Picking at the Bedspread

Today’s Daily Prompt asked what bores me…

I hate knowing what happens next. I used to evaluate screenplays for movie studios, and at a rate of 10 per week, it got so that no plot twist could surprise me. That was a long time ago, but even now, gratitude wells up whenever a book or movie surprises me, even if I otherwise loathe the piece. One reason I loved the Harry Potter series was that in all those thousands of pages and hundreds of plot turns, there were only a scant few that I saw coming.

Curiously, although I prefer surprises and novelty, I have spent most of my life as a control freak. (Working on it! Working on it!) Perhaps as my aging memory worsens I will be able to have it all:  exert control, forget I exerted control, enjoy surprise at the events I caused to unfold.

Am I kidding? Control freaks never unfold events. Control freaks have only an illusion of control.

The predictable bores me, and I detest being bored. Being bored. Saying it that way suggests that an outside force imposes the boredom. In fact, whether I get bored or not depends on me. To cop a phrase from a recent movie trailer, boredom is a choice. If I’m bored, I should be able to redirect my attention or reconstruct my attitude and eliminate the boredom.

Which all sounds fine in theory. Routine repetition is the deal-breaker.

Typically I avoid that kind of boredom by tuning out and looking inward. This has some good consequences. For example, I tune out the mind-numbing repetition of brushing my teeth – day after frigging day – and while brushing my teeth I have excellent writing ideas. Moral of that story:  if your writing stalls out, brush your teeth.

I tune out while driving. I’ve lived and worked in the same places for several years so I long ago exhausted all the new ways to commute.  But the space-out can be too complete.  On my way to work and suddenly I come to and I don’t recognize where I am.  The adrenaline jolt certainly fights boredom, but the backtracking and rewinding do not start my day well.

I still remember the first time I experienced boredom. I was a kid, it was the dregs of summer, my friends were elsewhere. I lay on the floor of my room, picking at the bedspread, overwhelmed by there being absolutely nothing I felt like doing.  I don’t remember all that much about my childhood but that moment is indelible.

Do you remember the first time you were bored?

Blogvolution

I started blogging as part of my effort to regain a writing career.  (Warning to other writers: J.D. Salinger aside, not writing for two decades will not bolster your career.)

Like most of my important life decisions – including writing novels and having kids – this one sprang from an offhand suggestion. Fortunately, impulsive decisions can be excellent decisions.

My blog’s initial purpose was to let people know my writing exists. Here’s how it was supposed to work: you read a post, you like it, you say oh look she’s got novels too I think I’ll try one. Wordpress and Smashwords stats suggest that chain of thoughts does sometimes occur!

(In other hands my blog might attempt aggressive marketing but the reality is that that ain’t me. Fortunately, my books do seem to be gradually building momentum despite this.)

When I started my blog:

  • I had considerable wariness, surely shared by most fledgling bloggers. What if I run out of ideas? What if nobody ever visits my blog? What if writing a blog keeps me from writing my novels? Fortunately – like most fears – these caused needless angst.
  • I assumed I would blog about writing but I hardly ever do.  I mention milestones for my novels (for example, today I launched a serialization of my psychological thriller ?Was It A Rat I Saw?) But I strictly write novels, so milestones don’t pop up that often. Sometimes I detail my writing techniques, but this blog will never provide advice on writing or editing.  I’ve only got this advice for other writers:

To improve your writing do more writing.

  • I anticipated a single-topic blog but instead have many.  I’ve got my preoccupations  (animals, my kids, sunrises, the ocean, epitaphs, an addict among my loved ones, patterns that prompt impromptu Rorschach tests) but I do keep adding to them. I aspire to an omni-topic blog. Although that will play havoc with my tag cloud.
  • I didn’t expect to have so many people like my photographs.
  • I didn’t expect to be staggered and awestruck by the vast number of interesting, beautiful, thought-provoking, nurturing, and hilarious blogs I have happened upon! I love being part of this sprawling yet tight-knit community. I still feel peripheral but that’s who I am.
  • I didn’t know that responding to WordPress Photo Challenges, Writing Challenges, and Daily Prompts such as  this one would be so much fun.

When Computers Are Obsolete

Today’s Daily Prompt said to envision life without computers.  At first I went Luddite and imagined a low-tech existence but that makes no sense.  I am not going to scrap the incredible capability and connectedness that I have gained from computers hand-in-hand with the internet.

When I get rid of my computer it will be because a more advanced technology has arrived.

I already know what I want. It is essentially an iPad with a great keyboard and ginormous screen.  Specifically, I want:

  • a screen of fabulous quality with a weight that is lighter than light. The screen will fold to the size of a credit card and expand to become enormous. There will also be the option to project holographically.
  • a keyboard that is as comfortable to use as a late model electric typewriter. This will be a virtual keyboard that I can set on a desk or in my lap or on a wall. The keyboard will serve as a guide when I type but my post-computer device will sense the movement and positions of my fingers rather than my touch on the keyboard.

Please let me know when my new device is ready to ship.

Como Se Dice “Better Late Than Never”

What the hey-ho, let’s start with a gratuitous video.

 

I have always loved school. Except for high school, of course – as an adult, I discovered that nobody I respected had fared well in high school, so over the years high school distress became one measure of simpatico. In fact, during my kids’ freshman year I feared – wrongly – that one of my twins might enjoy high school.  (Don’t get me wrong: I expected good grades, attendance, attitude; I just didn’t want them to limit their futures by enjoying the experience.)

But I digress. When I was a kid, I liked to play school but my friends wouldn’t say the same. When I played  teacher, I wanted them to do homework. Really. Assignments due. For some reason none of them agreed and soon my play classroom was empty. Slackers.

But I digress. After I graduated from college, I took many stray classes over the years to pursue subjects that interested me. I eventually and belatedly got hooked again and went back to earn a master’s degree.  That proved to be enough school for me. Bastante!

And yet. I always wanted to be fluent in Spanish. I love the way Spanish flows and zooms; the way you don’t say “I broke a dish” but instead “the dish broke itself.”

I wonder how close I could get to fluency? Language classes take so long to get moving, over so many terms – that has daunted me from starting anew. But if you can recommend an on-line Spanish class – drop me a comment with the details!

(The Daily Prompt wanted to know what subject could get me back to school.)

Staycations Away From Home

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 2.52.24 PM

Not somewhere I’ve stayed nor want to, but it might be affordable. (Photo credit: UrbanPhotos on Flickr.)

My favorite kind of traveling is to plant myself somewhere new and stay for a while, to get a sense of what it would be like to live there. I’m not drawn to monuments or tourist meccas, even though I know those places get famous for a reason. I’d rather wander neighborhoods, sample restaurants, find hole in the wall stores. I’ve been to Manhattan maybe 8 times, and I can’t tell you what the Statue of Liberty is like but I can give you a carefully assessed ranking of my favorite bagel joints.

A whirlwind tour of ten countries in ten days sounds awful to me, while ten days in one spot sounds like a good start.

There can be two problems with this approach. First, when you tally all the places you’ve been, the list does not grow very quickly. Second, if you plant yourself in the wrong place, you get to know a place you, well, don’t want to get to know.

I can’t be the only one who travels like this – am I?

P.S. In Manhattan, my favorite bagel joints are:

  1. Ess-A-Bagel
  2. Murray’s
  3. H & H.

(This post responds to this Daily Prompt.)

Unforgettable Lines

In yesterday’s post, I noted that I can never remember a joke’s punch line. That got me thinking about  lines that perpetually run through my head. Here are just a few. How many of these do you recognize? (answers on page 2.)

  1. I didn’t get the money, and I didn’t get the woman.
  2. I’m a stranger here myself.
  3. I can’t help it if I’m lucky.
  4. I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
  5. Is there anything you have forgotten to tell me?
  6. To be lonely is a habit, like smoking or taking drugs.
  7. You can lead a horse to water but only very rarely can you drown him and get away with it.