Thursday, August 30, 2007

Get the lead out

How I wish I were the type of journalist who worked on controversial material, because I'd love to sink my teeth (though not literally) into an expose regarding all the toys being recalled due to high amounts of lead.

Every time another release is sent out (like today's, courtesy of uber retailer Toys R Us), I'm forced to examine tons of my son's playthings. Is this contaminated? Is that manufactured during the period they mentioned on their website? Is this thing made in the right country?

My question is this: How hard can it be to ensure that lead isn't used in the manufacturing of kids' toys? Is quality assurance in the import/export business truly that difficult?

Of course, I shudder to think about how much lead I must have played around as a youngster.

I was born in 1971 and spent tons of time in houses with lead-based paint, I'm certain of it. That leads me to wonder whether there was any damage to my brain? (Those who don't care for me would rapidly answer that question.)

Would I be able to more effectively juggle my writing and day-to-day life if I hadn't been exposed to the toxin? I'd love to know, but the brain cells needed to answer that question probably breathed their last eons ago.

Fortunately, my son, who has tons of stuff that may or may not contain lead (who knows what tomorrow's press releases will say?), is amusing himself right now with a cardboard box that I fashioned into a house.

He's ripping off the "shutters", decorating the roof with stickers, and basically loving this bulky (but lead free!) item that's taking up part of the living room. ("Uh... honey... sorry about the mess... but it's better than having him play with lead-based crayons and paint!")

As long as box makers don't recall corrugated cardboard anytime soon, we'll probably be okay.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Got Soul?

I have always been intrigued by the notion of souls having an "age".

You know the deal--someone will point to a child and murmur, "He's an old soul." Without missing a beat, others in the room will cluck in agreement. (Are they really agreeing or just going along with the flow to sound more intellectual or knowledgeable?)

I don't know if I totally agree with the concept, and I'm not entirely comfortable with reincarnation (though it doesn't scare me), but I can say that when I look into the eyes of some individuals, I feel as though they've been on earth for a very long time.

Once, I worked with a gentleman who was, I believe, an ancient soul. Every time I talked with him, I sensed that I had known him a long time ago. And we had definitely never crossed paths in "this life." It wasn't a romantic type of connection; just a strange, indescribable relationship that felt centuries old. It almost made me uncomfortable to be around him, as if we weren't talking about something we were supposed to discuss. This was years ago, and I still find myself ruminating about it today.

I know it sounds crazy--believe me. But there's just this itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny, yellow-polka-dot-bikini part of me that wants to believe it's true. (It would kind of be the ultimate in recycling; rather than dumping souls, we'd just reuse them time and again.)

Often, I feel like I don't quite belong in the generation to which I was born... could my soul be longing for a past era? Or am I simply using the idea to deal with my own fears of what lies beyond this world?

Tell me... have you ever contemplated this notion of an "old" soul (or a "new" soul)?

And now, I need more diet soda...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Snippy McBippy

I'm in a snippy, snarky, snarly kind of mood due to lack of sleep combined with too many unexpected events getting in the way of my "expected" unexpected occurrences!

My routine has been disturbed, and I feel a little like a caged bear, ready to tear open the Lightning McQueen backpacks of the first cub scouts who dare to cross my path.

* Snarl. *

Funny thing is, I was feeling much worse before I finally gave in to my bad mood. Now that I'm joking about it, a grin is trying to make its way onto my pursed lips.

In retrospect, I think my real problem has been trying to swim against the tide of a sour humor. Instead of acknowledging it, I was building a wall against it... only to become seven times as irritated every time the wall came crashing down.

When I stopped resisting and embraced the truth of the matter, I felt much freer. I could actually float on top of my darkness instead of becoming submerged beneath it.

Ultimately, I'm not quite as biting any longer, which is fortunate for those in my life.

(But if I were a cub scout with a Disney-themed backpack, I'd still be wary of running into me.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

It's not too late

"It's not too late!"

That's the phrase I desperately hope that my students hear.

As a modeling/acting instructor, I run across so very many who are struggling with low self-esteem. The result? Drug abuse. Self-mutilation. Eating disorders.

These are just kids by my standards as a thirty-five year old. Thirteen. Eighteen. Twenty-two. And though I want to remain professional, detached, I find it tough to do.

I want to shake them, explain: "You have years ahead of you! These times will pass... and you will survive unless you lose the will to live."

Unfortunately, I think a few of the kids I've encountered have lost that will. They just don't know it yet.

They are killing themselves... slowly... achingly slowly... with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, cigarettes, illegal (and legal) substances, poor decisions.

When I muse about this too long, a little piece of me dies... and cries for the world.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Exercise for the mind

I work out at a local gym about five times a week.

It keeps me somewhat sane and I know it has been invaluable to me as a writer.

I used to be a real couch potato until I realized in my mid-twenties that gym life was actually kind of cool. I don't take classes because I'm too stubborn and a bit of a non-conformist ("No one tells me when to kick! I'll kick when I like!"), but I love burning calories by working out (in a self-directed way) on machines. Afterwards, I pig out and don't feel too guilty about it.

I truly wish more literary artists took the time to care for their bodies as well as they care for their creations. I know many authors who lament that they sit all day; would that they could allow themselves the pleasure of daily walking or jogging breaks.

Not only does regular aerobic exercise increase your stamina (so you can handle a few nights of writing until 2:00 a.m. and then getting up five short hours later ), it also provides your mind with "free association" time. I often mentally "escape" during physical activity and when I return to my computer, I'm much more relaxed, inspired and refreshed.

And there's another upshot to staying healthy, especially for those of us who routinely hear some variation of: "No, your work isn't good enough." When you're super-duper-pooper-scooper pissed off, running and/or lifting weights gets out your aggression in a productive manner that you're not likely to regret.

If you aren't accustomed to treating yourself to the luxury of a little exercise, I invite you to start now.

Even if you hate the concept of "formally" working out, you probably like some type of heart-pumping activity, whether it's hiking, cycling or even kissing. (I read once that "heavy petting" sessions can burn calories... what an awesome excuse for some late-night necking! Back seat sex optional.)


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Call me... we'll do lunch

There's something about this time of year that always reminds me of my back-to-school days in the Crustacean period (or thereabouts.)

Today, I starting reminiscing about the lunch boxes I had as a child. Two made such a huge impression on me as a child that I decided to seek out replicas of them online.

The first was a bright blue plastic Snoopy/Woodstock lunch box that I carried everywhere.

It was fabulous and made me feel very grown-up and sassy. Unfortunately, Todd W. dropped it (accidentally?) on the floor in fifth grade, rendering it useless from that day forward. He actually had a similar Peanuts-themed lunch box of his own, and I was furious that he didn't give me his as a replacement! I loved that lunch box. Heck, I'm still thinking about it with fondness over twenty-five years later! [insert sappy violin music]

Imagine my excitement when I found an exact replica of my long lost Snoopy lunch box on... where else?... eBay! Yes, you can purchase it here by being the highest bidder as of August 29th. Let me know if you win!

The second lunch box that stole my heart was a tacky Dukes of Hazzard model, shown here(thanks again, eBay!) Yes, it's a rotten piece of garbage with a crappy photo on the front, but I worshipped at the altar of that commercial thing and wanted so badly to become Daisy Duke so I could run around with Bo and Luke and wear short-shorts and high heels.

I don't recommend purchasing the Dukes lunch box, however; stick with Snoopy if you're going vintage.

In a related "the-more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the-same" story, my four-year-old son has inherited from his Grandad a camouflage bag that's not really a lunch box, per se, but more of a "keep things cool/hot" storage container.

He's planning on bringing it with him to pre-K in a couple of weeks and stocking it nightly with goodies such as apples, bananas, yogurt, sandwiches and, most certainly, sugary treats.

I'm sure he'll remember his first lunch box wistfully when he's getting gray hairs and it's almost September.

Niceland, USA

Guess what?

I'm nice.

No, that's not me earnestly telling you about myself... that's me sarcastically reiterating what I'm told day after day. I'm nice. I'm "nice" to work with. I'm a "nice" person. I have a "nice" sense of style. My humor is "nice". My writing is "nice". I'm "nice" to be around.


Blechh. That's about as interesting as a bowl of warm, unflavored gelatin.

I should be flattered, I suppose. I mean, at least the majority of people aren't calling me a Soul-Shredding She-Devil. (Wouldn't that be a cool blog name? Perhaps the title of a poem or short story? But I digress...)

There's just something about "nice" that's not... well... nice.

I think the problem is that the word "nice" doesn't intrinsically say anything. It's not exactly descriptive, is it?

Can you imagine how deflated your ego would be if, after what you considered a passionate lovemaking session, your partner smiled condescendingly and made the comment, "Oh. That was so... nice." Yeah. That would feel awesome.

On the other hand, I've been called worse. Much worse. And it felt crappy.

At those times, I would have given anything to hear, "You're nice," rather than some of the names that were hurled my way. (Incidentally, I'm too nice to repeat them here... just use your imagination and you'll probably come up with one or two.)

I suppose my real problem is that I don't believe I'm "nice" at all.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not evil. I'm not particularly nasty. I don't attack small animals for pleasure. But I'm not "nice". Certainly, I'm pleasant... I'm friendly... I'm understanding. Those are traits I've honed after living and working with humans (as opposed to aliens or fauna) for over 35 years.

At the same time, though, I'm extremely self-centered. I'm passive-aggressive. I'm sometimes even rude. Those monikers don't exactly shout "nice", do they?

Perhaps I unintentionally wear a "nice" masque? Or maybe people are just being nice when they tell me I'm nice, but they're really thinking, "My goodness--she's not nice at all!"

Who knows?



Monday, August 20, 2007

Living Each Day as If It Were...

Though I don't always achieve my goals, I try to live each day as fully as I can. Even if I just move a little further toward my dreams, I feel that I've done something.


Well, to put it mildly, I would hate to have the following scenario occur. I mean, how embarrassing!


(knock on door)

Me: Coming...!
Voice: Take your time...
Me: (opens door to reveal man in black robe carrying scythe) Oh!
Death: Yeah, I get that a lot. (pause) Can I come in?
Me: (recovers) Of course! How rude of me... Go up the stairs to your left...
Death: Wow. This place is deceptively big for a townhouse.
Me: (laughs) I hear that so often. We were shocked, too. That's why we bought it.
Death: But how is the resale value?
Me: Eh, could be better, could be worse.
Death: Condos don't normally appreciate much...
Me: (interrupts) True, but they don't DEpreciate much, either.
Death: Good point.


Me: Sit down.

(both sit at dining room table)

Death: I guess you know why I'm here.
Me: (sighs) Damn.


Death: I always hate this part.
Me: Before you start on your pitch about how nice being deceased is going to be, would you like a drink?
Death: You know, I really would. Have anything carbonated? I had a stromboli for lunch and it's not sitting right.
Me: Sure - Coke okay?
Death: Only if it's Diet... I'm trying to watch my waistline...
Me: Are you kidding me? Of course it's diet! (both laugh)
Death: (takes can) Thanks. (pulls papers out of a briefcase) Okay. So let's get down to business. (puts on reading glasses and recites for the millionth time) I'm here today to help you begin your journey to a wonderful world beyond the confines of this...
Me: (interjects) I need an extension.
Death: (looks up over glasses) I beg your pardon?
Me: (repeats loudly) I'm asking for an extension of a few years... or longer. I need to get some things done.
Death: (puts papers down slowly) This isn't negotiable.
Me: (chuckles) Hey, I worked in sales. EVERYTHING is negotiable.
Death: (smiles despite himself and takes a swig of diet Coke) Okay, so what am I going to tell my boss? (lowers voice) He'll kill me if I don't harvest my quota of souls.
Me: Hmmm. I'm not sure.
Death: (continues) I mean, I'd like to help you...
Me: ... I know you would...
Death: ...but it's just... well... I'm up for a promotion at the end of the month and my numbers are down this quarter. I mean. Geez, I hate this job sometimes.
Me: Why don't you try another line of work?
Death: (laughs wryly) Yeah, right. I've been doing this so long... I'd love to try... well...
Me: Go on.
Death: Okay. Please don't laugh. But I'd really like to work in politics. I've always had dreams of being some kind of a pundit. I think I can make a difference...
Me: So why don't you?
Death: (sighs and sips soda again) I'm too old.
Me: (scoffs) You're not too old! I've seen people older than you make a change!
Death: Eh... you sound just like my wife... she's always nagging me to go back to school, do what makes me happy... (coughs uncomfortably)


Me: So... do we have a deal?
Death: (smiles) Yeah, yeah we do.
Me: Come back in five years... maybe ten...
Death: I'll tell you what... I'll give you twenty, but you have to promise to do something with your life.
Me: Only if you do with yours!
Death: (gets up) Thanks for the drink. It hit the spot. No, don't get up. I can let myself out.
Me: Be careful out there!
Death: (calls as he leaves) Take care!


copyright 2007, AHCaffrey

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Show me your "blasque" and I'll show you mine

As is my wont, I have come up with yet another bizarre blogger term:

Blasque (blog + masque) = the persona that bloggers create for themselves (sometimes deliberately, often not.)

I've been thinking about the topic of blasques for a while. After all, every blogger is really an imperfect, fuzzy reflection of his/her "real world" self.

For example, even though I make attempts to always be 100% truthful in my blogging, I don't talk about certain subjects in depth. For whatever reason, I choose to keep them close to my heart and out of the blogosphere. Ultimately, Recess for Writers isn't a diary for me (you should thank me... you'd be bored to tears if it were!); consequently, it represents only a small percentage of who I am.

In essence, my blasque is distorted, even though I try to be brutally honest. I'm not trying to be deceptive, but just as a photo is a snapshot of a moment in time, my blog is only a collection of selected thoughts, experiences, literary creations and/or observations.

For some bloggers, the blasque they wear is even less of an accurate reflection of who they "really" are. Though they don't necessarily admit it, many bloggers appear to be "posturing", pretending to be tougher or stronger than perhaps they really feel they are. I suspect that if you encountered them on the street, you'd never know they were the same persons who authored their blogs.

So. What does your blasque look like?

Would I recognize you if I saw you today at the grocery store? Would I know who you were if we chatted at the doctor's office while waiting for our appointments? Or would we be completely unaware because our blasques are such tiny fragments of our everyday worlds?

I suppose a blasque is a natural product of blogging, but it's one I'm definitely going to ruminate about for a long time.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

So much for altruism!

As I mentioned in yesterday's post on rejections, I was bound and determined to help someone else out in an attempt to get my mind out of my pathetic self-absorption.

To make a long story short, I followed through.

Well, sort of.

My attempts at helping someone else failed. I was rejected again!

But this time, I had to laugh. The person I tried to assist basically told me, "Thanks, but no thanks." Now THAT'S funny!

It honestly made my blues lift, even if I wasn't able to achieve my original goal.

That being said, I am still going to do something nice for someone, dammit! I just don't know when... but it'll be soon and I'll blog about the experience.

Geesh. Who knew altruism could be so much work?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Reality's sting

As someone who spent many years in the land of sales, I am familiar with Rejection's icy hand.

I know how to get over that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I realize that it's often for the best when a job falls through. I understand that we can't "win 'em all".

Yet, dammit. It does bother me.

I'd like to lie and say something trite and bubbly such as: "Every 'no' is one step closer to 'yes', so I'm a-okay with being rejected!" However, lying on my blog would be ridiculous. It's not my way.

Yesterday, I wasted time fretting about the loss of a job. Foolish of me. Completely self-centered. But nonetheless true.

However, the sun has risen this morning without fail and another full day awaits me.

It's an opportunity to return to The Well and fuel up. It's time to forge ahead and let go.

Today, I've promised myself that I'm going to do something unexpected and lovely for someone else as an attempt to focus my mind and heart outward rather than inward. Usually, that helps me get over my "Woe is me!" moments.

Sigh. Breathe. Move on.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Like a banana cream pie in the face, it hit me yesterday: I am a full time writer.

Yes, I knew I was writing frequently, but I always described myself as writing "part time".

Whenever I tell people "what I do" (god, I hate that phrase... isn't there a more interesting way to ask about someone's life?), I answer: "I'm a part-time writer, part-time modeling and acting instructor, part-time performer and full-time at-home mother."

Now, I'm going to have to change how I refer to myself.

Reality has set in that I'm on a full-time path with my writing. It has just kind of happened.

I originally planned to stay PT, but I've ended up FT. I can handle it, but I'm going to have to watch myself because I don't want to end up AT ("All Time"). That would be a bit much and I'd have to forgo sleep. Not a likely scenario!

Epiphany, anyone?

Monday, August 13, 2007

The stories that will never be

In my rather pensive moments (which seem to happen more and more frequently with each passing year), I occasionally lament over all the stories that will never be written.

When I'm walking down the street and two squirrels begin chattering and chasing each other, I can't help but think, "Now that's a great starting point for a children's book."

And when I drive or ride in the car, I muse about the people in the vehicles around me. Aren't they all vessels filled to the brim with story "kernels"?

At cemetaries (especially very old ones), I see each grave site as the resting place for a lifetime of stories.

Sadly, most of the stories in the world will simply vanish into nothingness before they can be ensnared by poets, authors, singers, artists and storytellers. There can be no way of putting all of life's magical and mundane moments in jars to shelve them until they can be told.

They are simply gone.

Consequently, I spend a large part of each day trying to be more observant. I fill scraps of paper with ideas that may or may not turn into essays, blog postings, articles and stories. Someday, a few of them will be written. The rest will return to dust.

On this Monday morning, I encourage you to open your eyes, ears and heart to the world around you.

Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, you'll capture a story or two that otherwise would have floated away, undiscovered.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

aftermath & writing

My son's party is over and this morning I feel like several steamrollers smushed me into the mud... then backed over me for good measure.

Truth be told, I believe everyone had a lovely time--plenty of squeals and shrieks emanated from the munchkins who raced around our backyard trying to vie for each other's attention and approval.

Unfortunately, I (as hostess) spent the least time with the guests. It seems as if that happens more and more. Ironically, I did less this year in terms of prep work than I have for my little guy's previous parties. But I still found myself inside the house instead of on the deck. I have to work on being more "available" next year.

In the midst of the swirling tornadic activity, I wrote. I wrote Friday all day, I wrote Saturday morning before getting ready for the party, and I'm writing now. It's a never ending game of tag--snag a job, get it done, take a quick breath, tackle the next project.

Maybe writing IS "child's play", after all.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

~ a special day ~

Is it here already? Is my son honestly four years old today?

I can remember very clearly my first few months of motherhood.

It was exciting... and exhausting.

I didn't bond with my child right away the way I assumed I would, though. Our relationship felt awkward, different, strained... it was so bizarre to have a creature attached to me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Diapers were a mystery. Every sniffle made my heart race. And the fact that my baby was colicky and literally would sleep 20 minutes or so and then be up--screaming--for 4-5 hours didn't help.

I prayed that he would settle down, but it took about six months for him to sleep for any significant periods of time. And forget about naps. He never needed 'em, never indulged me in regular snippets of time off.

It was a full-time job staying alert while trying to run a household. I thought a lot about myself in those days, pitifully (and vainly) wanting an escape. Not surprisingly, I wound up feeling guilty because I wasn't spending enough time being the "perfect", "unselfish" mommy.

But that was long ago and far away, as someone once said.

Now, we're here. The landscape has changed forever. We've made it through The Dark Ages to the Light of Tomorrow.

This morning, he's diligently playing with new toys, courtesy of his nana.

He's not shrieking and he's not forcing himself upon my lap. He's coming into his own and it's remarkable to witness. I try to guide him without crushing his spirit, attempt to discipline him without squelching his esteem.

In the midst of all this parenting madness, I've become a somewhat-successful freelance writer.

I'm able to help support our family by manipulating words into sentences, paragraphs, stories, ideas. At times, I still feel twinges of guilt, sitting here at my laptop. But I think it's important to show my son that if you persevere, you can achieve some measure of success. He doesn't quite "get" that yet, but I believe he will.

To my special guy on The Big Four, I wish you continued happiness and fulfillness. I hope you never experience a moment of regret, an ounce of self doubt. May no relationships beat you down, only lift you up. And may you choose your career based on your heart, not your wallet.

I love you, sweetie. You're the best.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Analysis of driving techniques

As I was cruising around the uber-humid midstate Pennsylvania roads yesterday, I suddenly took notice (thanks to questions from my curious preschooler) of my hand positioning on the wheel.

Though I was taught to drive at "10" and "2" (as if the driver's wheel were a clock), I more often hold the wheel at "8" and "6". Sometimes, it's "11" and "5 1/2". Occasionally, it's one-handed (right hand 80% of the time) at the bottom of the wheel. (FYI--my hands are always positioned "overhand" rather than "underhand" on the wheel.)

Anyway, in my heat-induced craze, I started to wonder what someone could infer about me based on my wheel positioning preferences.

My dime-store analysis (worth about as a much as a stuffed toy you'd win from a greasy carny at the local fair) is that:

- I'm a bit inconsistent.
- I'm flexible.
- I think way too much about mundane things.

In any case, I'm asking for your insights:

How do you hold the wheel when you drive, and what do you think that says about you?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Painting & Pondering

Crazy as the past deadline-driven 24 hours have been, I feel energized and alert.

I even awoke at 4:00 a.m. How's that for bizarre?

One of my current non-writing projects involves a certain little guy's fourth birthday party this weekend. Aside from planning dinosaur-themed festivities (please send ideas!), I'm finally upgrading the first floor bathroom so guests don't vomit when they see it. (The room was "dormitory chic", if you get my drift.)

(FYI, I'm the official "contractor" of our household--the big gray toolbox is my pride and joy. I bought a basin wrench at Lowe's earlier this week and literally danced around in the humongous aisles. My son loved it. Onlookers seemed to be embarrassed by my behavior. Big deal. Get over yourself. Have a little fun.)

Late last night (after researching and writing until my eyes were blurry and red), I took up my brush and began to paint. It's a painfully boring act, so my mind was wandering to and fro, making connections and experiencing mini-epiphanies, perhaps helped along by the fumes.

It was as I was covering the bathroom's urine-colored hue with a lovely shade of steel blue that it occurred to me that painting is a bit like writing because the job is never really "perfect" or "done". There are always stray splatters, those corners that didn't get enough coverage, spots that don't look quite right...

It makes you wonder: Is one "coat" (aka, edit) enough? Perhaps two would be better? Or three? Did I hear someone say, "Four?"

When does it end?

The truth is, I'm not sure the rewriting and editing process DOES have an ending. Eventually, you just have to say, "I'm as finished as I can be right now." But in your heart, you wonder what you could do to make your ideas come alive just a little bit more.

For me, writing is a journey, not a destination. Pieces I've written in the past now seem unfinished to me, as if they are organic beings.

It reminds me of a favorite quote: "You can never step in the same river twice." (Who said that? I'd better look it up...)

Yesterday, I decided to end my bathroom painting adventure with two coats and some touch-ups. The product is far from ideal and, truth be told, is rather shoddy in places.

But at least people won't regurgitate when they are forced to use the loo after imbibing dinosaur-themed beverages.

Hopefully, my writings (woefully incomplete as they are at times) won't cause any gastrointestinal distress for readers, either.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Today is a day of triage.

I am forgoing the gym this morning (sob!) to write, write, write. I have deadlines, and they must come first. I'd love to be working out, but though I chugged along until after 1:00 a.m. last night, the words didn't flow as eloquently or efficiently as I would have liked. So I'm forced to cut out unnecessary activities.

I still love what I do--it's just frustrating on mornings like this. Typically, I would be heading to the health club and having that routine disrupted ("athletus interruptus") bothers me.

Oh, well. I'm not training for any particular events... and I don't get paid to sweat. (Unless it's deadline-driven perspiration, of course.)

Triage. Just another aspect of being a freelancer, an at-home mommy, a modeling/acting instructor (I'll blog about that another day), and a wife. (Sorry, honey... I'm listing that last but it's not a reflection on you or us!)

Back to the land where wordsmiths frolic...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

This is the "Blife"

The blogging life-- or "Blife" as I like to call it. At times, it's almost too good to be true.

I cannot believe how much blogging every day (or almost every day) makes me feel a part of a larger community. To be perfectly honest, I had zero intention of being sucked into the blogosphere when I started posting. I just figured I'd jump in the waves and try to avoid any sharks while treading water.

Instead, here I am today. A blogger.


It's fun stuff. It's also energizing and comforting. I've created bonds with recreational and professional writers around the planet, something that wouldn't have been possible only 15 years ago (aka, "The Dark Ages").

When others post about their pain, I feel it, too. When they experience life's "highs", I'm thrilled for them. When they introduce me to new ideas and opportunities, I'm thankful.

If you aren't a blogger yet, get on board soon. I'm telling you--there's nothing like it.


This is the blife.

Monday, August 6, 2007

it's neat, it's sweet, it makes me feel complete

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit in the title of this post... but being named 2nd Runner Up in the Readers' Choice Awards for the "Halo" short fiction competition hosted by Jason at Clarity of Night is pretty cool.

You can read my entry here, but please don't stop there! Over 80 writers entered, and the stories (especially those that took top prizes) are exceptional.

I'm just happy that some folks found mine to be entertaining. Really, I wrote the story just for the fun of it; I can't wait until the next one!

Thanks to everyone, especially Jason (heck, he had to judge all those entries--probably went through a ton of caffeine!)

~ power noshes ~

I have a secret love.


Okay, maybe it's not so secret (look at my hips, for crying out loud! I have a cupcake from 1986 that still clings to my thighs and won't let go... talk about tenacity!)

However, I'm fortunate in that I love "good" food as much as "bad".

There's nothing like a granny smith apple to make me smile even as I have to negotiate pay rates. Baby carrots are satisfying to munch on while pounding out a deadline-driven assignment. And let us not forget that first cup of moderately strong coffee (preferably made by my hubby who has a knack for brewing a smooth blend of java) to start the day off right.

But I don't always eat well. No way.

There are nights spent with my laptop and leftover cake. There are afternoons where whole boxes of crackers mysteriously disappear (and my son isn't to blame.) I've even resorted to eating gummy worms before bedtime for that final sugary "kick" to help finish a project on time.

Power noshing. It's not always healthy, but, dang. It's sure enjoyable, at least in the short-term.

Well, on to the gym to extricate the pastry I ate in '92 from my derriere...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

...of deadlines and migraines...

It happened today for the first time in weeks.

I awoke with a slight throbbing in my temples and a bit of light sensitivity. By afternoon, the feeling of queasiness set upon me and my head began to throb. By early evening, I was in serious pain.

But I had deadlines. Er... I have deadlines. Even weekend deadlines. It's part of the job. So I'm writing through a migraine-induced haze.

This is one of those times when it would be great to take a "sick day", but there's no such thing in the land of freelancing.

It's okay, though. Really.

It's almost 9:00 p.m. and the migraine has substantially subsided. Now, I'm left with a blank computer screen and a ticking clock.

Ah... but the vice grip of a migraine is still better than working in a cubby and listening to a coworker jabber on the telephone about her impending menstrual cycle.

(Am I a snark-a-holic tonight or what?)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

When every day is Monday...

Since the birth of my son almost four years ago, every day has been a Monday.

I extricated myself from the corporate hustle and bustle where the term TGIF really stood for something; in doing so, I also forfeited any excitement when Saturday and Sunday roll around.

Before I started freelancing in earnest over three years ago, each day was the same as the last and I found it boring and disturbing. I wanted more. I didn't know what that meant, but not "contributing" financially was unsettling. And I longed to use my intelligence for something other than figuring out how to make a shrieking baby smile.

Weekends didn't mean much to me because I was "on call" 24/7 (sometimes it felt like 25/7). It was exhausting and I missed enjoying the light at the end of the tunnel. I missed craving the two days of the week when I didn't have to wear pantyhose or be a business woman.

I missed it all.

Fast forward to August 4, 2007.

Today, I have a totally different perspective on "losing" my TGIF attitude.

I still have no weekends. Every day is still a Monday. But I feel much happier about it.

Every day, I wake up with excitement, knowing that I can work... I can write... and I can even get paid for doing so! I can also play with my son, do the laundry, make a pie, eat the pie, hide the remnants, make another pie... every day! It makes me feel so fortunate.

I don't miss my weekends because I have been given a gift: I can enjoy all worlds every day.

I can write for a few hours, head to the pool with my little dude, then come back to the laptop refreshed. I can conduct a telephone interview at 8:00 p.m. EST with someone who is on the west coast and just getting off of work. I can even write in my bed if I want.

Sure, it's demanding. It's tiring. It's disheartening at times. It sometimes makes my head spin. And it's difficult to explain to people who aren't freelancers.

But it's a life that I've chosen rather than one that's been chosen for me.

That's powerful stuff.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Book That's Inside You

I regularly meet people who sigh and say, "I'd love to write a book about ________, but I could never do it."

I usually encourage them, but I suspect that the real reason they do not write what lies in their hearts is a combination of the following:

1. Fear--of success, failure, mediocrity, whatever.
2. Insecurity--Some individuals really don't believe they are worthy of taking the time for themselves to write.
3. Lack of Support--from family, friends, themselves, et cetera.

Now, I truly do understand what keeps these men and women from exposing their souls to rejection (or acclaim, which can be difficult, too.) I've hesitated more than once myself, though I seem to keep coming back to "the well" like the proverbial "moth" to flame. (Yes, I've been burned... and I have the singed wings to prove it!)

Still, I wish more want-to-be authors would take the first step and begin jotting down their thoughts. Concepts, images, stories... they are everywhere. And they are gone in an instant unless we make the opportunities to capture them.

This weekend (and beyond), I encourage you to pursue all your deep, dark literary aspirations. You never know what you'll find when you unlock your personal treasure trove of ideas.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

:: untitled ::

(I'd love feedback and/or title suggestions for this poem that came to me late last night while playing with my sweetie pie...)


Could a flower thrive
In darkness?
I think it could be done...
A pretty blossom,
Locked away,
Without the warmth of sun.
Forced to feed
Upon itself--
To nourish its own soul.
A living,
To being truly whole.

copyright AHCaffrey, 2007

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

My heroes have always been... um... uh...?

I have always been impressed when someone waxes about his/her personal heroes. Usually, that hero is an individual very close to him/her (mother, father, sister, brother, et cetera) or someone universally recognizable (e.g., Gandhi, a world political or religious leader, Oprah Winfrey.)

(DISCLAIMER: Just for the record, I am not an Oprah fan. I find her incredibly self-absorbed even though she does have moments of altruistic behavior. I merely chose her as a celeb example instead of Paris Hilton because it's early and I can't think of anyone better right now. *yawn* *coffee slurping ensues*)

Back to the blog topic...

I, however, have no heroes.

Certainly, I've encountered adults and kids who were heroic--there's no question about that. But there's no one I "look up to" and try to emulate.

I've tried to imagine what it must be like to have a hero. I'm guessing it makes you feel very comforted and inspired.

But does it also create an internal struggle to put a person on a pedestal so much higher than yourself? In other words, does it give you the impression that you're never good enough because you cannot possibly be as [fill-in-the-blank] as your hero(es)?

Heavy stuff for 6:41 a.m., huh?

(I need more caffeine.)