Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Something To Cheer You Up After Doing Your Taxes

Today, April 15, is perhaps the most dismal day of the year for Americans, particularly writers, who are more often self-employed than not. If forking over your cash to Uncle Sam didn't make you grumpy today, it certainly ticked off a lot of other people, as evidenced by the numerous anti-tax tea parties that went on across the country.

While I understand the sentiment there, I really don't think the protests will accomplish much. Then again, I'm not the most politically active person in the world. To be honest, I can't even think the phrase "teabagging" and keep a straight face after reading Mark Terry's post on the subject. All I can say is, it pays to know your vocabulary, folks!

So...moving right along. I figured we could all use a little pick-me-up after being made considerably poorer this month, and I found a fantastic new website today called that should do the job nicely. After playing around on the site for awhile, I discovered a brilliant little video of over 200 dancers performing to "Do, Re, Mi" from The Sound of Music in the Antwerpen Central Train Station in Belgium. In the 3 weeks since it first posted on YouTube, the original video has already garnered more than 1.3 million hits. And once you see it, you'll figure out why:

This made me smile from ear to ear, and I'm not at all a fan of musicals. The moral of the story? When you're having a crappy day, sometimes it's the littlest things that can turn it all around.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Decisions, Decisions...

To everyone who sent me words of encouragement and virtual hugs during my recent slump, I have two words for you: THANK YOU. I mean it. Muah! It was just what I needed. I'm doing much better this week, and it's a good thing too, because I can't afford to crash and burn right now. I have entirely too much to do.

Here's the deal: I live in Florida, where, in case you've been living under a rock, the housing and job markets have been utterly demolished. To make matters worse, the cost of living here is obscenely high, particularly in our neck of the woods. Don't get me wrong: I love Florida. Warm weather all year round, plentiful sandy beaches and easy access to Disney World--what's not to like? Before the country fell into a financial abyss of awfulness, it was a great place to live. Of course, now...well, now it's not so hot (pardon the pun).

So, it looks like my hubby and I have some decisions to make. We're quite blessed in the sense that we're not tied to a home right now, so we can feasibly move as early as this summer. Texas is the most obvious choice, since it's where most of our family is and it's one of the few states that has managed to thrive in this recession. Another major plus? Our son is young enough to make a seamless transition. The question is, should we make that step? Can we afford it? Will we be able to find jobs, a new place to live and get everything packed in time? These are the questions that have been spinning through my head for the last few weeks.

The issue is coming to a head for us now because we're rapidly reaching a point of no return. We have a very small window of time to make this move happen, otherwise we'll be stuck where we are for at least another year. I guess that's my problem. It seems like everything would have to happen so fast. I don't do fast changes well, at least not like this. I was raised by two meticulous planners, folks who needed a week's notice whenever I wanted to have a play date in elementary school. Like them, I like months and months to get my ducks in a row before a decision like this, but it looks more like I've got weeks. It feels like days. And that freaks me out.

My husband will be meeting with his boss on Monday to request that he be transferred to Texas, if that's what we decide to do. We've given ourselves the weekend to commit one way or the other. And what a long, prayer-filled weekend it will be--even more than usual for Easter.

Everything in my gut is pointing me toward this move. I really don't think we can afford to live here another year. But still. Change is hard, especially when it flies in your face like a spaceship jumping to warp speed (did I mention my parents were also Trekkies?). I suppose that's what separates the kiddos from the adults in society. Grownups make the hard choices so the munchkins don't have to, and apparently I'm a grownup--or so says my driver's license. But I must confess I don't feel too grownupish today.

What do you think? Am I overanalyzing everything? What would you do, given what you know about my situation? How do you go about making major, life-altering decisions in your family?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Flutter: The Future of Twitter?

Check out this mockumentary from Slate V on "Flutter," which is basically Twitter with less characters. Hilarious! And scarily perceptive.

While you're laughing, observe the following:

Irony #1: This link is going straight to my Twitter page. How sad is that?

Irony #2: I honestly thought this was real at first. Says a lot about where our society is headed as our communication becomes more and more instantaneous. Kinda makes you wonder if language itself will eventually become obsolete, like we'll be hooked up to some creepy hive mind or something. Resistance is futile, anyone?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Shadow Play: Thoughts About Writers And Depression

I've been in a weird, tired, cranky mood lately, and it's doing some not good things to my writing. For one thing, I haven't touched my WIP in almost two weeks. For another, I'm having a really rough time composing blog posts. I started at least three or four this week, but for some reason I couldn't finish any of them. Even writing about how much I don't feel like writing is proving difficult.

I'm convinced this is a nasty phase that will pass in a few days, but that doesn't make getting through it any easier. I don't care for myself when I feel this way--and I'm sure my DH doesn't, either! Coincidentally (or not), Colleen Lindsay posted a link to writer Colin Rowsell's blog, where he started what might be the most thought-provoking discussion on writers and depression I've ever seen. Many of the stories told there were deeply moving, mainly because I could relate to everything my fellow writers said. Reading their words was like walking through a funhouse of mirrors; the images I saw took different sizes and shapes, but in the end, they were all very much like me.

There. I said it. I am one of the thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of writers who has struggled with chronic depression. It is the gloomy cloud that has followed me throughout my teenage and adult life, and it has taken me to some devastating places. Over the years, I have fought hard to overcome this invisible nemesis; some battles I've won and others I've lost. Ultimately, it is my belief in Jesus, support from family and friends, and some occasional professional help that keep me from falling headlong into the darkness.

Surprised? Don't be. Chances are, if you don't suffer from the same thing, you know someone who does. Especially if you're a writer.

Ours is a lonely, isolating craft. We have a unique ability to see the beautiful and the ugly parts of humanity, and like a mirror, we reflect what we see back to our readers. It is both a gift and a curse. The loveliness is exhiliarating to witness and thrilling to capture--I could spend all day writing about the birth of my son, for example--yet the evil is equally disturbing, and that is what drives so many of us to pills, to the bottle, to despair, to suicide. We must have both sides of the coin. It would be impossible to for everyone to write about sunshine and rainbows all the time; the challenge is for us to observe the shadows from a distance without becoming consumed by them.

I don't have all the answers. I wish I did. I only know what I do when depression rears its disgusting head and tries to take away all that I have worked to obtain. I breathe, step away from whatever I'm working on, regroup and try again later. I allow my husband and son to make me laugh. I eat really good chocolate and drink delicious, satisfying tea. I seek support from other writers who have felt the same pain. I pray until the storm passes. And it does. Every time without fail.

Because in the end, it's all just shadow play.