The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


What are we waiting for?

I don't hesitate to use the good china. Okay, I don't have "good china," but I do have good pottery. I love it, and I use it every day. I'm trying to make this the model for my everyday life.


I buy pint of organic raspberries. They're like little red jewels, which is an overwrought phrase when it comes to raspberries. But what else can I say? These ruby fruits are my favorite, so I want to make them last. But berries are not meant for waiting. Ripe soon turns to ruin. Eat the juice-full berries. Eat them now, whole bowlfuls if you must.


A recent Twitter exchange:

Me: What would happpen if I stopped putting my ideas up on a shelf, waiting for more time/confidence/resources? What would happpen?

Me: I'll tell you what would happen: THINGS WOULD START TO HAPPEN!

A friend: BIg FanDAMNtastic shit -- THAT's what would happen. There's something in the air Jenna, LEAP!


I yell at my husband for things that aren't his fault because I'm stressed about things that aren't his fault. He says nothing. We ride in silence. I practice "I'm sorry" over and over in my head, thinking I'll say it any second now. The words don't come, and then, without me trying, they do. "I'm sorry." All these years and it's still so hard to say. When will I learn? What am I waiting for?


I fill notebook pages with ideas for stories, articles, books, projects. What am I waiting for?


Tonight I filled a little apple-green bowl with red-red raspberries. There was no waiting.

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add to kirtsy | 11:47 PM | 5 comments


Not the Mama!

When I was a kid, my mom sometimes told my brother and me that a woman in Iowa had been "mummed" to death by her kids. This story usually followed a particularly harrowing round of "Hey-mom-watch-me!" These scenes often took place in our above-ground pool each summer.

I don't think we ever really believed her, and I don't think we ever felt bad about our incessant mom-ing. Our mother had a plenty of love, patience, and attention to go around. I'm sure there must have been times when she really did feel like she was being mummed to death, but she never showed it.

As many people know, I have a bad case of mommy angst. I started out not wanting kids and then became ambivalent about it. Then all I could think about was how I didn't know if I wanted kids or not. The baby question became an endless loop in my head, making me go slightly crazy. I was being mummed to death in a much different way.

I'm feeling a bit more balanced about things these days, even though I definitely haven't made up my mind yet. But have you noticed that the media is mom-ing us all to death now?

Lately, the news is full of stories I like to call, "Motherhood if Effin Hard, Man!"

This is the obvious counterpoint to the other dominant media message about mommy-dom, which is, "Motherhood: Who Could Ask for Anything More?"

We have lost all perspective.

I watched the Oprah show about the secret lives of moms, in which Oprah and a slew of moms talked about how effin hard it is to a be a mom. Don't get me wrong. I like many of those women, and know at least one of them, albeit peripherally. I'm not saying they're just whiny women who complain about their kids.

Still, I was shocked by the general feeling (real or edited-to-seem-real) of surprise at how hard motherhood is. Who are these people that thought having a child would be easy? Nothing about it seems easy to me. From the pregnancy and birth, to the child rearing itself -- these things seem fraught with stress, worry, and hard work.

I told a friend that all that maternal honesty on Oprah was doing nothing to allay my concerns and make me want a baby. She said, "That show isn't for you. It's like doing a show on how hard exercise is. It's just an angle to make it interesting."

But it was the wrong show for me to watch. I didn't need that show. I didn't need to hear about how hard motherhood is, because my concern about becoming a mother is directly centered on how hard motherhood is. The other thing that surprised me is the general message that mothers are glad to finally be telling and hearing the truth; that until now, nobody has been telling it like it is about parenthood; that everyone was just pushing around baby strollers with big smiles on their faces and then crying quietly during their once weekly shower.

Maybe it's taken the mainstream media awhile to catch up, but I've been reading about how hard motherhood is for years now. The blogs -- they are full of it! But I guess it's like Twitter: the media has finally jumped on board.

Now, apparently even some of the moms who were featured on the Oprah show are fed up with the media's portrayal of motherhood as a curse.

Still, isn't motherhood like everything else? Good and bad. Easy and hard. Fun and not fun. Where are the drama ridden exposes about fatherhood? About how much it sometimes sucks to go to work? About the joys and pains of marriage?

Motherhood has long been an iconic flashpoint, a state of being that is bigger than the people in that role. The state of motherhood has been honored, vilified, vindicated, and deified. The interesting thing about the media stereotypes of mothers is that they are so varied. There are June Cleavers, Moms who drink, Moms who work, Stay-at-home Moms, Soccer Moms, Earth Mama Goddesses, Hockey Moms, Stage Moms.

I'm not sure what the media thinks of women like me. What do you call a woman without kids? I don't think there's a label for us, which may be part of the reason we've escaped the media frenzy. We're invisible. And in this case, maybe that's not such a bad thing.

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add to kirtsy | 9:40 PM | 8 comments


Enough, already.

Things I don't do often enough:

  • Blog
  • Exercise
  • Weed the garden
  • Write
  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Vacuum
  • Floss
  • Dust
  • Shave my legs
The list goes on, on, on. Does yours do that, too?

Superhero Andrea has a recent blog post about doing enough by choosing what enough is. The idea came to her after reading Chris Guillebeau's 279 Days to Success Overnight manifesto, which I discovered a few weeks ago and love. Andrea sums up some things that have been swirling around in my head for awhile now. She says it beautifully, so I hope you'll read her post.

As a work-at-home freelance writer, I have a lot of time on my hands to play with. By this I mean that I can shape my days in almost any way I choose. This is a huge blessing in my life and I don't want to go back to a traditional work schedule. But the downside is that without a set schedule, writing work and domestic work start to meld together. Any time feels like a perfect time to work on a project or to do chores. As such, I'm constantly fighting off the feeling that I'm not doing what I should -- or could -- be doing. Because I haven't set specific goals (exercise three times a week) or allocated exact times for tasks (work on client projects from 1:00 - 5:00), I rarely feel like I've accomplished the day's goals.

I chafe against order and structure. I tend toward chaos. But in my heart, I know that I need a schedule -- as long as it's one that I have devised. I've been trying to do this for awhile now. I finally have some things in place that will help me create order. I'm intrigued to see if I can finally feel like I've done enough by defining what enough is.

What works for you?

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add to kirtsy | 6:21 PM | 4 comments