Tag Archives: freedom

To a Year of Living Selfishly

I’ve been feeling reflective for the last week or so. No, not the kind of reflective that makes you all shiny and highly visible so you won’t get hit by a car while you’re out doing questionable things in the dark. The kind where you look back on the past several years and realize how many significant events you’ve experienced in that time. I was going to say “endured,” but that implies they were all bad and they certainly were not. But neither were they all good.

When I say they were significant, I mean they were significantly distracting or required significant amounts of time and energy from me. Many of them I haven’t talked about over here, or anywhere else, because, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, I am a very private person. There are things I’m just never going to talk about in public spaces. Or even in semi-private ones.

But holy guacamole, it’s been one hell of a few years. Sometimes to the point where I wanted to yell, “STOP IT. I CAN’T EVEN THINK ANYMORE WITH ALL THIS. JUST. FUCKING. STOP.” It all has taken a toll, that’s for sure.

And now, suddenly, there’s nothing significant on the horizon. Not that there won’t be, because of course there will. Life happens. “It’s never nothing,” as my dad used to say. But there’s nothing scheduled or looming and I’m feeling gloriously free for the first time in a very long time. And determined.

I don’t make resolutions at the New Year, never have. So it’s sort of a weird coincidence that I’m feeling all resolute here in early January.

I was talking to my daughter about this when she and her husband were here visiting during the last week of December and it was difficult to articulate without sounding like I didn’t enjoy the hell out of many of those events. Because I did. Especially my children’s weddings, which were wonderful. But at the same time, I’m glad they’re done.

I’m delighted beyond words that my calendar is clear. The sheer relief of having no upcoming obligations is staggering.

I really hope I’m not jinxing myself by saying this, but I feel like I’ve done my time. For a while, anyway. I’ve given so much of myself to others — sometimes eagerly and with great joy and pleasure, sometimes not — but now it’s my turn.

I anticipate– no, I am determined that this year is going to be epically, gleefully selfish. I am resolved to focusing on what I want, and what I want is to write fiction. I’m going to concentrate on that pretty much to the exclusion of all else.

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So don’t anyone plan on having any dramas or crises or grand celebrations, okay? At least, not any that require my participation or attention. I’m gonna be busy over here, learning how to say “no” more often and taking care of my own needs for a change.

Who knows, maybe a few of you will conclude that’s of benefit to you as well. It’s a new year, anything’s possible.

 

Oh, by the way, if any of you want to be notified when I’ve completed said works of fiction and they’re available for purchase, you might want to sign up for my mailing list, which you can do HERE.

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Filed under goals, health and well-being, writing

Independence: FAIL

In the spirit of the holiday, I decided I would declare my independence from STUFF this weekend and indulge in a mini-writer’s retreat sort of thing. Enjoy three whole days away from the office, detach from the monotony of the familiar, cut all ties to distractions. Make some real progress with re-write number– whatever, I’ve stopped counting.

In theory: Yay, go me! In practice? Yeah, not so much.

Of course, due to budget constraints, the “retreat” part of the weekend mostly meant sitting on the other end of the couch. Which, oddly, wasn’t nearly as comfortable. Apparently I list to the left.

So I made the bold move of relocating to the couch in the other room. This caused my elderly cat to think I had died or something, given that she perched on the back of my regular spot in the family room and yowled like her little heart was breaking. What the hell does she do when I go to work? Poor thing. So, back to the same old spot, where she promptly curled up at my hip, purred and went to sleep.

Then I tried sitting at the kitchen table. This offered a nice woodland view through the bay window, but odd arm/hand angles for typing. Horribly uncomfortable, but at least I wouldn’t doze off. Not that that’s ever a problem, my writing is absolutely riveting. Ahem. Then my cat came in to sit on the floor like a dark blot of indignation just at the edge of my field of vision, glaring at me like a feline Basilisk of Doom. Sigh.

So much for trying to physically retreat from the same old rut. Well, I could still detach from all the other distractions, right? Like the internet. I’ve heard about a program called “Freedom” that irrevocably disables your internet connection for a set period of time. But that sounds so . . . restrictive. Imposed freedom. Sort of the antithesis of independence.

Besides, this seemed like such a good time to catch up on all those oh-so-informative blog posts I’d been meaning to read. I had three whole days, how long could it take? And of course I had to comment on a couple. But no twitter. Well, okay, maybe a little twitter. But no email. Everyone could just wait. Only there were a few that really couldn’t. ARRRGH!!

But the phone, I could ignore that! Except for those three people whose calls I will never ignore. And sure enough, they all called me. Or texted me. Some more than once. But it was a long weekend, certainly I could devote a few minutes, or an hour or two, to family?

So here it is late on the third day and I’ve actually made good progress in spite of the universe and my cat trying to thwart me, but not as much as I’d hoped. And I’m sitting here thinking those rebels had it easy 235 years ago — they didn’t have to worry about gaining independence from the internet or their cell phones. Probably not from their cats either. No, all they had to do was write a little declaration thing. Not like it was an entire novel. Oh, and also fend off an attacking army and kill a few thousand of their oppressors. Piece of cake. Or pie.

Oh, PIE! Something shiny! Let’s have pie! Sour Cream Blueberry Pie to be exact. It’s a July 4th tradition in my house. But wait, I’ve declared my independence from that sort of thing. Plus I figure I still have several hours left of this long weekend. Plenty of time to defeat my oppressors and be all productive.

I have an idea: YOU MAKE PIE! My daughter made this one last weekend and texted me a picture of it. She’s so thoughtful sometimes. Doesn’t it look delicious?

Here’s the recipe. My sister-in-law gave it to me years ago, but I’m pretty sure she got it from Southern Living. No idea where they got it.

SOUR CREAM BLUEBERRY PIE

Ingredients

1 egg, beaten
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (I use a bit more)
1/4 tsp salt

2-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
(you’re going to want to use a deep pie dish for this one)

Topping:

3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp butter, softened (room temp)
3 Tbsp chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine first six ingredients, beat 5 min at medium speed of electric mixer or until smooth.

Fold in blueberries (with spatula). Don’t over-stir, you’ll damage berries.

Pour filling into pie crust (I’m assuming you know to put the crust IN the pie dish before this step).

BAKE at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Combine remaining ingredients (use pastry cutter to mix flour & butter, it will be a sort of crumbly texture, not smooth, then add nuts). Remove pie from oven, sprinkle this mixture over top, return to oven.

BAKE for 10 additional minutes (or so) until topping sort of melts.

CHILL before serving. (also, store leftovers in the fridge, not that there will be any)

ENJOY.

You’re welcome!

So tell me, what traditions did you embrace over this long holiday weekend? Also, any advice you have for getting away from it all without actually, you know, going anywhere would be appreciated . . . now that my weekend “retreat” is almost over. Sigh.

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Filed under goals, holidays

Independent Tyranny

I must confess, every time I hear “Independence Day” I hear the voice of the character Hermey in the animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer show saying he wants to be “in-de-pen-dent.” I know, how terribly irreverent of me.

Yesterday while I was wasting time conducting research online, it occurred to me I couldn’t remember exactly what was written in The Declaration of Independence. Of the United States, not Hermey. Of course, I remembered the “When in the course of human events…” part and the “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” part, but I think after that was when I usually started daydreaming. I was an indifferent student of history during my school days. So I found it online [text below copied from Wikipedia] and read it.

I’d forgotten that the whole middle section is pretty much a criminal indictment. It’s a declaration to the World containing a list of crimes up with which we would no longer put, to paraphrase a famous Brit living in a different time. Reading the list, it was fascinating to me to imagine what the Founding Fathers would think of the government that has evolved from their efforts.

We don’t have a “King” and we do a passable job of replacing our President every four to eight years, but there exists in this country a faceless and ill-defined but powerfully prevalent “It” that could be inserted into this document in place of “He.” I find that disturbing.

If you get a break during your holiday celebrations — may they be filled with fun and friends and good food and safety — you should take a moment and give serious consideration to the offenses listed in this oft forgotten middle section:

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such disolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

So, what do you think? How far have we wandered from the path set for us? How thoroughly have we allowed ourselves to be once again governed by tyranny? Is that an inescapable consequence of any form of governance? Or is it “an unwarrantable jurisdiction” that we should strive to “alter or abolish” as we once declared was our right? I don’t know the answers, but I think we should be asking those questions. Once again.

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Filed under deep thoughts, holidays