Saying the Wrong Thing

Have you ever heard words coming out of your mouth and as they do, you wish you could reach up and grab them out of the air? As you feel them roll off of your tongue, take a deep breath to retrieve them back into your mouth, turning back time? I can’t even count how many times I’ve done that over my life. No one is perfect and sometimes shit comes out that is hurtful or just unnecessary.

I did it just recently and it’s been weighing heavily on me. I know that things get said and not everyone means every possible thing they say but it doesn’t change the fact that words are hurtful sometimes. I know that often, people don’t even realize they’re saying hurtful things. I’m one that is overly sensitive to things being said to me. I over analyze things and read way too much into conversations.

I fall victim to the feelings of needing to be accepted or to fit in and I lose my sense of judgment. I suppose it happens to everyone but it’s bugging me. How do you apologize to someone you’ve wronged without them knowing that you wronged them?

First Signing Survived

I went to my first author signing yesterday.  I’d known about it (been contacted) several weeks before the actual event.  I ordered my books to bring, bought a new pen and loaded up my business cards.  Two days before I was to go, I got an email from the event coordinator that each author was to give a 5 minute presentation.  It should cover an introduction of myself, the book, the inspiration for it and then a reading.  I typed up a page and gave it a try.  I was at about the 5 minute mark but I had a lot of pauses trying to gather my thoughts.  I figured I’d be fine.  It was 5 minutes, not an hour long dissertation.  I had my partner review my write-up when she got home.  She made a couple tiny changes but they were so small that I thought it was almost knit picking.  I wasn’t going to read the paper, I just needed some guidelines.

By Saturday, I was beginning to obsess over the talk.  I used to be an instructor and have had many occasions to stand in front of a crowd and speak.  It’s never really bothered me before.  But it had been a long time since I’d done it.  I knew I’d be fine, however.  We had some errands to run and every so often as we did this or that, I’d have this wave of panic that would almost make me dizzy, give me a tingly feeling in my stomach.  I knew it was just nerves.  I practiced the speech on and off throughout the day, timing myself.  I’d gotten it down to 4 minutes allowing a minute to read a paragraph.  Then I had to pick out the paragraph.  I flipped, flipped, flipped through the book.  I knew I wanted to read about my Grandma.  It was one of the parts that I could read without falling apart or be in fear of reading something too overly personal, in person, but that many could still relate to.  I found just the paragraph and finally did the complete walk-through.  I finally got to the point narrowing down my speech to bullet points followed by the reading.  By Saturday evening, we decided to see a movie which was the best thing to get my mind off of such things that seem to camp out there.

Sunday, the morning of the Author Faire, I woke up to my mind reciting “Hi, my name is Michelle Stoner…”, the beginning of my speech running its’ course.  I got up and fixed myself some coffee.  The pains in my stomach were getting worse.  There was no more of the tingly feeling.  It was sharp pains.  I had coffee and when Chris got up, I fixed us breakfast.  I was watching some stupid movie I’d recorded.  It wasn’t working to get my mind off of the day.  After breakfast, well, let me just say that being nervous is a great system emptying tool.  But things finally calmed down, or more so, I just ignored it so that I could get ready.

I had to arrive at 1:00 but figured I could get there at 12:30 so that I could setup my books.  I knew that the first person would be presenting at 1:00 so it only made sense to get there a few minutes early.  Maybe I’d be able to meet some of the other authors at the faire.  Nope.  The place didn’t open until 1:00.  It just didn’t seem right to me.  I lugged the box of books over to a cafe and sat waiting for the doors to open.  When the doors open, I filed in along with many, many other people, all trying to get onto elevators and find their way to wherever they needed to go.  I found my name tag at one of the tables and began to setup my books.  I spread out my business cards (which were the most awesome things – no one else had them and several people took them so they remembered to download e-copies of the book) and waited.  I had one woman come over and take a card saying that she couldn’t wait for my presentation.

Then I sat and waited.  The presentations went in alpha order with 20 other authors.  It was neat to see the other authors, hear their experiences, all of them proud of their works.  I was perfectly fine until two people before me.  I felt my heart rate increasing by the minute.  When the guys next to me went, I could see my shirt moving from my heart pounding in my chest.  Chris, who had been seated in the audience the whole time, looked over at me and mouthed the words “breathe” to which I took a deep breath and eased it out.  I took another swallow of water and hoped that the fact that I had to pee so bad wouldn’t bite me in the ass.  I’d wanted to go but I couldn’t bring myself to move.  I’d downed almost an entire bottle of water so I really had to go.  The audience was clapping so I got up and made my way from behind the table.  I was introduced but the emcee didn’t see that I’d gotten up already so she called my name again.  I was rushing up but I’m short so she didn’t see me and called once again.  I raised my hand up to which everyone laughed.  I did my speech.  It was completely out of order of what I’d planned but I think it still flowed ok.  I only paused once to catch my thoughts.  I didn’t realize until much later that there was a clock on the wall but I didn’t get the warning so I think I was within the limits.  Some people had gone on for 15-20 minutes and were practically dragged off so I know I did fine time wise.  I saw Chris staring at the floor the whole time which I was thankful for.  While I’d been practicing at home, I told her I couldn’t concentrate if she looked at me.  I felt bad that she was staring at the floor but it was really for the best.  I made a conscious effort to look around and just before I started to read, I was introducing my book and realized that most people were leaning forward and many had their mouths hanging open.  I think I had them.  They were engaged.  I smiled and started reading.  It was short, just a paragraph but it was silent in the room as I did.  When I stopped.  I looked up and everyone was in the exact same position.  No one had moved.  I smiled and said “thank you”.  I left the podium to a round of applause.  I did it.

The event was from 1-5.  The presentations went until 3:30 or so.  There was an audience that sat but several left before the end.  We had not quite a half an hour to meet with those that did stay for the whole thing and then we broke into groups to share ideas and things that worked or didn’t work for us.  But everyone had left so it was only authors talking with authors, which was ok but it meant that I didn’t sell one hard copy book.  I signed my mom’s book and it was my first signed book.  I’m hopeful that I’ll get a couple e-book sales but even though I didn’t sell any, I was happy that I made it through the day.  I did it.  I showed up, I did a speech and I met some really nice people.  I survived.

Celebrating the Good

Early on in my relationship with my partner, we decided that every good thing needed to be celebrated.  It actually started with monetary increases.  If we got a raise or a bonus at work, we celebrated, usually with dinner.  If we applied for a job and got a call back, we celebrated.  It got a bit complicated when going on an actual interview because if the interview went bad, we weren’t sure if we should celebrate or not.  It was awesome that we were picked out of many to be interviewed and we wanted to celebrate that but if it didn’t go well, we didn’t want to celebrate something bad.  It’s all about karma and noticing the little things that make life better.

After awhile of our newfound tradition, we noticed we were packing on the pounds from celebrating every little thing by eating out.  Cutting back meant meeting weight loss goals.  We couldn’t eat out for those so we did other things like going to an event or show, taking a mini vacation or buying something nice for ourselves.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant all of the time and we learned to match celebrations with events that were cause for celebration.

We don’t go overboard on celebrations either.  If our car passes an inspection, we don’t celebrate.  It’s more of a personal thing.  If we “survived” something, we would celebrate.  If we were rewarded, we in turn, rewarded ourselves.  If there was a life changing event, such as quitting my job to write a book, we celebrated.  It has worked so well for us over the years.

We just got back from our first trip to Disneyland.  It was the reward I chose for publishing my book.  At first I thought it was a little over the top but it really was a big deal.  Pouring my heart and soul onto pages and then letting the world read it, was not only terrifying but constricting in terms of feeling like I was having a panic attack at every moment of every day.

Disneyland was the perfect place to go to relieve myself of the stress and self-doubt that I’d been carrying around since publication.  I did the best I could on the book, it’s out there and I’m working on my next one.  That is definitely worthy of a celebration such as an extended weekend at the Happiest Place on Earth.

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Is it wasted when you try something new and don’t like it?

I’ve been working on a Pumpkin, Curry and Coconut Milk soup today.  I’ve been doing more chores in between the processes of simmering the onions, heating the stock, heating the pumpkin.  It smells awesome but doesn’t taste so much so.  It’s had me doctoring the dish for a few hours now.  I added more curry.  Added more salt.  Let it simmer for a bit.  Added some smoked, hot paprika.  Nope.  Just not doing it for me.  It’s not like I’ve made this dish before or even tried it at a restaurant and just can’t reproduce it.  This is a first time dish.  I’m kind of disappointed.  It took the remainder of my Halloween pumpkin meat to make the soup so I’ll have to wait until I disassemble and process the other one before being able to make more dishes.  But I don’t want to give up just yet.  However, I wonder if I’ll like the dish no matter what I do to it.  It has the consistency of potato soup, which I love, so I have hope that I can make it good but I don’t want to keep adding ingredients (like my prized sweet potato that I’ve been waiting to bake and eat with tons of butter, cinnamon and ginger that’s now diced and in the soup pot – my reasoning was just as I said, it resembles potato soup so why not chunks of potato, or better yet, sweet potato?) and up the amount of items I may ultimately throw in the trash.  It made me think on the question, is it better to try something and not like it, having wasted the money, time, energy, etc. on something rather than not having tried it at all.  It sucks, yes, but absolutely, it’s worth every bit of wasted everything!  I love trying new things.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.  When they work, they’re usually awesome and when they don’t, then I know better for next time.

At least tomorrow is trash day!

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How many things can you start in a day? Or not?

I had plans to get my chores done today and then start the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November).  As I’d done with my previous novel, I was excited to get into it, and to get off of my ass for a bit.  I’d gotten into the habit of walking on the treadmill while writing, averaging about 4 miles on a good writing day.  So, when I got home from doing my chores, I figured I should have lunch first.  That’s where it all went downhill.  I think the sofa and my butt have something going on.  As soon as I sit, I’m done for.  I try and tell myself that today will be different but it never is.

After lunch, I grabbed the computer and went to town…on everything but my writing.  Cleaned out my inbox from crap that I’d saved from over the weekend.  Wrote a blog post on my ingenious new pumpkin recipe.  Posted to Twitter which made me want to cruise Twitter for awhile.  It made me think that maybe I should just not start NaNoWriMo today and I should go for a bicycle ride to get some exercise.  Maybe I should just go to the treadmill and start writing.

There’s always yard work to do.  I got up because I heard the Rice Krispy Treats calling me.  I read through the note sent to me from NaNoWriMo that mentioned having a snack – like a Rice Krispy Treat.  Damn them!  I traded my neighbor for the treats over Halloween.  I have two left in the pantry.  I can hear them rustling.

Then I remembered I needed to get the guacamole made for dinner.  Taco Salad Monday.  I know, it doesn’t go together very well but it’s what we do on Monday so we have some sort of football food, that’s not too horrible, to counterbalance the weekend gorge-fest that we usually have.  While I was there, I decided to separate and freeze the multi-pack of boneless, skinless chicken breast I bought.

I thought what a great way to get started writing then to write a blog post.  Here I sit.  On the couch.  I wonder if it’s too late to get started writing.

Balance – Selling vs Writing

When is it too soon to start the next novel?  I know many authors and probably even more readers that would say “right away”.  It’s strange to write and write and write and then stop.  I wanted to pick up with my next novel and actually did start writing it and then realized that my self published book wasn’t going to market itself.  That turned into a daily exercise of searching for writing opportunities to become published to an actual magazine, paper, blog, anything really.  That combined with begging people to write reviews and trying to create a presence on social media, I find that I reach the end of the day before I know it.  It’s a balance, I realize, but it’s one of those chicken and egg situations.  If I don’t get anyone to buy the current book, there won’t be a need for a second, but if there’s a second, there could be more chance for the first one to sell.  Then I realize that I’m getting way ahead of myself.  If no one buys the first one, then there is no need for the second one.  And the cycle starts over again.  I want to write and get sick of searching for a way to get my book sold.  I know, I know.  “Get an agent”.  I’m not out of the hole yet from this book so why would I want to pay an agent – to get the book sold so that I can pay them?  Maybe I’m being narrow-minded.

It’s only been two months since I released it to the public.  Maybe some patience is in order.  Balance issues appear everywhere in my life and I’ve never been very good at it just as I’ve never really been good with patience.  Maybe I should go do some yoga.

Rocks and Trees

Over the past few years, my partner and I have been drawn to places known for their rocks and trees.  This time, we made a trek to South Lake Tahoe.  We stayed in a town named Heavenly.  But it wasn’t about where we were staying, it was where we were.  We drove the windy roads into the mountains and loved the miles and miles of tree covered hills and that we finally got to see some massive rocks.  When we saw the recent devastation of a wildfire, it was quieting.  We stopped talking and tried to take it all in.   A forest fire isn’t like burning a piece of wood in a fireplace, a fire pit or a wood stove.  In those cases, there’s nothing left but ash.  In a forest fire, the trees remain standing.  They turn brown and the land turns black.  The enormity of the fire amazed me.  Thinking about the pinpoint that was us in our car and looking over the thousands of acres that were consumed by the fire was bigger than I could comprehend.  I thought about the firefighters and just how small they were, just like us.  There were signs along the highway thanking them.  I can’t imagine how anyone couldn’t have compassion and admiration for our heroes.

I wondered if the burn on the land was like a burn on our skin.  It hurts but it heals.  It’s never quite the same in that area but it rebuilds itself, mending the pain.  We love trees.  They’re so massive and majestic.  They have a story to tell, they clean our air, they stand tall and proud.  Combine the trees with the rocks and we tend to find where we fit in best.  Rocks and trees hold this earth together for us to live on.  We listen to them, we cherish them and we respect them.

Rollercoaster week

I started my week super excited about a spur of the moment job interview.  It was right up my alley and such a perfect situation that I could hardly contain myself.  I’d missed the call on Friday so when I got back in touch on Monday, they asked if I could come that morning.  It was a bit of a rat race but I managed to make it work.  There was a mixup and we ended up missing each other but once it was all finally worked out, I met my contact and then another for my interview.  I was conference called into another office and the interview started.  By the time I left, I was making my way to the car while pulling out my cell phone from my tiny purse.  The rule we have is to let each other know how things went.  🙂 if it went well.  😐 if it went so-so or if we’re not sure and 😦 if went poorly.  I could feel the tears starting as I typed :(.  I drove home in tears not knowing what to do next.  I’m in some sort of limbo and I feel horrible.  I can’t express the despair and loathing that I go through daily.  I cried and cried.  And then I stopped.  I had to.  I had a guest at the house.  Corking my feelings turns me into an unbearable person to be around.  I’m just miserable and make those around me miserable from my miserableness.  But I trudged through.

Skip ahead to today, midweek.  I get a call for a book signing.  It’s a local thing – nothing huge but it’s a start and the person I spoke with was encouraging and understanding.  I’m excited.  I’m crying again writing this.  I’m happy and afraid and confused about what it is I’m supposed to be doing.  I guess that’s life.

Decade Identity

Today I find myself wondering if each person most identifies with a particular decade.  Is it the decade that they most grew up in.  The one that was most comfortable to them?  Is it true with everyone?  I was a child in the ’70’s, a teenager in the ’80’s, a young adult in the ’90’s.  I mostly associate with the ’80’s, however.  I LOVE the 80’s.  It’s not just how great the music was – don’t get me started because it was great, probably the best ever – but it was also the big hair and poofy clothes.  If I still had some of my high-waisted pants, and could actually get my fat ass into them, I would certainly wear them today.  I’d grab a billowy shirt to go along.  It was such a great look.  Tight at the waist but nowhere else.  The padded shoulders were awesome too.  So triangular.  It’s crazy how the waists of pants have gone from being so high to being so low.

I remember in the ’70’s, I would wear my bell-bottoms to play in.  We had play clothes so that we didn’t mess up our school clothes.  I can’t count how many times I’d get those giant pants legs caught in my bicycle chain.  They were so big that I could get off of my bike and sit next to it while I wound the pedal around to get myself unstuck only to hop back on and get it wound in the chain again just down the road.  There was no way to roll them up and by the time I’d get home, they’d have chew marks and chain grease all over them.  But that’s why we had play clothes.  It didn’t matter if I got grease on them or grass stains from playing football.

Groovy ’70’s clothes weren’t for me though.  A friend of mine reminds me all the time of the big wings I had in my hair in the ’70’s but it was nothing compared to the height I could get in the ’80’s.  I would wind my curling brush through and through getting it higher and higher each time.  And then to top it all off with half a can of hairspray to keep it there.

What makes us identify with a decade?  I hear my Mama talk about Fats Domino and poodle skirts.  Is it just when we were most happy, most comfortable, most aware of ourselves?  I don’t really know.  I know I prefer those loose, comfortable clothes more than I do the tight, clingy things that are today’s fashion.  I miss the ’80’s but perhaps only the clothes.  I couldn’t deal with how long it would take to do my hair now.  And I still have the music available to me.

No One Here is From Here

My partner and I were talking about the people of California the other day.  It stemmed from the fact that it seems like everyone we come across here is out for their own gratification.  I don’t think I’ve ever said “It’s all about you” more times in my life than during the past year that I’ve lived here.  It sort of makes sense though as sick as that sounds.  We’ve started down the road of needing to make a name for ourselves.  If you’re not the standout candidate, the close to genius applicant, then you’re not going to get into the top tech companies that line the streets here.  It’s just crazy.  Every company (tech-wise) you can possibly imagine is here.  It only makes sense that everyone come here to make their name, stake their claim in the golden state.  But it also makes narcissistic assholes who learn, mostly at a very young age, that in order to get ahead, you have to step on the face of their competition.  That’s what we’ve taught the kids turning to technology to make their stake in this world.  I’ve never met an executive that’s not a complete asshole so that’s how we learn to get there.  Unfortunately, I think, it’s why neither of us will ever make it past being a grunt worker.  It’s just not in us.  We do have the hope of changing the world, or at least one tech company, that being a leader doesn’t mean shitting on the little people.

With every techy flocking here, it means that no one here is from here.  My partner argued that she’s from here.  I disagreed saying that just because she was born here doesn’t mean she’s from here.  We went round and round for a bit and decided to agree to disagree.

It made me wonder where the people that are actually from here – meaning, they were born, grew up and have roots here – go to since they’re no longer here.  California is such a big state, maybe they just disperse to the other 49 states.  I guess if you’re not a techy person, there’s not a strong reason to stay here with the huge nerd population.

It’s just sad that everyone is out only for themselves.  It makes me angry which, ironically enough, makes me not as empathetic.  Hmmm.