Archive for November, 2010

the art of listening

November 16, 2010

people have been surprising me lately.

(not that it’s surprising that i am surprised because let’s be serious, i’m constantly startled by people popping up in my office door, by my roommate rounding the corner, by typing in instead of (seriously, don’t do it.) and i am the worst at googling things, so if i can ever actually find the information i started out searching for, it’s a minor miracle.)

ok, my point.

sometimes i’m so busy listening to others that i forget others are doing the same. it catches me off guard when someone reveals they were listening to me or reading my blog or paying attention to my tweets.

it’s easy to tell who’s listening when you’re in a conversation and a person pulls up facts previously discussed or someone leaves a comment on a blog post or someone replies to an email or someone @ replies you on a tweet, but it’s hard to quantify who’s paying attention when you don’t have time for an in-depth conversation or they don’t leave comments or they aren’t on twitter or they forget to reply to an email or life just gets in the way, as it is wont to do.

so you have to LISTEN for the random snippets.

like when my mom sent me an incredibly generous letter.

like when my grandfather said he heard i was researching netbooks. and wanted to know why. (i figured it’s time to redefine my writing. i don’t want it to be just a hobby. it’s a job and i need to treat it as such. and thusly, i need portable technology. yeah, yeah, netbooks are going out of style. hey, i’m still conducting researching here. any suggestions?) (also, is anyone out there available to give me a scrivener 101 class? it’s supposed to be intuitive, but me and technology? we don’t click. i need an outsider to hold my hand and walk me through the process before i’ll let technology take me out on an unchaperoned date.)

like when my godmother mentioned she’s read my blog and is that ok because that’s not stalking me is it? (for the record, nope, not stalking. READ ON, cindy.)

like when my dad asked about my new sport, squash. i hadn’t talked about it except on my blog. perhaps he read it there or perhaps my mom or sisters read it and mentioned it to him, but whatever it was, he remembered and asked me about it.

like when kelly breakey wrote this post for me. or, to be specific, about me. i was merely tweeting about my obsession with the darren criss/glee version of katy perry’s TEENAGE DREAM, which you should watch by the way. here you go:

she watched the video and caught the fever. and dedicated a post to it. it may seem silly to others, but it feels nice to be thanked. sometimes it only takes a quick comment or a short video or a hug or a phone call to crack open a bad day and let the sunshine spill in. she says i did that for her, but she returned the favor tenfold by writing that post.

basically i just wanted to say THANKS EVERYONE for listening to me. it is the nicest thing you could do (well, maybe you could bake me some cookies and mail them to me. that’d be swell. chocolate chip, please.), but more importantly, thanks for giving me a reason to love listening to you.

(you in the general sense. and, of course, YOU, yes, you right there, in particular.)

note to self

November 12, 2010

i was at the weepies concert on sunday. while listening to them (and the opener, greg tannen) the lyrics sparked some area of my brain stem (or something scientific like that).


“there’s something about october.”

“why don’t you break me like a stone?”

those make complete sense to me, which is good because often my grocery list makes me go HUH? i guess the creative mind works a bit differently than the logical, analytical, errand running mind.

do you write cryptic notes to yourself? can you always decipher them? or does it put a strain on your membrane?

from one middle child to another

November 9, 2010

my dear nephew,

you turned 6 yesterday! i’m 5 times older than that (well almost. let’s not get ahead of ourselves), but don’t let that fact  scare you. i’m swear, i’m still pretty cool. i may not be able to work the blonde hair and blue eyes quite like you do, but then again, you probably don’t realize you’re rocking it. and come to think of it, you probably think girls are icky and don’t want them near you. but what you don’t realize is that the time will come, and when it does, you’ll see that blondes really do have more fun. (don’t tell your mom or dad i told you that.)

you probably don’t yet realize that all those hours you spend with your legos building and creating and destroying and building again are laying the foundation for a future engineer. typical mumford style. (unless you’re me.)

you probably don’t understand that by spending your lunch money (every day) on a bagel and cream cheese you are creating a lunch time tradition. a tradition that is delicious and fuels your body for an afternoon at school. an afternoon of learning important things like letters and numbers and calculus. it also shows that you are a creature of habit (me too, especially when it comes to food) and there is nothing wrong with being predictable. (trust me, ask any one of my friends what i’ll order when i’m out at brunch and they’ll tell you, without pause, french toast.) you know what you like and you’re not afraid to order it. but don’t forget that there are some really fantastic foods out there, like green beans and tomatoes and milk and apples and corn and sweet potatoes.

you also probably don’t realize your flexibility is an amazing trait your mom passed down to you. it’s important to keep limber because there’s nothing quite like crawling on the floor after your cars, climbing a tree, or riding your bike, but if you can’t touch your toes, those things aren’t nearly as much fun. (you’ll have to take my word for it.) and hopefully that physical flexibility will become a personality trait as well because as the middle child, you have to be able to go with the flow. your other siblings  may (sometimes) garner more attention, but it just means you get to be independent and do things on your own like the big guy you are.

but you know what? you shouldn’t know any of those things yet. you’re only 6. you should be focusing on the fun and the laughs and the good times and the cupcakes.  you’re only 6 once, go ahead and be silly! all the time!

happy birthday, aaron bear!


November 5, 2010

i had some mind blowing experiences this week. and now that i’ve scraped the brains off the walls, i’m here to tell the tale.

experience #1. i had dinner with a grad school friend. her husband calls these dinners our “secret meetings” which makes us feel all kinds of sneaky and spy like, but in all reality, we’re just eating, drinking, giggling, gossiping, and talking writing. i don’t have many writerly friends that i can see IN PERSON on a regular basis and there’s something to be said about sharing a beer while lamenting the lack of character voices in our heads. (and that’s why we’re NOT spies. sometimes, we hear voices. it gets distracting when you’re trying to do recon.)

but the really amazing thing was that she handed over my MS. the one i’ve been working on since before, through, and after grad school. my first love. and also the one i was taking a break from. she’d had it since july, but to be fair, was going through some crazy times and life got in the way. i get it. my writing is not a priority of hers, but in this time when i still haven’t figured out the whole “how to get critique partners” thing, she’s all i’ve got. and it may have taken 4 months, but man, did she deliver. and we talked about my manuscript in-depth 3 different times over the course of the meal! i even got my pen out and started taking notes. i can’t tell you how refreshing that felt. she laid out the weakness and pumped up the strong points and suggested some ideas that got my brain aswirling. i left dinner on a writerly high i haven’t felt since grad school ended. and i left excited about my first love MS all over again. i felt like a real writer (for probably the third time in my life). i left there with attainable goals of what to fix and how to fix it. that was the most delicious part.

experience #2. i played squash again. of course i lost every single match, but my serve is consistently in and i am hitting some hot shots and most importantly, i am getting on the scoreboard. sure, i keep forgetting the ball doesn’t bounce and so i wind up in a tennis motion only to swing and hit air. (yeah, it’s as embarrassing as it sounds). but for only having played the game twice, for a total of 2 hours, my improvement is pretty rapid, i must say. so much so that i’m thinking about getting my own gear. (Santa, you listening?) this game is addicting. it’s refreshing. it’s exhilarating. it’s FAST. and it gives me an attainable goal. beat my coworker. that is the most delicious part.

but the thing i learned that splattered my brains across the walls?

i realized that i can’t do this alone.

you can’t play squash by yourself and you can’t write all by yourself. sure, i’m in charge of my own production (whether it’s returning a shot or writing a novel), but you need a teammate there to return the volley or spin you around and point you down the path towards THE END.

i’ve had teammates all my life, in the form of soccer and lacrosse and basketball and tennis teams and siblings and friends and cousins. why is it so shocking that i still need them?

probably because i’m a perfectionist and when i set my mind to do something, i know (read: i think) that the best way to get it done is to do it my way. but that isn’t always right and frankly, it gets lonely. i’m tired of that. i’m ready to accept any and all forms of help. whether it’s in the shape of a squash racket, manuscript critiques, or a RAH RAH YOU CAN DO IT from the sidelines.


epiphanies are exhausting.

(or maybe it’s just all that running around the squash court.)

new look

November 4, 2010

i’m debating giving my blog a new look.

i’ve added highlights, cut off a few inches, and gave it a perm.


i learned that lesson in middle school. (i.e. it smells like eggs, it burns, and it’s not a good look for anyone.)

you like?

or should i go back to the old one?

cast your vote now.