The President Elect and the crazy uncle at the table.

Clearly, I should have known that in much the same way traveling can interfere with the simplest goals, the “staycation” we planned for this Fall has effectively proven that a significant change in my daily routine leaves me floundering. Best intentions to get back into writing petered out after a weak four days. To compound the problem, the election was held yesterday, and I think we’re all processing the results on any number of levels, whether pleased or not.

I’m most decidedly in the not camp. But my wits are about me this afternoon thanks to the ruminating I immediately engage in when something is bothering me. I read. I read, and question, search for understanding, and spend long periods of time fighting with myself over issues I’d prefer not to. Issues of a very personal nature which involve people I’m related to in one way or another.

More than once, I’ve seen memes fly past in my newsfeed referencing the dysfunctional aspect of certain family members — the crazy uncle who must be tolerated at holiday dinners, for example. It’s presented as a joke, as something many of us can relate to, and it’s easy to laugh it off until you realize that for too long, you’ve really had to deal with this and you’re tired of it.

I’m tired of it. But I’m working through frustration and general disillusionment by considering the winner of yesterday’s election in the role of that dysfunctional family member. He may be President Elect, but I don’t have to tolerate him. I don’t have to invite him into my house, or to sit at my table. But he will have my complete and undivided attention because I will choose to stay tuned in, to research anything unclear, to question, and relentlessly challenge with as much grace as I can muster. Sticking my head in the sand will solve nothing. Giving in to those who choose not to engage, who complain that they’re tired of it all, and plead for a return to the innocuous sharing of puppies and cats, cupcakes and jokes exclusively is not an option for me.

Nor should it be for anyone.

The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men — Plato

“Here is what Donald Trump wants to do in his first 100 days”  I’ve read through this list several times making sure not to get caught up by the repetitive use of “I will” and “direct,” “cancel,” or “suspend.” It’s more important to understand the list and to research what he has the authority to actually do. It’s also important to consider what on that list directly or indirectly affects you and your family.

“Statement from the PRA (Political Research Associates) on the 2016 election”   It’s a sobering read that addresses much of what is on the list above, and what we should do about it.

“The Populists” It’s an older piece, but a Populist is a Populist. Or is he? I need to understand.

This was an eye-opener. Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort

And then there is this: “The ruthlessly effective rebranding of Europe’s new far right” To say it makes me uncomfortable would be a gross understatement. She couldn’t be more thrilled that Trump has paved the way for her and others.

The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all. — John F. Kennedy

Ignorance, indeed.


The effect of a cat on motivation and routine

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If deciding at the last minute to take on a reasonable facsimile of NaNoWriMo was to serve a purpose, it has only taken two days to realize it. Before I was out of bed this morning, mind habitually processing what the day would entail, I recognized the spark of emotion related to motivation. An excuse to ignore everything and with coffee in hand, park myself in front of my Mac. This had to be a good thing.

But something happened on the way to the kitchen. My cat happened. This is not unusual. In fact, it’s routine. Her morning greeting is urgent and gains volume as I approach the front door. She wants out, and it never seems to matter that my husband has been up and about, and has already let her out. She always returns for the ceremonial exercise that only she and I engage in.

I open the door and she grumbles as she passes over the threshold, stopping just before she’s completely outside. I wait, she looks at me, grumbles once more before leaning her posterior against the door. I decide I’ll wait until the third or fourth time we’ve completed the round to go out onto the porch and scratch the furry belly wantonly displayed for just that purpose. Priorities. I need to make coffee.

Once the Bialetti is on, I fill the dishwasher, rinse the sinks, prepare a large bowl of cold, sudsy water for quick wash ups during the day, and assess the rest of the kitchen. It’s good enough to give the impression it’s clean, but more importantly, won’t distract me from the day’s mission: writing.

Before the coffee begins to well up in the moka pot, I can hear the cat scratching at the front door. She’ll want in, I’ll have a cat food can in hand, ask her if she’d like to eat and pop the lid to get her attention.

It works every time. She stands as close to the threshold as possible without actually touching it, licking her lips, yelling simultaneously. I know I’ll have to go out onto the porch, and nudge her inside before the game is over. She will be satisfied for a time knowing her food is where it should be, in her bowl. All will be well in her world.

Coffee now burnt, I tell myself more milk will help, though I know it won’t. That spark of motivation felt earlier has now turned to an annoyance. I recall how long I worked on the piece I wrote yesterday, fiddling with photos, making attempts to write something meaningful when what I set out to do was just write.

Something occurrs to me. If I was going to spend the better part of a day fussing over a blog post, why wouldn’t I spend that time organizing manuscript revisions? Why, indeed.

November stretches ahead in my mind, its interruptions now in full focus. Thanksgiving aside, I have a trip booked immediately following and will be gone for a week. And then there is the “staycation” we thought we were so smart to decide upon which officially begins tomorrow.

I tell myself I’ll have so much to write about.  Stay calm and carry on! And I will. But it has only taken two days to remind myself of a lesson I seem never to learn. I don’t have to commit to an event to engage in an activity, or to change a behavior. To take on a new interest, or rekindle motivation in those once beloved. There isn’t a magic date on a calendar, a finish line, a set of guidelines or rules.

There is just me, and whatever it is I set out to do. I have to decide whether that matters or not. The problems is, far too many things matter.

My coffee is now cold, and the cat is sitting just at my office door, yelling. When I get up to reheat my coffee, she will scurry down the stairs ahead of me, grumbling all the way out the back door where I will be expected to give her a morning brushing, and then find tender shoots of grass for her to chew on.

Routine is what we make of it — or what it makes of us.

Day 3, check.

NaNoWriMo minus the novel


Whenever November 1st comes around, I think of NaNoWriMo. You may think it odd, but once committed to a month of writing nearly 1800 words each day, expecting to complete a novel, you remember. If you’re unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it’s National November Writing Month. The goal in participating is that participants complete a novel in 30 days.

I’m not writing a novel this time, but I’ve spent the better part of the last three years working on one I began the last time I participated. I’ve fallen out of practice writing casually, so I’m hoping that if I commit to 30 days of writing for the sake of writing, I’ll find my rhythm once more.

I’ll write. I’ll sit down, make the commitment, and write. If I’m organized, then I’ll have a plan about what to write. If not, then I’ll fit into the “by the seat of my pants” category. That’s not an awful place to be until it’s time to revise and then “nightmare” is a more fitting description of the predicament I’ll find myself in. Still, I believe strongly in simply putting words to page. The exercise is always interesting, and often helps uncover ideas that otherwise may remain buried. Ideas that may or may not want surface area attention. Like disturbing current day events.

Times are distracting, and it’s difficult to avoid the lure of angry opinions, or baiting from people once cared for who seem no longer to have anything in common with me. Disturbing, indeed.

Yet there is much to divert because life is diverting on most days if I allow it. It includes what’s “over the wall,” when one’s home seems to be planted on a postage stamp, and the Suburbiana it’s a part of. It includes people watching and listening, caring or no longer caring. Learning. Aging. Existing in places long outgrown, or never belonged to begin with.

NaNoWriMo is a perfect outlet. If you’re interested, and even if you’re not, I’ll write here every other day beginning today, alternating with sass & veracity, my alter ego. Food may or may not be involved. Travel may.

And for what it’s worth, beyond this haphazard post, I plan to be thoughtful.

Promises, promises.

Day One.