Category Archives: blogs and writing

Why I Love January in New England

So, it’s really cold again. It’s been cold before. It will, in all likelihood, be cold again.

JUST GET OVER IT.

I love winter; always have, always will.  I love the beginning of winter, when the holidays loom (food, drink, lights, and music to make us weep), but I especially love the true, deep winter that follows the new year.

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While the days leading up to the new year are short and dark, by this time, late January, you can feel the light creeping back into the world, stealthy-like.  Th spring-tease thaw has come and gone, and left ice-slicks in its wake.  The creatures that hid away in the solstice darkness have re-emerged, hungry and fearless–foxes and turkeys and white-tailed deer.  They eat my holly bushes and shit on my roof, but it’s all ok: we’re in this winter thing together.

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My love of winter has something to do with my love of winter sports (skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, oh my!), and also, no doubt, by my life circumstances: my daily existence does not necessitate braving snow-sloshed city streets, or navigating wet-n-wild subway cars in my office heels.  I am free to languish with my tea by the fire in the morning, and (especially lately) leave the house only to frequent a cosy library nook, or a well-lit produce aisle.

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If I am honest, I will admit that my love of winter is about hibernation, and also about the anticipation of spring.  When the frost is on the pane, it’s easier to justify napping on the couch, rereading old books, and baking cookies.

But when I put Charlie down for her nap each afternoon, I tell her little stories about all the veggies we’ll grow this spring, and the ponds we’ll swim in this summer, and the places we’ll go.  Oh, the places we’ll go.

For now, however, it’s nice to just stay here, by the fire.

Jump Start Your Creativity

Here’s a fun post from one of the blogs I frequent about jumpstarting creativity in these cold winter months. I definitely need some help these days…

Live to Write - Write to Live

January has been a slog. My #JanNoWriStart began with gusto, but has petered out towards the end of the month. Rebooting this weekend on daily word count goals. But it is more than that. The simplest tasks take five extra steps. Layers of clothing weigh my steps down. My hair is flat, my mascara runs, and my knees ache. My attention span is limited (mildly put), and I have yet to finish a knitting project or book in this new year. I can cope with all of this, but this is the time of year when winter feels interminable.

So I indulge in creativity boosters. As I suspect I am not alone in singing the winter blues, I thought I would share some resources that help me.

1. The BBC Front Row Daily Podcast. Interviews with writers, actors, artists, directors, musicians and more. Part entertaining, part informational, all terribly…

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Fear of death, and the awesome wisdom of aunts: the part in which I get cancer

When I was 24, I was diagnosed (via genetic testing) with a somewhat rare genetic disorder that predisposes me toward gynecological and colon cancers, among others.  It was a bit of a shock, even though I knew these things ran in my family, and I was rather bummed out about it for some time.  We come into our lives, for the most part, thinking of our bodies as infallible.  For a young person in the 21st century, more than ever, sickness and death seem like things that happen elsewhere, to someone else; we plan to live forever.  When we are faced of our own mortality, it can be terrifying.  And I was terrified. Continue reading Fear of death, and the awesome wisdom of aunts: the part in which I get cancer

Surviving Motherhood: things to get excited about, right now

A friend’s dad, visiting from the UK, told me he thought that women made better stay-at-home parents.  This was within the context of my friend, his son, taking 6 weeks off in-between jobs, and going on and on about how great he would be at stay-at-home-dad-ness.  His father didn’t agree.

“It’s just natural [for women to stay home to take care of kids],” he kept saying.  “It’s biological.  It comes naturally to you.”  (By “you”, he apparently meant “all women, everywhere.”)

Really?  Because I don’t know that it comes naturally to me, let alone to most women I know.  Sure, we can give birth, and breastfeed, and all those hormones can make us superhuman, especially when it comes to getting up in the middle of the night.  But being a full-time parent is hard, people!  It’s not the running-about-after, cooking-for, cleaning-up-after a toddler that does me in; it’s the mental exhaustion of doing all these things, all day long, every day, without the built-in adult stimulation that full-time, paid employment brings to the table. Continue reading Surviving Motherhood: things to get excited about, right now

Decisions, decisions: Mom vs. Work

Even after I quit my job last October, I still thought of myself as a work-out-of-the-house woman.  I was just taking a few months’ break from  cubicle life, but would be ready to jump back in with both feet, as soon as corporate America and a strong cup of coffee called me back.  This past Spring my days were balanced precariously between caring for my newly-mobile daughter and desperate snatches of free time trawling the web for potential employment.  Would I freelance?  Would I go back part-time to publishing?  Would I start a new career altogether?  The options seemed limitless, distracting, and more a bit stressful.  Not to mention the fact that I didn’t exactly feel like a great parent, with half my brain trained to my email, and Linkedin, and Twitter.

So, shortly after Charlotte’s first birthday, and after talking it over with The Husband, I made a kind-of-sort-of decision: I’m now a stay-at-home mom.  Sure, I’ll head back to work in an office someday.  I love the capitalist zing of receiving a paycheck, earning a bonus, and making a sale, and someday (probably sooner rather than later), I’ll run back to my cubicle with joy and abandon.  But, for the time being, I’ve realized I just need to concentrate on this whole parenting thing.

That’s also why I’ve been absent from the blog for the last month or so: reevaluating my priorities has led to much mad writing, but somehow it needed to be in pen, on paper, between two covers.

Here are my writing companions.  Banjo is the furry one.
Here are my writing companions. Banjo is the furry one.

As I’ve written about in the past, I never thought I’d be making this decision.  I’ve loved working for money since the day I discovered the concept, and I always said I’d be a work-out-of-the-house mom, just like my mother before me.  As a child I was proud of my two-working-parent household, and when I became a mother I planned to carry on that tradition.

So, what’s changed?  Maybe it’s the summertime air, or feel of mud between my toes, or the hum of dragonflies.  Or maybe I’ve really become one of those people who believe that “everything changes once you have kids.”  Suddenly, making money doesn’t seem as urgent as sliding around, fully clothed, in a grimy kiddie pool, or eating herbs out of the garden, or doing an impromptu rain dance on the front lawn, or visiting my grandparents with their newest great-grandchild in tow.

I may still feel a bit ambivalent, deep down, but these days I’m too busy to worry too much about my working-vs-parenting identity.  And that’s pretty liberating.

So, for the time-being, here I am.