The Vomit Book

Inspired by Sunita’s post, and having sat on the idea of doing my own productivity post, I decided to take up the challenge. Today I’m just going to talk about the most important piece of my productivity regimen.

The Vomit Book

My productivity keeper is a notebook. Not a simple one because why use a 20c spiral notebook I can get at Walmart during back-to-school month when I can get an expensive, hard-to-find notebook such as TOPS Journal Notetaking Planner (TOP63827)? It’s a version of the Cornell notetaking system.

Why do I call it my vomit book? Because I vomit the contents of my brain all over it. The single most productive thing I do is vomit my brain all over the pages of my notebook. I cannot describe how mentally jumbled I get and what a short period of time it takes, and I cannot overstate how much more productive I become once I’ve spent an hour (or 2 or 3) vomiting my jumbled thoughts.

I have depression and anxiety, and I am ADHD and bipolar. My mother was pretty regulated, so she became my coping mechanism growing up without drugs. I am not nearly that regulated (or more likely, what was important to her is not important to me). But the coping mechanisms I developed during my childhood and adolescence, thanks to my mom, got me limping through early adulthood before I found better living through chemistry.

I say this only to illustrate the most extreme of my vomiting: One day, I was so jumbled, I wrote “angry” over and over and over again. Two pages front and back. That was necessary so I could begin to put into words what I was angry about. That journaling session lasted nearly 4 hours, but it was 4 hours well spent.

I don’t vomit every day. I do it when my brain is too full, which could be every day or it could be every week or it could be six months from now.

I do use it for lists. In that period when I was so angry I had to write down my morning routine in a list (though it never changes): get up, shower, brush teeth, get breakfast, take meds. During that time, I also struggled with the everyday things like…making a doctor’s appointment.

I had to write down the list: pick up phone, dial the number, ask for an appointment, check the calendar, commit to the appointment. I tried twice to make the appointment, hung up when I got voice mail because the expected thing hadn’t happened, and THEN I changed my list: pick up phone, dial the number, select the right key to go to voice mail, leave a message. And yes, I had to write the message down and read it.

I realize now this was anxiety, for which I am now medicated. But that vomit book got me through some rough times. The rough times might change, but the vomit book is there for when I need to puke up a new pen’s worth of ink.

A hot new writer

One day, on a school bus, the bus driver was driving a load of kids to school. They were at an intersection when the bus driver made a right turn on red. A kindergartner who just so happened to be sitting in the front said, “Hey! You can’t make a right turn on red!”

The bus driver then turned around, not focusing on the road, yelled, “I CAN MAKE A RIGHT TURN ON RED!”

So since he wasn’t looking, a city bus came speeding and hit the school bus. Everybody died. The end.

This is why busses don’t turn right on red.

Book Review: Still Life with Strings

Review policy: I only post reviews on my blog for books I feel strongly about, good or bad.

Title: STILL LIFE WITH STRINGS
Author: L.H. Cosway


The last Cosway book I read (which was the last book I read at all) was (I think) the author’s first and it showed. But though Painted Faces was rough, I enjoyed the author’s voice, so I dove into the next one.

This book was beautiful. There were so many things I loved about it, including these quotes:

“ … when everything else in life fails, there is still music.” Goodness, how I love music, how it makes me dream and hope. Also, how its angst is cathartic.

In re dogs (which I hate): “They never have any shame about letting you know just how much they’ve missed you.” Also, toddlers (which I also hate except for my own) and clingy 11-year-old boys, which are the most wonderfullest things in the world. All that was to say it made me look at my children in a different light.

Anyway, the thing that took away from the book: too much time spent on the sex. At some point, it doesn’t add to the plot or characterization, which it stopped doing about 5/8ths through the book (yesisaidthatshutup).

So, the wonderful things:

  • The descriptions of the music playing as flights of fancy (this isn’t an accurate-enough term and it’s far too whimsical for what’s in the text, but it’s the best I can come up with). It’s absolutely brilliant, how it’s done. I can’t hear the music, but I can see it.
  • The first sexual encounter was also approached brilliantly. It had depth with no trace of sleaze.
  • The portrayal of Jade’s life as a lower-working-class girl was spot-on. I admired her for her easy stoicism, which was more than I could muster with dependents.
  • Both characters’ motivations were reasonable and logical given their backgrounds and circumstances.
  • In both books, the characters’ codependence is obvious, but I don’t have a problem with it as long as it’s healthy and I do think their relationship is healthy. I think it will remain so because they are both strong people.
  • In spite of Jade’s poverty, I could feel her innate optimism and, dare I say, happiness. This spoke to me like the quotes above.

Aside: I wish there were a playlist for this book. I’ll have to look.

Aside 2: I LOVE that these are set in Dublin and have local vernacular instead of Anytown, USA, with dumbed-down vernacular for stupid Americans.

Well done, Ms Cosway, well done.

La Bodega

labodega-boulevard-dining-room2I’ve been thinking about the way I eat (for various reasons) and how/why my eating habits are so bad, why I fall back on banal comfort food, why I’m not adventurous in the least.

As I was writing Paso Doble, I kept finding myself associating my characters’ meals at tapas bars with romance. Small bites in small dishes. Tasting. A meal of hors d’oeuvres, eaten slowly, from a lover’s hand. I wanted to be able to do that.

As Victoria (from Paso Doble) told Giselle (from The Proviso):

Eating with a man, especially if you let him feed you, let him watch you savor the flavors, is like making love in public. I seduced my husband that way. Feed him. Let him feed you. In, out. It’s a promise more binding than kissing. Sex makes life. Food sustains life. You can see them as chores or you can find joy in them. That’s the choice you make.

I wanted to be able to do that. Except … I don’t like food. I don’t find joy in it. I’ve never found there to be anything about food to find joy in. No, it’s not something I can do, or at least, not right now. I find a food I like and I will eat it for days. Variety is not a requirement for me; efficiency is. Food is the thorn in my paw. It is a chore. It’s the enemy.

And then, for our 14th wedding anniversary, Dude surprised me by taking me to a tapas bar, La Bodega on Southwest Boulevard. We were both nervous. He’s only a little more adventurous than I am and we didn’t want to waste money on food we weren’t sure we were going to like. But tapas are a huge part of my universe’s mythos, so Dude wanted to honor that and, fingers crossed, it might turn out okay.

It was one of the most profound visceral experiences I have ever had, as significant as my rollercoaster enlightenment. The waiter came by to ask me how it was and as I was telling him, I teared up.

For the first time in my life, I found joy in food. Profound joy.

I don’t want to go there too often, though. Joy needs to be parceled out so as not to make it banal. But I’ve found that sort of profound joy twice this year (which is pretty much twice more than most other years), and both of them were because Dude gave me something new to try.

Rollercoaster and appetizers. Sometimes it’s the oddest things.


La Bodega
703 SW Boulevard
KCMO 64108
816.472.8272
 
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