Monday, July 26, 2010

Returning from the Flood

On Friday I actually did accomplish sending some poems out, some to magazines I had been meaning to for almost 2 months. On the one hand, this tells me I need to send work out more often, on the other, it annoys me how long it takes. I used to be able to print out paper copies of all my poems, tweak cover letters, and print out addresses on envelopes, all in about 3-4 hours for about 10-12 packets of poems. On Friday it took me 3.5 hours to send out 2 packets and a chapbook submission--electronically. The problem is, every magazine that takes electronic submissions has a different process and requires a lot more than changing an address and stuffing envelopes. While I love the Internet, in some ways I prefer the old paper process.

Our lovely suburb of Westchester had some flooding problems this weekend. We got a few trickles of water in our basement but feel lucky; some friends of ours had 5 feet of water in their basement. It feels like something of a close shave, since we bought our house last summer, and we spent a lot of July 2009 looking at houses in the areas that were flooded.

On Sunday I felt flooded on another front--everything having to do with the wedding planning. All of these decisions and money to be spent feels overwhelming. This might be in no small part because I keep putting off things, so they feel like they're piling up. I decided that I need to just get moving on these things, so that as much can be considered "done" as possible. It may be a fantasy that I will have virtually everything done a couple weeks before the wedding, but I certainly don't want to put off everything and then having a breakdown! Basically, I need to stop saying "Ooh, I should do that," and start knocking this stuff out. Buy the stuff that needs to be bought, make the decisions that need to be made.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Things I'd Like To Do Before the Summer Ends

IttyBiz has an interesting article on eating an elephant one bite at a time, that is, tackling an impossibly huge task one step at a time, just by jumping in and doing the first job that needs doing, then moving on to the next, etc. It's a good reminder that you don't have to have everything worked out in advance. Sometimes the toughest thing is just getting started, getting the momentum working for you instead of against you.

My to-do list is filled with things that have to be decided, purchased, or just plain done by certain dates. If you've ever planned a wedding, you know how this is. Every vendor you work with needs a certain amount of lead time, you're dealing with delivery time, you have to purchase shoes before the dress fitting, etc.

If I was not planning a wedding, I would have a whole lot more time to do things I just want to do, party-planning aside.

1) I am going to knock out the books I cleared off my to-be-read shelf. Either I will read them or I will read enough of them to know I shouldn't bother, but one way or another they will find another home besides the top of my dresser. This amounts to a few hours here and there, but it can be tough to find them.

2) I will brew a batch of beer. This one intimidates me, because it involves buying supplies and equipment and doing something for the first time. It also involves planning, and since all of my planning energy seems to be taken up right now, I haven't gotten this done. But other than the shopping trips this involves just and afternoon's worth of work. Doable.

3) I need to get into the habit of sending out work. I have some out right now, but a few packets came back and I need to send them out again. I have tomorrow off, so that looks like a good opportunity.

Hey elephants! I'm lookin' at'chu.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Confession Tuesday

It's Tuesday. Time to come clean.

1) I really did intend to get a lot of wedding things out of the way on Friday and Saturday, but problems came up and things didn't get done. We didn't get the rehearsal dinner space saved, because I'm not happy with the pizza place's basement party room and too many people have complained about the space at the restaurant I want to have it. We did not get the wedding bands purchased, though admittedly they are picked out. Invitations are not finalized, because we are missing certain pieces of information. I continue to put off contacting our florist about pricing out things like a church runner, flowers for the cake, and table center pieces.

2) The past two Sunday nights, I have messed up in orders I have placed, not noticing as extra charges have been tacked on or if promised discounts were appropriately applied. This is me being careless and wanting to get things done (to a degree, not wanting to do them at all, just wanting them to BE DONE).

3) I haven't been making to-do lists lately because I end up not doing 9 out of the 10 things on them. But without lists, things don't end up getting done either. I need a new way of making sure things get done. Advice?

All of my guilt is tangled up in buying and planning. Once again, I remind myself to simplify, delegate, and go for easy decisions. I know I will be happier with a wedding day that is less harried, more serene, so I can grab a few moments to actually enjoy it.

New Poem Monday

I sometimes find I miss being in a poetry workshop. At the time I left school, I was pretty much done with workshops--done as in D-U-N done. I knew what had to be done with a poem once I thought about it some. Many times in workshops I would get advice from people who didn't understand what I was going for or they would say "Great! Love it!" which isn't particularly helpful either.

But this is Monday's revision effort, based on a draft from a couple months ago. I suspect it isn't done yet, but I think it needs a little air.

Think Again

Proofs can be stuffed into a satchel;
if only one could carry around
understanding in a canvas bag.
In a book untouched for fifteen years,
I find an old note used as a bookmark.
The back has half a recipe for
your mother's green bean casserole,
breaking off mid-word. We launch
and return, reserves reduced to fumes.
Call me Flash Gordon, a satellite
whose orbit always returns me to you.
I lace up my clodhoppers and step
across this cluttered earth, hauling
ledgers filled with figures and formulae
to justify enumeration: one, two, three--
bang. No matter how I twist the page,
memories reinforce the connection.
I am as familiar with your life today
as I am with the surface of the moon.

Questions, comments?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What I'm Reading

Several weeks ago, I took a stack of books off my to-be-read shelf and moved them to my dresser. They were books that had sat on my shelf for about 15 years on average, and I was tired of looking at them. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to read them, but I was certain that I wanted them to be done and off my shelf. Then hopefully sent to Paperback Swap or sold on, where I'd end up getting more books... but hopefully ones I was actually interested in reading.

I finished the following books:
Collected Poems by H.D.
All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C.S. Lewis 1922-1927
C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences by James T. Como
The House of Seven Gables by Nathanial Hawthorne
Tibetan Meditation: Practical Teachings and Step By Step Exercises by Tarthang Tulku
several volumes of Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE by CLAMP

I'm still reading:
We the Living by Ayn Rand
A Floating Life: The Adventures of Li Po: An Historical Novel by Simon Elegant
Dreamfall by Joan D. Vinge
Collected Poems by Yevgeny Yevtsushenko
Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath

Haven't yet started:
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In the American Grain by William Carlos Williams
A Perfect Vacuum by Stanislaw Lem

I feel stalled out on these books, and I really want to throw myself into some trashy fantasy or science fiction novels. Even Dreamfall, which is classic cyberpunk, feels boring right now. I really can't stand Ayn Rand, but I can't say she's a boring writer. A Floating Life should be the easiest to knock off because it's the shortest, but it has its lulls.

For the past couple months, every quiet day I can spend at home, I usually spend it reading. I'm in a phase where I want to take in as many books as I can. If I could swallow them whole or sleep with them under my pillow and soak them in that way, I would. I seek out things to read while I'm at work. I'm absolutely loving T.A. Pratt's serialized novel Broken Mirrors, the 5th book in the Marla Mason series. (I read, I donated, and you should too!) The next book I might tackle is Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow. There's so much great stuff out there, but I also feel this need to take in as much as I can, regardless of quality, as long as it entertains me on some level, however slightly.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Accomplishment Friday

I often find lately that I miss doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). NaNowriMo is a project in which one commits to writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, the month of November. I wrote my first novel in 2002 while simultaneously studying for Level 3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam. I completed the novel but failed the exam... which suits me fine, actually.

I miss the sense of having a project going in my head, as well as the sense of accomplishment from meeting my word goals and being on target with getting something done. As much as I want to write, though, the looming sense of wedding deadlines keeps me from really immersing myself in a project. There is too much money involved, too many people I'm accountable to with regard to this wedding, not the least of which is my fiance David. A wedding isn't the most important thing in the world, but it's certainly the biggest party I'm ever going to throw in my life, and I'm not what you'd call a natural-born party planner.

Writing a novel is more fun than planning a wedding. You don't have to listen to anyone else's opinions (at least in draft stage), and you don't have to please anyone but yourself. There's a lot less stress with money involved in writing a novel. As long as you have something to write on (a PC, a typewriter, a notebook), you're off to the races. There's no agonizing over whether you can afford to buy this or that, which fits with the theme. If something fits your novel's theme, you just write it.

All of the things I've been working on this week for the wedding seem to be still in progress. We haven't made a decision yet on the rehearsal dinner location, the invitations, the wedding bands, or the ceremony music. We did finally get our engagement photos back, and they turned out pretty well. David and I are going in to make the final decisions on picking out the wedding invitations tonight and hopefully shop for wedding bands. Reception dinner tasting is tomorrow. Hopefully by tomorrow afternoon many things will be resolved.

Still, I remember last year when I was doing the Poetry Postcard project, writing a poem a week (more or less). They're doing one for August this year, but I don't think I will be able to do it. I feel an acute sense of responsibility when it comes to taking on a project like that--if I say I am going to do it, I'm darn well going to do it. As it is, I know how uninspired I feel and how generally stressed out with looming deadlines and the fear of forgetting something.

One thing I did accomplish this week was starting this blog, which I had been considering doing for quite a few months. I don't know if it will turn into anything of value, but I won't know until I try.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


A lot of compromise is involved in planning a wedding. Unless you are marrying someone who has no interest at all in the appearance or events of your wedding day, you are going to want certain things, the other person is going to want certain things, and decisions are going to have to be made.

Ironically, though, the more I try to compromise, the more I'm finding we are spending. Some decisions are binary: you are only going to have one wedding reception, so you only get to choose one venue. Some things are geared more towards the bride or the groom, so it's clear who should make the decision: usually, the bride picks her dress, so there's not a lot of discussion from the groom involved.

Whether or not to spend $500+ for a limo, though, simply adds another line item to the budget and another vendor to worry about. It's a challenge to say I want decisions made so I don't have to handle everything, but I also want my wedding day to be as stress-free as possible. I want to make decisions now which will make the 48 hours leading up to my wedding very simple and straight-forward, where responsible people are taking care of things and I can just show up and say "It looks beautiful!"

There are so many details to spend money on for a wedding. I'd like to say that the ones I want are ones I can put in an expert's hands and trust that they will use them to best effect. I have a list as long as my arm of things I need to buy before the wedding, yet I keep yearning to simplify. If I'm spending money on something, I want someone besides me to know it's even there. Does any wedding guest really care about chair covers or fanciness of centerpieces or monogrammed napkins? Simplify, simplify, simplify.