Book deal? I write just for fun.

Three people, in as many months, have told me their creative efforts are “just for fun.”

This was in the context of showing me their wares — a brilliantly crocheted flower vase or a cat carrying-case re-purposed from a plastic water jug — and me remarking astoundedly, “This is fantastic. Are you selling them?”

Each smiled and said matter-of-fact, “No. It’s just a hobby. It’s just for fun.”

Once, I had a creative hobby that was just for fun. Once.

I used to be a scrapbooker.

<Pause for effect>

Yes, for about two years, I scrapbooked. I even had a scrapbooking friend — Debbie — who took me to a midnight scrapbooking event at a local crafts store in Tucson.

It was pretty much what you imagine.

Then I had kids, and unlike many moms who go scrapbooking crazy after birthing photogenic children, I just went plain crazy. Said craziness left me no time for cutting decorative borders and captioning weekends spent at the Jersey Shore.

My one creative hobby since then, which has only increased over the years since my day work has become more marketing focused, is creative writing.

In the last two years, especially, I have become a pretty serious creative writer and even started this year submitting some of my pieces to literary publications. No published pieces as a result of those submissions… yet.

So when each of those above-mentioned creative types told me they weren’t selling their pieces — not at a crafts fair, not to fancy shmancy boutiques on the lower east side of some city — I was taken aback; impressed, actually.

And I wondered.

Would it be possible for me to write … just for fun?

Without any expectations?

Of course, I do this already.

There are pieces (many) I have written that are sitting in a file somewhere, on a floppy disk in WordPerfect 2.0, that will never see the light of day, let alone end up in a literary journal. There are drafts of posts I don’t have the heart to delete sitting in limbo in a folder on the backend of this blog. There are starts of stories I never felt compelled to finish.

Were those all “just for fun?”

Before I get too didactic, let me clarify that I’m talking about the process, here. The intention.

Can I really write just for fun? Without the hope that what I write will become more than just an exercise,; will become

THE ONE?

The one that gets noticed?

The one that hits the right chord with the right person?

The one that gets me the top literary agent?

The one that enters me into the roster of authors that appear in a Prentice Hall Language Arts textbook?

The one that ends up sandwiched between two pieces of cardboard wrapped in a gorgeous cover with my name on it?

If “just for fun” means the same as, “for the sake of my sanity,” then yes, I write just for fun.

Or if “just for fun” means “I self-laughed a lot when I read my own blog post back to myself” then yes, I write just for fun.

But, more than anything, I write so that I will be read.

The reading by others is what makes my writing fun. This I know.

I just wish, sometimes, it weren’t so.

We’re all gonna die!

What do you think causes the majority of our existential angst?

A. Knowing we’re going to die (and not wanting to)

B. Not knowing exactly when we will die

C. Not knowing exactly how we will die

D. All of the above?

I struggle with all of the above.

But today I was having a conversation with myself that went like this:

Let’s say we are somehow able to accept we will die.

Not just understand it intellectually, but actually accept it.

And let’s say, by some magical twist, we are able to learn exactly when and how we will die…

Would we really live our life any differently than we do today?

And, what would World Order look like then?

(I don’t really talk to myself in the third person, by the way.)

There is a phrase:

live_each_day_

But the essential problem with that advice is that gleefully dancing as if nobody’s watching is not really an option if the machine is to keep running.

Quite the contrary, living each day as if it’s not our last is what allows us to pack the school lunches and separate the laundry and spend an hour with the accountant without feeling as if our life is completely pathetic.

We count on tomorrow being better.

= = = =

Most of us live –because we must — as if we have an endless supply of days.

And, yet, we’re terrified each and every day because we know that we don’t.

That is quite a quandary.

No one wants to be a machine.

Yet no one feels comfortable abandoning everything and everyone so they may live their last day every day.

This is the majority of our existential angst:

Finding the absolute perfect balance between living your last day and living as if you have an endless supply.

How peeling eggs turned me into Ralph Macchio

I think the majority of the world falls into two camps.

People who don’t mind peeling eggs. And people who hate it with all their might.

Peeling eggs, for me, is torture.

It’s a slow torture, too.

It’s painful to my senses. The uneven, unexpected cracks that may or may not lace the eggs once they come out of the pot. The stretch of the skin as you pull off the hard, cracked outer shell.  The rubbery touch and feel of the skin beneath. All the small left over pieces that you can’t easily scrape off your fingertip.

I can hardly stand it.

What I like even less about peeling eggs is the amount of time it takes, and the fact that each egg must be peeled slowly and with care. This isn’t so bad if you want just one egg, but becomes more of a nuisance if you need to make egg salad …and much more of a pain if you are making egg salad for a party of 10 or 15 people.

That’s a lot of eggs to peel.

But what I like even LESS is when a piece of shell pulls off with it some of the meat of the egg white.

Grrrr… and you’re left with a very deformed, less than perfect, certainly not whole, egg.

As a borderline perfectionist, this truly is almost more than I can bear.

But I bear it.

Over the years, I have been given a few tips on how to peel eggs easier. (“Wait til they’ve cooled. Do it quick while they’re still hot. Crack a hole on each end and blow into it first.”)

No matter what the technique, it still is a process I wish I didn’t have to go through.

But I do it anyway.

Mindfulness comes in handy in these situations, I have found.

Unless you don’t mind chomping on shells, peeling eggs requires extraordinary presence and patience.  You need both hands to peel and you need a careful eye to search and find the leftover pieces of shell on the egg.

You need to be with the egg.

You can’t be typing a text to your husband or responding to an email from your boss.

You can’t be changing the baby’s diaper or sitting on the toilet.

You can’t speed through it — unless you don’t mind peeling half the egg off with the shell.

And you can’t do it in front of the TV or in the dark in bed.

And if you hate peeling eggs as much as I do — you tolerate all this in the hopes that the ends will justify the means. BUT, at the same time, you are required to completely give up expectations of the outcome.

You need to be okay with the mauled, ugly egg, for instance — or you’ll be boiling and peeling eggs all day long, over and over again.

I was peeling eggs semi-mindfully today — and by semi-mindfully, I mean my emotional state was somewhere between pulling out my hair and poking out my eyes — when my 6 year old son came over and asked if he could help.

I almost said, “Thank GOD!” and ran away.

Instead, I sat with him and patiently showed him how to peel an egg. I taught him the steps, instructed him on how to peel the shell completely, and coached him on letting go of the need for the egg to be perfect.

As I heard my voice out loud, guiding him on concepts I still myself need coaching on, I suddenly got the epiphany of  “peeling the eggs”

Do you hear Mr. Miyagi’s voice the way I do?

He’s saying:

“Peel the eggs eggs

Peel the eggs

Peel the eggs …

No, no look here.

Slowly, slowly.

Peel the eggs

Peel the eggs

Peel the eggs.

Very good, Jenny San.

Don’t forget to breathe…

Peel the eggs,

Peel the eggs.”

Giving it up to Cory Booker

It’s widely agreed among women that following Cory Booker on Twitter is more groin stimulating than the hottest 1980s era episode of All My Children.

But Cory is also a deep thinker, and a spiritual guy –at least his social media strategy team would have us believe.

It’s working. He’s totally got me wrapped around his finger.

Cory shared this on Facebook yesterday:

It was timely for me. (aka “Wow, that Cory Booker is so in my head!)

I’ve been thinking and writing about what I gave up to become who I am now.

Truth is, I think about it a lot. Almost all the time. Definitely, way too much.

Sometimes I wonder if I breathe in nostalgia instead of air.

What could I have been had I made a left instead of a right?

Stayed in Washington instead of moving to New York?

Continued in children’s book publishing instead of leaving to freelance?

Stayed single longer?

Stayed married without kids longer?

Stopped having kids at just one?

At every given moment, indeed, we give up who we are in order to become who we might be.

Right, Cory Booker?

This is automatic. It’s quantum physics (I think). After all, it’s impossible to be who you were and who you are at the very same time. At least, not without a migraine.

If we could do this, we’d be time travelling already. Or having coffee with multi-dimensional beings.

True: We’re often not ready to give up who we are, but just as often we do so in spite of ourselves. Every single day, every single action, may require this on a small level.

And big choices certainly do.

So why not, give it up willingly,  for ourselves?

Life is, indeed, a marathon. Through which we shed many layers of skin.

And each time, we birth ourselves anew.

It’s a much better way to approach life — to approach our Self — than constantly imagining “what might have been.”

The intentional act of giving up who we are propels us forward — from past, to present, to unimaginably awesome future.