Thursday, April 28, 2011

Writing : Do What Works

About a year ago I started blogging to see if I could get my "voice" back.  Growing up I always wanted to be a writer, among many other things.  In fact, some of my poems and stories were published in Young Author Anthologies beginning when I was 10! Once I entered the adult world at 17 years old my focus turned to paying bills. I put my dreams of writing on the shelf.  I still have all of my stories, poems, essays, research papers, and "books" that I wrote between the ages of 5 and 18.  Going through my past writing endeavors last year and being asked to write a few essays for religious publications is what gave me the determination to focus on writing again.

I had this mental image of my writing ability, objectified, sitting on a shelf collecting dust.  It scared me that I had let so much time pass without using my creativity.   I thought a blog would be a nice way to get back in the habit of writing and it would push me to be creative, serious and funny. . .and truthful.  Anyone can write in a diary or journal but the real test comes when you allow people to react to what you've written.  I also felt like writing would be therapeutic for me, whether it's something everyone can read and relate to or something just for me the goal is to do what works for me and my writing style, not someone else's.

Yesterday, I had the most irritating day.  The day wasn't bad it was just continuously frustrating, if that makes sense.  By 4:00 PM I slumped back in my chair and thought, "Whyyyyyy-yuh?"  In the past, this feeling would have stayed with me but my mind immediately went to ideas of how I could express the annoyances so that others who experience the same types of irritating moments, could relate and have a "hallelujah" moment and laugh along with me.  In fact, the ideas came so quickly and humorously that I caught myself laughing out loud at all of the situations of the day.  Thinking of them in a blog  or story format made them  funny!  Free therapy!!

My passion for writing is at an all time high.  I see a story in everything; like I did when I was a kid.  I find myself noticing my surroundings more than ever and the good news is that I am finding my voice! I have a long way to go but this blog has really helped me deal with stress and I feel like I can connect to people through it. That's the first step. The next step? Continuing to shape my style and my focus. Ultimately, I want to write about controversial issues. The subjects they tell you never to discuss are the ones I love to bring up on a regular basis. I'm not sure my readers are ready for my opinions and perspectives yet; for now I'll stick with the sarcastic stories about life.

Writing is like taking that first breath after a "hold-your-breath" contest. There's nothing more inviting, more comforting or more necessary in that moment.

"There are so many different kinds of writing and so many ways to work that the only rule is this: do what works. Almost everything has been tried and found to succeed for somebody. The methods, even the ideas of successful writers contradict each other in a most heartening way, and the only element I find common to all successful writers is persistence-an overwhelming determination to succeed."

-Sophy Burnham

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom

A fellow blogger, who is also the wonderful sister of one of my best friends, posted something very meaningful to me in one of her posts a few months back.  I discovered it this week and it really helped spark a more positive attitude in me, something I really needed.  I hope she doesn't mind if I share the line from her blog. . .

Wonderful Sister wrote that when she finds herself talking to her mom about worries and anxieties, her mom will often stop her and say, "Wonderful Sister, I give you permission to be happy."

I, like so many of my friends who are also anxiety prone, often feel like I'm not worthy of being happy.  That if  don't think of every way that something could go wrong I am doing myself a disservice when in reality I am making myself crazy!  I let the past get in the way of today instead of deciding, against all odds, that I am going to just BE and be happy.  I am so much better at that now than I ever was but find myself going through funks every once in a while.

Wednesday Wisdom:  Give yourself permission to be happy!

Thanks to Ping and Pal (aka Wonderful Sister) for the inspired wisdom and for having one of the most positive and happy blogs I've ever read.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Post-it Art: I Love Clean Toilets

It may be strange to randomly state that I love clean toilets because, really, who doesn't love a clean toilet?  I may love them more than you, though.  Trust me, it's not a competition, but when you've spent a good portion of your life with your face in a toilet, you develop an obsessive compulsion around its cleanliness.  Whether it's due to a virus that my pathetic immune system can't fight off or migraine induced I'm no stranger to. . .I'm going to say it. . .vomiting.

Side note:  I looked up synonyms for the word 'vomit'.  I don't recommend googling it because one of the first results was a slew of pictures along with the synonyms.  It doesn't bother me; but it may bother you.

Back to clean toilets!  I will clean the toilet in my apartment several times a week.  It's just a habit I'm in.  I can be in the middle of straightening my hair or applying make up and I will stop what I'm doing to give the toilet a quick yet thorough scrubbing.

Yesterday, Easter Sunday, I walked out to my car after church.  I was supposed to go to a friend's house for lunch and was excited about it!  When I got to my car though I had this weird urge to drive straight home and go to sleep.  My body was threatening me, "If you don't go home and go to sleep, we will make you pass out!"  (I don't know why I think of my body as a "we". . .)  So, I drove straight home, and all 30 minutes of the trip I was thinking about how I just wanted to lay down and sleep.  So I did.  As soon as I got home I curled up on my couch and slept for the next three hours.

Suddenly, I sat up, startled and groggy. 


What?  I stumbled around wishing I could go back to sleep but didn't think my brain would let me until I cleaned the toilet.  "I am so weird,"  I thought to myself.  No wonder I'm single.  I cleaned the toilet top to bottom and inside out, washed my hands, and sleepily stumbled back to the couch. 

I lay there fairly comfortably but I couldn't go back to sleep.  I tried deep breathing, I tried covering myself with a blanket, I changed positions. . .nothing.  Then the left side of my head started pounding.  Sure sign of a migraine.  This would explain the extreme tiredness earlier.  As soon as the pain hit so did the nausea. 

The head pain and nausea lasted hours.  I wanted to sleep through it and wake up feeling better but that wasn't going to happen.  For three agonizing hours I lay curled up on the couch having extreme thoughts:  I would either die or I would miraculously get better.  And I was hoping for both.

I won't go into lots of detail here but don't pretend you haven't ever thrown up.  Ewwww what is she talking about?  She said 'nausea' and 'vomit'.  Stay with me, the post-it  illustrations get better!

So lying there for hours hoping to die or get better, my body chose the happy medium.  "You shall puuuuke!"  It's amazing how quickly and fluidly I can get from the couch, around the corner, over a tub of winter clothing and to the bathroom.  I'm in crazy silent panic mode, my hair whipping wildly behind me.  This is when I am thankful for my long, frog-like legs.  In two and half gazelle-like strides I'm nearing the bathroom.

In this moment, I have what seems like hours worth of thoughts running through my mind:
"Wow.  I'm really glad I cleaned the toilet a few hours ago.  That was really lucky."
"I'm going to need a hair tie"
"Oops.  No time for a hair tie.  Hope none of it falls into the toilet."
"I hate puking.  But I wonder if I will lose any weight as a result of this."

Then, comes the leap!  After the long stride, my foot hit the linoleum of the bathroom floor and I become air born:

The trick is to grab the outer rim with your right arm, so that your face is as close to the toilet as possible while simultaneously swinging your body around until you are in perfect vomiting position.

Like this:

Reason number one for why I really love clean toilets:  For the next few hours, my face will be intermittently smashed against the seat of the toilet while I sleep for 10-15 minutes at a time.  If this happened to you on a regular basis, you would really love clean toilets too!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Helpful Hints

Read all of the instructions.  Read the fine print.  Read before you sign. 

You're welcome.  These tips will change your life, and possibly mine, if people would proactively follow them.  How will it change my life? It's less likely that I will be blamed --- "you didn't tell me that."  Maybe I did and maybe I did not, we both know I can't prove it; however, it was clearly written on the form you signed.  Burn!

Oh yes, and also, you should read books.  That is all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's in a Name?

I may have had identity issues as a child.  Okay fine, I definitely had identity issues.  For a shy kid who did everything possible to stay out of the spotlight (like refusing to speak in school and suppressing coughs and sneezes in public) I became strangely bold with my elementary teachers when I decided to change my name. 

First of all, I have the most generic 80's name.  Look up the most popular name in's mine.  Pair it with the most generic middle name....boom!  mine too.  Add a crazy generic Welsh last name.  Then throw in an introverted kid with an overactive imagination and 4 new elementary schools in a 10 month span of time.  Identity Issues! 

To differentiate between all the girls who shared my first name in school, teachers numbered us.  How demoralizing is that?  Generic 1, Generic 2, etc.  I was always Generic 1 (Jessica 1).  Some Generic's who were lucky enough to have different middle names than the rest us (most us were Lynn) opted out of the numbered system. 

The first time I decided that I wanted to be called by a different name, publicly, I was in 2nd grade.  I was in my third school and thought art class was the perfect place to try it out.  I told my art teacher, "My parents changed my name.  My name is now Lynn."  My teacher, bless her, didn't miss a beat.  "Okay, Lynn.  I will need a note from your mother."  So, my mom wrote a note that stated something to the effect that I would now be going by Lynn.  My mom is super cool, she never even questioned me.  I do wish, however, that she would have said something like, "Pick a cooler name!  Weirdo!" but she didn't.

I realized Lynn was not the right name for me when my teacher actually started using it and I didn't respond.  She finally walked over to me, "Lynn....I have been calling on you.  Are you paying attention?"  This shy girl also did not enjoy being in trouble so I immediately changed my name back to Jessica 1.  Sigh.

Jay / Jay Lynn
In 3rd grade, in my fourth school, my new best friend, who recognized that I was a tomboy called me Jay.  That caught on with our circle of friends on the playground for most of the year. Sometimes my middle name was added, Jay Lynn.  It all came to a screeching halt when Mean Girl came by one day and said, "Jay?  Like Jay Leno?"  I liked Jay Leno--shhh don't tell my parents!  I used to sneak out of my room at night and watch Jay Leno when I was 8.  "I guess," I shrugged.  Mean Girl cackled before jumping on her broomstick, "Ha ha!  Jay Leno has a HUGE chin and YOU have a HUGE nose! ahahahaha!"  Rest In Peace super awesome nickname and self-esteem.

My Name is ShadowCat
So I grew up loving comic books.  My brothers and our neighborhood friends would spend hours outside reliving comic book storylines.  Our favorite?  XMen.  I was usually Rogue or Jean Grey but my favorite character to play was ShadowCat.  She was a lesser known XMen character but I didn't care.  ShadowCat could walk through walls...anything solid, really.  She was crazy awesome.  I sort of got lost in the character and went through a tiny phase when even outside of playing XMen I preferred that my brothers and neighborhood friends call me ShadowCat.  Don't judge me, I was also about 8 years old.  You would want to be called ShadowCat too if your name was Jessica Lynn Generic!

How Many Ways Can You Spell Jessica?
Throughout the rest of my childhood I would just shorten my name and change the spelling halfway through a school year.  In 5th grade I decided a better way to spell Jessica was Jeccika.  I also told my classmates that it was the Russian spelling and they thought I was cool.  When that got old I went by Jessi which changed to Jessy, Jesi, and Jessey.....and yes, Jecci.

By 7th grade I was just Jessi 1.  The nickname Jessi had caught on with the other Jessica's so we went back to being numbered. 

Kalypsa Dove
Yes, friends, I made my parents call me Kalypsa Dove.  I went through a hippie phase that lasted a few years.  Probably late junior high through, and I hate to admit this, early high school I randomly forced my mom to call me Kalypsa.  Keep in mind it was also kind of funny and it turned into a sort of game for me to annoy my parents with. I wasn't completely serious about it like I was when I was a kid.

This was not a name that I chose.  My senior year of high school I had been "Jessi" for a solid 4 years.  The first week of school a friend of a friend, who joined our lunch table, said that I looked more like a Christina than a Jessi and that he would be referring to me as Christina going forward.  To this day, I still respond to Christina.

On my 16th birthday, my great grandfather, who grew up in Israel kissed me on both cheeks and said, "Did you know your Hebrew name is Yiskah?"  Then he kissed me square on the mouth and said, "My beautiful Yiskah."  I am proud of that name to this day and feel like it's part of my identity.

Call me whatever you want!
I go by Jess now for the most part. A co-worker initiated this nickname and I later realized it had an advantage in the business world.  Since Jess is a unisex name, I was able to get my foot in the door with some people who asssumed I was a guy until they actually spoke to me on the phone or met me.  I became so comfortable with the name that it's how I introduce myself to everyone.  I have yet to work with another Jess so I'm safe for now.

When I visit my parents and friends down south I am still Jessi and Jessilyn.  At work I am Jess.  At church I am called by whatever people became most familiar with at different stages of my life....Jessica, Jessi, Jess and sometimes I am still remembered as Jay. 

Although I realize I was probably a weird or eccentric kid, it makes for good stories. 

I'm still sort of in search of the perfect name.  My new goal is to marry someone with a cool last name and if I never marry I will change my current Generic last name to something I deem awesome.  Watch out!  I have a few in mind and am also open to suggestions!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Judge Not. . .

Early morning flight to Dallas, TX; I positioned myself in a seat by the window right behind the wing.  I love to watch the flaps adjust during take off and landing.  I watched the crew throw our luggage into bins and then load them into the plane while I also eavesdropped on the conversation between the men sitting next to me.

I could tell the men were native Texans--the accent--and that they were businessmen, probably director level if not executive.  I kept to myself but enjoyed listening to them and even though I had not actually looked at them I imagined they were in business suits, one of them probably wore glasses, they were probably clean cut and in their early 40s. 

One of the men tapped my arm and said, "Kin yooo hold mah caw-feee darlin'?"

For real with the accent.

As I turned to face him I was taken aback by his appearance.  He was clean cut with glasses and probably in his early forties, as I had assumed, but he was not in a business suit.  He had on wrangler jeans, a belt with a ginormous belt buckle, a cowboy hat and boots.  To me it looked like a costume or something you would wear only if attending a Tim McGraw concert.  I almost snorted but caught myself, smiled, and then grabbed the the coffee cup he was holding out to me.  I had totally stereotyped him based on the conversation he was having.   

When he sat back down he looked at me for a moment and said, "You don't see a lot of people dressed like this, I imagine?"

I blushed a little since he had noticed my dramatic reaction to him.  "No.  Sorry, hearing your conversation I didn't expect the cowboy getup--err I mean that you aren't in a suit."

"Welllll, not gonna lie, I was a little nervous sitting next to a young lady with purr-pull hay-yurrr. In a business suit no less."

Touche.  Guess I'm not the only one who can sterotype.
Moral of the story:  Judge not. . . or the remainder of your flight to Dallas might be awkward.  No wait I mean. . . lest ye be judged.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Man in Ceiling

I took what I had anticipated being a quick, late afternoon break to refresh my coffee, stretch my legs and make a restroom stop.  Once in the restroom I heard a male voice say, "Ma'am"  I froze. I looked around hoping that I had not walked into the men's bathroom.   Nope.  Once I established that I was indeed in the women's restroom I heard the voice again, "Ma'am, don't go into the stall."

My heart raced.  "God?" 

Okay, so I know that if God had been audibly speaking to me He probably would have called me by name instead of calling me ma'am but in order to be less creeped out I was really wishing it was God, not a man, speaking to me in the women's restroom.

I looked all around and finally saw a hole in the ceiling. 

I looked closer and noticed a man peering down through the ceiling.  What the WHAT!?  I gasped a little and demanded to know what he was doing up there!  It turns out that he was responding to a maintenance request with the air conditioner or something. 

Before I turned to flee I yelled, "You should put a sign on the door that says 'Man in Ceiling- use another restroom'!  Then I fled to the another floor of the office building.  The ladies in the restroom on the 2nd floor thought I was nuts.  I walked in and looked all around the bathroom and then said, "Do you know if any men have been in the ceiling?"

Looking back, it would have been wise to give the ladies some background information before asking the question.  Now I just seem crazy.