THE WAFFLE DANCE!!!!

Let’s do the Waffle Dance! The Waffle! The Waffle! The Waffle, Waffle, Waffle!

*cough* Ahem.

“The Waffle” is what I’m terming this particular phase my brain is in. Circumstances are such that I feel I need some kind of reliable employment. My circumstances are also such that I do not need it today, but it is becoming a growing possibility of need as time passes. Experience says I need to retrain to re-enter the employment market for such a job.

And then doubt reared its little head. I haven’t chosen the best career schooling fields in the past. I thought they were okay. Everyone said they were okay. But they didn’t turn out okay. I’ve used those skills, time and again, but not on a professional scene. I can’t seem to enter that part of the arena. Am I choosing the wrong one again? Am I one of those jerks that just can’t get a job without knowing someone on the inside?

And then doubt grew bigger, talking about “Finances”. Even just taking one class a semester because of my time budget still means $1k out of pocket every semester, at least. Can I afford to blow that kind of cash on a chance that I might find a job after all the classes and such?

Yes, I know – “Writing is free! Pour everything you have into writing! Make that your career focus!”

Statistics tell me 90% of writers make $10k or less a year. Do I want to be one of those suddenly discovered geniuses that makes a butt-load of money? Absolutely. Are the odds in my favor? Not so much.

Then doubt got bigger, talking about “Time”. If I take too much time to do the coursework, will it render the knowledge and skills stale? Will it no longer be a job in a “growth field”? Am I sure this is the direction I want to go in?

“Research,” I tell myself. “Do a little more research to determine what it is, exactly, you’re getting in to. You’re still not committed yet.”

Ooooooo. Googling “Wish I knew before I became a paralegal” is bringing up a lot of not so awesome things. No job is 100% awesome, but I didn’t think these items were on the list, either. Some of them I expected, others are on the unsavory side of the house. Talking to a paralegal I distantly know doesn’t do much to alleviate the doubt. “‘High-stress’ is definitely a factor,” she says.

My husband doesn’t like some of the things I found either. “Oh, hell no. OT with no notice and no compensation is industry standard? Uh-uh.”

If I’ve only learned one thing over the years it’s that if I’m stressed out over other things, I don’t write. I don’t have enough brain left to make the words go, so to speak. I’m willing to retrain for getting a job, I just don’t want that job to eat up everything I am, either. The kids and husband are noshing me up quite nicely, so I don’t really need to add another muncher. I imagine my family would agree to that.

Part of me is saying – “Too many doubts. This does NOT feel good. Gut no likey. What about a technical writing degree or even a cert? That’s a little closer to your alley.”

The other part of me is saying I’m a pansy. That I should take a chance and try something completely different (again). That since I’ve announced to everyone I know I was re-entering college for a paralegal cert and started the ball rolling on that, I should stick it out, even though I’m technically not committed to anything yet – no classes have been registered, no signatures on financial aid documents. “Stop being such a coward about challenging things. If I don’t follow through, people will think I can’t commit to things. That I’m too flighty. Or too much a scaredy cat to adult.”

I know I feel calmer about the Technical Writing cert. I’m just as doubtful about getting a job in the field as a paralegal cert, but I feel better about it.

Maybe that’s good enough.

Maybe it will kick start my writing again, since the finishing of an obscene number of UFO’s has not, as yet.

Maybe I’ll dress up as a Giant Waffle for Halloween.

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The Grind of Uncertainty

My children will be entering 6th grade this coming Fall semester. Our school district has announced it has intentions to open with 100% in person learning, five full days a week. “But we still have plans for a hybrid model and a 100% online model, just in case.”‘

I think the 100% in person learning is a little optimistic.

I mean, I get why. Most kids learn better in person. Many households can’t teach/homeschool and work at the same time, no matter what kind of on-line system you’ve got set up. I’m a Stay-At-Home-Mom and it was exhausting to constantly ride herd on my son to keep him doing his online assignments.

Don’t get me started on me helping him with those assignments. I wasn’t certain if he was playing dumb or has just honestly not quite grokked it, but it frequently took us an HOUR to get through 12 math problems.

Like many parents, I can’t wait to boot the little buggers out of the house for 6 hours a day after 5 months of having budding adolescents hanging around, all day, every day.

On the plus side, they’ve learned to clean their own bathrooms, so that’s nice.

While I don’t really have a system for my infrequent gambling that has proven effective, I’m willing to put down money that the schools will close from 100% in person to 100% online by Halloween. I imagine they’ll try to stretch the in-person model to at least the start of Thanksgiving Break, but I’m not hopeful.

My children desperately want to go back to school. Which I find hilarious in some ways because it wasn’t that long ago that my son declared he wished he was homeschooled because he hates regular school. Now he wants to go back because he misses his friends and because “online learning sucks.”

All I really know for certain is that the uncertainty of it all is driving me crazy, and not in a good way. When it’s good, I make lists – I know what to do and when and how and where and yeah, it might take me a little bit to pull myself together between each task because my depression has decided to be active, but I know what my tasks are.

When it’s bad, it looks a lot like I ran head first, full force, into a wall. I lay around, constantly talking to myself, constantly trying to convince myself to “just get one this one thing done and then you can quit for the day.”

I’ve been trying to plan for all those “just-in-case” scenarios that have spun about in my head since late February, but the uncertainty is killing me. How can I plan for anything if I don’t know how prepared I need to be for which scenario? I’m trying, of course, but it’s the uncertainty of all of them that’s dragging me down a giggling black hole of bad depression again.

Not that there’s a good kind, there’s just a more functional kind.

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IWSG July 2020

Dammit! I lost the pool for June. I had my money on Sharknado in Texas, but it didn’t pan out. Neither did the last minute bet on “The Mummy” causing havoc in the US.

Anyhoo…

https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

The topic of the month is how you think the publishing will or should change in the near future.

I have no freaking idea other than maybe ethics should be a thing in contract negotiation, but that’s a “Gimme” across the board.

So for today’s topic, I shall digress and maybe develop a point towards the end. We’ll see.

Back in 2011, I started ripping out the rotten wood the previous owner of the property had used as a retaining wall. It wasn’t really retaining anything, because genius didn’t level anything out or other such pesky details.The slope for the “retained” part of the yard is anywhere from two feet in the Northeast corner all the  way to four feet+ at the Southwest and Northwest areas of the yard.

Like all my projects, it started out innocently enough – tear out the old crap, replace with longer lasting, sturdier crap that I think looks good, but others will no doubt define as crap.

I sourced my rocks mostly from my yard or from obvious discards in alleys. I kinda had to, because 17 cents a pound doesn’t sound like much, until you realize you need something on the order of 4 tons or so.

The first 10-12 feet of this new retaining wall was easy enough. There was some leveling out on the lower side to make it even with the fence, and the dirt was hauled to the upper side to even out the slope of the yard a bit. I “built” a ramp of dirt on the eastern while (to the right of the picture) to follow the fence and allow for lawnmowers to move about. I had to build another ramp because there was a maple tree there on the left when I started and I tried to accommodate the roots, but alas, the repeating droughts were too much for the big guy.

wall1

(No, no. Its level. I just used the panoramic view on my phone and I was only about 9 feet away against my fence to take the shot, so it looks all bendy in the middle, and I’m too lazy to try and correct the picture.)

Then things got…ambitious. The next part went from “replace the rotting retaining wall and even out the lower side to the fence” to ” let’s even out the upper portion of the yard being held back by the retaining wall.”

Understand, the area in the upper yard that I’m  planning to level out that is about another 20 feet long, 16 feet wide and ranges in depth from 0 inches to 4 feet.

wall2

(Again, panoramic view, cheap phone, only about 9 feet away, hence the bendiness. It is actually level. The top of the wall at about the clay pot is roughly 4 feet, and this southern facing wall is about 20 feet long.)

All of this might not have been too hard except for one teeny little addition. I figured, “They made field-stone walls this big or bigger without mortar all the time a few hundred years ago. How hard can it be?”

So I worked on my “little” project, fitting the random field stones together like solving a masochistic jigsaw puzzle for 2-3 years. A shovel, a pick-axe and a wheelbarrow were my only companions. Everyone said I was crazy. Even the husband was not very supportive of this venture. I worked despite the commentary from friends and family.

“Why?”

“I don’t get it.”

“You’re insane.”

“Shouldn’t you hire someone with EXPERIENCE to do it?”

“You realize it’s going to fall apart on you, right?”

Then I took a five yearish break. I needed more stones. A lot more.

I also needed to find more support within myself.

I liked my progress. I could see where it was going and how it would improve that portion of the backyard. My work is solid, dammit. Yes, I’d had to take apart whole 5 foot sections of it and rebuild because I’d used a series of the wrong rocks in the wrong 1 foot square spot and physics is a thing, but I still did it. I tore out, I rebuilt anew, and tried to learn from my mistakes. Then I stood on those portions of the wall just to prove its solidity under two hundred pounds of weight.

Those walls are solid, dammit. The naysayers can shut the fuck up.

And I slowly gathered more wall supplies, despairing that I would ever finish because while onesy-twosey is progress, it isn’t exactly the screaming speed of instantaneous gratification.

Last year I finally picked it up again. I’m still not done, but I can see the end of the project now. I’ve turned the last corner on the raised portion of the yard. I have enough stone to complete the walls. I just need the dirt. wall3

(Corner to Corner, this bit is a little over 16 feet long and is about 4 feet high.)
)

wall4

And I discovered that while one can find free fill dirt all over the place if one pays attention to postings on NextDoor or Craigslist, one is no longer in one’s 20’s or 30’s.

Shoveling a pick-up load’s worth of dirt into a truck, then unloading it wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow into the back yard isn’t as easy when one is in one’s 40’s. Muscles get pulled easier. Energy depletes faster. Recovery time takes longer.

What does this have to do with writing?

As I was working on the wall today, I pondered that question.

Building this wall has taught me a lot – You can’t build a wall this tall with no mortar if you don’t have the dirt to back one side of it. The physics of pressure and balance will not allow it to happen. Kinda like a book – the story might be a great idea, but if it isn’t built right, it tends to fall apart on you. Some of the building is uncomfortable. You might get hurt, you cuss (a lot) when something just won’t work, and sometimes you just gotta tear a whole nifty section apart because while you THOUGHT putting a tall clay pot in the wall as part of a corner piece, and it looks cute, it weakens the whole structure because the other pieces are prevented from interlocking with each other to share the load.

And the satisfaction of seeing it almost completed, seeing how well its all coming together, outweighs all the negative comments people have laid out over the years. The thought of being able to put up pictures of when its completed, of bringing people into the backyard to show them – “Ha! I did it and it looks GREAT!” is a better motivator now than it was when I first started.

I write in starts and stops. I get squirreled easily. I get tired. I get frustrated. I have been told I’m no good at it or being unrealistic about it by the very people who swear they love me the most. I stop for a significant period of time and starting back up is hard and not nearly as easy as I remembered it being just a short time ago. My time and brain power budget gets eaten, by children and family and errands and, and, and…

But I still write. I still get back to it. Yeah, I’m not very fast at it, and yeah, maybe it comes off a little wonky or not cleanly fitting into a target demographic, but I still want to keep writing, to keep working on those stories and bring them to completion.

And someday, I will.

Because I have a lot of motherfuckers to prove wrong.

Check out the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to see more writers dish about their concerns, their solutions to various problems, or just general agyrophobia.

 

 

 

 

 

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My Irrational Brain

Changes are a thing. Sometimes a wonderful thing, sometimes an uncomfortable thing.

Change is the only constant in the Universe, as my Dad used to say.

Like this new WordPress editor that they’re saying they will foist off on all of us. I’m using it now, but I’m not so certain I like it.

But Change is a constant thing.

The last two years especially have shoved some very uncomfortable things in my face. Some feel I am over-reacting – things aren’t that bad. Things are actually quite stable, all things considered. Others feel that I’m finally adulting, I’m finally being a responsible person and accepting the realities of blahblahblah.

What I find unbelievably fucking irritating interesting is almost everyone is absolutely convinced that I’ve been unrealistic. No one understands what I do or why or what my expectations are. All I’ve ever gotten from the audience has been a chorus of “why” or “I don’t get it” or “you’re wasting your time.” No one listened when I tried to explain things.

Now they’re absolutely delirious with joy that I’m looking into starting a paralegal track. The last two years I’d tried to find a paying job. Any job. I was constantly being turned down as “underqualified” because I hadn’t worked in 10 years, or “overqualified” because my last job had been in an office environment. Now with COVID still hanging about, I can only afford a part-time something because the kids are entering 6th grade and while I don’t know how things are going to go down, I do know I’m going to have to be available to play substitute teacher and ride herd on Daniel and Sara at some point, most likely with little to no notice.

So back to school it is. Part-time. Only one or 2 classes a semester so I can still juggle the house and family requirements.

I cannot stress how big a blow this is to me. I enjoy learning, I do, and I’d like to think the paralegal study will help in understanding legalese a little better.

But just thinking about it is a soul-sucking, energy-zapping black hole of despair I can’t rightly figure out. I’m not going to stop writing (although you wouldn’t know it based on my writing behaviour since November 2019), but it feels…I dunno, like I’m giving up, somehow. The lassitude I’m dealing with right now is so intense, it just crushes everything inside.

I don’t think it’s a result of the paralegal path in specific – I’m pretty sure I would feel this way about anything from cosmotology to phlebotomy to astrophysics. I would enjoy learning about them (because I’m nerdy that way) but to get a job in that field just…

Am I worried about the timeclock ruling my life? Do I feel the pressure of yet MORE being added to my plate? Am I just that childish about re-joining the workforce? Looking back, I felt like such a loser when I quit my job before giving birth. I felt down, and depressed and bitter as all hell. I felt like I was losing some important part of myself, and yet, here I am, looking at retraining to re-enter the workforce, and I’m back in the same emotional dump again.

I am scared I won’t be able to write. That I won’t have time or I’ll be too tired or something. That years will go by again before I start writing again.

I wrote before I had kids while having a full time job.

It took a few years, but I started writing again I had kids and no job.

I can still write. No one but me can stop me from writing.

I’ve got a long term plan for my writing, one that I have to believe will work out in the long run. I had that plan before I had kids, and that plan is still valid now.

Just one step at a time.

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