Posted by: alegra22 | March 23, 2009

flies and forgotten roads: the monday goal blog

unmarked-road“Mommy! Mommy! Mommeeee! Come here! Come see this!”

Anyone who has spent time with a four year old knows that they almost always speak with high intensity punctuation and plenty of italics thrown into the mix. The sky is always falling, the world is on fire, and the discovery of say, two flies mating is a moment of awe.

“What sweetheart?”

“Look at the flies!”

I bend down to see one large fly riding on the back of a much smaller fly. They are moving slow, and not just because of the demands of their activity but because I went crazy with the fly spray earlier that morning. I am pretty sure this was this their last performance before the dark curtain fell. I felt no remorse. They crapped on my favorite coffee mug – while there was still fresh coffee in it. There are certain occasions that demand using Raid with reckless abandon.

Sol looked up at me, his eyes wide and said, “Mommy, look, that fly is giving the other fly a ride on its back!!! That is really, really nice of him isn’t it?”

“Yes, my darling boy, it is very nice of him.”

Sol smiled at me, his face a clear horizon, an unmarked road. He was so thrilled by this discovery – what he perceived as an act of cooperation between two flies, proof that the world is generally kind and that he is oh-so-clever in being able to point it out to me. Of course I did nothing to clarify for him. Sure honey, that fly is giving the other one a piggy-back ride!

I wanted to dive into that moment of innocence and lose myself on its trail. These moments have been building in me, carrying me through the daily challenges and blooming in moments of quiet. When I least expect it, I find myself tumbling back into some long lost space inside of my heart. My children pick up pieces of a world I once knew and hand it back to me in the form of a shell, a dandelion, a cut on their finger,  a question I had forgotten to ask.

I was given a wake-up call recently regarding organizing my time, weighing the investments of my energies, and generally making sure that the next time I ask Sol a question like, “What is mommy’s favorite thing to do?” He doesn’t answer me with, “I don’t know…work on the computer?”

That was about a month ago and it was part of my motivation in starting this accountability/goal blog. I wanted to thank all of you for showing up and posting your goals with me because it has made a big difference. I have become more focused, more productive, and more importantly, the quality time with my children has increased tenfold.

So speaking of focused and organized, here is how I did:

Knowing I had to post this blog kept me away from the waffles and believe me, I was tempted…Dan made waffles two mornings in a row, and being Dan, he couldn’t help describing the waffle eating experience in great detail to me, “Just having something like this in the morning totally makes me want to get out of bed…”

“Yeah babe, I know.”

“They’re just so cozy and…”


“Oh. Sorry.”

I resisted. I think I deserve major kudos for that. A post-note inspired by Pete: If I wasn’t clear before, I am not kicking the waffles to the side for any other reason than health issues. I love waffles. I love good food. I just have to find a recipe that doesn’t include wheat. My immunity and mental clarity take a nosedive when wheat or sugar make their way into my system. It is a pain, but an inherited trait.

I also stayed on my exercise although today is the first day I started lifting weights.I was a wimp. I don’t want to talk about it.

I was able to achieve some long-standing house chores such as putting up shelves, rearranging the kids’ playroom etc.

Other than that, most of my week has been consumed by grappling with this synopsis. I have described it more than once as an act of arm wrestling a mutating octopus. I stand firm on this description. It even squirts ink in my face.

I plan to spend most of this week continuing to grapple, only I am going to turn its tentacles into a masterful game of cats cradle.

So Goals this week:

1)stay on momentum with exercise/food plan

2)continue to wrestle with the outline & send it for feedback

3) polish the TWA article

4) write a blog for EditorUnleashed.

How about all y’all? How’d you do?



  1. I’d like to set a goal of doing something other than what I’ve done everyday for the past five weeks, but I can’t. Not yet. Soon enough, though. So once again, my goals will be to try and remember to breathe and to gain an understanding of this mysterious thing called “sleep”…and maybe punch a hobo for being lazy. Huh, the hobo thing actually seems the most doable. Excuse me a moment…

    • In your current circumstances and considering the last month, I say you go out and buy yourself a punching bag!

  2. You get no waffle abstinence kudos from Me. Waffles are good. Waffles are what’s right with the world. They are a little reminder that simple innocence can not only be found inside of a young child, but also in a stack of fluffy golden buttered and syrup drunken waffles. Waffles are pancakes that try harder. They invoke the use of whipped cream which is never a bad thing. Waffles are a moment of breakfastful bliss that not only encourages but also challenges the rest of your day to try and do better. You might be able to imagine a world where overly skinny people drink crystal light and feast on twigs and oats, but I say what good is any world that would persecute waffles.

    • believe me, as soon as I can figure out an equal ‘no wheat’ recipe I am going to be eating waffles until I look like I am having Spaori number 3. The only reason for my abstinence has to do with health issues, not concerns about weight; certain foods give me brain fog and fatigue, if I have them consistently in my diet my immunity starts to go into low gear and chest infections begin – wheat and sugar are too major culprits, among others. It sucks but it is an inherited thing.

      • So basically, I’m a jackass now. You can’t see it, but I just tucked my tail.

        • Ha! I finally figured out how to increase the comment threading.
          Here is what I tried to reply to you:
          awww Pete, no way are you a jackass. It was easy enough to interpret it the way you did – that is why I clarified. Believe me, the sugar free drinks in Chicago were about survival not caloric count – it is pathetic really, but my body is sensitive to chemicals and raises in blood sugar levels to the degree that carbonation in soda can make me tired. It is bizarre, but it runs in the family. I say it means that I am made to survive, my body rejects all the man-made chemicals and ‘naughty foods’ so that I am strong like bull ;o)

  3. To think…I began to wonder if I had missed something. It seemed, after so many waffle references (I mean. Who can love waffles THAT much??), that I must have missed the joke. “Waffle” was surly an analogy for something much more interesting than Breakfast from the Griddle. I think I’ve made myself clear; so I won’t follow that line of thought any further.

    Alas, the PJ-Alegra-PJ-Alegra conversation has set me straight. I am admittedly sad, glad, mortified – and have an unfortunate sense of what it means to comment honestly…

    I now return, head bowed in shame and embarrassment, to my safe little corner of the globe. I shall seek to further understand these genius writers before boldly treading into their kingdoms playing the part of the foolish juvenile adolescent again.

    Until next time then –


    Oh, and great work on your list Alegra ;~)

    • Yes, the waffle reference was from my declaration on last week’s goal blog to give up some of the bad habits I have slipped into due to stress eating. Bland, boring, neurotic stuff – no metaphors. I have to walk a very strict line or my health takes a nose dive. Pete didn’t realize this and it made me remember that not everyone reading my grand declarations would understand it wasn’t a ‘diet’ thing – not that there is anything wrong with that mind you, it just isn’t the motivating factor. I am simply trying to get my good habits back in place so that i have the energy I need.

      Sorry, I don’t have any more flair than this today! I am really growing weary of this novel outline – I think I need to go get a good book to read and hope it gives me a jolt of inspiration. It is just the discipline of the writing itself, it requires a great deal of thought and the condensing of large quantities of material into a single, simple sentence (while still maintaining style).
      I know it is good for me but right now I just want to eat waffles and watch reality t.v. show and find myself miraculously transformed into one of those writers who gets nails it on the first attempt.

  4. I have to admit, I cannot believe that was only a week ago. it feels like several millenia have passed since then. Part of this I think is due to a recent typhoon of high school memories, shadows, and dusty sheets with poorly cut eye-holes wailing about as though they’re completely new and unique.

    In terms of goals and what I set for myself last week, I managed to cut my nails… that counts for something, right?

    No, I’m being unkind to myself. On Thursday evenings I tutor an optional/supplemental tutorial for students called TLC (a suitable double-entendre, but stands for Terms, Language, Concepts). Students come to the session if they feel they need some help with ideas or questions they don’t get to raise in their normal tut. Last thursday’s TLC was friggin awesome (did I already tell you this? Ah well, I need to relive the moment today). There was this awesome energy and the students were coming up with such amazing ideas. We ran 5 min over and when I said we needed to leave, you could feel this class-wide disappointment, it was really touching. So I’ve figured that Monday tuts will be dragging my world through mud and gravel and Thursdays will be the exciting, bohemian-teacher-in-a-traditional-school-where-the-students-are-moved-by-the-freedom-and-inspirational-english-literature-classes-as-a-completely-unique-plotline-that-hasn’t-been-mutilated-by-Kevin-Klein-or-Julia-Roberts-in-the-slightest sort of day.

    But as we discussed on the phone, I am finding my way through this glacier, and I think I found my first foothole, even if when I retrace my steps, I’ll need to cover it up, and dig one that looks a lot prettier and more impressive.

    I’ve also started a new book called “Loving What Is” and it’s a sort of self-help book that guides you through almost any problem through asking simple questions and understanding what lies beneath the scowls and scars. It seems to be working rather well, so if I can keep it up, I’m hoping to try it on my need for my supervisors approval and realizing that I’m just not going to get the gold stars that I want. Ah well…

    So anways!! Goals for the week:

    1) Write at least 2,000 more words expanding my ideas of the digital paratext.

    2) Work more with “Loving What Is” and getting over certain bridges I’ve been holding flame-throwers towards in a threatening, Joan Crawford in “Mommy Dearest” die-mother-f*cker fashion.

    3) Write at least one substantial blog of my own this week (ideally today)

    4) Not stress about finances and trust that the cosmos aren’t just using me as a shower-attachment anal douche

    5) Finish reading Hayles “Translating Media” article and Zotero notes

    6) Really try to isolate Wednesday and Friday as PhD-only days

    That should be enough for now.

    Sending you many inspirational, conquering-mutating-octopus-synopses hugsies.

    • Oh Adam, I really needed to read this today – it was such a ray of sunshine to get to wander through your thoughts, especially the Mommy Dearest Die MutherEffer Die…you had me laughing out loud which is almost close to BIlly Idols “dancing by myself”

      I felt like that with my very first tutorials – the class I had in Tauranga was amazing, I could barely coax the students out of the session and we usually ran over by 15 minutes. We found ourselves wanting to continue the conversations next door at the coffeehouse. I barely needed to provide ‘tutorial presence’ I was more of an orchestrator, tuning the symphony back to the subject at hand. I loved it. Absolutely loved it.

      And again, I really enjoyed our brainstorm on the phone, we should do that more often. I miss seeing you on a regular basis!

      Big hugs and onwards we go!

  5. from the lovely Facebook crew, my friend Julia:

    “thanks so much for keeping at it!! You are a trooper of the finest kind. And keeping me thinking about my goals,also. Today it is my goal to spend one hour writing before the day is done. And I want that to start a new effort at my writing discipline for everyday! Those articles are not going to write themselves! So, I am thinking, what is realistic for me to keep to in my new ‘program’; hour, half-hour, 2 hours…”

  6. I am not sure I could have resisted the smell of the waffles! They usually make them a couple days a week in the cafeteria at my work and I just have to get one, they are fresh from the waffle maker, so good. Oh sorry, I have a feeling this is not helping you.

    I am not sure I could resist much right now, you are so disciplined. I have been a savage with food over the past few weeks. I wish I could be good and eat healthier foods that benefit me in healthy ways. I wish I could start the day off with an organic smoothie, but a Cherry Coke always wins out.

    Once again though, beautifully written. Your writing makes me feel like yoga does at times. Not all sweaty and sore and tired, but you know, appreciate the simple things in life, feeling centered and grounded and all that good stuff.

    My goals this week… hmmm.. finishing up a rough draft that is due for Wednesday (thesis: Practicing yoga enhances and improves the quality of health), getting some school reading done, just making it through work without going crazy, laundry, cleaning, etc etc.

    And on a side note… I LOVE the picture. I guessing this is the work of Dan. If he can make waffles as good as he takes pictures, wow!

    : )

    • Ugh, believe me, I am not that disciplined! It is just that over the years it hasn’t been worth the consequences to give-in. But I still do it obviously or I wouldn’t be needing to hold back. I just try to find Alegra-friendly alternatives so I can have my waffles and eat them too (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

      Thank you for the kind words and for making a Monday appearance :o)
      I hope the thesis paper goes well.
      And yes, that is Dan’s photo. He has this amazing one of Sol jumping that I really want to post, just trying to figure out the right setting to do it justice. I might post it as a complete, wordless blog…yeah, that’s it!
      Okay, back to work with me.

  7. Here I am, a day late, but not a dollar short…I hope!

    I can attest to the wheat and sugar issue that runs in the family…happens to me, too (as you know, Alegra)! I’ll see if I can dig up a decent waffle/pancake batter wheat-free recipe that doesn’t end up tasting like cardboard for you. You can try slathering it with that tasty and good for you Manuka honey.

    I love what you wrote about our little man and his beautiful innocence. He is a special and kind soul who has come to live with us and teach us the important things we have forgotten. I can’t wait to give him a big hug again!

    As for my goals, I did accomplish some of them from last week and set others in motion…now it is Spring Break, but I get no break:

    1. Complete my very extensive take home midterm exam which consists of transliterating and then translating into English from Middle Egyptian a major excerpt from the Coffin Texts, which consists of a spell for the dead on their journey through the Underworld on their way to the West. As this will probably take up at least 9 hours of time, the professor was kind and gave it to us as a take home…no way anyone in the class could have completed it during one class session…not even the most brilliant of language students with whom I have the esteemed privilege of sharing the class.

    2. Go into graphic designer mode and complete 22 signage pieces for my work. Due April 3. Ummm, yeah…hmmm…guess I won’t be sleeping anymore this week.

    3. Switch back into student mode and write 4 personal statements for 4 scholarship applications…yep, still working on that, but the letters of recommendation aspect has been set in motion.

    4. Continue in student mode and create my study guide for another midterm occurring at the end of next week.

    5. Submit my homework and online midterm for a web design class I am taking on the side.

    6. And in the midst of it all, spend quality time with the folks.

    7. Appreciate the wonder and beauty of life…participate in the transfiguration of the commonplace.

    You can get your synopsis done! I have faith in you! Go, Alegra, go!!!

    • Wow, your goals are so wonderfully studious! I have been wanting Dan to check out some web design classes…he is searching for that mode of expression that really suits him and he has such a talent for design/photography and an interest in marketing. We will see what comes, he is actively exploring because doesn’t feel as though he has found his groove yet in the world, not in a way that he can say, “Yep, this is what I am meant to be doing!”

      And yes, I know you feel me on the wheat and sugar thing. A friend just sent me some recipes, one for waffles, one for muffins, etc. I am going to start experimenting. I have been doing a lot of cooking for the kids in an attempt to get more nutritious food into them (but also because they love helping me to bake), but need to do some of the same for myself!

      I think I hit my stride with at least the first half of the synopsis last night…here is hoping it continues!

  8. hey Alegra,
    thanks in part to your inspiration, I now have a blog too! I am using it to start filing all those pieces I’ve been finding as well as some new ones. I will probably do another category for longer writings and maybe a different blog altogether for my nonfiction articles.
    it’s here if you want to take a look
    —seems we have the same taste in templates!

    • I am looking forward to sneaking some time to check it out!

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