Some dust has been bitten.

Another year of the Slice of Life Story Challenge comes to an end. I didn’t do as well this month as I’d hoped, but I’ve made it through to day 31. Having surgery early in the month knocked me for a much harder loop than I’d been anticipating. I missed posting a couple of days — which, considering how sleepy and silly some of my posts were, is probably more a gift to blog readers than anything to be sorry for. Much more importantly, I was supposed to be welcoming new folks into the slicing ranks by reading and commenting on their posts every day, and I deeply regret how hard I fell down on that promise.

I participated in this challenge in 2008, the very first year. That was also my first year of blogging. I’d only had my blog for a month when I stumbled onto the TWT blog and into this challenge. Such a lucky thing that I did! I absolutely credit that first challenge with pushing me across the line from maybe-I’ll-have-a-blog to being a blogger. So grateful to that original group of slicers and to all the great folks who’ve jumped into the challenge over the eleven years between that first run and this one.

What my blog is and how I use it has morphed fairly dramatically since 2008. It’s interesting to look back at early posts and see the ways my voice has changed, the ways it has stayed the same, how some of the more embarrassing posts still sound totally like me. I clearly have a voice (“a Voice“), and it’s interesting to hear it over time.

I’ve come to think of March as my blog-iversary because of this challenge. No matter how absent I’ve been from this space, I always find my way back for Slice of Life in March. I exhaust myself with daily posting … and then I’m ready-not-ready to dive into April and writing poetry all month. March reminds me why I like having a blog and primes me for the rigors of National Poetry Month.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers, for another excellent slicing challenge, for giving me the chance to read such an interesting cross-section of blogs and for getting me reacquainted with my own little corner of these internets.


It’s the final day of the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! Hundreds of folks have been participating. If you haven’t been one of them, maybe next year will be the year you’ll join in!

Twenty-four Short Hours

I’ve been thinking about the 2019 edition of the 24 Hour Project — about whether I’ll feel healed enough and pain-free enough to participate … and then I realized that I never got around to posting my slide show from the 2018 project! Must fix that post haste!

For the unfamiliar, the 24 Hour Project is a street photography extravaganza. For a 24-hour period each spring, people go out and document the city they’re in. From midnight Saturday morning to 11:59 Saturday night, participants are charged with taking photos and sharing on Instagram, at least one photo an hour. When the project started in 2012, there were 65 participants. When I joined the madness in 2015, there were 2,030 participants! Last year, there were 4,280 people in 850 cities across 104 countries! All of us out and about, capturing the world for a day.

Went over to the website to copy the URL for the link above, and discovered that this year’s project will be at the end of May, rather than early April. That makes it much more likely that I’ll be healed and strong enough for the challenge. It also (I hope!) means I won’t half freeze as I walk the city in the middle of the night! My dear friend, Raivenne, has been my 24-hour companion twice, and I hope she’ll join me again this year! Raivenne is the perfect partner for a project like this. She’s brave, she’s silly, she loves the city with all its curiosities and messiness, she has a great sense of humor, and she doesn’t suffer fools.

I modify the project to suit my interests. I post at least one photo an hour, but I also up the ante by adding a writing element, a tiny story created for each photo. As much as I enjoy capturing interesting images and random city moments, it’s the story-making I love — imagining the right bit of narrative to give a photo a different kind of life.

Can’t wait to get out and start snapping. But for now, without further rambling, here are the photos I posted for last year’s challenge. I hope you like them!

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It’s the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! With hundreds of folks participating, there’s more than a little something for everyone … and plenty of room for you to join in!

If at first you don’t succeed …

I am a writing mentor with Girls Write Now, and I get the pleasure of working with Sophia, who is an entirely fabulous young woman. She’s a senior, and we’re in our third year together. I adore her, and still can’t guess how GWN was able to make such a perfect pairing.

We had our pair session today. We meet in a coffee shop near my office. I arrived a little ahead of Sophia and snagged a booth, our favorite spaces in this cafe. I fished in my bag for notebook and pen and looked up and there was Sophia, not looking her usual self. She gave me a half smile and slid in across from me.

“Oh, I’m fine,” she said.

“Mmmhmm. Why don’t I believe you?”

She smiled a more real smile. “I hate saying ‘I’m in a funk,’ but I think that’s the only thing to say. I’m in a funk.”

“Why do you hate to say it?”

“It’s so dramatic. Sounds like I’m talking in a book.”

Ha. I like that. “Talking in a book.”

After some conversation, Sophia put the source of her funk on the table, announcing a bit flippantly that she is suffering through a mid-life crisis. She is feeling that she should have accomplished more by this time in her life. She is seventeen.

But I totally understand how she’s feeling. I told her she was a little early, that I hadn’t had my first midlife crisis until I was 18. We talked about where these feelings come from and how to deal with them. Sophia said she figured she’d have her next crisis at 25 (as I did), and that each time she had one, she’d move the goal posts down a few years, maybe to 30, maybe to 35.

As our conversations pretty much always do, we moved on to talk about a thousand other things. We talk all over the place, as if we have a shared stream of consciousness. At one point, we were talking about the ocean, about snorkeling, about how alien we feel about being in the ocean, about swimming, about rainbow fish and stingrays and manta rays and jelly fish …

And I suddenly thought of Diana Nyad and watching footage of one of her attempts to swim from Cuba to Florida and her being stung by box jellyfish. Both of us reached for our phones and looked her up. And we marveled at her decades-long push toward the goal of being the first person to complete that swim, and the fact that she accomplished it at 64.

Sophia put her phone down and looked at me. “She’s like us,” she said. I will admit, that took me totally by surprise because, as much as I might like it to be true, I don’t see a lot of similarities between me and Diana Nyad.

“No, she is,” Sophia insisted. “She tried to do this thing in her 20s and she didn’t make it. So she pushed the goal ahead a few years and a few years and a few years. And then she did it!”

I love that she drew this connection, and that it seemed to make her feel less of that funk she’d been carrying when she walked into the cafe. We said our goodbyes with Sophia looking more upbeat, more herself, than when she’d arrived. We’d only written for about 15 minutes, but we covered some good ground today.

I also love thinking about Nyad’s accomplishment. Thirty-six years working toward a single, precious goal. And, to my mind, being all the more impressive for achieving that goal at 64 than she would have been had she succeeded at 28. I think I’ve left mid-life crises behind me at this point, but I am holding onto this idea of Diana Nyad, this idea of staying true to my dreams and continuing to push for them even if I have tried and failed again and again.


It’s the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! With hundreds of folks participating, there’s more than a little something for everyone … and plenty of room for you to join in!

Surgery Tales (Part 87)

So … yesterday was surgery. But I don’t feel as though I’ve started recuperating yet. Surgery went well, but by the time I got home late in the afternoon, I was having problems, and I had to go back to the hospital today to deal with whatever it was that had gone wrong. I didn’t think it was serious (I’m not just saying that because my mom reads my posts and I spent at least an hour on the phone with her last night assuring her that it wasn’t serious and there was no reason to come up here and unleash her full lioness behavior on my surgeon and his team … really, not because of that at all …), but it was serious enough to make me think it needed attention.

I was also super sick to my stomach and needed to do something about that, too. I was nauseous enough that I was afraid to lie down to sleep (too many thoughts of going out like Jimi). Even water and plain crackers caused trouble. And nothing like that had happened after any previous surgeries. So on top of whatever else was wrong, I was also cranky and exhausted, getting maybe a total of 90 minutes of sleep all night.

But, for all that, surgery did go well. I went in resigned to have the surgery my surgeon insisted was the right surgery. We’d discussed it several times. I wanted a more involved surgery, and he was against it, didn’t think my bone could handle it. And, as much as I pride myself on knowing a lot about what goes on in my body, I had to admit to myself that I really couldn’t pretend to know what my bones could and couldn’t handle. So I went with his plan, but I wasn’t happy with it. The less-involved surgery would fix my current problem, but it seemed destined to leave me with a permanent problem, and that made it sound like a wrong choice, and also like the only choice. If my bone wasn’t up for the procedure I wanted, I needed to at least get rid of the current problem.

Each time I’ve had an operation with this surgeon, we follow the same routine. After I’ve been prepped by many lovely staff people, after I’ve had a good and helpful conversation with the anesthesiologist, after the physician’s assistant has gone over all the details about medications and what the day is going to look like, my surgeon comes in with his Sharpie and initials my thigh and draws a little smiley face. This is to prevent them from operating on the wrong knee — only cut where the surgeon his smiley! This is the time when he also goes over the run of show with me and reassures me that everything will be fine.

Yesterday was no different … until we got to the post-smiley-face segment of the routine. I asked him to tell me again why the more involved procedure wasn’t a good option, asked him if I’d still struggle with stairs and hills if he didn’t do the bigger procedure. And he explained again about my sad little patella and how it wasn’t up to the job I had in mind … but he also said that this didn’t have to be the end of the story. If I’m unhappy after I see what stairs and hills feel like post-op, we can always go back in and try to make something work with my patella.

That made me feel a little better, which I think he could see. He gave me the standard, everything’s going to be fine assurance and left. And I started thinking that, if it would be possible to come up with a workable patella solution in the future, why couldn’t we figure one out now. And, just as I was thinking that, my surgeon came back in and proposed another option. He said that, instead of doing the arthroscopic procedure as planned, he’d do the more involved incision and take a closer look at my patella now and, if it looked good, he’d go ahead and do the procedure I’d been asking about the whole time.

Result!

Seriously, that was the best thing he could have said to me. Even if I woke up after surgery to find that he hadn’t worked on my patella, I still would have felt better that at least he’d tried for the bigger solution.

In the end, not only did he work on my patella, he used a piece of equipment that was designed after my first surgery and may have a better chance to staying where it’s supposed to instead of going on walkabout the way the old bit did. He also gave me a general “tune-up,” replacing another piece that was looking a little worn. So, once healing has well and truly begun, I will have an even better knee than the one I was hoping to have!

I have a long, unpleasant history with doctors, starting from when I was nine and my pediatrician prescribed valium — and a serious dose! — when he learned that I had insomnia. I have had doctors tell me I couldn’t possibly be feeling or experiencing what I’m feeling or experiencing. I have had doctors treat me as though I had serious developmental disabilities and cannot understand basic information about my health. I have had doctors try to trick me into having procedures I didn’t need … and then get angry and threaten me when I saw through their awfulness. So, me and doctors, we don’t have a good story. I was doctorless for years because I couldn’t find a general practitioner I felt comfortable with. My orthopedist, my GP, and my dentist are the first doctors I’ve worked with ever in my life who haven’t made me think twice about them, who haven’t made me want to run for the hills.

So this business about which surgery I’d be having was a bigger deal for me than it might have been without all that backstory. Having my doctor hear me enough to understand that I needed something more than what he was offering, having him immediately realize that even his new plan wasn’t working for me. All of that was huge, so much bigger than just winning the argument and getting my way.

Now I just have to wait and see what getting my way looks like after healing, if this new-ish knee is going to be everything I’ve been hoping it could be.

 


It’s March, so it’s the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! Twelve years and going stronger than ever. Click over to read a few slices, see what that eclectic group of bloggers is up to. And maybe write some slices of your own this month!

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A heart full of music.

I have two concert subscriptions at Carnegie Hall. This fact is evidence of a tendency to overindulge, a tendency to want to be a patron of the arts even with my meager budget, a tendency to not be able to choose between two good things.

Tonight was the Philadelphia Orchestra, the second of the two subscriptions I’ve been buying the last few years. My friend and I have box seats in the second tier. Box seats are very fancy, to say the least. Mostly for me the seat represents not having to squeeze into auditorium seats, not having to get up every time someone wants in or out of the row. Having my own freestanding chair is a luxury I am willing to afford. It makes being comfortable for the whole performance possible. Also, it’s totally fancy. Natch.

It’s also unexpectedly familial. It hadn’t occurred to me that I’d see some of the same people show after show, that there would be other repeat subscribers just as my friend and I are repeaters. Three of the seats in our box are not subscription seats, and we see different folks in those chairs every time. The other four box members are regulars, they’ve been there longer than we have. And the gentleman who sits in front of me has adopted us. When I walked in tonight — only moments before the show began! — he gave me such a nice welcome, like i was an old friend or a favorite niece. I was charmed and pleased.

I love this orchestra. They always make me happy. I love their tiny dynamo of a conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He is a powerhouse, an explosion of passion, enthusiasm, intensity, and joy. If I expended the kind of energy he does every performance, I would need three days’ sleep after every show.
Nézet-Séguin clearly loves his players as much as he totally loves the music. His obvious pleasure in their excellent performances is lovely to watch. And the musicians respond so wonderfully to him. I love spotting the little moments when one will catch his eye during a performance. I can almost see the electrical connection flash between them.

I had to miss the first concert of this season’s subscription because I was traveling for work. So tonight was my first show of the season. As usual, it filled me up with wonder and joy.

Having these subscriptions is an indulgence. An indulgence that feeds my soul. Worth every penny.


It’s March, so it’s the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! Twelve years and going stronger than ever. Click over to read a few slices, see what that eclectic group of bloggers is up to. And maybe write some slices of your own this month!

original-slicer-girlgriot

My phone knows.

I think my phone knows that I’ve pre-ordered the new model. This is the only way I can explain its sudden decision to stop sending texts when I ask it to, to stop charging when I plug it in, to stop letting me download pictures and documents.

I’ve had this phone a long time. The phone that will be arriving at my door in a few days is three generations newer. I was determined not to let a pesky thing like built-in obsolescence force me to buy a new phone every 12-18 months. Besides, my phone was working just fine. Or, mostly fine. Until it caught wind of my betrayal. Now it seems bound and determined to make me sorry in these last few days. Sigh.

And I am duly sorry. My old phone has served me well. So sure, I’m sorry … and really looking forward to unboxing the new model and setting it up. More storage and a better camera just in time for this year’s 24 Hour Project!

Is this new phone season for you, too? I’ll admit, I’d be more excited if the cost of a new phone wasn’t practically the same as my rent!


It’s March, so it’s the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! Twelve years and going stronger than ever. Click over to read a few slices, see what that eclectic group of bloggers is up to. And maybe write some slices of your own this month!

original-slicer-girlgriot

I like lists.

In the long saga of my attempts to better organize my day-to-day and get stuff done, I have fallen into the well of the Bullet Journal.  I first learned about this organizational tool at the start of 2017 when I participated in the 52essays2017 nonfiction writing challenge. One of the participants posted a photo of the spread she’d made in her bullet journal to track her week to week progress in the challenge. I didn’t try it right away, but then gave it a shot a few months later. It worked and didn’t work, and I let it got for a while, tried again, let it go again. I read blogs, spent much too much time on Google images looking at other people’s journal pages, priced all manner of colorful pens and washi tape on Amazon … even though I wasn’t a very good bullet journaler, I was ready to fully dive into having all the pretty tools. Thank goodness I managed to control my stationery store shopping urges. My budget couldn’t have handled all of that!

Last fall, after many months of not trying to be a bullet journaler, I decided to try it again. I was a lot kinder to myself this time around — not shaming myself for not creating spectacularly creative decorations and fancy layouts for my pages, just making my lists and trying to get stuff done.

It’s definitely working better this time. I have always been a list-maker, and that’s really the heart of this method for me. And having all my lists in one place is wonderful. I’ve nixed all of the kinds of trackers I tried out in the past and have settled on a very simple list of goals for the month, and quick look ahead to the next three months in case there are things I’m supposed to be planning for, and a tracker for which days I’ve done some writing and what I worked on.

I did give in last month and buy a set of disposable fountain pens (12 colors!), and my seriousness about keeping the journal has, of course, meant that I’ve purchased many new notebooks, but there are worse things I could have too many of. Aren’t there?

I don’t know how long this go-round as a bullet journaler will last, but five months (and counting) is already more than twice as long as I was able to sustain the effort any of the other times I tried it. And I can see that I am doing a better job of getting stuff done, now that I have it all written down. It’s not magic or anything — there are plenty of list items that go undone, that stare out of the page mockingly as I copy them from one day’s tasks to the next — but it kind of is, too. It’s why I’ve always loved making lists. The concreteness of having things on paper, the satisfaction of checking off the done items.

It’s working, and that’s really all that matters. I will leave the gorgeous, artistic pages to people who have those skills, and I’ll just keep making my list and checking them … as many times as it takes to get the job done.

Have any of you tried bullet journaling? What’s your success been like? Any tips to share? If you’re not a bullet journal fan, what’s your task organization tool?


It’s March, so it’s the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! Twelve years and going stronger than ever. Click over to read a few slices, see what that eclectic group of bloggers is up to. And maybe write some slices of your own this month!

original-slicer-girlgriot