Melinda May Can Kiss My (non)Aspirational Plans

My therapist, who is generally a goddess, makes me crazy by quoting Shel Silverstein’s poem about Melinda May and her damn whale. (Don’t get me started on what happened when Jamie (said therapist) made me read The Body Keeps the Score. Her reading lists are from Hell.)

Unfortunately, Jamie and Melinda May are right. The key is to achieving your goals is to keep taking little bites. (Jane also said this yesterday in the comments, which made me think of Melinda May, so she inspired this post, blame her if you don’t like me repeating the theme from yesterday.).

So I’m working on two sampler blankets and enjoying the hell out of them because I only crochet a square or hex a day, just to relax, unless I get into it, in which case, Katie bar the door, we’re crocheting for hours. Plus I’m doing crochet-alongs on Ravelry–one on a different yarn each month and one a scavenger hunt like Park and Shop with hooks and needles. If I don’t do a month, nobody cares. It’s perfect.

And I’m working on something with writing every day, just for fifteen minutes, unless I get sucked in, in which case, I could finally. get these books revised/finished/out the door. But there’s no pressure because people gave up on me producing anything long ago and forgot I existed, so I’m blissfully writing for fun. I got a bag for Christmas that says, “Write Drunk, Edit Sober,” and while I generally don’t drink anything but straight Diet Coke, I consider the writing-off-the-top-of-my-head, don’t-look-down, discovery and recovery drafts the same as Drunk Writing. It’s fabulous.

And the when-I-get-time project I completely abandoned–putting the blog posts back up that I took down after the hack–I’m now looking at doing by rescuing or deleting one draft post a day. There are 2,134 posts in draft stage, so it’ll be awhile, but there’s no rush. One-thousand twenty-eight published, and I could probably get rid of some of them, too. This blog has been around for YEARS, stuff accumulates. The thing is, some of this stuff is really good. Some of it is garbage and can be deleted, but that’s fun, too. Plus if I start going through the Questionables and writing posts, maybe I’ll start organizing that writing book. You know, when I feel like it. It’s not a RESOLUTION, for god’s sake.

And then there’s throwing physical stuff out so we can move through the house again. The dogs and cat would be so grateful. That’s along with all the miscellaneous stuff I put in the Sunday Happiness post. Good times. The important thing is, none of these things are resolutions. They’re plans. They END when the goal is achieved. I mean, not even Melinda May, that little psycho, made a resolution to eat a bite of whale every day for the rest of her life. It just worked out that way.

(I have questions though. How did she keep the whale fresh? What size is her freezer? Did she spatchcock it? Bring a local butcher in to carve it into steaks? I ask because she’s got the denuded skeleton there on her plate, and how did she get it that clean? That’s a lot of bone chewing. Of course, she could have boiled it to make whale broth, but where did she get a pot that size? I call shenanigans.)

So plans. Big plans. No resolutions. We’re not making big life changes, reality is doing that for us. (I’m speaking of me and Veronica and Mona and Emily. That’s not a Royal We.) We will not be biting off more than we can chew and swallow.

We’re just going to be nibbling at kibble and life in 2022. It’s a plan.

40 thoughts on “Melinda May Can Kiss My (non)Aspirational Plans

  1. My stomach is turning at the thought of eating 89 year old rancid whale carcass. Melinda Mae sounds like an idiot. But yay for plans! (as long as they don’t involve eating a whale)

  2. I have a plan. I plan to go to bed. I finished two books tonight, thinking, “Just one more chapter.” I’m retired. I’m supposed to get snowed in today, 3-5 inches. In New Jersey, that’s probably a “dusting.” In southeast Virginia, that’s an apocalypse. Luckily, I went to the FNFL last night and got meat, bread, milk, eggs… I can make French toast. (I hate French toast.) Time to execute my plan. 🙂

  3. Tell your therapist to stick to the alligators and boats or monkeys and circuses. Unless your whale is stuck frozen in an Iceberg in Arctic weather and they only cut off a bit at a time as it thawed and even then. Still having too literal a mind can ruin things, fairy tales, music videos etc. Thinking that when given a wish … wish for financial independence.. instead of being able to crash a party and being forced to flee for your life in uncomfortable shoes

  4. I am thinking this morning about how to get all my writing organized. It’s basically in 2 places: a laptop which will die any minute – anything on there must come off; and jump drives – some of which are wherabouts unknown. I want it all on my desktop & backed up somewhere & I want a list of everything whether wip (most of it) or finished. Right now it seems insurmountable but I just need to start somewhere, anywhere, right?
    Here’s my plan for starting today: yoga first, breakfast second (possibly at the beach), then start getting things off the dying laptop.
    Wish me luck.
    And Jenny – gotta love a therapist who quotes Shel Silverstein!

    1. Just in case it dies before you get everything copied, there is supposed to be a gadget you can buy to retrieve it, but actual IT people will know more

    2. There are paid backup services like Carbonite (the one I use). They automatically back up anything in marked folders. You can restore to a new computer, if you get one. Or to the current one, if something happens. If you are a windows user, I think the Microsoft OneDrive is similar and free (but limited size).

  5. Is it supposed to be a cautionary or inspirational poem? Because it sounds more cautionary to me. Melinda Mae made a questionable life choice and instead of reevaluating she just kept on going… think of all the great stuff she missed out on doing!

    My plans for today involve going out in the snow once it stops looking blizzardy. And making bread. And sadly, working. The federal government is closed today, but because I telework, I have to work. Damn Covid. I had avoided signing a telework agreement for years for this very reason. Snow days are the best days.

  6. As I just commented on the previous post, my 2022 motto is “Do it until it’s done.”

    Applies to everything from daily exercise to Operation Photo Scan, which looks now like maybe 4,000 photos–a trunk I thought was empty turns out to be packed with albums.

    The trick, of course, is to eat the right whale(s).

      1. From the Wiki:

        Length: 512 inch – 630 inch on average (North Atlantic right whale) · 157 inch – 181 inch (North Atlantic right whale, Calve)
        Weight: 88,200 pounds – 154,000 pounds on average (North Atlantic right whale) · 3,090 pounds (North Atlantic right whale, Calve)

        I think, even if you stick to right whale calves, that’s a lot of whale to eat. Right much, as they say. 😉

        1. Tell the Wiki that the singular of Calves is Calf. Calve is a word, but it means ‘to give birth to a calf.’

          Picky mode off.

    1. Maybe get really selective about which images you scan? I do think less is often more, even with family photos. If there are too many, people tend to get overwhelmed looking at them, too, and they end up in a pile of dusty albums. Whereas is you stick to those that are unique and striking, they’re more likely to be enjoyed.

      1. You’re right, Jane, after the grandchildren were finished looking at our family albums they wanted to look through all the boxes, just filled with more pictures. I would take one box out at a time and even before we got to the end I had to get up and regroup. And still I have go through them again and focus on what’s important. It can be overwhelming.

      2. Ah, but you’re thinking like a photographer. This is our family’s 10 kids sitting in front of the birthday cake…on the couch opening presents…in group shots at Christmas, Easter and graduations…year after year after year. I did warn my sibs that if two pics are similar, I’ll scan the better one (my call). And I won’t scan the ones with people’s heads cut off. Probably.

        Eventually I’d like to put together a photo book that’s more like what you suggest, Jane. The first whale, however, is preserving the record.

  7. Melinda May should have joined the Argh community, so one of us could have told that poor child to stop eating the whale and buy some Dove Bars.

    Happy retirement to Gary J.

    Happy New Year to the Argh community.

  8. Anne Stuart once gave a speech at a conference I attended, and it really stuck with me — her advice at the time (not sure if she still follows it) was that it was better for her to set a goal of writing one page a day (or fifteen minutes of writing) even if she needed to write a lot of pages in a short period, because the larger goal (the days until deadline divided by available time) just overwhelmed her and caused her to shut down, but one page was easily doable, and once she settled down to do that one page, she usually produced a lot more than that, and if all she did was that one page, well, she met her goal and didn’t beat herself up or get stressed out, which only makes the next day more difficult. So, in the end, setting that tiny goal produced more pages in a shorter period than the anxiety-producing larger goal.

    I’ve pretty much lived by that advice for my writing (and other aspects of life) ever since. My goal is easily achievable, and if I do more, that’s great, but if all I do is that minimum goal, that’s worth celebrating too.

  9. Lol. The Body Keeps the Score is one of my fave reads of late. Which I’m guessing by your description of your therapist’s reading list, you maybe didn’t enjoy as much as I did. Lots of gems of info in there, though.

    Since my training is in social work this is a good fit for me. Recently I’ve been fascinated more and more about the brain and all the new science coming in about it that’s finally, finally, catching up with what so many have known about the mind/body connection for so long. Yay to your therapist for recommending it. Now you’ve got me curious what else is on her reading list. And yay to your “non-resolution” plans. Sound great:)

    1. I was stunned by the “body keeps score”.. lots of technical stuff but also some good insight into the effects of childhood abuse. it is one of my top 10 books.

      1. Agree, Hilda. Also great is how the author shares his own journey of learning through his encounters with real people and his efforts to help them heal. And his recognition that trauma comes in many forms from varied experiences at many stages of life, yet it still causes effects that leave physical as well as psycho-social impressions that are unique to each individual. Really appreciated his honesty.

    2. Oh, it was mind-blowing. Without going into grimy details, it made a lot of things clear. But what really rocked me was a chunk of Nick’s dialogue I’d written months ago that was straight out of “how people handle trauma.” I went in to her office and said, “That damn book, listen to this, ” and read her that part, and she said, “Oh. Wow. We should talk about that.” No, no we shouldn’t. That book was invaluable, the same way root canal is invaluable. Argh

  10. Somewhere around the middle of the whale I was forcibly reminded of the exploration societies that served the occasional recently-thawed mammoth, a century or so ago. Those Victorian explorers must have had cast-iron digestive systems.

  11. Lead solder on tins of food poisoned Franklin’s team of explorers searching for the Northwest Passage.

    What didn’t kill them made them memorable, I suppose. My great-uncle once served his father’s wines at a dinner with guests from England. It convinced me that wine can turn really awful with age.

  12. No, we have NOT given up on you publishing anything new! I was given Manhunting around 2004 and it renewed my love for reading. I could not read your books fast enough! So, about once or twice a year, I jump on your website to browse in the hopes that something new will come out, because I have most of your current books almost memorized. Nobody writes like you!

    1. Oh, thank you!
      I did finish a book but my editor rejected it. Revising now.
      And the good news is I have ten other books started. I just have trouble finishing. (Entire population of this blog sighs and rolls eyes.)

  13. I laughed out loud at “Did she spatchcock it?” Just split that sucker on open and throw on a grill. My word of 2022 is Persist, and Melinda Mae certainly persisted. I’m going to print out the poem and put it on my wall.

    1. You have me thinking dietarily. If she was on a no-fat diet, logically someone (the cook?) would have removed all the fat. If it was a no-fat Atkins, they’d have skinned and deboned it, too. There went a fair chunk of whale. Could the remains be cured? Because, what can’t be cured…

  14. All I could think of when reading the poem (new to me) was Melinda May from S.H.I.E.L.D. tackling the whale. And I agree wholeheartedly with KarenB’s analysis.

    My plans for 2022 include “Quilt More Often”. I’m out of the habit, and want to get back in.

  15. It reminds me of that old thing about how to eat an elephant. Bite by bite. Maybe that’s how I’ll take the increasingly uncertain new year. Bite by bite.

  16. Please don’t let your editor have the final word. You’re a special writer, with a wonderful, quirky way of looking at the world, and editors are invariably not quirky.

    If you begin to self-publish, I would buy anything you put out – and though it may not be perfect, I know there will be fascinating characters and scenes that make me laugh.

    Don’t let your writing disappear, share it with those of us who love the way you write.

    Big Fan…

    1. Oh, thank you! My agent is still ready to go forward with it as soon as I get it back to her, and if she can’t sell it, we’ll self-publish. It’s definitely quirky.

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