30 January 2010

The Thing About Being a Writer...

Mood: Frustrated (Really? My laptop is about to become a missle like object in an effort to diffuse the angst of writer's block. And for those of you who say it doesn't exist? I hope that my purple, sparkly laptop slams upside your head. I think the thud would be very satisfying.)

What I'm Watching: Lying to be Perfect (One of the few times I've given into the lure of a Lifetime Movie. This time it was because the description sounded suspiciously like a book I recently read. Turns out that I was totally right...it is based on the book I read. Go me!)

...is that you have to be just a little unbalanced to do it. Really, we spend all day (and sometimes most of the night) talking to people and about people who don't exist outside the confines of our own minds (although, I wouldn't want to mention that to my main character Rory, she doesn't know she's not exactly, well, a real person...she's a bit sensitive about it in fact). Let's face it, if we didn't do that sitting at a computer screen under the guise of "being creative", we'd be sitting in a nice padded cell under the guise of being completely off our rockers.

After spending all afternoon trying to figure out why, exactly, my main character continues to thwart my writing process, I have come to the conclusion that spending the day arguing with a fictional character in my mind might qualify me for the short line to the prozac express. Thankfully I'm okay with the idea of being slightly off my nut. After all, as a writer, I'm in very good company: Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemmingway and Sylvia Plath just to name a few. All very talented, very successful and very mentally unbalanced writers. Now I'm not endorsing putting ones head in an oven ala Sylvia Plath or using a shotgun to pierce one's ears ala Ernest Hemmingway, I'm simply saying that there is a long line of connection between creative genius and slight bent towards the insane. Which means that my insanity isn't an affliction it's a manifestation of my creative genius!!

funny pictures

So, embrace your inner writer and your inner writer's inner crazy person. Run with it and let it unleash the power of your creative genius! But, if you find yourself thinking of the oven as a place to keep your head? Well, they make medication for that now. You might want to get some.


26 January 2010

Get up, Get Dressed, THEN Go Out...

Mood: Excited (some big stuff coming up: The hubs birthday, Valentine's day and it's almost time for my new little neice or nephew to make his/her appearance!)

What I'm Watching: Psychic Kids (Pretty interesting stuff really.)

When I was a teenager (back in the 80's) there was no way that my friends and I would have left the house without a full complement of hair, make-up and clothing. We would carefully choose our outfits, mixing hypercolor t-shirts with tight rolled jeans, or maybe a short skirt with biker shorts underneath (wasn't that a good look?) and don't forget about jelly bracelets, sunglasses, banana clips and layering our socks so we'd look super cool. Then, we would tease, crimp, back comb and Aquanet our hair into the perfect combination of mall bangs and side wings, and top the whole look off by applying layers of electricly colored eyeshadows and lipsticks (my personal favorite was the mood lipstick). All of this? Was just to go to the mall and hang out at the food court.

For a really good look at the full on 80's fashion, take a look at this frightening video from Dance Party USA. Back in the day? I LOVED this show. (Sorry about the song...it was the best I could find).

Anyway, the point is that we took time and effort to look that bad good when we went out in public. So, color me confused at the current trend of teenagers who, well, don't bother dressing at all when they go out in public. Instead they opt to hit the mall in their fuzzy pajama pants, slippers and baby sleep T's. What the heck? Seriously. Is it that big of an effort to actually get dressed in the morning? Slipping on some shoes, maybe running a brush through your hair, would that really take too much of your precious time?

Back in the early 90's, when I was in college and had been up cramming all night in preparation for finals, I went to an early morning class in a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt with my hair pulled up in a ponytail. The looks I got would have made a lesser woman crumble into dust. Lack of sleep and studying til the last minute were obviously not acceptable excuses for showing up to class in this less than prime state. Now? I suspect that I would be greatly overdressed.

This past weekend the hubs and I made our weekly trek to Wal-Mart for things like toothpaste and toilet paper and before we even parked the car we counted at least 10 people in the parking lot...in their pajamas. I don't know where, when or how this trend started but it needs to stop. Now. Please.


23 January 2010

Who Am I Again?

Mood: Out of Sorts (a generic catch all for feeling all sorts of negative things: frustration, discontent, irritation, etc. for no real reason)

What I'm Watching: COPS (Dude. Don't run when the cop stops you. You're going to get caught and the cop is going to be really ticked you made him run. He has a tazer. This will not end well for you.)

Carol over at Carol's Prints recently posted a very insightful and thought provoking entry about branding and blogging. I started my blog because it sounded like a fun way to share everything from the randomly sarcastic thoughts that occasionally nearly constantly run through my mind to the adventures the hubs and I invariably have whenver we attempt to travel.

I never thought about "branding" myself because, really, who cares about me? (see, I'm not completely narcissistic). The most I ever hoped for was that someone might stumble on my blog and maybe find it mildly amusing. It never even entered my mind that my blog would eventually be connected to my writing world because, at the time, my writing world existed only in a very dark room at the very back corner of my mind (I kept it hidden behind high school algebra because, really, who's going to look there?).

Since that time I've connected with a wonderful bunch of writers through the interwebs (special thanks to the #amwriting/#amwritingparty crew over at Twitter and all the super cool writer's blogs that I follow) and have slowly brought my writerly self out into the bright sunlight of the real world. Now? Thanks to Carol's musings I realize that the parts of my personality that come across in my blog/tweets/general internet presence may ultimately used to define who I am. Eventually agents (I hope) and maybe even editors (fingers crossed) may Google my name and what they find here will, for them, represent "me". My brand.

To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what that means. Like Popeye, "I am who I am" and I think that tends to come through in my on-line world. Sometimes I'm snarky and sarcastic. Sometimes I'm stubborn and (obviously) easily irritated by general stupidity. Most of the time I've got a sense of humor about the world and, perhaps more important, about myself. Often I'm passionate, compassionate, kind and loving (I swear!). Occasionally, I'm all of these things at once (which makes life fun for the hubs, I assure you).

Since I generally believe in being who I am, for better or worse, I don't think that "crafting" a brand for myself is going to be a realistic option for me. So I guess my brand is just plain old me...flaws and all. The most I can hope for is that anyone who stumbles across my little corner of the interwebs will be able to take me for who I am. If not? Well, then I suppose that they probably weren't the agent, publisher, editor or internet stalker for me anyway.

17 January 2010

Retail Therapy?

Mood: Sleepy (it's a sleepy type of a Sunday afternoon)

What I'm Watching: Lockup (They're letting the inmates work with rescue animals...interesting concept)

In an effort to forage for the essentials like toothpaste and toilet paper, the hubs and I had to make our weekly trek to Wal-Mart yesterday (exciting way to spend a weekend, no?). As usual, within 30 seconds of entering the parking lot, I was ready to start strangling people with my bare hands. What is it about shopping that turns ordinary people into card carrying members of the moron club?

In the interest of keeping the body count to a minimum and myself out of prison, I'd like to propose the following rules for shopping:

1.) When you are leaving the store, pushing your cart across the lot, you are not surrounded by a protective force field. My car is big, your bones are fragile, maybe you'd like to at least give a cursory glance around before jetting out in front of me.

2.) Parent is a verb. It's something that you need to do, not just something that you are. If your offspring is screaming, climbing out of your shopping cart, or opening packages of food and randomly tossing the contents on the floor? The correct response is not to continue chatting on your cell phone whilst randomly yelling and/or slapping said offspring. Put the damn phone down and pay proper attention to your children!

3.) While I'm on the subject of phones. Put the damn phone down already! Seriously. A quick phone call to  find out if you need paper towels? No problem. An extended phone call about who did what with who at the bar on Friday night? No one needs to hear that, especially the cashier who is being paid minimum wage for you to ignore her while she waits for you to stop gossiping long enough to pay her already! And people who talk on cell phones in the bathroom stalls? I'm also looking at you here. This is a situation where multitasking is NOT a good thing.

4.) Thanks to technology, the world is now a very small place. There are cell phones, social networking sites, texting options and the good old fashioned land line phone and while I'm super psyched that you've run into your old neighbor/cousin/sister/dear friend/mail carrier, stopping in the middle of a narrow aisle to catch up on the last 20 years of news? Not acceptable.  I really don't care where your son is going to college or how many kids your daughter has. So exchange phone numbers, promise to look each other up on facebook and get the hell out of my way already!

5.) The express lanes? The ones that say 20 items or less? Stop pulling into those lanes with a cart filled to overflowing. And when you do get into those lanes? Don't look annoyed when people like me, who are stuck behind your dumbass with one or two items, make a comment about your apparent lack of math and/or reading skills.

I really have never seen the appeal of "retail therapy" but I do understand the need for therapy after a retail experience!

16 January 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things (with pictures and shiny new blog bling!)

Mood: Lazy (It's 2:00 pm on a Saturday afternoon. The shopping is done, the house is clean and now? I'm lazy.) (Please note: it was 2:00 pm when I started this blog post...I'm so lazy that it's taken me nearly 5 hours to get around to finishing it up!)

What I'm Watching: Kind of Queens (The hubs and I? We're totally the Heffernens without the annoyingly creepy father living in the basement.)

I love awards and I love cupcakes so what's not to love about my newest piece of blog bling?!? Diana over at 'Writing Roller Coasters' was cool enough to present me with The Happy Blog Award!! Diana is a relatively new discovery for me but if you haven't checked out her blog, what the heck are you waiting for? Seriously, where else can you get references to both sculpted, hard bodied males and the genius idea of deep fried cheese dipped in cheese sauce in the same blog post?

As an aside...just how cute is this award? I mean really. Cupcakes, sprinkles, sunsets...it almost makes you smile just looking at it! Or maybe it's just me? Anyway, as always, awards have certain requirements that must be fulfilled.
Luckily the terms of acceptance for the Happy Blog award are simple. I don't have to share any deep dark childhood fears (ty-d-bol, I'm totally looking at you here), no embarrassing high school moments (all of them) or otherwise subject myself to public humilation. I simply have to list 10 things that make me happy and pass this on to 10 blogs that make me happy. The first should be relatively easy. The second? That might be a bit tricky because all the blogs I follow make me happy...or I wouldn't follow them.

Ten Things That Make Me Happy!

1.) My husband. He annoys me, loves me, makes me crazy and spoils me. He's my best friend and the only person who is always guaranteed to make me smile.

2.) My nephews and my neice. Honestly, how could you look at these little pudge faces and not have it instantly brighten your day? There's nothing better than going into my sister's house and having the whole crew attack me with hugs and kisses.

3.) Camping with the hubs. Getting out into nature, enjoying the cool evenings by the campfire, and the sunny mornings listening to the birds chirping.

4.) Ice Cream. Yes, that's right. Ice cream. Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, it all makes me very, very happy!

5.) Christmas. I admit it. I love all things Christmas. The cooking, the smells, the songs, even the shopping.

6.) The Fourth of July. Family gatherings, cookouts, parades and fireworks coupled with a great day in American History. What's not to love?

7.) PG-13 cartoons, like King of the Hill, South Park and Family Guy. Yes, they're generally tacky and sometimes (most of the time) push the boundaries of good taste but I absolutely think they're hilarious.

8.)Vacation baby!!  I absolutely love to travel and just get away from it all. Whether it's a cruise, a trip to the beach or a fun time on a road trip. I don't care. I just love being out and away from home!

9.) My followers! Am I the only blogger who gets a little squeee when I see a new comment on a blog post or that I have a new follower on my list? I love my readers, their ideas, their feedback and the fact that they're willing to wade through my thoughts! :)

10.) Books. Really. All kinds of books. They've always been my teachers, my friends and my escape. I suspect that if reading could be an addiction, I'd have to check myself into Betty Ford for detox!

Now, for my list of 10 blogs that make me happy. Well, actually, as Diana discovered, we tend to follow the blogs that make us happy in some way so randomly choosing 10 seems to be the best way to go (I know, I'm a total copycat, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right?) *Ahem* Anyway, here they are:

Seriously, if you're not reading these people, you totally should be. From vlog tips to diet tips to writing tips and just general all around being the shiznit, these blogs are among some of the most entertaining that I've come across!!! :)


12 January 2010

It's Because I'm Crazy Isn't it?

Mood: Overwhelmed (Crazy busy week at work. There's just not enough hours in the day!)

What I'm Watching: American Idol (I'm so not into American Idol but there's something about the auditions that is too fun not to watch!)

A few days ago I read a post by Jamie over at Bookmom Musings reflecting on the "why" of her writing. Why do we write? Why do we put ourselves through the torture the effort required to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and spin a tale?

Her post prompted me to reflect on my own writing journey. Currently I've hit a very rough patch in my current work in progress and when I consider the "why" of my journey as a writer, I feel like this:

The why for me is not always clear. I have stories to tell but sometimes the effort of getting them out and onto paper is so difficult that it seems almost impossible. So what makes me sit down at the computer and keep trying when it seems that I'll never be able to get the words right?

Maybe it's the hope that someday I'll be able to find the right words, or maybe just the words that work in the moment. Maybe it's because my characters are so real I need to breathe life into them and allow them to exist independent of my own imagination. Mostly, though, I think my "why" lies in the fact that I'm driven to write and have been most of my life. I need to write the way I need to breathe or eat or sleep.

Or, there is the distinct possibility that I'm absolutely out of my mind crazy. I mean, you have to be...at least a little...to put yourself through this process on a daily basis, right?


08 January 2010

It's a Conspiracy!!

Mood: Frustrated (writing is not going really well today. On the other hand, I've gotten a hell of a lot of work done around the house.)

What I'm Watching: Roseanne (The torando episode. It's a testament to how tired I am of cold and snow that I'm actually wishing we had the warm spring weather that would bring with it thunderstorms and tornado warnings).

I would just like to say that I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist. I'm not trying to say that the moon landing was filmed on a Hollywood sound stage or that the government is studying alien life forms in Area 54. However, there is one conspiracy in my life that is so big, so annoying and so unavoidable that it must be addressed. I'm talking, of course, about the snow plow drivers.

I'm appreciative of the invaluable services that they offer and for years I assumed that it was an unfortunate coincidence that the snow plow would always go by and shove a large pile of snow at the end of my drive just as I'd finished shoveling it out (by hand no less). I tried to be understanding when they would shove piles of snow into the drive of the church where I work making it nearly impossible for me to make my way into the parking area. I've even been patient when they've plowed piles of snow behind my car in our apartment parking lot (they plow in the middle of the night...and just make a pass behind the cars).

What I cannot understand is why every single snow plow driver we've ever had clear the parking lot at the church where I work will invariably pile the snow they plow right up against the sign at the corner of our property. This is the sign that I have to change every week. By hand. The church parking lot is HUGE and there are literally hundreds of other places the snow could be piled, but no. They always pile it right where I have to hike through to change that stupid sign. Schlepping through snow up to my knees in dress shoes and dress slacks is definitely not my idea of a good time.

At first I thought it was just one thoughtless driver. When another driver did the same thing the next year, I thought it was a coincidence. Now? We've got yet another driver doing the same thing. Obviously at some point in my life I've done something to seriously piss off the snow plow drivers of the world and now they're all gunning for me!

So, I'd just like all my friends to know that if I go missing before spring, please check the 6ft pile of snow next to the church sign.


06 January 2010

It's Not Time to Panic Yet!

Mood: Irritated (Seriously, I had a great blog post all written and my computer flaked and now? It's gone)

What I'm Watching: King of the Hill (I tell you what!)

For those of you who don't know, I live in central Illinois. It's a place where ice, snow and freezing temperatures are as common in the winter as corn, soybeans and road construction are in the summer. Currently we're under a winter weather warning calling for 7 - 12" of snow, high winds and sub zero temps. Honestly? I'm totally aware of the complete suckage factor involved here. Shoveling snow, slipping on the ice and scraping my car windows are definitely NOT a few of my favorite things. However, having lived here my entire life, I've come to accept them as inevitable like death, taxes and bad tv talk shows (Maury, I'm totally looking at you here).

So, I have to admit complete confusion when other people treat any forecast for more than a dusting of snow as a cause for complete panic. People? We live in an area where this weather is not unusual. We have snow plows and salt trucks to handle the situation. There is no need to rush out in a blind panic to strip the stores of every last bit of milk, bread and toilet paper. It's a snowstorm, not the end of the freaking world.

Also, if you're out driving in the sucky snowy weather, please drive carefully. You may think you can drive 70 mph in this weather but let me assure you, you can't. While I don't necessarily care if you run your idiot self into the ditch (and you will), I'm going to be incredibly ticked if you take me along with you. Seriously. Ticked.

And, for those of you who don't live in an area blessed with the kind of snow we can get here, I've thoughtfully provided pictures from last winter for your snowy enjoyment.

This is the window of our old aparment that has snow drifted halfway up it. We got a few more inches after this picture was taken but it gives you an idea.

This is a picture of an ice storm we had last January. Can't really tell from this pic but there's about two inches of solid ice covering everything. Still? We managed to get out and about so still no need to panic folks!


03 January 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Mood: Tired, really, really tired (turns out that it takes a couple of days for my thirty something year old hiney to recover from the New Year's Eve festivities)

What I'm Watching: Celebrity Ghost Stories (It's midnight, what else would I be watching?)

The hubs and I rang in the New Year by partying with a bunch of rowdy strangers at a hotel. The downside? The hubs and I are not actually social people so being forced to sit at a table with strangers? Not our thing. And drunken, rowdy strangers acting stupid because they're too drunk to realize how stupid they're acting? Totally annoying...especially when they're armed with those obnoxious noisemakers and insist on blowing them in my ear every.ten.seconds! I had to be physically prevented from relocating those noisemakers to someplace where noisemakers aren't normally intended to go.

And don't get me started on the people that brought their children to this party. Yep. Open bar, drunken morons and loud music...I'm not a parent and even I know this isn't exactly the proper environment for your 7 year old. What the heck? Were there no crack dealers you could leave them with?

Also? I've learned that there are some things that you just can't unsee no matter how much you drink or how hard you try. On New Year's Eve, these sights included the following:

* A rather large woman wearing a black bra under a sheer white shirt. Honey. No.

* A woman who wore a completely sequined mini dress that barely contained the minimum amount of skin. After a few drinks? She apparently forgot she was wearing a "barely there" dress and proceeded to sit with her legs spread as though she was half expecting her ob-gyn to come by and give her a pap smear.

*A man who, from the waist up, looked quite dashing in a tuxedo jacket complete with vest and tie. I thought, "wow, it's nice to see a man who dresses up like that for New Year's Eve". Then he walked by me. You guys? He was wearing shorts. What the hell?!?

*A woman who had back hair. Honest to goodness, full on furry back hair. The back of her shirt dipped a little too low and her tufts of hair were peeking out from under the shirt. I feel confident in saying that this was not a man in drag, this was definitely a woman. With copious amounts of back fur. I got independent confirmation from the hubs (who is now completely traumatized). I also got his assurance that should I ever sprout back hair he will shave and/or ensure that it is properly and promptly removed.

*There was a large group of friends sitting at the table next to us. At some point a man from that table was standing in between his wife and her friend. He had an arm around each of them. No big deal. Until his hand slipped down to squeeze his wife's friend's butt (which was probably all of a foot from my face). Okay, so he's a bit drunk and being a bit of an ass. It happens. I tried to ignore it. Then? His hand slipped up under the friend's mini-dress and it stayed under there like it was stuck in some sort of gravitational pull. *shudder* DUDE! You're in public and and right next to your wife!!! Just because she's at an angle where she can't see where your hand is and what it's doing doesn't make it cool. ACK!!! My eyes!!!!

But, lest you think it was all bad, it wasn't. Things that almost made the trauma worth it:

* We got upgraded to the Presidential suite. I'm talking about a hotel room that is bigger than our current apartment complete with a fireplace, a hot tub and a kitchen with a dishwasher. Seriously. What a great way to ring in the new year!

* They made an error on our reservations and we were totally compensated w/ an open bar pass, free breakfast and a reduction in room rate. Sweeeettt!!!

*I got to spend my Borders and B&N gift cards. Hours of shopping surrounded by the smell of brand new books. Sigh. I managed to stretch my dollars too and ended up with something like 13 new books!!!!

*Santa hubs got me a late gift of a Livescribe pen to help with my writing efforts. I tend to brainstorm/plot old school with pen and paper. Unfortunately that means that I have to shuffle through hundreds of notebook pages looking for necessary information. The Livescribe pen will allow me to upload the pages I've written and it makes them searchable so I can easily find the information I need in my notes by searching a keyword or two. Squeeeee!!! So far I'm loving it.

Hope 2010 is treating everyone well so far and that no one was forced to witness the sorts of mind damaging, therapy inducing things that I was on New Year's Eve!!