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12/29/2013

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I'm still here . . . more to come in the new year! 
 
 
Over the past month I have been supremely guilty of hopping between work projects, creative tasks and personal pursuits. My friend Lola refers to it as “work snacking.” And just like a donut, it’s tempting, it’s fleetingly pleasing, but it’s anything but fulfilling. And damned if it doesn’t make you want another donut as soon as you swallow the last bite! Three donuts might fill you up, though. But let’s move on. The metaphor has broken down.

In my defense, this pattern of behavior isn’t entirely my fault. Our internet speed has been progressively slowing down for the past three weeks. BTW, you can only spend so much time at your favorite cafe before you start resenting the other regulars (RPG guy, what do you do for money and why do you chew so loudly?)  So even though I tried to get away from the apartment, I spent most of my time working at home and the slow speed forced me to turn to other tasks while I waited for content to load.

And because the internet speed was declining so gradually, I had trouble pinpointing the issue until the situation was at its worst. On one particular day, while I was struggling to research .gov sites, I realized I could only view the first three gifs of a Buzzfeed article and the first 15 seconds of my favorite, old-school Justin Bieber video.* Devastating, right?

Our cable and internet provider prides itself on doing the bare minimum, so the company dragged its feet on sending a rep to our apartment, and he finally arrived at a completely random time that was nowhere near the scheduled appointment. No matter. We got our connection repaired and you know what? I feel like a new woman. Able to tackle a single project in one sitting. Ready to conduct online research like a boss. Poised to watch vintage Bieber videos with ease.

Bring it on, May.

*It was this video, for the record. Don’t hate. 

 
 
March! I hardly knew ye. This month—like most months—has come and gone so quickly that I feel like I need to catch my breath. My sister-in-law once told me that once your time isn't regulated by school calendars, the years speed by. Kind of depressing, right? I would love to make this life thing go a bit slower. So when I've figured out how to shift down a gear, I'll let you know. 

In the meantime, I have a few Friday tidbits for you: 

Are you a Harry Potter fan who loves crazy gifs and smart, stream-of-consciousness commentary? There's really only one way to answer that question. So check out the Harry Potter read-along reviews over at Books I Done Read, one of my favorite blogs. Book blogger Raych is currently reviewing book 5, but I recommend starting at the beginning so you can get the full HP refresher and avoid missing out on any of her signature hilarity. 

Or maybe you'd rather cry yourself to sleep every night for the next week? No? Okay. Then don't become obsessed with Ruffian, a record-breaking, dominating horse who died shortly after she was pitted against a Kentucky Derby-winning colt back in 1975. After I caught the very end of an NPR story about her, I've been obsessively searching for online articles and watching YouTube clips about the champion filly, whose final race was highly publicized as an epic "battle of the sexes." Right now I'm reading Ruffian: Burning from the Start (great subtitle, right?) and eyeing this T-shirt. And occasionally still tearing up when I think of her.

Our board game-playing, wine-drinking, pasta-cooking friends Harold and Erin are in Australia and we are missing them like crazy. But there is a silver lining. I get to vicariously experience Australia through Erin's blog without leaving the comfort of my home. Before, on a scale of one to "native Australian," my level of Australian knowledge was probably around a three. But now, thanks to Erin, I know how to talk like an Aussie and where to go for some badass street art. But really, I just love looking at pictures of gorgeous beaches and cute animals from the other side of the world. 

Got a paper clip? Want a house? This guy started with a crazy idea and a single office tool and simply traded up until he had a home. It may be an old story, but it's an inspiring way to close out the week.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I used to be obsessed with the Sweet Valley Kids/Twins/High series (The Magic Christmas! 1BRUCE1! Magna Editions!) when I was a kid. So I was all about this NPR interview with a woman who worked as a ghostwriter for the series. BTW, Elizabeth was obviously the better twin, but this author said she preferred Jessica. Blasphemy. 

I like.

I love.

This weekend I'm taking a hike, (hopefully) binging on Homeland episodes, going to a play reading, seeing an actual play at one of my favorite theaters, and working a lot. Not too shabby. 
 
 
Last year I heard about a book called You Are Good At Things: A Checklist by Andy Selsberg. The basic premise is that everybody is really good at something. That something doesn’t have to be revolutionary or even impressive. The author’s not talking about conducting groundbreaking scientific research or writing genre-bending literature. He’s talking about the smallest of things, like coming up with email subject lines, waiting for pizza to cool, calculating tips or choosing a restaurant.

When I first heard about this idea I wanted to blog about it. There was just one problem. I couldn’t think of anything I was really good at. In fact, all I could focus on were things I sucked at (Trust me, the list is long. I will spare you.)

And that’s kind of the point of the book, because Selsberg gives you pages and pages of lists of these talents, so you can choose the ones that apply to you. And that’s great, but I was frustrated that I couldn’t come up with anything on my own. In fact, I added “not being able to think of things I’m good at” to my list of things I sucked at.

To rectify this situation, I’ve been culling a mental list of my small talents over the past few months. I’d almost forgotten that I was doing this until I recently spoke with a friend who told me he wasn’t good at anything. Now, he wasn’t being dramatic. He actually insisted that he wasn’t good at anything.

Maybe it’s because he can’t write genre-bending novels or conduct groundbreaking scientific research. But, let me tell you, he is extraordinary at recognizing faces, making friends and memorizing the layouts of new cities, to name just a few things.

And I have my own little talents as well. Here they are, in no particular order:
  • Following recipes to a T
  • Finishing bowls of queso 
  • Driving the speed limit
  • Recalling my dreams
  • Not spending money
  • Arranging books on bookshelves
  • Choosing apartments 
  • Packing breakable items

Not too shabby, right? What about you? Tell me what small talents you have (especially if you’re really good at making queso!) 
 
 
When I started this blog exactly one year ago today, I was so down in the dumps that I don't think I even realized it was Valentine's Day (cue sad trombone). If you recall, I was in the depths of despair about not getting into grad school and I created this blog to keep myself inspired on a regular basis. 

And I do believe it has worked. Okay, if I'm being completely honest, I haven't devoted that much time to creative writing this past year. But I have put a lot of time and effort into playwriting submissions and toward a career change that has proven to be a good fit for me. I know the blog didn't cause me to do that work, but it has helped me clarify and document my thoughts, plans and desires. Not only that, but your comments and readership have kept me writing, posting, contemplating and smiling. 

So happy Valentine's Day to you, lovely reader! Do me a favor, and go get yourself a margarita, okay? 

And now, a poem: 

Roses are red.
Cookies are brown*
Thank you dear readers,
For sticking around. 

And another . . .

Roses are red
Vacuums are sucky. 
You are my pals
And thus, I am lucky. 

One more for the road:

Roses have thorns
Bushes have brambles. 
The previous year
Was just the preamble.** 

If you leave a comment, I'll write a custom poem for you, you sweet thing! 

*Typically

**Don't raise your expectations. I just needed a rhyming word. 


 
 
In addition to tackling a bunch of work projects, I have plans to do six fun/social things this weekend. You read that correctly. Six! I may not make it to all of them, but I know I'll get to at least three, and that's more fun than I typically like to experience in such a short period of time. 

I will now send you off into the weekend with a list of things that, I admit, are fairly unrelated, but cut me some slack, okay? I found something awful a few days ago and I'm still a little shaken (more details below). 

The Good:
I'm meeting up with some former coworkers for sweet, juicy margaritas and (hopefully) even juicier gossip. I'm way behind on my margarita quota. Don't think less of me, but I think I've only had two margaritas in 2013. How is that possible? Please, if you're reading this, help me get my life back on track. 

The Bad: 
Two nights ago I found a crisp roach's wing on the floor beside my bed. Thanks to a unique set of circumstances that involved my cat, a bit of torture, and a house slipper, I happen to know that the wing came from a roach that died almost a month ago! Yes, it's disgusting. Yes, it kept me up that night. Yes, I've been in a horrible mood since it happened. And yes, I'm thinking of investing in a professional cleaning service (because apparently cats don't lick everything up). 

The Ugly: 
Some misinformed deviant is selling a self-published version of Anne of Green Gables with the following cover image: 
Picture
Who the hell is this?!
Where do I start? This is kind of like publishing an edition of The Bluest Eye with Tara Reid on the cover (she does have really blue eyes). Or a version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame featuring, oh, I don't know, a man with A STRAIGHT BACK. 

Maybe the publisher chose this cover in a drunken stupor and totally overlooked this description, which appears in chapter 2 of the book when the reader is first introduced to Anne: 

She wore a faded brown sailor hat and beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair. 

Or one of Anne's first speeches, also in chapter 2: 

"Now you see why I can't be perfectly happy. Nobody could who has red hair. I don't mind the other things so much--the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I can imagine that I have a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. But I cannot imagine that red hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, `Now my hair is a glorious black, black as the raven's wing.' But all the time I know it is just plain red and it breaks my heart. It will be my lifelong sorrow.

Or a little later when Anne denounces God for giving her red hair, or the part where she gets into a huge fight with a neighbor who comments on the horrible redness of her hair, or when she dyes her hair green and has to chop it all off, or after she breaks a slate over her future-husband's head because he made fun of her red-ass hair. 

"Red hair" could be the most common phrase in this book, is what I'm saying. It's also worth noting that Anne would never wear a flannel shirt and strike a come-hither pose on a haystack. Unless Josie Pye dared her to. 
 
 
Or something like that. 

Let me explain. I have a horrible tendency to get sad about things before it's appropriate to be sad about them. I'm not the only one who goes through this. Two of my 28-year-old friends are already legitimately stressed out because they're convinced their 30th birthdays will go horribly wrong.*

In my case, I tend to get sad about not winning a writing contest or receiving an opportunity long before I've even learned what the outcome is. If I turn out to be right, getting sad in advance doesn't cause me to be less sad when the real rejection arrives. If I turn out to be wrong and I get good news, then I've just wasted a bunch of sadness, you know? 

Justin and I once had this conversation:
Me: Do you ever practice giving eulogies for your loved ones? 
Justin: No. Who does that? Do you do that? Have you done this for me?!
Me: There's a video clip I'd like to get your permission to show. 

Do not judge me! I can't be the only person who worries about her unborn children and considers end-of-life care for her healthy 7-year-old cat. But I do recognize that this is a problem and that I'm wasting negative emotions. Ain't nobody got time for that. So I'm giving myself a new challenge for 2013: don't be sad until it's time to be sad. 

Guess what? There's a teeny voice in my head that's already disappointed in my future self for not being able to accomplish this goal. But I'm pushing that feeling to the side, making another cup of coffee, writing a kick-ass article about mortgages and playing this on repeat. Followed by this, which always cheers me up for some reason.  

*I've spent the last few months thinking I was 27 instead of 28. Someone else pointed out that I'm actually 28, and I didn't believe him at first. Another important goal for the year: keep track of my age. 
 
 
Despite the fact that I incorrectly set one of my alarms (that's why I always use two!), I woke up shortly before 5AM this morning. It was a little rough, but I stumbled out of the apartment, found a cozy corner spot in a cafe, ordered this giant coffee (it was actually a regular coffee, but doesn't it look huge?) and got to work. 
Thanks to my early-morning wakeup, I finished all of today's assignments by noon, which means I can spend the rest of the day:

Writing this blog post (check)
Taking on more assignments so I can fund my lavish lifestyle (Old Navy shirts and Redbox rentals don't pay for themselves)
Listening to a webinar that's scheduled for this afternoon (usually I register and end up skipping them)
Cooking burgers before the meat in my fridge goes bad (highlight of my day)
Reaching out to a few prospective clients
Doing a little creative writing 
Eating gorgonzola cheese with honey drizzled on top

Maybe a pre - 5AM wakeup is no big deal for you. If that's the case, then bravo. I completely admire your life habits and I'm mailing a certificate of achievement to your home right now. But I should point out that I have never, ever, ever been a morning person. Back when I had summer vacations, I'd fall asleep at around 7AM each night/morning, and I was perfectly happy with my schedule (I was also a huge Nick-at-Nite fan.) 

Since becoming an adult, I've repeatedly tried to change my night-owl ways. But unless there's a truly pressing (usually work or airport-related) reason to wake up, I still have a horrible time getting out of bed early in the morning. It doesn't help that my subconscious regularly tries sabotage my life by altering the plot lines of my dreams and convincing me that I need to stay asleep and solve an urgent problem in dreamland (does anyone else have this issue?)

Now that I'm a freelancer, you'd think it would be no big deal if I slept in a little or took a siesta in the middle of the day, right? Well sadly, my one attempt at taking a nap went horribly wrong. Okay, I'm being a little dramatic. The nap was supposed to last for 20 minutes and I ended up sleeping for over 3 hours. It wasn't horrible per se, but it totally screwed up my plans for the day.

And even though my body is like "Stay up all night! Sleep all day! Buy more cheese!" the truth is my mind feels amazingly alert when I wake up early (and get a good amount of sleep). On the other hand, if I sleep for just an extra 45 minutes, I not only have trouble concentrating, but I also feel like a total failure.

So will I make yet another attempt at transitioning from a night-person to a morning-person? Yeah. I think I'll go for it. The second half of this article has some helpful tips, and I've never actually tried tip number 6, so I'll test that one out first.

I don't have the highest of hopes, you guys. 

But wish me luck anyway! 
 
 
I've been having a horrible day. I woke up late, I have no appetite (unless it's for chocolate), my confidence is low and I can't focus. And while I've certainly had a sad hour here and there, I can't remember feeling so crappy for an entire day, and with no real explanation for my sour mood. 

And then I stumbled across this article about Blue Monday, which says that today is supposedly the most depressing day of the year. Some people think it's a ridiculous concept, other people believe the date is off, but my personal experience is telling me that it may be accurate. 

There's nothing to do but weather the storm and hope for a better tomorrow, I suppose. Here are few things I'll be trying out in an attempt to boost my mood:

  • Posting this blog entry (look at that - I'm feeling better already!)
  • Eating something other than brownies. Like a chocolate banana smoothie (fruit + chocolate > plain chocolate, right?)
  • Looking at pictures of my friends' babies and pets on Facebook (it's kind of lame, but it works)
  • Discovering something cool/useful/inspiring on le internet (and if I do, I'll be sure to share it)
  • Drinking an entire bottle of wine (I'm just kidding. Or am I?)


I hope something works. Is anyone else feeling this way? Am I crazy?
 
 
Not to be a downer, but Fridays just don't excite me as much as they used to. I typically work on Saturdays and I almost always work on Sundays, so Friday has become like a second Thursday (or a third Wednesday, or a fourth . . . you get the point). 

Still, I do think I experience a little bit of second-hand happiness when I see my friends counting down the hours and minutes until the weekend. I also look forward to Fridays because I love reading the link roundups that some of my favorite bloggers write. Corrin at Oh Hey, what's up likes to send me off into the weekend with a healthy dose of fashion inspiration. Meanwhile, Joanna from Cup of JO always compiles a motley selection of fun, humorous and thought-provoking links. 

I don't do Friday round-ups, but I did want to share one sweet article I just came across. So here is my micro-roundup:
  • Check out this story about a rat named Mr. Tiffany. It almost made me cry (which is saying a lot - I didn't cry once on my wedding day.
 If you're having a weekend, I hope it's a good one!