Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year to everyone!

Did I ever mention my journal addiction?

It's real. I can't refuse journals. I struggle to not buy one when I walk by them in the only bookstore left in Boulder County. I do fill them up,  at least, because I am a big believer in daily journaling, but I never fill them up quite as fast as I buy them. So I dedicate the 'extras.'

I have one journal dedicated to story ideas for a fantasy novel that I may or may never write. Another one is dedicated to the sci-fi story I'm working on. I have another one just for random notes. And I have the daily journal one. I still have three other blank journals. I think I'll reserve one for my forays into poetry. Sometime last year I bought a bunch of poetry handbooks and guides, and this year, I'm going to spend more time playing with poetry. No real reason for it, it's just something I've always enjoyed and wanted to delve into more.

This time of year everyone is writing about their resolutions. I'm not going to :) because lets face it, you don't really care. I mean, did you even care about my journal addiction, really? It's okay. I understand. It's not that interesting unless you also happen to have a journal addiction, and now you know, you're not alone.

I did something different, though, this year. I made the resolutions, then I made goals from them. Under the goals, are the 'how to get this goal.' So, for instance, my resolution to Be healthy has goals: Exercise every day, eat better, be more mindful. Then, those have 'how to' so exercise every day w/ Jillian Michaels or a run during week, and a hike or long run on the weekend. Eat better has eat fish 2x a week and plan monthly menus, and mindful has meditate in the mornings for 15 minutes, starting with five minutes every other day and working up. See, now they are all doable. There are other resolutions, and I did the same thing with those, as well.

The last year was interesting in terms of personal development. I think it's rare that we actually stop to realize we'd actually had some personal developments happen, especially internally, where it's more a gnawing, slow realization that you've changed than some sudden external event, but it quickly became very clear to me that I'd been living out of tune and out of sync with who I am, what I wish to do and how I wish to be, and the last few months I've spent time really putting thought to how I want to express myself through my life. Genuinely. Not like an Instagrammed life where it's all an image, but a true expression of myself. I'm really looking forward to being able to put some of myself out into the world while I've decided there are other things that belong only to me.  Other things haven't changed. I still need to run. Still love to hike. Have to write. Am obsessed with finding ways to keep dinner time healthy and not from delivery... But there is more. I think there is more to all of us, and we all owe it to ourselves to keep trying to find the higher expressions of our selves.

Happy New Year!


Quick rundown of random things:

Six months in, new Middle School is still the absolute best thing that happened for Turbo and Bear. Those two have just attained new levels of maturity and growth through the higher expectations. 

Drama Girl is still in childcare, but I think she's going to explore hair and cosmetology which we all think would suit her so much more! Fun, cute clothes to work and get to do other people's make up for money... c'mon....

Husbear loves his new position, and pretty much has found his calling. No one who knows him is surprised by this, but it's one thing to be told, another to learn it for yourself.

I'm still working on a profession, but I have a better, clearer picture of my life in both my career and in my writing. 2016 will be exciting in terms of both, but I don't know yet what either will fully look like. It's a statement of inner knowledge, belief, and that intuitive whisper that says you're on track I'm going off of here.

I've become addicted to digital loaning from the library.

I'm still in lounge-wear and have yet to find a hairstyle I like aside from braids, side ponytail, high ponytail and low ponytail.





Saturday, December 19, 2015

Quick week in review, featuring wisdom, trust and other such things

Teeth Drama!
I had teeth drama. I suddenly discovered a new tooth had sprouted! I could feel my gums aching, and the tooth pushing. I pulled back the edges of my mouth and used a flashlight to see what was happening, when I saw it. A bone where I had never seen a before had pushed itself out. I went over all the likely reasons, aided by goggling dental anamolies:


  •  Triplet that I absorbed in the womb now making a late appearance. 
  •  Tori, these bone-growth-like things that occur when you grind your teeth a lot, like I do. 
  •  An abscessed tooth that would infect me and kill me unless I removed it with the blade of an ice skate. 
  • Tooth tumor.


A few days later, after realizing it wasn't going to go away on its own if I just played loud music and ignored it, I called the dentist and went in. I explained my dilemma, and the dentist tech chic person poked around a bit.

"This?"
"Yes."
"This, this right here?"

"Yes, that is it! What is that?"
"...."
"I mean, it just showed up."
"It's.. um, it's your tooth."
"What tooth?"
"Your wisdom tooth."
"Oh, did it come in? Is that what happened? It just finally erupted and popped out?"
"It's, well, it's been in." (for years, apparently).
"Really? I never knew!"
"So when are you getting it removed?" (Dentist who's seen me for the past 8 years and has been trying to get me to get rid of it for the past 8 years, but of course I ignored her because I thought it hadn't actually come through yet.)

So that was fun. My wisdom tooth, which has fully come in and been taking up space, probably may have a cavity, but no one can really tell, because it's really hard to get to. I was sent home with pain meds and a reminder I really should get it pulled before it actually does become a huge source of infected rancid tooth pain.

This entire tooth thing took up most of my mental energy this week and is the reason I didn't blog. (Too busy googling teeth things)  I was a bit disappointed it wasn't anything exciting, like an absorbed triplet.

Random Snow Day!

I heard El Nino meant we'd have a milder, drier winter in the Front Range, so I stopped paying attention to the weather reports. Every day is mostly the same. Sunny and unseasonably warm or Sunny and seasonably cold. So when I did hear some chatter about snow I ignored it because every snow prediction other than 1-3 inches is wrong. If my weather app says we're getting 1"-3" of snow, we're getting maybe a dusting that can equal around an inch and a half. If it says we're getting 4-6 inches, we're getting 1-3. If it says we're getting 5-10, we're getting 1-3. If it says we're getting a blizzard, we're getting rain. It's just how it is. So I was fairly surprised to be woken up at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday for our school district to call an unprecedented snow day. Which of course was the best kind, for my boys, who didn't even know it was going to snow. We spent that day in our pajamas, Husbear worked from home, Drama Girl was home from work because despite my best advice to her EVER, she still insists in working in childcare, and not a lot was done all day. It was beautiful.

Trust issues!

My friend and I discussed this over Indian food. She was talking about the precautionary measures she took when selling things on Craigs List: Call the neighbors. Pack a knife in your pocket, just in case. Arm the eldest child with a hockey stick or baseball bat. Her eldest popped his head out, and said 'I think it's safe, there's a baby." I looked at her, and said 'The baby's just a distraction." At which point she jumped up and yelled, in her very calm, not-yelly way, 'That's what I said!" Because trust.

Then,  Chase Fraud alert texted my phone to tell me my debit card may have been placed at risk by a third party vendor (I'm going with either the Chinese delivery or the gas station - thanks a lot, guys!). I called the number on the text, and then was all like, but wait, what if THIS is the scam? Eventually, the customer service rep kinda figured out I was THAT person, and was like, 'I can tell you feel uncomfortable telling me anything, but we are Chase Fraud. However, you can always just call the number on the back of your card, or visit your branch...." Leaving out the obvious, that the only reason I got those text alerts is because I myself enabled them... It's a rough world out there.




Friday, December 11, 2015

The can of hominy in dreams and careers (note: they are completely unrelated)



  This is hominy. Hello hominy.


It looks like popcorn, but it's not. It's hominy, and harder to find than it should be. I think it's made from corn. It is, it's made from corn kernels (thank you Wikipedia). Hominy is an important ingredient in a white chili stew that I make that my entire family loves.

Think about what I just said there. That my entire family loves. This is a family where, on a good night, two out of five people enjoy the meal cooked.  This is because the universe has a bizarre sense  of humor and has created a group of people  genetically predisposed to liking different foods from everyone else in their immediate genetic tree family. No one in my family has the same taste in anything. At all. It made meals difficult until I changed the criteria for a successful meal to "at least two people liking it," because the list of meals that all five of us will eat and enjoy can be counted on one hand, not including the thumb. No one complains anymore because I tell them straight away that only 2-3 family members will approve of this night's dinner. White chili is one of the few meals they all enjoy. But it requires hominy. Safeway didn't have it. Sprouts didn't have it. Target didn't have it. I had to go to the dreaded uber store, the King Sooper store, which, in this area, is the big grocery heavy. Everyone goes there. At all hours of the day and night. It's always crowded, I can never find what I'm looking for, and I always run into people I'd been hoping to never see again, as well as people who were hoping they'd never see me again. But, hominy is necessary, and I bought it.The thing is, I had to buy it today. 

TODAY.


Because I had a dream about hominy. It was a really important dream. In this dream, I got the sad news I didn't get a job I applied for like three months ago, but it was okay because I was hanging out with an old friend from High School I hadn't seen in ever who just dyed her hair some lavender shade (we so need to catch up lady!) and after all was said and done, there was a can of hominy. With a capital H. Hominy. It was a big can. And I knew, I just knew, hominy was the key to my future career success. Hominy.
Which confused me, in the dream, because how hominy is remotely related to careers wasn't made clear.  It was the last image of my dream. I woke up thinking, hominy.

Then, today, I had to get it. HAD TO. It's going to snow tomorrow, and I want to let the white chili simmer in a crock pot all day. I became a bit obsessive about it. I pulled myself out of the house despite my huge 'I'm giving up diet coke cold turkey' headache and went and scoured the world for hominy.

I'm still not entirely sure why I associated hominy with career success in a dream. I mean, hominy isn't even in the dream dictionary... but, when I came home, I did get an e-mail about a job that just opened that is exactly the job I want, exactly where I want,  that meets all my needs, and the one where I meet all the qualifications for including the weird skill set most people in my field don't have. I'm unique, people, unique... 
So I applied, thinking about hominy.

(Note: I personally think jobs are like a lottery these days, and you either get extra chances because you know someone, or you get lucky because it's Tuesday and everyone else who applied Tuesday misspelled their own name...)  
(Note 2: I already have a back up plan for when the hominy-dream connection doesn't pan out and I never hear from the mysterious people known as HR, but if it does pan out, I'm saying I called it.)

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Pre-writing thoughts on other writers who weren't famous until after they were dead, which, on balance, kinda is a bum deal.



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Writing, writing writing…
My favorite thing to do. Right up there with running, hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, though I don’t get to do nearly enough of the latter two.
I think a lot about writing when I’m not writing. Every now and again I think about self-publishing and traditional publishing and when I would consider the former and why I am leaning toward the latter for the current story I’m writing.
I also think of the point of writing and why I write when there are so many other easier things I could do with my time: Farscape, BSG, Mr. Robot to name a few. When I read the Writer’s Market, and when I follow the twitter feeds from Literary Agents, and when I see the articles ‘what you need to know to be a successful writer’ I remind myself it’s relative.
Here’s what I think about writers:
  • A new writer doesn’t need a platform. A new writer needs a finished manuscript.
  • A  writer who has something to say doesn’t need to think about the market, they need to think about the story they are writing, and how they will tell it. They probably need a traditional publisher.
  • A writer who wants to write rollicking fun campy stories or beach reads can probably self publish, and needs to be able to write multiple books in a year, and fast.  
  • There are more romance novels than can satisfy the romance reader. I wish I was interested in writing romance.


Today I thought about all the authors and artists and thinkers who weren’t recognized, discovered or celebrated until after death and wonder, did anyone send them a postcard? Maybe visit their grave or tomb and just let them know, that, hey, not that it matters anymore, but you’re kinda a big deal?
Maybe that should apply to other famous people like world leaders and interesting historical characters. Would they even get it? Does Cleopatra know about the fuss made over her? Is Caesar like, ‘I’m so much more than the moment of my murder?” Would Davey Crockett be like, wow, I hated that hat… Pocahontos would probably cry about Disney. Would all these obscure-in-life poets and novelists and artists and characters even care?
Of course, it’s not really the point, what you do in a life. It’s not for when you’re dead. It’s for while you’re living. So they probably would just think ‘figures…’
But it’s what I’m thinking about, since I’m about to spend the next couple hours writing about a space-adventuring teenager.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Happy December

This is a smoked turkey.

It's what we had for dinner last Thursday.

I took the week off from blogging and doing much of anything because children, spouses, cats and yams were underfoot.

Yams.
For 21 people.

My candied yams were heavy on the butter and brown sugar. I had to use a colander. I think colander needs two ls, but apparently not.

That's the point of Thanksgiving, though, to get people to eat more yams.

I was going to get right back to it all, the blog, the writing, the job search, the freelancing yesterday, but it was the boys' birthday, so I had to run out and buy cupcakes and presents and spend the day making a weird cupcakeosaurus that was vaguely inappropriate, and one of the main reasons I don't Pinterest my creations.

Nope. Not sharing that pic.

But it tasted delicious.

Today I got back in the mode. Apparently a week off did something, because the story I'm writing just came pouring into my head and I can write for weeks on end. Which is good, because I want the first draft of this story done by mid-January. (Space adventure teenager is what I'm working on next.)

Happy December everyone - let the holiday festivities begin!



Friday, November 20, 2015

Four cons to being home all day with solutions that turn them into pros! (and not-really-related stories about passing out)


I'm getting ready to write up one of the queries I need to do for a professional development course I'm taking. That's a fancy word for 'learning skills I once knew but forget, in the hopes they'll help me make money.'

Over the past two days I've been reading all sorts of pros and cons lists. I've been looking for a job for a few months now (don't judge, it's a rough world out there) and have been working on building a writing career. My theory is that whichever one happened first would be the path I took. It's probably the most passive-aggressive way to make a career decision, but I like to think of it as an income-based decision, as in, whichever brings in income is good... so far, no income from either, but this month, this week especially, I've begun to get some responses to both that will lead to *dramatic pause* employment. Or paying work.

I am pretty confident I have the drive to freelance, but I also have the dedication to my field that will land me full-time work. I'm constantly applying to jobs in my field, and I love love love my field, so it's not like when I was 17 and I took this summer job at a factory where I counted black rubber bands until I passed out and had to quit. (Actually, I passed out at the doctor's from having to get a tetanus shot, but it was after I spent all day in the hot factory breaking down boxes. It was also the first clue to my father that I, unlike the other members of his family, would not be able to ever make a living working in a mill. It was also my first clue that I may or may not pass out when getting shots. Passing out is a valid life experience I think everyone should have at least once. Preferably on carpeted flooring.)

Since many of the responses are from companies that are 'work from home' companies, I created a list of cons, and solutions to turn them into pros, because I'm a problem solver and an optimist.

First con of working from home: No real reason to wear cute clothes and own excessive shoes. It's more of a problem than I'd like to admit. I mean, my sweatpants are C. O. M. F. O. R. T. A. B. L. E. but it's kinda sad that I really only wear one outfit all week, and just as sad my first con is so shallow.
Solution: Cuter yoga pants. Coffee-shop work days. I can totally solve this problem by working at coffee shops and visiting friends.
Pros: Still comfortable. There are lots of cute flip flops. 

Oh, once, I almost passed out in basic training in the Air Force after getting a shot and seeing blood, but the drill sergeant yelled at me so much to not pass out that I didn't. He basically yelled me into staying conscious. It's a unique skill, I imagine.

Second - It's ever so lonely. There is a mom on my block who works from home all day, has for years. She manages projects out of some company in Minnesota, they sort of farm her out. It's a gig I'd love, except I hardly ever see her and that worries me. When I do see her, she's pale, wears capris all the time, and is accompanied by two children and a dog. But she loves it. I'm pretty sure if this becomes the new norm for me, I'm going to have to go join things.
Solution: Join things. With other people involved. That isn't online. It's a dangerous world for an Introvert, working from home.  And a dog. I'll probably have to get a dog.
Pro: Interactions with people are meaningful and not forced. A dog would help remind me to go outside.

I also passed out once when I was taking my friend to the dentist to have her wisdom teeth pulled. Somehow, the chemicals they were using were so strong they ended up in the hallway, and I sort of sat down, and then passed out. Everything ends up going all yellow. The cute guy that lived on my floor worked there, and ended up helping me to one of the rooms where they put that weird super-stinky stuff under your nose to wake you up and let me throw up in a trash can. Cute guy thought it was hilarious. 

Third - Food. I eat too much at home. I've gained five unhappy pounds and now am spending my afternoons with my friend Jillian Michaels, while studying how to make not eating holiday snacks fun. If it was spring or summer, I'd just run or hike it off, but it's cold out now, and I think I mentioned before, I'm not a good cold-weather runner.
Solution: Hang with Jillian Michaels. Learn to run in the cold. Eat green things that aren't kale.
Pros: Toned and a great salad-prepper.

Another time I passed out was getting blood drawn during a routine physical in England. The air conditioner in the building was not working, and it was really really hot, and so after the shot, I felt a little lightheaded and sort of just laid back down. 

Fourth - The 'what do you do all day' conundrum. Everyone, and by everyone, I mean my family, expects that I'm home just blogging, eating cookies and making random fun-runs to the 7-11 on the corner for my diet coke fix. This causes them toa develop expectations. Expectations that involve me cleaning things, or running errands. The truth is, I'm working on job applications, letters to companies and queries to magazines. And it takes all day.
Solution: Pretend to not hear them. Run out the door to work at coffee shops. Or, my favorite, convince them you work in an office. I mean, my kids probably wouldn't ever know the difference.
Pros: Tell them you're working late and you're really at the local pub with girlfriends for happy hour.

I haven't passed out in years since. I go in and make big scenes about how shots and blood and random chemical smells in doctor's offices make me pass out, and they get all ready and give me sodas and cookies, and then nothing happens and they look at me like I'm a jerk for not passing out because they were promised an incident they could laugh at, and they gave me their soda.. I also stopped making appointments in summer. 

Next week it may change. Next week, all the opportunities may come from corporations with actual offices where people are expected to show up. If that's the case, I'll have to do a second set of cons and pros.

Three: Jobs applied/applying to today - one in my field, one close to my field but with a company I've been researching and think is really really cool, and one that involves food.
Two: Follow-ups to jobs applied to where I'm in conversations with a person that led to an actual meeting which may lead to an actual job, and one who only responds at 3 a.m. because he s in Canada. Or an insomnia. Or both.
One: Child still home who's now working on something that doesn't involve a solid background in gears.

My daughter never passes out from this stuff. She's terrified of shots and having her blood drawn, has to have it done fairly regularly in her childhood, and as a child screamed her bloody head off, demanded cold drinks, and insisted my husband suffer with her. She's never passed out once, even though I'm pretty sure they lab techs kinda hoped she would.



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Children ruin productivity (everyone knows this)


My son is home from school.
Building has been banished to the garage. 
This pretty much ruins productivity. I think anyone who works from home, and happens to have kids, knows this. I've been interrupted a bajillion times to try and help solve a gear problem with his great ball contraption he's building out of lego.

The problem I have with this is a) I don't know anything about building simple machines. I once built a mouse trap car for a physics class that only went backwards. b) I'm trying to work on an article query that I've so far spent two hours on. I blame the bajillion interruptions, but there's a small part of me that thinks perhaps the idea isn't that solid, meaning I need to find a new angle or new idea entirely. Cue crying. So I'm doing a post instead, because I ran out of ideas and angles, but I'm determined to be productive today since I ended up taking yesterday off.

This morning, I tried telling Husbear he was part of the reason my morning productivity was so low. He likes to chat before he heads out the door to work, unfortunately, this occurs right when my brain kicks in and I'm at my desk working on finding a job, finding clients, finding rainbows finding the things that will lead me to the life I'm pretty sure I'm meant to be living. A life where my work matters, my essays and blogs and writings are valued, and I actually get paid. He said that last night in his nightmares, he slayed demons for me, and that I could at least talk to him over coffee. This is why I never win. I don't think dreams should matter the next day, but it seemed to be today's theme, since Drama Girl woke up late, missed the bus and had to catch a later one because she had nightmares that made her not hear her alarm. Which is ridiculous because everyone in the house can hear her alarm. Maybe there's a giant dream monster roaming around messing people's mornings up, I don't know.

Bajillion and one interruptions. It sounds like the gear problem has been solved. He's going to be using a pulley system.



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

It's too windy for today


I took the day off inadvertently.

It's the wind's fault. I had a lot of plans arranged for after my run, but the wind picked up and now I'm huddled inside my wind-battered home hoping my patio furniture doesn't blow away.

I mean, I don't work right now, so it's not like I didn't show up anywhere, but I have a schedule and goals and projects and job applications I'm working on...

I got distracted by the idea that I missed out on the big blogging days of a decade or so ago, because I'm pretty sure blogging as a business model has pretty much ended. I'm also pretty sure that's not true, it's just that blogging as a business model for me will never happen because I'm not branded, social media aware, or super- motivated to make big bucks here.

Here, a picture of a cat!
Sir Cogsley. His blog makes millions, I hear.

Then I read I need a mailing list or subscribers. I'll have to google that.

Also, no one will let me write about them. I mean, c'mon... Sooo many stories...

It's because my life isn't interesting. Even my hobbies are half-assed hobbies. Running, for instance. I'm a runner who runs less than most other runners. I separate myself from joggers because I run more than joggers and have all the cool running tech gear, but it gets a bit chilly and then I'm all like... ugh... so cold... And YouTube videos. Everyone has that hobby.

Today.

Today, I'm home with my son who was sent home from school for playing with a pointy stick. Rules kids, you have to follow rules. Don't bring sticks to school. Or stones. Especially pointy ones.

I followed up on a job lead which was exciting because it was an interesting one, but I'm living in the present, and that was so 10 a.m.

I looked at the kitchen and had a mental argument with my husband where I'd remind him later tonight when he complains about the kitchen that I'm not a stay at home housewife/mom person, and as long as I'm looking for jobs/freelance clients/rainbow chasing it's considered working. I expect to win that conversation...

I watched the Zoolander trailer coming out. And then I re-watched the Star Wars trailer. Then I watched this trailer about a cave digging guy who does amazing, fantastic sculptures in caves in New Mexico that he digs out with only a dog for a companion, and felt utterly pointless in life. I mean, he's doing art in the desert. I'm in a caffeine-withdrawal looking for the last diet coke in the fridge... Also, I really want a dog.

I decided to run today but then the wind knocked all the garbage cans down and I decided I probably weigh less than the garbage cans and couldn't safely run.

Then I thought randomly I could blog about my weird life in an Italian family tenement building as a sort of tribute to my family, but all I could think about is how I missed out on most of the cool stories, because I'm pretty sure they all happened in like, the 1920s.

I went to school here!

Obviously way later than this pic was taken. And we had more trees.
And that's today.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday nights are drama nights

It's Sunday night!

That means it's time for me to watch shows that only old ladies watch, or people who aren't old ladies but watch the shows in secret and don't tell people watch because only old ladies watch these shows. It's like when I found out that I was the youngest demographic viewer of Longmire. As in, I wasn't even as old as the youngest viewer... anyhow I still stand by that decision.

Tonight, it's my PBS Drama night. I'm addicted to Home Fires, and pretty sure that I am living in the wrong time. I belong in a quaint English village running a tea shop or something, pre-all-the-wars, or maybe between the wars. I think it's inescapable but, I can't help it if the perfect time for me happened to be between two major wars.

Today, I also realized that I need to stop eating so many cookies.

I read the Bloggess' book, Furiously Happy, which I recommend to people who don't think they have it together, basically, mostly everyone. I told my husband I thought we could make a bunch of money if I created a blog based solely around our arguments, but he said no. Then I thought I could redo my blog to talk all about how crazy my family makes me, but the kids said no, too. Then it hit me, the reason I don't have an amazing, fantastic blog is because all the interesting stories happen to involve people who don't want any part of the fame of publicity.

The thing I love about this blog, with it's 12 readers, is that it doesn't have to 'be' anything. I can wax on about trying to be mindful, my newest addiction to adult coloring books (adult- as in complex patterns of flowers and English cottages, not Benedict-Cumberbatch-adult) and my love of BritComs, or I can talk about running, and how I haven't, so really need to re-start. Again. I can talk about Turbo and Bear and Drama Girl and Husbear in vauge, non-offending terms.  I can talk about how I'm working to sort of 'reinvent' myself as the person I want to be, doing the work I want to be doing, vs. just kinda having a job, or I can talk about how I woke up today and decided that I was a writer, which, to anyone who knows me, this isn't a surprise, but every now and then, I have to remind myself, which seems odd only if you're not a writer who hasn't actually sold a book yet. Which would make me an author, which, as of yet, I'm not. Okay, so it is odd.

One day, I'll be an author, and that entire line about reminding myself I'm a writer will make way more sense.

The point is, this blog is going to be going through some random, non-niche, non-focused rambly-style posts over the next few months as I play with the type of voice I feel most comfortable with on the blog. I'm going for humor, but it could end up just being maudlin, which is a great word. It could also just be droll. We'll all find out, now, won't we?


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I didn't mean to work in slippers all day


I didn't really mean to. But, slippers happen.

It started after the morning cup of coffee, or maybe after the third. I realized I dawdled too long and my day was wasting away. I sat down to write a cover letter a corporate recruiter requested for a position I applied for. Don't lets get into why I didn't write the cover letter in the first place. (Isn't that sentence a beautiful mess?) It's a complicated job market out there, people. Then, I sent out some requests to people I know for some story ideas I'm thinking of pitching. A couple got back to me quicker than I thought so I jumped on it. Then it was noon, and I was like, oh, I'm still wearing slippers. They are comfortable. I mean look at them, they're adorable and comfortable. I looked at the clock and it was noon. No big. It's, almost still morning... So I checked my e-mails and wrote up a couple more story pitch ideas. Then, around 1 p.m.,  I decided I couldn't go through another 'why are you still wearing slippers and sweatpants' conversation with anyone in my family and made the conscious effort to actually get up and get dressed for the day because no matter how I explain it, or how many times I try to tell them, the REAL reason I end up not getting dressed is because once I start the day, I keep going, and often, forget to, well, slippers are so comfortable, it's really so easy to forget to toss them and the matching sweatpants for more, normal, attire. It's the bane of those who work at home. Up, out of bed, at the computer, and somewhere between that morning cup of coffee and dinner, comes the realization you're still in pajamas and slippers. Is there a solution to this? Does there even need to be? Maybe we can have daytime at-home-worker wear - maybe, business casual pajamas.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Back from extended hiatus!

The Internet loves pictures.
This is RMNP in the fall.
I know, I do this to you all occasionally, but it's been a whirlwind of a summer, and I said I'd take the summer off from blogging, but then summer extended through into October.  It's been a warm October, and today, one of the coolest days we've had, is only around 70. I should really be outside, and not here :).

Most who know me know I'm embarking on a new adventure of Freelance Writing, not freelance writing, which is casual and vague, but Freelance Writing, which includes a plan of action, an aggressive pitch plan, investment, time, and most of all, a stubborn refusal to give this up before it takes off.

You can visit my first attempt at a website over at www.lisakrebs.com - it's got all the basics, but I'm really hoping to fill out the portfolio page! And, if you know anyone who needs a freelancer writer with a knack for case studies, articles and web content, send them my way.

I won't often blog about the business here, this is really my hiking, running, family, writing space saga website, but thought I'd mention it.



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Breezy June Nights


Might be a wee crooked... 

That is the sky tonight. The image doesn't do it justice. I love taking photographs, but for some reason, leave my camera in.

It's a beautiful, breezy June night so I snuck off for a walk alone and decided to pay attention to all the different trees on my walk. Tomorrow, I'm going to bring my camera, because some of these trees, fully alive and cherishing the recent rains we have, are so unique, not in an exotic way, but in an 'oh, how interesting, have I ever really noticed these trees?' kind of way. I figure it'll be cool to show you all the things I haven't noticed...

I know, I know, I haven't written anything funny (yes, I'm talking to you) and I haven't finished the book about the dog and the hiking yet, but I'm pretty sure it's going to end with the hike and the dog at the summit (okay, dad, working on it) and my introspection isn't pure poetry tonight (but alliteration!) I wanted to share the picture of the breezy June sky and say hello to everyone, though!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The moments of June


One of the hiking paths - the rains have made the path a
running muddy river. Still took it.
The large amounts of rain made the path a muddy river, but it was still beautiful. One of those moments worth stopping and taking a picture of.

June has been a month of moments. Walks by the creek. Coffee with friends. A crazy game of Dominoes, well, as crazy as Dominoes can get. Running - ish.

The boys have been having one of their best summers ever - proving true to their previous years' insistence that they have more fun not going to summer camps than going to summer camps, and they can spend more time outside on their own, thank you very much.

Writing in my morning notebook this morning contained the line - June is a month to celebrate the moments. We're not rushing through June, and while every month, really, is a month to celebrate moments, this year, June seems to be greener, pleasanter, and filled with hidden promise.

We saw this fella on the hike, too! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I've stocked up on my summer reading list:

The Productive Writer

Boulder Hiking Trails

The Artists Way

The First Five Pages

Guide to Literary Agents

A Poetry Handbook

The Poetry Home Repair Manual

A bunch of Freelancing articles/zines

The Enchanted English Garden coloring book (some of us can't knit, alright?)

I think you can tell from my list pretty much what my entire summer will consist of.
It's an exciting time, summer. Well, it always has been for me. Something about June and July that goes back to my childhood. It's not just that they are summer months. August is a summer month and I don't look forward to it the same way I do June and July. These are the months that I have always found to be productive for me. It's just how they are.  I'm taking time this summer for time. I'm sowing seeds for a later harvest. I have everything I need, like summer squirrels, that chase other squirrels up trees and play in the sun, the time right now is meant for time. For dreaming and preparing and doing, but also, for enjoying the sun.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Getting away from the monkey madness


I couldn't think of a better post title.

Probably because I have decision fatigue, (Thanks El!) which is the difficulty one has after making too many irrelevant or too many minor decisions. I don't usually suffer this, one thing I know about myself is I don't do well with too many choices.

I can handle change, because change is a constant, but I don't go in for the 'change it all' philosophy, but I can sense that in my life, I'm ready for a change. Don't know what kind, but all the signs are there. I have learned over the course of my life to just go with it, to see what comes of these little whispers of 'what if...'

This week was a loooong one. The boys are 'Over' the school year, and they have four weeks left. Drama Girl is 'Over' high school, but not ready for the 'Work World.' I had a slew of appointments which jarred my schedule almost every day, and also left me exhausted. I let myself get too stressed, too wound up and too, I don't know, too not the self I want to be. I forgot about being mindful, and that completely messed me up. I am more at peace when I am mindful. I forgot to be objective, to not take things in, to not hold on to things, to not make it about me, to let go, and to accept, to look for the peaceful path.

Which means I was grumpy, ate poorly, moped about, and was a little(lot) whiny and complainy.

I posted this on facebook:
“Be pitiful, for every man is fighting a hard battle."
Another variation is
“Be kind, for every man is fighting a hard battle."
It should be:
“Be pitiful, for every man, every woman, is fighting a hard battle."Often, children, too, but lets leave it at every man, every woman.

We all know that the angriest people are the unhappiest. Sometimes, the nicest, kindest people are
among the unhappiest. Sometimes, kindness is a weapon against misery, just like anger is. The saying was a great reminder for me to be be kind, not only to others, but sheesh, to myself, too. To accept what needs to be accepted, do what needs to be done, to 'be' where I am. 

Also, to not try to complain that the place I'm at is not the place I want to be, because as places go, it's not a bad place! We all have had our battles, or are having them now, or will have them one day. It's how we humans are. There is so much in our minds and in our heads, so we should be kind to others, even the ones who aren't really demonstrating their best qualities. We should also be kind to 
ourselves, because as long as we're trying to improve, we're improving. As long as we are
trying to be better, we're being better. We do make a difference, and we can make big impacts with small words of kindness.

So my long week is over, I've mentally reset myself, pulled myself out of the tired, stressed, wound up monkey mind world, and I've forgiven myself for getting dragged back into it because, of course, I spent at least a night moping at out how unmindful I was being, how I hadn't meditated, how I wasn't
going to work out three times a week and how I was not really taking care of myself. Because that was useful not at all, and now I'm going to get some writing in, because that is the best part of my nights. Well, that and reading really great books.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The unspoken part of my writing process

I should write down the funny things I say. I always say I'm going to do it. Last night, I said about 20 funny things, and thought 200 more.I can't remember them. They had to do with writing. Always, with me, the writing. Well, the writing, the kids, the writing...

I am 35K words into my next novel, while still trying to find a home for the second novel. My second novel is fun! Different! Seeking an agent! The first novel was given to the writing gods as sacrifice.

This is my third novel. Thirty-five thousand words. But it's so complicated, I had to stop and create timelines for my main characters, because they exist at different points in time. It's a science fiction novel. Thank Arthur C. Clarke for this novel-in-progress. Next is ordering the scenes.I've written 35K worth of scenes, but the order is wrong. I will probably end up losing 10K words. That's what happens generally in writing, but by doing the scenes now (never mind it probably would have been wiser to do earlier) I'll not write myself into a tangent or a hole. There is only one ending. I have to get them all there.

None of that was funny. Because now that I'm thinking I should write down all the funny stuff I say, I can't think of anything funny.

It would be funny if you could watch me mentally block out the timelines and scenes... my children are so used to my brainstorming and plotting process that I'm afraid they think it's normal.

"Doesn't everyone's mother walk around the house frantically, muttering under her breath and pulling her hair?"

Because that's my process. I literally pace out plots, scenes, characters and conversations. In my house, I pace back and forth while imaginary people in my head in period/time costumes and intricate settings hold entire conversations, discussions and arguments.

I say things out loud like, "No, no, wait, she can't start off there, the fish girl has to. Mmm. I think her mom's crazy. Should I kill her? Yah yah she has to die, or it won't work." Then I grasp my hair. Because it's so complicated! "Okay, wait, I got it. She definitely dies."

The boys just walk around me to get to their breakfast/snack/lunch of Cup o Noodle soup.

In the meantime, an angel and a young woman are having a conversation in a dark room with a clock. The microwave in my kitchen goes off, and I'm back, out of my head, thinking, 'Cup O Noodle again?' but then the girl says something in my head and the angel responds. Hair pull. Whaaat just happened there?

Another Cup-o-Noodle in the microwave for boy 2.

Our grocery situation is dire. I hope someone does something about it soon...

That's my writing process. I pace, plot, write dialogue and scenes. The children eat Cup-o-Noodle.

I know, I know, I haven't been on the blog for a while, but it's the nature of my brain. (see above)
Sometimes, I have so many thoughts and ideas and want-to-dos that my mind is like a giant super-hurricane - all a force of ideas and thoughts that swirl and storm and run wild and unchecked. All I can do is hunker down and wait for it to pass. When it does, I wander around the wreckage of my own head picking up the jewels that got unearthed or were tossed to shore.

So that's where I've been - in the messy super-hurricane-jumble of my mind. On the outside, that looks a lot like me sitting on my couch eating chocolate-coconut cookies, reading epic fantasy, streaming bad video, staring off out the window daydreaming and/or pacing the house.

It is useful, in a way, I guess. It usually clears up the problems in my writing or helps bring clarity to whatever situation set off the super-hurricane. Luckily, it never lasts long. Well, except when I was 13. I think it lasted an entire year. I don't really remember 13. I was probably daydreaming.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The tale of the bicycle saga

Get it?

Tale of a saga?

Anyhow, it's a tale of tragedy, betrayal, misfortune, and misdeeds, though none of the misdeeds were heroic. It's filled with guilt and love and money, and the strength of brotherly bonds. Well, not strength, exactly. And a mother's sorrow. It's based on a true story.

The night was dark, as they often are.
The children scattered and haphazard, as they often are.

The day was wonderful for spring and the boys were out on their bicycles all day long, riding and laughing and playing. Turbo was excited because he knew he was getting a speed bike come spring break (we have spring break late here) and Bear didn't care, because he didn't want one. He loved his bicycle. The green gobliny looking thing.

Nighttime came, and the boys locked up their bicycles, and came in.

Only...

One didn't.

One boy forgot one night.
The next morning, we were one bicycle less.

The one boy who forgot, looked at his lone bicycle, no longer leaning against his brother's.
His brother, who never. ever. ever. forgets to lock his bicycle.

There was rage.
Tears.
Fury.
Confusion.
I sighed.
I got in my truck and drove around the 'hood looking for the bicycle, knowing the outcome already, remembering the giggling punk-teenage boys I heard the night before, thinking nothing of it. Grumbling that a simple door-open would have sent them scurrying...

Alas.

I said, let it be. It is a thing.
Bear said 'I know. I know.'  He was taking it far better than I expected, and wasn't quite sure what emotion to express. Mostly I think he didn't believe it. How could it be? What depraved minds would steal an 11-year old's bicycle? Ah, the sadness then, of having the safe world shattered.

I can't let a child suffer some one else's bad decision. I do believe that actions like that - stealing a bicycle or something that doesn't belong to you, taking what isn't yours, thinking it's a game, it marks you, it catches up to you at some point. I believe in a way they are lesser people (duh) devoid of the character traits that make people, well, people of strength or integrity or whatever.

Regardless, the bike is gone, someone stole it, and I said, well, this is a hard lesson to learn - but there really are people in the world who don't do the right thing. The bike is replaceable, and we'll replace it, but now, unfortunately, you understand why it's important to lock it up everywhere you go.

And then I bought him a bicycle.

I went to the bicycle store with my 11 year old and announced, while pointing to the youth bicycles, that this young man next to me (emphasizing the man, as he has longer hair than I do and may or may not have been wearing a pink shirt) needs a bicycle.

The bicycle guy looked him up and down. He looked at me. He looked at the bicycles I was pointint at.

"No. He needs an adult bicycle. How much you think he's going to grow this summer?"

What? He's 11. He's a boy. A youth. There are youth bicycles, right there.... cute ones.

But they were too small now, just like his bicycle was too small, so I had to get him a... a real bicycle. A bicycle that will last him through middle school and high school. His teenage-hood bicycle.

When we got home, and he hopped on that thing, riding it all around the neighborhood, the biggest kid on the tallest bike, he looked exactly like what he was. A boy on the verge of teendom.

I am currently feeling sad. I'm on the other edge of it now, the other side of babies and children. I'm on the short-path to empty nesting. I've got boys who this summer will shoot up, who will next year be in 6th grade, who may or may not have crushes, and who have opinions on hair and clothes and bicycles and oh so much more.

Yikes.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Pancakes for dinner, reaching for the hand

Who likes pancakes? We like pancakes. Who wants pancakes?
We want pancakes. When do we want pancakes? Dinner
is when we want pancakes!
We're still doing the 'Everyone Pick a Night and Cook.' Grilled ham and cheese on Tuesday (again - we're working on Turbo's recipe box) and tomorrow night is Butterfly Pasta courtesy Bear. Drama Girl is cooking us a lamb gyro on Sunday. Tonight, tonight was a pancake bar. More like pancakes and fruit and bacon bar, but still. It's always a nice treat on a weeknight to have a yummy breakfast for dinner. Who doesn't love pancakes? See Bear? See how ridiculously happy Bear is about his dinner?

Yesterday, I took Bear, to the dentist to have a cavity filled. It wasn't a big cavity, it was on a baby tooth, so it'll fall out soon anyhow, he's 11 after all, and he was a little nervous, but not overly anxious. This dentist is great, and knows the children in my family well enough to know he probably needs laughing gas and she had it set up for him straight away (why she knows that about my children is a long story that begins with Drama Girl - hint is in the name  - and well, Bear.)

While he was on laughing gas, he was kinda cute, kinda funny, nothing too crazy... he kept trying to talk the whole time. His tongue, he wasn't quite sure how it felt. Then he bit it, and wondered if that would hurt later. Felt his cheek was armor. Demonstrated an evil laugh. Nothing too crazy. But during part of it, he took his hand and waved it at me, this slow, childlike wave.

His 11-year old hand, with it's long, thin fingers. His skinny wrist leading to a hard, lean and lanky forearm. His fingers stretched out toward me and I wanted very much to scoot over and grab that hand. Except the dentist was in the way, and I don't think she would have appreciated being bowled over for a moment of sentiment.

See, Bear and Turbo, they aren't great hand-holders anymore. Not at all. Of all the things I miss the most in baby and toddler-hood, in preschool and kindergarten, is the chubby hand in mine. More than hugs which I sneak in the middle of the night, or super early when they are too tired to remember they don't hug much anymore.

I miss the clinging fingers grasping mine. I miss covering chubby hands in mine. I miss the reach for me, the joy when I grab their hand (mine, just as much theirs). I am glad I had those days. I cherished them.

Today, his hand is not chubby. I can no longer cover it with mine. His fingers are almost as tall as mine, as is he.

Don't even get me started on toes.

Too late.

Baby toes are cute. Soft and squishy and bizarrely cute.
Toddler toes are cute. Pudgy. Soft. Running on carpet. Running on dirt. Running on grass.
Preschooler toes are cute.
Kindergarten toes are even cute.

11 year old boy toes are not cute.
Bear's are long and thin, concerningly long and thin - toes should not form like that - and they are stinky.
Very stinky.

I have no desire to reach out for his toes anymore.

Just the hands.

In the truck, on the way home from the dentist, coming off the laughing gas, trying to make sense of his numbed mouth, wondering if he really did bite his tongue, he was unguarded, and I reached for his hand, and his hand reached for mine, like when he was five. and three. and one. and months old.

Long, thin fingers fell soft when in my hands. They didn't grasp and cling like they used to, but at 11, they really shouldn't, should they. Long, thin fingers, a thin wrist and a chatting boy, my boy, no longer the chubby toddler, reaching for my outstretched hand.

I was over the moon.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Anything and everything but writing

So far today, I've sent my first, okay second, novel off to two different agents. I'm now researching a few more, to see if I can hit four submissions today, but I'm getting bored with that, and the internet is not being very helpful.

It's mostly uninspiring. I lost an hour or so at Buzzfeed and got lost listening to Pandora while scrolling through Facebook. Saw some cat and dog images. Funny. Cute. Yawn.

So I decided to write instead, which means that I baked cookies and ate them instead. Now I'm drinking diet coke, happy the children saved me from more cookies, sad I ate all the Twizzlers I had stashed in my desk drawer. I could eat the bubble pop lollipop...

I decided looking up agents online is fraught with distractive peril in my current mood, so I decided to go old-school 'Guide to Literary Agents' book, but then got distracted by all the articles in it before you get to the agents. So I went back to online research, but got stuck on writer's digest's twitter feed, thinking the last thing I'm going to do is submit to a new agent accepting clients that just got posted on a twitter feed with a following of like, every writer.

I'm thinking I should stop writing the story I want to read and write romance. Or I could write a story about a cheeky new 20-something trying to make it in the world. Yawn. Or not.

I'm back to writing the story I want to read. Except now I'm distracted by Andy Weir's short stories and I'm thinking I could start writing short stories and post it on my blog. I've got one in mind. I should write that. Or the novel I'm actually writing.

It's a bit ridiculous, isn't it? All this back and forth in my head, designed to get me to do anything, everything, anything and everything except the one thing that I set out to do, which is write the story I'm actually writing, because I'm stuck at a point and it's hard.

But I really like the short story I have in my head. It'll keep til tomorrow. I've already written the idea down.

Right now, though, I should leave the internet, take my diet coke, and head back to my story.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Best Meat Pie Ever

The stickers are the best part of this letter. 
There are several versions of meat pie out in the world. If you google meat pie, invariably a French or British, and Australian  recipe will come up. Invariably is a great word.

You'll find   Almost every country has its own version, including Italy, and though my mother isn't Italian, this became her thing to make. When we were little, meat pie was an Event. We had it frequently enough that I remember it being made in the kitchen. We would hover by my mother because meat pie meant canned black olives, and nothing is better than black olives straight out of the can. She'd open the can, reach for something, and there we were, pinching as many as we could.  I remember one day my mother putting out the two loaves of dough to rise, and then coming home to find our dog, Jessie, lethargic, not moving, and with a much expanded belly, and only one loaf of bread remaining on the counter. It's a family memory we all share. Another time, my father was at the stove, bossing about something. Usually, we were hovering, sneaking black olives.

"Don't eat the black olives!"
"We won't!"

A long time ago, when I was young and newly married and thought my mother would be around forever, I asked her to send me the recipe. Now, you can find every recipe online, but back then, mailing them was still a thing. So she mailed the recipe to me, and I cherished it. I still have it, complete with the stickers, the misspellings, and the funny note about keeping it up high enough so the dog can't get it. She spelled dough like doe and wasn't quite sure why you poked holes in it, but suggested not doing so might make the meat pie blow up.

It's titled Italian American Meatpie. You can find many variations on this, but this is ours. You can also find French-Canadian variations, but they include a potato and don't include mozzarella cheese, so really, what's the point?

I haven't seen this particular recipe online anywhere, which is a crime against all lovers of meat pie, so here it is.

Ingredients:
Two loaves of bread dough (just get the frozen kind and thaw and let rise - roll out on floured countertops)
Olive Oil
Garlic
Onions
Basil, Oregano (basically, Italian seasoning)
Big can of sliced black olives
Mushrooms (I skipped this)
 1 lb Ground beef
 1 lb ground pork,
1 25 (26?) oz can of crushed tomatoes
Big bag of Mozzarella cheese

Saute the onions and garlic until onions are soft. Add in, and cook, the ground beef and ground pork. 

Pan of onions, garlic, pork and beef.

 Add olives, crushed tomatoes and spices, and stir it up.
Also, pick out  an olive, eat it, and stir some more.

The 'meat' in meat pie. Toss it in a pan lined with one of the rolled out loves of dough. 
I didn't mention that earlier. Roll out the dough on a floured counter when it's risen.
 Add the layers of mozzarella yumminess.
Cheese. Because dairy is just as important as meat.
Cover with bread dough, top with olive oil, poke holes, so it won't explode, and bake in 350 oven until bread is done.  One day, I'll come back and replace this image with a proper bread topping image.
See this? This is cheating. This is a pie crust topping. Use bread dough. 
It tastes that much better, it's just tonight is a weeknight...
 This is the end result. If you aren't a hacker/slacker, than you will have used the bread dough, and the result would be a thicker top crust and a much heartier pie. Either way, it tastes amazing, because how can meat and cheese not?