SoCS: what I long for

Things I long for – or long for more abundantly:

peace
sleep
more hours to write
more hours when my brain is operating clearly enough to write
love
good health for my family, friends, and everyone else, too
co-operation for the common good
caring about important things
for public sanity and good will in the face of so many challenges
unity
an end to hunger, oppression, and deprivation

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This short and impossible list is  brought to be Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. This week’s prompt is “long.” Come join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2016/07/01/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-216/

SoCS badge 2015

 

One extreme to the other

Since December 17, I haven’t been at home alone. The combination of different family members on vacation from work, on semester break, and visiting from afar has meant that my usual pattern of spending most of the day Monday through Friday alone has not been in evidence.

I don’t want people to think that I am a hermit. I am often out on errands, visiting people, or volunteering, but I am able to have solitude and time to read, correspond, and write on my own schedule.

Yesterday, B headed out on a business trip. Today, I brought T back to Syracuse. The new semester begins tomorrow.

I am home alone.

I do have commitments on my calendar, but I hope to spend a lot of time catching up on writing, both for my blog and my poetry projects. I’m also hoping to get at least one poetry submission sent this week. While I am waiting for a response on a few submissions, all of my acceptances have now been published, so it would be helpful to get some more work in the pipeline.

I am hoping to minimize time spent on cooking and other chores. Tonight, I had avocado sushi for supper and I already have heat and eat food ready for tomorrow.

I wish I could say that I would be productive in the evening, but it is unlikely to be the case. I don’t tend to sleep well even when someone is in the house; being here alone is likely to mean even less sleep.

I do hope to get enough sleep to have energy to accomplish things during the day.

Will I succeed?

Stay tuned.
*****
This post is part of Linda’s Just Jot It January. Join us! Start by visiting here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/18/just-jot-it-january-18th-elegance/

JJJ 2016

To find the rules for Just Jot It January, click here and join in today.

 

Jotting at an obscure hour

My body is not co-operating with the whole sleep thing tonight, so I am awake when Linda’s post appears on schedule at 2 AM. Of course, my brain is not capable of creative thought at the moment, but it isn’t likely to be later in the day either, given that I won’t get much sleep.

Hence, this much more jot-ty than usual post.

I generally tend to the pontificating end of the scale…
*****
This post is part of Linda’s Just Jot It January. Join us! Start be visiting here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/15/just-jot-it-january-15th-leadership/

JJJ 2016

To find the rules for Just Jot It January, click here and join in today.

Fitbit system upgrade

Last month, my Fitbit Flex got a software upgrade so that it automatically switches into sleep mode. This is handy because previously B and I had to tap our Fitbits in a certain way to get them to swap over to sleep mode at night and then do it again in the morning to get it back to normal mode. It was easy to forget, which defeated the purpose of tracking sleep and steps in the first place.

As things are getting back to some semblance of routine with B back at work after holiday vacation time, I am trying to be more diligent about getting my steps in. My best practice is to walk while I talk to my mom (nearly) every morning. Most days I get at least halfway to my goal before we hang up. If we are especially talkative, I may get to my goal of 5,000 steps! (Yes, I know 10,000 is recommended, but it is better for me to have a lower goal and overachieve than to set a high goal that I seldom reach.)

After T goes back to school, I may fire up our Wii Fit and try to add some other exercise to my day. I haven’t used it for a long time, so I’ll have to put up with a bit of Wii whining. Those of you who have used Wii Fit know what I mean…
*****
This post is part of Linda’s Just Jot It January and, for once, actually feels like it could be called jotting. (I do tend to run-on!) Join the fun! Visit here: http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/08/just-jot-it-january-8th-honorable/ to learn more.

JJJ 2016

 

This month a year ago…

Warning:  I haven’t been sleeping well, so rambling is upcoming.

I’ve done some posts about this being the tenth anniversary of some huge losses in my life, but today I am reflecting on a year ago.

Last September, I sang with the Smith College Alumnae Chorus for a choral homecoming weekend with Alice Parker.  One of the posts I made afterward was about visiting the memorial tree for our friend Beth who died during our senior year and the chapel where I had spent so many hours.  I had always intended to write another post about friendship and Smith women, but didn’t for reasons that will probably become clear later on in the post. I’m hoping to give a taste of that topic now…

I love to spend time with Smith women, especially back in Northampton. It is always special to me to see my roommate Mary with whom I share such a deep connection that we pick up conversation as though we weren’t a couple thousand miles apart the vast majority of the time.

I was blessed to renew ties with two women, each named Cathy, whom I had known during my Smith years, although they were in different class years so I didn’t know them as well.  It may not come as a surprise that our best times for sharing revolved around food. Cathy R. invited us to a lovely farm-fresh al fresco lunch with her family who had travelled with her and we talked about farming and New England and family and medicine and art and photography and how some of us would have been at the Climate March in NYC that day if we hadn’t already committed to being at Smith for the weekend.

Cathy K. lives in the next town over from Northampton and invited us to her home after the concert for appetizers before going out to dinner.  Her family owns a couple of local stores that sell specialty foods, wine, prepared foods, and more. Everything was so plentiful and delicious that we never did go on to dinner but spent hours eating, talking, laughing, and sharing. Family, education, politics, losses, music, career changes, hopes, the future, new directions.  It is so seldom that one has an opportunity to discuss with such depth and breadth. I am profoundly grateful that being with Smith women so often leads to these heart-mind-and-soul-enriching conversations.

I was also grateful to have re-connected with Anne, who is a wonderful poet and who graciously accepted a copy of the chapbook I had assembled the prior year for a local contest, even though neither the individual poems nor my editing abilities were advanced enough to warrant doing so.  She sent me valuable feedback and advice and has since looked over other poems for me. She is one of my poetry godmothers!

Now, a year later, the Alumnae Chorus is coming up on a deadline to sign up to tour in Cuba next July.  And I can’t do it. Within this next year, both E and T plan to finish their master’s degrees and our travel time and resources need to go to supporting them. I also must admit that the thought of touring Cuba doesn’t really appeal to me, especially in the heat of late July.  I am such a delicate flower that I would probably wilt!

And yesterday was Grandma’s (my mother-in-law) birthday. She has a problem with admitting her age so I won’t reveal it here, but this year was especially difficult for her because last year at this time we were in the throes of trying to determine what was wrong with her back. It turned out that an osteoporotic compression fracture in a vertebra led to its collapse and a long year of pain and complications and medications and therapy and ups and downs. Well, a lot more downs than ups.

Her elder son and his daughter came to visit for the weekend, which was nice, but it also was a reminder of how much she can’t do anymore.  Grandma was trying to wish away the last year, which is painful to watch.

It’s also a reminder of how stressful the last year has been. Exhibit A:  my outbreak of shingles last December. Lucky for you, I’m not going on to the rest of the exhibits. I am doing better with giving myself a bit more distance, but it is still sad and concerning and draining.

Especially in September.

I’m working on getting myself back into a better place. I actually managed to sleep a five hour stretch last night.

I’ll take all the progress I can get.

Sleep (or lack thereof)

One of the features of wearing a Fitbit is that you get a weekly report. Mine arrived in my inbox this morning and reported that I had averaged 3 hours and 50 minutes of sleep in the last seven nights.

This is not good, although, to be fair, the last week was worse than typical. While I do often have trouble sleeping, I usually have more good nights’ sleep thrown into the mix.

I actually do go to bed at a reasonable hour and spend eight to nine hours attempting to sleep. I’m not fighting off sleep on purpose. I also follow a lot of the advice on sleep hygiene, but its helpfulness is limited.

Last week was busy and also featured flares of some chronic health issues, one of which I will write about later this month as September is its “awareness month.”

I promise not to be too graphic…

Acceptance drama!

Alternate title: What happens when you check Submittable late at night when you can’t sleep.

Since coming back from Hawai’i, I’ve been having lots of trouble with sleep, so I got up and decided to check Submittable, which is a tool that many literary journals use to host submissions. I wasn’t expecting much news, because journals also send emails, so I was shocked to see an acceptance! I was excited! Also, slightly terrified, because it seemed that I had inadvertently broken a cardinal rule of simultaneous submissions, which is to immediately withdraw an accepted poem from any other journal which has it under consideration. Most journals only accept previously unpublished work, so it is important that you notify them promptly so that they aren’t spending time reviewing a poem that they can’t include in their publication.

I powered up my desktop, which has my main inbox – which, granted, is overflowing with the mail backlog from traveling. I thought that I had reviewed everything I received in Hawai’i, but, somehow I missed the acceptance email from Wilderness House Literary Review  – which they had sent on July 3rd. I was shocked to read that they accepted all three of the poems I submitted for their next issue!

I quickly wrote a reply, about how excited I was to appear in their journal and apologized for the delay in replying. Then, I brought up my personal submissions database and found that I needed to send notices to only two other journals, because a couple of others had already rejected these poems. Fortunately, each of these journals still has one or two of my poems to consider.

By this point, my pulse had been racing for a while, and going back to bed was out of the question, so I took advantage of the six hour time difference to message E in Hawai’i. I rattled on about this whole wonderful-but-slightly-nerve-wracking drama until I calmed down a bit.

But I knew I still wouldn’t sleep so I wrote this post, scheduling it to come out at a more reasonable hour for most of my readers who share my time zone.

At whatever time anyone does happen to read this though, I am pleased to announce that my poems “(Not) the aunt I remember”, “Fifty-four” and “Downy” will be published in the fall online edition of Wilderness House Literary Review in early October.

You can be sure I will publish the link here at Top of JC’s Mind when it becomes available.

And maybe, in an hour or so, I’ll be able to fall asleep…

back home

I’m sorry, dear readers, for being absent for the past week. I flew home from Hawai’i Tuesday, arriving home on Wednesday afternoon without having slept. Since then I have been in a bit of a fog.

OK – more than a bit.

I am notoriously bad at changing time zones. It takes me about a week twice a year when we go on and off daylight savings time to adjust my sleep schedule, so the six-hour time change from Hawai’i Standard to Eastern Daylight Time has been a struggle. I am alternating between nights where I get little to no sleep and ones where I am so exhausted that I sleep eight or nine hours. I have been trying to catch up on the most important things that I missed being away from home for five weeks, such as visiting the elders and our younger daughter and some re-scheduled appointments, but I haven’t had much brain power to put together posts.

LOL – Not that this post is that profound!

I can at least let you know that there will be some more Hawai’i posts coming as I get access to some more photos. There will also be some commentary on recent events and potentially a squealing, excited post if any of the poetry submissions I did while in Honolulu result in acceptances. I am sparing you any disappointing posts when I get rejections (but will tell you that I have already received several rejections. It’s an advantage of putting in a bunch of submissions in a short time that the rejections aren’t as daunting because you still have some submissions under consideration.)

I had been trying to keep up on reading and commenting, but even that fell apart over the weekend. I’ll be trying to catch up with that – and sorting through the 800+ email messages in my inbox – this week.

Stay tuned and thanks for your patience!

JC

Daylight Savings Time

Time for my (semi-annual) rant about changing clocks. Daylight changes a few minutes at a time. Changing what the clock says when sunset happens does not “save” daylight; it just re-names it.

DST puts me out of sync with the seasons. At my latitude, going on daylight savings time when it is still winter means that many more weeks of getting up to start the day in the dark. In the summer, it barely gets dark for bedtime. In the fall, we are back to dark mornings for a much longer time than we should be.

Admittedly, changing clocks is difficult for me personally. My circadian rhythm is very stubborn. Even one hour’s change throws me for a loop. I joke about being a “delicate flower,” but changing my sleep pattern can quickly devolve into multiple body systems going haywire. (And writing a blog post at 4:30 AM on no sleep.)

As you can guess, I don’t do well when I have to cross multiple times zones…