Dear Diary…

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I can’t seem to write anything anymore, and the words trapped in my head and soul are buzzing around, bumping into each other and exhausting me. So, with apologies, I’m starting this diary to trick myself into letting the words out. Shhh.. don’t tell my subconscious I’m trying to trick her. She’ll lock me down tighter than Fort Knox.

This has been a weird year. Well… a bad year, with lots of bad current events, lots of losses to the world, lots of unsettling insight into humanity.

If I was completely disconnected from world events, though, if my eyes were shut and my fingers were in my ears and I was shouting “LA LA LA LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” I could say that not too much has changed for me or my daily life. Except it has. Even if I do that, it has.

This time last year, I was immersed in a wonderful, interactive, diverse world of women’s voices. I had fun, intense conversations with writers, and I had a dear (likely beleaguered) friend with whom I had almost daily contact.

Then 2016 happened. The interactive group pretty much stopped interacting. I did, too. It was as though, as a group, we decided we’d said everything there was to say. My dear friend is dealing with real life problems. Though I am always here and willing to help, there is so little I can do from far away, except say how much this person matters to me, and how I’m always, always, around and ready to listen if I’m needed.

At the end of last year, I was given a gift, something I’ve wanted most of my adult life: The opportunity to work from home full time. This allows me to be here for my son. It keeps me out of exhausting and frankly dangerous traffic, and it gives me several hours of my week back. I love it. But I suspect it’s not good for me.

These days, apart from my boys, I hardly interact with anyone IRL. I’ve lost confidence in my voice. I am so fortunate to have a small tribe of women friends online. I love these women and cherish their friendship. But even in this group we’ve fallen a little silent, with many of us struggling with life difficulties, or maybe even feeling a little muted by the travesties around us.

This leaves me with a lot of time in my head, and it is not always so friendly in here. When I write, I’m frequently blocked. I’ll write three or four sentences then decide I need a nap, or I need to check Facebook. Naps help me fret more, and Facebook contributes to the crumbling of my faith in humanity.

I’ve given myself September to not have any writing goals. As a result, I’ve written more this month than I have all summer. Unfortunately, that’s only about four pages. My 7th draft of my 2nd book languishes. There are crickets on my blog, and I’ve forgotten how to have joy in creation.

Sooo… here I am, trying to peck my way out of my shell. Or maybe just furnish it with nicer, softer things, and insulate it from the terrible out there. I’ve added extensions to both of my browsers (News Feed Eradicator for Chrome and Kill FB Feed for Mozilla) to keep myself from playing Facebook roulette.* Both of them allow me to access FB notifications and make status updates but block the news feed to avoid accidental bumming out. They help, but FB is a really hard addiction to break.

As a “how to beat writer’s block” article suggested, I created an imaginary friend to write to. She is smart, sassy and hilarious. She is as coffee-dependent as I am, and she has a sweet obsession with hedgehogs. I will try to write with just her in mind. I think this will help.

I am going to read and write stories about magic that make me happy or at least excited, with no other goal than enjoyment. For my own sense of well being, I’m going to stop staying up to date on the latest outrage. I will vote my conscience on November 8th, and then duck back into my shell afterward knowing that I have done everything the system has given me power to do. At this point, I no longer believe in my voice’s ability to convince anyone else of anything. We aren’t really listening to one another anyway. We are shouting at walls.

I’m going to ask for full medical work-ups and safety patrols around our remaining cherished icons. For the love of all that’s holy, Bill Murray, take care of yourself!!

I will go for walks and to the beach and try to be easier on myself. I’ll be grateful for this quiet time with my family. If I write anything at all, I will call it a success, and hey, some of my shopping lists border on poetry. Maybe after all this, I’ll discover I’m not a creative writer at all, and the last couple of years have been some sort of virus-fueled unbottling of clever word strings. Bottle’s empty, writing’s done. Maybe I’m a painter now.

Thanks for listening, Diary. Sorry if I bummed you out.
* Facebook roulette: Clicking refresh on FB to see if you can find something that makes you feel good before you find something that makes you feel furious or depressed. Hint: These days, the odds are never in your favor.

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Accurate

hamster

Oh, hi!! Um, won’t you come in? Wow. You look great.

Aw, thanks. Well, I’ve been really taking care of myself. Eating right, exercising.

Where did you get that tiny little waist?

Zumba! I’ll tell, you I love it! It has changed my life.

Zumba…? But, I mean, forgive me, but you were never really that coordinated.

I KNOW, RIGHT? But this, it just clicked. I’m teaching classes now.

No…

Yes, it’s true!!

That’s so…unlike you. Then you gave up writing?

Oh no!! No, I teach the classes for fun. I donate all the money to charity.

So, are the books finished?

Yup! Finished the series, and they are doing great! Especially in Switzerland, for some reason. I just got a huge advance to start a new series.

I’m…dumbfounded. Wait a minute…how do you look younger than me?

OH! It’s my lifestyle change! No sugar, no dairy, lots of water, and my secret is green juice! I look younger than I did when I started.

Well… That doesn’t sound very fun, though.

You know, at first it was hard to adjust to, but now, I just love it. It makes me feel so alive! There’s something so relaxing about chopping greens. And my energy is through the roof! Way better than coffee.

You don’t drink coffee?!

Please! I may be a total fabrication of your imagination, but I am not giving up coffee.

Thank goodness. So, I mean, it’s really great to see you… I mean me. And see us so successful and happy, but…well, why are you here?

To inspire you of course. You see… This is kind of difficult for me to say… But, well, I’m having a hard time existing. And I thought, maybe you could help me along?

Me?!

Of course! Who else?

Oh, you got me all wrong. I’m on your side if anyone is. Look– I just finished a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with bananas and cinnamon. I’ve had my coffee with soy milk. Check this out – my to-do list: Workout. Write for one hour. Research juicing.

Then why…?

You are talking to Eleven AM Jen. I’m full of great ideas and inspiration. But I’m at work. In a few hours, I have to hand the reins to Six O’Clock Jen.

So, I should talk to her?

Hah! Good luck with that. That wine-swilling, ice cream-eating, sweatpants wearing napper is not going to do either of us any favors. Look, I’ve gotten her all set up. I’ve made extra coffee, took B12, put shoes on her, given her a clean, quiet place to work. I’ve created playlists and laid out her workout clothes. And the second I hand things over to her, she’s on the couch eating a block of cheese and watching Buzzfeed videos.

Maybe she just needs some support and understanding. Have you tried talking to her?

*snort* Why don’t you go try.


So, what did she say? When you told her about the green juice and Switzerland and Zumba?

She told me I should relax.

Wait – what do you — put that down!

No.

Did she give you that? You can’t eat a whole cheesecake!

So good!! I forgot it was so good!

Are you DRUNK?

Drefine Dunk.       Scoot over.

Hey! I’m working here. See? Writing time – Give me my laptop!

Wai-wait! I just want to show this video. Look-look! It’s a little hamster, in a fleecy sleeping bag, eating a carrot disk. HE’S SO HAPPY!

Hey – oh, she’s here?

YOU!! Look what you’ve done! She was our inspiration. She finished the books! Look at how fit she is…was.

Oh, she’s fine.

What are doing here? It’s not even noon.

I just wanted to let you know, I made some fudge last night. It’s in the fridge.

…. What kind?

Peanut butter.

Oh my God! You are awesome. All I’ve had all morning is this chewy flavorless oatmeal.

 

Pointless Superpowers

coffee-if-youre-not-shaking

Recently, my dear friend John looked at me and said (in awe, I like to think), “I have never seen anyone consume as much caffeine as you have and stay so calm.”

I nodded sedately. It is my gift.

That morning, he made me a double Americano which I chugged before we left for breakfast at Green Eggs Cafe. I ordered the tiramisu French toast, which in addition to espresso soaked lady fingers (btw, the name for that baked good has always grossed me out) had chocolate covered espresso beans. I ate every one of those, because I’m sane. And ordered a coffee to drink. An hour or so later I had a large iced dark roast.

As far as superpowers go, I’d have to say being able to drink a LOT of coffee without twitching violently is not a great one. I’m not going to complain about this power. It allows me to do one of the things I love most in the world: drink coffee. I’m so passionately in love with coffee, it is a character in my first book. I mean, it doesn’t talk or anything, but it comes up a lot. It’s in my acknowledgements.

However, I’d much prefer to be able to teleport or fly. Or at least have the natural energy I am trying to replace by drinking coffee. My lack of natural energy has given me other superpowers:

Apparent patience
The ability to nap anywhere
The power to make really good peanut butter fudge (trust me, it’s related)
Being able to seem really calm while I’m freaking the fuck out inside
Super strength

OK, the last one probably isn’t true and is definitely unrelated, although I can lift pretty heavy things.

Huh. When I started this post, I thought I was going to have a point, but all the points have been made these last few weeks, and by much more eloquent people than I. I am tired of being earnest and outraged. Instead, I give you:

My recipe for Peanut Butter Fudge
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup milk
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix sugar and milk in heavy bottom sauce pan. Bring to boil (watching carefully, this mixture is an evil trickster and wants to ruin your day by boiling over the second you let your concentration lapse). Boil on low until [fudge chemistry] the soft ball stage or 237 to 239 °F (114 to 115 °C), if you have a candy thermometer. Or even if you don’t, but you won’t know it’s at that temperature without a candy thermometer, unless you too have a pointless super power.

To be honest, I don’t do any of that temperature stuff. It is not a super power but a relentless sweet tooth and inherent laziness that has given me years of experience making my own candy in the comfort of my pajamas. I cook it until it looks right.

Let it cool a little, then add the vanilla (it will bubble because of science) and peanut butter (it will smell good, because of peanut butter and sugar and milk). Stir or beat until it starts to set, then pour in a buttered fudge pan. What? You don’t have a fudge pan? It’s…you know…the one other people bake stuff in I guess. 8 inch square. Put in the fridge to cool. Yeah… I don’t do that. I eat it hot and burn myself a little. Hurts so good.

How to Make Really Awesome, Really Strong Coffee

This will put hair on your chest. (note to self: wax chest)

You will need one of these

aeropress2

Around 4 tbls of this (yeah, I’m not kidding around)

major dick

and about 6 oz. boiling water. Prepare according to Aeropress instructions. Do whatever Aeropress says. Aeropress understands — it knows things. 

Add a splash of milk, if so desired. Sip and say, “ahhhh. so good. &#$&!”  That last step is involuntary.