Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da

Today at lunch, my friend said (I think only half jokingly) that he was going to take Writing by Ear out of his favorites because I don’t write enough anymore. He asked if I was bored with it.

No, I’m not. I just haven’t had anything to write about lately. Not that that’s always stopped me in the past, but even I don’t care enough to write about my life lately, let alone feel compelled to bore anyone else with it.

For example:

  • Joining the 21st century: I’m writing this on my new laptop — my¬†latop, not one I share with Mike, which has been the case for the past 5 years. I feel a bit guilty because the old one still works fine, but I got tired of sharing it. So now we each have one to use…except…Mike got a new toy too — a tablet. He’s having fun using it, so now the old, perfectly good laptop is not being used. I feel wasteful (but I love my zippy new laptop). I also joined Facebook a short while back — I know, not exactly an early adopter. It’s been fun to reconnect with old grade school and high school folks. This whole “friend” (but not really) thing took me a while to get used to, but I think I’ve got the idea now.
  • Home life: Our evenings (which begin earlier and earlier because it’s dark at 4:30) consist of Mike on one end of the couch with his tablet and me on the other end with my laptop (dual recliners, don’t you know — could we be any more suburban?) with a cat or two curled up with me or on me. Somewhere between 9:00 and 11:00, I get at least an hour of sleep in before bedtime.
  • Christmas: Shopping done, decorating done, cookies done…nothing exciting there. Looking forward to seeing my family next week, as always.
  • House projects: Mike’s making good progress on the sunroom (I think we’re moving into year 3, but I’ve lost track). Someday I’ll have awesome pictures to post…but not yet.
  • Work: I’ve been busy this year, and I’m grateful that despite the still down economy, I did OK and have a nice project load to carry me into 2012. Truly thankful for this.

Are you bored yet? Told you. I’m having trouble thinking of even boring things to write about…which, when you think about is, is quite a luxury. Life may not be exciting lately, but it’s perfectly fine…and so am I.

But enough about me. What’s new with you?

In three words I can sum up everything
I’ve learned about life. It goes on.

~Robert Frost 


You’ve heard the tongue-in-cheek lingo…a short person is “height-challenged,” someone who can’t drive around the block without getting lost is “directionally challenged,” a new parent is “sleep-challenged.” Me, I’m career-challenged. As in, I’m terribly challenged when it comes to my work.

Take today…an ordinary day, slow, waiting for clients to give feedback or start a new project I know is coming. Wondering what the heck is going on with that other client who’s grown silent in the middle of a brochure project we’re weeks invested in. Then I get an e-mail from a client I haven’t worked with in over a year, wanting to know if I’m up for traveling to Phillie to cover a roundtable discussion (write up the event, possibly do a white paper or other piece about it after).

My first thought: I’d rather go to the dentist and get a tooth pulled.

A. I don’t like traveling.

B. I don’t like the pressure of having to sit through a roundtable on a topic I know nothing about and be attentive enough (and smart enough) to write about it afterward.

C. I don’t like traveling.

D. You get the picture.

One of the reasons I work for myself for considerably less money and security than I could get working somewhere else is that I want to be able to say “no” to assignments like these. But that doesn’t mean I feel good about it.

Mike would say, “You should do it.” (He’s very bottom-line focused. If it makes money, do it. Hell, if someone wants you to do it and it doesn’t make money, do it anyway.)

If I was at all concerned about improving my skills as a writer, I’d do it.

If I was at all concerned about making more money, I’d do it.

If I was at all concerned about my career, I’d do it.

But I’m just not. And I kind of hate that about myself.

Truth is, I live in my comfort zone, and I’m quite happy here. But all the pundits and business-types would advise me, for my own good of course, to break out of it…to establish “stretch goals” …to always be pushing to become better, stronger, faster….to get out there and network…to just do it.

But I know I won’t. I just don’t care enough. I’m good at what I do, but I only want to do what I want to do. So maybe that means I’m not so good after all?

Maybe if I had a job/career/vocation I was passionate about, it would come easier. Or maybe if it was a topic I was interested in…what if someone asked me to go to a gardening roundtable or cooking roundtable or decorating roundtable and write it up afterward? Yeah, I could see myself doing that. Looking forward to it even.

Clearly, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

Actually, that’s a lie. I know what I want to be. It’s called a housewife. And I know a lot of other smart, talented, educated, capable, gainfully employed women who want to be the same thing.

But for now, I suppose I’ll put my writing expertise to work, tactfully, perhaps regretfully, telling my client, whom I really like and hope to work with again, “thanks but no thanks.”

And I’ll hate myself for it. Even as I thank God for letting me be in a position to do it.

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
~ Confucius

Choose a job you sorta like, but only on your own terms,
and you will always feel like you’re wasting your life.
~ Christine


Remembering another November 13

It was one of those days I’ll always remember. And it makes me wonder why so many of “those days” people say are memorable are for something bad that happened…like the day Kennedy was shot, or the day Reagan was shot, or the day the Challenger shuttle exploded, or of course, 9/11. Can’t say I remember many really happy days in that way — my wedding day stands out, but little else. Maybe because I never had a child — do moms & dads remember their kids’ birth days that way? Or is the brain pre-wired to remember trauma more than delight? To feel pain more deeply than joy?

November 13, 2001, is memorable for me because it’s the day my dad died. Unexpectedly, though, thankfully, peacefully in his sleep. I remember everything about that day and the next few. As hard as they were, they answered a question that had troubled me for a long time — what would it be like to lose someone so close to me?

Until you live through it, you can’t know. But once you do, I think there’s a certain peace in that knowing. A “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” kind of peace amid the pain and sorrow. It allows you to understand and feel a kinship with others who have experienced similar losses — you’re all part of the club now. You know what it’s like. You can empathize, rather than simply sympathize.

Of course, I was very lucky to delay that experience until adulthood — how horrible, and how different, for a child to go through the same thing. I can’t imagine any peace in that circumstance.

I’ll spend today focusing on the good things I remember about my dad, and the positive lessons I took away from that sad day 8 years ago. It’s a luxury not everyone has — to remember a life and a death in a reflective, peaceful way — and I’m thankful.

We understand death for the first time
when he puts his hand upon one whom we love.
~ Madame de Stael

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