Potentially Nonsense

Postcards from places I've never been.

Category: Five minute freewrite (page 1 of 3)

Missing the Write 31 Days Challenge

This week’s FMF writing prompt is: CHALLENGE

I’ve been missing the Write 31 Days challenge, and the time I might have spent prepping for it this month. Honestly, I’ve been feeling a little sorry for myself over it. What the heck, self? I played in 2012 and 2018, and wish I’d done it more frequently. I mean, there’s always next year, right?

Until there isn’t.

I periodically go through these times when I start thinking things like, “How many people have I already seen for the last time? How many places have I already visited for the last time, and didn’t even know it?” That there will always be more time is so taken for granted. Part of that is because I still have to function in the day-to-day. If I worry too much about how many Halloweens are left in my life (40? 30? 1?), I’ll stop planning for the future and just go eat pumpkin pie and fried chicken and walk along the river marveling at birds until I run out of money or my pancreas gasps its last. I don’t have the kind of job that I would go to even if I didn’t need to work, you know?

I know the kind of job I would like to have, but don’t know how to get there. And I get hung up on the idea that, even if I start today, will there be enough time left to me to be able to master the job? What about enough to just get really good at it? Maybe that’s not the way to look at the situation.

Is there enough time left for me to enjoy the kind of job I’d like? Yep. I think so. I signed up for a class (just the one) to at least get my brain moving again. I don’t know if it will lead where I want, but maybe it will lead where I need. Any way I look at it, it will be a challenge. It will be a challenge to get to, to participate in, and to learn the material. Maybe accepting the challenge of it is what I really need to learn. That discomfort.

Oh, and I think I’ll try out Inktober this year. It’s meant to be for artists, but I think it’s an opportunity to combine fountain pen ink doodling and writing. I don’t feel like the 31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes is a good fit for me, though it does look interesting. And I truly don’t have the money to spend for registering, though I’m sure it’s worth every penny.

Are you writing/drawing/crafting/photographing this October as part of a challenge? My writing challenge last year, 31 Posts of Nope, was some of the most fun I’ve had writing.

PS. Speaking of challenges. I’m totally going to be able to pay all my bills this month, with three whole dollars left over!! I won’t be scrambling to scrape something together. My divorce was final one year ago yesterday, and this is the first month I can say that.

And then, the snow.

This week’s writing prompt is: NEXT

Next is both a rock in my shoe and a double-espresso to my soul.

Next is cherry blossoms and leaf buds and rhododendron fireworks. Next is the marvel of infant garter snakes at both ends of twilight, soaking the last of the day from the sidewalk.

Next is sun and heat and stiff skin telling me I’ve definitely got a sunburn.

Next is humidity and heat that matches my own body, so it’s hard to breathe and hard to feel real and hard to know if I’m breathing at all, a stratified lake turning over, up and down suddenly a dizzying match.

Next is long days and pleasant nights and feeling the air like a cool drink as the leaves start to whisper a colorful change.

Next is the shock of realizing the leaves have changed, and the ground smells rich and the earthworms are out at night and pumpkins start popping up on porches like grinning mushrooms.

Next is wet feet and telling myself again that I should get a raincoat and the mud tries to steal my shoes. Next is the longing for fairylights and a snap in the morning air and the ancestral pull to migrate or die.

And then, the snow.

Some days are just green beans and mustard, and that’s OK.

This week’s FMF writing prompt is: CONVENIENT

What a prompt. My head’s going all over with it.

The first thing that comes to mind is convenient food. I hate it. I’m no food purist – more than one dinner has been cold canned green beans dipped in mustard and mayonnaise mixed together. I’m classy like that. But convenience food tastes good for a moment, then tastes bad, and I physically feel bad afterwards. I’ll take my I-grew-up-poor-and-this-is-soul-food-for-me green beans any day.

I will admit to having a weakness for someone else doing the grocery gathering. For about $5.00, there’s a grocery store here that will find and bag everything, and all I have to do is pick it up. I only get groceries every 4-6 weeks, so it’s not a big expense for convenience. My anxiety and (currently managed) major depressive disorder salute you, Fred Meyer.

Convenient. When I moved into my apartment in late 2014, the rent was $935. Now it’s $1275. It’s going to $1325 in September, and I’ll absolutely have to move. I’m not making as it is and have sold everything that can be sold, and breaking the lease would be about $1900. Who has that kind of money lying around? Convenient is staying, and I wish I could. I live in a third floor walk up. I don’t have people here to help me. I’ll have to sell what remains of my furniture, because I can’t move it. It’s going to suuuuck.

Convenient is typing my complaints instead of solving them. Luckily, I’ve been working on solving them, to help me get by until my lease is up in September. Again, if it could be sold, I sold it. I don’t have internet or a TV, and I share Netflix with a friend. Yes, that’s a luxury and not a necessity, and I feel guilty about it. The lights are only on when I need them, and the heat is not on. Coffee is rationed, y’all. Not where I thought I’d be at this point in my life. I’ve reopened my Etsy shop in an attempt to slow the sinking, and am listing things every time the sun shines enough that I can take photos. Rainy pacific northwest, anyone?

It’s definitely not convenient to work a full day at children’s services, which is emotionally exhausting (and rewarding), then go home and hunt for a second job. I’m tired just thinking about all the applications I’ve submitted over the last few months. I took FOUR HOURS of evaluations just to qualify for an interview at one of those jobs, then didn’t get the job after interviewing. Not convenient.

I’ve really overrun my five minute limit, haven’t I? How perfectly inconvenient. Thanks for dropping by. Sorry about the rambling rant.

Window and Freeway

This week’s FMF writing prompt is: INFLUENCE

Not gonna lie. The prompt doesn’t speak or spark, for me, but the point of the exercise is to build discipline around the practice of writing, to some extent. So. Here I am. Rock me like a hurricane.

Influence. I influence others. I am influenced. The environment I’m in on a daily basis has an influence on my life.

Ah.

There it is.

Living in Eugene, I can’t get away from the noise. I’m sitting my office in my apartment, and I can hear the road noise right through the wall. I’m in a residential area, and quite a ways from the freeway, and I can hear it at all hours. There’s no quiet.

I work in an office building where, for the first time in my entire career, I have access to a window. I work in the quiet, not having to listen to music someone else picked. I work with people who are competent and professional on the phones and when interacting with adopters and sponsors, and who are silly and fun when interacting with each other.

Reader, that environment has changed my life.

I went from abuse at home and abuse at work, to a peaceful home and a healing workplace. I won’t spell it out, but will just say that I’m learning to have peace in my heart, and to feel safe for the first time in a very long time.

Life is better.

The first FMF writing prompt for 2019 is: BETTER

Life is better.

It’s full of struggling to balance two jobs with taking care of elderly pets and trying to squeeze some time to live into that life. It’s getting up at 5:00 and going to bed at 10:00 even when I really really try to go to sleep earlier. It’s that threatening text from the ex that makes me panic and wrecks me for days. It’s struggling to find the calm inside me, even though the path is overgrown and someone changed all the signs and I’m not sure it’s even still in the same place I remember it being.

Life is better.

It’s better than living on eggshells wondering what I’m going to do/say/think/breathe wrong today, and what consequences it will have. It’s better then being locked up in anxiety all day, for days, waiting for the proverbial hammer to fall. It’s better than not knowing if I can count on help if I really really need it. At least now I know.

Life is full of sweet moments with pets and friends and new friends. It’s strung with finding out that I can still feel joy and interest and curiosity and actually am still capable of feeling contentment and safety. In this life there are fumbled ukuleles and long walks with friends and loving texts from friends, and a friend who, every time they go to Winco, plays the claw machine to win me a rubber duck. Life is full of Soon, and Look Here, and Have You Tried This, and Remember Doing This and Yes. Yes. Yes.

Life is better.

Repeat: The quick, quick version

This week’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt is: REPEAT.

Hi. My name’s Jae, and this is my brother Pete, and my other brother Repeat.1

You guys. Holy cow. I’ve taken three run-ups for this OS class, and failed every time.

But this time I’m screaming through the class like a Bentley on fire, while “Bohemian Rhapsody” plays loudly in the background.2 I just thought my brain had broken. Too old, too dumb, too much a failure.

It literally never crossed my mind that having my home life constantly filled with conflict and confusion was taking up most of my brainpower, with nothing left over for anything else.

I’m kind of stunned by this thought this morning. I really just thought my brain was broken. And, I mean, I’m not 20 anymore, and to be honest, I was more than a little worried about the dementia that runs so strongly in my family, although I was trying not to be. Huh.

All those money fights, and the fights were partly responsible for my struggle to make a better wage. Life is hilarious.

Life is also more hopeful, now. I like that. Maybe my brain didn’t break in my 30s, causing me to have to leave a job I loved. Maybe things will be OK.

Virtual high-fives for everyone

This month I have written through my own excuses. I’ve looked at them, listened to them, recognized them, and then walked right through them like they were cobwebs disguised as cages.

I found out I can do what I didn’t think I could. I’ve learned I can write even when I absolutely don’t think I can. Even when I have a really good reason for not writing. I checked in with something every single day this month. Believe me, I’m as surprised as you are.

Reader, you’re awesome, you know that? From your toes to your crown, you are awesome. You’ve survived everything in your life – all the trials and challenges, all the bullshit, all the times you wanted to give up, and here you are. This is it. The last day of Write 31 Days, 2018 and 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing Prompts.

Image with a purple background, quoting the podcast Welcome to Night Vale: You too have survived. Survived everything up to this moment.

Because it’s not October without an appearance by Welcome to Night Vale.

Virtual high-fives for everyone, and especially these people:

* Ruth, who runs The Nerd Factory, where readers think, and thinkers read. Also, she’s wicked interesting.
* Jen, who is holding space and befriending dragons.
* Neta, who is enjoying The View From Here.
* Wendy, who makes a darn good waffle.
* Maxine, who finds happiness in the chaos.
* Cheryl, over in her online corner, storying away.
* Miccah, who thinks all the thoughts.
* Gattina, who has a beautiful case of writer’s cramps.
* Lee Ann, at the Unfocused Life.
* Margaret, who has set out in quest of truth.
* Albarclay: Have I mentioned how very much I love reading hiking memoirs? Cos I do.
* Julie, who is planting a garden.
* Andrew, at Blessed are the Pure of Heart is frickin’ awesome, and you should go check out his blog right now. I’ll wait.
* Penny, who is stumbling along in the most interesting way possible.
* Mary, whose blog is where creativity and love meet.
* Roanna, because she’s been my friend since Jesus lost his sandals, and she writes like an angel possessed. Visit her at Squirrels and Tequila.
* Ron, at Scrambled, not Fried.
* Colleen at Loose Leaf Notes.
* Country Dew, at Blue Country Magic.

Big love to everyone who dropped by and left a word or two. You’re the best.

Thank you so much for visiting.


The End

Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

Come closer.

Tomorrow’s Five Minute Freewrite prompt is: CLOSE.

So. Close. Is anyone else eyeing tomorrow with suspicion? Did a whole month really pass, or is this some kind of trick? I haven’t kept a writing schedule since 2012 – the last time I participated in Write 31 Days. This felt so good. It felt really good to finish something, and to succeed at something, even if it was something as silly as writing about why I’m not writing.

“Close doesn’t count except in horseshoes and hand-grenades” was a phrase I grew up hearing a lot. Do or do not. Succeed, or cover up all evidence of ever having tried. I have mixed feelings about all of those, but it’s sure nice to have a win amidst feeling so much as if I’ve failed.

I’m going to try to use this for motivation for a November project. No, not NaNoWriMo. I’m not crazy. But I’m tired of living so close to the edge. I’m tired of cutting my budget so close. I’m tired of scheduling my day so closely to get it all done, and I miss being close to friends and family. It all comes down to my close, close finances. Accounting for inflation, I made more money in my 20s, with less experience and fewer skills, than I’m currently making. ARGH.

So I’m looking at what’s holding me back, and what I can do about it. Don’t worry, I’ll only be playing my cards so close to my chest for another day or two, then I’ll share what I’m up to. I know when to fold ’em. The reveal is close to hand.

Also…

Y’all have no idea how much self restraint it’s taking to not repost the lyrics to “Closer.”

I may, in fact, have put them on this post but commented them out so I’m the only one who can see them. Who knows? It’s a closely guarded secret.

I’m sticking with the five minute rule, today. See? I can keep the rules close to my heart, sometimes.

Wait. Was the prompt “close” or “close”? D’oh! Photo credit to Phil Hearing.Thanks, Phil!

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

Insane courage, lodgepole pine, and having a voice

Today’s Five Minute Freewrite prompt is: VOICE

I’m not writing today because my voice is not important. My voice got me in trouble when I used it as a kid, and as a wife. My body and heart are quick to remind me why it’s a bad idea.

My voice is not important, and when I’ve used it, it’s brought me pain. So I’m going to stay stuck in my past and keep doing as I’ve always done, living a silent life, because who would want to listen to me? And if they do listen, the consequences are going to be painful.

^^ These have been hard thoughts to get past. That bit of bad coding is in there deep, and two years of good therapy has only begun to help me get it figured out. It might be a life-long habit, this breaking of old habit.

So I’m not writing today.

But if I were writing today, and did have a voice, I would want it to be made of earth and air. I would want it to feel like wind in a dry pine woods, with at least one thin Lodgepole creaking as it leans in the wind. I would want my voice and my higher self grounded in earth, and flexing around obstacles. It should be a necessary nothing that nonetheless moves, shifting things before and after it.

If I had a voice, I would want to talk about deeply important trivial things, because in the words of The Crow, nothing is trivial. I would want to use it to laugh too loud, and to laugh with other people.

Part of this Write 31 Days project, for me, is just getting past the initial block in my brain that stops my voice. If I can do that, I can say anything.

Listening to The Minimalists podcast, led me to look up Jeff Sanders talking about 20 seconds of courage. (Apparently this is from “We Bought a Zoo,” but I’ve not seen it.) Who can’t be brave for 20 seconds? This concept has done more to help me over my blocks than almost anything else. Often it brings some dissociation with it, but I’m getting better at accepting that disorientation, and quicker at bringing my self back. That’s where all the grueling work of healing and therapy has come in.

This is a Post of Nope, and a double serving of overcoming my own nope (writing and speaking).

Do you struggle with feeling your words, your voice, is unimportant? How do you speak up for yourself, for others? Any advice for someone trying to find theirs, and to heal in this area?

Your voice is important, y’all. And so is mine.

Now get out there and use it! I can’t wait to read blogs and hear your textual voices, this morning.

In case you’re having a bad day, here is a photo of my Jaynie, being so very helpful.

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

Too busy making soup.

Hmm. Let’s see. Am I going to write today, considering I linked up with one October writing challenge called Write 31 Days, and another called 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing Prompts: 2018 Edition?

Nope.1

I’m not writing today, and I’ll tell you why. I’m too busy making soup. See? Perfectly reasonable reason to not write. Tasty, tasty, warm, lovely soup.

I was going to make the Internet-Famous 44 Clove Soup, but then thought nah. I’ll stick with something I already know how to make. I’ll come for you someday, intriguing garlic soup, but today is not that day.

I make potato leek soup in a big batch in order to freeze it. If you want to eat it right off, don’t put it in the fridge.2 You’ll need to use an immersion blender or something, instead of pouring boiling hot soup into a blender. Obviously. I mean, you wouldn’t actually do that, right? Pour boiling hot soup into a blender? Please don’t do that. I like you, and don’t want you to be horrifically scarred.

Potato Leek Soup

3 T butter
4 leeks, roughly chopped (just the white and light green parts)
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic (From a jar. Because I’m fancy like that.)
2 # Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (Peel or don’t peel. Up to you. I don’t, but I’m a casual cook.)
7 C chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 C heavy cream or half-and-half (whatever’s easy and handy)

Melt the butter in a big ole soup pot. Add leeks and garlic, and cook until they’re tender (about 10 minutes).

Add potatoes, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and bring to a gentle boil. Cover and simmer over low for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. You want them to be mashable.

Fish out the bay leaves. Allow to cool, then put it in the fridge until it’s cold.

Add the heavy cream or half-and-half. Run it through a blender in batches, or mash it up well with a potato masher. If it’s too thick, add water or stock to thin it out. Bag and freeze in the portions you’d like. After thawing, salt and pepper to taste.3

I’ll spare you a food photo. I don’t know how people on Instagram manage it. Anytime I try to take a photo of food, it looks utterly nauseating.

So here is a happy doggo, instead.

Photo by Andrea Reiman.

TLDR: No writing today. Only soup.

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

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