My Protected Writing Time

11 Apr

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I’ve been sick for four months.

I’ve been sick for four months not in a chronic, (or) real, (or) life-threaning way, but in that awful way where you’re blowing nose on everything and you’re losing your voice and people are like maybe you should be at home? And you’re like, listen if I were to be at home every time I felt like this I would be at home every day, SIR.

I’ve been sick for four months.

It’s a bum start to the year.

2018 is that very pretty vintage car that looks so nice, but every time you try to get it going it kind of begins and putters out. Begins and putters out. And you spend all your time in the shop thinking, wow this is it?

This is what’s happening?

I’ve been sick for four months.

Apparently I’m not alone. A girl I follow on Instagram keeps giving updates to her own illness.

stillsick.com she says on her beautifully lit photo of a green plant

stillsick.net I say.

I’ve been sick for four months.

At one point I thought I would do a library blog. I even own the space.

jillianlibrarian.com

It sounds so great, right? I want to do that!

I want to be that librarian! That person!

I could do a post on National Poetry Month! On my book spine poetry lesson! And my magnetic poetry boards! The blackout poetry interactive station!

I want to write about that.

And I want to do so much else. I want to do it all and there’s no time and I’m at a place in my life where I have the most time I’ll ever have and there’s no time for jillianlibrarian.

And so I sit here writing nonsense on jillianlorraine.com in my 35 minutes of protected writing time. My 35 minutes set on a timer.

And so I sit here and waste the timer time on this time. Timer.

I’m watching Home Town. Now that Chip and Joanna are gone I have to do something to fill the achy brrakey void. I have to emotionally attach to strangers.

Rob refuses to be the HGTV couple with me.

It’s not that hard, I say. We’ll just move to a small town in the South. Restore it home by home. You’ll have to pick up some carpentry, maybe construction skills. I’ll use my natural design eye I’ll soon acquire.

It will be a hit! I’ll be a maximalist who loves color, a unicorn in the white-everything world!

We’ll buy homes for $30k!

Does it depress anyone else to watch people buy homes for 30K? Like what? What is happening? That is a decent rent for a year, fools.

I am the fool for living here.

We are all fools.

I have 16 minutes left on that writing timer I told you about. I could be working on the two books that I’ve begun in the last year. Or my wedding stuff that I keep avoiding. Or maybe a deep personal essay that I could send somewhere.

But here I am talking about Missisippi real estate.

Here I am, being me.

I did begin my wedding writing. It goes like this:

It has been over seven months since that day in Cape Cod.

Seven months in Santa Monica.

Seven months of meal planning (seven months more than ever before).

(Seven months of marriage.)

In those seven months, I’ve consistently had on my to do list, “write about the wedding.”

I know it’s some of the most important writing I’ll ever do. Writing that I’ll want to look back on again and again.

That’s probably why I’m avoiding it.

(Definitely.)

Because it feels so Important.

This writing will live on. Long after the memories have faded, long after those who karaoked forget exactly what they sang, my words will exist, telling people what it was like. Informing our children, and our children’s children.

Oh gosh, I’ve spiraled.

It always comes back to that maybe.

This is what I get for having a mother who is big on family history. I see how words live on. How an obituary is what we remember of a person. How a poem about an absent father informs how I see a great grandmother.

Words are powerful and they are something I have to offer and so I sit here paralyzed.

There are 13 minutes left on my timer.

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Two Ways To Talk To Yourself

9 Apr

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ONE OPTION:

  1. You’re on spring break
  2. You’re surrounded by people who love you
  3. You should not be upset about anything right now, cut it out

 

ANOTHER OPTION:

In the past month:

  1. Your grandfather unexpectedly passed away
  2. Your family dynamics shifted (and keep shifting)
  3. You don’t live by your family and feel unable to help. But you really want to help!
  4. You got strange medical news
  5. You defended your thesis
  6. You presented at a church conference
  7. You had a sad conversation you’re still thinking about
  8. Your feelings are totally valid, of course you’re stressed. This is a crazy time and it won’t always be this crazy. Give yourself a break. Seek help if you need it.
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Five Group Texts That Work In My Life

28 Mar

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1. The Family Text

Group name: n/a

Used for: Confirming family dinners, spreading unflattering photos

2. The Writing Group

Group name: FAC (First Authors Club)

Used for: Talking about writing, complaining about writing, discussing writing projects, dreaming

3. The Political Chain

Group name: Stronger Together

Used for: Sharing political articles and ideas, venting, wondering what on earth is wrong with Utah

4. The Friend Group

Group name: Important Things

Used for: Daily texts about all that is going right, daily conversations about all that is going wrong

5. Caitlin + Rob + Me

Group name: n/a

Used for: Cat pictures. Tweets. Pop culture. Laughs.

 

What group texts work in your life?

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Ways In Which Dolly Purrton And I Are The Same Individual Residing In Two Separate Bodies

27 Feb

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We both have:

  1. A large amount of fluffy hair
  2. An uncanny ability to find a hot water bottle in a large bed, immediately

We are both:

  1. Clumsy
  2. Talkative
  3.  Expressive
  4. Attention seeking

Neither of us like to:

  1. Leave bed

Neither of us respond to:

  1. Cat nip
  2. Being picked up

Both of us love:

  1. Fixer Upper
  2. (Naps)

We are both:

  1. Rescues with tumultuous pasts

Both of us rescued ourselves with a little help from:

  1. Robert

Because yes, yes, no one can rescue you, that’s an inside job ETC but aren’t we all rescues a little bit? Isn’t that part of the human experience?

Meow.

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Dolly Purrton

26 Feb

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I’m sitting here with a curled up model of a cat right next to me. She is beauty, she is grace.

She is Miss United States.

And

Things were not always this easy.

Before we got Dolly Purrton, a few people had given general warnings that it takes cats a while to get used to their new surroundings.

I listened and nodded like OK. That’s nice. I read some articles on the topic and had Vivaldi’s Four Seasons ready on the record player.

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons played before every storytime my mother took me to and to this day that music brings out warm, fuzzy feelings in me. I couldn’t tell you a book we read, but I can tell you it was Spring! It was Summer!

I am now a librarian!

But Dolly.

She didn’t know Vivaldi was warm and fuzzy. She didn’t know that Rob and I were here to love her more than she had ever been loved in her life.

All she knew is that she was a new place. Her fourth home in three years. That she was scared.

That she was Miss United States.

Within the hour, Dolly had found her way into the bottom of our oven.

Rob and I left to run an errand and give Dolly some time to calm down. She was hiding under the couch at this point, perfectly normal. Vivaldi!

When we came back she was no longer there.

No big deal.

We started looking for her. “Dolly!”

“Dolly!”

15 minutes later I was seated in the corner of the room having a panic attack. Through deep breaths I was making bold promises to God about what I would do if we found Dolly.

I was certain somehow, some way she had gotten out of the house. Maybe our cupboards had a hole?

We Had Heard A Cricket Once!

It was Rob who found her under the stove.

(I was in the corner not coping, remember?)

Just a flash of fur. The poor thing so scared.

It took a week to the day.

We adopted her on a Saturday morning and the following Saturday morning I crept out into the living room before Rob woke up. I settled onto our yellow couch and let Dolly smell me. She smelled and she circled and she tail swished and when she finally rubbed her head against my leg I knew I had her.

Rob woke up to the two of us cuddling in the living room.

He eagerly joined in.

That first week wasn’t easy, and I guess I want to record that. That after Dolly left the oven we had to board it up, a protection that is still in place and still using my biggest cookie sheet.

That we got her a box and put Rob’s shirt in it so she’d learn to love the scent. And that we didn’t see her come out of her box for a long time. That we had to inspect the litter to make sure baby was being baby.

That for the first night she completely ignored her food.

That for the first week she wanted nothing to do with us, would not get near us. Rob would take pictures of her sometimes, late at night, when she was out in the house. He sat still and made no sounds. She needed to know we were safe.

That we wouldn’t disturb her in her safe space.

That we woudn’t disturb her at all.

And now here she is. A bundle of joy and warmth and the softest, most impossible cloud-like fluff you can imagine.

She is a dream.

I love her.

And

If you’re in your first week of cat ownership

I hear you.

I feel you.

Have you tried some Vivaldi?

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Me Too

21 Feb

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A few months ago I sold my gold bookshelves on Craigslist.

The way it all worked out, I was home alone the night my buyer could pick them up. I did the things I know how to do instinctively.

I gave several people information about where I was, who I was meeting, and when to worry.

I turned on all the lights in my apartment.

I pulled out my mace and had it in my hands when I opened the door.

I was greeted by a woman, about my age, holding the exact same pink breast cancer foundation mace I have.

We looked at each other and our ready mace and laughed.

“Mace!”

“You have mace!”

“I have mace!”

Our relief was so palpable we hugged.

By the end of the transaction I’d helped this new sister strap the bookshelves on her car. Learned about her relationship with her grandma. Laughed again.

We were friends. We were safe.

I’ve thought about that moment a few times since. How I prepared myself for the worst-case scenario. How another woman felt the same way. How we live our lives prepared for the worst when it comes to our safety as women.

I haven’t written about the Me Too movement. I don’t write about a lot of political things here and then I wonder if I’m doing it all wrong.

A podcast I listened to shortly after the election quoted something along the lines of, thank goodness Anne Frank didn’t write about trees.

And while I know I am not even remotely at all ever in any way in the same situation as Anne Frank, I’ve wondered about what I write. Am I avoiding the important stuff? Am I only writing about trees?

And feel-good television?

And spring cleaning?

I think about this mainly when I imagine my future children. Young girls asking me about this particular moment in history.

What was it like when women started to speak their truths? How did it feel?

How does it feel to be a woman in this political climate in general?

The important questions.

And so.

I guess I’m here to begin in some small way.

To say Me Too.

Me Too in countless ways for countless reasons big and small.

Me Too like every woman I have ever met.

Me, me, me, Me Too.

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Sounds During My Evening Meditation

29 Jan

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The Celtics game two rooms over

Cheers, male voices, sneakers?

Chicken sizzling on the stove

My own breath, struggling through a stuffy nose

A siren

Cars

General breeze things

A bird?

Running water

The garbage disposal

The opening of a trashcan

More cheers

A sneeze

Chopping on the cutting board

That garbage can again

A Diet Coke next to me, lazily going flat

Andy Puddicombe’s soothing voice, urging me forward

My stomach, growling, ready for what’s next

 

 PS: When I started meditationa year into meditation, and how I use meditation

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Yay for me

25 Jan

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Inspired by a segment on this great podcast

Yay for me!  I cleaned out my medicine cabinet. That sort of crazy clean where you toss out everything that’s expired and realize, wow, medicine expires a lot quicker than I toss it out.

Yay for me! I wore my mouth guard last night.

Yay for me! I made a hearty Italian soup on Sunday to prep for the week which brought up bigger questions like am I only prepping to live and never really living? And yet I perservered through the existential crisis and prepped to live and live I shall, with hearty soup, every lunch this week.

Yay for me! I’m finally reading a book a friend gave me years ago and it’s really nice to slow down and enjoy what I already have.

Yay for me! I got rid of that blue hoodie I kind of hated.

Yay for me

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Your Grandma Here To Tell You About Good Witch

23 Jan

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Gather round my dears and help yourself to the bag of Werther’s on the stained glass coffee table, for I, your grandma, am here to share the good news of Good Witch.

Good Witch is a Hallmark television show currently available on Netflix, though I hesitate to leave it there. Good Witch is the pinnacle of all Hallmark has ever had to offer.

Good Witch is the number two rated show on cable telvision.

The program features Catherine Bell as Cassie Nightingale, a witch who operates mainly by making teas and speaking in cryptic phrases. In fact, if “witch” weren’t in the title of the program, I would have no idea she was a witch and would instead think she was someone who really liked tea! That’s how family friendly this show is.

The New York Times, in their brilliant article, “Have you Grandparents Told You About Good Witch?” highlights several things I’d like to bring to your attention.

Ahem.

What’s most striking about the show — especially if you’re inclined to think that the age of its audience also implies a conservative cultural or political cast — is how thoroughly dominated it is by women. That isn’t necessarily unusual for a prime-time soap, but men in “Good Witch” are a particularly clueless and ineffectual bunch.

Men in “Good Witch” aren’t judged by their ability to orchestrate scams or kill zombies — they’re judged by whether they can be trusted to tell a woman the truth, and whether they try hard enough to make her happy. Binge-worthy or not, it’s a refreshing sentiment.

I’m here to tell you that this show is indeed binge-worthy feminist content. That if you give it your time you’ll start saying things like, “I wonder if they write Cassie’s cryptic advice in italics so she knows to speak really mysteriously.”

You’ll start laughing at the “redundantly named Bistro Café.” And you’ll grow to love “the villain, the self-absorbed but well-meaning mayor, Martha. (You know right away she’s different because of the theatrical, high-comic style with which Catherine Disher plays her.)”

(You’ll also quote that New York Times article over and over again like I just did. Because gosh. Wow. Golly. What a show.)

And eventually, if you spend enough time in the idyllic Middleton and with the idyllic characters who range from “nice to mildly irritating,” you’ll start to realize that all of these actors remind you vaguely of other, shall we say, more famous actors.

This is not to denigrate the actors on Good Witch, whom I love with all my heart (except for maybe Anthony, but we’ll get there). This is to say, if you start watching this show, like I’m urging you to do, you’re sure to see an actor and think, hey, that sort of looks like someone I’ve seen before.

And then, eventually, you’ll write this blog post and put it out for the world to see, because what other option do you have?

OK then.

Let’s begin with Cassie.

Oh Cassie. Of the cryptic phrases and the tea. I’ve loved Catherine Bell since my parents got into JAG back in the 90s, and she did and does look a bit like Catherine Zeta Jones, no?

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Her daughter is a dead sort of maybe lookalike for Selena Gomez.

And get this! The two boys in her daughters’ life are both vaguely like Justin Bieber in his various stages.

First, there’s Anthony in the swoosh stage. (We don’t like this kid because he’s whiny.)

 

And then, Nick with the Better Hair Bieber stage. (Things are complicated with this one.)

It’s a Jelena reunion every week on Hallmark! What are you waiting for?

OK, now for the men in Cassie’s life.

Ryan has a hint of a Colin Firth doesn’t he? (Love you forever, Darcy.)

And Sam is an Aaron Eckhart. (Remember this dude from Desperate Housewives? He really plays the role of love interest in a female-dominated show well.)

Cassie’s stepdaughter Lori reminds me of Amanda Seyfried kind of maybe?

And her stepson is basically Ezra from Pretty Little Liars. (Is that show still going on? How many As are there?)

Cassie’s cousin Abigail is a Leighton Meester/Minka Kelly type.

And then there’s Cassie’s best friend Stephanie who is faintly a Julie Bowen?

There’s also the aforementioned mayor Martha who bears more than a passing resemblance to Dolores Umbridge. (But she has a heart! I want to make clear she has a heart.)

OK, and before we end I want to bring it back to Anthony of the Bieber swoop hair. Some internet sleuthing led me to his music career and the fact that, yes, he did go next level Bieber with the next step of his career!

I can’t wait to see what’s next! The blonde phase?

What a time to be alive!

Deep breath.

Are you still here?

Are you going to join me as I continue to watch this show for the laughs, the love, and the…yes, magic?

The very vague we all have a little magic, and here’s a cup of tea magic?

Join me, grandchildren.

Join me in this noble venture.

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What Makes Someone A Good Person?

16 Jan

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A few months ago, my friends and I had a conversation about what makes a person “good.” I’m still thinking about it.

The discussion began with a question, do we know any truly good people?

And if we do, what makes them good?

One friend commented she considers herself good, but is it more just an absence of being bad?

Does she need to be actively working at a homeless shelter (fill-in-the-blank) to be good?

Or is it more about the daily stuff? Being kind to a cashier. Being aware of ways to help those around you.

Another friend brought up a goodness scale. From 1-100 where do we each fall?

Are we just about average? How can we be better?

None of the answers were clear-cut, but it made me consider my definition of good. The people in my life who are kind and thoughtful and give grace.

How I can become more like that. Like them.

And as I considered all this, I wanted to open up the discussion to you smart people. What’s your definition of a “good” person?

Any thoughts on the matter?

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