Friday, June 28, 2013

It’s All in How You Look at It

Some of you already know this, but I live in a 23’ RV full time. For several hours a day, it sits in full sunlight, which makes it a virtual hot box during warm weather. Last week, the air conditioning gave out. We had three lovely days of rain and drizzle, so I put off calling the repairman, assuming he couldn’t work on a rooftop AC unit in the rain. Well, it turns out I should have called anyway to get a foot up on the waiting list. Apparently, everyone’s AC had given out at once and I must now wait until July 5th for a repair appointment.

The weather here in Sacramento will be unseasonably warm for the next eight days, hovering around 103 degrees for most of the time. Yikes! My first reaction was to panic and then calm came over me.  After all, our pioneer ancestors didn’t even have fans, let alone air conditioning, proving, in my mind, that this little tragedy was definitely survivable.

What to do? Well, I decided to turn the next week into an adventure. I would need to be away from Wanda, my RV, for about 7 hours a day, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. That’s was totally doable.  It was simply a matter of being organized. I could do this.

So, I devised a name for this period of time, “The Great AC Adventure”, since naming everything is one of my endearing qualities (or so I keep telling myself) and then on to the planning. Yesterday, I started out on a used book buying spree at the Friends of the Library bookstore that took up a good hour, followed by a trip to the local pet store to stock on up dog goodies for the puppy that will soon be joined by my niece’s first baby (hoping to stave off natural jealousy – maybe he’ll regard the new baby as just another treat for him!)

Then I headed for my sister’s house and swimming pool. She has a couple of Labradors that are members of our family so we swam together and beat the heat for two hours. By the time I headed home it was cool enough to work outside, listing my book finds on Ebay. I didn’t head inside until 9 p.m. when the light finally faded from the sky. Essentially, I had a lovely day.

Today is starting out the same way – absolutely fabulously. I headed for the library at 10:30 this morning and so far I’ve read for an hour and now have jumped on my computer to write this post and work on my WIPS. I have big plans to go to see a movie, “42” the Jackie Robinson story, in a couple of hours at the cheapo movie theater (something I would never have done without this “crisis”).

I mentioned my circumstances to my park manager and he’s going to have someone place a small AC unit outside my bedroom window until I get mine fixed. So, I’ll have at least a partial rescue.  I almost regret it. This was turning out to be such a great adventure.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Just One Thing

Have you ever had a period in your life when doing anything beyond the survival tasks, like washing clothes or grocery shopping, just seems impossible? Sure you have. Well, I just discovered a way out of that miserable state of inertia.

Whenever I get up from reading or writing, my main activities nowadays, or anything prolonged, I look around and find one thing I’ve been putting off doing and do it. I’m calling it my Just One Thing program. I know it sounds ridiculously simple, but here’s why I think it’s working for me.

I have a formal, computerized (on Excel) to-do list. The last time I checked it had 102 tasks listed on it. ONE HUNDRED and TWO tasks. That’s ridiculous but they are all valid and need to be done in the near future. These are not everyday chores. This is an inventory of all the steps I need to take to accomplish my many goals, and since I come up with a new plan, another project, every week, it just keeps getting bigger.

Here’s the thing; I absolutely need to do all this stuff. That thought is more than overwhelming for me. It feels as if I’ve been hit by a tsunami of jobs and I’m trying to find a coconut tree trunk so I can climb to safety. I don’t think I’m unusual either. Listening to my sisters and mother, as well as friends, I realize they all have tons of stuff to get done. They, normally, just do them, but like me they have times of errand overload.

As I was lying in bed, reading a friend’s book on Kindle about a week ago, I glanced around my RV, in which tasks greet me constantly as there is nowhere to hide the overflow, I thought, “Oh, crap. There’s so much to do, I’ll never get it all done.”  I almost went back to my book, but then I heard these words, “Just do one thing.”

No, I’m not hearing voices, but often my thoughts are so clear, it feels like I hear it out loud. Anyway, I decided to wash the dishes. Afterwards, I did one more thing – washed my car. Hmmm, I noticed there was a bunch of leaves on the driveway so I swept them up and trashed them. Amazing! I didn’t feel tired or annoyed or overwhelmed; instead, just a little bit proud of myself. I did three things, just one at a time.

This morning, under the same theory, I sewed a button on a blouse that has been sitting on top of a “To Fix” pile for nearly six months. Other tasks followed and before I knew it, I’d put away a number of things I’d been meaning to find room for in a cupboard and I'd tossed out a bunch of things that should have been sent to the garbage bin long ago.

I know the idea of “one thing at a time” has been around forever, but here’s the difference for me; that phrase implies all the rest of things that needed to be done. “Just one thing” doesn’t. That one thing stands alone and each one thing is then a victory. At least in my head, and really that’s all that matters. I’ve started working on two stalled novels again and a new one, but just one thing (a sitting) at a time. The little tricks I play on myself work. Maybe this one will help someone else, which is the whole reason for writing about.

Okay, now I’ve done my one thing for the moment. Tag you’re it.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Favorite Youth-isms

When I was a teenager, everyone said “bitching” and “Oh, brother!” My Pops forbade me to use either term and, of course, that made it nearly impossible for me to stop; especially “bitching.”

For those of you too young to remember, that started out as a surfing word to describe a great wave or ride. I grew up in the San Jose area, so many of my friends surfed because Santa Cruz and waves were just over the Los Gatos foothills. It didn’t take long for that to be the only way to describe something that was cool; except for “boss”. I almost forgot that one; for a couple of years, everything cool was really boss.

Red and I got to talking about that last night, while sipping wine – Bloody Marys were a bit too heavy in the heat – finding old and new neologisms (which I prefer to call Youth-isms because older people rarely come up with a new term, right? Let’s be honest.)

Kathy: Actually, I got hooked on “groovy,” too.

Red: You know what I always liked? (I shook my head) Da’ bomb! What a fantastic way to say something or someone is great.

Kathy: (chuckling) I still say it sometimes. People stop and stare for a second. 

Red: I guess they would! That’s so old it creaks. But I know what you mean. I’d like to be able to say “my bad” but I’m afraid someone will call the geezer police. 

Kathy: Oh, come on. That’s not that old!

Red: Yes, it is. Time is just passing so fast for you now you don’t realize a couple of decades have gone by since players started tossing it around on the B-ball courts. 

Kathy: (hanging her head) – Geez. So what’s the latest and greatest?

I settled back, sipping on an glass of iced Reisling, while Red brought up Google on her iPhone and began to rattle off a few.

Red: Let’s see…there’s BT dubs for the by the way…and YOLO for you only live once.

Kathy: I kind of dig that. YOLO baby. Uh, huh!

Red: (laughing hard) You would! That one was named the worst slang of 2012.

Kathy: I don’t care – I’m going to be YOLOing it all over the place.

Red: Ok, how about these two – Totes for totally and Obvi for obviously.

Kathy: I like totes. Yeah, that’s totes!

Red: You’re so totes cray! (doubled-over, holding her belly and laughing and spilling her wine)

Kathy: Huh?

Red: Cray is short for crazy. 

I stuck my tongue out at her but soon we’d reverted to our own childhood, talking like we’re still teenagers ourselves. It was all good. That lasted until we ran out of wine, at which point we just chilled for a while. I don't care how old you are, you know what that means!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sending Yourself Out Into the World

I mailed a letter to President Obama today, with an idea I have for an economic stimulus that I can’t see anyone objecting to, as it benefits all constituencies. But hey, who knows what will happen. The truth is that getting it out there into the Universe, rather than buried inside my head, is the important thing. It’s not something I could birth myself, so I had to find an avenue to perhaps get it to someone who could. 

Tomorrow, I’m sending three movies idea to Creative Artists. They are terrific ideas, but not screenplays I can afford to dump a bunch of time and energy into. No, they have a better chance of becoming something real by just giving them away. Perhaps, someone at CAA will get jazzed. Who knows?

Years ago, a friend who had been widowed for about a year was ready to start dating again. She spent a couple of months talking about it. Internet dating was just getting to be a thing. One night, as we sat drinking wine, I said to her, “You know that no one is going to walk up to your door, knock and ask you for a date, don’t you?”  She looked at me a long time and finally said, “I guess you’re right.” 

Over the next few weeks, she put her profile online and met a few guys. One was nice enough to date for a few months. I lost track of her, so I don’t know what eventually happened in her life, but I do know she wasn’t sitting around, lonely, anymore.

Writing a book, trying for a new job, making friends, taking a chance on love, having an idea and sharing it, they all require the same thing – extending yourself. If you’re attempting to write – just do it and then don’t keep it to yourself, share it. If you think you want a new job, send out those resumes, make those calls because no one is likely to knock on your door and ask if you’d like to work for them. Whether you’re looking for someone to spend time with or fall in love with, you may have to make the first move. Do it. Drop your defenses for a few moments. Let them know you are interested. 

How many times have you had a great idea and done nothing with it, only to find that a few months or years later, someone ran with that ball and made a touchdown? Next time do something about it. 

I know this is easier said than done. Believe me. Grass has been growing under my feet for longer than I’d like to admit. But this week, that all changes; I’m returning to the old Kathy. The one who does things.

Do things, my friends, whatever it takes. Live your life, stretch your muscles, be that person you want to be and do those things that make you happy. Do it. 

Oh, yeah - Love ya!

Crossing the Great Divide - Or Not

I am a liberal. Okay? Well, even if it’s not okay, I am and I find I spend an inordinate amount of time avoiding conversations on politics with people I know are conservative. Why? Because it serves no purpose to discuss politics since we are so far apart. There is no way we are going to change each other’s minds and in the end, we’ll lose what we do have – friendship, companionship or possibly even a family relationship. 

I’m getting fairly good at sitting through hours of Fox News when visiting one relative, enduring discussions around the dinner table with folks with vastly different opinions than me about immigration, ObamaCare, President Obama himself, his wife, his birthplace, the various scandals that have recently popped up. 

I made two mistakes recently. I was lured into one hot disagreement about immigration with this sentence, “Being born in America should not be the criteria for being an American.” I charged in as the only liberal in the room and it was a huge waste of energy and terribly frustrating for me (and I’m sure the people I was talking to.)

I had made the decision that in the future I would leave the room and I fully intend to follow that protocol. But today, I made a slip. I asked a friend, who is a passionate Conservative, to read a letter to President Obama, which had in its beginning paragraph references to my admiration for him.  I prefaced the request with the statement, “Try not to gag on the first paragraph,” hoping to lighten the moment, but in reality, I shouldn’t have put her in that position. I’m uncomfortable when I’m asked to agree (as if it’s a given) with someone who knows I have the exact opposite opinion. My bad.

I struggle online not to engage in the various stabs at politicians or political entities, partly because, once and if I start, I’m going to spend inordinate amounts of time at it. The other part of the equation is that online I am a writer, first and foremost. I want to connect to readers and other writers. My purpose for being there is not to spout political opinions. I’ll leave that to others for whom the purpose of social media is to express their politics, and I have no issues with their agenda; to each their own. 

Really - that’s why we love this country, right? The right to have our own opinions, and express them, if we choose.