Archive of ‘Ultimate Blog Challenge’ category

The One With The Writer’s Block

Dear Writer’s Block,

It’s not you. It’s me. We’ve been down this road hundreds of times, and quite frankly, I’m sick of you. I’m so done.

It’s true at 9 pm on a Friday night that I don’t have a creative bone in my body–not even a whiff of an idea. I want to get in my pajamas, crawl under the covers and catch up on today’s news with Rachel Maddow than sit here in front of this blank computer screen. But, here I am, and I’m finally ready to stand up to you once and for all.

I know there are days when I can be a bit of a perfectionist. You know the drill. I do the dishes, fold the laundry, sort the mail, and wait for a solid idea to form in my brain. I can’t possibly sit down and write until I hit that eureka moment and the adrenaline pumping through my veins until the sweet release onto the keyboard.

Other times, I’m afraid. Fine, I admit it. I’m afraid what I have to say is silly or unimportant. I’m afraid people will find out I’m not a real writer or worse they will be offended at what I may want to say. Seriously though, I’m just a girl, sitting in front of a laptop, asking it to help me compose one beautiful blog post that will resonate with everyone who reads it.

But, I’m here to say it’s over. You and me. We are through. You are my easy way out. You know how to push my buttons and send me into a tailspin of self-doubt. I can’t do this anymore.

It’s time for me to be the writer I’ve always wanted to be–one that’s dedicated to her craft, dreams of becoming a published author, and fueled by passion and caffeine. Not one that throws around the oldest excuse in the book. I have a lot of things to say, and I’m going to say them. You are not going to get the best of me. My readers will get it instead. And when I’m finished, you will be a thing of the past.

I’m a better writer than that, and it’s time you see yourself out.

Goodbye, sir.

I said goodbye.

 

The One with the Yom Kippur Algorithm

It’s that time of year folks when Jews all of the world make the most stressful phone call of the year. The one to the caterer to order our Break the Fast trays.

A little background: Next week, we observe Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, which is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. It is a somber holiday, so we don’t wish each other a Happy Yom Kippur, but rather an easy fast. We attend services and adhere to a 25 hour fast. During this time, we ask for God’s forgiveness and pray to be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year. The purpose of the fast is to put aside our physical needs so that we can focus on our spiritual ones through prayer. At sundown, it is tradition to gather family and friends together to eat a dairy meal. This meal is known as Breaking the Fast.

I host the Break the Fast meal every year at my house. But before the main event, I need to order a tray of food. Placing this order requires a complicated High Holy Day algorithm.

First, I use logic to determine the number of people coming to my house. Then, subtract the number of people that don’t eat the fish. Add in what foods they will eat and make sure to include that in the order.

Next, perform a brief analysis of my options to determine where to order from? Is it from the place with the tray that serves 12 people but really gives enough for 15? Probably. Should I order for fewer people than the number I actually need so we get just the right amount of food? (By the way, these trays are not cheap.) Or should I throw caution to the wind and go a la carte? Either way, I take on the added risk that we will be eating regular lox and kippered salmon for the next week or so. (Not a bad thing if you like it, which I do).

Third, what kind of bagels do I want, and how does that correlate to what people like to eat? One year, I offered a random selection that included cinnamon raisin bagels. I learned that it just isn’t congruent with the lox and whitefish salad. Another year, I ordered a “nice mix” of bagels, which included a substantial remainder of poppyseed bagels. I won’t be making that mistake again.

And we aren’t done yet! What percentage of regular lox vs. nova lox should be included on the tray? I base this on the assumption of how many family members are watching their salt intake this year.

What variables should be included when it comes to the cheese tray? American, Slender American, Sweet Munchee, Lite Muenster or Swiss? At this point, I want ALL the cheeses because I’m exhausted, and I can’t make one more decision about this meal.

Once the algorithm is complete, I have to check my work to make sure I didn’t forget anything before producing my results. This is when I remember to order a loaf of black bread, a pound of turkey breast (for those who don’t eat fish), and the minimum amount of herring fillets in cream sauce that a small subset of people can’t live without.

Thankfully, my sister in law makes a plethora of delicious desserts, and others bring fruit trays, kugels, and blintzes to round out the meal.

Oy Vey! This algorithm is so much work, but I’m incredibly blessed to do it as part of our fall tradition.

Shana tova to those who celebrate. I wish you an easy fast, and may we all be written in the Book of Life.

 

 

 

 

The One Where Jenna Goes to College

I know he misses her too.

 

A little over a month ago, I moved my daughter into her freshman dorm. We packed up about two-thirds of her bedroom, bought way too many Command strips, a new bedding set complete with a comfy foam mattress top, the Keurig coffee machine, and other must-haves, and sent her off into the real world.

Nowadays, when I meet up with friends or family, they ask two questions: How’s Jenna doing? and “How are you doing?

In my head, each time they sound like Joey from Friends: How You Doin?

So, here’s how I’m doin’.

It’s a new normal in my house. In the beginning, it felt like a loss–although I would never dream of comparing myself to someone who has actually lost a child. Still, after 18 years of taking care of someone’s physical and emotional well being with all of my time and energy, heart and soul, I feel a part of me is missing.

She also picked up around the house, served as our extra driver to take our son places, gave spot-on fashion advice, and applied my makeup expertly. My version of a smoky eye looks like I’m hungover. So, from a practical standpoint, I miss all of that too.

She’s also exactly where she should be. Her school is precisely what she was looking for all along. It gives me incredible joy to see her thriving on her own. She loves to FaceTime with us and see our dog Chloe, who I think she misses most of all.

(Also part of my new normal is getting used to FaceTime. I hate how I look in that tiny camera).

Back at home, I get to spend quality time with our son, Andrew. I don’t write about him as often, and I’m not sure why. We went out to lunch the other day after Rosh Hashanah services, where he told me all about his water polo team and his favorite classes. In his spare time, he is on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout, and he will learn how to drive soon. He’s such a fantastic kid–a mensch. It is an exciting time in his life, and it’s a privilege to be a part of it. But, in the back of my mind, I know that soon enough, he will be going off to college too.

When that day finally comes in the fall of 2022, please ask me how I’m doin’.

The Gift

floral pillboxHow sweet! This was my first reaction when my daughter presented me with a small gift: a pretty box with a floral print. I imagined it would be perfect for my earrings, or I’d use it as a change purse, so I’m not digging around for quarters for the parking meter. Seriously, how thoughtful of her to think of me for no particular reason.

The box had something inside, so I unzipped it to investigate. What I found was not what I expected.

 

 

It was a pillbox: a convenient, plastic, divided by the days of the week box to hold my medicine.

I didn’t know what to say. Thank you??? 

I admit that wasn’t what I was thinking at the moment. My first reaction was a flashback to watching my grandfather pull out his pillbox from his pocket along with his dirty tissues. I remember him fishing out his pills multiple times during our visit. The orange box with the black letters representing the days of the week and a separate place underneath for pills he took morning, noon, and night.

Like my gray hair, the pillbox reminded me how quickly I am aging and worse how old I must look to her.

But then, I looked at her expression and could tell she felt terrible. She didn’t mean to offend me (which she didn’t). Her intention came from a kind and thoughtful place. She was looking out for my well being. She thought I would appreciate the gesture.

And I do. Honestly, I could use it. I have blood pressure and cholesterol meds to take as well as a few other pills. My doctor recently informed me I am Vitamin D-deficient, so now I need to add a vitamin to my regimen. Too often, I struggle to remember whether or not I took my morning pills, so this gift would save me the energy it would take to retrace my steps and confirm that I did (or did not) take them. All I would have to do is look in the box and problem solved.

How sweet! Thank you.

 

 

Barely…

Have you ever been so exhausted you cannot even exchange pleasantries with the people you love anymore?
This is how I’ve felt for the last few hours.

Barely able to hold a conversation without snapping at people (even though really I didn’t mean to-sorry!).

Barely able to sit down without taking a brief nap.

Barely able to finish the dishes.

Barely able to hold a coherent conversation.

Barely able to write this….zzz

I’ll do better tomorrow. I promise.

Happy Easter and Passover everyone!

Good night.

Prepping for Passover

I’m a little behind on my blog posts right now, but I have a good excuse. I’m hosting a Passover seder on Saturday night and the whole mishpucha will be here. Parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, kids and cousins will gather around my dining room table (and partly into the living room) to hear the Passover story.

I’m actually pretty excited to open up my home for this holiday. Typically I’m the house for Break the Fast during Yom Kippur. Since everyone is starving when they get to my house, no one complains that the food was ordered instead of home made. As long as it isn’t late getting to the table. Being trusted to host a Passover seder means you’ve hit the big time in a Jewish family. It’s a lot of coordinating from the food to the set up to the service, led by yours truly.

Some of my best family memories took place around the seder table. When I was little, we had somewhere around 30 people at my aunt and uncle’s house every year. I don’t know how she did it, but having her and my mom in my corner is making all of this much easier. Back then, she cooked and set it all up. My uncle led the seder.
Everyone had a part. It was amazing.

My seder will not live up to that caliber, but I know it will still be wonderful. And I have a lot of people cooking the traditional meal of brisket, chicken, matzah kugels, matzah ball soup, and so many vegetable dishes plus dessert. I’ve rented a table and chairs, ordered flowers, cleaned my house (well almost done with that) and all that is left now is to set the table with all the accessories-including the finger puppets depicting the 10 plagues.

A seder AND a puppet show! You are impressed now, right??

I expect my Passover experience will lead to a lot of blog material so I will end for now, but there will be more to come.

Ever Have A Day Like This?

At 5:30 this morning, I checked my calendar and realized I had 5(!) meetings today.

The thought of that many meetings in stuffy conference rooms made me want to crawl back under the covers. Lots of thoughts raced through my head. Maybe I could call out sick. Maybe I don’t have to attend all 5 meetings. Maybe I should block out time for bathroom breaks and eating.

Upon looking at my calendar again, I made up my mind and reluctantly got dressed. I’m too Type A to miss that many meetings and I know my Jewish guilt would eventually kick in. My first meeting was to on-board a new employee. Since I’m her boss, I kind of needed to be there. My 11 am was a full-on team briefing which we haven’t had in over a month where everyone could attend. I didn’t want to be the only one to not show up.

Following those two meetings, I thought I had a break to read and answer emails, check in with my other direct reports and maybe get a little lunch and cross a few things off my to do list. But no, scratch that. My 1:30 was moved up to 12:30. Honestly, THIS was the meeting I could have skipped if I had the guts. But, I was the one who called the meeting in the first place so I was sort of obligated to be there.

My 2:30 meeting ended promptly at 3 pm and I went back to my desk forgetting I wasn’t done yet. I had one more to go. And I was 7 minutes late.

Ever have a day like this? Please don’t let me be the only one.

Reclaiming My Time

Recently, someone asked me why I’m participating in this blog challenge?

He wasn’t being rude about it. He was just curious. Seriously , what’s the point of stressing out and searching for an idea for my next post. Then, slave away over a warm laptop, choosing the right words and fighting off writer’s block and self doubt each day until I publish 30 consecutive blog posts?

The answer is simple. I’m reclaiming my time.

Time is a precious thing. Use it or lose it. Waste it away on mundane tasks or channel it towards something you love to do. In the end, it’s up to me.

I love to write and my biggest excuse for not writing is that I never have the time for it. But, to be honest, that really isn’t true. Instead of watching re-runs of The Big Bang Theory, I could be writing. Sort through piles of paperwork or write? Fold laundry, take out the trash, do the dishes and other household chores — heck I have teenagers for that now. I choose to write.

Reclaiming my time means creating space for me to do what makes me happy. I also hope it helps me establish a writing habit. I’ve never really had one before. If you asked me what my process is or how many hours I write a day, I couldn’t answer because I thought it depended on the day. But again, it’s just not true. I may have to wake up a little later or skip out on the antics of Sheldon, Leonard and Penny.  And that will be okay, because to me writing is time well spent.

A Prom Dress Shopping Complaint Letter

Dear Department Store Conglomerate,

A few weekends ago, my daughter and I went shopping for her senior prom dress at your store in King of Prussia. Your selection was lovely and we easily identified several gowns we liked until we found the one she loved. Right there in your dressing room, her face lit up when she saw herself in the well-lit mirrors. We all knew this was the dress for her.

I didn’t “check-in” on Facebook at your store and when I paid for the dress I didn’t sign up for your member rewards program or provide my email to get a receipt. I simply used my credit card and walked away with the dress of her dreams.

I knew once I handed over my email address to you, I would give you the authority to send me whatever deals you wish for as long as you’d like in order to lure me back into your store. Yes, I can always unsubscribe to emails, but that’s not the point. I thought I beat the system.

Sure enough when I returned home 30 minutes later, I found several Facebook ads from your department store. Just 30 minutes later! Geez, you guys are fast!

Was I micro-chipped without my knowledge when I stepped through your doors? Did someone from the store scout out the parking lot for all the cars within a 300 foot radius of your front door, run license plate numbers and steal my right to be left alone?

I was annoyed to say the least. I specifically chose not to give you my email because we only shop at that store for special occasions. And, I honestly am doing you a favor so as not to waste your time, printing or postage on little old me.

I just wanted the dress.

I’ve heard of people who live off the grid and while I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon, I see its merits. I just want to be a 40-something year old woman who has control over who can enter into a marketing relationship with me. Is that too much to ask?!

So, thanks for the selection and the memory of when and where we laid eyes on the perfect dress. Please keep your ads to yourself.

Much appreciated. 🙂

The Writing Sweet Spot

I imagine one day I will turn a bedroom into a writing haven for myself. The room will be cozy, but not in a distracting way. I’ll have a comfy chair to curl up in and an ottoman to put my feet up, plus a writing desk situated by the window. Thus offering me two places to write my page-turning memoir or novel. The room will be well lit and there are plenty of places for all my books. I may even put a twin bed in there for cat naps between moments of brilliance.

But, I’ll also sit in my beautiful room and suffer from writer’s block because I could be in the perfect setting with no one home to interrupt and hours of free time on my hands and nothing inside of me to write.

So then I wonder, why bother with my own writing room when an idea can strike at any time. I can be at the baseball field watching my son play and a story line will come to me. I could be eavesdropping on an incredibly loud conversation between a parent and a coach on a cell phone while standing in line at CVS. A conversation that you want to walk away from but also desperately want to hear what happens next.

Honestly, I need only a few things to find my writing sweet spot: a notebook or my laptop, a good pen, a place to sit and a fantastic idea. All of this and the above sticker so people think twice before interrupting me.

 

 

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