So far, this is it. But, wait, there will be more.
A safe place for me is more about whom than where.
It’s Tuesday evening, which often means writing with the Get-it-Done, then Published Writing Group, at Eclipse Chocolat on El Cajon Blvd. 3 of 5 of us are here this evening; 1 of us is moving to D.C. in a few weeks. I don’t know that that means we’ll have an opening we want to fill. It may mean just that we are 1 less, or it may mean that we’re using Skype to keep our group in tact. We’ve used it before; we can use it again.
Our group germinated during writing classes given by San Diego Writers, Ink and after the 2010 Blazing Laptops Write-a-thon, Brian suggested we establish a formal, ongoing group. New members were invited after a week long summer “camp” taught by T. Greenwood. Initially, we named ourselves the Get-It-Done Writing Group. But, as we gained experience and began submitting our works to various anthologies, we upgraded the name to the more optimistic Get-It-Published Writing Group.
We have submitted pieces to the SDWI anthology, A Year in Ink, Volumes 4 and 5; So Say We All’s anthology Last Night on Earth, The Paris Revue, and a few poetry foundations. Our pieces run from science fiction to fiction to poetry to historical fiction to memoir. 3 of us are currently awaiting notification from the to-be-published-in-February A Year in Ink, Vol. 5. Dylan was invited to and read her poetry at the “The Fab & Furious Queer Circus of Dastardly Delights” held in conjunction with Pride week here in San Diego, put on by SDWI and SSWA. 2 of us have pieces accepted by SSWA for inclusion in the Last Night on Earth anthology. It’s exciting. It’s nerve-racking. It’s fun.
Initially, we began the group to establish accountability. The idea being a set appointment is easier to keep and, like work-out buddies, knowing someone is expecting you forces regularity. Also, writers know it’s almost impossible to write at home: there are children to look after, spouses to entertain, dishes to wash, and phones ringing. We arranged scheduled writing times and visited different establishments, trying out the right combination of quiet, location, and time of day.
In the course of writing, and reading and critiquing each others’ work, we have become quite comfortable with each other. We’re learning each others’ stories, developing an easy intimacy, in fact. This group and these people have become, for me, a safe place to be.
NO. This is a concept a 1-year old is beginning to know and try out – a lot. At 2, it’s the stock answer to most of Mommy’s commands. So, why is NO so difficult for adults to say? Or, rather, why is NO so difficult for me to say?
I keep busy. I like to volunteer at events, for friends, and at non-profit organizations. I go to drop-in writing groups, scrapbook evenings, stitch-n-bitch afternoons, and book groups. These activities keep me involved in outside activities, keep my brain working, and get me out of the house.
The problem starts with a question.
The scrapbook lady asks if I wouldn’t like to sell the products, getting a discount, making extra money, and joining her exclusive club of sales reps. Even though my heart flutters and I remember, in a cold sweat, previous attempts to “sell” products through multi-level marketing plans, I say, “Hmmm, let me think about it” and way too soon, the inevitable, “Yes!” pops out of my mouth.
The leader of the writing group, where I go to write and to listen to author readings and to participate in book group discussions and to volunteer and to be around like-minded artsy-fartsy people, asks if I wouldn’t like to be on the Board of Directors. Adding, of course, the ego-stroking words, “We could really use someone with your skills.” Again, before I can run home and beg my husband to stop me, I say, “YES!”
And then, it’s no longer fun. It’s no longer a hobby or what I do to get away from work, which is bookkeeping. I’ve added bookkeeping to every activity. Ugh. I haven’t scrapbooked almost as long as I’ve been a consultant. I occasionally visit my drop-in writing group or take a class. But, the “yes” kind of killed the joy.
The lesson: Think first. Stay calm. Be conscious. As much as I love being part of a group, being involved and integral, my yes’s are an attempt to be everywhere, do everything, and know it all. That’s it; I want to know it all.
And when, finally, a commitment ends and I can lessen my load, I tell myself that next time I must say NO. At long last, I have time to begin a new hobby, which I throw myself into whole-heartedly. It’s exciting – I’m learning something new, having fun again, and meeting new people. Or, better yet, I can relax, maybe go on vacation.
But, just as I’m really beginning to enjoy my new hobby and before I get very comfortable, the new hobby leader smiles at me and says, “You know… you’d make a great…” and I’m hooked, once again.
In 7th grade, at Van Nuys Junior High, Room 207, I had Mr. Taylor for history. I liked Mr. Taylor and history about as much as I might like a root canal, if I were unlucky enough to have to have one. But, family I’ve always loved. Old pictures I’ve always loved. And now, putting my family into history – I’m loving that too.
My Dad’s cousin, Paula, visited my Mom in Los Angeles in January 2009. One Sunday during her stay, I drove up to Mom’s for Sunday brunch. I took with me a photo from my paternal grandmother’s parent’s 50th anniversary. I knew maybe 1/3 of the faces in the picture and hoped Paula could fill most of the blanks in my knowledge.
I was thrilled when Paula began naming each person, pointing out their spouse and any children, the birth order of the Cohen brothers and sisters, and if they had a yiddish name, what that was as well. I scribbled furiously while she rattled off each name, asked her to repeat a few, and ate brunch impatiently while thinking about getting back on my computer. After returning to San Diego, armed with this new information, I returned to Ancestry.com and found many more documents and historical information than I had with my few names and dates. It’s addictive. Once you find a new piece of information or a new person, you have more ammo to keep searching and to find one more.
Another feature on Ancestry.com is the Member Connect, where you can find other Ancestry members who are looking for the same people you are. Debra was my first connect. I wrote a short, inter-Ancestry email explaining why I thought we were a “connect” and when she responded in the affirmative, we quickly planned a get-together. Debra introduced me to Joan, who turns out to be the motherload. Joan shared with me the picture of my great-grandfather, Meyer Magit.
I’ve found a whole bunch of cousins I never knew I had. Many of whom I grew up living 20 minutes from. Another couple of cousins, these on my Mom’s side, have done huge family trees, gathered pictures my Mom had never seen, and were glad to share these with me.
It’s been exhilarating meeting new cousins. I’ve even found a Chicago contingent of cousins on Facebook. The next step is another trip to Chicago, this time with many more leads to follow, gravesites to visit, and new family to meet.
In 2011, everyone blogs. There are blogs about cooking, blogs about organizing, about using Quickbooks, about travel, and even blogs about blogging. This blog, which is actually my second (the first being a travelogue of our trip to Alaska), is about… well, unfortunately, it’s about everything. I’m taking a blogging class at San Diego Writers, Ink and as part of our first assignment, we were told to choose a niche. Ha! If only I could choose a niche. In any given week, my interests run from scrapbooking to crocheting, to movies, to writing, to photography, to genealogy, to my next get-away and where to go, to learning more about non-profits, to yoga and pilates, to blogging and, eventually, to all the subjects I don’t even know I don’t know about, yet.
Follow me on this, my journey into the world of blogging. Let’s pray for focus.