Thursday, December 23, 2010

Big Shiny Bows

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."

Although I am not particularly religious, I do like to draw the good things from the religions in the world and try to keep them true to myself. The quote above happens to be one of my favorites. Also, it happens to be something I've been telling myself a lot lately.

Despite earlier confessions of being a Grinch and a Scrooge, this is the time where all that fades away. Two days before Christmas and I'm busy busy busy. I probably don't have time to be writing this, but I find myself in need of my writer's solitude for at least half an hour or so.

Like every year there's a mad rush to wrap up all final presents in my house. My family is a gift wrapping family, too. We take it very seriously. I can't remember a Christmas where every present didn't have a huge, home made, curly, shiny bow on it. Every single bow was my mother's own creation and she spent hours making sure every gift looked perfect under the tree on Christmas morning.

As I grew up I also developed a knack for wrapping and bow making. Being unemployed this year, a lot of the wrapping responsibility has fallen on my shoulders. I don't mind. I enjoy it. It's time consuming, but it distracts me from other drama which centers around the holidays.

This year my bows seem to be more extravagant and frilly. They look more beautiful than they ever have before and with each one I make I smile at it and think to myself, "Now that's a beautiful present." I know myself, though, and the only time I care that much about a relatively small detail is when I'm trying to ignore something I don't want to deal with.

I don't believe in blasting people on the internet. So I won't. But my normally peaceful family is experiencing a rip-tide of clashing traditions this year. It's distressing, and I hope a compromise can be reached. But, really, all of it is beyond my control or my immediate business. So, I make big, beautiful bows on all the presents and pretend everything's alright as long as the gifts look good.

I hope my Christmas Spirit kicks in soon. My best friend is in town for a few days, and it's the only time all year I get to see him. Usually his presence helps put me in a great mood, and I hope that remains to be true this year.

I know my family isn't the only one with drama or internal issues. I only hope that if your family happens to be experiencing some turbulence right now that you keep the Serenity Prayer in mind. Accept the things you cannot change, be brave enough to change what you can, and know which battles to fight. Above all, just breathe and remember that being in a family is something to be grateful for. We're just lucky to love each other so much that we'll argue about it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


So, ten years ago I received my very first cell phone. I got it on my 18th birthday. I don't even think that I'd asked for one. We had a house phone, and while cell phones were in the movies and becoming more common among working adults, I wasn't aware of many teenagers who had one.

It had an extend-able antennae and a yellow light with a digital face. I held it in my hand when I opened the present and it started ringing. Puzzled, I answered it and my mother was on the other end saying, "I got one too!" And in this moment I fell in love, just a little bit, with technology.

We all know that in the last decade cell phone usage has come a long way. In my on family we no longer have a home phone. And my little digital all-one-color display has transformed into a tiny television screen in the palm of my hand. I can contact anybody and look up anything on it. With it, I'm pretty sure I can conquer the world. That is... you know... if I wanted to.

A couple of week ago I accidentally enabled the screen saver on my phone and I freaked out. I didn't know what happened to it, and I couldn't figure it out. I was almost positive I'd somehow infected it with some sort of virus. I just knew that as I was looking at this obnoxious screen there was something out there, in this world, exploding into bits and pieces and it was all my fault.

Of course I try to hold more composure on the outside when my mind travels that far that fast inside my head.

When I trusted it to somebody who knows what they're doing with Blackberries, he figured out that all I had to do was disable the screensaver. Yes. I'm an idiot. But the point is, my phone is so powerful and can do so much that it scares me. I, literally, can't fulfill it's potential because it's so much smarter than I am.

Whilst I was having this internal hissy-fit, I looked up online to see if anybody else out there ever had this happen to them. See? I at least try to find answers amongst my freaking out. And the only thing I found was a thread on a forum where somebody was asking the same thing I was. Nobody ever replied to them. I was temporarily comforted with the knowledge that I wasn't alone.

So, today (a few weeks later), I decided I should reply to that person's thread. What if they are just as dumb as I am but not lucky enough to know somebody who works with Blackberries? So, I decided to go and give this random person an answer. Also... for future dumbasses who look for an answer.

Holy shit was this an ordeal. First I had to register with this site. That's fine, I kind of expected it anyway. Then I had to retrieve an email and verify before I could actually post on a thread on the site. Okay... Not a big deal, right?

Wrong. Evidently my email account decided to be a bitch today and they made me log in twice before telling me it was locked. In order to unlock it I have to verify it with my cell phone. So I enter my number, wait for the text, and enter the code. Then I am directed to a page where I'm commanded to change my password.

Now for a whole new neuroses of mine. I have had the same password since I was in 8th grade... where my History teacher made us set up an email at school... where the internet was being installed for the first time. It was a big deal. And I chose the perfect password! And it's done me very well all these years. I realize how unsafe that is. I know how stupid it is... but let's face it... this blog isn't about how smart I am, now is it?

So I had to think of a new password. And I did. And it's perfect. I'll probably use it for the next umpteen years of my life. Now that I was able to log into my email, I could verify my account and reply to the poor schmuck who's too stupid to disable his screensaver on his new Blackberry... the infinitely more powerful version of any cell phone from the year 2000.

So, this is my contribution to the world today. You're welcome. I'm not sure it was worth the time or the headache.

BTW... I've had the same number since my 18th birthday. Some things don't change.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Music

I've been known to be a Grinch. A Scrooge. A Bah-humbuger, if you will. And this isn't a recent development. I've been this way since my late teens. Something about the Holiday Season gets me down and makes me kind of cranky.

Don't get me wrong, I participate. I shop. I go to Christmas Parties and dinners. I watch Rudolf. I (usually) go to the parade and wave at Santa. I even go to Christmas Eve Church Service... every year I do these things. Yet, somehow, something inside of me wants to fight Christmas.

Let's face it. Nobody likes to go Christmas shopping. Nobody likes those crowds. Personally, I procrastinate on it every year. I can't stand the stupidity that usually accompanies it. Honestly, the best part of Christmas shopping is when I've bought everything on my list and I'm in my car heading home.

And when I'm in my car, my station isn't tuned to any station that plays nothing but holiday jingles. The soft rock station in St. Louis starts exclusively playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving. I'm pretty sure one of the country stations is in on it, too. And all I can say to this is, really? Really? you're playing Christmas music for nearly 2 whole months out of the entire year? NOTHING but Christmas music? Ugh...

I used to like Christmas music. I can remember being a child and happily chanting the words to several Christmas carols. But somewhere along the line I started to overdose on it. For three years in a row (THREE) I had the serious mis-fortune of being in a class which was selected to sing "Oh Christmas Tree" for the Christmas Program. Well, I guess it was only two years. In the third year they tried pulling a fast one and had us sing "O Tannenbaum" instead. Really? Yes. Really.

To this day, if I hear the tune to "Oh Christmas Tree" I want to punch myself in the face. Sometimes I wonder what Christmas music does to other people's memories. Are there people in this world who freak out whenever they hear "O Holy Night"? And if there are people like that, what guarantees do I have that they won't be standing in line next to me when that particular song comes on over the invisible speakers at the mall... while I'm shopping... which I hate to do? I just hope they punch themselves in the face and not me.

Then... with a stroke of brilliance I thought to myself, "What can I do to always ensure I'm singing Christmas music, even though I dislike it so much?" And while this wasn't the entire reason... I joined Choir at a young age. Year after year I spent months singing Christmas music as my extracurricular activity. It was purely voluntary. I overdosed on Christmas music by the age of 17 and I have nobody to blame for it but myself.

There has always been one exception to the rule. Church. On Christmas Eve, when I'm in Church, singing from the hymnal, I love Christmas music. When the lights go low and everybody is holding a candle, singing "Silent Night," it's nothing short of magical. Despite the fact that I'm not religious, even the grumpiest version of myself can recognize breath taking beauty. And if you haven't experienced something that spiritual... I highly suggest you do.

This year hasn't proved to be all together different. I'm skipping over the Christmas stations with haste... as if listening to a few notes of Wham's "Last Christmas" will chip away at my very exterior. Even when there are commercials on the other stations I will only listen to the Christmas if it's Karen Carpenter or Bing Crosby. So, it seems that my usual grumpiness is here, right?

Wrong. I've found another exception to the rule. Television commercials.

Okay, I know it's wrong to be a couch potato and be totally in love with television commercials. But I'm an unemployed writer. So... yeah... I'm a couch potato totally in love with television commercials. My favorites include the Pier One talking accessories, and any new Christmas music. New music includes the one with rap starting out with "I'm gonna get it. I know I'm gonna get it." Then there's the "You'll Never Find My Christmas" one for Target. There's a Hershey commercial that has a mash up of "Carol of the Bells" and "I'll Stop The World to Melt with You." And I love it! I love all of it.

Speaking of mash ups (yeah... totally didn't know that term prior to Glee), Glee had an awesome Christmas episode this year. They even did Wham (snicker). I found myself watching it intently, and then re-watching it, because I dvr'd it.

So... every time I find myself grooving to a Christmas tune I have to ask myself... is it Christmas music I hate? Or is it that I only hate it when it's not subliminally injected into my brain? You know what? I don't know... or even really care to some extent. It's just something I think about.
What's your favorite Christmas song... and why?

Yeah... I totally just laid an essay question on you.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Old Houses

One of my favorite memories happened in the old house in Staunton. It was early in the morning, I was cold, and I came out of the bedroom and stood on the heater vent in the livingroom. My mother was sitting on the couch and she said, "happy birthday, baby girl."

I remember forgetting that day was my birthday until she said something. All I was worried about was the heat coming from the vent and how good it felt on my cold feet. The house I grew up in in Highland also had forced air heat. I loved standing on the vents and feeling the air flow up my body from the feet up. In fact, I loved the heat so much I can remember camping out on the floor by the vent for nearly an entire winter, sleeping with my head right next to it.

My childhood bedroom window was drafty. Right outside of it was a corner of the house which made the wind sound like a lonely howl. The bathroom was constantly several degrees cooler than the rest of the house, and to describe the basement as freezing would be giving it a compliment.

Later on we remodeled and my bedroom became the living room. There was a fireplace installed and there was a whole new reason to camp out in that room.

The house I live in now has hot water heat and I can honestly say I miss the opportunity of standing on a vent when you hear the heat kick on. The house is much less drafty, but I kind of miss that, too in a strange way. Nostalgia will do that to a girl.

One of my grown up best friends lives in the downstairs apartment of an old farm house. I spend a lot of time at her place with her and her kids. They call me Aunt Destiny and tell me they love me everyday. We have a lot of fun together and create a lot of memories in this old house.

Last night her daughter said, "Destiny, look!" And I saw her hair blowing up as she stood on a running vent. She laughed and I couldn't help but feel her joy.
With the roads being bad and the temperature dipping below freezing, I find myself camping out at my friends house for a few days. I don't mind, though. The company is good and its drafty but the vents just kicked on. So... I gotta go.
*PS... this was written several hours prior to being posted. 
Due to inclimate weather I haven't been home in a couple of days. I've written something and in the process of figuring out how to post it from my phone. Ttyl!

Friday, December 10, 2010


As anybody who writes regularly will tell you... Writer's block is a bitch.

I've been blocked before. The last serious stretch was nearly a year long, and it frustrated the hell out of me. I would, literally, sit down with the intentions of writing something and come up with nothing. Sometimes I'd get as far as one paragraph and decide the whole thing was crap, close out of Microsoft Word and go check my e-mail instead. I had a virtual wastebasket full of crumpled up paper.

When I was in high school, I almost never wrote rough drafts to any paper. I would even write some of them within hours of it being due (because I'm awesome at procrastination) and still get A's on them. In college I did the same thing, and I even helped friends with their papers (for free). It was like a super power. I, Destiny Fritz, bullshitted my way through just about any paper I had to write, and I did it well.

In my old blogging days I posted several blogs a week and had no problem coming up with things to say. Part of this is because I talk too much (an endearing quality I've inherited from my grandmother... or so I'm told :), but part of it is also because I was inspired.

Inspiration comes to me randomly, really. One of the best fiction short stories I've written was an idea I got while listening to a classic rock song. I've also mused about having a muse. My muse, by the way, is a fabulous man. He kicks all other muse butt, and dresses better than they do, too. No matter how I get my inspiration, I get it, and when I don't get it for a while I get kind of antsy.

Which brings me back to being blocked. Right now, I'm fortunate enough to not have a barricade in my brain, but I worry that tomorrow may not be the same. That statement will surprise my mother, because she thinks I never worry. Not true. I worry about things... it's just most of the things I worry about are a little more obscure (another trait I've inherited. Grandpa was the worrier of the two).

I guess it's a once bitten, twice shy sort of thing. Before I was blocked the idea of a blog didn't scare me or seem daunting. Now that I've had a rough period of time with my writing, I feel more trepidation towards it. It's not that I'm scared to write... I love writing. It's that I'm scared of the commitment of doing something that, if I want it to be at all successful, needs to be done practically every day. What if I get blocked again?

I guess the only thing to do is face the fear, right? That's what they say about dating. The only way to move on from a broken heart is, after some time, get back out there and face the fear that it could happen again. You can't get it right if you never try.

When thinking about what my next post would be after the great feedback I got from the last, I tossed around a lot of ideas. I could have gone with any number of them, and I still might. Just sit tight. I guess I'm getting to it. I'm a habitual beat around the busher. If that makes any sense.

Right now I'm just trying to harness inspiration and pay attention to where it's coming from. Now... if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go have a conversation with a fabulous, well-dressed, man.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thought Process

I'm not totally new to the whole blogging thing. I've always had a knack for expressing my thoughts in the written word, and I love to write fiction as well as non-fiction pieces. I had a blog on MySpace (back when MySpace was the shit and Facebook was only for college students), and I really enjoyed it. Something made me stop, though, and I'm not sure what it was.
I think what I loved most was the feedback. The people who read my blog were mostly females and they were also, mostly, from my home town. They were girls I'd grown up with who'd turned into women and who faced the same problems I faced. The demographic was right because these women grew up where I grew up. I was extremely relate-able to them.
I think the best feedback I ever received was one very cold Christmas Evening back in 2008. This was shortly after I stopped blogging on MySpace and I was starting to hear from avid readers who missed me. I was having a few drinks with a friend who was in town and I ran into a girl named Shanna.
I'd known Shanna since I was 6 or 7 years old. She was the first girl to spend the night at my house. We weren't particularly close in our adult years, but she was a subscriber to my blog. She came up to me that night while I was having drinks and sat with me for a while. We conversed about many things, but the conversation eventually ended up being about my blogs.
At first, my ego couldn't get enough. I loved hearing how much people loved reading my random musings. And Shanna didn't disappoint. She raved and applauded me to the point that you would have thought I was the best writer in the world. And just when I thought she'd made my head swell so big it wouldn't fit through the front door, she brought me back down with a somber thought.
She looked at me, her mood suddenly different, and she said, "I get sad a lot. And when I get sad, I like to have a glass of wine and read your old posts back to back. It's like reading a favorite book. It makes me feel better." And while that's probably the best compliment I've ever received, it made me feel sad. It never occurred to me that I was reliable for lifting somebody's mood. It humbled me in an instant.
In July of the following year, Shanna died. While attending her funeral I remembered that Christmas conversation with her. I appreciated her enthusiasm and her honesty, and I'll never forget the look in her eyes when she confessed her sadness to me. I'll remember it forever and always.
Still, I didn't start blogging again. I started attending writer's groups and I started challenging myself in other realms of writing. While I'm still doing that, I feel like there's something missing. I feel like I'm not connecting with enough people. I feel like I could be doing so much more with my talent.
Two months ago I became unemployed. Over the last two months I've seen a birthday and I've had some very humbling thoughts. I'm not where I wanted to be by this age. I feel like I disappoint the elders in my life. I feel like my life-long friends don't recognize me. I feel like I don't recognize me. In essence, I've been sad.
So, I took Shanna's advice and I read my old posts... back to back. I didn't have a glass of wine, but I don't think that's a necessary requirement (albeit an awesome addendum). I found myself cringing at some stuff which could have been more thoroughly edited, and I found myself criticizing my old work at every turn. But then I cut myself a break and I started to feel the content. Before I knew it I was smiling and wanting to read more and more. This is what Shanna was talking about. I finally got it.
After that I couldn't wait to get started again. So here I am. I didn't jump the gun, though. I've been thinking about what I would say and what my new blog would be about. I consulted my best friends and my mother before writing this first post. Even when I started writing, I wasn't sure exactly what I would say.
All I can say is from here on out the topics will vary and so will the moods. I can't promise something new everyday, but I am unemployed so the chances are high that I'll post often. I do hope you'll come back and check on me. Because, you see, up until now, my blogging has been on the fritz. And I think it's about time for a come-back.