30 August 2013

Literature rewards rereading

I recently reread F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby for a client project. (I know--big sacrifice!) It's one of my favorites, and I've read it every couple of years or so since high school. As I was going through it this time, I was struck by how much I enjoyed reading it, even after all this time.

When I was in college, I took a women's literature course. In one of our first classes, we had a discussion about literature vs. fiction. Specifically, we were trying to define "literature" as opposed to "fiction," to determine what makes a piece of writing worth reading.*

The professor gave a definition of literature that has stuck with me since then, and one I have used countless times in discussions with others. She said, "Literature rewards rereading."

I've always appreciated that explanation of literature, and I've found it to ring true in my own reading adventures. A good example of this is in The Great Gatsby.

Though I've read it several times, I've found that each time I read it, the story seems to contain some new depth or complexity I missed the time before, and each time, it makes me want to read it again. I learn something new about Gatsby or Daisy or Nick, and like them more, or like them less.

This time there was something that stuck out to me in Tom and Daisy's relationship that drastically changed my view of Daisy. I don't know why I didn't see it before. But that's what makes books like The Great Gatsby so rewarding. We bring our own baggage to our readings, and as our lives change, so do the lives of the characters.

Literature (as opposed to fiction) can withstand the changes in our lives and still offer us something valuable, something touching, something that makes us want to read again.

I've put Gatsby back on the shelf (well, in a box in preparation for the move) for now, but I imagine I'll pick it up again in a year or two. And I'm looking forward to what new things Mr. Fitzgerald has to teach me all over again.

*NOTE: The opinions in this post are my own. Everyone has different ideas of what is worth studying and reading based on their own tastes and interests. No judgment here.

27 August 2013

Big plans in motion....

The decision I'm waiting for has been a little delayed. I'm optimistic, but I don't know yet. So there's waiting on that.

In the meantime, though, I'm working toward some of my big plans. The ones that are on a longer timetable. I'm excited about things that are coming, and trying to be patient for them. There's a lot that has to be done before I'm able to be where I'm headed, but I'm making progress, and I'm happy about it.

I sometimes get ahead of myself when I make big plans like this. I see the excitement of the end result and focus on that rather than the individual steps I need to take in order to get there.

Sometimes, this is useful. It keeps me moving forward toward my goals, knowing that even when hiccups occur (or large obstacles), as long as I keep moving I'll get where I need to go.

Other times, it's frustrating because I know there's so much to do before I get there. Today is one of the frustrating days.

I'm eager for what--and who--is to come. I know how much better it will be for everyone, and I'm happy for it, even if it's not here yet. After everything that's happened over the past couple of years, my life is going to change even more than it already has. And in a very good way.

The thing is, I've spent a good deal of time sort of in a holding pattern over the past couple of years. I've had plans, but things had to be sorted out first. It was frustrating to have goals I couldn't even work toward. And now that things aren't on hold anymore, I'm more than ready for the next part.

Still, I'm making progress, and I'm glad for that. I'll try to be patient as I continue stepping forward, knowing I'll get there eventually.

26 August 2013

Challenge: Days Six and Seven

Skipped another day. Sorry about that. Here's what's gone right the past couple of days:

I found some optimism.

I'm still sticking to my plan, which hinges entirely on news I'm waiting to receive in the next day or so. It's very frustrating to know that the next month of my life is dependent on one decision that I have no control over, but I was reminded of a conversation between my brother and myself that has helped. Whatever happens, it's going to be okay. It might suck, and it absolutely won't go the way I expect, but it will be okay in the end.

I will have more support in Florida than I thought.

As I've mentioned before, one of my anxieties about moving has been that everyone who has been a support to me over the past couple of years will still be in Illinois. I'm moving to a place where the only people I know are toddlers or won't have anything to do with me (divorce tends to do that, doesn't it?). But I got some really good news yesterday that certain people will be moving closer to me soon, and have promised to visit often. It gives me encouragement for the future, both short- and long-term.

I got to sing with my friends one more time.

Yesterday I got to sing with the church choir once more before moving. I absolutely loved singing with them, and it's one of the many things I'll greatly miss when I move. Being able to sing one more time--and say goodbye to the friends I met through the church--lifted my heart and gave me the encouragement I'm going to need to get through the next few weeks.

I had an afternoon of movies.

Yesterday while I was working on finishing up a project for a client, I watched some movies on Netflix. Some I hadn't seen, others were repeats, all of them entertaining. I know it might not be the most productive decision to watch movies while I work, but I don't care. I got the project done, and was entertained at the same time.

A regular client added some work to my project list.

I have a regular client right now that I really love working with. The projects are fun, it's in a field I'm passionate about (Literature and education? Awesome!), and it's a good working relationship. The good news is that this client added some upcoming projects to our contract, so I'll get to do more work with him, and the specific projects sound like they're going to be a lot fun. Yay!

I got to talk to my brotherface*!

I had something important (the next item in this post, actually) to tell my brother, so we talked on the phone last night. Despite living in the same town, we don't get to talk much. We're both working, we both have munchkins, and our lives are just a bit chaotic. So when we talk, it's valuable to me. It was a typical conversation for us. We talked about TV and movies, literature (Dude! Read Lovecraft!), work, family, life, philosophy.... It was wonderful. I have a great brotherface.

And thus concludes my challenge for this week. It was good for me to take the time and think about things that went right every day over the past week. With everything else that's been going on, it helped me keep an optimistic mindset. Thanks, CCB, for the challenge!

What went right for you over the past week?

My brother (the older of my two younger brothers) calls me "sisterface" or "sissyface." He also calls our mom "mommyface." So I call him "brotherface."

24 August 2013

Challenge: Day Five

Yesterday was a strange day for me. There were some things that frustrated me (immensely), so it became even more important for me to focus on what was going right.

I think as it's getting closer to time for me to leave everything behind and start over in Florida, everything I'm doing to move is becoming more real. Especially because there's so much I've decided to not take with me so that I can either get rid of what I don't need and am not using, or replace some of my second-hand pieces with something I want.

In that way, moving to Florida really will be a fresh start for me. I'm in my new job (well, back to an old job, but still), I'll have a new place to live, new stuff to make it a home....

I'm trying to be positive about the fresh start aspect of the move. But it's hard because of the leaving-everything-behind aspect of the move. That part gives me a little knot in the pit of my stomach. So focusing on what's going right is helping. So yesterday...

Despite being tempted by fast food, I stuck to my diet and ate healthy, vegan leftovers.

When the kids are gone, it's easier for me to justify eating out. After all, it's just me. But I have good options at home for healthy, vegan meals. I may have to take a little extra time to cook what I have (which is why I was tempted by fast food), but I know it's a smarter--and more cost-effective--choice. So I had left-overs from my vegan enchilada skillet thingy instead of running out for food. And I felt better afterward. I know that if I'd gotten fast food, it may not have been vegan (limited choices here in central IL), and it certainly wouldn't have been as healthy. So yay me!

I got a lot of work done.

Yesterday was a big work day. I made progress on a client project (that I'll be finishing up this afternoon and evening). It's a fun project (it has to do with Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby), and I'm enjoying working on it. The good news is that when I'm finished with this one, I get to finish up another project that has to do with Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Days like that, I love my job.

I gave myself a break.

I know that there is only so much I am physically capable of doing. And I know that I'm doing all I can. And that sometimes, I need to be okay with giving my eyes a rest or sleeping more than four hours. Yesterday, when I ate supper, I didn't work through it. Instead, I let myself relax while I ate, then got back to work afterward. It was exactly what I needed. It gave me enough of a boost to push through the rest of the night.

What went right for you yesterday? How about over the past week?

23 August 2013

Challenge: Days Three and Four

So.... I didn't get the chance to post yesterday about the things that went right for me on Wednesday. Instead, I'll post today for both days.

Life happens.

So here's what's gone right for me over the past couple of days:

I'm sticking to my plan.

As I've mentioned before, the next few weeks are going to be quite chaotic for me. I have a plan, and so far I'm sticking to it. I had to adjust it slightly yesterday (which takes effect on Monday), but I'm managing to keep moving forward each day, which is a good thing. I can only hope that this coming Monday goes well, because it will be a key day for my plans over the next few weeks, but if it does, I'll be in much better shape with my plan. (If it doesn't, well, I'll deal with that if it happens.)

I haven't had any soda for the past few days.

Yes, I've been drinking lots of coffee, but I take minimal sugar in my coffee and no cream, so it's not as bad in terms of calories. I've been trying to give up soda for a long time, and while I don't know that I'll be able to fully give it up (at least for a while), cutting back as much as I have is a big victory to me.

I talked to the munchkins yesterday evening.

As usual, it was hard to get Puck to talk to me, but Tink was talkative, and I'm just glad I got to see them. Skype makes it a little easier to be away from the munchkins. I've been really missing them this week. That being said, I'll be glad when I'm finally settled in Florida and don't have to be away from them this long anymore.

I'm de-cluttering.

I have a lot of stuff that I never unpacked when I moved from Florida to Illinois. Some of it has no real place in my life anymore, while some of it has been outgrown by the kids (baby clothes and toys, etc.). Since I'm moving back to Florida and my space is quite limited, I'm using this opportunity to de-clutter my home. Whatever I can give away or donate, I will. Some stuff will just get thrown out. I'm a different person now, and I'm looking forward to replacing a lot of what I won't bring to Florida with me.

I am at peace.

This isn't really a "thing that went right," but it's still important and something I want to share. There is still a lot of chaos in my life, but I feel better about this chaos than I have most of the chaos in my life lately. I feel in control of my life and my future. I know I'm on the right path for my children and myself. There is still a lot I need to do to get where I really want to be (which will take a few years), but I'm doing okay. Much better than I have been. I am at peace.

21 August 2013

Challenge: Day Two

I accepted a challenge from the wonderful CCB to find three things that go right every day. I intended to blog about yesterday's "right things" before bed, but it just didn't happen, so I'm doing it today instead. And that's okay.

I didn't go back to bed after breakfast!

My mom works nights at her new, awesome job, so when she got off yesterday morning she called to see if I was up, and took me to breakfast. It was really great to get to talk to her uninterrupted for a while. After we ate, we even walked next door to the sporting goods store and looked at golf clubs and gear. (She's in the market for a set of clubs.) It was a nice little outing to start my day, and even though I was tired, I didn't go back to bed afterward. And that was a major victory for me!

I didn't give in to "easy" food options.

I'm working on transitioning my diet (and lifestyle) to fully vegan. Right now I would say I'm "mostly vegan." However, when I went to the store yesterday to get a few things, I made the conscious decision to not get "easy" food options (for example, frozen meals or deli meat) and stick to healthy, ethical options instead. As a result, I picked up some salsa (not the healthiest, but better than many alternatives), edamame, and almond milk. It may take a little more effort to make a meal rather than popping a frozen meal in the oven, but I know my body will thank me.

I finished another project for a regular client.

I have a particular client that often has regular work for me, which is wonderful. I love doing the projects, the client and I work well together, and I know I can usually count on this client for work any time. I finished another project, which is good because even though I love doing these projects, some of them get a little more tedious than others. This last one was pretty tedious. As in, I was frustrated and couldn't wait to finish this project. I was worried I would have to finish it today, but I got it done before bed last night, so yay!

19 August 2013

Challenge: Day One

I've accepted a challenge by Casey of Life with Roozle to find three things every day that have gone right. Today is the first day, so here's my list.

I have a plan.

People who know what's going on in my life lately know how important this is. With the sudden changes to my move to Florida, having a plan for moving forward is what's keeping me going. It's not an ideal situation, and will affect some long-term plans, but that's okay because it's a plan. I can move forward with a plan.

I got a lot of work done today.

When I'm frustrated, work helps. I can shut out the rest of the world and concentrate on projects I have for my clients. Since I have a lot of work for clients right now (but don't let that deter you from contacting me if you have work! I am accepting new clients!), I've been able to channel today's frustrations into work, which means today has been very productive. That's a very good thing.

I got to talk to the munchkins on Skype.

Today was Puck's first day of preschool, so it was important for me to get to talk to him and Tink so I could hear about their day. I'm not happy I didn't get to be there for his first day of school, but kindergarten is more important to me than preschool. And sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Anyway, we got to talk on Skype, and I heard about Puck's day (he played with cars and dinosaurs). He was distracted, but he talked to me a little, and Tink talked to me, so I'm happy.

Today was a good day.

Challenge accepted.

The next few weeks are going to be very difficult for me. In preparing to move to Florida, I encountered an obstacle that was out of my control, and then handed an additional (much bigger and with a much bigger long-term consequence) obstacle by someone because of the obstacle that is out of my hands, and apparently, there's no flexibility for this obstacle to be worked out. Which is fine. Sometimes people put you in difficult positions and you have to get through to get out.

I have found that one good way for me to handle difficult situations like this is to do what I have to do to stay positive. It sounds cheesy, I know, but it works for me. So it's very appropriate that Casey over at Life with Roozle has issued a challenge for the week: find three things every day that have gone right.

I need a challenge like that this week. I need to be reminded that even though things are not going the way they were supposed to go, and even though my move to Florida is going to be very different than it was supposed to be, there are good things happening, too.

So I accept your challenge, CCB. And we'll just have to see what happens in the next few weeks.

14 August 2013

Bringing 2013 to a close

2013 is going to be over before we know it. As I'm preparing to move my entire life to another state, I'm thinking about how I want to end this year, and how I want to start next year.

I know I have to take things slowly, one step at a time, especially right now. My divorce is nearly finalized, I've changed jobs, and I'm moving (three enormous stressors all at once). But I know I need to keep looking and moving forward, so I'm looking ahead to what's going to happen once I've moved to Florida and gotten settled.

I have plans for my life. Some big (some very big) and some small, and I'm taking the steps needed to start accomplishing the things I want to accomplish in my life and career.

To that end, I've set some goals for myself for the end of 2013. Several of those goals have to do with my personal life (sorry--I won't be sharing them here) so that I can take the next steps toward other things. However, there are a couple of bigger, more long-term goals I have that I'd like to talk about here.

Earning my MFA in creative writing

I've wanted my MFA for a long time. I would love to be able to teach college-level English (and writing), and I know that in order to do that, I need a Master's degree. So I'm looking into graduate programs I can attend while living in central Florida and looking at what I need to do to get in. I'm preparing to take my GRE, and I'm starting to work on my writing portfolio for my admissions package. And I'm hopeful that--soon--I'll be a graduate student.

Publishing the collection

I've been working on the coffee house book for a long time, off and on. Lately has been more off than on. With everything that has been going on in my personal life, I've had to set it aside to focus on other things. But I haven't given up. And when I'm not working on the collection, I'm still thinking about it almost all the time. So along with my goal of moving toward graduate school is to get the coffee house book ready to seek representation by the end of 2014. I've already made some progress toward that, I have a writing schedule in order to get it done, and my hope is to have a draft in the hands of a couple of beta readers next spring/early summer.

Over the past couple of years, I've been able to prove to myself that I'm stronger than I though. I can do what I want to do, and so I'm going to.

Big plans, y'all.

13 August 2013

Yes, it was worth it.

For those of you who have come to my blog thanks to the link-love from my heart sister Dana, welcome! I hope you'll decide to stick around!

I want to talk about something I've discussed here before, but I think it's worth repeating because of a few conversations I've had lately.

I'm gay. I was born gay, but I didn't realize it in myself for a lot of personal reasons I'm not going to discuss in this sort of forum. As a result, I only recently came out to myself and others, and am at the end of a divorce from my husband (the father of my children).

There is something I need to emphasize: I was born gay, even though I didn't realize it until recently. I am not newly or recently gay. I am gay.

I had a talk with a friend recently about what coming out has meant in my life. I had a pretty good life as a straight, married mother of two. My friend asked me if it has been worth it to walk away from all that by coming out.

Yes. Wholeheartedly, unreservedly, yes.

Here's the thing. Being gay isn't something you choose to be. You either are or you aren't. And while I had a pretty good life with Monty, it wasn't real. It wasn't who I was. And it wasn't fair to either of us, or to the kids, for me to continue living that kind of lie.

So yes, it has been worth it. It's been hard. I've lost my marriage, and I risked losing half of my family when I told my dad. (I could still lose family over it, since many of my extended family members don't know.) I could have even lost custody of my children (though I would have fought that fiercely).

Coming out is not easier in most people's lives. They lose their support system at a time they need it the most. They face bullying, ridicule, harassment. People tell them they're condemned to burn in hell for eternity simply for accepting the person they were born to be (which, if you believe in god means that they were made that way by the being who is supposedly condemning them for the rest of time).

I've heard so much from intelligent people that being gay is a choice. "Why did you choose to be gay?" or "When did you choose to be gay?" Aside from the fact that it has been proven that being gay is biological and formed in the womb, why would someone choose that for themselves? Why would people lose everything they hold dear if it's a choice? Why would people choose a life that gets them killed either by their own hand, or at the hands of others?

No, it's not a choice. It's either who you are, or it isn't. And if you are, you choose whether to accept that in yourself and live authentically, or keep it to yourself and try to live a life many people think is "traditional." That is your choice, and you have to do what's best for you.

For me, there was no question about whether I wanted to come out or not. For myself, I couldn't live like that. I had to be fair to myself, and to Monty. And, perhaps more importantly to me, I want my children to live their own lives authentically. How can I teach them to be proud of who they are if I couldn't do the same?

It has been hard, sure. I loved Monty very much. And making the decision to not fight for our marriage because I'm gay was heart-wrenching for me. I hated it. Still do. But the right thing is not always the easy thing, and I had to do the right thing. As hard as it was, I know that, in the long run, it's best for everyone.

So, yes, it was worth it. That doesn't mean I like that I had to do it, or that I liked how things progressed once the decision was made, but it was worth it.

This is who I am. I'm not ashamed of being gay and it's not something I'm going to hide about myself. I have to be who I am, proudly, and that's what I'm doing.

09 August 2013

A busy week coming to a close

 This has been a busy week for our family. And while tomorrow will be another busy day because I'm taking the munchkins to Monty, it is coming to a close, and will be marking the start of a couple of weeks of all-out chaos until I move to Florida and start to get settled.

Last Saturday the munchkins and I went with my mom, sister, brother's girlfriend, and two nieces to the St. Louis Zoo. It was a long, exhausting, fun day with the kids. I'm glad we had a day for all the cousins to be together like that before the big move to the Sunshine State. I have mixed feelings about zoos in terms of animal rights (I'll be posting on that another day), but it was a fun family day.

On Sunday we had a birthday party for Puck--who is now proudly four. After the party we drove up to my dad's house to spend a few days with his family. We kept busy for those few days, too. We celebrated Puck's actual factual birthday, walked to the park to play, went swimming at the local rec center, and went to Wednesday evening services at my dad's church (I'll be posting on that another day, too).

We left yesterday after supper and drove straight to my sister's house so the munchkins could say goodbye to Cousin Bug since she'll be at her dad's house this weekend. Tonight we have a family dinner, and tomorrow a long drive to Chattanooga and back.

There have been times I've wished this week that we could have more quiet time with nothing to do so I could just be with the munchkins. But there are times I'm glad we've been busy and on adventures all week to keep my mind off what comes next.

This move is going to be a difficult one for me. I don't have a support system in Florida yet, so I'm leaving my whole world behind to start new, alone, in Florida.

It's probably going to suck for a while.

I know that it's a good decision (for a lot of reasons). And I know that, in the long-term, it's going to be good. I have an excellent career, I'll have the kids.... and who could argue with being able to golf year-round? And good memories to keep me grounded until I get to see my family again.