Just Chilling (sort of)

just chilling (working) inside van
Just chilling inside my van
Audio recording of this post 

A summer off from blogging, most of social media, busyness, and information overload. I’m just chilling… 

Do you believe that? 

Latte and I arrived at a local park early one morning to go on our usual walk.

wild flowers
Flowers in the park

We stopped back at the van so I could have coffee and read a book, then took another walk, had lunch, and I worked on this blog post. People walked past my van, glancing at me as I sat behind the screen that blocked my open side door. I felt exposed but safe in a familiar place. One of these days, I’ll see how well this writing routine works on the road.

my dog, Latte
My co-pilot

This summer, there has been much dipping of toes and dropping stones into wells to find the bottom. I’ve tested my injured knee, my confidence, and my ability to step out of my comfort zone and routine. Some people seem to have slid easily out of pandemic isolation and re-entered earth’s atmosphere with hardly a blink. I’m not one of those people. I squint, shade my eyes, and take cover from the too bright and too busy, frantically searching for the button to turn down the noise. I’ve become claustrophobic inside stores and more sensitive to sound and bodies and movement, which I wasn’t great with before COVID.

Just chilling was my intention. Ease my way slowly and gently back into the physical realm. Roll back the amount of electronic information and activities I’m consuming.

But then I signed up for three online writing courses… 

Just chilling? No.

chipmunk hanging by his toes
Ever feel like this?

I think I signed up for those classes so I would be too busy to be out in the real world. It also meant I was too busy to complete several short stories I had in the works and submit them.  

Of course, I couldn’t keep up with three classes. And one of the classes was terrible. I skipped the last two online lectures—mainly because they weren’t lectures but sessions where students were put into cyberspace rooms to discuss… something. Mostly we stared at each other through our screens, waiting for someone else to speak.

The other two courses were more self study with weekly readings and writing exercises to do on your own. One of them had a weekly Zoom lecture (which was ACTUALLY a lecture); the other class did all its discussions online. I learned the most from the course “Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion” with Allison Wyss. She is an excellent teacher. 

The other course I enjoyed was Carterhaugh School’s Rapunzel Circle: Folklore and Resistance. 

As much as I enjoyed the two Fairy Tale and Folklore classes, I’m grateful they’re done. I’m in the process of switching gears. I have yet to perfect the timing of the clutch. Can you hear the grinding? 

  • First gear is this post. 
  • Second gear is to revise and resubmit two stories. 
  • Third gear is to complete a new story draft.

I’m limiting myself to three things on which to focus. But if I shift to fourth, it will be to complete a revision blueprint for my memoir. 

Here’s hoping I don’t have to climb too many hills.

In My Writing Life

August and September have been exciting months. I had two stories published: 

And one of my creative nonfiction pieces was accepted for publication in an anthology, whose planned publication is late 2023.

Three Recent Reads

The first two books, below, were book recommendations from the creative nonfiction course I was dissatisfied with—so one positive from the experience. Both authors tell their stories through letters to various people in their lives. That’s what they had in common; their tone and topics were very different. I enjoyed them both. 

  • Dear Mr. You by Mary Louise Parker: Through letters Parker composes to both real and hypothetical men, she reveals how relationships inform the person she becomes. She begins with a grandfather she never knew and then moves on to a taxi driver, a childhood priest, a firefighter, former lovers, and others. This book made me both laugh out loud and cry, which reflects Parker’s skill and honesty in bringing the complexity of relationships to life.
  • Dear Memory by Victoria Chang: Victoria Chang is a poet, which is reflected in the book’s prose. She has created a story out of letters to her parents, daughter, teachers and others about what she knows and what she can only imagine about her Chinese parents’ lives and what has been passed through the generations. If you are a writer, the letters to her teachers are pure gold.
  • Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata: It is likely that you will either love this book or hate it. I loved it. Convenience Store Woman is the English-language debut of one of Japan’s talented contemporary writers. The main character is thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident Keiko Furukura, who has never fit in anywhere. You get the wonderful and unique experience of seeing the world through Keiko’s eyes, especially her experiences working at a convenience store where she finds peace and purpose. Unfortunately, people expect her to want more for herself. Although not as extreme as Keiko, I related to her way of studying people to find socially acceptable facial expressions, body language, and words in order to appear normal.

Summer Photos

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