BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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Writing Marathon

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Yesterday we took our kid writers on a writing marathon, and it was so cool! Well, not literally. It was actually very hot, so we started early, sought shade, and ducked inside to air conditioned spaces a few times. Still, it was a great experience, and the kids came up with some interesting writing.

Our group toured the college campus where we meet, finding interesting spots to write. We looked around, found a spot, and got to work. The locations were used as inspiration, but didn’t dictate the writing. Our campus is pretty much a desert oasis, with scrubby brush, cactus, rocks, Palo Verde and Mesquite trees, and desert flowers. There are also grassy areas, and plenty of small animals. We spied white winged doves, quail, bees, ants, flies, sparrows, moths, butterflies, a hummingbird, and a jackrabbit. They’re always there, but sometimes we forget to look for them.

We found a hidden courtyard outside the library, and in the library a very cool collection of anatomy models. Heads, hearts, lungs, eyeballs, and more were available for us to explore. In summer the library isn’t very busy, and the librarians were happy to see us (and provide a band-aid for a skinned knee).

I’ve had the extreme pleasure of participating in a “real” writing marathon in New Orleans; one that took me around that remarkable city over the course of a few days. I learned that people are generous to writers. They give us space and time and sometimes wine and coffee. They are curious about our process and product. Rarely do we see writers up close, even though to a greater or lesser extent we’re all writers.

Taking these young writers on their first (or in some cases second) marathon was a way for me to share my love of writing and my fascination with our world with these young people. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.

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These writers are from a previous marathon.


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Being With Myself

Well hello there. It’s been a while, and I have so much to say. So much that I find myself tongue-tied. Where to even begin?

I’m sure you all want to hear about my battle with strep throat, and how it sucker punched me. I’m equally sure you want to know that the medication I took for it didn’t exactly agree with me on all levels. I’ll leave it there for now, and let your active imagination fill in the blanks. Or better yet, don’t.

Then there was the epic trip to The Big Easy. Yes, it deserves all of those capital letters. New Orleans is like no other place on earth, and what better way to experience it than with seven like-minded female friends in a rented house near the French Quarter. I walked, I laughed, I danced, I drank, I ate, I slept, I sang, I played. I loved that trip, and I cherish the memories we made together. Yes, even the memory of paddling in circles in our defective kayak, but that’s another tale for another time.

Of course there has been the ongoing struggle with college applications and scholarships. There are so many t’s to cross and i’s to dot that it can make you crazy. The good news is that it forced me to do my taxes early, so I don’t have that hanging over my head. The bad news is that it never seems to end. Son is still waiting to hear back from three schools, and the waiting is hard on him. Ok, I confess, I don’t like it much either.

I guess what I’m trying to share with you, in a not so organized manner, is that life has been pulling at me lately, and I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by all of its demands, both positive and negative. I’m in need of a brain break, one that doesn’t involve jazz music, or packing suitcases, or riding in a car with an inexperienced teen driver (did I mention that part? no?). One that doesn’t shoehorn in quick visits with out-of-town relatives and 30 parent-teacher conferences and trying to find time to really enjoy spending time with my mother. I know it sounds selfish to come back from a trip and ask for a break, but I need it. One where there aren’t piles of ungraded papers to greet me upon my return.

In the immortal words of Fergie, “I need to be with myself and center, clarity, peace, serenity…”

 

 


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To Swamp It or Not to Swamp It

427723 PARADE

I’m going on a trip in a few weeks with some amazing people. This trip offers me the opportunity to celebrate half a century on this planet in style. I’m so excited I can hardly stand myself.

We’re going to New Orleans (or NOLA, or N’walins, or the Big Easy, or whatever other fun nickname you’d like to give it). I was there for a wedding years ago, long before Katrina hit. It was a quick weekend with a side trips to LSU, a Civil War battlefield, and a walk down Bourbon Street. It was short, but it left a lasting impression.

This time I’m going with people who are PLANNERS! I love it, because really, at heart this isn’t me. Oh sure, I can make hotel reservations and look stuff up online, but these girls are way out of my league. There are maps and schedules and plenty of time for naps and downtime. I love this! They know where they want to go and what they want to see. I’m going along for the ride and that’s just fine with me. Well, except for the tattoo part, I’ll pass on that.

One of the big events is the kayak swamp tour. Wowza! Swimming-Alligator-closeup-of-head-with-eyes-sticking-out-above-water-surface-in-lake-at-Brazos-Bend-State-Park-Needville-near-Richmond-TX-USAIt takes place in the swamp, as in the place where alligators live. I’ve watched Swamp People and Gator Boys, and as a result I have a healthy respect for alligators and anything else that lives in that murky water. And yet… I have to do it.

But it’s a kayak tour. I haven’t been in a kayak since I was about ten years old. My fitness level is below zero, and I’m not even totally convinced that I’ll actually FIT in the kayak. I voiced my concerns to my travel group (via this crazy long messenger thread that I can barely keep up with) and immediately my fears were quelled. I’m breathing a little easier now that my main concern has become not falling out of the kayak. I’m pretty sure I can handle that.

It’s no longer a question of whether or not to kayak, it’s a matter of building up some stamina. I still have a little time before the trip. If I take a walk each day, that couldn’t hurt, right? So maybe that’s what I need to do. After all, this is about celebrating, not holding anyone back. Time to lace up those shoes and get going. New Orleans, here I come!