Random Thoughts from a Reality TV Show Junkie

Ok, I’m not really a reality t.v. show junkie–  but there are a few that fascinate me,  and here’s why, in no particular order:

1. Project Runway.  I love seeing how people make stuff.  I like to see how different artists / designers approach each challenge. I like to watch the designers sewing stuff–  so far beyond my junior high school home ec class sewing achievements!  and for the record I still think that Mondo was robbed!!!!

2. America’s Next Top Model.  Crazy, I know.  I’m not a model, will never be a model, didn’t take modeling in junior high school…  so why the fascination?  Mostly it’s the creative aspect of the photo shoots, how make up and lighting and body movement makes a piece of art, a photo, and realizing it’s not always the prettiest girls who take the best pictures.

3. Made. I don’t watch this one often, but when I do I really enjoy it.  I wish they had a program like this for adults– I’d sign up.  The premise is simple; the show’s (contestant? player? star?) has a dream, but lacks the self confidence and skills to make it happen…  the tuba player wants to be a football player, the overweight couch potato wants to be prom queen; you get the idea.  They are assigned a coach, and the training begins.

4. Undercover Boss. Actually I have mixed feelings about this one (and my next one).   Some CEO boss from A Big Corporation (Waste Management, 7-11, etc) goes undercover as an employee.  Then they meet some employee who works for the company for shit wages while supporting a special needs kid, a spouse with cancer and a parent in a nursing home. And the CEO is like, wow, I’m so blessed.  I can’t believe I have such awesome employees who work so hard for shit wages!  And then at the end they pass out Scholarships, Raises, Invitations to Management as if they were party favors.  At first I was like, oh, it’s so nice to see these hard working, deserving folks get a little extra, a hand up, some understanding, a bit of appreciation….  but later, I think about it and wonder.  Did these bosses really not know that there are hundreds of thousands of barely-making-it, hard-working people out there?  It takes them going undercover to realize it? Is there really so little empathy in the world?

5. Secret Millionaire.  Much like the above, only this show puts millionaires into contact with poor people.  While they are meeting these people they have to live like they poor do– in sub par apartments in marginal neighborhoods.  NO gated communities for these millionaires!  Again, it’s as if these folks are so insulated and so out of tune with, you know, fellow humans, that it takes this kind of experience to make them aware, and then pass out checks to those they feel really deserve their money.  I mean it’s great that these awesome people get money to do their charity work (the one episode I saw awarded a soup kitchen run by these awesome elderly ladies, a family run organization that re-decorates bedrooms for kids with cancer, and a music school).  But, are we really so disconnected from each other that we have to sign up to be on  “reality” t.v. show to connect with people that don’t live the exact same lifestyle as we do or have as much money as we do?  It’s weird.

Anyway, I’ll leave my fascination with The Bachelor/ Bachelorette for another day…  and get back to my writing!!

 

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Writers March Day 5

Today was not a good writing day, but it was a good writerly day.  What I mean by that is that I did a lot of activities that revolved around writing.

I started the day with my friend and DimeStories co-host Merimee Moffitt. We went to Southwest Writers monthly meeting.  I think I was the youngest person in the room!  but still, it seems like a good community based group of writers, all focused on writing, and publishing their work.

The first speaker was a gentleman, whose name of course I didn’t write down! He did a mini workshop on writing query letters.  As former publisher of Chile magazine, he certainly knew what he was talking about–lots of great tips.

The second speaker was a Jonathan Miller, author of six books including La Bajada Lawyer.  The title of the talk was Writing New Mexico People and Places. …  serendipity!  more about Place!  He talked about how to make New Mexico more than a pretty landscape in your writing and read selections from John Nichols’  The Milagro Beanfield Wars, Douglas Adams’ The Salmon of Doubt, Rudolfo Anaya’s Alburquerque, and Alisa Valdes’ Dirty Girls Social Club to show how these authors infuse their stories, their characters with Place.

Next stop was my colleague Melanie’s housewarming party, a gathering of fellow MFA students which in addition to good food always includes talk about writing.  Melanie is set to defend her dissertation next Friday–and by all accounts her book is damn near ready for publication!

Finally, Sam Tetangco–creator of The Writers’ March-– convinced Cassie and I to hang out after the party at a local cafe and get some writing done…  it’s so nice to write in the community of others, and even though we maybe didn’t get as much accomplished as we might have had we been alone, it felt good.  I managed to write some really really really bad lines of poetry.

It may not have been 5 hours of pure writing, but I’m going to count this as a win, and revise my goal once again.  Perhaps 7 days of 5 hours each day of writing–alone– is too much. It was great to be in the community of several talented, interesting, and interested writers!

 

 

Writer’s March Day 4

The Meadow by James Galvin

I don’t know for sure if I got my five hours in today or not.  I kind of lost track of time. I worked some this morning, from about 9 to 12 but the progress felt slow and painful and I was eager for any excuse to check my email or Facebook.  I think by 10:30 I’d written six actual words.  Or at least it was a net gain of six words, I may have written more and deleted some…  So I took a break to go read some of The Meadow by James Galvin.

If you have not read this book, and you’re a fan of beautiful prose, coupled with good story, then go get this book.  For me it is a nice break, and I’m hoping to emulate some of Galvin’s poetic style.

One of the things I admire in this book is how it treats place, not so much as a character in the story, though there are some elements of that, but rather as the threads that hold the stories together.  The book is about the people that have lived and worked on this meadow for a hundred years.  Each “chapter” is a short vignette about the lives of the few people who have lived on this land.  Galvin weaves between past and present, and clearly holds a love of the land, and the people who have lived there.

This makes me think about my relationship to place.  In last month’s post about home I mentioned that having grown up in a military family we moved a bit. Actually we moved a lot less than other people (my uncle, for example went to 27 schools!).  The culture was instilled in the family, however because my mother was the daughter of a Navy Commodore, the granddaughter of a Navy Lieutenant and my father was the son of a Navy Admiral.  Not only were we nomadic, we were not even “land” people. We were sea people.  Kind of.  My Navy Commodore grandfather was actually a pilot–  even more distant from the land!

I struggle with ways to incorporate Place into my writing and I’m starting to wonder if my upbringing,the military culture, doesn’t encourage a deliberate unattaching from the land.  I know that sounds strange, but I don’t know how else to describe it.  Where ever you are, there’s your home.

I’d like to learn to notice things about Place more. I have an instinctual understanding that environment affects attitude, but I’ve always thought of that more in terms of actual home environment.  A clean house versus a messy house, nicely decorated (even if on the cheap) versus plain and spartan…   but that world out beyond the walls of my house?  Not sure how to interpret it and its affects on me.

I’m going to ponder this some more….   and tell you I just got another 45 minutes in of writing!  March On!

Lest you think I only wrote that little bit, those six words in the morning, today, after lunch with a friend, I managed to get another 1000 words in.

PS:  I’ll be guest blogging over at the Writer’s March site on Thursdays. Check me out!

Intervals: a poem

One leg stands on
solid ground, the other tapping,
searching for the next foothold,
feeling naught but air.

In between now
and tomorrow
I am unsettled, my
breath shallow.

Yes, it was
a deliberate choice to insert that            space there
for it is in the space

between breaths           that change occurs.

And as I inhale           and exhale

I wonder why my heart beat is so cliché.

The thing I haven’t told you

In case you are wondering why / how I can commit to writing 5 hours each day, on February 2 my boss told me that he wanted all his “key people” in the office and working full time–that my last day would be February 18.

I guess I should feel honored that he considered me “key” but still, it was a shock. I had a bit of a freak out.  Instead of working on my dissertation, I spent the next couple of weeks finishing up work stuff (I wanted to make sure I exited with grace, dignity and professionalism), and scrambling to figure out what’s next.

I applied for a job at the LGBTQ Resource Center on campus.  Which of course entailed updating my resume, and putting out an emergency call to a few people to write me letters of recommendation (and Julie, Ralph, and Greg all came through with flying colors! thank you!!).

Then I noticed an opportunity for a scholarship through the UNM Alumni Association–  for women, for “non traditional” (that’s code for older) students, and those changing careers.  (I figured  my age, and gender, and recent job loss qualified me quite nicely).  Another quick turnaround on the application and this time Jade from the Childrens Grief Center, Greg again (my dissertation chair) and professor/ friend Sharon Warner also came through last minute with letters of recommendation. Thanks again!

So, it’s been a tough month.  Change.  It is unsettling.  And I’m trying really hard to see it as a gift– a gift of TIME.

The job at the LGBTQ Resource Center did not pan out.

But the good news is that several local friends– and friends of friends– have offered other opportunities. And while none has seemed to be a good fit, I am thankful for the friends and the community I have created here in Albuquerque.  Last month, if you’d asked  me how I like living in Albuquerque and I’d have been likely to say, “It’s O.K.”  I’d have said that I don’t love it, I don’t hate it; my heart is not here.  So now, while maybe I don’t love it, it’s more than O.K.  But I don’t know a word for that. “Like” seems so banal.

I may continue to look for job opportunities, or freelance writing gigs, my focus right now is going to be on finishing my dissertation. I’m going to focus on the writing.  And it’s scary.

Now I have to be the thing I said I was, a writer.

Writers’ March Day One

SO yesterday I joined with my friend Samantha Tetangco for the Spring Writer’s March. It’s like NANIWRIMO but not. Check it out and join us if you like.

My goal:  to write for 5 hours a day.  That sounds crazy, especially to me. It’s not that I have not written five hours in a day before, but that I’m committing to doing it everyday.  Each and every day during March.

Here’s my vision:

Awake around 7am-ish.  Hang out in bed, listen to Morning Edition on KUNM

8am-ish. Breakfast, shower, Facebook, email…

9 am – 11:30 am WRITE.  Put my butt in the chair and write.  Note that writing will include:  actual writing (either pen on paper or fingers to keyboard), reading (literature stuff– like for inspiration), editing, revising, submitting work, researching, and the obligatory staring at the computer screen.

11:30 am go to Yoga (if it weren’t for the construction project on my street, I could leave at 11:45am, but I never know how I’ll be able to get out of my neighborhood!)

1:30pm Home, lunchtime (check Facebook, email again), more writing…. in other words, during this time I have to get in another two and a half hours of writing.  Should be do-able, right?

I’ll report back…