Thursday, May 24, 2012

Alphabet Soup

One of my writing friends, Arabella Stokes, tricked me. :) She got me to comment on a recent blogpost where she blogged about 10 things she loved beginning with the letter "C". Some of her entries included the Constitution, Cupcakes, and Chick-lit.  A fun and diverse list, actually, and you can read it here.

Well, I commented, and she promptly gave me the letter "J".

So, 10 things I love that begin with the letter J.

When I was growing up, one of my mother's favorite phrases to describe me was 'jack of all trades, master of none.' I was a dabbler--always looking for the new, shiny thing to hold. In her mind, that was a bad thing and I spent a lot of time beating myself up for not 'sticking to it.' Now I realize that having a broad-based sense of the world is not a negative, but a positive. Being able to 'dabble' in a large variety of topics and experiences has deepened me as an individual. I may not be an expert in many things, but I can enjoy and converse about many, many interests and that very dabbling may be just the skill set a writer needs to fire up her imagination.

This is somewhat of a cheat. :) The jalopy refers to my husband's mid-life-crisis of getting himself involved in cars and racing; a series known as the 24 hours of Lemons. (no, not Le Mons, lemons, as in crappy cars.)  I have grown to appreciate both the fun of the goofy cars, and the skill required to keep them running and drive them well.

jam and jelly
In my adult life, I discovered canning. No, I didn't grow up as a prairie gal. I was a city-mouse through and through. Subway? No problem. Find an apartment in Manhattan? Sure thing. Cook?! Are you crazy?
Well, dear friends taught me all manner of subversive skills, including baking bread and canning. Now I'm turning into a country-mouse.  I  freeze, dehydrate, and can anything fresh from the garden or our farm share that doesn't get eaten straight away. My favorite thing to do in mid-winter is head down to the basement and look at the beautiful jelly jars filled with raspberry jam, strawberry jam, and plum-apple jelly. Okay--maybe my second favorite thing, because very little compares to cracking open a jar and eating some!

I love language in all its variety and glory, but I have a secret love for specialized language. Having spent 25 years in the health care world, I am no stranger to medical jargon. I have a bunch of geeky computer programmer friends, so I get a lot of the programming jargon. Now with a car-loving hubby, I have to learn a whole new set of specialized car language or I won't understand what the guys on Top Gear are saying. (One of the oddities I don't understand is why they call a sedan a saloon, and pronounce coupe as coo-pay. A saloon is where cowboys drink.)

Java as in slang for coffee, not the programming language. I admit it. I'm a card-carrying coffee snob. I buy fresh beans in small batches and grind it fresh every morning. I make it in a french press and there is little that compares to that first sip of hot, fresh coffee to start my day. Come on over, I'll make you a fresh cup.
There are a few food items in my life that I'm not sure I could live without. Coffee is one of them. Good chocolate is another.  And neither can be sourced locally, unfortunately.

True confession time: when I was 12, I discovered this weird little British SF TV serial. You may have heard of it. . . Doctor Who. But old Who. My Doctor was Tom Baker--the dude with the scarf and the long tweed greatcoat.  One of my favorite 'schticks' was when he would be captured by the bad guys and have to empty his pockets. He always seemed  to have these little gummy candies--jelly babies--in his pocket.

As in 'we were promised jet packs'. It has to be one of the best band names ever, but I'm not including jet-pack in my list because of the band, but because of the sentiment. I was pretty much raised on the SF of the golden age; the stories written that looked to the future with optimistic blinders on and damn it, by 2012, I really expected that we'd all have personal jet-packs.
I'm actually still pretty optimistic about the future, despite all the world events and ugliness to the contrary.  I blame my misspent youth reading all those wonderful books.

Two meaning of journey relate to me. One is my love of travel. There is something wonderful and slightly magical and subversive about leaving your comfort zone and taking a journey to a strange new place. It stretches you and changes you. This was certainly the case when my family and I traveled to Kyrgyzstan in the summer of 2009. 3 years later, we still talk about the trip and the effect it had on all of us. 
The other aspect of journey that is meaningful in my life is the process of discovery. Every story I write is one kind of journey and it is not the destination that is important. It can be difficult to stay in the moment in our end-result-focused culture, but I do try to enjoy the journey along the way. 

It amazes me that I've been blogging since June 2005. That's nearly 7 years of continuous writing of 2-3 posts each week. But then again, I've kept a journal since somewhere around age 7.  For years, I hauled around those old paper journals in a big carton, never knowing what I was going to do with them. They survived several floods and multiple moves but they had been in the basement and did not survive our December 2010 house fire. At least I don't have to worry about anyone reading any of them, but part of me mourns the loss of my life's archeology.
While I blog regularly, I also still journal on the page. I have a series of small notebooks that I keep around and do freewriting and morning pages in them. They are also interspersed with to-do lists and doodles, notes taken during phone calls and random grocery lists.  I suppose someone could reconstruct my life from the pages. Well, they could if they could read my handwriting. . .
I really love the discipline of regular writing and journaling is a way to write without getting hamstrung by my internal editor. It is essential to my writing practice and to my creativity. 

When I lived in NYC, there was a wonderful toy store that sold wind up toys and buttons. Their motto was "Don't Postpone Joy." I often bought little wind up toys as gifts and pick-me-ups for friends, and every time I went in the store, I would also buy a button for my jean jacket. Almost as often, someone would comment on it and I would take it off my jacket and pin it on theirs. 
Sadly, the story is no more and I no longer have any of their buttons, but it is a motto I still try to live by. Even (especially) in the midst of tragedy, stress, sadness, it is vital to find a moment of joy and of laughter. I am fortunate to have married a man who has made me laugh for 30 years, so we find lots of joy in and around the moments of hardship. 

So there you have it, Arabella! 10 things I love, starting with the letter "J".

And my dear readers, if you are brave enough to leave a comment, I will reply with a letter for your contemplation.



  1. Seriously, now - wasn't it kind of fun? A good exercise for thinking outside the box ( what box? Where? I didn't see any box!).
    You did beautifully with the letter "J", chickadee!
    And as the person who assigned you your letter, I claim "no tag back" -no letter for me!!!

  2. That was an impressive list! And awesome. Although for "journey" you forgot to mention "Don't Stop Believin'." (Kidding).

    Though I don't can, I'm also excited about jams and jellies. There's an apple festival every year in the fall near where I live, and a profusion of insane kinds of jams. My favorite is japaleno, pineapple and apricot jam (all in one!).

    1. Ha! I remember that Journey song. :) Oh, the 80's. . .

      So because you were daring and left a comment, I'm going to tag you with this 10 things meme. . . and your letter is. . .


      So, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to blog about 10 things you love that start with the letter "R". Do stop by and leave a link to your blogpost if you take up the challenge!

      Ooh--and I *love* spicy jelly. We make an apple/pepper jelly that's amazing with cheese and crackers.

    2. Challenge accepted! *dodges self-destructing message

    3. BC--loved your post, but wasn't able to leave a comment, for some reason. :( I can see the comment link, but it doesn't link to anything for me.

  3. Java! I couldn't live without java. Well, I probably could, but I would be a sad puppy.

    1. Aimee--I totally agree. I'd be a *cranky* puppy.

      How about the letter "P" for you, my dear. :)