Loisanne's Blog

The meandering path of my life

Book Review: Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

This is my first book review for my blog. It probably won’t be the last, though. I have discovered the local library. While it is just a small town library and they don’t have much available for immediate check-out, the staff there are very helpful and friendly, and they are great about helping you find what you want at another library and having it shipped in.

So, while my preference is to buy the books I want because I would like to keep them, I don’t always find myself financially able to do that (at least not until I become a famous published author). The library is the next best thing. I really don’t like having to give them back, especially the book I’m going to be talking about today, but one does what one must.

Anywhoo, on with the show!

BIRD BY BIRD, by Anne Lamott

This was one of the most awesome books I have ever read. No lie. This is a book on the writing process. It’s not so much a technical look at writing as a psychological/philosophical/emotional look at it. Anne Lamott is a skilled surgeon with her pen when it comes to looking inside a writer’s heart and mind and identifying  those idiosynchrasies, those fears, those needs, that form a common bond with all who write.

Anne Lamott makes a writer feel like they are not alone, that all those thoughts and feelings and dysfunctions are normal. You’re not crazy (or if you are, you’re in good company). She makes you say “Oh my god, I’ve done that” or “I feel that way too” or “I have that same problem”, over and over as you read this book. She makes you stop berating yourself for being what you are and makes you say “hmm…so I’m normal. Cool.” It frees up a lot of mental “room” so you can spend more time writing.

This isn’t only a book for writers though. There are lessons and laughs for all who read this wonderfully engaging book. Anne has a great sense of humor and it shows in her writing. This book had me chuckling out loud on many occasions. Anne shared many excerpts from her personal life and at times I had the feeling I was attending a dinner party where she was the guest of honor and she was regaling us all with tales of laughter and woe from her past. And while the funny parts had us all in stitches, the woeful ones were told in such a way as to impart to us “yeah, shit happened. I found a way to deal with it”, which made us all feel that “shit happens” bond with her and want to cultivate her “I found a way to deal with it” attitude.

I have to say, I have become a huge fan of Anne Lamott just by reading that one book. She has several more to her fame. In future, I may be doing reviews of those too. If you’ve read this or any other of her books, I would love to hear what you have to say about them. I would also like to encourage anyone to suggest books , on the subject of writing, that I may find helpful. 

I hope I have encouraged at least one person to read Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird.

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March 31, 2010 Posted by | book review | , , | Leave a comment

Venting Philosophically

Today I need to vent…in a philosophical way. I can do it philosophically today, because I have mostly (not completely) got over my anger.

What do I need to vent about, you ask?

My work situation. I love what I do, cake decorating is a fun, creative job. It’s a job though. That’s not what I have to bitch about. It’s the job environment.

In the bakery department of the grocery store where I work, there is a stressful aura that surrounds us all, sometimes hardly noticeable, sometimes heavy, that emanates from our manager. She cultivates it, feeds off it. I haven’t figured out WHY she likes to breed discontent and hostility, but she goes out of her way to do so. Mostly, it all seems like she doesn’t know what she’s doing…like it’s unintentional, but if you’ve been around her for any length of time and know her at all, you realize it is just deception. The woman gets something out of causing people to resent each other, ruining their plans, making life harder for them in general. Maybe she’s miserable and as the saying goes, misery loves company.

I don’t know. I’ve thought and thought about it and can come up with no explanation other than she’s miserable and has some really bad mental/emotional problems. Not good qualities in a boss. It’s very counter-productive in a workplace. This isn’t a playground where you’re the queen and can play favorites or bully people.

 What brought all this on? I’m getting there…LOL.

About a week ago, I mentioned to this “boss”, the wonderful, helpful attributes of one of my coworkers. I told her how this person was very helpful and instrumental in getting product (decorated cakes) out into the cases (cakes in the cases mean more sales, more sales means more money, more money means more hours for the employees). I told this “boss” how grateful I was and how this coworker does more to help me out when I’m really busy than the other employees. I just wanted her to know about things that happen when she’s not there. I thought I was doing something good. NOT.

I found out a couple days ago, from the coworker who’s praises that I sang so beautifully, that she was taken aside by said “boss” and told that she was not to help me in future.

Now are you starting to understand where I’m coming from?

I couldn’t believe my ears when she told me that. I felt terrible for having said anything at all. I was so angry and upset. First, for the fact that my coworker got in trouble for doing something nice, something that was good for the bakery, something that she had the extra time to do. Second, that my “boss” cared less about the bakery than I did, she didn’t care if there was product to sell or not, and obviously didn’t want to promote teamwork among the employees.

Knowing this “boss” the way I do, I can’t really say it shocked me, but it really angered me. How is a person supposed to be concerned about their work, care about doing a good job, when their “boss” doesn’t, when their boss seems to be working AGAINST that goal? It’s very disheartening.

My coworker quit the day she told me what happened. Her day went from bad to worse (which doesn’t take much when you’re persecuted by your “boss”) and she just walked out. I applaud her. I wish her all the best. I hope she finds a much better job than she had, with a boss that appreciates her.

That said, I believe there is a reason, a purpose for all things. I have to believe there is a better job out there waiting for my coworker and the Universe had to give her a push (out of this job) in order for her to find it. I believe the Universe works that way. I believe this “boss” of mine has a purpose as well. It’s sad that she is the way she is, she can’t be happy, but there has to be bad as well as good in the Universe. We learn and grow from the conflict and difficulty in our lives. If we never faced any problems we would be soft and spoiled. It is the hard times we experience that make us appreciate the easy. Everything has purpose. I learn that more and more all the time.

So, what lesson or purpose do I think my “boss” serves for me?

Compassion and pity. When the anger of the moment goes away, I feel sorry for her. I think her purpose for me is to “see” the flawed person that she is and wish for her to be a better one. Sounds easy, but it’s not. There are so many things to be angry with her for, so many reasons to wish bad things on her, paybacks, that it’s hard to put those aside and wish good for someone like that. I think that’s my lesson though. I’m working on it. I’m trying.

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Friends, Life, Work | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life is good

Yes, you heard right, life is good. Remember this…I may need you to remind me in future…LOL.

You may not think “my” life is good, but it could be worse. Yes, my laptop just crapped out on me. Yes, my washing machine just died. Yes, my refrigerator decided to join them and stopped working as well. All this on top of my downward spiralling finances that makes me wonder where exactly the bottom is and how close I am to getting there.

But, for some reason, I am in good spirits. My old computer, pretty much stored away in my sons room, seems to be working good enough to get online so that’s a plus. My coworker’s son knows a lot about computers so he’s going to try and fix mine. My Brother is going to get a new washer and dryer so I may try and buy his old washer. If not, there’s always the laundromat. The fridge is another matter. I think it may just be the outlet where it’s plugged in. I say this because I tried to turn on a lamp that is plugged into an extension cord that is plugged into the same outlet and it’s not working. So, I’m going to try and move the fridge out enough to check that possibility. Keep your fingers crossed.

As for the financial bit, I will do the best I can with what I have. That’s all I can do.

It may seem strange, but I have this feeling that everything happens for a reason. I believe that. It makes me try and find that reason, that lesson. It also helps me to accept all those irritating things that happen to us in life. Those things happen and there’s nothing we can do to prevent them. It’s no use wasting time and energy crying or worrying about them. Besides, it clouds your judgement.

Hmmm…maybe all my reading and searching into buddhism, taoism, native american spirituality, etc.  has had a positive effect on me. I like to think so.

One of the things I’m excited to see what will come of it in the future is my friendship with my Pen Pal, Marty. I probably put to much import into us becoming pen pals, but I have to believe there is a reason for it. I have no idea what it might be at the moment, but it’s exciting to wonder about it. Maybe some day we’ll end up being more than just pen pals. Maybe he’ll come visit me and I’ll introduce him to the love of his life. Maybe I’ll go visit him and decide that England is where I want to spend the rest of my life and I’ll decide to move there. Or maybe it will make me appeciate living in the U.S. Whatever happens, I hope we remain friends forever. Marty is an awesome guy and I’m having a great time getting to know him.

You know, maybe my whole vegetarian diet thing is having a good effect on my mental/emotional state. It’s not exactly the healthiest vegetarian diet…but one thing at a time.

Well, it’s time for me to end this edition of “See how crazy I am?”. I have an 11 year old that’s waiting impatiently for me to play UNO with him. So, if I want to get to bed at a semi-reasonable hour tonight, I must go and do my duty.

Oh yeah, the writing is still going good. Also, I just got a book from the library this evening, about writing. I can’t wait to read it. I hope it gives me some good tips.

Ok, I’m really done now.

End of line.

(LOL, sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I just watched Tron again a few days ago. Good movie)

March 18, 2010 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

Pardon me while I bitch…

I’m sorry. I don’t usually give in to this sort of behaviour, and I hate it when other people do it, but I just have to vent. There has been so much irritating stuff happening lately that I just can’t hold it all in.

Yes, I do wonder if it’s really just me that’s irritable…LOL. Possibly. I DO believe I AM premenopausal. Either way, the result is the same. I need to VENT.

So….where to start?

How about the lady customer at work the other day? She comes up to the counter, Christina helps her (for about a half hour, mind you) and she finally gets her cake ordered. Fast forward. I make the cake yesterday. It’s a 1/4 sheet cake, shaped into a “21”. It’s pink, purple and yellow, with balloons on it at well. It was hideous. It’s what the order form said she wanted though. She comes to get the cake. She doesn’t like it. It “wasn’t what I expected it to look like”. I asked her what she thought it was supposed to look like. She says, “I don’t know, it’s just not what I pictured.” At this point, I really wanted to tell the bitch…ummm….lady….that I was not a freaking mind reader. I refrained. She didn’t take the cake.

Next (and these are not in any sort of chronological order), we are out of dish soap in the bakery. We get our supplies every Thursday. It was Saturday and we were out of soap. Someone should have put that on the order list. What really pissed me off about this was that just a couple of weeks ago (if that long) we ran out of soap. I would think that if you ran out of something, you’d make sure you didn’t do that again. Wrong. Mallory (our assistant) has been doing the ordering. I think I pissed her off yesterday when I said, “I don’t know who ordered supplies last time but we are out of soap, AGAIN.” She replies, “well, you should say something Tuesday when the order goes in.” I reply to her, “I wasn’t here Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday”. I would have liked to tell her that it’s not my job to make sure she does her job. She’s got an order guide. All she has to do is go down the list and check each item to make sure we have enough to last the week. How hard is that? I kept my mouth shut though. That would have been a little TOO harsh. I’m really not a mean person.

Onward.

This involves my friend/coworker Tamara. She’s a sweet girl, 22, who has a wonderful personality…funny, vivacious, giving, somewhat extroverted. She’s very pretty too, if somewhat on the chunky side. Unfortunately, she has terrible luck with boyfriends/husbands. She’s been married once and has been divorced about a year now. He cheated on her. Her last boyfriend was an asshole and ended up hitting her before she broke it off with him. She’s now with another loser. No, he doesn’t hit her or even talk to her bad. He doesn’t have a job though and lives with his Mother. He’s 33 and has a 12 year old son. Tamara is crazy about him, but she’s already mentioned things about him never wanting to have sex….always being tired (don’t know why, he doesn’t work)….not wanting to go anywhere with her without taking his son. These are just a few of the “problems”. It’s very frustrating to see her making allowances for him and doing all the compromising. She buys his cigarettes, makes dr. appointments for his kid, takes his sorry ass out looking for work (he doesn’t have a car), and has probably spent a lot of her income tax refund on him. Every time she calls him he seems to have been asleep, no matter what time of day.

ARRRRRGGGGHHHH!

I told her she needs to lose this dude. I told her I was telling her this because I cared about her too. She deserves much better. She’s a wonderful girl and she’s being wasted on someone that doesn’t appreciate her. She’s working and going to school and she’s going to go places in her life. She doesn’t need that guy hanging around her neck, dragging her down.

Whew! It feels better getting that out. Maybe now it won’t bother me so much.

Hahahaha….right.

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Friends, Life, Work | , | Leave a comment

Just another post…or is it?

 

It might be. I have no idea. I didn’t start this post with any sort of topic in mind. I guess I could talk about my day. There’s not much to distinguish it from a thousand other days I’ve had though. It was busy. I had the same routine that I have just about every day I work. There really wasn’t anything to make it stand out, good or bad, as days go.

It was payday, not that that’s anything to get excited about. The house payment pretty much takes care of this one. Hopefully, next payday will provide a little extra so Joseph and I can go see Alice in Wonderland. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

It seems to have got cold again. I’m not very happy with that fact…as I sit here shivering. The hot cup of coffee I’m sipping isn’t doing much to help. I’m sure if I got off my ass and moved around a bit it would help immensely. Unfortunately, my feet and ankles seem to be protesting this evening. I can’t blame them. If I stood on you all day, you’d protest too.

I think I shall endeavor to make some muffins this evening. Chocolate chip muffins. I only have one banana nut muffin left, so I need to make something for breakfast. It’s either chocolate chip or pumpkin muffins. Since Jared will be helping me…it’ll probably be the chocolate chip ones…LOL. That’s ok. I’ll do pumpkin another time. Or maybe lemon. I love lemon. I’ve even thought about doing coconut. If you haven’t yet noticed, I’m really into muffins right now. I’ve been thinking of all sorts of varieties I can make. I love muffins. Untill recently though, the muffins I’ve consumed have mostly been store-bought. Then I made a batch of blueberry muffins from a mix and was surprised at how perfect they turned out. So I started making some from scratch. Perfect again! I’m hooked.

Things are really going smoothly on my writing. I’ve been writing down outline every break I have at work. It’s awesome. I think I’m nearing the end of the complete story…or am I? I may leave a loose end that could lead to another story. Who knows? It’s so exciting to feel like I’m accomplishing something though. I just wish I didn’t have such troubles with my hands. Sometimes it’s hard to write much in my notebook at work because of….well…work. It wreaks havoc on my hands. Typing isn’t so bad, but I like writing down ideas in my notebook. The idea/outlining stage works better for me if I write by hand. Oh well, such is life. Some day it would be nice if I didn’t have to do anything else but write. I have the perfect secluded place, just no peace and quiet…LOL. I have kids.

Kids grow up though, don’t they? Unless their boys (and mine are) then they never grow up. Joseph is (technically) a legal adult though. He’s 18…almost 19. Jared is a bit behind him at 11…almost 12. Their birthdays are a week apart in June. My little June bugs. I know that one of these days they will both be grown and gone with families of their own…but right now it seems like a long way down the road…LOL. Especially when Jared can’t go 5 minutes without coming in here and pestering me.

Well, I guess that’s all for tonight. I guess I was pretty much all over the place here and didn’t really have anything to say. I just felt like talking though. And not to anyone in particular. Just myself. That way I don’t have to worry about anyone else butting in and making me lose my train of thought (like I need another person to cause that…LOL…as you can tell from this post).

Ciao for now!

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Family, Life, Work, Writing | Leave a comment

I feel Spring in the air!

Can you feel it? Can you smell it? Spring is coming! I am SO ready for it too. Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous. Of course, I had to work all day, but I managed to dig deep and find a little energy left inside me to go out an work on cleaning my little yard pond.

Yay me!

Let me tell you, it was no easy task. I’m still not done with it, but since today is not at all like yesterday (it’s windy, overcast and occasionally wet), I shall wait till tomorrow to finish cleaning it. It’s mostly done though. I wrestled the great, tentacled beast of a water lily out of it’s murky lair and set about breaking it into much more manageable pieces. The result: I now have more water lily plants than I know what to do with. I shall endeavor to pawn them off on friends and family. I hope someone takes them…I’d hate to see them just get thrown away. They have such lovely pink flowers.

Also…

I’ve been writing again!!! I know, shocker…LOL. It feels good though. It’s mainly just more outline stuff. I do believe I’m getting close to the end of the outline for what would have been book 2. I say “would have been” because I’m not so sure now that it’s going to be more than one book. I look back at the stuff I’ve written and see that there is a lot of it that will have to be cut out. As I learn more about writing, I see things that I’ve done wrong. I see ways to make my writing better. Hopefully, I’ll see it BEFORE I actually write a bunch of stuff that I don’t need instead of AFTER…LOL.

But it doesn’t really matter…because I’m WRITING again. I’m so excited! I have great ideas too. For example, I can’t wait to write about “crap turtles”. And I’m dying to write the “death scene”. I hope I make myself cry when I write it. It’s got to be heart-breaking. No, I”m not going to tell you who dies…LOL. You’re not going to like it though.

I still have a long way to go, even with just the outline, but I’m getting there and it’s so exciting. It’s probably a good thing it’s taking me so long, because I’ve come up with new, better ideas for some parts. I hope I can do this story justice with my writing. If so, it will be a fantastic tale for young and old alike.

I must be a writer…I’ve got a mountainous ego…LOL.

Ok, enough for now. Life and responsibilities intrude.

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Life, Writing | , , , | Leave a comment

Gotta new Koosh ball

 

Today, the store got some new goodies…giant koosh balls! Yes, I got one. I couldn’t resist. The koosh ball has special significance to me, as you might already know, if you’ve read that post. I have been playing with it all evening.  I can’t seem to keep my hands off it…LOL. It’s squishy and stretchy and I love it.

Ok, now that I have that out of my system, we can talk about something else.

I’ve been writing again! Ok, so I haven’t written much actual story, but I’ve been going to town on writing more outline. I’ve been coming up with all sorts of good ideas. I’m so excited.

I haven’t really had as much time to write as I would like to because of the kids and work. Work has been especially busy. I don’t know what’s going on, but cake sales have really picked up. It’s been really hard to keep things filled. I can’t complain too much though, I’ve been bumped up to 40 hours again…woo hoo! I will probably even get some overtime this week because Teresa feel today and hurt her elbow. She won’t be back till at least Wednesday, if she’s released. She won’t be back long though before she has to leave for surgery on her leg…from another fall she had…after her first day at work. That one happened at home though. She’s a bit accident prone I guess.

Anyway, I may be getting lots of overtime when she gets her surgery done. I’m going to miss her though. She’s a great worker and fun to work with. She needs to get her surgery taken care of though. They say it’ll fix her up better than ever. I hope so. She’s worried about it. She’s afraid something will go wrong and it will be worse than it is now.

Well, I think I better stop for now. It’s been difficult just writing this bit.  Kids and privacy don’t mix…LOL. So, I have to apologize if things seemed a little disjointed. It’s hard to concentrate when you have someone talking to you constantly about nonsense.

I’ll try again tomorrow…maybe.

March 5, 2010 Posted by | Friends, Life, Work, Writing | 1 Comment

A new day full of possibilities!

Sounds pretty positive, doesn’t it?

I actually FEEL positive today. It’s not that I don’t feel positive every day, it’s just that today I feel positive about positive things…LOL. I just feel really good today. It’s a great feeling too. I love it. I want to keep it forever.

I remember feeling this good long ago…then I got in a relationship…LOL. No, I’m not going to blame everything on someone else. It’s me. I just don’t do relationhips very well. They make me feel trapped…or maybe it’s just the relationships I’ve had that make me feel trapped. Either way, it just didn’t suit me. I’m too much of a free spirit and I find that men seem to want to put fences up and turn you into a slave…or their Mommy. Sorry, I already have kids. I know, harsh.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I feel good. I feel like accomplishing a lot of things today. I want to clean house, paint, work in my yard, cook, write and maybe even take some time to pamper myself. Yeah, a lot to do in just one day. Well, I have to confess, as much as I would like to do all those things, painting and yard work will probably be the ones to fall to the wayside.

I could surprise myself though. That’s the beauty of it. There’s a whole day before me…hours and hours of it…just waiting to be taken advantage of. What will those hours bring? I have plans for those hours, to be sure…but when do plans go….well…..according to plan?

Don’t you find it at least a little bit exciting? Today could bring wonderful surprises. Who knows? A few days ago, I found a friend (online) that I went to school with when I was young. That was a great surprise. You just never know what’s around the next corner.

To tell the truth, I’m really not expecting much in the way of surprises today. I’m focusing more on accomplishments. It always makes me feel good to accomplish something. I’m sure everyone is like that. I have to fight with myself sometimes to get things accomplished though. Silly, isnt’ it? I mean, it feels so good to accomplish something, whether it’s cleaning a fridge or organizing a book shelf or fixing a casserole to take for my lunches for the week…that you’d think it would be the easiest thing in the world to do those tasks. Not for me though. At least not usually.

I wasn’t always this way though. Like I said before, I used to different. Relationships don’t do good things for me. I used to be more energetic and motivated. I used to keep my house uncluttered and looking good…most of the time, anyway…LOL. I want that back. Today, it feels like I’ve got it. I’m gonna roll with it. I just wish I had the physical energy I used to. That’s one of those things…you don’t use it, you lose it. And it’s hard to get back. I’m working on it though. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I’ve got lots of things to work on…physically and mentally and spiritually. I know this is kinda off track, but I need to put it down. If you’ve read some of my posts, you may have noticed I have a strange outlook on the Universe. I have my own personal philosophy on it that changes and evolves and grows as I live my life and think my thoughts.

Anyway, recently I’ve really been trying to work on my perspective. I’ve been trying to have a more positive perspective and get rid of the negative thoughts and feelings I have. Yes, I know there are negative things in the world, but my reactions to them and thoughts about them don’t have to be negative. It’s not an easy thing to change. We are surrounded by negativity in our everyday lives. Things happen to us that we don’t like, that make us upset. I’ve really been working on trying not to get upset about things like that. My own personal belief is that there is purpose to everything…even the bad. It sucks, but it’s there for a reason. You have to admit, if everything was perfect for us, if we had everything we wanted, never had any bad consequenses for our actions, never had to struggle for anything, we’d all be spoiled, rotten brats.

So, I have been trying, conciously, to get rid of my negative thoughts and feelings when I am aware of them. I’ve also been trying to meditate on positive things. I believe the mind is the most powerful thing in the Universe. We are what we think. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? It’s basically brainwashing…LOL. You tell yourself something often enough, you believe it. Your body believes it. You are it. We’re all brainwashed…programmed…in who we are. Our parents start on us from the moment we’re born. They teach us, tell us, give us examples…of how we are supposed to be. Then you have radio, television, society, to brainwash us more. If you don’t think so, do you think you’d be who and what you are today if you’d been born in another country to another family?

So, wouldn’t you rather brainwash yourself with positive thoughts and ideas that come from you than the negative, self-doubt inflicting, self-esteem killing thoughts and ideas that come from the world?

I would.

Ok, time to go accomlish.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , | 1 Comment