Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ramblings on Writing

I apologize in advance...this post takes a different tack than normal. 

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my writing lately.  If Billa's godmother Debi were to read this, she'd tell me I need to actually write, not think about it.  But the truth is, I was writing.  And then I stopped because life got in the way and yada yada yada.  I've been trying to maintain my blogs, work my day job, raise my daughter, manage my household, build a baking business, and be a good wife/friend/daughter/sister, etc.  It's a lot.  So of course, those things that aren't necessary for survival have fallen by the wayside, like my writing.  I admit, I've also been doing a lot of reading lately and playing Scramble on my iPod and trying to beat Final Fantasy XIII.  I know, those things aren't exactly essential to survival, but they are for my sanity.

I've been thinking about writing lately, because I want it to become a bigger part of my life.  It's always been something that I've been called to, something that has always given me joy, and something that definitely always challenged me.  I get bored very quickly if I'm not challenged.  I require constant stimulation and to be pushed beyond my boundaries.  Some might call it masochism, others ADD.  I don't really care.  It's actually a part of me that I really like and love to embrace, for all of the irritations it presents me with.  I look at it as my instincts urging me to grab life by the horns. 

There are only 24 hours in every day, and unfortunately, I can't get more.  I have to get sleep at some point, and I have to work to make an income.  So that shoots down about 19 hours right there.  Everything that I want to do has to be squeezed into roughly 5 hours every day along with everything else I have to do: cook dinner, spend time with my family and friends, clean the house, etc.  So how can I fit in writing?  I find a lot of frustrations with it because I am easily distracted once I'm on the computer either by news, blogs, the husband, or the daughter.  And of course my family wants to spend time with me too.  (I know, how dare they?)  I have to carefully balance all these aspects of my life and poor little writing gets left by the wayside.

But not anymore.  I've always wanted to be a published writer.  I even went so far as to humiliate myself in front of my high school classmates in freshman English by boasting about how I would become a published writer at the age of 18 (oh, the things one does for their art!).  I've been writing since I was a kid, I wrote all through school, and I have continued to write to this day.  I feel confident that I am a decent writer, but I think I could be a great writer if I kept at it every day.  And the only way I can do that is to keep at it and make it a constant part of my life. 

I've been doing research the last few days on novel writing strategies and templates for developing plots and characters and structure.  And the one thing I've learned from all of this research is that there is a whole world to writing and publishing that I never knew existed.  Well, ok, I should give myself some credit.  I knew it existed, but I didn't realize how complex it all was.  There's query letters and writing conferences and genre types that you have to know.  There's loglines, synopses, samples, previews and more.  And the process itself!  It's enough to make your head spin.  I came to the realization that I have a lot to learn if I want to break into this industry and make my mark on the world as a writer.

I relish the challenge and I hope you will all bear with me as I work at developing my novels (yes, there is more than one rattling around in my head!) and hopefully soemday, get published.  I'm hoping to have at least something published by the time I'm 35.  Considering I still have 7 years until then, I think I handle it.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Family Reunion Recap

I hadn't realized how much family meant to me until this past week.  I've never had a sister, but my cousin Katy is about as close as I will ever come to having one biologically.  She lives up in Yellowknife, Canada several hundred miles and a whole different climate away and yet, when we finally catch up in person with one another, it's as if there was never any boundaries or even years between visits.

And it feels that way too, with the rest of my family, from Vancouver, Indiana, New Mexico, Chicago, Houston, Kentucky, Washington DC, and even here in Austin.  All of them descended for one weekend to celebrate my grandmother turning 90 and now that they have flocked back to their homes, I feel a little bit empty inside.  It was an exhausting week, and sometimes frustrating and trying, but a good week nonetheless.   I hope it doesn't take another several years before we all see each other again!

The Dillon Clan...all 42 of us spanning four generations! 
(Technically, there are 45 within this unit, but three of them couldn't make it)

My uncle John Martin and his mom, my grandmother
Everyone cooling off in the cousin Jeff and his wife Abby and their twins; my cousin Kent's son Ryan, my husband and my brother David

Maw Maw

My cousin Jenny and her niece Sophia.  Both are adopted and both are loved to pieces by our family!

Abby and one of her twins

My uncle Hugh and his granddaughter Mia (also adopted)

Billa gets thrown in the air by her daddy

My cousin Kent's daughter Emily
My aunt Pat, uncle John Martin, and my dad

The Dave's: my brother and my cousin

Me and Katy

The birthday cake I made for my grandmother

I love this picture!

My grandmother and her children: Ann (oldest), Michael (youngest), David (#4), Pat (#2), John Martin (#3), and Becky (#5)

Happy 90th birthday, Maw Maw!  We love you!

Kelly, Michael, & Sybilla

PS.  Special thanks to my friend Anthony for so graciously being our photographer that evening.  You really took a huge load off everyone's shoulders by agreeing to take pictures for us and let us just hang out.   I owe you lots of cake, man!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

To the best baby daddy...

Today is a special day!  It's my husband's birthday!  Huzzah!  Michael is a great guy.  How great?  Well, let's see, shall we?

Michael sharing his birthday with Baby Hayden...Hayden's birthday was June 9th, but we celebrated both birthdays together!

  • is a great father
  • never tells me my dreams or story ideas are crazy
  •  has incredible fashion sense.  It puts me to shame.
  • is hardworking and determined
  • creative
  • genuine and kind to all he meets
  • puts up with three red-headed women in his life: his wife, his daughter and his mother-in-law
  • always knows how to make me feel at ease
  • would give you the shirt off his own back if it would make you happy and whole
  • loves kids and is great with them
  • is a very talented actor, singer, and poet
  • is my best friend in the entire world
  • hurts more than I do when our daughter is hurt, sad, or upset
  • lets dogs give him kisses and loves it
  • loves his family like nothing else
Michael, my love, we consider ourselves incredibly blessed to have you in our lives and to hold you in our heats.  Happy Birthday!

Kelly, Sybilla & Snack

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mom of the Year

Yesterday, I became the poster child for Mom of the Year.

My child now has a new favorite word: sh*t.  Yeah, when I apologized to daycare lady in advance for any usage that Billa might issue that day, she asked where Billa had heard it.  I blushed as I slowly raised my hand.  Yeah, that's me.  And of course, later that night when Billa accidentally knocked over a half full bottle of beer, it was VERY apparent where she hears that word.  Oops.  I knew it was coming, and bless her, she actually used it in an appropriate sense, but I'm tripling my efforts at containing my "free" speech.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

SOUND OFF: Sail away, my heart...

I've been following the story of Abby Sunderland for a couple of days now, since they announced she was "lost at sea" and then her miraculous rescue.  I am impressed with this young woman and her tenacious spirit.  Her zest for sailing and courage to take on such a daunting task as sail around the world by herself at the tender age of 16 is nothing short of stunning.  As I was reading many of the comments that have been left on Abby's blog, 99% of them were incredibly supportive of Abby and her endeavor.  And why shouldn't they be?   Her journey ultimately failed, but she made it 3/4 of the way!  Most of us could never dream of sailing out of our home harbor, much less setting foot on the boat.  

But there was that other 1% who were incredibly rude and condescending.  It made me sad that at a time when Abby is grieving the loss of her dream and her boat, these bitter critics are blasting her for being irresponsible.  Excuse me?  The kid sailed around the world, braved incredible storms, and lived by herself on a sailboat for several months.  She's shown a level of maturity that is lacking in the majority of her peers.  Hell, I know of several ADULTS who don't have that level of maturity!  These same critics had harsh words for her parents in allowing her to do this, calling them irresponsible, endangering their children's lives, idiotic, and a good many other things.  The critics talked about the costs of having to rescue Abby and that her parents should be responsible for the bill since it was their foolish decision that caused her to be out there in the first place.  I can understand the sentiment of asking Abby's family to pay for her rescue, but are they truly neglectful by allowing her to chase a dream she's harbored since the age of 13?

My daughter's godmother told me once that becoming a mother was to learn to walk with your heart outside your body.  Can you imagine letting it sail around the world by itself, far beyond your reach?    But that is what we are called to do as parents.  We are called every day to teach our children how to survive physically and emotionally without us.  When you look at the lifespan of a human being in the US these days, our children spend the majority of their lives without their parents.  We do a huge disservice to our children if we don't provide them the tools and skills to survive their lives without us. Having already let their son Zac complete the same trip at 16,  I'm sure the Sunderlands were well aware of the risks it involved.  They were very certain of the equipment and training Abby would need to complete her journey.  And I bet they thought and prayed long and hard over whether they should say yes to her request. 

So no, I don't think Abby's parents are neglectful at all.  Abby survived the Indian Ocean during the worst time of year to sail it thanks to the training her parents provided, to the tools they had given her.  She survived because her parents had faith in her abilities and placed their trust in God that she would be alright.  One of the comments that Abby's parents have used in defense of their actions is that it's more dangerous for teenagers to be driving in a car than sailing on the ocean and I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly.  We live in fear of kidnappings and murders happening to our children, and yet about 4000 kids aged 13-19 die in car accidents every year.  Do you know how many kids get kidnapped by a stranger and murdered in the U.S.?  Roughly 115 per year.  We don't hear much about the kids dying in car wrecks because it doesn't sell.  If I were in the Sunderland's shoes and deciding whether or not to let my daughter go on this trip, the stats alone would tell me that Abby is definitely safer out on the ocean than at home driving to the beach with her buddies.

I feel sad for the people who criticise Abby and her family for this journey.  I imagine that the majority of these people are helicopter parents, constantly hovering around their children and refusing to acknowledge that their children could even remotely achieve anything worthwhile in their lives without their parents intervention.  I imagine too, that a good many of them once harbored a dream like Abby's, but it never got off the ground.  Now they point fingers in jealousy, trying to tear down an idealistic young woman in an effort to make themselves feel better.  And the majority of these critics may also be people who have held themselves back from their dreams because they were afraid fo what society might say about them.  Say what they will, the critics are the ones who lose out by choosing to see the negative aspects of Abby's journey instead of what she has accomplished.

And what has accomplished?  Suffering equipment malfunctions, she carried on, determined to finish what she started, even if she wouldn't break the record she sought to undo.  She has inspired countless teens (and adults!) to follow their dreams through whatever obstacles they encounter.  Her parents have inspired countless moms and dads like myself and Michael to be courageous in the face of growth and change.  My mother always told me that everything happens for a reason; I'd like to believe that Abby's failure at completing her trip is going to encourage many out there to get back up after they've fallen and ride, sail or fly.

I hope, like my mother taught me so many times when learning how to ride horses, that Abby will get back in the saddle and make this journey again.  Even if she doesn't, I hope she'll her story and journey with others and rejoice in the accomplishment she DID achieve.  I hope too, that as  Sybilla ages and grows, that I will have the strength and courage to watch my heart sail around the world without me.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

One of These Things is Not Like the Other...

The garden has been going CRAZY.  The first weekend in April it was nothing but empty and sad looking garden boxes, now they're so overgrown it's hard to get at the produce it's producing!

Five more serranos (after the initial harvest!) and one lonely golden grape tomato...yum!

We've gotten lots of serrano peppers and I'm excited, because I have a whole slew of things I want to make with them.  I already made salsa and cornbread it was delicious.  Our tomatoes should be ready for picking soon, and I harvested some of our green beans.  I didn't get a picture of them though.  I had them in my purse in a baggie for a few days and then one day at work I discovered them there and decided they would be the perfect compliment to my baked chicken and basmati rice.  I felt like the little red hen for a moment there.  I also felt a bit selfish about not sharing them with my family, but more are on the way and will need to be harvested this weekend.

In sadder news, I will not be getting any lemons this year.  AGAIN.  My poor tree has been battered by the winds whipping around the corner of my third floor apartment balcony and no amount of moving it or trying to protect it helped.  I keep telling my husband that we should now buy a house so that I can actually plant the thing in the ground, but he just looks at me like I'm crazy.  That's not the ONLY reason to buy a house, but it's a compelling pro, right?  I keep thinking I might give it to someone to plant in their yard, but it takes a lot of TLC to raise a citrus in this area, so it can't be just ANYONE.  Not to mention I have been constantly fighting off scale insects which I can't just pawn off on someone.  I do have scruples, people.

If anything, I can at least take comfort that my gardening efforts are much more "fruitful" than they were last year...

Until later,


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