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The Results Are In!

Thank you all so much for answering my survey I posted a few days ago. I was looking for insight from my wonderful blog readers on what types of stories I write here on “Fortyteen Candles” that you all find the most interesting, entertaining and enjoyable. Without a doubt, according to the results from my survey, the most interesting stories to you all are 1. Stories about living in suburbia and my neighbors (heh heh heh….) and 2. Stories about my experiences as a nurse.

Honestly, when I started this blog I KNEW it would be a great place for me to vent my frustrations about living in a cookie cutter town full of uninteresting people who like to form cliques and one up each other materialistically or child achievementally. Thank you all for confirming my belief that this is a very entertaining subject that is best suited to scathing sarcasm with a twist of sheer joy. My neighbors continue to drive me insane, and I’ll have more stories soon as our Halloween Trick or Treating interactions have awakened my muse and gotten her to work on some urgent therapeutic writing.

Something my survey pointed out that really surprised me was your interest in my work and experiences as a nurse. Nursing is something I went into in response to a strong desire I have to help and take care of other people. This is something that is just programmed into me and I don’t see it objectively. I never think what I do is anything above and beyond what humans should do for each other every day, or would do if they were in a situation to do so, therefore I never think it would be interesting or entertaining in any way for others to read about.

The interactions I have with my patients, families and co-workers are on an emotional, philosophical, moral and spiritual level at times. I don’t know how these translate into print, but my general impression since they evoke “feelings” is that they would be dull and non action-packed. Translation = “dull” writing-wise. However, the comments I’ve received on my stories about nursing, as well as on this survey, have really opened my eyes to the value of sharing these experiences with others. It is important for others to know that in this world of increasing depersonalization there are still people out there who care, and will always care, for others in need. I have taken these comments very seriously and it has given me a lot to think about as I organize my next big writing project.

So, since it is hard for me to only focus on one project at a time, I’ve started sorting in my mind two separate writing projects….one for suburbia and the neighbors who drive me insane, and one for my experiences as a nurse. I really appreciate the time you all took to give me your feedback. Thank you, thank you, and thank you again!

 

And….the survey says?

I have been writing, now, for many years. Every time I start writing something new I always think “This is it! This is the writing piece that I will finish. It will define me as a writer and set me on my path to publication and personal fulfilment.” And then none of that ever happens. Repeat to fade.  I then force myself to see the bright side to the madness with each project stall, “Ahh, well. Another scrap in the heap. At least computer files don’t pile up all over the floor”.  No, they just get lost and deleted with the next worm invasion. It makes me sad to think how many of my blurbs and brain farts  the world will never know.

Writing is just about impossible without feedback. I am so fortunate that I have such an amazing audience here on my blog. I am so appreciative for every comment I receive from you all.  Since I never have feedback on my writing outside of my blog, “Fortyteen Candles,”  it has been a real challenge for me to move forward to work on bigger projects. In case you do not already know, I live in a cul-de-sac in the middle of nowhere. On the bright side, where I live puts me in a great position  to find answers to such questions as:

  • What kind of liquid fertilizer works best on corn?
  • Is that alfalfa?
  • What’s that smell?
  • When are you going to Walmart?

Back to me and my problems. Just kidding – they are now everybody’s problems! Anyway, I’ve been all over the writing map in my life…poetry, screenplays, sonnets, short stories, essays, letters to the editor, chapters, greeting cards, whole books, a million outlines, and a billion scraps of paper containing earth-shattering topics and story plots that never amounted to much. Enough, I say. Enough. I am officially, today, here, right now, stopping the insanity. I’m getting it together in a good way for a change. Furthermore, I like to believe that someday the world will thank me. Ok, a bit too much. Seriously though, I have decided to take the opportunity of asking all of you for your opinions on my writing so far. If you like my blog and enjoy what I write then I’d like to get your insights as to what you think would be a good path for me to take my writing on next.

At this time, I turn to you dear readers to help me out with a survey. I am asking you all for your valuable feedback. Just let me know what types of stories I write that you find the most interesting, entertaining or meaningful? I would be so appreciative to have  your thoughts on my writing so far. I’m hopeful I can take this information and commit to my next writing project….which I already have two really great ideas about. Sigh. I thank you sincerely, truly and in advance. Thanks.

Now, without further adu….here is the official Fortyteen Candles Writing Survey 2012. Oh, and you can pick more than one answer if you like.

Music Television Saved My Life!

It was when I was in seventh grade that I first heard about a miraculous invention called “cable television.” In those early days everyone just watched television for free. We caught it right out of the air with an antenna that was attached to our television. It was like a magic that I didn’t understand, but accepted as part of normal, everyday life. The television we had in my house was tiny by today’s standards. Smaller, even, than my current computer monitor. We had a 13-inch black and white television that you actually had to put your hands on to change the channel or volume. Oh, it’s true! You had to stand on your feet and walk over to it. But this was not likely to happen, however. Since there were only a few TV channels in existence, you pretty much knew you weren’t missing anything on the other four stations. Evening television viewing consisted of watching channel seven for an hour and a half and then going to bed.

Now, back to seventh grade. I just started junior high school and was feeling all mixed up about my emotions. Wearing an alligator sweater and Jordache jeans with a Lady Diana haircut and a hair comb in my back pocket put a lot of stress on my psyche. It was not normal or natural for me to do any of these things. I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to be, so I just did what the other kids in my home room were doing. It wasn’t in any way enjoyable for me to comb my hair and feather it every five minutes, but I did what I had to do to get by. Thankfully, I never went so far as to use a curling iron and hair spray on my hair to maintain its feathered and curled look. That was for the seriously troubled youth:

One day, my best friend told me about something called “cable television.” I thought it must be something from Europe, because it sounded as foreign to me as the metric system. She went on to talk about a show called “Fraggle Rock.” I was immediately incensed, because this was obviously a knock off of my  beloved “The Muppet Show.” I would not tolerate cheap imitations, and remained unconvinced that cable television was in any way going to change my life. However, one day I went over to her house and her television was on. Like a drug dealer trying to hook me on crack, she immediately put a channel on called MTV* (*Music Television, as it was known at the time), so I could get a feeling for this “cable television” that she constantly raved about.  There before me, I saw a band called “The Police” singing a song called “Roxanne.” I stood there mesmerized and wondered what else was out there in the world that I didn’t know anything about.

After seeing that one video, my whole perspective about my place in the world changed. I realized people in other countries were singing songs in musical styles that I knew nothing about. I started focusing more  of my attention on listening to music than I did on fashion, or what the other kids in my home room were doing, wearing or combing. In a way, cable television did change my world. I started identifying more with the culture of music than the dull regular people I knew in my everyday life. I sought out others who were also “into” the music scene and my fashion followed suit. No more Jordache jeans, alligator sweaters, Lady Diana hairstyles or hair combing for me forever. Well, I do still try to at least comb my hair as needed on a fairly regular schedule.

From that point on I became interested in bands such as Blondie, Madness and the B52’s. I became sort of crazed to see these bands singing their songs in videos. I craved that feeling of visual  music. And seeing the musicians in action. They looked a lot cooler and more interesting than the kids in my home room, that’s for sure. I started spending more and more time at my friend’s television. I was hooked. When I couldn’t be there, at her MTV, I was at the record store in the poster section. Or flipping through racks of record albums. Realizing each band had videos was almost too exciting to think about.

In all this new music video frenzy, we still didn’t have cable television at my house. I accepted it as part of life. On a good night, if the wind was right, and there was enough foil on the antenna, and it was after 11 p.m., and it was a Friday, I could pull in a station that broadcasted a show called “Friday Night Videos.” That was seriously like a drug to me. Especially when they had good bands on. But at the time I wasn’t picky. Any music video would do.

Sadly, the MTV of today is completely unrecognizable. No more is it a gateway to the music of the world. Shows like “120 Minutes,” hosted by Matt Pinfield, which introduced me to some phenomenal bands, are a thing of the past. I guess advancing your world-view and with art and intelligence is something from another era. Now on MTV you’ll see “Jersey Shore” marathons, and teenagers becoming celebrities for having babies at sixteen. Ever since the first “The Real World” in the early nineties MTV has gone from cultural icon to an absolute sell-out to commercialism. The “M” in today’s MTV can only stand for “mind numbing.” They play anything but music. I think for a while there they even had an MTV 2, which is where you could find music videos if that was your thing. I don’t even know if that is still in existence anymore. Maybe they’ve moved the videos off to an MTV 3 by now.

In closing to my tirade, here is one of the great videos of the early era of Music Television. It is by a band called M singing the classic tune “Pop Muzik.”  The lyrics make no sense, but the originality and excitement is invigorating in this day of dull, talentless, copycat music stars:

The Enforcer, or I Can’t Believe it’s Come to This, or I’m Mad as Hell

Children amaze me. They are known as the world’s pickiest eaters. Yet, if there was sugar involved that they could potentially obtain, they could gnaw through a cardboard box in about 28.2 seconds.

My kids are no exception to this rule. They ate very well as babies. It brought tears to my eyes when they finished their tiny baby food jars of spinach, green beans, and squash. Things that even made me queasy to think about. They ate them up and wanted more. I really thought I was the luckiest parent in the world. I couldn’t wait to brag about their healthy food choices at family gatherings and play dates galore. Not that they really had a choice back then, but they didn’t exactly refuse it either.

When their little teeth started showing up, so did their change in attitude. No longer did they want the delicious dark green vegetable-like pudding I’d been serving them without complaint all the while before. I upgraded them to toddler style vegetables. “Cool,” I thought. “This is what all the hip kids at the sandbox are eating. Don’t you want to be like them? It even has wagon wheel pasta!” My kids were unimpressed. One bite and both of them spit it out. I knew it was going to be a long, bumpy road to the teenage years. And one with limited vegetable intake.

Being ultra open-minded and forgiving about differences in palates, I tried many different ways to serve vegetables: squashed, boiled, minced, raw, cooked, strained, frozen, fresh. Time and time again, the responses were the same: “Yuck,” “boo,” no,” “stinky poo poo,” “barf,” “no no,” “blech,” “ick!”

It made me cry inside when my sister would casually mention how her young daughters loved salad. “SALAD?!?I would scream in my head, in a therapeutic and cleansing way. “SALAD?!?” I would scream as I punched a pillow in my sleep. “Salad,” I would sigh as I stirred my coffee, watching my kids staring at their plates full of food. “Salad.” I would say, defeated, as I watched commercials on TV about kids loving to eat their vegetables. “Must be that they’re girls,” I would cheer myself up with. My boys don’t like vegetables. Must be a gender issue.

Now let me get something straight. It’s not like my kids won’t eat any vegetables. They only eat certain vegetables. I will list the vegetables my kids will eat, as follows:

1. Candy Corn

2. Jelly Beans

Sigh. My recent approach to vegetable intake on the junior level is that I will prepare vegetables to make myself feel better. I serve them on the side of their entrees, more of a colorful garnish rather than an expected nutritional component of their daily vitamin and mineral allowance. For that we supplement with good old fashioned Flintstones vitamins. Occasionally, one of my kids might eat a kernel of corn. Likely, because it was stuck onto something else they were actually trying to ingest. Still, it makes my heart go pitter pat. I beam as I calculate the vitamins they just enhanced their diet with. I block out all realizations it’s more likely just sugar. I rationalize that even if it’s fiber, it is still a healthy thing to eat.

This morning I had a new attitude. As my youngest son sat staring at his delicious plate of hard boiled egg and yummy toast, I realized I’d had enough. I strongly encouraged him to eat his healthy breakfast, but all he would do was have a few bites of toast…..the part of the toast that didn’t include the crust that is. It then dawned on me that this was a kid who could tear through Jolly Ranchers, Laffy Taffy and probably chew a door off our kitchen cupboards if he knew there were marshmallows hiding within. Something in me generated a frustration like TV news anchorman Howard Beale when he goes off the deep end in the famous movie “Network” and says, “I’m a human being, god damn it! My life has value! And I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

So I did something that surprised even me. I had a secret weapon I’d been drinking for years. Something that could be used in the war against picky eaters. I sat down a large bottle of V8 Juice next to my son’s plate. I told him, calmly, that if he didn’t eat his egg and toast he was going to have to drink a glass of vegetable juice to make sure he was getting a healthy breakfast. My son thought I was kidding at first. But I sat down next to him, and the bottle, and stared at him until he ate his food. I was amazed at how quickly this simple trick worked. Within minutes he’d eaten half his breakfast.

For the first time ever I can now see how vegetables will improve my kid’s nutrition – not by my children actually eating them, but by my threatening that my kids will have to eat them! I hated the fact that I had to make vegetables the bad guy, but you can’t argue with success. And who knows? Maybe someday my kids will actually want to eat vegetables. But until then, at least I can truthfully say vegetables are an important part of my children’s nutrition. And, yes, now I can finally boast at family functions and play dates galore that my children are always eager to eat a healthy breakfast.

Is it Too Late or is it Right on Time?

Too late. It’s too late, actually. That’s  how I feel more and more every day. Too late for what? Too late for chasing dreams? Too late for taking chances? I don’t know, maybe too late for everything.

But that kind of thinking has been with me my whole life. It must have started when I was due to be born in October, then showed up late in early November. The die had been cast. Even when I was a kid I remember thinking I was too old to start ice skating lessons in fourth grade, because all the kids in the Olympics started when they were two. I remember at nineteen years of age talking myself out of modeling school because all the decent models had been in the field since they were fourteen. I finished my first college degree late, at the age of twenty-three, because of being sidetracked by irresponsibility. I got married late at the age of thirty. Then I returned to school for my next degree even later, at the age of thirty-one and considered myself the old lady of the nursing school class. Even though I wasn’t. I just felt that way.

The song “Undun” by the Guess Who was ahead of its time. Actually it was right on time for me, as it was from the year of my birth….1969. Because it is “my song” as I’ll call it, I cling to each lyric as if it speaks to me personally. A prophecy. Is it too late for me? Will this endless lateness eventually make me “come undun?” Even though this spelling for the word “undone” is incorrect, I’ll forgive them because she must also have been too late to worry about grammar. Plus, I’m sure they were hippies.

If you live your whole life feeling like you’ve already missed the boat, what’s the point in ever hoping to get anywhere? That is the million dollar question I’ve asked myself more and more often lately. Especially when it is coming up time for my next birthday. I wonder, what have I done this past year? What did I end up missing out on because I was too late? What can I do this year while I still have time to do it?

This year I’m going to start seeing the glass as half full. Instead of thinking about all the things I’m too late for, I’m going to make myself focus on what I’m RIGHT ON TIME for. So, at my tender age of fortyteen…what am I right on time for? I’m right on time for a slower metabolism, I’m right on time for a midlife crisis, I’m right on time to worry about my retirement, I’m right on time to be the mother of pre-teen boys (and the whole can of worms that comes  along with that), I’m right on time to be part of the sandwich generation and by then I’ll be right on time for another midlife crisis (why stop at one? I’m not a quitter).

So, I can see there is so much left in life that I am at the perfect age to enjoy. I’ll never miss out again on the surprises of life, thinking every opportunity is in my past. “I’m right on time” is what I’ll say as a I pay each bill, as I plan for my future, as I face another car repair or broken furnace. I’m right on time for the minute I’m in. Best of all, I think I’m right on time for a nap.

Freedom and Happiness and Other Notions of Youth

When you are a kid all you dream of each and every day is the time in your life when you are a “grown up.” You think once you’re older you’ll be able to drive, have a cool house, do what you want and stay up late. I have specific childhood memories, circa age nine, of what my house would be like when I grew up. I was going to live with my best friend in one of the many ranch houses that surrounded our elementary school. On a cul-de-sac, no less! I didn’t really know what my occupation would be, but I was going to own about ten dogs. My best friend wanted to own ten dogs, too, but she also wanted to be a truck driver. She thought we could also drive around town in her big rig which she would name “The Black Widow.” Yes, the times were good in the daydreams of youth.

Looking back now as a “grown up,” I know I have full freedom to own ten dogs if I wanted. I could also buy a ranch style home in the town where I grew up. I also have a full reign to go to truck driving school and find a truck I could drive around town in. And if I felt like it I could name it “The Black Widow.” But I do not choose to do any of these things. Especially the truck driving part. That was kind of the dream of my best friend.

Now being an adult, my ideas of what freedom and happiness truly mean are completely different. I see the world now as broken up into two parts: responsibility and obligation. There is no room to fit the imaginative ideas of freedom and happiness. At least not very much room. And certainly not from the innocent childhood perspective.

It is funny now that as an adult I dream of the time when I was young. That was a time of true freedom and happiness. No responsibilities, debts, obligations, and the knowledge that anything you really worked at could possibly happen someday. Didn’t want to go to class? Skip it! Want to stay out all night drinking and watch the sunrise? Sounds like a plan! Donuts for breakfast? Velveeta cheese for lunch? Beer for dinner? Yes, yes, and yes. And to think that I considered all three of these food categories sound, rational adult choices. Twenty-somethings.

Fast forward a million years. I know that I am not too old to have dreams or plans for the future, but it seems unlikely at my age I could, say, start a new sport and train really hard and end up in the Olympics. Which was always the measure of my youth. How much time I had left to do things….whether it was sports, modeling, learning a hobby, playing an instrument, becoming “famous.” Time was always a factor I considered in my countdown to adulthood. But, as the Rolling Stones continue their world tour well into their early hundreds, I think that maybe the concept of youth is becoming a more extended period of time.

Much like the ideas of “freedom” and “happiness,” “youth” is also relative. You’re as young as you feel, right? Actually that is something only old people say. Anyway, I realize now that in order to regain my youth, freedom and happiness, I will have to start training for the Olympics. I’m hoping that if I’m persistent I can win enough public sympathy that the Olympics Committee will suddenly recognize the importance of creating a special program for middle-aged first time athletes.  If this works out (fingers crossed!), count me in for skeet shooting. I have a feeling I’d be really good at it.

SO MANY AWARDS…WWSFD?

Seriously…What Would Sally Field Do? I have to replay this clip, because only she can express my gratitude in a way that goes beyond mere words on the page:

Alright, I’ve been such a slacker lately. Always putting off for tomorrow what I should be doing today. I’ve been so fortunate as to have been nominated for NINE AWARDS over the past few months. I always think, “I’ll do the requirements tomorrow and spread the love to some other deserving bloggers!” But, tomorrow comes and goes, and these amazing awards sit unacknowledged. I can stand it no longer. They deserve to see the light of day.

So…this morning I made it Priority Uno to sit down at my computer and put together a list of all the thoughtful people who have nominated my blog for a bounty of amazing awards. I would like to thank you all for considering me…and YES I ACCEPT EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM!!! You are all so kind and generous. I’m one lucky blogger, for sure! I hope you will be forgiving that I cannot follow the specific rules of each award requirement. I’ll do my best to morph them into one rule requirement so I can properly accept these. Following are the amazing bloggers and the awards they nominated me for. The next section is a list of who I’m nominating for each award, and the general acceptance criteria. Thank you, again, for your consideration! I can only hope you’ve enjoyed my blog as much as I’ve enjoyed and looked forward to reading all of yours!

1. Reader Appreciation Award, nominated by http://s1ngal.wordpress.com/ (p.s. this link was so old that it no longer appeared! I had to use my own creativity to come up with this show-stopper image):

2. Beautiful Blogger Award, nominated by http://wordsbecomesuperfluous.com/ and http://catnipoflife.wordpress.com/

3. One Lovely Blog Award, nominated by http://teepee12.wordpress.com/ and http://tinylessonsblog.com/ and

http://mindfulness4now.wordpress.com/

4. Liebster Blog Award, nominated by http://viewfromthesunroom.wordpress.com/ and http://catnipoflife.wordpress.com/

5. Reality Blog Award, nominated by http://tinylessonsblog.com/

6. Addictive Blog Award, nominated by http://s1ngal.wordpress.com/

7. Very Inspiring Blogger Award, nominated by http://baarmychris.wordpress.com/

8. Seven Things About Me Award, nominated by http://thefurfiles.wordpress.com/ and http://peachyteachy.wordpress.com/

9. The Booker Award, nominated by http://mindfulness4now.wordpress.com/

The Rules of this Nomination:

1. Identify and show appreciation of the blogger who awarded you

2. You must add the award logo to your blog

3. Tell your readers 7 things about yourself

4. You must nominate 5 – 10 of your favorite bloggers for this award

5. Inform your nominees that you’ve nominated them

A. Appreciation!

1. Thank you to http://s1ngal.wordpress.com/ for your two nominations. You are so generous!

2. Thank you  http://wordsbecomesuperfluous.com you are very kind!

3. Thank you http://catnipoflife.wordpress.com/you are amazing!

3.  Thank you http://teepee12.wordpress.com/ you are wonderful!

5. Thank you http://tinylessonsblog.com you are thoughtful!

6. 4. Thank you …http://mindfulness4now.wordpress.com/ you are very lovely!

7. Thank you….//viewfromthesunroom.wordpress.com/ you are very supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

8. Thank you…http://baarmychris.wordpress.com/ you are very sweet!

9. Thank you…http://peachyteachy.wordpress.com/ you are very supportive!

10. Thank you…http://thefurfiles.wordpress.com/ you are very awesome!

I love all of your blogs so much, you are all inspiring and creative people. Thanks so much for being part of my WordPress world!

B. Seven things about Fortyteen Candles:

1. Pets: two cats, a rabbit and a fish

2. I am horrible at returning library books on time. HORRIBLE!

3. I think I can count on one two hands the number of “great book ideas” I have floating around in my head.

4. I wish I was able to live by the ocean. I think the smell of salt air and the sound of endless waves are energizing to the soul.

5. Chocolate. Enough said.

6. Coffee. Ditto.

7. I hope to do more traveling someday. There is so much more of this world I’d like to know.

My Nominees…aka “The Fab Five-to-Ten-ish” If you accept this nomination, please pick an award from those listed above that you desire, follow the rules you’ve decided to follow and share the wealth with others.

1. http://s1ngal.wordpress.com/

2. http://peachyteachy.wordpress.com/

3. http://tinylessonsblog.com

4. http://wordsbecomesuperfluous.com

5. http://catnipoflife.wordpress.com/

6. http://bellybuttonblues.wordpress.com/

7. http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/

8. http://jillinoisrn.com/

9. http://lifeonwry.com/

10. http://40isthenew13.wordpress.com/

11. http://thefurfiles.wordpress.com/

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