Thursday, May 20, 2010

My first short story

I didn't win the short-story contest I entered but I'm still marking the experience in the 'win' category because I put myself out there in the serious world of writing - as an author - by having submitted an entry in the first place.  I threw this little piece together in a week after I got a wild hair from my writing group who all jumped on the bandwagon and submitted entries.  I figure why waste the effort and not let everyone who cares to read it get the chance?  So, without further ado, for your reading enjoyment...

by Terra Luft

Beep-beep… Beep-beep… The sterile sounds of the many machines trapping you here like a prisoner go on incessantly. Tubes drain a putrid looking fluid from your chest while others down your throat are breathing for you. How surreal the past days have been, culminating with you lying there, pasty white and barely breathing, and me sitting here in this plastic chair wishing you would wake up so I can tell you how unbelievably unfair it all is.

For hours I sat in the waiting room while they worked on you, time marching so slowly I wondered if it had stopped, thinking of all the things still unsaid between us, praying to a God I don’t believe in that we get more time to say them. Fifteen years, you would think we’d had time to say and do it all but I’m selfish and I want more. My thoughts are haunted by the irony of all the hours of comfortable silence we’ve spent together, unaware any moment might be our last. I refuse to consider sitting on the couch, you watching a ball game while I read a book, could be the way we spent our last waking moments together. All those years we let fly by and we never discussed or planned what we would do if either of us ever found ourselves here.

What a trick fate has played on me. I’m the one with the bad gene pool, the one with the poor cardiovascular health who needs to lose a few pounds. You are the active one who plays basketball twice a week and rides your mountain bike every chance you get. So why are you lying there with a split sternum under what will be one nasty scar instead of me? And will you even be around later to tell the story of how you got it?

The thought of never hearing your voice again suddenly grips my chest. What I need right now is to see your eyes open and alert and hear you speak. I’d even settle for one of the inappropriate jokes you’re always telling at the wrong time at parties. Something to distract me from all the potentially life ending decisions I might be forced to make soon if you don’t wake up.

The endless tears stream silently down my face and I grip your hand in mine. I try to picture your hazel eyes staring out from someone else’s face, your heart beating in someone else’s chest. I know you well enough that, although we haven’t discussed donation, it is what you would want. Yet I can’t bring myself to even think of pushing the button that turns off the machines, let alone actually doing it. I pull the plug and you never wake up? No, unacceptable!

Instead, I keep the entire world shut out of this room and plant a seed of hope amid all the shock and horror. I know some think I’m in denial. I can hear them all whispering outside the door – the door I won’t let them enter. I prefer to think I’m forcing my will on the Universe. Either way, I will sit here – just you and me – watching and waiting until you wake up, my love. Because somehow I know you will and because I cannot go on alone if you don’t.

A detached part of myself wonders what you would be doing if it were me lying there instead of you. And if it were me clinging to life, what would I want you to do?

So, there you have it.  Reading it now, a month after writing it, I know why it didn't win... after all, it was written prior to learning all that I learned at the writer's conference.  But, we all start somewhere.  The narcicist in me wants to hear comments from readers so bring it on my hopfully adoring public!
In other news, work on the first draft of my novel continues.  The last half will prove insanely better than the first half when it comes time for revisions (since I got amazing critique at boot camp) but that's okay.  After all, there's a reason you write a first draft: to revise in the second!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Like You Mean It

I got a kick in the pants... figuratively speaking... the other day.  After my first Writer's Conference, I was perusing all the "author" blogs and places of interest around the 'net since apparently it is a requirement to know people and be able to recognize them by name.  I signed up for a few free newsletters - what's another few pieces of junk mail a week to clog my In Box, right?  I added a few interesting blogs to my reading list, blah blah blah.  And then I got a little nugget of value out of the whole exercise.  I got a "free book" that had 70 solutions to common writing mistakes.  It is fascinating how much you think you know and then you find out that the stuff you didn't know that you didn't know is actually more than you knew.  (Ha, did I lose you on that one?!)  I'm not done reading all the pointers and tips but I'm taking one to heart that hit me hard like an open-palmed slap to the face by an angry lover when I read it:

"It isn't enough to say you want to be a writer, you have to live like you are a writer."

I am not entirely sure why this particular phrase hit me so hard - perhaps because lately I've been less than satisfied with my "day" job and have been dreaming of being a writer who was successful enough I didn't need to have another job anymore.  I realized it is like what I always say - you aren't going to win the lottery if you aren't playing the lottery.  The same is true about my writing.  I am not going to get an agent or a fat book deal or hell, even a finished manuscript, if I'm not actually writing on a regular basis.  So, this is me... turning over a new leaf.  From now on I'm an author because I write on a regular basis, period.  I may not be a published author yet but if I write every day and keep polishing my craft I will be soon!  And that pesky first draft that stalled after NaNoWriMo?  Thanks to my new ebook, I've got tools to get me past the hump of the middle and sailing through to the end.  From here on out, it will be like NaNoWriMo every day of the year!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

An unlikely source

Yesterday I finally broke through some immense barriers. I had three days of zero weight loss and was feeling very intense emotions. This was worse than only losing every other day - this was three solid days of sticking to it like glue with nothing to show for my efforts! I was talking with my Sister, who is also on the protocol and experiencing her own setbacks with slow results, and she said "why aren't you using to track what you're eating?" We were theorizing that our issue might be that we are eating either too few or too many calories. I have never been a calorie counter - just eat real food, not alot of it - so if there's a tool to make it easier, bring it on. I went to the site and guess what... I already had a free account. Who remembered setting that up but I must have done it after the first time she had mentioned it to me. Incidentally, it really is a cool site - lets you track your food, your activity and daily journal entries and see them all in one daily snapshot. I had exactly one entry - from 2008 - that consisted of a starting weight, a goal weight and a journal entry stating how committed I was to changing my life. It was interesting to read the entry - I'm sure I have a touch or narcisism - but the best part was seeing that I have attained my goal weight already! At the time, it was that ultimate goal that seemed unattainable because I had so far to go. It's like the weight you put on your driver's license and hope that someday it can really be true. I'm 50 lbs lighter now than I was in 2008 and pretty damn proud of the fact. Considering that I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants girl who can't be bothered with setting goals because I'm too busy living for the now, it was amazing to see that I have achieved something I thought back then was next to impossible. It was enough to lift my spirits from the toilet where they had been residing for three days.

Then something else amazing happened. I was taking a new self-portrait so I could put a good hair day out there on Facebook (more narcisism you say?) and I realized that I no longer MUST take the angle from above in order to hide my subtle double chin that always taunted me from photos of myself. That double chin is history, baby! And I realized that I actually have a narrow chin and a long and narrow face once the pudgy cheeks are gone. Who knew?!? The best part about the departure of my 'fat face' is that it happened while I was bitching about how slowly I'm losing weight this time around on HCG and lamenting that I want it all to happen NOW NOW NOW. Guess what, it is happening that fast and I just need to be more patient with the whole process. I have 13 days left and I'm looking forward to what they have to bring in transforming me further.

Tonight my new lifestyle was cemented in stone as reality when I look around and realized I was chatting with hubby and friends about running triathalons and 10K's and 5K's and half marathons and which ones we want to do culminating with deciding where we're going to meet on Saturday for the Race for the Cure we are doing together. I love feeling good enough to run out to the car for something I forgot instead of thinking about how much effort it would take me to get up and go all the way out there. I am a healthy woman to my core and I have nothing in the future but more goals met and more milestones reached. Who knew I could get this inspired coming off of a three-day weight loss stall but it happened and I love it!

Monday, May 3, 2010

What the hell was I thinking?

It is day 23 of my current 40-day round of HCG protocol with 17 more to go.  Last time, by day 20 I'd dropped 21 pounds and was pissed I had been talked out of a 40-day cycle because I could have kept going and lost another 20 pounds.  Everyone said it was "too hard" to stick with it for that long and yet it had been a breeze for me with seriously amazing results.  Where am I this time around, you ask?  Well, I'm not down 21 pounds, I'll tell ya that! 

I've lost a total of 16.4 lbs and am on this insane new trend of only losing weight every other day for the last eight days.  Last time it was so easy to stay motivated because I was seeing .8 lbs or more melt away every day.  EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  The meal protocol is so strict and specific and rigid and unforgiving but so very worth it when you see impossible results day after day.  What happens to your mental stamina when you don't see those results every day is bad.  Very bad.  In the last three days I've contemplated quiting at 23 days, been tempted to cheat - something I was never even tempted with last time around, cursed myself for thinking 40-days would be easy, wanted to throw my scale out the plate glass window, and everything in between.  The last week has been rough... no, more like brutal.  I even choked down an apple on Friday to give myself some variety in my fruit since there are only four to choose from and I won't eat grapefruit.  Ugh, I hate apples!

Today, I decided to really evaluate what I've been doing to see if there are perhaps subtle things that could be contributing to the trend. . . and thereby reverse it.  I am a problem-solver by nature, after all.  So, starting today, I am vowing to walk every single day, I'm not eating beef anymore since I ate none of it last round (Hubby will be happy because he just inherited a shit-ton of beef I stocked up on at the local Sam's Club) and I'm not chewing gum anymore since I didn't last time.  Hopefully the remaining 17 days will go much smoother and yield me at least 17 mores pounds of weight gone forever before I go on maintenance.  And if they don't... well, that nuclear meltdown you hear about on the news next week is probably me!

On a positive note... I'm down 16.4 lbs - IN THREE WEEKS - my clothes keep getting looser,  and I look better than I have since before I had my first baby.  Yes, I just bitched for three paragraphs about the slowness of the process this time around but I must not lost sight of how phenomenal the results are regardless of how much I wish they were even better.  HCG is a miracle - one I'm so glad I stumbled upon!  When they say it is a weight loss cure, they aren't lying...