Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Fairy Gardens & Boxes (What to do With Life)

On my cancer blog I wrote:  I have more time to live my life (which is great), but what do I do with it?  I've done nothing positive or exciting with my life for about a decade now.  There will be no children, pets, jobs, houses, travelling, college education, etc.  Between being a dirty scrounger on the dole and having chronic pain and health issues... there isn't much I can do with the time I'm given that will have a major impact.  I try, furiously.  But it feels futile.  It seems most of my energy is simply used to keep me alive.

The last "big" thing I did was move into the apartment my husband and I currently inhabit.
Yes, I've had some writing published in the last decade.  I've become an aunt (a fantastic thing, but not "my" accomplishment).  My cancer appears to be gone, but keeping me alive shouldn't be all I do with myself.

So, while my days slide by, what is left to do that I'm able to attempt?
Fairy gardens have captured my attention on occasion the last couple years but are on my mind a lot the last few months.  I love all things magical and whimsical.  Who doesn't want a touch of sweetness in their lives?

The container a fairy garden is built in is as important as the flowers, miniature fences, plastic animals, and clay fairies composing the garden itself.  If the box is too big, you need a huge variety of pieces.  If the pot is too small, the garden becomes a centerpiece.  Should the planter be fancy or plain?

I'm thinking about making one.  I don't think I have the money for it, but The Dollar Tree has pieces and decorations... so, maybe.
Everyone tells you to think outside the box when you're stuck in life.  Just think of something you've never thought of!  Just do something completely outside of your normal capabilities!  But, the box of my life isn't cardboard.  It isn't my lack of imagination.  My life's container is titanium buried in concrete.  I can, sometimes, pull things inside with me... but not get out.

So, I drag stuff inside.  I start blogs and writing programs online.  I get out of the apartment the one day a week my body lets me.  I cultivate friendships however I can.  I try to learn something new every day.  I try to be a good wife, daughter, sister, and person.  I search for the flowers, miniature fences, plastic animals, and clay fairies composing the fairy garden of my life and hope, when it's complete, that it's whimsical, magical... with more than a touch of sweetness.

Perhaps the small pieces will be big enough when added together.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Rambling (AWP and H.U.P.)

The AWP Conference is going on now.  I used to want to go... badly.  I'd dream of who I'd meet, glimpse, and become friends with.  There are panels on every type of writing. And the swag-- totes full of books, bookmarks, bookish totes!  It sounded like paradise.

I'm too poor (and too disabled) to go, which seems to be a good thing with all the reports I hear every year about some major SNAFU involving the conference's commitment to disability inclusion.  One year, every single panel proposal on disability and literature was turned down, though there were many.  Now, they have a fair amount of panels (and praise themselves for how inclusive they are), but their accommodations lack because they're worried about "affecting the other conference-goers".  One year, they even had stairs to the stage where disabled presenters were supposed to give their talk!  Sometimes, I can't tell if they're literally that clueless or if we're just unwelcome and they'd get sued for saying so.

When people ask me why I don't feel like I belong in the "Literary Community", I point to AWP or, as I like to call them, "Exhibit A".  There are a myriad of things keeping disabled writers from the spaces of our peers.

Sometimes, I wish...
I'm starting a mentor program for disabled and/or neurodivergent writers through my other blog The Handy, Uncapped Pen.  The window for mentor applications is March 15th.  Everyone in the program will be disabled or neurodivergent.  Everyone in the program will be professional writers (or working towards it).

I'm nervous.

First, I've never done anything like this.  I know that's probably not a good thing to admit, but no one would do anything new if the prerequisite is to have already done it.  What if (like someone suggested rudely) I have no business being the one running it?

What if there aren't enough mentors or any mentors for the program?  What if it collapses?  I worked for months on this, even planning during my radiation treatments. I work on it still.  I don't want to let anyone down.

I try not to let myself get tangled in negative possibilities.  What if it's a success, however modest?  What if I can expand it to include teenage writers next year?  What if the next project takes off even more?  I tell myself:  Keep positive and plugging away, and worry about the worst only if it happens.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Sugar Game (a Poem)

We are the apex of stolen
victory, the pin's point target
funnelled.  Joy from the tap
goes down slightly sticky.

We cheer with cotton floss, honey.
Paper adheres to our applause.
Spectators cloying, we test insulin
resistance.  Futile, we try to rise

last among them. Hope seconds'
hesitation grants us spoons
of extra-syrup affection. Sweet
teeth not indulged at home.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Our Christmas

Our Christmas tree (2017)

For every good thing about the holidays, there is something stressful.  Love the lights?  You'll be putting them up for hours.  Love your family?  There are ten people, one bathroom, and way too much alcohol.  Love the food?  Hope you like cooking for days.

With this in mind, my husband and I have a private Christmas.  We've done it a few years now, and plan on doing it well into the future.  We keep two simple things in mind:  It must be festive.  And it must be as relaxing as possible.

The date:

We picked a day far from any major holiday or family birthday (January 23rd).  It's close enough to our family Christmas to keep the decorations up.  There is still snow on the ground.

Music and movies:

The Internet has radio stations playing Christmas music year-round.  Streaming services, DVDs, etc. take care of television and holiday movies.

The menu:

Pizza from our favorite pizzeria.  We rarely buy it, so it's a real treat.  We already had turkey, ham, cranberries, and the rest of the "traditional" foods during the family Christmas.

The gifts:

This year, we gave each other a few little surprises we picked out at The Dollar Tree (where everything is $1).  We sometimes get more expensive things, but the gifts aren't that important.  The object is to not stress over money while still having something wrapped (or put in gift bags if we don't feel like wrapping) beneath the tree.  We've made things for each other in the past, too.

Leading up to the day:

We watch Christmas movies, listen to Christmas music, check out the Christmas clearance left at the stores and shop, wrap gifts, and more.  We don't send out twenty-one cards.  We don't make ten kinds of cookies. We don't pack to go somewhere.

The day before Christmas:

We watch everything Cartoon Network used to run on their Christmas Party marathon.  It's something we grew up watching and most of it exists digitally in some form.
We have hot chocolate in the evening along with cookies we just pop in the oven to make; our apartment smells great when they're baking and we get "fresh" cookies without the mess.

Christmas Day:

We open presents upon waking, then order pizza when it hits early afternoon.  We watch our absolute favorite Christmas specials all day long while talking, checking social media, or snuggling.
It was a lovely number of days.  On our Christmas Day, my loved one came home from the hospital.  She's still not feeling well, but is miles better than where she was.

February will be busy and hellish.  But, maybe my birthday will be good, anyway.  Maybe I'll be free of cancer.

Friday, January 19, 2018

2018... I Tried to Like You

My 2017 wasn't great.  Worrying about healthcare because of the government, cancer, relatives with their own health scares...  blah, blah, blah.

I have zero medical appointments this month, a rarity.  I still haven't gotten that nasty flu going around, luckily.  Brandon and I have a private Christmas on the 23rd each year.  I have time to watch television, play video games, and contemplate where my life is going after the cancer is gone.  There's been a bit of depression and anxiety about the future, but I'm getting back to good.

Then, last night, someone I love dearly ended up in the hospital.  She was incoherent when they brought her into the emergency room, but is lucid today.  A fair bit of stuff is wrong with her, though.  I keep telling myself it's better to be in the hospital than at home getting worse.

Needless to say, the slow bud of optimism for 2018 has faded before the bloom.

Maybe this will be the only true obstacle or hardship for the entire year.  Maybe my loved one will be discharged from the hospital after the weekend and, in the coming months, be better than she's been in a long time.  Maybe my cancer is gone forever.  Maybe I'll publish something exciting or amazing.  Maybe I'll change someone's life, positively and permanently.

But, as a Magic 8 Ball so wisely puts it, "Outlook grim".

**I might be posting, but not on a set schedule.**

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Quick Update

The last week or so, I've felt myself come back to writing.  I'm starting to be more active on social media.  I'm producing a little work. My blog for disabled and/or neurodivergent writers came back last week in a huge way.

But... I don't know what to do about this blog.  Do I keep it on hold until I feel ready to post meaningful things?  Do I just post whatever I want once a week?  I'm unsure.

Cancer is on my mind a lot.  Should I talk about cancer?  How difficult it is to go through treatment and then wait three flipping months until you know if it's still there?

Will adding this blog on top of everything else be too much?  I can't say.  Part of me says, "It's only once a week, how can you not manage it?"  Mostly, I just type into the Internet void here, anyway.

If anyone cares, sound off, I guess.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

So Not a Princess

Every little girl wants to be a princess, maybe even me once upon a time.  But, it stopped when I was young, probably too young.  I think the end of my interest, honestly, came from animated movies.

The closest thing to me in Disney movies is probably Quasimodo.  He was disabled, isolated, and owns a nonstandard body in a way I could relate to.  He wanted so much to have a “normal life” and, to a child who is very different, it hit on everything so much.  Maybe he didn’t want to be normal, though.  Maybe that was my pre-teen self merely projecting.  I’ve seen the movie once… only once.

I also had other people I related to (somewhat) in fairy tales… the fairy godmothers.  I loved that they were kind, helpful, and often depicted as chubby, just as I saw myself.  No one ever talked about the fairy godmothers’ lives after they helped secure someone else’s blissful ending.  Did they have one themselves?  Did anyone else care but me?  I pictured myself a fairy godmother, sitting down with other godmothers at the end of the day, sharing tea and comparing notes.

There will never be a princess like me.  There will never be anyone like me in fairy tales unless I write one to life.  It matters little now, but maybe it would matter to some other little girl like me.

Did you relate to anyone in fairy tales as a child?