marriage has brought to mind the whole "cycle of vulnerability" that began the moment Miner and I connected. It's through the vulnerabilities we connected, through mutually revealing the shadowy corners of our identities: "You understand me."

But inevitably, as time passed, conflicts led us to tighten our grips on our precious things, rebury them, or deny them. In the heat of anger or desperate insecurity, there were times when I ripped his vulnerabilities apart, or he held mine under a banner of punishment.

Young love -- messy, disoriented, and brutal.

I guess learning to love right has been like learning to act right as we mature -- learning to set aside temper tantrums, learning not to whine, learning to share.

And it's taken me this long to learn to share again. It was not so long ago when I made a conscious decision I'd never be vulnerable again. Ever. I know I'm not unique in that. I'm convinced everyone in a relationship reaches that point, and it's a point that feels permanently established. Trust is such a monster.

What could I do about it but lock up my shadowy corners and throw away the key? Or at least demand my key back from him.

At the time, it felt like we may always be that way, in a proverbial stalemate for the rest of our lives. I decided, "We can live this way. We have enough to make it that we don't need emotional intimacy. We share enough. We don't need to share everything."

That may not have been true, but I accepted it was, and I committed to the long haul thus.

Somewhere along the line, I've come to realize -- defaulting to protect my vulnerabilities is the same as imprisoning myself and blaming Miner for it. Further, it makes me a hypocrite when I blame him for not sharing himself with me. Neither are fair or actual. And when I step back and really take a look at it all, I realize how senseless and sabotaging it all is. Like two kids ending their friendship because neither wants to share her secrets.

Big sister shared a quote:
Lying makes a problem part of the future; truth makes a problem part of the past. -- Rick Pitino
"Lying" is a strong word, but it's perfectly appropriate if I'm being anything but forthcoming about what I'm thinking, feeling. If I'm not upfront about exactly what it is I'm struggling with and exactly how I'm trying to deal with it, how I can I hold Miner responsible for not being there? And how could he ever become genuinely acquainted with me?

From afar, vulnerabilities very often look like weapons.

Vomiting hurts. Creating art from pain, hurts. Anything that requires us to purge something from ourselves...the process hurts. That includes telling the truth.

Why has the truth been so difficult for me in the past? I think pride is a big, big reason. I don't want to admit I'm weak. or imperfect. or obvious in my flaws. or wrong. Because "people" will take advantage of that and beat me down, punish me, laugh at me, blow me off, lose respect for me.

Is that true? It's absolutely true. Not everyone will treat me that way. The people who genuinely love me and care for me will pull me closer in those moments. But not everyone in the world genuinely loves and cares for me. There WILL be times when my vulnerabilities are exploited, but am I not strong enough and mature enough to cope with that? I should be. And I should be teaching my kids how to cope with that when it happens to them one day. And it will.

Truth is investment. Our marriage would definitely stay exactly where it is if neither Miner nor I invest in it.

The time of fear and insecurity has passed. Our marriage is no longer young. We can no longer afford to be afraid and selfish. I may not know everything about Miner, but I know he loves me, and he'll never, ever leave me. He's in for the long haul, no matter what goes along with it.

So, it's time for me to cut the lock. Sweetheart, there are an awful lot of ugly things in there, but I have no doubt they're nothing you haven't seen before. I'm convinced the worst of it all is not enough to break us.

I'm damn lucky to have ended up with a man who can handle my weaknesses and imperfections, especially since I can't handle them myself. I never considered, he may be the one who shows me how.

Writing Cottage Design 2

Miner's Design 2 (800 sq. ft.) is cool in its own right.
1. Open floor plan. I really love the completely open kitchenette that's accessible from all areas. Like the walk-through bathroom, too. I prefer an open floor plan with some variation to break it up.

2. Large office windows. I see he has the large windows I wanted for Design 1 (guess the program does allow for that).

3. Perhaps less square footage? I don't think I need that much space. I'd be perfectly content if I could lop off most of the sitting area and instead, turn that space into an outdoor patio.

4. Woodburning fireplace? If we added a fireplace, I'd keep the extra square footage.

May 17, 2009

Writing Cottage Design 1

Design 1 (570 sq. ft.) is a nice starting point. I like it, though I have a few changes in mind.

1. Open up kitchenette. I'd like to do away with the walls entirely and instead install a cabinet countertop to separate the kitchenette from the office.

2. Larger office windows. The design program doesn't allow us to include larger windows, but I'd like to expand them to floor-to-ceiling windows for optimal view.

3. Raised desk area. Originally, I wanted a loft desk area, but this design doesn't include that. Building a loft adds expense, too. A less expensive option would be to build a raised corner area with a step up, or two. If floor-to-ceiling windows are too costly, a raised desk might offer a similar view of the property.

4. Back deck/patio. I love the indoor patio Miner's designed. It would be a perfect climate-controlled sitting area for days and nights that are too hot or two cold for my taste. However, I still want an outdoor back patio or deck overlooking the property. Must be able to sit and watch the sun rise or set, and hear the sounds of nature.

View from sitting area

May 15, 2009

Friday 5 for May 15: Opps

1. Which of your friends is the most frugal? Best friend Josie. She's a single parent raising two teenagers, dresses like a million bucks, owns her own home and a timeshare, takes monthly leisure trips, and buys Starbuck's every day -- all on a single income of less than $30,000 a year.

2. Which of your friends is the biggest spendthrift? Considering all my friends are homeschooling moms who ENJOY coming up with better ways to save...none.

3. Which of your friends is the most daring? That's easy--Irish Supermom. She got a sailboat, 4 horses, and opened a pizza parlor -- and that's just THIS year. And she's homeschooling a teenager who likes to hang out with my son. Daring, I tell you.

4. Which of your friends is the most cautious? That would be Venus. If there's anyone who does more research, interviewing, and weighing of pros and cons before a decision than I do, it's her. She's the most thorough, prepared person I know -- and she doesn't give herself enough credit for it.

5. Which of your friends has the hottest temper? HA HA HA HA!!! A hotter temper than ME?! WHAT?! Get-Out-Of-My-House!!!


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Classic Rocky

May 14, 2009

Oh, but it gets much worse....

...It was in the violent throes of medication withdrawal --

-- during a messy, weepy episode, when 'Ailina tearfully confessed the depths and desperation of her serotonin-decline-induced paranoia which had led her to once again regress to frantic trolling through the computer's Internet browsing history and Googling every pseudonym Miner had ever used, thereafter trying and failing to break into his email account, despite their previously upheld agreement to mutual privacy --

-- that she realized, yet again, what a wonderful man she had in him, when he effectively tore asunder her irrational panic in revealing he'd spent the last few days working on building plans, his heart's contribution to bringing to fruition her dream of a small writing studio to be situated in the thick forested pines of their future estate, into which -- ironically -- she would inevitably withdraw from the world -- and from him -- in order to write the novel that would once and for all secure both their family's financial future, and her place in the world of literary works that would -- like her fragile yet austere spirit --

-- endure.