2020-10-19 Quick and Squeaky

It’s a new day and a new week. Another opportunity to get it all done.

Despite waking up with a pain in my neck at 5:10am, I’m in pretty good spirits. In large part thanks to the fact that I no longer have to figure out how to fit work in with all the other stuff I’ve got to do. And magically, the “stuff” always grows to fill the space.

Two exciting updates to share! Yesterday I submitted my first poetry manuscript to a contest for first or second book. It’s exciting to think that all that I’ve learned in the last three years might actually result in a published book. I mean, it’s still a pipe dream but it’s my pipe dream and it’s fun to daydream about the possibilities.

The second thing is that another one of my poems was accepted for publication in an online journal. Huzzah!!

It’s called “Open Window” and it originally came from a prompt I did when writing with my Tuesday writing group. I got feedback on it from my mentor, Stave Langan, in the 3rd semester of my MFA program. Steve helped me find the right form for the poem. Now it’s going to be in The Wild Roof Review in January. 💃💃💃

And that thing I mentioned last week? About keeping track of what’s been submitted since I’m sending so many of the same poems out to so many places? Yeah, well.. now I’ve got to withdrawn that poem from like 10 other publishers. Seems like a good time, eh? Ha!

Other than that, I’m excited this week to be celebrating Jim’s bday and also plan to kick my week off right by going to vote. I’m taking my daughter so she can vote too (her first time) and not be intimidated by the process or choices. Hopefully the line to vote will not be that long.

For me it’s a bit of a repeat from 4 years ago since I went in to vote early then too. I just prefer it, you know. But last time there was like nobody there voting early the day I went. I have a feeling today will be different. I think many people have the same idea.

The jury is still out on a potential road trip to Austin to be with my peeps on election night, also just like 4 years ago. Minus all the driving. Jim does not have time off work enough for that but I certainly do. It’s the kind of thing I would not have hesitated about when I was single. If I wanted to go, I’d just do it. Now I feel a tug of angst about it.

Going without Jim, skipping out on my responsibilities here, and driving all that way. To be fair, the drive does not bother me that much so it’s mostly going without Jim that’s holding me back. Still, it would be great to see my people again. It’s been since February when I got married but 2020 feels like the longest year in the history of years.

I’m gonna cut this short today cuz I gotta get down to business. Like I said, lots to do!

XOXOXO,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-10-15 If I’m Being Honest…

I might as well be painfully honest. **Spoiler alert.. Rant city, dead ahead in 30 seconds.

I have not had one of these in a while, but no matter how good life is, it is bound to happen. And the longer I hold the angst inside, the worse it will be when it comes out. And I want to be true to myself and my feelings. And it IS just past midnight and I’m awake with these god-damned thoughts so I might as well. 

First. I’m so fucking sick of politics. Nobody is going to change anybody’s mind so shut up and vote already and move along. We can’t change what happened four years ago and we can’t change what’s going to happen a few weeks from now. It’s bad enough that there are NO GOOD OPTIONS. As an American citizen I’m sick of having no good options. And it does not matter what happens anyway because the ship is too big and heavy to make any course correction that will matter to the individual citizen. Good grief. 
But that’s not what is keeping me from sleeping. 

Secondly. I just found out a few days ago that my final residency for my MFA will be  conducted in virtual format. I was given the option to defer last time, and crossed my fingers and eyes and held my breath but it did me no good. I could stomp my foot and cry about it but that would do me no good either. But it might make me feel better to stomp my foot and cry about it, so consider this pathetic paragraph my version of that. 
I get to graduate on Zoom. Fuck that. Just flipping forget about it already. I’ll just take that piece of paper that I spent 40K of my savings account on and disappear back into the fog of insignificance from whence I came. 
But that’s not what is keeping me from sleeping. 

Thirdly. It’s just past midnight and I’m awake writing this. And that sucks. I want desperately to get a good night sleep. I went to bed at 9:15, exhausted, and with high hopes of getting 8 full hours. When I woke at like 11:15 I thought it might be like 3 or 4 or 5am, but nope, it was 11.  I took some pill to help me get back to sleep, and that might kick in any minute now so if I start slurring my words, that’s why. Also my son was still awake and I was frustrated to find his light on and computer on as well. I’m being honest. I just don’t want to deal with it. 

I … just … don’t. But, yes, you guessed it. That is also not what is keeping me awake right now. Well right now it’s the typing keeping me awake but what was it at 11:20, 11:25, 11:30, 11:35, 11:40, 11:45 that was tossing in my head and preventing me from falling back asleep naturally? Stuff with the lit mag. 

Kate was right when she said it’s all work and that people suck. That is what I appreciate about Kate. It is that she is honest. And direct. And I question my own motives with starting this little project and I wonder how much I have in me to continue if it is going to be this way. What is THIS WAY?? 
“This way”, is constantly dealing with situations which give rise to angst in my chest. I just want everything to be smooth. For people to be pleased with their experience with “us”, and frankly, to not feel like I’m lying when I say I’m pleased with my own experience. I’m not sure it’s possible. Start-ups are hard. People are complicated. You can’t please everyone. And what makes all of this more difficult is that I have to rely on another person who, for whatever reason, doesn’t do what they say they are going to do and / or if they do, I’m not aware of it. 

We’re nine months in and it can’t be a fluke as it has happened too many times. The (now) classic volunteering to handle something and then just not doing it. I mean, maybe his is doing those things, but has learned by now (because I have asked countless times that he CC me on communications) that he tells me he will CC me, but then doesn’t. Then I’m stuck. I can’t send the communication because I don’t know if he has already done it. And I can’t let it go because it’s probably something that needs to be done. 
By the way, most communication is ineffective if not done in a timely fashion, so sitting on something for weeks and weeks makes everyone look bad. 

Take yesterday for example. We meet as planned at around 5PM and of the many things discussed, were three different agenda items which require communication. 1) Follow Up with potential script writing editors. 2) Follow up with a person who’s fiction stories we will be publishing with the next issue. 3) Inquiry with a different individual to see if they are interested in being a guest editor/ judge for a future contest we are planning. (Not to mention the countless other ideas we brainstormed about on how to increase the number of quality submissions we get). 

Set aside #3, because that can wait. Perhaps even #1 can wait another week with no ill repercussions. But #2?! That should have gone out Monday as far as I am concerned. So here we are Wednesday (tip-toes into Thursday) and he say’s he’ll do it but didn’t. “I’ll go home right now and do all those and CC you on them.” Direct efffffing quote. I want to trust him. I finish out my evening. I go to bed early, so hopeful, and then wake at 11:20 and check my email and there’s nothing new in my in-box. Grrrrrr. 

So that’s it. That’s what is at the heart of the matter and eating my brains. 
Hopefully the meds I took will put me back to sleep and I’ll wake with a clear head and have regained my composure. I hate that these things affect me so. I’ve even considered just trying to let it go, and let him be the kind of leader he wants to be and help where I can but go off and do my own thing. But that’s not really an option at this point. I’m too personally invested in this. Ugh!! 

I’m just tired. I’m just needing sleep. I’m just….  being honest. 
It’s now almost 1am and I need to get back in bed. Thanks for the therapy session.

Big Yawn,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-10-14 New Addiction

I can feel it. I’m approaching being completely free of my benzodiazepine dependency. I haven’t taken a sliver of a pill since the end of August so it’s about effffing time! And my doctor was spot on when he said it would take up to six weeks to clear my system completely. Yeah… that.

Last weekend, when I was on my way to Colorado I commented to Jim that i was noticing more improvement. Some intermittent days without the withdrawal symptoms. The progression was so slow it comes close to imperceptible.

Now it’s Wednesday and I don’t think I had any symptoms yesterday. That’s a freaking incredible milestone! I’m looking forward to being done done. The day I can say I don’t remember when the last time was that my teeth hurt. That it’s just faded into the part of my past where the memory of it can no longer be pinpointed with accuracy.

At this point I’m not sure which affliction was slower to heal. The benzo recovery or tennis elbow recovery. That mess was also so terribly slow to recover from. Some days I think I still feel a ghost twinge. Now that I’m actually doing the math in my head, I’m pretty sure the tennis elbow took longer.

It’s also difficult to tell which was worse. In the thick of it, it’s just awful. The tennis elbow made me miserable for so long and to such a moderate degree. Something you can probably live with, like a toothache on one side of your mouth that causes you to chew on the other side. The Lorazepam withdrawal caused an actual tooth ache. Also moderate and tolerable but with no way to relieve.

To both I say “good riddance!!” Let’s hope that’s this is the last post I’ll ever do about that sort of crap. I’d much rather be writing about my apparent newest addiction. I mean, I use the word addiction with tongue in cheek, because what I’m really referring to is the fact that I’m spending a lot of time on Submittable, researching places to submit my writing and writing cover letters and putting together manuscripts somewhat tailored to what they are Looking for.

I started with a goal of doing one or two a week. Then my new target became daily. And now I’ve changed the measuring stick and want to have at least 50 open subs by the end of October. That’s not 50 total. It’s 50 new or in process with the publisher.

Feels a bit like gambling actually. You toss the dice and mostly the dealer just collects your money and says “please play again.” But sometimes a winning number comes up and you’re all like “Huzzah!!”, collect your 10 bucks and throw it right back down on the felt. Yeah, let’s go!!

I’m still green with this process but I feel like the insight I’m getting by doing all the research makes me a better equipped to be a success in my role as managing editor of The Good Life Review.

I’m getting exposed to a lot of magazines and publishers and their styles, approaches, and really have my finger on what’s hot right now. I already have a bunch of new ideas for promotion and adding a bit more personality to our public facing image. Yeah.. big ideas!

But back to my new personal affliction… with my aim to submit once a day, I found that one I started, mid morning, I really found it tough to close my laptop and move on to something else. I’d be all like “just one more” and “I wonder what submission windows will close tomorrow” and then “ohhhh, this one is a chapbook”.

Yesterday I was on submittable for 2.5 hours. I was only able to tear myself away because my stomach started grumbling and I realized it was past lunchtime. I was happy to sacrifice the time I had earmarked for cleaning toilets. The toilets can wait right??!! 😜

I’m up to 35 open subs, so I’ve only got 15 more to hit my goal by the end of October (unless I get some rejections, which is highly likely). I got one yesterday which was from a fairly recent sub.

That’s always appreciated.. punctual responses are delightful even if they are rejections. I have one open sub that’s been “in process” since February. I think the editors may have made a mistake. I’ve read the turnaround time with some of these publishers and am amazed at how long it takes. But I suppose some of those places get mountains of subs.

I’d send an inquiry note, but I’m kind of curious how long it will take.. like some sort of experiment. I love experiments.

I kind of love my new “addiction”. It’s much better (and a lot less destructive or personally harmful) than most other possibilities. And since I’m apparently immune to rejection now, I can submit away without any ill feelings. My bank account might get a little lighter, but I’ve certainly saved enough to ride this wave for a while.

Of course I’m keeping meticulous track of all the subs, moneys spent, and yes, moneys I’ve received. You kind of have to keep track because if something gets accepted, you have to withdraw it from all the other places you sent it. That will be a bit of a task indeed IF that happens.

Wowza.. and just like that I’m already at 10k steps for the day. Time to get rolling with the rest of my day.

Cheers to Good Health,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-08-25 Reading Past Repetition to Get to the Good Stuff

There’s no way I’m not going to not be tired today. That’s what less than four hours of sleep does to a person. 

Impossibly, it was not because of performance anxiety over the two hour training session I’m supposed to conduct today with a group of folks I’ve never met before. Incredibly I could not fall asleep in the first place, which has rarely been my problem. Impractical as it is, my issue was caused by my mind wandering around poetry. 

I was reading a lot of poetry before going to bed. Add that to the growing list of things I can’t do in the hour before going to bed. 🤷‍♀️

Thankfully that was all it was and had nothing to do with the results of the 3-D mammogram and breast ultrasound that occurred hours earlier. That mess had already been discussed and swept away. Thank the Universe, that topic was open and shut quickly. Grateful today to be lamenting sleep woes in classic SugarCookie broken record repetition style instead of thinking about how my life will never be the same. 

***

Last night I had to send out lots of declines for the lit mag. I don’t like that part of my new gig. Turns out I dislike being the bearer of bad news more than I dislike receiving it. I’ve got declines rolling back to me now quite regularly and I open those emails and just kind of shrug. I update the spreadsheet I’m using to keep track of my submissions like it’s just a business transaction. I don’t feel the sting of rejection and I wonder why not. It’s curious. 

What’s even stranger than that is my reaction to instances I’ve opened my email and found an acceptance. “Congratulations,” they say. We want your words.

This from my most recent acceptance letter.. “What powerful pieces! We particularly loved ‘Mining the Gap’ and are thrilled to say that we are going to publish it…”

This makes me feel all warm inside for a blink or two and then my heart returns to its typical rhythm. Not quite as subtle as a shrug but also not the spinning on dance floors one might expect. Why is that?
Is there something wrong with me? Do I disbelieve what I read? Am I incapable of being moved? Or do I not trust the sources? “Powerful?” Really? No way.

Maybe it’s indifference because I intend to keep submitting my poems regardless of the outcome. Perhaps it’s similar to writing them in the first place. The feeling I get from writing is pretty satisfying. Then really working whatever that is over and over until it feels finished is next level. I get excited. I turn the music up and dance a jig in my underwear in the kitchen all by myself. I love it when I read one of my beautiful babies and get that same rush and tingle. 

This morning I was at it early, revising a poem to prepare it for the world at large. When I finished and read it through without stopping, I welled up with tears. I mean, the topics of my 20’s and 30’s are old news. How incredible is it that I can still get choked up like that? That’s the stuff. 

Perhaps publishing is not the goal, but part of the motivation to revise? Perhaps I get enough satisfaction from self-publishing and don’t really need more? Perhaps these are the things I tell myself to steel my mind— to prepare for all the inevitable rejection. 

In any case, here’s the latest SugarCookie poem which is currently on display at wonderful online publication called Prometheus Dreaming (Poetry Volume 2, Issue 2.5): Mining the Gap

I’m grateful to this publication for wanting my words and including them among so many other wonderful poems I’ve read there.

That’s gonna be it for today folks. Thanks for playing along. (Time to go take a nap now – ha!)

Peace and Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-05-25 The Sign on the Door Says “Beware of Dragons”…

… but I open it anyway.

I’m not even sure where to start today.

Should I begin with the 5am wake up and subsequent spin-brain keeping me from going back to sleep?

Perhaps I should start by reflecting on that conversation I had yesterday with my Texas Bestie where she said her new motto was “good enough”.

Maybe it’s important to note that I launched a new website yesterday and consequently a new online lit mag. Yeah, that’s probably the most relevant place to begin.

Or is it?

After lying awake for an hour I rolled over and looked at my phone. There was a notification from WordPress about a new like on yesterday’s blog post. It’s not surprising that in this new world of constant connection and attaching self-worth to “likes”, that I find that satisfying. I’m like a child craving attention from parents who are almost always otherwise occupied. I am not like a child.. I am a child.. craving attention.

I unlocked my connectivity device and scrolled through the top news stories that google has chosen to “serve” me. I’m half creeped out by the fact that google knows too much about me. But The other half of me is glad that google has already done the heavy lifting, weeding out all the crap in the world that I don’t care about. /shrug

I scroll until a headline/article catches my attention. Something about rejecting editors of literary publications. My first thought was “oh, of course this new job of mine will provide yet another source of rejection”. As if I haven’t had enough opportunity for that. Of course.

I sort of read the article, in my way. I read the first two paragraphs with great intent and then skimmed the rest for words supporting the intent of the article. I want the example. I want the personal story that proves the argument.

It was something about being rejected and then being nominated for a pushcart prize for the same piece of writing. It was about researching lit mags before you submit to 1. Validate your work fits with the other writing they publish and 2. Decide if they are worthy of your writing.

I agree with both these things, but have found that that process is exhausting. Not sure why. Oh I know, because I’m overcommitted in general to start with and don’t feel like I have the time and patience for the process.

I don’t have the time for that, Yet somehow I think I can run a lit mag. That’s just crazy talk. It’s insanity. But wait. There’s more. Are you ready for this??…

I’m not qualified and I have no idea what I’m doing. Oh, yeah, and I’m terrified. Did I mention I was terrified?

I’m like a kid who just wandered into a seedy neighborhood on accident and is asking directions from people hanging out by a chain link fence around a neglected city park.

Yes, I did just equate the literary community to a seedy neighborhood. That’s just how I feel right now. Hoping “this too shall pass.”

So I rolled the dice yesterday and now I’m in it whether I like it or not. I don’t know how many hours I spent working on the WordPress site that will be the platform for this lit mag, but it’s a goddamned lot. This morning I spent 1 hour cruising Submittable and looking at other sites and ended up feeling defeated. There is only so much one can do with a “personal” plan and free themes. I have done the best I can but have a hard time reminding myself that it’s “good enough.”

In the not too distant future, a potential submitter can read the words written by other people. Words that were bravely submitted, read by our editors and accepted. Words “we” chose to publish. They can decide for themselves if their words fit with what we’re all about. They can reject us and not submit based on that. And “we” are going to live or die by that decision.

Until then though, it’s just the words on our site right now that have been written and approved by Ed and I. No pressure.
it’s also the site itself (in my head anyway). Someone might see it and think it rudimentary or not professional enough and reject based on that. If that’s the case, I suppose, I’d be inclined to say, “fuck off.”

Yeah, maybe I could do that. Just tell someone straight out, we don’t have funding or a paid staff and are basically trying to give this a go during a Pandemic. Who does that. Who decides to start a lit mag in the midst of a global pandemic? We do!

It’s going to be a bumpy ride. I can feel it already. And despite my being terrified, I’m going to do it anyway because that is all I know how to do. What choice do I have? I had no choice in getting my MFA. My inner spark demanded it. I’m not sure if it’s good or evil (this ShySpark).. I’ve been on the fence about that for years.

Is this driving force leading me to a better life or simply keeping me in a state of perpetual discontent? WTF?!

My friend Rebecca said her new motto is “good enough”, and no matter how much I’d like to get on board, I don’t think I can. Instead, I decide I’m going to hunt submittable for places I can submit my poetry to. And spend hours reading about potential places and deciding where to put my money. Because I’m assuming my money is all they will accept. My words, no doubt, will be rejected. That’s just how it is until it isn’t, apparently.

My hour is up and it’s almost 9AM. It’s a holiday supposedly but I’ve got plans to get back to the job that pays me actual money and play catch-up on all that QA I’ve been putting off in order to get to the “launch” yesterday.

The door is open now. Bring on the Dragons.

Yours truly,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-04-14 A Few Words Can Make All the Difference

It’s amazing how one conversation can make all the difference. The impact a few words can have in changing your mood, your perspective, and your direction is incredible.

Yesterday did not go as planned (surprise, surprise), yet one conversation I had with a friend of mine, Miss Michelle, was all it took for me to feel better about some of the things I’m putting my time and effort in.

I want to shine a light on this idea. I mean, in the context of what I was dealing with, which was struggling to find my own purpose and meaning and value with regard to the starting of a new online literary magazine, her words did wonders. It has to do with support and encouragement and solidarity. She had such great input and it was clear, that we understood each other.

I definitely have a vision for what I want this platform for words to be. I want it to be inclusive and revealing. I want it to be compelling and provocative, but probably, above all, I want it to spark those conversations that make all the difference in a persons life. I want people to be moved at having their words find a home and I want the readers to be moved when reading them. Connecting writers and readers to elevate everyone who actively participates.

I want to be Moved to laugh, and cry, and have that voice inside that says “YES!!!” after reading. As I’ve discovered in my own study of poetry, the mark of a good poem is one that lingers in the mind of the reader and urges them to return to it to read again and again.

I don’t know yet how to articulate this in a succinct way, but in a few short weeks (and with that conversation yesterday), it’s clear that I don’t have to and I’m not alone. The others who are with me in this are just as passionate and have a lot to contribute. I’m seeing it developing before my eyes and I’m excited about that. It’s really going to happen!

The conversation I had last night inspired me to get back into Submittable and keep doing research. Both for ideas for the lit mag and also for homes for my own words.

It’s actually a time consuming process. I’m not in the habit of trolleying around the internet looking at online publications but that’s kind of the prerequisite for finding places to submit. There’s a lot of niche publications out there and the writing I find in a lot of places doesn’t mesh with the kinds of poems I’m currently writing.

I did end up finding a great website / publication that I think is a good fit and so I spent some time thinking about the poems I’d send and reading all over their site. One of the things that struck me besides the excellent writing was the beautiful format and well thought out supporting content. I was like “this is next level”. And I want our website to kick ass like that!

Anyway, I put together a cover letter with my bio and did the submit thing. Six more of my babies sent out into the Wild world. Can they make it? Can they survive? Will they thrive? We’ll see.

Today I’m re-energized. It’s exciting and even if I get rejection. I’m doing it!! I’d estimate it takes about 1-2 hours to do a thorough job when submitting. I’d like to up my goal to like 2 or 3 submissions per week. If I’m truly supposed to reduce my work hours, that should not be a problem.

Funny how my boss tells me to limit my hours to 15 a week and then my PM keeps me on the phone for like 5 hours yesterday. It’s the first day of the week and I’ve already used up a third of my hours. 🤷‍♀️

There is so much out of control In the world, a girl can only do the best she can. And if that means letting go of some things, I need to find peace in that. Perhaps letting go is not the right phrase. Perhaps it is the finding peace that’s the important part to focus on.

With that, it’s time for me to find whatever peace (and balance) this day has hiding in the hours to come.

With Much Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

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