Inconsistency or I Did What? Again? #MondayBlogs #whereicandothemostgood

My mother once said I was predictably unpredictable.  I would argue that I’m simply consistently inconsistent.  Some of you may have noticed that I’ve “rebooted” my LinkedIn account.  Those who know me well aren’t the least bit surprised.  This seems to my M.O.:  I’ll think long and hard about taking an action, consider all the pros and cons, and after considerable debates with me, myself, and I, make a decision and announce it to the world.  Then, within a short period of time, I will flipflop.  I will discover some reason, some argument that I had somehow overlooked, and come to regret what now seems to be an ill-informed decision.

Well.  So it goes.

I try to simplify my life, but life simply isn’t simple.

And I really can’t complain about that.  As an older yogi friend of mine said, after asking him how he was feeling:  “Well, I’m still vertical and sucking air.”  True dat.  Still, I get annoyed with myself for being what I perceive as inconsistent.  That said, while filling in all my employment and education history (I had deleted my previous account and obviously all the data that went with it), I saw a lot of consistency.

I’ve been working for the same state government for 15 years and have progressively gained more experience in working with, what we in the biz call, “large administrative data sets.”  Your birth certificate data sets, your hospital discharge data sets.  These files of millions of records that were never designed for research, never meant to “communicate” with each other.  But I make them talk, in a manner of speaking.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m no magician or even expert when it comes to this kind of work.  I was (and still am to a degree) part of a team of highly skilled epidemiologists and public health experts.  Working with data like this is like working on a massive jigsaw puzzle that was designed by different people for different reasons.  Not all the pieces are going to fit.  Some may even be missing.  The fun is in finding those pieces that will fit, and the reward is in knowing that the completed puzzle, even with its missing pieces, will be used to understand health behaviors and, ideally, improve health outcomes.

The true benefit of deleting and then resurrecting my LinkedIn account is my realization that this part of my life is still pretty important to me.  Of course, if I could afford to live off my writing, I would.  I’m not a fool.  But since I have to have a day job, I’m glad it’s in a field that seeks to make a positive difference in the world.  A colleague recently said to me, “I just want to be where I can do the most good.”  I know some if not many people think government employees are slackers at best, parasites at worst.

Well, hello there, dear Reader.  My name is Marie and I am a state government employee.  What motivates me in my work is not my salary, not even my benefits (although I truly appreciate having them).  My motivation is in being “where I can do the most good.”  And I know, in this case, I am very, very lucky.

And now for something different.

A tree!

A tree!

Yes, a tree and not a cat!  This photo was taken a few years ago when I was visiting my childhood home.  There’s a wonderful footpath through the woods and past the cornfields near my old house.  The photo doesn’t do justice to the wonderful late afternoon light which made the leaves of this tree glow.  Soon, I’ll be making another trip to this area.  I’ve plan for a couple of posts while I’m gone, but comments will be off since my access to the internet will be intermittent at best.

But you know, dear Reader, I’m always with you in spirit.

I Got Almost … #MondayBlogs #Procrastination

Nothing.  Yes, dear Reader, I got almost nothing for this post today.  I have been fairly productive of late, but not with writing or blogging.  Again, it’s the knitting.

A friend noted that the buttons on the baby sweater I knitted for a baby-to-be might not be appropriate for a baby.

Yes, they are cute cat heads but the ears are rather pointy, not too sharp against my rough old skin, but I don’t want to the buttons to be the cause of baby’s first injury.  So I swap them out for these.

And, to be honest, I think these buttons are better suited.  They are pretty without drawing the eye entirely away from the sweater pattern.

I hope to present the parents-to-be with the sweater and hat tonight.  I’m sure they will be pleased that at least the outfit can be machine washed and dried, and yet it is wool. Merino wool, in fact, which is very soft.

Well, that’s it for now.  I’m thinking (again) of changing my blogging schedule.  If I aim for Fridays, then I can have all week to write and revise my posts instead of doing them half-off as I am now.  We’ll see.

Oh, and what about the classes I’m taking?  Well, the Modern Poetry class is a no-go for me.  It’s too fragmented: too many links to follow, an audio here, a video there.  Each week brings an email (or two) with several embedded links.  In contrast, a class I started a long while ago (on a lark), through the same platform (Coursera) has a very simple syllabus, with all content accessible through my iPad app.  The course is historical fiction and very interesting so far.  I can (and have) happily watched a video lecture while knitting.  I’ll say more about that class in a later post.  I’m still looking forward (with eagerness and dread) to the Fiction Workshop that will be offered free through the International Writing Program.  That will start on Thursday, September 24.  And, no doubt, you’ll hear all about that as well.

Until then a little eye candy for all you cat lovers: my green-eyed boy Junior.  Why buy a fancy cat bed when an old basket and a couple of magazines make him happy?

Humming Along #MondayBlogs #Hummingbirds

This is pretty much how I’ll be looking/feeling over the next several weeks … photos courtesy of my husband and a visiting hummingbird.

Coming in a for landing

Coming in a for landing.




Drink up!


Taking It to the Limit #MondayBlogs #LaborOfLove

Hello, dearest Reader.  I feel like I’ve fallen far off the grid, and yet it’s only been a week and several hours since my last post.  The real difference is I haven’t visited any of my friends’ blogs.  I’ve been busy, which is quite fitting since today is Labor Day in the US.


Guernsey style infant sweater and hat. Yes, the buttons are cat faces 🙂

I still have the baby blanket to knit, but at least I’ve completed the sweater and cap.  I have my doubts about this pattern, though, and it’s the second time I’ve knitted it.  I used to knit sweaters a lot, adult sweaters for friends, me, and my husband.  The baby things have only come about in the last 14 years, since my nephews started having children.  Then a good friend gained a granddaughter and coworkers started having babies.  For a long while I was knitting baby blankets, occasionally throwing in a sweater or socks or a dress.  The thing is … I hate sewing the pieces together, especially when the stitch pattern is anything other than stockinette stitch.  I recall only one time in my knitting life when I sewed up the seams of a cardigan so well they were almost invisible.  (And when I say “sew,” I mean taking several inches of the yarn and a large blunt needle and weaving the seams closed.)

Knitting is much like writing for me.  I love the process.  I love seeing the pattern unfold through my fingers as much as I enjoy seeing a story take shape on a page.  I love the feel of soft wool against my skin as much as I love the intimacy I develop with my characters.  But I don’t love having to put the pieces together as much as I don’t love having to revise and rewrite.  The problem is self-doubt.

Whenever I knit for someone else, I’m more critical of my work than when knitting for myself.  I will rip out a finished sleeve and start over if I find a mistake.  Even when I’m convinced I’ve done the best I could, I still find “defects” in my knitting:  a slight gap where I twisted a stitch one way instead of the other; a telltale seam along the back of the hat.  It’s the same when I think of other people reading my writing:  Melissa’s breakdown is too melodramatic; the setting too vague, too Anywhere, USA.  Typos and grammar can be fixed by an editor.  Poor revision cannot (well, not unless I’m willing to spend $$$$$$$$$$).

So it goes.

Shortly, things will be even busier.  I’ve managed to register for two free online courses:  (1) Modern & Contemporary American Poetry offered by the University of Pennsylvania; and (2) How Writers Write Fiction with the University of Iowa, the same folks who offered the poetry course I took a few months ago.  The poetry course will start on Sept 12 and the fiction course on Sept 24.  And I still have my day job.

Am I insane?  Is there a padded cell in my near future?  I keep taking things to the limit.  Cue The Eagles.



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