Author Archives: mommyk8

If Mo Willems Wrote My CV

I’ve been reading this book at least once a week for about a decade.

If you have children, you know about the pigeon. He wants to drive the bus. He wants a puppy. He does not want to take a bath. I’ve read the books by Mo Willems to my children for so long I can recite them. I imagine if Willems wrote a book about my career it would go a little something like this:

My Mom Wants To Publish A Story

Hey! I’m Kid, Let’s listen to my mom talk about writing.
Oh, hello. Am I a writer? I am.
What does a writer do?
I spend a lot of time thinking about writing things.
Sometimes I write things.
I spend a lot of time fixing things I wrote.
Waiting for people to get back to you is a big part of it.
You want to know what I write?
I write about writing.
I write about eating and cooking and reading and knitting.
Have I written non-fiction books about celebrities? I have.
Do I write children’s books? I do.
Am I working on a series of horror stories? I am.
What about grants and scientific papers, do I write those? Yes.
Will I write something for five dollars?
ARGGHHHHHHH! NOOOOOOO!
I should be writing right now.
What’s that you say? Anthology submissions are open?
Hmmmmmm…..

 

 

This Is Not A Lifestyle Blog.

A tiny hand making tiny cupcakes, probably the most you’ll see of my kids on this blog.

I’ve been thinking about how to focus this blog, find a niche. Then, the other day, I was on Twitter and I noticed the description I’d given of myself: Mom, Wife, Writer, Knitter, Cooker, Reader, Eater. Hmm, it seems my problem may be solved. I don’t want to use this space to talk about my kids (much) because I’m very protective of their privacy. My husband has expressed numerous times he doesn’t want to come up in my writing. That leaves: Writing, Knitting, Cooking, Reading and Eating. I can write about those things!

Immediately after I decided this would be my focus, I thought, “Oh crap. Does that mean I’m writing a lifestyle blog?” I don’t know, you tell me, does it? I’m not trying to be Martha Stewart. I can’t really give advice to anyone. Does anyone want to read about my take on any of these things? Do I care? Nah.

So, look forward to: A total re-design of this blog. A total re-design of my other website (katekastelein.com) My reviews of books, discussion of the writing life, knitting and food talk! I may from time to time post my grad school annotations of books I’m reading. It is my hope to bring a little light into the world and perhaps inspire others to enjoy some books or food or yarn.

Three cheers for finding a focus! It only took me 8 years!

Enough With The Texty Texty.

Outch! #iphone #broken #dead

Not this drastic yet. via @johnnymip on Flickr/Creative Commons

Should I write this post? I don’t know. I think I’ve written it before. If I wasn’t lazy I would l check. Here’s what it’s about: Social media. Time. Kids. Attention.

During my residency I attended a panel on blogging and social media. What I noticed was that the participants talked about having a good, focused blog, updated regularly. They did not talk about having tons of interaction on social media as an asset for your writing career. Social media is good for promoting yourself, but it is not necessary to do much with it besides have it post links to your blog and/or upcoming events. Yes, I know, there are many out there who have leveraged social media identities into book contracts and TV shows. That’s cool. Good for them.  That’s not what I want to do. What I want to do is write some stories and books and get them published and have people read them.

If you know me, you probably know I spend way too much time on social media. I got thinking about this and wondered, why? Through deep self-analysis I came to the conclusion that I am one of those weird intro/extroverts. I love interacting with people and am energized by it. However, I am prone to extreme bouts of anxiety at public gatherings, and often prefer to spend most of my time at home. My RSVP response is often, “Solid Maybe” and then I don’t show. I’m terrible that way. Social media allows me to feel like I’m interacting with people, and I guess I am in a way, without the risk of crushing anxiety. But it’s a time suck, and I’m not interacting with people in a way that is good for me, not really. What is better for me is to accept some invitations and go have a cup of coffee.

Finally, and this is the worst, my kids tell me I’m on my phone too much. “Enough with the texty, texty,” they say. Does that make me feel terrible? Yes.

This is my plan: more blog posts, less social media. I have a goal of one blog post per month on my resolution this year, but I’d like to bump that to two. One here and one over at www.katekastelein.com  I also need to figure out a focus for this bad boy. As you can tell, right now, it’s mostly just random essays. Is there any coherence here? I don’t know.  My other site will be writing focused. I think I should keep whatever this is and my more professional page separate. Facebook and Twitter are deleted from my phone and iPad (OK. I kept Instagram. Baby steps.) . Accounts will only be used to promote blog posts/publication information etc.  I’ve disabled the banner notifications on my apps, all that’s left are the little bubble numbers indicating I have messages.

Oh, and one more thing, which should be pretty obvious if you bothered to read this thing;  if want to comment, do so on this page. I won’t be checking/responding on social media….just using it to promote.

 

The Weight

Except for the jaunty mustache, this is an excellent portrayal of me. I found it on Creative Commons via Leevclarke

I should be preparing for my 2nd MFA residency right now. You might envision me poring over books, furiously typing away on my computer, and you’d be correct. Those are things I need to do. But I am a 39-year-old married mother of 2 that is preparing for 10 days of no at home time except for sleeping. So for me, preparing means: making sure laundry is done, planning for meals and shopping for them, making sure family calendar is up to date and transportation to and from violin and dance and school is arranged for, clean the cat box. I realize typing this you probably think my husband is a jerk who doesn’t help me out. This is not true. He would do these things. But I do it instead. Because I am their mother. Because of the weight.

You see, no matter how many fun, pinteresty memes you see that tell you to follow your dreams! Go for the gold! Do it now or you never will! Those don’t apply to middle-aged mothers who spend tens of thousands of dollars and 30 hours a week on a Master’s degree. Especially an art degree. Not to mention the twice yearly residencies. I am stealing from my children. I am stealing money that could be saved for their college accounts. I am stealing time that their mother should be spending with them.  And no matter what thing it is you want to do for yourself, if you have children, our society will tell you – no. You are not supposed to do that anymore. You are not you. You are a mother. Your life is not about you.

I spent 8 years as a full-time stay at home mother. Then two more as a stay-at-home mother/student. Now I am a working mother and student. Don’t get me wrong, I got shit for being a stay at home mother. ‘Must be nice to not have to work.’ ‘I don’t understand what you do all day.’ ‘Hey, why don’t you watch my kids too?’ .  I know first hand, that no matter what choices you make as a mom, someone is going to give you hell for it.  But even with this knowledge, I feel the weight.

Last residency, my daughter cried when I left one morning, about half way through. She’s 10. She’s not a baby. I’m not even a full-time resident. I’m commuting. This time, my son has already requested I sleep in his room when I get home.  I love these babies of mine, and have obviously raised clingy little beasts.

Why am I doing it? Because I have always wanted to. Because it’s the thing  I will regret not doing.

Why didn’t I do it when I was younger, before I had kids? Because it wasn’t time. Because I had to veer far off the path over and over, so I could get pushed back on, before I finally said, “Yes. It’s true. This is the thing. The thing I’m supposed to do.”

Why am I writing a depressing post about it? Because, I try very hard to keep a good front all the time. Because I need to sort it out and let people know, especially mothers, that if you choose a path that doesn’t put your kids first, even if you put them first in all other aspects of your life, you will feel that weight. But instead of letting it push me down, I will carry it. It will make me stronger.

I Will Achieve Some of My Goals!

Still nearly my constant view.

Remember when I turned 30 and freaked out and started a blog, the  30 list? No? Well read that link, it’s all explained there. When I look at the list, I cringe. It was a terrible list. However, it started a new tradition and every year I make a new list of goals, although now I call it my Unreasonable Goals. At first I tried to match the number of goals to my age, then I got lazy and kept it to 30. Now I am nearly 39. It’s time to freak out. I mean, freak out more than I’m normally freaking out. I’m jacking the list back up to 39. Will I achieve all my goals? Probably not. Looking back over the years, I think at my best I run at about 50% achievement. That’s awesome. I’ll take it. My new motto: I will achieve some of the goals!

Looking back, many of my goals stay the same from year to year: Read X amount of books, Knit X things. Many times goals rolled over from year to year.  One first year a goal was, “Take one class at UMA”. I didn’t that year. I didn’t the year after that. Or the next. Finally, in 2014 I bit the bullet and re-nrolled at USM. Last year I not only finished college but applied for and now am enrolled in grad school. I wanted to have my MFA by the time I hit 40, but I’m OK with 41. Things I did that were not on my list? Have another child. Move. Both amazing things.

This year the list has a lot of writing goals, and a separate writing spreadsheet (I was inspired by one of my professors, Theodora Goss, she has very ambitious writing goals and an equally ambitious spreadsheet). As usual I will post the list here, and hopefully it will automatically update when I update it. I will also do a little recap of 2016 goals in another post.

I’m also happy to report that my daughter is doing her own list this year! She is doing a spreadsheet with 11 goals. When I asked her if she wanted help figuring out how to add sums and percentages she said, “Uh, no. I learned how like last year.” Thank God. Now she can help me figure out the graphing part.

Anyhow, that’s where I’m at at the end of 2016. Looking at 2017 with a big list of things I want to do.

 

Dear God, Avoid the Hospital

Recently, I learned that medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the US.  Also hospital infection rates are quite high, especially in Maine where I live. In fact, Maine hospitals scored very poorly.  I had to take my son to the ER today, because I thought he broke his arm (he didn’t) and I saw some things that made me go, “Hmmm, this seems like a really good way to spread disease”. We have a very small waiting room at the local ER, everyone is basically sitting on top of each other in a tiny room. If anyone coughs, EVERYONE in that space is breathing it in. If you know me, you know I’m a bit of a germaphobe, especially when it comes to the puking and pooping diseases. One, because – gross. Two, because I have colitis and a round of Norovirus could have the added bonus of sending me into a flare-up. The thing I am MOST afraid of is C.Diff, the often fatal, extremely hard to treat, diarrhea that is most often caught by old people in nursing homes but is basically exploding (pun intended) all over the country. Now picture this –  I am in the ER standing directly behind the person who is checking-in. That person is an elderly man who is holding up a ziplock bag filled with, what is that? Is it brown water? Ohhh ohohohoh no. That, my friend, is human shit. A bag of his explosive poops. He asks the receptionist where the nearest bathroom is because well, obviously he has a serious problem down below. The receptionist gets the guy to sit back out in the tiny waiting room, with the rest of the people who, presumably don’t have explosive shits. Guess what he takes with him? Correct! His bag of poop!  Who is next in line? Oh goody, me. I do not sit down in the recently vacated chair. I am, however forced to use the little digital pen thing that the guy with the explosive shits  JUST USED and no one wiped off. Not impressed, hospital. Not impressed. Next they put my kid’s finger in one of those blood pressure or whatever it is thinger without wiping that off either. Am I nuts? This is an Emergency Room, in a hospital. A room where people with really bad nasty contagious things are coming in and out all day. Shouldn’t they have different pens for people or a little plastic disposable sheath or something? Shouldn’t you confiscate the bags of human shit? I don’t know. Maybe I’m too paranoid. I know there are much worse things going on in hospitals in other places, but it seems to me like basic sanitation could be a big step in keeping people from getting horrible shit and/or shits from the hospital.

Fear of Falling

I’ve never been so scared in my life. I’ve started an MFA program in creative writing, which has been my dream for about 10 years. I couldn’t believe I got in, and now I’m scared to death about what that means. I am occasionally gripped with the same kind of terror I experience at the top of a tall building. The view is beautiful and exciting, but it makes me feel shakey and pukey. Will I have the time to do it justice? Is it a bad idea for my family, with so much time dedicated to school over the next two years? The other students I’ve seen in the handbook are much more experienced than I am, or at least better at writing bios. I don’t know if I can do this, but I have to. For one, I just took out a loan so I can. For two, if I don’t , I’ll never know, and fear of not knowing is worse than the fear of doing.

Here is the Jessie Spano Caffeine Pill Freakout, which is basically how I feel all the time. (Not the drugs part obv)