Some thoughts for the New Year

I slept fitfully last night. Dream after dream dug up old regrets. In the course of seven hours, I managed to uncover too many insecurities: Classes I never attended, or worse, attended but dozed my way through. My undergraduate thesis, which prevented me from graduating with honors because I half-assed my way through it. Laziness everywhere. Mean words I’ve unknowingly spoken because I was too obtuse to notice. Promises made and promptly forgot. Thank you’s thought but never said, and notes never sent. Loved ones who have died without ever hearing the things I had wanted to tell them.

I popped out of bed and resolved to write more in this blog, if only because I won’t remember my life unless I write it down. I’ll wake up in thirty more years regretting everything, wondering why I did what I did, wishing I could throw a glass of ice water in my younger face and force myself to try a little harder. I need to be more aware. I don’t mean to be so flaky, I just forget things.

Somehow, I suspect that deliberately writing in this blog may help. Because when you capture your thoughts—as trivial as they may be—days don’t roll into one another and life becomes less of a blur. You remember things good and bad, and you know why you did what you did. You float less.

And maybe, with any luck, I’ll hold myself more accountable. I’ll show up on time. I’ll try my hardest, always. And I’ll thank the people I love.

Hello there, it’s me, MDIC

Hey there.

It’s me, MDIC. Remember me?

Guess what? I’m procrastinating.

So I’m back.

See, thing is, I’ve got this story I’ve got to finish up for work. Every December, the company I work for publishes a compilation of our short stories, memoirs, essays and poems.

Last year, my “story” was a hand-drawn comic about why it seems impossible to write even though I AM A WRITER. I write for a living and yet, somewhat predictably, I no longer write for me.

So I’m trying to finish up the story I started (about coming home to New York and the people who make my old neighborhood feel like home even though it’s always changing) and something’s just not quite right about it. I know what’s missing, but getting there seems impossible.

Maybe it’s because New York feels a million billion quadrillion miles away right now. Maybe it’s because the thing that I need to add to my story is more detail about how much the neighborhood has changed, and that’s a topic I don’t much like. Or, maybe it’s just because I love procrastinating and felt the need to get back to my roots.

So here I am. Procrastinating. Writing about how I’m not writing.

IN OTHER NEWS:

  • I have been cheating on MDIC by posting things elsewhere on the intertubes. For the occasional food-related story, check out Remember the Pudding. And my latest blog, Dog Doodles, where I post my drawings, paintings and doodles of my dogs and their furry friends.
  • FOR THE WORLD’S MOST ADORABLE DOG BLOG (really), you must must must visit Sage Tails. I like to read Sage’s posts out loud in my dogs’ voice, which inevitably reduces me to belly laughs and gets the dogs all riled up because dog voice, of course, means something fun might be happening.
  • I actually don’t have another news item. And for some reason, a whiff of inspiration to write has hit me, so I think I’ll head on over to the Microsoft Word department for a little typing action.

That’s all I got, folks!

Signed,
MDIC

Two posts in one week — huzzah!

No, your eyes are not deceiving you! This indeed my second blog post IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS.

What’s with the flurry of activity, you ask? Is MDIC experiencing a non-busy period of her life? Au contraire, my friends. Between work, ultimate frisbee and putting food on the table and my head on the pillow, I have nary a moment to blog.

Well, you wonder, does she have something incredibly important or timely to tell us? Nay, I tell you. Nothing more relevant than my already meaningless drivel I post on Facebook and Twitter.

So then, why, for the love of all things holy, is MDIC wasting her time updating her blog (she still has a blog?!)?

Because I am. Because it’s summer, and it’s my personal challenge again this summer to squeeze in a post or three a week — whether it’s over my lunch break or before bedtime, or heck, if by some miracle I wake up early enough for a leisurely post in the AM.

And why should you care about what I have to say? Well, you probably won’t, and that’s OK with me. Thing is, I spend every moment of my work life writing for someone else – a client, a target audience, a colleague. All that matters in this line of business is whether or not your message resonates with your audience. Which is great for marketing, but not for my personal creativity. What I want: a place where I can write what I want to write, without regard for my readers’ expectations. Selfish? Perhaps. But sometimes writing for yourself — because you need to, or just want to — is the only way to nourish that part of your writing ability that likes to have a little fun.

So follow along if you like — but I won’t be mad if you don’t. Lord knows there’s already enough useless I-ate-broccoli-for-dinner updates on these great webs of intertubes.

Why I love Twitter

A favorite blogger of mine recently explained why she no longer updates her blog regularly: “I’ve run out of things to say that I can’t say in 140 characters or fewer.”

I feel the same way.

It’s like my brain now functions only in short bursts.

Anything long-form (more than three sentences) seems extraneous.

I mean, why write a whole blog post when I can complain about a horrible salad in a quick, simple tweet?

And that tweet could be heard, potentially, by the offending restaurant that served said horrible salad?

I mean, really, soggy cucumbers are not OK.

And a wedge of iceberg lettuce should be fresh, crisp and cool when served. Not warm, deflated and mushy.

Here’s the thing that’s relieving about Twitter: it’s immediate.

I have an idea. I don’t have to come up with a narrative, a story arc, a time peg or a reason to share it.

It can be an observation, or a fleeting thought, a tiny piece of commentary, a mini-review. No pressure to make it more than it is.

The important thing (to me, if no one else) is that it’s published. Somewhere. Even if I never revisit it again, it’s out there.

The ideas that don’t get out there—the phantom blog posts I write daily in my head—those disappear.

Yes, I wish I had time to write more. 140 words. Someday, 140 pages. For now? I will blog when I can and tweet in between.

Oh, one last thing—mixing mayonnaise, ketchup and sun-dried tomatoes will not make a good salad dressing.

My new computer and the New Yorker

First things first. I now have one of these (!):

And it is wonderful. I’m kind of obsessed with it, actually. It’s pretty much the sleekest, fastest, prettiest machine I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Anyway! So there’s a book review in the latest issue of the New Yorker that really got my goat. It’s James Wood’s scathing critique of Paul Auster’s latest novel, Invisible, and of his entire body of work, which, according to Mr. Wood, is an endless stream of unimaginative novels that uses the same predictable plot twists and forced dialogue. I’m not arguing with Wood’s conclusion — I’ve only ever read one of Auster’s novels, The Brooklyn Follies, which was as quick and easy to read and as it was to forget. Nonetheless:

  1. Is it really necessary to reveal the entire structure and plot of a novel when you review it? Not that I have any intention of reading Invisible, or any of the other books mentioned, but if I ever did there certainly would be no reason to now.
  2. At some point, a book reviewer has to make an executive decision: “Do I want to sound like a cranky old windbag, or not?” James Wood may detest Paul Auster’s fiction, but he sure has read a LOT of it. If he can’t find something nice to say about his work, then perhaps he should just stop reading it.
  3. Excessive name-dropping: WTF? I’m not sure I’ve ever read a review of a book in the New Yorker that doesn’t refer to about fifteen other authors. These dropped names often serve no purpose, it seems, other than to prove the reviewer’s literary cred.
  4. Forgive me, but does this mean anything to you? “[Philip] Roth’s narrative games emerge naturally from his consideration of ordinary human ironies and comedies; they do not start life as allegories about the relativity of mimesis, though they may become them. [José] Saramago and Roth both assemble and disassemble their stories in ways that seem fundamentally grave. Auster, despite all the games, is the least ironic of contemporary writers.” Translation: “I have more education than you do, and Auster isn’t as talented as Roth or Saramago. Also, the cartoon you see on the next page doesn’t make any sense to me either. Just pretend you get it — everyone else does.”

If there is something that can be said in five words, the New Yorker will say it in twenty and weave in at least seven that you’ve never even heard of. It’s simultaneously humbling and infuriating.

And on that note, I think I’ll go back to ogling my beautiful new laptop…

Summer challenge: biweekly posting!

This morning in the shower I brainstormed ways to make blogging a regular part of my life again. Considering that I don’t even have time these days to cook a decent dinner, options are limited. Here’s the Summer Challenge I came up with:

I pledge to stop scarfing my lunch while reading the Internet cover to cover. Instead, I will post a blog entry (while scarfing food), preferably twice a week.

Note that this is similar to the “I will go to the gym during lunch (before scarfing food), preferably twice a week” commitment I made three months ago and have yet to fulfill even once. However, this new commitment is easier AND comes with the added bonus of giving me yet another excuse NOT to go to the gym.

The best days at work for lunch-blogging are Monday and Wednesday, so check back frequently. With any luck, I will be fulfilling my promise AND will have interesting things here for you to read.

And now we’ll return to our semi-regularly scheduled programming

I know, I know. It’s been nearly a month since my last confession blog post. In the last week, I’ve received a nagging email and a nagging Facebook wall post from two of my most dedicated readers alerting me to this sin.

But, you see, the sun has started to come out. It’s that time of year when us Northwesterners remember what a fantastic place we live in, and we celebrate it profusely, namely by not EVER going inside when we don’t have to be. For instance, last weekend I rejoiced the end of the rainy season by going camping along the glacial runoff of the Little North Santiam River (pictures and a movie of Calla chasing butterflies to come, with any luck). This weekend? Hikes and barbecues and frisbee and gardening.

Note that none of these activities involve the computer. That’s because my job requires that I sit and stare at a computer for 8-hour stretches. Astigmatism and carpal tunnel are side effects of my work. So when I get home and it’s not raining? I don’t sit in front of the computer.

(Truthfully, I’m simply making excuses for having absolutely nothing to say.)

However, should you need reading material in my absence, rest assured that MDIC’s online presence extends beyond the reaches of this little website. You can also find me:

And, should that list prove to not exhaust your patience with my opinionated self, there’s always my Twitter feed.

In the next edition of MDIC’s semi-regularly published blog, I’ll tell you about my star-studded week, which includes an encounter with both Indiana Jones and Encino Man.

Until then, I’ll be working on my tan.

Yours,
My Dog is Chelsea