It’s Groundhog Day (All Over Again)

The Micro Farm

Time has lost meaning (I know, it’s cliche at this point). But, it’s true and it’s universal. Frequently I hear (read on social media) that people wake up unsure if it’s a week day or weekend. Also, we seemingly have all the time in the world . . . yet not enough..

When I worked at HP as a technical writer what really was years ago, my boss Nick used to say, “I’m having déjà vu all over again.” We all laughed. I mean what a redundant statement.*

Until it’s not.

I truly feel like every day is the restart of the previous. I do the same things now I used to do (since I’ve worked at home for years), but it’s different some how. Although I start with exercise, like I always have, I no longer go to the gym–now, it’s some combination of running/walking, indoor bike, weights. And sometimes the time stretches to a later time (one day I finished at 8 p.m.). Then I sit down to write.

But sometimes I don’t, because I don’t have time.

Because now:

I feed the sourdough starter (this is labor intensive especially since I turned one starter into two).

Water the microfarm of microgreens

Bake bread. Yesterday a loaf of whole wheat bread, frozen for the week’s use. Today the Challah recipe my daughter-in-law sent me. BUT that will use the final packet of yeast, hence the sourdough starter. There’s a national yeast shortage as well as shortages of other things, hence my next activity…

Procure food. This is perhaps the oddest new thing I do. Peruse the web for increasingly rarer and more basic ingredients. For example, no longer bread, now yeast and flour. No longer one pound bags, now twenty-five pounds. Flour, beans, cheese, rice (which is the toughest to find, I’ve found). Things will be shipped directly to our home. I am now watching preppers and homesteaders on Youtube, and asking myself, “Who am I?”

Then, I write. When I can. About anything I can focus on. (Which isn’t much these days outside of the above.)

Repeat.

All of this takes place in the very small radius of home, of course, yet interspersed throughout the day, during the breaks in my new routine, I take “trips” to the outside: I reach out to beloved too-far-away-family and friends far and near because you are who anchor me and remind me what is most important in life.

I observed to my daughter that life right now feels a lot like the movie Groundhog Day. Everyday is a day to perfect/work on what we have not gotten right for the day(s) before. Every day is a do-over.

As Nick would say (and believe me, he’d be incredibly smug to hear me say it), “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

What are you working on during this Groundhog time? Also, if you have an inside line on where to order (bulk or otherwise) brown rice, let me know!

* I know Yogi Berra first (and famously) said this phrase. But when Nick said it, it was the first time I’d heard it.

 

The Days Are Long . . .

All rights reserved by Julia Munroe Martin

It’s been over a year since I last posted. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d ever post again.

That was before. (We all know before what.)

I had the idea to start blogging again right after I got back from a trip to Tucson to see a close friend.  (Is blogging still even a thing?) That was a little over two weeks ago . . . or was it two months? (I know old joke by this point.)

Still . . . the days are long but the years are short.

Or . . . is it the years are short but the days are long.

The minutes go on forever.

I could go on forever. Time has lost most of its usual meaning. The day before yesterday I realized I wasn’t sure what day it was, only remembering when I reminded myself it was an upper body workout day.

Remember when we went to the gym to do that?

Every possible routine has changed. MEH (My Engineer Husband) has now joined me in working from home. And I am struggling to work . . . to write . . . period. Again. I digress. Our routine of picking up our daughter’s dog Milo every morning so she could go to work and we could dog sit doesn’t happen anymore (she works at home). MEH’s routine of running with Milo every morning doesn’t happen anymore (Milo is with our daughter, social distancing). I now run with MEH (and he is much slowed down).

Every morning I hear the Carolina wren, singing her heart out. This is one routine that hasn’t changed.  I can hear her more clearly than I used to in fact, no traffic and all. I cling to that. She is the connection I feel to my son and his wife in the south. (We had to cancel a trip to see them.) I also cling to going upstairs to lift weights, something that I’m so very glad I’ve been doing regularly now for eight months. Another routine. I cling to my online friends, and I’m glad I have that community even more than ever. Actually (almost) all my friends are now online. Except close neighbors. I cling to seeing Arlene, my 80-something neighbor, from afar. I love seeing her lights in her house before it’s light outside. A connection.

Yesterday I wrote a piece of nonfiction (the first paid work I’ve done in a very long time) unrelated to anything I’ve ever written about, and it felt good to write. I’ve been very lax in any kind of schedule for a while now, and I realized how much I’m craving it. Not just feeling the ability to concentrate and write, but the reality that life is going on.

It reminds me that regular life is still there, humming under the surface of my fears and anxiety and uncertainty. And that’s something to cling to.

How are you doing?

 

Finding My Way

Photo by Julia Munroe Martin, all rights reserved

Last year was a tough year full of change. And I didn’t do much writing because of it. I’ve written about some of these transitions here and on Writer Unboxed, too, as I figure out how to move forward with my writing.

Toward the end of last year, after one of my Writer Unboxed posts, I started to work with an editor—to develop some of my fiction ideas and to edit some of my past works. She and I have been working together for about three months now, and I’m happy to say that I’ve made a little progress.

But . . .

Not enough. Don’t get me wrong, she has been wonderful. Our weekly Skype sessions are not only helpful but also very enjoyable. I respect her opinions, and it’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off of. And I’ll continue to work with her.

But . . .

Something is missing. I still haven’t recaptured the feeling of being in love with writing. I’d almost describe it as feeling as though my writing is locked inside. Even when I have an idea that I love, I can’t seem to pursue it. I no longer feel the breathless excitement for writing like I used to; a lot of my enthusiasm is gone; when I do write, the flow or finding the zone, is almost impossible.

Do I want to give up?

Absolutely not. Quite the opposite. I want to re-find the zest I used to have. I miss it and long for it daily.

Blogging to the Rescue, Part II?

When I started this blog, I posted every day. And while I’m not sure I want to go that far, I do want to start to blog again (certainly more than three times a year like last year and the year before). My original intent for blogging was to kickstart my fiction writing (it worked: I finished one novel and wrote five more with many more partial manuscripts); I’m hoping blogging will do the same this time. For a while now, I’ve also planned to redesign my blog.

One of my long-time blogging friends Nina Badzin just added a subdomain to her main site, for her friendship advice column:

“I made a new site–a subdomain of this site–and that will be the home for all the friendship posts I’ve written since 2014 and all the friendship-related posts I will write in the future. You guys, I made the site with my bare hands.”

(By the way if you haven’t looked at Nina’s friendship advice posts, you should. She’s really helped me and taught me a lot about friendship. Invaluable advice!) But to the point today, kudos to Nina for making the site herself. She has inspired me to take a crack at redesigning my own blog. I had planned to hire someone—and still might—but between having some free time and a background in the tech industry as well as a husband who’s a software engineer (MEH—My Engineer Husband—for those of you who have known me for a while), I’m willing to at least give it a try.

In a way, spending more time blogging is like returning to my roots.

But . . . That’s Not Enough

I’m not so naïve to think that working with an editor or deciding to increase my blogging is the answer to coming out of what I need to admit is a writing slump (I can’t and won’t go so far as to say I’m blocked—I’m not a fan of that expression anyway).

So, I’ve also started seeing a therapist. I sought out someone who works with creative people. My goal is that she will help me find my way back to “the flow” I once felt while writing.

Talking with her has given me the chance to name my feelings and give them space—sometimes I don’t acknowledge I have a right to feel the things I feel. The therapist pointed out that in 2018 I dealt with a trifecta of life changes, and said it’s understandable how those changes would impact my ability to focus let alone my ability for writing to flow. Just talking with her, hearing her acknowledge my feelings and fears, has brought me a sense of peace and acceptance I haven’t felt in a while. And I’m hoping it’s just the beginning.

I know I have a long way to go, but the fact that I’m acknowledging that, and that I’m writing a blog to do so, is encouraging me. I know it’s just one step in many I’ll be taking this year as I find my way with my life and with my writing.

That’s what 2019 has in store for me—I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

Lost Not Found

By Patrick aka Herjolf via Flickrs Creative Commons

Yesterday I lost something. To be specific, I can’t find it. This thing—something recently given to me, a tiny book—is personalized. And highly personal. Truly priceless in its contents.

I’ve gone through every obvious place it should be . . . like the table where I last remember seeing it, on bookshelves, and in drawers of paper products. But I’ve also searched not so obvious places like piles of folded laundry and car glove boxes. I searched through the box of batteries and the junk drawer, too. I’ve looked through bags and boxes of all kinds of things.

When my son was a teenager, I lost my favorite pair of sunglasses—they disappeared out of the car. I searched high and low but never found them. My kids laughed along with me as I questioned each of their friends for months about my sunglasses, every time I drove one home from school or a group of kids to the beach. It became a joke, but it bugged me. I never did find the sunglasses and eventually agreed with the likely hypothesis that they fell out of the car.

Once when we were packing for a move—this before we had children—MEH (My Engineer Husband) and I misplaced a hammer (how do you do that?). We looked for weeks but never found it. We’d been using it in the old house, packed the last box, loaded it in the car, but never found the hammer in the new house. We searched both houses to no avail.

“Maybe I left it on the roof of the car,” MEH mused back then. We’d lost several coffee cups that way.

A pack of peat pots disappeared once. My son’s pre-school backpack (that really did disappear off the roof of the car, but when we turned around, seconds after we saw it fly off in the rearview mirror, we couldn’t find it anywhere). Socks, of course. A favorite nightshirt.

But nothing as irreplaceable as this.

In all other regards, it’s been my lucky month—my son and daughter have both been home. But I’ve been out of my usual routine, so I’m imagining I tossed the book aside as I ran to greet them, to chase the dog, or to pull a boiling pot off the stove.

But I wonder.

“I have a mystery on my hands,” I mentioned to my son when he came downstairs for coffee in the morning. He’d come home in the middle of the night, so the book had already gone missing before he arrived.

My daughter, though, had been home; I’d shown it to her and her boyfriend the day it disappeared. Had it somehow slipped into their things? They’re both in medical school and they always have plenty of books and papers, laptops, bags of more books—endless studying!—maybe I placed it on one of their stacks?

Déjà vu all over again (as an old boss of mine used to say)—like the sunglasses. After they left, I emailed them:Had they accidentally scooped it up? They checked and re-checked their things—

No such luck.

Last night, just before we went to bed, MEH went through the trash. (He’s nice like that; he kindly takes on many of life’s less savory tasks.) Then the recycling. We both looked under the couches and the dog bed, through the sock basket, through stacks of books. My folders—again.

Still no luck.

It’s missing. Gone at least for now.

I Googled missing things (of course I did), wondering—do other people go through this? Big things disappear. The whole city of Atlantis. Blackbeard’s Treasure. There are countless stories about those kinds of losses. But also . . . a story about a woman who lost her wedding ring while gardening, found it sixteen years later growing on a carrot. Another woman who lost an autographed book, only to find it five years later when she ordered a used book on Amazon—it was her very own personalized book.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think either of these extreme things will happen. I think in the distraction of everyday life, I put my lost item somewhere unexpected. Just waiting to be found. I fully expect that someday when I least expect it, I’ll open a drawer I’ve opened a hundred times and there it will be—in plain sight.

At least that’s what I’m hoping.

UPDATE: Four hours after I posted this blog, I found the little book…  it had fallen down into the mechanism of an office chair. Keep your eyes peeled for the hammer, the peat pots, and Blackbeard’s treasure, though!

Have you ever lost anything valuable? And irreplaceable? Did you find it? Any suggestions on where I should look?