Loneliness Begets Loneliness

I have always thought of myself as a social person. I was under the impression I made friends with ease, but the more I examine my life, the more I realize I have a problem. I see pictures on Facebook of women (friends) I went to high school with or spent a good majority of my childhood with, and I notice they all have one thing in common—none of those photos have me in them. All the wedding/baby shower/family bbq/concert photos feature many of these women as bridesmaids, holding someone’s baby, helping other’s toddlers down slides,  or selfies of three or four of them attending a concert or event together.  I never really kept in touch enough to warrant an invite to any of these events.

Everywhere I go I make friends, but most of these are surface friends. They are people I go out to dinner with, or meet for coffee. I invite them over for celebrations at my house, but I don’t tell them all my secrets. I don’t truly confide in any of them. I have as much connection to them as I do the characters in the books I read—probably less. It never really bothered me much before, but as I get older and see how few bonds I have made, I start to wonder what is wrong with me.

How is it that I have alienated or pushed away all those who could potentially be forever friends (to borrow a phrase from my daughter)? If I do the inner psychology thing, and try to dig into the deeper meaning of this, if feels so trivial. I grew up in a good home, with good parents, so how do I have a right to be so messed up?

When I reflect on this problem—the inability to form tight bonds with other women—I realize that the characters I write all seem to have this problem as well. Honestly, I write very few female characters. The ones I do write are damaged. Even my male characters are uncharacteristically broken.  They are almost always lonely. They say you write what you know, but that doesn’t feel right. Maybe it’s time I write what I want.

 

 

 

Does a car make a sound as it runs a red light if no one is there to hear/see it?

The street lights were blinking as I drove home the other night. This rarely happens, as I am getting old and usually turn in much earlier than the city street lights. It was an odd sensation—driving down the deserted streets with no other cars around. It was difficult to not fully stop at all the corners, even though the yellow lights were telling me to do otherwise. The one blinking red light I encountered seemed to be out of sync with the rest of the city. Instead of the steady blink..blink..blink.. of the other lights, it had more of a blinkblinkblinkblink thing going on. These are the things that stick with me when I am writing about surroundings. I think I may have to use the blinking traffic lights in my next story.

True Life Fiction

I used the read the news every day. I had my local paper delivered and picked up a New York Times or USA Today. I would also follow the AP feeds online and check out other various news sites. Not only did I feel very informed, but I also got some story ideas from what I had read. As more and more distance is put between me and my journalism education, I tend to absorb less and less news—I don’t bathe in it like I used to. I feel I am still pretty up-to-date on current events, but some days, I have no desire to read anything related to what’s going on in the world. It’s too depressing. That says a lot coming from me, who writes about the soul-crushing parts of everyday life and kills off characters willy-nilly.

Drawing from real life in your writing can work for and against you. As a fiction writer, sometimes I have a hard time discerning if something I am writing is entirely made-up, or has some root in real life—from a story I read or something someone told me, or a conversation I overheard. There are times in my life, when situations arise that are so ridiculous they seem to be a work of fiction, or feel like something I may have read about at one time or another. When I read a story like that—one that hits home, or where I can imagine the scenarios as real events—I feel more connected to that piece of writing. Than again, sometimes all I want to do is escape the every day. This is when I am grateful for books and stories that offer a little bit of other-worldly magic or absurd hilarity. 

I watched the news today. I no longer have any desire to read any novels or short stories that have to do with government conspiracy, war, corruption, greed, murder, assault, death, lost love or anything remotely related to chicken farms. Is there anything left? If not, than perhaps I’ll have to write it myself. 

Dear Google, You Should Have Talked to Me First

This perfectly summarizes how I feel about accelerated reading programs in schools.

teach from the heart

Dear Google,

I wish you’d talked to teachers like me before you made that $40 million investment in Renaissance Learning.

I’ve seen the damage Accelerated Reader can do.

I witnessed it for the first time when I tutored a struggling 5th grader…eighteen years ago.

He hated to read.

He hated being locked into a level.

He hated the points associated with the books.

But more importantly, he was humiliated when he didn’t earn enough points to join in the monthly party or get to ‘buy’ things with those points at a school store full of junky prizes.

I’ve seen kids run their fingers along the binding of a book, a book they REALLY wanted read, but then hear them say, “But it’s not an AR book,” or “It’s not my level.”

I’ve watched them scramble to read the backs of books or beg a friend for answers so they can get…

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Brain to Mouth Miscommunications

Today my mouth is not cooperating with my brain. All day I have found myself tuning out what others are saying to me and then responding with something that comes out of nowhere.

Example:
Coworker: “You’ve done a great job with all the details for the case presentations and meetings.”

Me: “Thanks. It smells like an animal died and is rotting in the ceiling by my desk. Go ahead, walk toward the doorway and it will just hit you.”

Coworker: (looking at me strangely) “That’s weird.” (Walking away quickly.)

What is wrong with me? Has the stress finally gotten to me? Will I feel like this forever?
At least people have been leaving me alone more often. They’re probably afraid is what I might say next.