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Archive for the ‘challenges’ Category

Today’s whine: I had to go into the Social Security office today. I was turning in documents on an application I began last week. I had an appointment for one o’clock. I drove to the building and it wasn’t there. I was a health center. I had been to that building several years ago but, apparently, they moved! They are still on the same street so when I was told on the phone that it was on Division Street, I figured it was in the same place and I wasn’t given the address. Luckily, I had left home an hour early. (Yeah, I’m that person that is afraid to be late so she leaves super early.) I got to the right address but there were no parking spaces. The two handicap spots were taken and so were the “low emission fuel vehicle” spots (which I was surprised to see and there were four of those). I had to park on the street but the closest parking was about four long blocks away. So I gave it another go and got there just as someone was leaving the handicap spot so I grabbed it. Yay! I signed in with time to spare but the guy my appointment was with was late back from lunch so he was a half hour late for my appointment. In the process of applying, they had to update my name because the last person put my middle name (which is my married name) as the last name and hyphenated it with my maiden name (which is now my legal name). After reviewing all of the documents and making copies, he changed the name to Corina Martinez Carrasco, leaving off my middle name which is Joy, because my birthday is on Christmas Day. So in the process of filing for spousal benefits (he’s old enough to retire, I am not but I can get his retirement benefits), I lost my Joy! I want it back. I think I might look into the process for a legal name change and get rid of the Martinez and get my Joy back! See, he’s still taking things from me, like my Joy!

The wine today is actually from last night. My daughter took me to Trader Joe’s for some Two Buck Chuck which used to be two dollars but is now actually three dollars. It’s pretty good wine for the price. I owed my daughter three dollars because she bought me a box of coffee pods so she said she would take a bottle of wine instead so we got her bottle and I got three to put away for myself, one of which I will most likely take to the birthday party on Saturday because it’s a BYOB thing. I’ll share a bottle of white zinfandel.

And the more! I’m enjoying writing letters. It is bringing back a lot of memories, like the one from the previous post, Sealed With A Kiss. When was the last time YOU wrote a letter? Why not try writing a few this month. You don’t have to go full out Incowrimo but you could write a few!

Gotta run! I’ve those letters to write!

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How many of you remember hearing that 1962 hit song, Sealed With A Kiss by Brian Hyland? I remember it but of course, I’m of that certain age! It was quite popular long after 1962. It was one of those songs that spoke of all that puppy love we experienced.

When I was a sophomore in high school, there was this boy. Yeah, a very nice one that also thought I was a pretty nice girl. We spent most of the school year together then the end of the year came and we were faced with summer. We didn’t live in the same neighborhood and our families didn’t have much in common so we were pretty sure we were not going to see each other during the summer. In my yearbook, he ended his rather long writing with the part of the lyrics to the song:

“Though we have to say good bye for the summer,

Darling I promise you this,

I’ll send you all my love,

Every day in a letter,

Sealed with a kiss.”

Later that summer, I went to southern California to stay with my aunt and uncle for a couple of weeks. They had a couple of daughters that were close to my age so we got along and we did a lot of stuff that I would never have been allowed to do if I had been at home. We rode bikes all over Orange County and went on a midnight donut run and flirted with boys. One of the things we did a couple of times a week was go to the beach. They lived just down Beach Boulevard from Huntington Beach so it was a straight shot to the beach. During one of those beach trips, I wrote a letter to that young man I had left behind in San Jose. I didn’t swim so while the others were swimming, I would read or write letters. After all the mushy stuff and the details of all the things I had been doing with my cousins, I was perplexed about how to end it. I wanted to make a reference to the lyrics of the song he had quoted in my year book but I didn’t want his mom to see anything on the outside of the envelope as my initial idea was to put on lipstick and kiss the outside of the envelope. So that was nixed then I got the idea to just write “sealed with a kiss” inside the envelope so it would be the first thing he saw when he opened it. So I did, but I also enclosed a pinch of sand from the beach! At least I thought it was a pinch. Later on, I heard that it was more than a pinch and his mom had not liked having to vacuum the sand after it spilled when he opened it!

Can you think of any “memorable” letters you’ve written?

 

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I remember hearing this phrase a lot when I was growing up. Instead of asking someone to “shoot me and email” when they arrived, we used to say, “drop me a line” or “don’t forget to write.” Those were the days. The old days.

Letter writing, and even writing with pen and paper, is a lost art. I pick up a pen and try to write some notes and I almost can’t remember how. It feels so alien to me. I think we also have a generation growing up without learning to write in cursive and without learning how to format a letter or even write the most basic salutation. That can’t be good.

I enjoy letter writing. Or at least I used to. I wrote a letter to my friend Kim, in Australia and really enjoyed it. I was pressed for time or I would have written more. And I wrote a letter to Deborah who is a woman in one of the Buy Nothing groups I belong to. We chat when she picks something up and sometimes we send text messages to each other regarding an item to  be picked up. However, I have thought for some time that it would be nice to have her as a friend. A friend I might invite for a cup of coffee or meet for a quick chat. So I jumped in and used her address for one of my February letters for Incowrimo. It occurs to me that it is also one person I am reaching out to, a person on the fringes of my circle of friends, as I wrote about in Expand. So I’m on my way!

One thing that I like about letter writing is that it is so much more personal. When you open a letter from someone, you are holding the same paper they held and reading the words they wrote out in long hand. Maybe you are also witnessing their choice in paper or ink on the letter. In some cases, even the stamp used is a personal choice. So much more personal than anything else.

Well, on to writing my February 3 letter before the day is done! Happy writing!

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I was recently made award of a newish wri-mo event. Not NaNoWriMo this time. February is International Correspondence Writing Month or INCOWRIMO. So for the month of February, the idea is to write at least one letter, postcard, or other correspondence and mail it, each day. So now I am hooked! I will be writing letters and postcards and some valentine cards this month, every day. I have a list of people to write to but I haven’t counted them. If you would like to receive a piece of mail from me, let me know in the comments then I will email you for the address. Do not post your address here, please.

If you want more info on the month long event, click on the link above. All the info is there, including a place to enter your address if you want mail (please note that it is a public document so you might not want to post the address there) and there is also an address book with hundreds of people that would like mail if you want to participate. There are also a number of sites with videos and tutorials on good old fashioned letter writing. Check below for a couple of links. You might even get a pen pal out of this, if you wish to continue after February. Also, remember that you can write Valentine cards to people and that will count! Have fun with this! I challenge you!

So now, keep me honest. Bug me. Ask me if I am up to date with my letter writing this month!

https://incowrimo.org/how-to-write-a-letter/

The Power Of the Letter (Ted Talk)

 

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I know. Silly title. But at the moment, that’s all my brain can do, come up with quick and silly titles!

As most of you know, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo once again. I have been reading a lot of the posts in the various Facebook NaNoWriMo groups to which I belong. A lot of people need a push or a shove in the direction of finding some words. So this is for them and this is for YOU. Yes, you.

Below are some words, phrases, etc., that are meant to introduce a situation, character, sub plot, etc., into your writing. They may also be good ideas for blogging topics. My advice is to copy/paste them into a new document then add some spacing (maybe triple?) then print them out, cut them into strips and put them in envelopes, or into a jar where you can grab one at random. Sometimes it may take two or three together to get you going in another direction that can help your writing ideas. I hope you find something you can use!

right before my eyes

he/she was the stranger he/she would never forget

nothing but a broken umbrella

the loneliest meal

different kind of dream

being young

love moods

lonely in that way

down the flight of stairs

the hospital chapel

the bread had turned purple

the little things

he didn’t remember

if I had known

it wasn’t until

no one would understand

stop me, please

heavy hitter

not exactly best friends

control

first blush

photo finish

the last bus

conquer

personal power

just sitting around

light up the room

If only she hadn’t missed the bus

 

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Last week was particularly difficult as I watched hurricane Harvey and all of the damage it did to Texas. The day after the hurricane hit, I got a call from my mom (who was born and raised in Corpus Christi). She told me about a phone call she had gotten from my uncle. She and my uncle are half siblings. My uncles’s cousins lived in Houston. She told me that the cousin, her husband and four great grandchildren had drowned in the flood waters. It was sad to hear it and even more so because of the family connection. I think we all hoped and prayed that it wasn’t true. However, the next day, word came through the media. It was true. The woman who was my uncle’s cousin, Belia, her husband, and four great grandchildren had definitely drowned inside of their van while trying to flee to higher ground. Great, great sadness.

And then last Saturday a fire was started by a very foolish fifteen year old who threw a lit firecracker down a ravine in a heavily wooded (and dry because we have had no rain in three months) area. The entire region caught fire. If you aren’t familiar with the news, it is in the Columbia River Gorge, one of the most scenic and peaceful areas around. It is one of my favorite places to go. It has really grown in the four days since it began. The fire is near the watershed which supplies water to most of the Portland Metro area. If that goes, it  could be catastrophic for Portland. It’s so sad to see the pictures and to see the ash falling outside, as if it were snow. Then there is the air which is full of smoke and is causing hazardous air quality conditions.

It also seems that I am getting every single complication from my surgery that I could get. First there was the infection, then the sciatica (which I think is directly related to the surgery because I had to sit and lay down most of the time during the first three weeks post-op, which put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Now the latest is that it appears that I have developed an “incisional hernia,” which is most likely a result of carrying something that was too heavy during the post-op period. So now we’ll see if they decide that I need to have surgery to repair that. I am not looking forward to another surgery before the incision from the last surgery has even closed up completely. That’s actually how I discovered what I think is the hernia. The incision is still not closed. The opening is pretty small but it is still open. I noticed about a week ago that there was tissue protruding from the incision. Then over the weekend it was gone and I breathed a sigh of relief but then last night, it’s back. That’s when it hit me that the doctor warned that a hernia often develops in that kind of incision. So now I have to go in and get it checked out and go from there. Not too happy about that. I guess when the doctor said no lifting for six to eight weeks, I should have erred on the side of safety. I didn’t. I gave myself only the six weeks. Now there’s a problem.

So not good here. I guess you can understand that. I’m crossing my fingers that I’m wrong about the hernia!

 

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Reading a friend’s blog in which she writes about her daughter’s application, prep, and audition to an arts school, I was reminded about my own daughter’s desire to attend an arts high school and the preparations.

During the last year of living in Los Angeles, I decided that it was time for me to move out of the area.  It was too stressful for me. Everywhere we went, we encountered traffic, rude people, crowds, etc.  My diabetes was very bad then and it is exacerbated by stress so I needed to cut down on my stress.  At that time, it was just my youngest with me.  She was about to enter high school and I knew that if we stayed, she would begin school and we would be stuck there for four more years so the time to make the move was before she entered high school.  She was home schooled for middle school so we could, theoretically, move anytime before September.  When I discussed this with her and with the older kids, Susie went ballistic. She did not want to move and leave all her friends behind.  She said she wanted to go to the performing arts high school.  She had mentioned this previously but I didn’t realize she was serious about applying.  So we did some research (of course she had already gotten a lot of information and made some inquiries from her choir teacher from elementary and from before she left middle school).  We looked online for the time frame for applications and auditions.

I felt bad that I was taking her from something she wanted so badly.  The rent where we were living was astronomical.  It was over $1700 for a one bedroom townhouse with 875 square feet of livable space.  My health, both physical and mental, were declining.  But I wanted her to be happy.  So I told her that I would help her apply and prepare and if she made it into the school, we would find a rental closer to the school which is on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles (basically east L.A., not a great place to live but we would find something affordable and safe) and we would stay until she finished high school.  If she didn’t make it into the school, we would move as soon as we could find some place to move.

The Los Angeles County High School for Performing Arts is very exclusive in who they accept.  They demand excellence and prepare their students to enter performing arts colleges and/or professional employment.  Each year thousands of students apply for admission.  Of the applicants, those that make the academic cut go on to audition.  Then those that make the audition are put into a lottery because the number of successful auditions is far more than the number of slots available each year.  That particular year, it was something like 30 openings for the choral program.  The number that auditioned was at least a couple of hundred.

Her academic application was accepted and she had begun to work with a choral coach in preparation for the audition, even before we knew if she would be accepted on her academic record.  She was excited but of course, with so much riding on the audition, she was very apprehensive.  So was I.  I knew the best thing for me was to move out of the area (to northern California) but I knew that Susie really wanted to attend this school.  I was torn but I stuck to my deal with her as we both prepared for the audition.  We began to look for a pianist to accompany her at the audition because each applicant had to provide their own.  I also began scouring the newspaper and the internet for information about the area and prices of rentals.

The audition was mentally grueling.  There were hundreds of (mostly) girls auditioning, each with their “stage mother” and singing coaches.  The atmosphere was very strained as they all looked upon each other as the “enemy” they had to beat.  Susie had only me and did a good job of keeping as calm as she could. When it was time for her audition, I had to leave because no one was allowed to view/listen to the auditions.  I went outside to decompress and enjoy the beautiful March day.  Her accompanist came out and I knew the audition was over.  He came over and told me she had done beautifully.

In the end, she made the cut with the auditions but not the lottery.  She was so far down on the wait list that we knew she would not get it.  By then, she had pretty much decided that the people at the school were “too snooty” and she didn’t want to go there anyway.  She still didn’t want to move out of Los Angeles but that was the deal.  With a lot of arguing and rationalizing, we went up north to look around.  She was determined not to like it. She pretended to be asleep the entire drive and then as we drove around a few small towns I had picked to investigate as possible places to move.  Even after I had signed the two year lease on a house three blocks from the local high school (she had decided to go back to school instead of being home schooled), she resisted, contacting her father and asking if she could move in with him so she could stay in Los Angeles.  He said yes but after a family meeting with all three of the kids and their father and I, her dad realized what he was getting into and started to back down.  Susie realized that her step mother would not allow her to bring her cats or her bearded dragon or her geckos with her if she moved in with them so she decided to move to Santa Rosa with me.  I was relieved because I knew that if she stayed behind, there was no way I could move away and I would end up staying in Los Angeles which would be suicide for me.

End of story is that she had set her sights on something and we had made a deal.  We both followed through.  It didn’t work out for her the way she wanted it to work out but in the end, she found a wonderful group of friends in the very artsy Santa Rosa. We were less than an hour away from San Francisco and we went there often.  She ended up with home schooling there, too. When she graduated, she went on to an arts college in Baltimore and upon graduation, moved back to Santa Rosa where she is working and happy and thriving!

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