Home of an Emotional Idiot

While there were times when he wished he could roll back the clock and erase all the sadness, he had a hunch that if he did so, the joy would be diminished as well. And that was something he couldn't contemplate. (From At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks)

Sunday, April 30, 2006

"Sun"day

Okay, so I recently said I was going to be more upbeat on here and I'm not about to back down on that just yet. Two of my cousins from Florida were here from Thursday until today. It was a short but good visit. They came up to visit my parents really since I saw them in February and will be heading down to see them again on Wednesday!

My dad was discharged from the hospital on Thursday, which was nice. I think he pushed because he didn't want them to see him in the hospital. I can't blame him for that but I'll admit that I had my doubts about him leaving then. However, with each day at home he seems more and more like himself. What a relief.

Anyway, the cousins left early this morning so I said good-bye and went to the track where I walked three miles. It's been a while since I've been able to go up there so I did have to push myself to go around twice but I did it. Afterwards, I came home and AJ and I went into the backyard where I was sunbathing and she was napping in the shade. It was quite pleasant. I got a little burnt though and will have to make sure to keep my skin extra moisturized so that I'm not peeling for the wedding this weekend!

Other than that I've just been catching up on laundry and trying to clean up some. I opened up Microsoft Word earlier to try to put down some ideas that I've thought about developing into a short story and, rather expectedly, I went blank. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

I have a lot of plans. I'd like to get back into exercising on a regular basis (which I think I can do now that dad is home and AJ is doing well), I want to get back to writing and I want to get back to losing some weight. It's time now to just close my eyes, take a deep breath, and focus on what I want. From there, I should be able to get moving toward those goals.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"This Is My Last Entry"

This is not my last entry. I have the name of this post in quotes because it's the name of the article I wanted to share with you from slate.com. So, here it is.

This Is My Last Entry
Why I shut down my blog.
By Sarah Hepola
Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2006, at 12:24 PM ET

One morning last month, I woke early, finished a book I'd been reading, and shut down my blog. I had kept the blog for nearly five years, using it as a repository for personal anecdotes, travelogues, and the occasional flight of fiction—all of which I hoped, eventually, might lead to a novel. And then, somewhere between the bedsheets and 6 a.m., I realized something: Blogging wasn't helping me write; it was keeping me from it.

I had come to this realization before, but the moment would pass, and I would find myself percolating with small, quotidian stories that I wanted to share: This funny thing happened on the subway; you'll never believe what so-and-so said. Not revelations by any means, but I live alone, and blogging was a way to vent the daily ups and downs that might otherwise be told to the cat. Also, I couldn't help but notice—even the cat couldn't help but notice—the growing number of successful bloggers-turned-novelists. They were sexy, dishy women with pseudonyms, Wonkette and Opinionista, like they were dispatching from behind enemy lines. I was starting to feel like the only one left in the blogosphere without a book deal.

Actually, agents and editors had contacted me before, based on my blog as well as the writing I did for an online magazine called TheMorningNews.org. At the time, I was living in Dallas, and to be e-mailed by an actual New York agent felt like the 21st-century equivalent of being discovered at the mall. The e-mails were flattering, but, ultimately, they all asked the same annoying question: Have you written a book? Apparently, this was a requirement. When I told them I hadn't, they moved on to the next blogger with potential, and I was left back in the mall where they'd found me, riffling through the sale at Hot Topic.

That is not a complaint. The arrival of such correspondence far exceeded my expectations when I started the blog in 2001, back when the word blog was still something you had to ease into conversation, like an obscure scientific term. I started the site at the beginning of a four-month trip to South America. I told only a handful of people, and the privacy of the blog—the illusion of privacy, that is—was the best thing I'd done for my writing since shelving the thesaurus.

Just prior to that, I'd been writing for an alt-weekly in Austin, Texas. What began as a great job had curdled into an anxiety nightmare. I would burn to write a certain profile and then, deadline looming, I would stare at the computer as another beautiful Saturday ticked away. I can remember crossing the street one night and thinking, absently, "If I got run over by a car, I wouldn't have to finish that story!" Don't get me wrong—I didn't want to die. I just wanted a really long extension. Thus my decision to leave the job. Thus my journey to the southern hemisphere. Thus the blog that I started, thinking no one would read it and secretly hoping they would. The blog was the perfect bluff for a self-conscious writer like me who yearned for the spotlight and then squinted in its glare. When I needed to pretend that people were reading, I could. When I needed to pretend that nobody was reading, I could. (For this reason, I never checked the reader stats on my blog, unlike most of my friends, who check it as regularly as their e-mail.)

Eventually, I began enjoying my writing again. I stopped worrying about deadlines, audience, editors, letters to the editor, all the stuff that had smothered me before. I was writing so fast that I didn't have time to double-think my sentence structure or my opinions. What came out was sloppier but also funnier and more honest. I started getting e-mails from people I'd never met, and they were actually encouraging. (At the paper, it seemed like most e-mails from strangers begin with a variant of "Hey, dumbass.") I continued blogging for years, through cities and jobs and relationships, and though the blog entries never amounted to much, they always gave me a fleeting joy, like conquering some small feat—opening a very difficult, tightly sealed jar—even when no one is around to see it.

And yet every once in a while those agents would check in, to ask how that book was coming. And the book wasn't coming, and wasn't coming, and I became one of those people who talk about a book but never write it. At times, I started to feel that jokes and scenarios and turns of phrase were my capital, and that my capital was limited, and each blog entry was scattering more of it to the wind, pissing away precious dollars and cents in the form of punch lines I could never use again, not without feeling like a hack. You know: "How sad. She stole that line from her own blog."

Blogging had been the ideal run-up to a novel, but it had also become a major distraction. I would sit down to start on my novel only to come up with five different blog entries. I thought of them as a little something-something to whet the palate—because it was easier, more immediately satisfying, because I could write it, and post it, and people would say nice things about it, and I could go to bed feeling satisfied. But then I would wake feeling less than accomplished because a blog wasn't a whole story told from beginning to end. I had shelves lined with other people's prose while my best efforts were buried on a Web site somewhere, underneath a lot of blah-blah about American Idol and my kitty cat.

I suspect I'll come back to blogging eventually. It will be something I quit on occasion, like whiskey and melted cheese, when the negative effects outweigh the benefits. Practically every blogger I know has taken their site down at some point—for personal reasons, for business reasons, for boredom reasons. It's no different from the way we have to turn off our cell phones or stop checking e-mail so that we can actually focus on something. As much as I loved writing online, it's a relief writing offline: taking time to let a story unspool, to massage a sentence over an afternoon's walk, to stew for days—weeks, even—on a plot line. What a modern luxury. Now, if I could just turn off the TV, I think I could finally get started.

Sarah Hepola is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, New York.

Friday, April 21, 2006

T.G.I.F.

Okay, this is just a whole bunch of new random thoughts that started with Thank God It's Friday! Tomorrow morning I'm getting my hair cut and highlighted. I'm pretty excited about this because even though I have loved my hair with the low and highlights this winter, I wasn't crazy about the way it looked in pictures. After I get my hair done, I'm going to visit my dad in the hospital and then I'm going to a party with AIM. I'm just as excited to see his/my new friends A & J-- the ones we went to dinner with right before the proverbial shit hit the fan between us. A & J are both very cool ladies and A and I are developing a really good friendship. I'm excited about this because all of my close girlfriends are married or involved or live far away. I miss having girlfriends that you can randomly go out with.

My boss let me leave today at 4 since it was slow. I stopped and picked up dog food and stopped into a nearby clothing store too. I wasn't expecting to find anything but I found a beautiful girly-girl top, which I bought for $15. Equally as exciting is that I paid cash for it! Now, I just need someplace to wear it! See, it's pretty but it really needs--in my opinion-- a jacket or sweater to go over it because it shows quite a bit of skin. However, I think I should pair it with a nice pair of jeans too... in beige... which I don't currently own. Kudos to me for getting the top at such a great price but now getting the rest of the outfit is going to cost me! Oh well, it'll be very pretty for the summer so I think it's worth it.

Sometimes I really frustrate myself. I had a great thought today... I guess it's been floating around in my head for a while but it felt like an epiphany today. I think I'd like to write a short story. Eventually a book, but I'll start small and work my way up. I have the material I need right here in my very own blog. I think it could be good. I just need to do it now.

I know I've mentioned before that I have a profile on MySpace. I changed it a while back to say that I'm looking for friends and dating. Every once in a while I would get a friend request or a message from someone I didn't know. Most of them I would read and ignore because they were businesses or individuals who use Internet speak so much that they just sound dumb. I recently changed my picture-- it's not revealing but I'm wearing a very low cut v-neck top-- all of a sudden a LOT of people are viewing my page and sending messages. I'm still weeding out the ones that I'm not interested in, which honestly seems to be most of them. However, I am talking to one new guy. He seems okay. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Random Ramblings

Let me start this post by saying that I know I am at fault for losing the vast majority of my readership via my boring life and weeks when I seem to go among the missing. For those of you that do still check in with me, a big fat THANK YOU to you. Even though I'm not on here as much as I want to be, I still love all of you!

I'll start off my rambling thoughts by telling you all how freaking exhausted I am. I went from a single woman with nary a care in the world to more or less a mother of three (mother, father, dog) overnight. Dad is still in the hospital. He's recovering well and the doctors are planning on sending him home on May 5th. I'm excited about this but a little apprehensive as well since I will be in Florida at that time.

My mom is still driving me crazy. She's not doing anything. Okay, there are some but VERY few exceptions. For the most part, everything is falling on me. I don't mind doing stuff but I get frustrated when it all falls on me on top of my job and she's home all day long with plenty of time to get stuff done. Jen had suggested, after reading one of my earlier posts, that I move out. I would love to, however, I am still at my parents' home to help them as much as for my own financial reasons. I had been doing okay with saving money until dad went into the hospital and gas prices skyrocketed. Unfortunately, I don't have any friends who are financially able or willing to room together and, honestly, I can't see the point of paying someone else's mortgage and not having anything to really call my own. A "cozy" apartment here is going for a minimum of $900. And those are usually the apartments in houses. Complexes are a minimum of $1200. Now, I should make it clear that I do pay a small rent, I pay all of my own bills, do my own laundry, help around the house, etc. I may be mooching somewhat by still living there but I'm mooching less than some of my friends in the same situation.

Moving on, AJ is doing well. We did have a scare Monday night. She came home from the vet (after having blood taken to check the levels of anti-seizure medication in her system) and could not walk. I had to lift her 100-pound rear end off the floor for her. But my girl didn't give up. She kept trying and by morning she was doing much better and could get up on her own though it took her a little while. By last night she was chasing me through the house.

I ordered my dress for Mary's wedding yesterday. I'm excited. It's a beautiful dress and I think the color will be great for me. I was surprised when I called the store to order the dress though and they said they were going to send me a contract. Is this something that all places (outside of NY) do? I've never heard of it. I left Mary a voicemail mentioning it and she returned the message to tell me the contract says that the store is not responsible if I lose or gain a lot of weight by the time the wedding rolls around and the dress doesn't fit right and they're not responsible for it if the wedding does not happen. Is it just me? But, duh! This is all common sense stuff. Of course I'm going to sign it, it just seemed a little... well, silly to me. I suppose someone may have tried to sue them previously, in which case you can't blame them for having this contract. Honestly, they do put warnings on hair dryers that you shouldn't use while in water so...

The only other thing that's really up here is that I'm feeling funky. But it seems lately like if I write on blogger it's because I'm funky. Oh. Wait. I was funky when I started this blog. Well, I'm going to try to have more upbeat posts from now on. If you don't hear from me for a while, you'll know why! Just kidding. I swear I'm going to try to be better.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!

Things here are okay. The dog has an appointment tomorrow where they will take blood to determine if she's getting the right dosage of medicine. Hopefully she is and will be able to be left alone, at least for short periods of time, again.

Dad is doing well too. The doctors are even talking about letting him come home in the next few weeks. Yay!

Two of my cousins are coming up at the end of the month to visit and then a few days after they head back to Florida, I will be heading down there for their brother's wedding.

I spent some time outside today trying to get a little bit of a tan. It didn't work too well but it's a start.

Anyway, Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to me! Yep, that's right. I've officially been at this blogging thing for a year. When I had started my plan was to write at least once a day. Obviously that hasn't worked. Oh well. Maybe that'll change in year two.

Anyway, just a few brief thoughts before I get ready to do errands and head to the hospital...

AJ seems to be doing much better and is getting used to the medication. I think I'll start sleeping in my bed again instead of on the floor with her since she keeps ditching me in the middle of the night for the kitchen.

Dad's doctors are adding new meaning to the term "practicing medicine." His doctor told him last week she wanted to keep him for 7 weeks. Well, the rotation changed and now he's got a new doctor who told him he could come home next week. My mother was on the phone with the social worker and nurse coordinator immediately upon hearing that and they will keep dad for three more weeks before sending him home. We'll see what happens.

I miss AIM. I haven't seen him in a month. I just want to see him and to have him hold me.

Ha! When I started this blog it was mostly so that I could whine and moan about one man. Now I'm whining and moaning about another. Sensing a pattern?

Well, that's it from me for now. Here's to another year (at least)!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Stressed Out...

Last night, before leaving for bowling, I set an alarm clock at the highest possible volume so that my mother would be sure to wake up and give the dog her medicine at the appropriate time. A few minutes after the alarm was to go off, I borrowed a friend's phone and started calling the house. No answer. I called the cell phone. No answer. I kept calling both numbers for about 20 minutes to no avail.

I got home about an hour after the dog should have had her medicine. The alarm clock was still going off at full volume, the TV was blaring, the back door was open and my mother was out cold. I turned the alarm off and woke my mother up and she swore to me that the alarm never went off. When I told her I had just turned it off and told her what time it was she apologized to me. What good is an apology though? As soon as we decided our plan of action should the dog have another seizure this medicine very literally became a matter of life and death. Now, it's not that I think being an hour off once in a while is going to do a lot of damage but on Thursday night it was three hours late. Maybe I sound selfish here but I go out two nights a week... is it really too much to ask of her to give the medicine those two nights?

This morning she had the nerve to act as if nothing had happened. I was livid last night and still angry this morning. I understand that she's tired and has a lot on her mind but so do I. For crying out loud, I spend more time at the hospital than she does, I'm the one walking the dog at all hours of the night (and day for that matter), I'm the one who is cleaning. My mother is heading down a terrible road right now. Well, she has been for quite some time but this is making it worse. I need to find a way to get her into counseling or something before she completely gives up.

I say counseling because talking to family doesn't help. My grandmother and aunt have tried talking to her. Her best friend has tried. My father and I have tried. What can you say to someone who has so little desire to live? (My mother is eating and smoking her way to an early grave).

And you wondered why I don't talk about my family (with the exception of Mary) on here! Now you know.