Gratitude Saturday December 15

You all know that this week did not go exactly as I wanted it to… But we keep going…

  1. My Husband turned 50 this week!
  2. He finally got his AARP card so I am no longer the butt of the age jokes
  3. lotion for dry skin
  4. sneakers
  5. A Christmas tree that is not too big
  6. the subways running when I need them to
  7. My writing friend K who called me with a great writing idea
  8. My friend G who listened to me whine when I awaited my daughters college results
  9. Mt daughter winning a High School service award
  10. Beautiful holiday cards with pictures of children
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The One With The College Letter

I won’t keep you in suspense: my daughter got deferred from her college of choice. Deferred meaning that she is still in the running but will not find out her fate till approximately March 29.

She’s taking the news better than I am though. I began to have a panic attack at about 6:45, fifteen minutes before the emails would be sent out.  At 6:45 my daughter was working the lights at her schools Winter Concert- she didn’t check her portal till 7:30. (which was harrowing on my nerves- just ask my friend who was texting me during those forty five minutes when I was laying on my couch in agony.)

Alas- the news for the rest of her classmates went something like this:

36 on ACT- Deferred

Spent summers doing research at elite science school-  Deferred

Valedictorian- Deferred

All 5’s on AP exams- Deferred

Student Council President- Denied

Legacy- Deferred

Won Nobel Prize- Deferred (OK- I’m kidding on that one, but you get the idea)

And my Daughter, the rest of her classmates: they understand the risk of applying to highly selective schools.  They realize that by applying ED or EA restrictive they are limiting their chances to get into other schools.  They are smart enough to know what 13% acceptance rate means. They are smart enough to know that they have chosen one school above all others.

Yet they go for it anyway.

And this weekend, instead of going to see Holiday decorations like we had planned, my Daughter will be dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s on the rest of her applications (which are 99% completed) and hitting the button on the computer that simply states “Submit Application”. But she also knows that the remaining schools on her list are now even more difficult to get into, because they already filled many of their spots.  And they now know that they are second choice. Or third choice.  Or…

Some of you are thinking; Boo hoo- they didn’t get into the college they wanted. And I get that thought: in the scheme of all the things that could go wrong, really, that’s a blip.

But it doesn’t mean that it hurts any less.

So this deferment is just another item to the list of things that didn’t go her way.  And there will be many more of these to follow. And hopefully she will always have the strength to be a little sad, but just pick herself up and dust herself off and get on with it.

And I get to proofread more ^&%$# essays…..

The Tale of the Bread and the Bagel

Once upon a time there was a Queen who ruled over her kitchen with a mighty hand.  On Sunday evenings, the Queen liked to clean out the fridge and utilize all the leftovers and veggies that were left. The Queen liked to start off the week with a clean slate. The Queen was a little weird this way…

So one Sunday Eve, the Queen took out a container of lentil/tomato  cassoulet, and a small bowl of rice and set to reheating them. After glancing at the freezer and the cabinets the Queen made a royal decree:

“I have tuna and cheddar, rye bread and bagels.  Who wants what?”

The Princess answered “Tuna, cheese and bread please.”

The King responded. “Bread.  Tuna.  No cheese.”

And the Queen took four slices of rye out of the freezer, and got the tuna down from the shelf. She then began assembling the hodgepodge that would be called “Dinner”. As she stirred and reheated, the King entered the kitchen.  He looked at the griddle where the bread was heating and stated:

“Where’s my bagel?”

And the Queen looked at him askance.

“You said bread.” The queen responded.

“Bagel is bread” The King retorted.

And the yes it is, no it’s not went on for a few rounds until the Queen said:

“If I send you to the royal market and ask you to pick up bread, are you coming home with a dozen bagels?”

The King got a little red in the face and sort of stomped his feet like a petulant toddler. Finally he said:

“Ok.  I see your point.  Maybe you are more correct in this incident.  But you have to understand my point of view.”

And the Queen just looked at him for a second, then put two slices of rye bread on each plate and said:

“Just make the tuna.”

And she walked out of the kitchen and lived happily, and correctly, ever after.

 

 

 

Rewrite…..Rewrite

Last weekend my Daughter and I went to an Off Broadway show- “Christmas in Hell”. This musical was put on by the York Theater Company, and is currently in previews.  Here’s the thing about previews: everyone involved in the show looks critically at each performance and tried to figure out what tweaks will make the show better.

Before the Saturday evening performance, the artistic director stood on stage and welcomed us to the production. He made the easy joke about Christmas in Hell was being performed in the basement of a Lutheran Church and btw, Happy Hanukah.  And then he told us that the first act of the show had been changed since the last preview performance because they had done some reworking that morning to make the meaning and timeline more clear.

That morning.

That morning they moved scenes around, changed dialogue here and there, etc.

For a musical that had already had a few performances.

The Author changed his play.

As you can see, I’m still baffled by this because I get freaked out by editing.

I’m presently in the heavy editing phase of my book. And I’m presently in the land of not wanting to cut things that aren’t working. I’m firmly entrenched in letting scenes, no matter how inconsequential or wrong, stay on the page. I am having trouble divorcing myself from the words that I have written.

When I (substitute yourself if you fall into this category) put words on a page, these words and sentences and paragraphs and pages and chapters become my baby. I have given birth to these things, and Mama wants to protect her baby at all costs.  How can my baby not be the prettiest thing in all the world?  I wrote it…

Ego.

We all need at least a semblance of an ego in order to survive. We have to have confidence in who we are and what we do. But…we can’t let that ego get the better of us.  We have to be able to distinguish the right path from the not so right path. And we have to know when and how to edit our work.

I’ve been having trouble with rewrites on my third chapter, which in my work is a necessary but odd chapter as I do a quasi flashback. The scenes in this chapter are pivotal to the plotline of the rest of the book. And I had one scene…. My writing group friend said as gently as possible that a certain scene just didn’t work.  And I know she is right. I know exactly what she is saying. But I still had trouble reworking it.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I just deleted the offending paragraphs and retooled it.  It’s still not perfect, but it’s better. It’s tighter. It’s a better use of words to describe the situation.

Part of me feels much better that I reworked and retooled.  And part of me thinks I let down my baby- that I didn’t think baby was good enough…

That’s the difference between writers who publish novels, and writers who have a manuscript in the draw- published authors know how to divorce themselves from the words on a page- to know that they are just words that can be replaced by other words.

I need to remember that editing doesn’t mean it’s not good.  Editing means you’re making something better.

Psst………

I was at a tea society event the other day. It was held at the Jo Malone counter of the last great department store- Bergdorf Goodman. The store is the epitome of grace and class and reminders of what shopping used to be like. We stood in the newly renovated section of the cosmetics department, sipping Palais du Tea blends, eating little triangles of bread, sans crust, filled with light smatterings of cream cheese, chicken salad and smoked salmon. And there were macarons of course.

As we waited for our complimentary hand massages and consultation to find our signature scent blend (if you really want to know what fragrances make up my aromatic calling card I can probably be coerced into telling you…) one of the women came up to me and whispered in my ear…

“Have you seen….(voice goes lower) ‘Dirty John’?”

And I whispered back “OMG- I’m obsessed!”

And we continued to bring back our pre adolescent days by whispering in one anothers ears, and giggling. It reminded me of the days when “Fifty Shades” first came out. Which, for the record, I did not read.

But see- that’s the thing: why am I so adamant about telling you that I DID NOT read the 50 shades books?

I wrote a scathing diatribe against the book “Kissing Quotient.” I thought the book was tawdry and cheap.  Yet…it was Goodreads top romance book for 2018. Which means people voted on it.  Which means people read it.

But…

I don’t know anyone other than myself who admits to reading it…

So apparently this book was voted “Best Romance” even though no one read it.

Why do we whisper the names of certain shows, books, movies?

Why do we consider watching Real Housewives a guilty pleasure

What’s wrong with enjoying things that are not “intellectual”?

Why are we so embarrassed to admit that we like things that might be considered “tawdry”?

Well….we do it to ourselves.

Have you ever looked down on someone who said they did something you think is ridiculous? I know I have. (which explains why no one will admit to reading Kissing Quotient when I’m in earshot) But I shouldn’t be doing that.  Ever.  I should never look oddly at someone for doing something that they enjoy.

So as of today, I’m going to stop referring to my watching “Catfish” as a guilty pleasure.  From now on it will just be a pleasure.  I will no longer refer to it as a documentary on life in an internet age.  I will proudly call it a reality show that peeks into peoples dating lives.

And I’m going to stop judging others for whatever pleasure they have.

 

 

My Week in Review: December 9

Still in shock that the year is almost over- though on the whole it’s been an outstanding year. Here’s what I looked at, listened to and thought about this week”

  1. To go to: Guggenheim Museum- Hilma af Klint exhibit. I really liked this exhibit- early abstracts, beautiful colors, just pleasant to look at.
  2. To Watch: “Frontrunners” in theaters.  Biopic about Gary Hart. This is another case of taking a tabloid story and making it into the most boring movie ever.  Decent Jackman, though he wasn’t given much to work with.
  3. To Listen to: I’m currently obsessed with the Mumford and Sons new album “Delta”.  Also bummed that I didn’t get tickets for the concert.
  4. To Listen to: Fiftieth Anniversary of Beatles “White Album”. Dust off Spotify and listen up.
  5. To Watch: “The Bodyguard” Netflix. I thought this was an incredibly well done police type drama.
  6. To Watch: I finally caught up with “This is Us” NBC.  OMG how this show keeps me hooked.
  7. To Attend: “Christmas in Hell” York Theater Company Off Broadway NYC (so off Broadway it’s in a church basement on the East Side- and Broadway is on the West side…)
  8. And of course- awaiting the holiday season.

Have a great week!

Gratitude Saturday

On Saturdays I try to reflect back on the things that were good during the week- no matter how large or small. I need to stop and savor the moment every now and then, even if I was unable to buy Queen tickets.

  1. My Daughter was named one of the NYC PSAL (public school athletic league) MVP Scholar Athletes
  2. My Sister’s birthday
  3. My daughters friends and my friends children are beginning to get college acceptance letters
  4. warm scarves
  5. celebrating Hanukah with my family
  6. Finally figuring out how to spell Hanukah
  7. Potato pancakes with chunky applesauce
  8. Holiday Music in small doses
  9. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
  10. That others are worried about the new WordPress Editor
  11. My friends who keep pulling me back in if I start to wander away

Buzzing Around Mindfulness

The next thing I’m going to work on next year is mindfulness.  Now, before you start thinking- “Oh good- LA has gotten so trite she is now going to go down the list of 2018 buzz words…” hear me out.

One of our favorite family vacation anecdotes revolves around our trip to Zion Canyon in Utah (FYI- one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever seen). My daughter was probably about seven, and this was the first trip we’d taken which did not in some way revolve around an amusement part.

We arrived at the park about noon local time.  We’d flown into Vegas the night before, and made the drive that morning. My daughter and I stood on the trail admiring the beauty of the majestic landscape before me. (OK- I was admiring.  My daughter wanted to know when we were going to ride horses…) Husband was about ten feet ahead of us and looked back and said “Come on. Let’s get on with it.”  I walked up to him and said “Where are we hurrying to? It’s not like we’re going to miss the 6 train…”

See- here’s the thing: Me, my husband, my daughter, the people around me are often so focused on checking things off our never ending lists that we forget to stop and think about what is going on in front of us. I often need a literal canyon in front of me to make me stop and take it all in.

Mindful.

Where am I rushing to? Why am I rushing? I need to stop and ask myself these questions at least once a day.  I set phone reminders to make sure I take care of tasks: buy milk- ping, mail stitchfix back- ping, change litter- ping.  I’m going to set reminders to take a mind break.

“LA- stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. Look at what is right in front of you.” PING.

Why is this so important? Because we’re not here to just take care of to do’s. We’re here to take care of each other.  We’re here to take care of ourselves. To take of our bodies, our minds and our souls.

And that’s the most important thing to check off the list.

And in a strange coincidence, something really good just happened in our household, so I’m going to savor the moment!

Relationship Goals

I don’t do resolutions: I set goals.  I try to figure out areas of my life that need help, and then I attempt to fix them, sometimes more successfully than others. In the upcoming year, my goal is to get better at relationships.

What do I mean by better at relationships? On the surface it would appear that I do OK in that department.  I have reasonably successful relationships with numerous people: friends, family, partners, etc.  I have a fatal flaw involving relationships though.  I tend to push people away.

Luckily, I have been blessed with friends who just push their way in and keep nudging, friends who hold onto the back of you collar tightly and pull you back into the fold. But you see, I’m really good at pushing away the people in my life that matter. Do you know how the majority of my closest friends found out that my Dad has cancer?  In my blog. I can talk about a lot of things (trust me- I can talk) but I have trouble talking about the most important things. I don’t particularly like opening myself up. I have trouble letting people in.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I feel that if I let someone in, they might hurt me. Ironically, I end up getting hurt anyway- because who wants to be friends with someone not committed to a friendship.

So, I’m going to concentrate of talking less about silly things, and more about things that matter. I’m going to listen better- I don’t think I’m a particularly good listener. And I’m going to try to let the people that mean the most to me into my world. I think it’s worth the risk.