Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Dear Reader,

Apologies for not posting lately. This has been a rough week.

My mom is ill (severe early onset senile dementia - diagnosed at 55 y.o.) and last Thursday she ended up in the ER. Since then she has been moved into a skilled nursing facility which is both good (my dad is tapped out from caring for her, my sister and I can't help enough to ease his burden, mom has gotten much worse and needs total care 24/7) and bad (she's in a home, they are sad, she looks much worse, it's a new reality, etc.)

In any event, I have been able to maintain the Morning/Afternoon/Evening pages, but am behind on my week 2 check in. With the holidays and all that has been going on I have decided to give myself an extra week, so I;ll be finishing up week 2 this coming Sunday, the 27th.

Just seems the most humane thing to do.

Happy Christmas.

Write on,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

'Tis Written in the Stars

Hello Dear Reader,

I am fortunate that today is a short day on the day job due to the upcoming winter break. Normally I would be in a meeting at this time of day and today I am free!!!! So, I am taking advantage of this opportunity to sit at my desk and add a little something before I go run errands and then pick up the kids and get dinner and settled at home before running off to another meeting and then out for a drink with a girlfriend to celebrate our December birthdays.

I picked up one of our local weekly newspapers this morning, turning - as i always do - to my "horror-scope" first. I don't know that I believe in astrology 100%, and horoscopes are only as good as the person writing them, but I took solace in this one nonetheless. It reads:
I hope you will get more sleep in 2010. And eat better food, too. And embark on
some regimen like meditation that will reduce your stress levels. In general,
Sagittarius, I hope you will learn a lot more about what makes your body
function at optimum levels, and I hope you will diligently apply what you learn.
That doesn't mean I think you should be an obsequiously well-behaved pillar of
the community. On the contrary, what I'm envisioning is that by taking better
care of yourself you will make yourself strong enough to run wilder and freer.

Honestly, I can't think of much more that I would wish for myself for 2010 than all that. At least as far as my creative journey is concerned.

I have been off caffeine for several weeks now, and do feel a difference. The last three days have been essentially coffee free as well (though I do plan to leave here and go write in a cafe, and perhaps have a decaf latte...) But I can say I am not the slave to caffeinated coffee I was a month ago. I am pretty sleepy, but wake up a little better in the morning. This morning I got up at 5:30 to get on the bike and get a workout in before work. That felt good. I will likely pass out at 9:00 again tonight though.

I am looking to running wilder and freer in 2010 - what are you looking forward to?

Write on,


(check out your horoscope for the week at realastrology.com)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Week One Check In

Hello Dear Reader,

Each week of the Artist's Way ends with a check-in: Did you do your Morning Pages every day? Did you keep your Artist's Date with yourself? What came up for you that was surprising? that sort of thing.

I wrote my check in last night, but thought I'd make a habit of sharing them here as well.

Yes, I did my morning pages each day - I bought a very cool journal and got some fantastic fun colored, fine tip pens for my birthday which makes me even more excited to write. Now that I have been writing daily for almost a month straight I feel compelled to keep my streak going. My dirty little secret is that they aren't always morning pages...they are sometimes late morning pages, afternoon pages, or - like last night - very late night pages. But they are daily pages nonetheless so I am counting that as a big success.

The Artist Date with myself, on the other hand...not so much. Normally that would not have been a big deal because I take Thursday nights as "my" night when I don't have to pick the kids up from school and day care and I can fart around, go to the gym, peruse the bookstore, go see a foreign film, whatever. And I usually do this! I guard it religiously and fiercely. But this week I did not go. (Insert sad/guilty face here.) I will make up for it this week as I have Friday off and so I will be sure to dedicate part of Friday to my Artist Date with Myself.

As far as anything surprising me...I have had the occasion to really think about where my "Critic's Voice" comes from and who it belongs to. The insight I have had into that subject is of the most interest to me right now. However, Dear Reader, I will have to fill you in on that subject during our next installment of Jessica's Creative Journey in (on? through?) the Artist's Way...

Write on,

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Purpose Driven Blog

Dear Reader,
I have been thinking about this whole blog thing, idea, as i troll around the Internet (just as i warned myself not to...you may notice this is a bad habit of mine). It seems like a good idea to share with you the purpose of my blog, it's raison d'etre, so to speak. Since you, Dear Reader, are largely (entirely?) a figment of my imagination i guess this is essentially an exercise in explaining it to myself. Putting it down in writing so when i forget why i am here and what i hope to be doing i can scroll back through these posts to figure it out.

i mentioned the birthday - that i was starting the blog on my birthday. i also have begun "working" the artist's way. the book by Julia Cameron...you are likely familiar with it. i recently read her autobiography - which, frankly, i would not recommend doing right before you commit to following the 12 week program outlined in her best-selling book The Artist's Way. This is because she is nuts. I learned way too much about her struggles with um, well...sanity - there is really no other way to put it. It kinda puts a funky spin on the knowledge she drops in her book.

And yet, fully warned, I am jumping in. So the point of this blog is to give me another push to write regularly. Part of the artist's way is to write every day. Cameron calls these the Morning Pages. I have been writing regularly each day (mostly mornings) since November 20th and want to maintain the momentum. For some reason I thought adding a blog about my travels on the Artist's Way was a good idea. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.

I believe Cameron has each week begin on a Monday, so technically my first week is a 10 dayer since I began on my birthday which was Wednesday and I won't start on week 2 until the 21st. Being gentle with myself as we get this creative ball rolling. Giving myself some writerly wiggle room.

So there you have it, Dear Reader: The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my 12 week journey through the Artist's Way course as it is laid out in Julia Cameron's book.

And I will throw in some other things as well, such as lists of things I covet, am thankful for, have learned, wish i didn't know, maybe a poem here and there, and likely more information about me, my life and my thought processes than you ever wanted to know.

Write On,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Don't even go there

Dear Reader,

I think it really is best to not spend time crawling around the blogosphere...it's really a buzzkill for a new blogger. Just in case you were thinking of starting a new blog to encourage your writer self and thought it a good idea to see what else is out there - you know, for inspiration - well, don't. Nope. Stop. Not a good idea.

There's a lot of good shiz out there and if you are at all unsure or faint of heart like me it could be easy to get scared off. So don't even go there.

I stayed up late (for me) last night to watch the finale of Top Chef. I really wanted Keven to win. (This does have something to do with the start of this post, really, hang in there with me...) Not the Voltaggio Brothers and especially not Michael, the cocky one , the " I cook the food Kevin cooks I on my day off" one.

But of course he did.

There was a lesson there though. Kevin had a little bit of an "I'm not worthy" complex going about the V. Brothers. Kevin totally knew his stuff, he's a great chef, and when he felt confident he would do really well and win quickfire challenges and all that. But when he began to compare his simple southern self to those chemistry cookin' guys he would start to crumble, just a little bit, thinkin' he didn't deserve to be there with them. That he was just a little less than they were, or was missing some credential or skill.

And you know what? The cocky guy won.

The lesson? Maybe I just need to be a little more cocky.

And stop reading other really fantabulous blogs until I get my blog legs underneath me.

Write on,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Welcome to Vinegar and Vanilla

Hello, and welcome to Vinegar and Vanilla.

I know I am not writing to anyone tangible out there in web land...yet. But I hope that some day I will be. In the meantime I am going to borrow an old-fashioned style and say, Dear Reader.

For some reason I get a kick out of that, and frankly, it makes it a little bit easier to write if I can picture some benevolent reader out there who thinks what I have to say is both witty and interesting. Kinda like a grandmother.

I don't have any of those left, but I imagine that my father's mother would have loved to be able to log on and read about what was going on in my life and my world. She would have loved my children - wow, would they have given her joy. I know that whenever I wrote her a note from college she really enjoyed it. Later, when I would come by to see her (not nearly enough - but the guilt column will come later) she would tell me how she loved to hear about the classes I was taking and how school was progressing.

I often say that I come from a long-line of frustrated women. I don't know definitively that that is a true statement, but it certainly is my belief. My grandmother was one of them. There may be family members who would disagree - and I don't mean to start anything- but I think that any woman who basically spent the last decade (at least) of her life in her bed, smoking and reading paperback novels was probably frustrated about something. Or wished for more, or different, or elsewhere.

My maternal grandmother was not much different. She had a predilection for prescription drugs and had tried, on several occasions, to commit suicide. Obviously this was a woman who was not happy with her lot in life, although it looked pretty okay from the outside. She lived in a nice house in a nice suburb. They got new cars every 2 or three years, if not every year. I remember driving up to my grandparents' house and seeing that Grandpa had a new car! It was so cool and exciting to me. I always wanted to climb in, check out all the buttons and the new car smell. One year my Grandfather got a BMW for my grandmother. It was a big switch from her usual large American made car. I got the impression she didn't care for it as much as she had thought she would. Not as large and luxurious - it was only a 325.

OK, I am a little off topic right now. The point of this, the inaugural post, was to introduce you (dear reader) to me, (dear writer) and I suppose I have inadvertently told you more about me right off the bat than i intended to. Ah well, I will have plenty to add and subtract at a later date.

The reason I am starting this blog today, December 9, 2009, is because it is my birthday. Not a major, huge, milestone one like 16, 18, 21, 30 or 50...but a year older nonetheless. I don't know how or when I became the adult in my life. It coems at you at a slow boil and then - like the proverbial lobster - you realize you are cooked. I am no longer a child, a teen or a young adult. I am a married woman, a mother, an adult. Someone who seems to have her shit together.

What?!? Who? Me? Really?!?

Some days I own that fully and some days not so much. My goal for this year is to own all parts of me equally, and give them all their due. This means the wife, mother, friend parts and ALSO the writer me who has been trying to get out and stay out for so long. Even though I let her out from time to time like a charming party trick, this year I would like her to make her official debut to polite (notice that, dear reader, p-o-l-i-t-e) society. She is a little scared, so please, be gentle.