Mitchell-Lama Mama’s Blog

an ordinary life in an extraordinary city

Dirty Words June 24, 2009

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Hi Everyone. 🙂  

We’ve all been sick here in Mama’s world, even Mama. :0  We’re all finally feeling well again, and hopefully it will stay that way. 


Once upon a time, Mama had no qualms about using profanity in her writing.  Didn’t even think about it.  If it worked for the character/setting/situation, those words–from George Carlin’s list and others–flowed along with the rest of ’em.  


Joining online forums (not writing related) changed that.  Mama had to think about those words that might be offensive–not to mention blocked. 😉


Once upon a time, Mama had a strong “sense of self,” to use probably-outdated psychobabble.  The past several years of multiple medical crises and ongoing financial struggles have taken care of that.  Always one to question, the questions have become murkier, right along with that previous self. 


I’ve been thinking about these two issues; how they seem to have merged in my writing self, so the words I’m coming up with are mucky, with a thick layer of dust clinging.  In my mind I see the words looking like words used to when typed on an old typewriter with a new ribbon; letters just noticeably blurred and bleeding at the edges.  Introspective writing can only be good if it takes the writer and the reader somewhere farther along.  


Sometimes I think this is ok, ultimately this will all add something to my writing.  Right now, though, I would love to recapture the flow and feel of words coming through my keyboard clean and sharp–profane or not. 


The tank is doing well, my little reef is growing. 🙂  The coral beauty was sufficiently traumatized by our attempt to capture her so that she hasn’t been nipping at the corals. 🙂  


Only a few more days before it is finally, blissfully, officially SUMMER VACATION!!!!!


Who Thought it was a Good Idea to Raise April 19, 2009

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independent thinkers? 😛


Oh yeah, that would be me.  What am I doing now?  Teaching the girl to sew, which would be great, if I knew how to sew.  This is the problem with her plan to be a fashion designer.  As far as I can tell, several things are required. Interest/creativity, drawing, and sewing.  I’ve already established that I can’t sew; in fact, Mama can barely draw a stick figure, and I wear clothes until they fall off of me because I hate the shopping/trying on thing, and I’m really just not all that interested. 


All I can say is I’m very glad for the basic kid’s learn-to-sew kit, because I can read the directions, even if I can’t manage to make stitches come out the way they do in the instruction manual. 


This is the last day of the Spring Break for the younger two. Big guy had his last month.  I don’t wanna get up and take them back to school tomorrow.  It’s going to be cold again, and rainy.  Waaah!  Mama’s been having some issues with insomia, which is making me crabby. 😦 I keep telling myself it isn’t so bad, 4AM is a perfect time to get some quiet, uninterrupted writing time.  Yeah.  If you’re a rooster. 


The big guy just emailed me questions for a parent interview he needs to have completed by tomorrow.  He’s been hanging out with me all weekend, and hadn’t mentioned it once.  And they’re all s-e-x related questions for health class.  Oh, yippee.  Cause, yanno, there’s nothing a 16yo boy likes better than having deep, heart-felt discussions with Mama about sex.  


On a positive note, yesterday I was finally able to get that interview done.  Now I’ve got notes for the secondary character I wanted to develop, and can keep going in a forward motion this week. 🙂  


Tank news: nothing new.  All is growing well, though that unfortunately includes the aiptasia.  Really, he’s kinda cute, in a mud brown sort of way.  If I hadn’t read so many horror stories about them reproducing and taking over entire tanks, I would keep him.  There’s a local frag swap next weekend, but I’m not going to go.  It doesn’t seem like there’s much point if I can’t take advantage and buy new corals.  Or a clam.  Or… But no, my dog walking dollars have to go towards new contacts for me.  Mama’s glasses broke, and they don’t seem to be magically repairing themselves, no matter how much I try to pretend they aren’t broken at all.


Graphite Smudges on My Hand April 14, 2009

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I know, I know, MIA again.  


Today I’m wondering what makes the difference.  You know what I mean.  Five woman can go through very similar experiences, and walk away with twenty different lessons.  Or none at all.  What am I learning?  I’m not sure yet.


But seriously, what enables one person to turn the drudgery of laundry into prose that’s fluid, and the next into someone who can’t handle more than a grocery list?  And for the record, I’m not sure where I fall on that spectrum.  


I’m writing again.  You guessed it–longhand.  There’s something about pencil in hand and spiral notebook on lap that lets me reconnect in a way the keyboard doesn’t.  This usually doesn’t last too long;  I’m continually revising and editing as I write, so once I hit a rhythm it becomes easier to think directly onto the laptop.  I suspect it will take me longer than usual to find that rhythm this time.  Usually I “see” my stories and scenes so clearly, but right now I feel the way I do when I’m taking pictures of the tank.  I get the digital zoom to come up and everything looks blurry, I move back and forth until things look a little less blurry, and then keep hitting the shutter until I get a shot that’s clear.  Every so often I find the magical combination of perfect distance and zoom, and can get several sharp photos in a row.  (Though right now, there’s something wrong with the camera and I can’t get it to take any shots at all.)


Obviously, Lent is over, and I blew the 500-in-40.  It’s ok, it got me started, and for now I’m not even giving myself a target for each writing day, as long as I write.


I think the personal interview went well for the middle guy, they’ll send a letter in the beginning of May to let us know if he’s accepted, rejected, or waitlisted.  


I met with the girl’s teacher, and while there were no surprises, it was disheartening.  I was able to get an appt for her outside of the school system for a full evaluation at the end of the month, so maybe some good will come of that.  Neuro crud has been creeping back in, as is the snotty nose. Her birthday is at the end of this week; it feels shocking to me that she’s going to be eight.  Mama went shopping a little while ago, and yes!! I was able to find what I hope will be fun craft kits for her (latest obsession, she wants to be a fashion designer).  


 All my fishies and critters are still alive. 🙂  The tang’s ich seems to be going away (none of the other fish caught it), and the zoas are making a comeback.  Nothing new, I don’t think there will be for a while.  Money is too tight.  


Does anyone want to tell me why it’s mid-April and still cold out?


Thanks for checking out my ramblings,



What Day Is It, Anyway? February 25, 2009

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You know those days when you keep forgetting what day of the week it actually is?  Usually this happens to me on Mondays, and I’m convinced it’s Friday. 😛  Today I keep thinking it’s Tuesday, but luckily, it isn’t.  Yay!  Wednesday!!


We didn’t receive the letter about the middle guy’s school yet. 😦  Hoping for today.  If not, I’ll call the school tomorrow to make sure it wasn’t lost in transition.  I know I wrote our new address on the application, but my oldest went there, so maybe they sent it to the old address??  I’ve got to call Dr Neurocrud’s office about lab results for the girl tomorrow anyway, so I’ll just plan for an hour to make official phone calls.  


Mama’s been busy this morning.  Papa and I were trying to figure out the new protein skimmer for the tank.  Eventually we’ll get it.  I had to run to the grocery store, there was literally nothing in this house for dinner.  Now I’ve got raviolis in the freezer and doggie gumbo simmering on the stove.  Poor dog had a very skimpy portion left for breakfast today, so I supplemented with a whole can of sardines.  Ewww.  Anyone want to accept stinky slobbery kisses for the rest of the day? 😉  


Oh, yeah, today was the first day for the 500 in 40.  I did it!!!!!!!   A little over 500 words.  They aren’t the best words, and they’ll be reworked many times over, but I got started.  Yippee!!!  I also looked over what I already had, so I’ve got a project for tonight.  I like what’s there, but there’s much tightening to do. Writing is funny that way.  You think your work is as polished as much as possible, but then look at it a few weeks/months/years(!) later, and plenty will jump out at you.   This is the routine I used to use; write in the morning, and in the afternoon or evening do some edits of work from the day before.  The day before, the year before, close enough, right? 😛  


It’s kind of like working out, if you stop for long enough, you remember your old routine, but can’t just jump back into 50 sit ups a day.  There was a time when 750-1000 words was an average day for me.  I’ll get back there, but these 500 were rough going–and that includes having been thinking about this scene for months now.  I think I’m more afraid of tomorrow than I was of today.  


Happy Wednesday, everyone!



Write Turn Ahead February 24, 2009

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Every so often I feel a burning need to check out the writer’s reference books in Barnes and Noble, and pick up a  new book on writing.  Most turn out to be disappointing, but there are some that speak to me, for whatever reason.  I just found one of those, The Art and Craft of Storytelling, by Nancy Lamb.  A good blend of craft and inspiration, with a healthy dose of nudging. 😉  


Perfect timing, yesterday I found a new blog here on wordpress,  #mce_temp_url#.  Sorry, I can’t quite figure out how to give the links a title.  The author of the blog has decided that for Lent (begins tomorrow, Feb 25), she will write at least 500 words a day, at least 5 days a week, for 40 days.  Sounds good for the soul to me, so I’ve decided I’m going to try.  Yikes!  Because I’m rusty, I won’t hold myself to 500 words a day, but I will apply butt to chair and Mac to lap, and produce something every day.  


Last week I had a conversation with a friend who is a playwrite; she recently completed a play she was working on for ten years.  We talked a bit about growing and changing with time and events as people, and how it can effect and  shape us as writers, without it meaning we have to walk away from a WIP that we believe has value.  That’s what I walked away with, she could easily have walked away thinking Mama has finally lost it. 😛  


So.  Over the course of this afternoon/evening I will dig out my notes and research, and read over what I’ve got so far.  Tomorrow I will open Word, and click on the file I haven’t had the nerve to click on in too long.  I’m nervous.  I’m excited.  It’s like a date, only better–and I don’t think Papa will object, either. 🙂


On other fronts the girl made it through the whole day yesterday, and no calls from the nurse so far today. 🙂  Middle guy is home sick today.  Not terribly ill, but glassy eyed enough for it to seem prudent to keep him home. No letter in the mail yesterday about the boy, please, please, please let it be there today.  I just want to know already, are we moving forward with this process or not?  The boy, bless his heart, is very adaptable, and not showing the least bit of concern one way or the other.  

Thanks for reading,



Mama’s World February 10, 2009

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Busy, busy, busy.  The house is a mess and the laundry has piled up again, yet I feel like I’ve barely had time to sit down.  


The first part of the girl’s med increase seemed like it was going very well.  By Sunday afternoon, not so much. 😦  This morning began the second half of the increase, and I haven’t heard from the nurse today, so I’m hoping this will do the trick.  


Sunday morning we got a visit from the young man I bought my tank from.  He’s very nice and patient with the children, a brilliant musician.  I was disgustingly pleased with myself when he complimented me on how clean it looks and how well the critters are thriving.  So pleased that I was driven to go to a local aquarium store and buy two new fish and a couple of new corals. 😛  Actually, Grandmama bought me the corals.  It’s very nice, everyone is getting into the tank with me and enjoys coming over to sit and reflect on my little ocean.  


Mama walks a couple of dogs (not mine) on occasion.  Nothing too regular, I can’t commit to anyone when I never know when the girl will need me. This is where the money for the tank critters and necessities comes from.  Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and use the money at the grocery store. 😉  I’ve had quite a few walks over the past several days (hence the new fishies), and btw the extra dogs, my dog, and running to the school, my feet are tired! 🙂  


My big guy is planning out his class schedule for next year, which of course involves many discussions btw him and I, him and Papa, Papa and me, the adviser and me….I am very proud of him, he works hard, does well, is a good person, and I just worry that he tends to take on too much.  Next year is his junior year of high school, so this schedule and classes have to be chosen very carefully.  Colleges look at the entire h.s. transcript, but they pay close attention to the junior year.  Mama was on a very different track in h.s., so I don’t have personal experience to draw from.  


The little/middle guy is working hard in school, we’re waiting to hear back about the next part of the admissions process for middle school.  He plays guitar, and played a song for me last night that he has been writing and working on for several weeks.  Yup, I’m a fan. 🙂


I haven’t been writing, but I’m thinking.  I’ve been looking at where I left off in my WIP, thinking about different options for moving the story forward.  


Hope everyone is doing well, thanks for reading.




Writers Read February 6, 2009

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I already posted about Writers Write, so now let’s talk about writers and reading.  


I love to read, always have, and books were always one of those things in my budget that I considered a priority.  However, in keeping with my continued efforts to trim the budget, my book buying days have been drastically reduced.*  I have preferences, but will read anything, so lately I’ve been doing a lot of borrowing.  My Friday Night Madness buddy doesn’t read novels, so over the past couple of years I’ve read what he buys–biographies and memoirs.  


Until I began borrowing books from him, I think I could have counted the number of biographies I read voluntarily on one hand.  Much to my surprise, I’ve realized I’m enjoying them–once I got past the first 52 Judy Garland bios 😛 Not only do I enjoy biographies, I think they’re going to be very helpful to me when I get back to my WIP, and any future works that might spring from my leaky brain. 


As I mentioned previously, I like to read and write books that are character driven.  I think my foray into biographies will help that along.  We all like to read characters that are fully fleshed, strive to create characters that will feel realistic to readers–even if that character is a vampire. 🙂  I also need endings to feel satisfying.  Not necessarily the proverbial happily-ever-after, but satisfying.  Good biographies tend to give that, even when the subject is dressed in their Sunday best for publication and avoidance of law suits.  😉


Over the years I’ve purchased and collected many books on writing, quite a few of which I recycled when we moved into this apartment.  Among the first to go were the ones that suggested making a “checklist” for your characters.  Yes, ok, make a note of age, hair color, eye color, etc. to avoid inconsistencies as you work on the manuscript.  But a checklist?  I couldn’t reduce Papa, my children, or any of my friends to a checklist, and a good character should be deeper.  I’m sure there are successful, published writers out there that it works for.  Not for me.  Assuming you have a good basic grasp of the language you’re writing in and don’t have 50 adverbs on the first page;  having characters that are flat and cliched will make me give up on a book faster than anything else.  I don’t see how you can avoid this if you’re creating characters from a checklist.  All of the best books on writing that I’ve read point out that writers read.  And if you’re writing with a goal of publishing, read what’s being published now.  🙂


So as a reader and a writer, characters and endings are my priorities.  What are yours, and why?


*I also confess to a more than passing acquaintance with the clearance tables. 😛