"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Well, it was a weird Christmas this year. Christmas itself was good, but unfortunately my rabbit, George passed away on Christmas Day. I won't bore you with the details of my consequent complete falling apart, or expect you to understand why a rabbit would mean so much to me, but she did. And yes, George was a girl. (Who says a female rabbit can't be named George?)
The reason I'm telling you any of this is so you'll understand why I haven't posted in a while. The truth is, I'm depressed. I miss my faithful rabbit companion. I realize I didn't talk about her as much as I talk about Maddie, but they were equal in my affection, and now she's gone. So, if you're wondering if I've forgotten about all of you, I haven't. I just haven't felt up to posting. But I will again soon, so don't worry.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Twins Continued

Well, I couldn't put Her Fearful Symmetry down last night, so I finished it.
It was ... interesting, Honestly? I found the ending rather disturbing. Which, isn't necessarily a bad thing, sometimes that's what makes a book great - its ability to completely shock you with its ending. In this case however, I felt kind of robbed. I'll try to explain why without giving anything away.
About a week ago I was reading an article in Writer's Digest about creating suspense in your novel (a very good article by the way). One of their suggestions was to make promises to your readers. Not literal promises such as, 'I promise this book is going to knock your socks off', but in your story. You need to hint at things, perhaps at dark secrets, or quietly foreshadow big events to come. You need to lock your reader in with the promise of intrigue and possible catastrophe so that they can't put the book down. Now, in Her Fearful Symmetry Audrey Niffenegger did this very well, I obviously couldn't put the book down. Where I was disappointed was in the fulfillment of those promises. According to the article, it's important to make big promises, but it's equally important to keep those promises. I didn't feel that she did. The secrets she'd hinted at from the very beginning of the novel were indeed brought to light, but they had absolutely no effect on the outcome of the novel. Which made me wonder why they were there, and why the twins worked so hard to discover them if they had nothing to do with the outcome. I felt that way about pretty much everything. It was as though the beginning had nothing in common with the ending, and as I lay in bed trying to sleep after I finished, I found I couldn't. I just kept tossing and turning, questioning everything I'd just read and found I couldn't come to any kind of happy conclusion. She'd started the book off with all these different threads, and by the end they should have tied together so that each minute detail you'd forgotten to pay attention to had in fact been important to the story and led toward its end. I should have been slapping myself in the forehead moaning 'of course!', not scratching my head wondering 'what? How did that happen?'
And so, my verdict is this. It was, in fact, a very good read. It had me turning the pages from start to finish, unable to put it down. Unfortunately, the ending did not live up to the promises that I felt she'd made and I was therefore disappointed (and actually a little upset) by the ending. I encourage you all to give it a read and let me know your thoughts. I'm anxious to debate over its merits and shortcomings!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I think I've said enough about Christmas now to last until next year, so today I've decided to delight you with an entirely new topic. And no, I won't just be complaining, despite that being one of my favourite activities.
Today, I want to talk about twins. For those of you who don't know, I am one. I'm an identical twin, meaning my sister and I were once a single egg that split. It also means we look a lot alike, which can be both hilarious and frustrating; but that's another topic.
I don't often have much to say on the subject, most of my time spent talking about being a twin is in refuting old wives tales. No, we can't read each other's minds. No, when one of us eats the other doesn't get full. But the reason I've been thinking a lot about my 'twin-ness', is because I'm reading Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. The novel centers around a pair of mirror twins named Valentina and Julia, who inherit their aunt's flat in London. Mirror twins are identical twins who are an exact mirror image of the other. So, for example, a mole that would be on the right cheek of one, will be on the left of the other.
Anyway, the book is great. I'm just over half way through and I can barely stand to put it down. Even now, I can't help but look down at it hungrily, anxious to devour the rest of it. One of the reasons it's so interesting is due to the relationship between the twins. One wants to have her independence from the other, and the other wants them to remain together and exactly the same forever. She insists that they dress in matching outfits and believes that they must have the same job, something they can do together.
Honestly, as a twin myself, it's positively terrifying. I can't imagine what life would have been like if either of us had been that way. I'm lucky my sister and I managed to remain so close without trying to re-envelope each other and become one person again. I can't wait to find out if the twins are able to find their individuality, not to mention uncover the various mysterious secrets hinted at in the book.
It's always interesting to read about characters that are twins, especially by authors who aren't twins themselves. I think there's a bit of mysteriousness to it, a longing to understand what that kind of closeness is like. Sarah Pekkanen also wrote about twins in her first novel, The Opposite of Me, another fabulous book. However, in Her Fearful Symmetry, although it's a great book and I'm loving every minute of it, I do find her depiction of these particular twins slightly inaccurate. My experience of being a twin, and knowing several others, has been of a mutual longing for identity. Yes, we all love being twins and appreciate the close relationship that develops, but oftentimes we still struggle to be different, to set ourselves apart from the other and be known, not as half of a whole, but as our own person. It will be interesting to see what develops between the two sisters as the book progresses, and how their relationship changes as they find their individuality. If you're looking for a good read, by all means pick it up!
That's my twin perspective on a book on twins.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Christmas Spirit Lives at my Mother's House

"Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe help to make the season bright." (The Christmas Song)

That maybe true, but Christmas ceased being one of my favourite holidays when I got married. Not by any fault of my husband, who goes to great lengths to spoil me every year, or his family, who are always kind and welcoming. But from the moment I got married, Christmas began to dwindle from a pleasure to a chore, more and more so each year.
These days, the thought of decorating – which once filled me with glee- now leaves me exhausted. I no longer picture a twinkling tree adorned with glittering ornaments, I picture the struggle of finagling it into its stand and the tedium of rewrapping all the decorations and putting them away for another year. Why bother?
Christmas itself has become a tedium of errands, with my husband and I spending both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day running from house to house to celebrate with both sides of our respective families. I used to look forward to the time off to celebrate and then spend the next few days sleeping and binge eating leftover turkey and cookies. Christmas is no longer a time of rest and binge eating, with all the running around we have to do, most of the food is picked over by the time we get to each place and by the end of the day I'm exhausted and starving.
So this year my husband really shouldn't have been shocked when I broached the topic of not decorating or getting a tree.
“I just want to pretend that Christmas isn't happening this year. We could just pretend it's an unusually full weekend of family obligations with presents and then move on.”
My husband of course, thought I needed an infusion of Christmas spirit, and fought for a tree. Not wanting to be Captain Scrooge McKillJoy, I relented and my husband brought home a lovely little tree. It looks beautiful, and I appreciate his attempt to keep my Christmas spirit alive, but every time I look at it, all I can think about is what a pain in the ass it's going to be to take it down.
There is only one place on this Earth, where the Christmas spirit can still be summoned up from the depths of my holiday blackened soul, and that's at my mother's house.
Now, the Christmas spirit at my mother's house has itself taken a beating over the years, one of my sisters is now Jewish and understandably, various changes have been made to accommodate the difference in spiritual beliefs. Personally, I'm all for it. I'm not a church goer or bible pusher, I don't care if it's called Christmas or The Holiday Festival of Trees and Lights. (I actually prefer the second one, despite its making shouting holiday greetings a little more complex). Christmas was never about the birth of Christ for me, so getting rid of the title is something I can get behind. (Of course, this isn't for everyone and you won't see me trying to push this through Congress. But in our house, it makes perfect sense). Never the less, Christmas at my mother's house has stayed unrelentingly joyful.
There's something about being in that house, specifically about being around my mother that stokes the fires in my heart. The other night I went over to help her wrap presents (that's one of the few good things about working in retail – I've perfected the art of present wrapping), and within twenty minutes of being there, I was mindlessly humming Christmas tunes as I wrapped and curled ribbons. I was like an elf in Santa's workshop.
My mother is a powerful being. Within her lies the true spirit of Christmas, whatever that is. But I like to think of it as family, and pure, unbridled joy. God bless my mother in law and all her family, but they just can't embody it the way she does. My mother in law tries too hard, insisting that we must be joyful every minute, pushing games and chatter at us as though we'll never have another happy moment again. There's nothing pushy about my mom, and her house at Christmas. It's warm and tender, at moments punctuated with squeals of delight and peels of laughter, at others calm and peaceful. There is no frenzied push for perfect holiday memories, filling every moment with games and activity. Instead, there's an enjoyment of each moment as it happens, whether its the calm and quiet of a stolen nap, curled up on the couch with my husband beneath a blanket, or the excitement of watching someone open the perfect gift.
Maybe as time goes on, my Christmas spirit will decay to the extent that I can no longer appreciate it, but I hope for the opposite. I hope I can learn the secret of my mother's spirit, and the joy that resides at her house on Christmas. I hope I can learn to stand above the tedium of far too much family in far too small of a time frame and find a space for peace and joy for my husband and I, a special place within the chaos that can make it all bearable. Either that, or we'll have to start a new tradition – Hawaii!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Necessary Increase In Politeness

As the holiday season grows ever closer, and we find ourselves continuously caught in overcrowded malls and grocery stores, I feel it is important to remind ourselves of the unquestionable need for politeness. Yes, it's undeniable that this time of year can work itself on your very last nerve. I myself have often fantasized about the gruesome murder of the person ahead of me in line that A) refuses to wear deodorant and B) still thinks he should be able to pay with a cheque, but it's important to remember that we can positively change our surroundings.
Despite my passionate desire to bowl over everyone in my way and get the hell out of there, I realize that I must not only restrain myself, but do a complete 180 and go out of my to be nice. Think about it. If everyone gives in to their desire to be rude, pushy and completely self involved (and they often do), what does that lead to? The current climate of every mall, store and drugstore available.
BUT, picture this. You're in an overcrowded mall, and yet no one is trying to zigzag through the crowd to get around the older, slower patrons. Everyone is perfectly aware that at this time of year long lines and waits are unavoidable, and instead of getting pissed off, they accept it, take a deep breath and just relax. No one budges, and if an unavoidable bump occurs, the offending party apologizes. Customers greet cashiers and sales associates with a smile and a greeting, instead of immediately demanding their merchandise. The cashiers and sales associates can relax and focus on doing an efficient and friendly job, instead of worrying about fending off verbal attacks and abuse. People smile and greet each other, make way for each other and are generally conscious of each other. Sounds nice, yes?
Of course, not everyone can be counted on to be polite. But every time we smile instead of scowl, show patience instead of losing our temper and are just generally thoughtful, we improve the climate of those stifling malls and maybe even make someone feel a little better. Which brings me to my point. I'm calling on all of us, myself included, to make an effort this holiday season. Go out of your way to be polite. You'll be surprised by how much better you feel when you finally make it home.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Hate Christmas

All I want to do is get through this month. December has turned out to be way more expensive than I initially estimated. Our home insurance is due at the end of the month, my husband just had to take his car in and I need two fillings at the dentist. Tie that in with regular Christmas shopping and expenses and I'm Broke with a capital B.
Not to mention, my HerStory Calendar deadline came and went at the end of November and I'm still not done. Now, I'm the type of person that very strictly observes deadlines. I'm all about punctuality. Being late in any form stresses me out. The other day I was five minutes late to work and my hands shook for half an hour. So, to be nearly half way into December and still not done is not okay with me. Honestly, the main problem has been my sources. Getting responses to emails and phone calls has been horrible. It's put me completely behind.
I just need to make it until the new year. Maybe the freshness of a clean calendar year will revive me. But honestly, I just hate Christmas. I never used to, but being married changes things. Christmas is now a harried rush from family to family; not to mention it seems to be the time of year for shit to hit the fan financially. Every year it's the same story, we spend the entire year trying to pay down debt and bulk up savings (making good headway too) and after Christmas we're not just back where we started, we're further behind. Sometimes I wish we could just skip Christmas.
There. I've had my tirade. Now I can get back to work.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Creative Juices are Flowing

It's so strange. I thought for sure that once I was done NaNoWriMo I'd be burnt out and need to take some time off, and yet I'm feeling pretty good. Not just pretty good, I'm feeling creative and inspired. After all, I wrote an entire book in 30 days. Granted, it was not a very good book. BUT, if I had a good, well thought out idea, there's no reason why I couldn't draft another novel in a similar time frame. Which is pretty exciting.
So, of course I've been pondering new story lines. It's fun. This stage, where creative thoughts are spinning but you haven't yet committed to anything, is rather intoxicating. Anything is possible. The hard part is settling in and starting. At the same time, I don't want to push it. I have a few meager creative thoughts bouncing around in my head. I want to let them alone for a bit, let them germinate and see if something really intriguing comes up. And if not, I've always found my own life to be a major source of inspiration. Working in retail is a strange animal all on its own.
I'm also trying to be careful not to take on too much with Christmas on the horizon. Sigh. I hate Christmas. I hate December. If I could just go to sleep and wake up in January I'd be so relieved. I find this time of year so stressful and depressing. So, maybe I need this. Maybe a new story could give me what I need to get through this time of year. I'll have to wait and see what happens. Maybe the magic of Christmas is just what I need to get started again, or send me into a spiral of despair. You know, either way.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And the Winner is....

Not me. Yes, if you've been sitting on the edge of your seat, chewing your nails in frustration as you waited to hear the results of my epic NaNoWriMo challenge, I'm afraid my news is slightly sour.
Did I make it? Not officially. Last night when I got home from work I had 6500 words to go. Stationing myself at my computer I wrote like a demon, not stopping for a moment until I reached the end of my novel. That's right. I finished it. Unfortunately, my novel was incontrovertibly finished with 1400 words to go. Refusing to give up, I bull-shitted my way to 50,004, although I'll admit that those 1400 words had absolutely nothing to do with the story. There was just nothing more to add. There were two minutes left until midnight when I uploaded my novel onto the website and submitted it to their word counter, which came back saying I'd written only 49,373 words. What? There wasn't time to do anything more about it, and I definitely couldn't have come up with another 700 words of bull shit, so I gave up and went to bed, pretty disappointed.
Today, however, I feel pretty good. I may not have earned an official badge from the website (although I will admit I feel a little ripped off there, I did after all write over 50,000 words), but I did finish writing an entire novel, start to finish in just thirty days. That's pretty cool. So, although I have no official badge, I've decided to declare myself a winner. I wrote an entire novel in a month, while working a full time job and attempting to carry on a normal life. I'm positively exhausted, but I'm proud of myself. I declare my first attempt at NaNoWriMo a nearly complete success!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crunch Time

I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted! My apologies to anyone out there who's been missing my pointless diatribes.
It's been a crazy week. As you already know, the hubby and I went to the festival of trees on Sunday, and then on Monday I had coffee with the Wizard (the former Writer in Residence, Alice Kuipers). That was really, really nice. I don't know what it is about that woman but she gets me revved up in a way no one else can. It's positively magical, hence my nickname for her, the Wizard of Oz.
The rest of the week has been a whirlwind of writing, working and stressing.
Including today, I have just four days left to complete my novel for NaNoWriMo. I'm exceptionally far behind, currently sitting at just over 32,500 words. Which means I have just under 17,500 words to write in these four days. Hmmm. Yikes. But God knows I did not sign up for this month of writing frenzy to quit four days before the end. And I'll tell you what else. I did not sign up to lose. I signed up to win, and I intend to. Which of course means I should be fairly frightening looking by the end. So friends and family can look forward to that.
And there we have it. You're caught up with my week. I hope you'll all cross your fingers for me that I come out of this successful, alive and still somehow manage to get my HerStory stuff turned in on time as well. (So, miracles people. Pray for miracles). I don't know if I'll have time to post before November 30th, so in case I don't - I'll see you on the other side.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Festival of Trees

Tonight my husband and I went to the Festival of Trees. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a charity event where trees are decorated and donated to be sold. You can purchase tickets to go and look at all the beautiful trees and generally just get into the Christmas spirit. My husband and I go every year, to get ideas, enjoy the magic and whimsy and get our Christmas spirit on. I love it, it just wouldn't be the Christmas season without it. For me, it's the kick off event, to be followed by baking, looking at Christmas lights, drinking hot chocolate and wrapping presents. These are the activities I really enjoy now that I'm married, as the actual big day itself no longer holds much appeal.
You see, my mother is the Christmas queen. Every Christmas day she is the embodiment of Christmas spirit. Being at her house is like waking up in some kind of magical universe full of delicious food, charming music and all the people you love most. Unfortunately, the one downside to getting married is the need to compromise when it comes to the holidays. My husband and I, in an effort to please everyone, have split up both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so each side gets a share of both. So, in an effort to be fair, I miss half of the day at my mom's house, and it really just isn't the same. It's stressful and hurried, and I hate missing even a small chunk of the festivities. The result? I've begun to dread Christmas and the aching loss I feel every time I have to leave my mom's house early or arrive late. Not that I don't enjoy my husband's family, but it's just not the same.
In an effort to save my Christmas spirit and keep me from turning into a total humbug every year, I try to embrace all the pre-Christmas fun. Christmas itself may be a stressful dud, but I can still enjoy everything that's good about the season, before it's over and all that's left is months and months of dreary unrelenting winter. And so, without further ado, I give you a few highlights from our trip to the festival of trees. (Spoiler alert: the real winners of the festival were actually the gingerbread houses! Also, there are a lot of pictures.) If you're still planning to go, by all means do not scroll down.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Hate Logic

I suppose I'll begin by apologizing for how long it's been since I last posted. A lot's been going on and frankly, I didn't want to post until I knew for sure what we were going to do about Damage, the Great Dane we met on Saturday. I really wish this was an enthusiastic but slightly anxious post announcing the newest member of our family, but it's not.
Saturday night my husband and I drove out to meet our potential new family member. It went well enough, Damage was sweet, gentle and skinny as hell. He wasn't as good on a leash as his caretaker had previously led us to believe, but overall he was a lovely dog. As we drove home I couldn't deny the tight ball of stress in my gut. We talked the whole drive (well, I talked the whole drive), outlining the pros and cons. Damage was supposedly bad with small dogs (although from my what I'd seen, he had a remarkably gentle spirit), and my sister had a beagle. There would be certain costs in adopting him, we'd have to buy a crate, a prong collar, new leash, collar, food dishes and the added cost of feeding him; not to mention the fact that we'd like to get him fixed. Would Maddie feel jealous? Would there be less love for her than before? My husband was also concerned at the idea that the dog park wouldn't be an option for him. And then there was the clincher. My husband currently works fifty hour weeks. I couldn't walk two Great Danes by myself. How could we possibly walk them every day without someone there to help me?
And so, that sealed it. Despite the fact that he's a wonderful dog, and we like him very much, the logical choice was to say no. That doesn't mean it hurts any less, or that I feel any less horrible. But dogs need love, good nutrition, discipline, patience and exercise. We couldn't provide one of those. I hate thinking of him sitting alone in that kennel, waiting for a forever home to find him and love him, especially when ours would otherwise make such a good fit. And so, I've been too depressed to write until now. I've lagged on all fronts, NaNoWriMo, HerStory, and posting. I haven't called his caretaker yet, I don't want to make our 'No' official. But some things must be done. As much as I hate to do them.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Big Life Decisions

First an update on my NaNoWriMo progress. So far, I remain on target and I'm very proud of that. I don't know if I'll meet today's target, though. I feel as though my brain needs a break from all of this creativity. I'm tired of my twisted, go nowhere story, but I think that's the point of all this. Learn to carry on. If you don't like the story, change it. In the words of Erin Morgenstern, "when in doubt, just add ninjas." Why not? If the story is boring, or feels like it's going nowhere, throw a wrench in it. Throw an obstacle at your characters, give them a ridiculous nervous tick, do whatever you need to make your story more exciting and enjoyable to write. The purpose of NaNoWriMo is not to come up with a pullitzer winning novel. The point is to teach yourself to write every day, to challenge yourself and free yourself to be as creative as possible. Maybe my brain doesn't need a break from creativity, maybe it needs another dose of it!
Unfortunately, this is not my only problem. As any of my loyal readers know (and I love you by the way), I consistently have a ridiculous amount of problems. I blame my ability to make the worst decisions possible. Whatever the wrong decision is, that's the one I choose. Now, I've done a few things right. I married a wonderful man. I bought a house when there was a lull in the market and now at today's prices I would never have been able to afford a house. At the same time, my husband and I were not financially ready to buy a house when we did. And we certainly shouldn't have gone on vacation. And we really shouldn't have bought a dog a few months before we went on that vacation. And I really shouldn't have signed up for a $1000 massage course for right after that vacation. Oops.
Now, the fact that our dog ended up eating a rag, getting deathly ill and accumulating $3000 in vet bills is just bad luck. And the fact that this happened when it was too late to back out and get a refund on the class was just unfortunate timing. But I never should have signed up for the class when we had so much going on. And we shouldn't have rung up such a huge bill while on vacation when we had just bought a house and a dog.
We are still recovering from a long line of bad financial decisions. We're doing really great and we're making progress, but climbing out of the hole you've dug is a whole lot harder than digging it.
So, here's my problem. I have a very happy home. A home that's content and full of love. And there's a dog that needs a home. A beautiful six year old Great Dane, a boy. Would taking on another dog be another of my terrible life decisions? Can we afford another dog? Do we have enough room? Do we have enough room in our hearts? And if we didn't take him and he got destroyed, could I forgive myself? I don't know. And I've been tormented for days.
Tomorrow, my husband and I are going to meet him. I don't know if we're meant to be his new home, or if we're meant to help find him his new home. I don't know if he's the right fit for our family. I'm trying to proceed with caution. The plan is to meet him, sleep on it, talk it over and then, if it feels right, let him meet our dog, Maddie. If that goes well then we'll sleep on it, talk it over and maybe see him again, take him and Maddie for a walk. I want to take it slow. I can't afford to let another stupid decision break the decidedly hard-earned peace in our home. Ugh. I hate life decisions.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Devil Loves Hairspray

Yesterday was what I like to call a 'semi-special' day at work. It was gala night in the cosmetics department, meaning that the store stayed open late, our counters were decorated, food was served and we glammed it up in cocktail dresses for the evening.
I'd like to say that people poured in and spent a ton of cash, but unfortunately we didn't even match what we pulled in last year. So, I wouldn't call it a rip-roaring success.
For this special evening, the hair salon would be offering five minute touch ups. In order to showcase their work and entice customers to give it a go, they decided they do updos for everyone that worked in the cosmetics department. We had no idea this would be happening until the day of, when our manager started ordering us over to the hair salon.
The first girl came back with a matronly french twist backcombed into beehive size proportions. Not bad. Not great of course, but not bad. The second girl did not fare so well. She came back looking like a who from whoville in Dr. Seuss. Atop her head stood a tower of hair going up like a ski slope. She could have decorated it like a Christmas tree. Needless to say, she did not take my suggestion that she actually do so with the seriousness I'd hoped. (I can still picture what it would have looked like, all done up with twinkling lights...)
Naturally, when it came time for my own face off with the hair dresser, I was fairly certain I too would end up a walking debacle of towering hair design. But, putting on a brave face, I hopped resolutely into the chair. I knew, as with most cases in working retail, resistance was futile.
The man who did my hair was probably in his mid-late forties, was balding on top and wearing glasses. You would have thought he'd be sweet and gentle. After all, the only customers they ever have are fragile old ladies. But no, he wasn't. He didn't speak a word to me when I hopped up into the chair, not one word. He turned my chair and started raking through my hair with his fingers, pulling through whatever small tangles there were with cold efficiency. He jabbed at my head with his fingers whenever he wanted me to turn, look down or look up. I would have appreciated it if he'd simply asked me to move my head, but apparently this would waste precious seconds. He backcombed the bejeezus out of my hair, ruthless and vicious with his little metal comb as I cringed at the amount of damage he was doing to my already fragile hair. Not to mention it hurt like hell. He went at me with so much hairspray I was coughing for twenty minutes after. I had to make sure I stayed away from open flames, I was pretty sure I'd ignite like a pile of dry leaves. Every step of the way the can of hairspray was unloaded on my head as though it was the sealant that would keep the damn from breaking. My hair was as sticky and dry as brittle wood, and afterward I had to wash the back of my neck in order to move my head, he'd sprayed so much hairspray I was literally glued into position.
The end result? Nowhere near as bad as girl number two. Instead of a sculpted hair tower, I looked more as though I had a giant bow on the top of my head, akin to the kind of updo you see at graduations and weddings. I was definitely too done up for a gala evening at work, but so was everyone else so I'd take it. It almost looked as though the massive bouquet of curls was trying to eat the rest of my head.
Getting it out when I finally got home was a real pain in the butt, or more accurately - head. After rooting around my head for the millionth bobby pin, I was stuck trying to brush out the obsessively hair sprayed, backcombed mess. It felt as though I was trying to tear the hair from my head. And I did. My dress, the couch, all were covered in hair. It was like I had a golden retriever roll all over me. It took a half an hour to comb it all out, and even still, the next day it still reeks of hair spray.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Did It!

I know the title of this post was a dead give away but I don't care. I did it! Not only am I where I should be for word count for NaNoWriMo, I'm 150 words ahead! HAH! Take that world! When I put my mind to something I cannot fail! Not only that, I did as much work on my HerStory Calendar profiles as was allowable (one of my subjects refuses to get back to me so I'll have to pick a new candidate), and I even managed to fit in some extra work on a few other projects as well as some social time. Go Superwoman! Which in this case, is me.
I realize of course that I'm being an obnoxious braggart, but I think I've earned it. In two days, I've written 9,000 words among all my other chores and responsibilities. Go me! (See? I can't stop!) The only bad news is that I must return to work tomorrow. Ick. I'm not looking forward to it. It's going to be a late evening. But at least I can go to work without the burden of an overabundant word count weighing on me. If I want to stay on track, all I need to do tomorrow is right 1,517 words. That should be doable. At least we'll see. Let's keep our fingers crossed that I can stay on track!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The End of Week One

All right. I've reached the end of week one and I'm pretty far behind. And by pretty far behind I mean insanely far behind. I currently have 2792 words and I'm supposed to be at 8335. But am I giving up? No sir! I have the next two days off, which means locking myself inside and having a good old fashioned write in. Although unfortunately it won't all be on my book. I have a looming deadline for HerStory Calendar, so I'm going to finish it once and for all. The rest of the time will be dedicated to book writing.
Keep in mind, I use the term 'book' loosely. It's more stream of consciousness nonsense vaguely resembling a plot. But I'm definitely enjoying going along for the ride. I have no idea where this story is going. I'm just waiting to find out. It's a fun method. Did you know that author extraordinaire James Lee Burke has the same approach? He never thinks further than two scenes ahead. According to him, if he knew the ending when he started the reader would too. Interesting, no?
It's been a crazy week, what with everything going on in my writing universe and the unfortunate circumstances of my day job, I'm exhausted. But I have a lot to do, and there's nothing more satisfying than finishing your To Do List. When I have my HerStory Calendar stuff done I know I'm going to breathe a lot easier. I could probably use the weekend off, but 48 hours of sleep just can't match the restorative powers of getting something done. Keep your fingers crossed that I end the weekend with a self satisfied I Did It! post instead of a despair and self loathing I Failed!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo Day 2

Well, it's the end of day two and I have 1519 words. I was technically supposed to be at 3334, but I'm still feeling pretty good. So far, I'm having a blast and thank God cause today was one of the worst days I've ever had at work to date.
I won't get into it, as it's unprofessional and immature (I know, when has that stopped me before?) but I'll sum it up in one word - soul crushing. Okay, that was two words, but cut me some slack. I'm tired and had a bad day. The highlight of which was my ten minute long conversation with a homeless man who claimed to be an artist and told me he invented a building that was hung from wires - you know, so an earthquake couldn't damage it. And I'm not exaggerating when I say this was the highlight. He was actually nice to me, which I appreciated.
You know those scenes in movies and TV shows, when the main character goes into a store and is ignored by the salesperson who's talking on the phone, clearly to a friend or boyfriend? I realize they're portraying the salesperson as the villain, behaving unprofessionally and rude, but I got to say. I'm always on their side. It's probably from years of customer service, but those people are my heroes. All day, every day, people in customer service are ground under the boot heels of customers, managers and fellow employees. When I watch scenes like that, all I can think is - "Yeah! How do you like it? It's not nice when people treat you like they're more important than you, is it?"
Clearly I'm blathering on - okay, complaining - and I'm not even really sure I have a point. All I know is, people suck. And there are people out there who've realized this fact. They're called hermits. And they too are my heroes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I've decided (one hour ago to be precise) to accept the challenge of NaNoWriMo. And just in time too! (It takes place in Novemeber). NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, and in this challenge you write a novel in one month. It is of course, by no means done. It will still need extensive editing and so forth, but it's a great exercise to get you writing every day and challenge yourself to just let go and let the writing flow! (That's right. I rhymed. Deal with it.)
Of course, I will keep you apprised of my progress. And since I have a number of other deadlines to accomplish this month, I'm sure you'll also be forced to listen to me moan and complain about how I'm a complete idiot for attempting this, how I'll never get everything done, that I'm tired, stressed and etc. So, please enjoy! HAH. If I suffer, we all suffer.
The funny thing is how I found out about it. I'd never heard of it until about an hour and twenty minutes ago, when I was reading the blog of Allison Winn Scotch. She answered a question about it and curious, I googled it. Before I knew head from tales I was signing up, going through the forum, RSVPing for events and getting down to business. That's right, I've already cracked out 458 words. Off to a smashing good start I think! I believe the goal for week one is 1667 words, so we'll see how I do. Frankly I'm just super excited to see what I come up with! Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tales of Ridiculosity

Today something stupid happened. It began innocently enough, at 11:00AM. I let the dog out and she immediately started to bark. Incessantly. Fearing the complaints of unhappy neighbours I yanked open the sliding glass door and began to shout at her to shut up. Having no success with matching her noise with my own (who would have thought yelling wouldn't stop another creature from also yelling?), I grumpily yanked on my husband's over sized boots sitting by the door and ran out to grab her.
Now here's where things get stupid. October, up in my neck of the woods, is cold. At this point of the month the leaves have long since fallen from the trees, and more often than not you'll see the kids trick or treating in winter coats and snow boots with barely visible costumes underneath. So, of course I slid the door shut behind me to prevent valuable heat from escaping. Having convinced Maddie (my dog) to stay quiet, I returned to the door and gave it a hard yank, anxious to return to the warm innards of my house. Nothing. I yanked again, frowning. It was stuck. I stared through the glass at the lock handle that had fallen into position when I'd closed the door behind me. I was locked out.
Fighting down panic, I took a deep breath. I had no phone, I was wearing my husband's giant boots and had no leash for Maddie. Therefore, walking to my sister's was out. My husband was in a class and wouldn't be home until sometime after 12:00. I walked (well, more accurately I stomped. It was impossible not to in those boots) over to my neighbours. After several rings and no response I realized I was sunk. Until they, or my husband came home I wasn't going anywhere.
Returning to the backyard, I assessed my options. I needed to stay warm. Luckily, I was wearing a long sleeved, hooded sweater. Which was good, because unfortunately my hair was still very wet from my shower. I pulled the hood over my head to cover my hair. I was also very lucky to have such a sheltered backyard, with high fences and plenty of tree cover, which meant very minimal wind. Really, it wasn't too bad.
I needed an activity that would keep me warm and help pass the time. I opened the tiny metal shed in the corner of the yard and pulled out the rake. I guess there was no time like the present to rake up the obscene amount of leaves decorating our backyard.
I worked my butt off, raking leaves and throwing sticks for the dog until the yard was spotless, except for two neatly raked, gigantic piles. The entire time I kept my ears trained for the sound of my husband's car, desperate to hear the delicious honk as he pressed the lock button a ridiculous amount of times 'just to make sure'. I kept thinking of one of the lines in a prayer we all use to repeat in church. "As we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ." I was waiting in joyful hope all right.
When I finally heard my husband's car pull up, I almost couldn't believe it. I'd just finished with the raking and was feeling particularly full of despair at the thought of nothing to do but wait. I was like a deer, cautiously stepping towards the fence, anxious not to get my hopes up. But I didn't have to worry. It was him! He was home! I ran (or rather, clomped) down the walkway, leaping into the arms of my saviour.
As you can now tell, I'm obviously safe and back inside where I belong. I still feel rather dumb, and have vowed to take the phone with me every time I go to grab the dog from here on in. Because next time, it could be snowing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

There's a Reason Why Productive People Don't Watch TV

I have a headache tonight, and I know exactly what caused it. Whenever I watch too much TV (more than an hour or two), I always wind up with a headache. I've been completely headache free for my entire week off until tonight, mostly because I've been trying to be productive. You'd think the incessant headaches would teach me to get off my lazy ass and do something with my life, but no. I'm positively addicted to my beloved shows. Yes, from Castle and The Mentalist to The Big Bang Theory and Happy Endings, my TV shows just cannot go unwatched.
But, as I sit here with a throbbing skull, I can't help but think I'm being punished for sliding back into my lazy ways. Therefore, I've decided to keep my TV watching in check, and spend the rest of my vacation as I pronounced I would on the first day. No more headaches, lots more productivity. Not to mention I prefer having something to show for my time other than the unrelenting urge to take a power drill to my forehead.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Success at Last!

Yesterday I finally managed to put on a pair of false eyelashes. As it turns out, all it took was a lot of practice, a few swears and trimming them so they weren't too long for my eyes. Oops. That might have been a larger part of my lack of success. (Insert bashful laughter here). In any case, I'm just happy to have accomplished something, however minor.
I'm starting to get annoyed with my lack of writing success. Over the last two days I should have produced a large amount of workable material, and I honestly don't feel I have much to show. It's embarrassing. There really aren't enough hours in the day. Although I guess if I cut out the false eyelash applying part of the day I'd have a little more time for literary pursuits. Whatever. I needed a win! And man, did I look awesome. Those babies were crazy long, cut on an angle so the longest lashes were in the outer corners of the eyes. And it helped that no one asked if I was crazy or wearing false eyelashes. I had to tell my hair stylist and she didn't believe me at first. Double win! Now if I could just get something worthwhile accomplished...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day Two

I've decided to proclaim day two a success. Not only did I steer clear of couch and TV induced zombie-ism, I actually got some stuff done. Not a lot, but enough.
I'm happy to say that I started my day off writing. After a long, restful sleep I got up and ate my breakfast with an open notebook, instead of in front of the TV as usual. After breakfast I worked on my writing assignment for my online writing class, showered, made lunch and walked the dog. When I got home Maddie and I did some yard work in the backyard, followed by some spirited tag and stick throwing. With Maddie passed out on the couch I was free to go to the grocery store. When I got home I started dinner - Baked Pumpkin Ziti. Delicious!
Now I'm doing laundry and after this post I'm going to make my husband's lunch for tomorrow. That's right, I'm channeling my inner domestic diva.
I realize of course that none of this is of any interest to you, I'm merely demonstrating that I managed to knock a few items off the To Do list. In other words, I'm bragging.
Tomorrow I have a haircut and I'd like to do some shopping, but I want to concentrate most of my time and energy on writing. After my vacation's over I'm going to be lethargic, depressed and probably pretty stressed out. I want to take as much off my plate as possible. The greatest gift I could give myself would be a new job, but we'll have to see how that goes.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Time to Get Down to Business

Is it possible to be both super excited and kind of depressed at the same time? If so that's me.
Why am I excited? Because I have the next week off.
Why am I depressed? Because I have the next week off.
I know, it's weird right? But hear me out.
First off, I'm excited. I get time off work, which I sorely needed. I get to buckle down and get all my current writing assignments done, catch up on sleep, reading, cleaning and spend some quality time with my pooch. I'm also planning on using the time to go on a mad search for a new job, so keep your fingers crossed for me!
But I'm also depressed. When this vacation is over, I have nothing to look forward to. Literally, nothing. There are no more vacations, no relief in sight. If I don't find a better paying job I'm stuck in retail hell working through yet another (shudder) Christmas season. It's a little upsetting how much working retail destroys Christmas. You think it's bad being one of the shoppers? Trying being the person at the till. It's a nightmare. You thought you were sick of Christmas music last year? Try listening to it eight hours a day, five days a week since November 1st. It sucks all the joy out of your heart and replaces it with a big ball of bitter. Hence, the mad hunt for a new job.
I'm trying not to let it bother me. This is my vacation. I can be depressed when it's over. I know that if I just concentrate on getting all my stuff done and making the most of it, then at least I can hold onto my sense of triumph when I get back. I can soothe myself with accolades of a job well done. So hold onto your hats, I'm about to take this vacation by storm!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wisdom Teeth

Today, my sister had her wisdom teeth removed. She'd resisted the idea for years, but recently they'd grown (literally) rather painful and momentary awfulness became more appealing than a lifetime of irritating. It was necessary for her to be put under for the procedure, so I was called off the bench and into action. I took the day off work to drive her to and from the appointment, pick up her prescriptions and just take care of her in general. Luckily, our very good friend was also free and volunteered to come along and help. I'll admit, at the time I didn't think I'd need the help, I was mostly just grateful for the extra company in the waiting room. As it turned out, her help was not only appreciated but necessary. It's surprisingly difficult to negotiate a semi-conscious individual into a car, at least it would have been alone. With help - easy! The same went with dropping off and picking up her prescriptions, getting her in bed and keeping her company. All was a better with help.
The fact that I'm smug and should never assume that I won't require assistance wasn't the only lesson of the day. Today I realized with abundant clarity that I would make a complete basket case of a mom. It's true, I've never wanted kids and I'm still repelled by the idea, and it's also true that I'm a complete basket case over the care of my dog, Maddie. But the extent of my worry and fear showed itself today in the waiting room of the oral surgeon's. Watching my sister, clearly terrified, get up and follow the nurse into the unknown brought the sincere threat of tears to my eyes. Anxiety and panic took over as I began feverishly texting everyone I could think of to say a prayer for her. My friend had to calm me down in the waiting room as I lamented over the horror that they'd have to stick my darling sister with a needle for the IV. Keep in mind this is how I reacted over a routine oral surgery for my adult sister. Imagine me with a baby. Not pretty.
Yes, today was an interesting day. My sister is recuperating, and now without wisdom teeth, I'm relieved that it's over and happy that she's safely home, as well as grateful that I don't have children and my sanity remains intact. As for anyone out there who would feel the need to comment and suggest that I should have children - save it. My wisdom teeth may be gone, but my wisdom remains. Not going to happen.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tolstoy and Fake Eyelashes

It's amazing how one can be both enlightened and an idiot at the same time. Take myself for example. Lately, I've been broadening my horizons. I'm taking writing courses, had a recent phone interview with an accomplished female Canadian involved in working to better women's health and stop social injustice, and I've even begun reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
But, before I come across too cocky, you should know that I spent the better part of yesterday watching Merlin on Netflix, a show so unbelievably bad I wait until my husband is out and the curtains are closed so no one will see my shameful enjoyment of something so tacky and ridiculous. That's not even to say that I enjoy it, which is probably even sadder. The more accurate description would be that I'm bored and have run out of everything else. But that's not all. My idiocy extends further than a mere inaccurate and poorly executed fantasy show about an awkward teenage wizard (oh Lord the shame!). Lately I've been experiencing an unusual amount of delight in false eyelashes. With Halloween around the corner I've been on the lookout for some seriously wicked false eyelashes. I've been perusing drug stores, Halloween costume shops and even online eyelash boutiques. What I didn't think about is that I have yet to put a pair on. So, a few days ago when I pulled out a set and went about applying them, I was surprised to realize that it's a lot harder than I thought it'd be. Not quite 'glued my eyes shut' bad, but I have yet to successfully wear a pair of falsies.
Which brings me to my point. Here I am, an adult woman reading Tolstoy and conversing with a Phd carrying social activist, while at the same time watching seriously uninspired television and playing with false eyelashes. I'm a walking contradiction. I'm part idiot, part intellectual. I guess it's better than being all idiot. And you have to admit, people that are too seriously intellectual are often pretty boring or snobby. (No one enjoys being seated at the boring accountant side of the dinner table). I think I'm just going to appreciate having a humble, false eyelash wearing side, and continue to develop my more intellectual Tolstoy loving side. If there's one thing I've learned in this life, it's that balance is important. Everything in moderation. It works with nutrition and it works with everything else.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Am I the Only One?

Lately my personal essay class is throwing me for a complete loop. There's one thing I've discovered through all of the assignments, the instructor's comments and critiques and my research into possible markets and that's this: I'm the odd man out.
I love personal essays. I find them entertaining, engaging; they're my favourite part of magazines. But here's the thing. I hate the serious ones. You know the ones where they probe deep into their experiences, are super emotional and look at every angle of their actions and what it means to them and their growth as a person? Yeah. I hate those. I love the funny ones where they make fun of their quirks or sass the Nintendo Wii's 'Wii Fit' for calling them fat. They're hilarious and I love them. Unfortunately, that is not what my class is about, and that's not what 99% of publications look for. So, when it came to finding markets for my essay, I found myself coming up consistently short.
Am I alone in this? Am I the only one that prefers the light and funny when it comes to personal essays? Hello? Anyone out there? Calling all those sarcastic and witty...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Submit! Submit! Submit!

It's been a while since I posted and I apologize, but honestly you'd be very proud of me. Over the last week I've made a valiant (and successful!) effort of dedicating my free time to writing and meeting my various deadlines. My personal essay class is still going very well, with our latest class focusing on the art of submitting your work. It's all about editing and appraising. First of all, getting your draft into the best possible shape before even considering sending it out, and secondly, appraising all possible venues that might fit with your piece. It's important to really look into each venue, reading several pieces from the section you're interested in submitting to and making sure your essay fits in terms of style and tone.
All this talk of submissions got me thinking, and I realized I've really let the ball drop on my own submissions. There are so many contests and open calls for submissions that I need to be taking advantage of. It's true that I won't win any of these contests, or get picked up for publication right away, but treating each deadline as a work or assignment deadline means I'll actually force myself to get some writing done. And the more you practice, the better you get. So far I've made three deadlines and I couldn't be more excited. I'm having fun with all the writing I'm doing and every time I finish a challenge I look forward to the next one. Only time will tell if my personal essay class actually leads to an essay of mine getting published, but so far I've really enjoyed the experience and the kick in the pants its given me to treat deadlines seriously.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Word on the Street

I had to work today. This was upsetting more than in the usual way for two specific reasons. First of all, it was gorgeous out and who knows how many beautiful days we have left. Second of all and more importantly, today was the Word on the Street. For one amazing day, a small side street downtown was transformed into a bustling marketplace of authors, book sellers, publishers, food vendors, poets and people. People who love books. And I'm one of those people. I was supposed to be bustling about with the rest of them, listening to all the authors give readings, buying books and getting them signed, saturating myself in an atmosphere of creativity and the mutual love of books. Instead, I stood in a severely uncomfortable pair of shoes behind a makeup counter, helping shallow people feel good about themselves.
I realize of course that I'm being particularly harsh. After all, I love makeup and skincare so if anything, I'm as shallow as the next person. But I wanted to be out there, nay - needed to be out there. I needed the electric buzz of being around all those authors, to feel the intense longing to be one of them so that I could go home, set myself in front of my computer and write with all the energy and verve of a truly inspired person.
I did manage to sneak out during my lunch hour. I only had time for one reading, but I knew exactly who I wanted to hear. Alice Kuipers. My beloved Writer in Residence. Just being in the same tent with her for half an hour made me feel better, more creative. Her work was incredible. I'm not lying when I say she's incredibly talented. She writes Young Adult novels, but honestly they're an incredible read. I highly recommend you read her work. It's fantastic. For that short half hour, I forgot about work. I forgot that I make a ridiculously tiny wage and more often than not want to bang my head on the counter over what a failure I am. Instead, I felt powerful. I felt capable. I wanted to find a quiet spot and write. Write anything!
It really was a gorgeous day today. And as I walked back to work, feet pinched and mangled horribly by my wretched shoes, I breathed deep. It was crazy hot out, sweating like a pig hot out, but all the leaves were turning. It's fall. And although summer may be ending, the trees and greenery dying for another year, it felt like a beginning. A fresh start. Like something great is just around the corner.
That is, of course, until I got back to work, was bored and tired with feet screaming to be let out of their shoes and once again began banging my head against the counter.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Zombie Nightmare #2

Well, it's 4:00AM and I just had another zombie nightmare. That makes two nights in a row. I guess I better finish that book.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Zombie Nightmares

What would you do in a zombie apocalypse? Where would you go? How would you survive?
I've just started reading Alison Hewitt is Trapped, a Zombie Novel by Madeleine Roux. It stars Allison Hewitt, who's caught at work in a book store when the zombie apocalypse begins. She manages to write a blog throughout her ordeal, making use of an emergency network.
It's a really great read, but here's the thing: I just started reading it yesterday and early this morning I already had a long, involved nightmare about a zombie apocalypse. When I woke up all I could do was sigh. I'm probably going to have a zombie nightmares every night until I finish the book.
That's the thing about my subconscious, it's as impressionable as a small child. Zombies especially tend to stick close to the surface, rising up after even the smallest exposure. Maybe because after seeing as many zombie movies as I have, you begin to think it might actually happen.
And if it did, what would you do?
Where would you go?
How would you survive?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Need More Energy

It's possible I bit off more than I can chew. This morning at 11:48 I was busily writing a one thousand word essay for my writing class... that was due at noon. It was my third attempt at an essay, having started to write two others before getting fed up and discarding them. I also really need to concentrate on hammering out my assignments for the HerStory Calendar (my new gig!), as I really don't want to leave it to the last minute. My full time job is definitely getting in the way though, as is my other part time job and my desire to spend time with my husband, dog and friends. Sigh. I need way more energy.
I've been reading I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson and frankly, I think it's stressing me out. The main character is a mother with a high powered, crazy stressful job in an office with sexist, chauvinistic brats. Being inside her head is so depressing and stressful that I find myself completely angst ridden. I guess that's a testament to the skillfulness of the writing.
I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by it all, I just wish I had more energy. I feel like I could hibernate for months. Maybe some wheat grass shots are in order. In any case I have to figure out something. I'm so tired I can barely hold my head up to write this.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Writing Class!

This past Wednesday night I officially started my new writing class with mediabistro (FYI: great resource for writers). It's a personal essay class, online, that lasts eight delicious weeks. I'm so excited! Eight weeks of encouragement, constructive criticism and inspiration. What could be better?
I'm especially excited by our first assignment, a 500-750 word essay on a specific moment in which we realized something new about ourselves. I already wrote one but I think I'm going to write another, my first one is a little bland. It's just so much fun to be challenged! I can't wait to turn it in and get some feedback (a little scared too, I'll admit). But the main thing is, learning is progress, and I could do with some progress. It's been a little too long since I've seen some progress. I'm a goal orientated person, and floating aimlessly just isn't my bag. Or, to be more specific, it is way too much my bag. When I have a specific goal and steps I can take to accomplish it, I work feverishly. Without direction, I'm a lazy coach potato that spends her days and evenings watching things like Burn Notice, True Blood and Drop Dead Diva. Hmmm, I could probably find a better use for my time.
Luckily, I have and I couldn't be more excited about it. Perfect timing too. September, the official back to school time, although this time it will be to a school I actually enjoy and get something out of. I never thought I'd say those words again. In any case, it should be a lot of fun and I'll be sure to fill you in on my progress. (Whether you care or not is none of my concern).

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Art of Improvement

Normally, I really don't enjoy "how to improve your writing" articles. I prefer articles on finding inspiration, finding a good editor, an agent, etc. The How To articles are often bland and general without any really valuable advice. It's just too general to be that helpful. I prefer one on one advice based on specific pieces of my writing. However, I did find an article on the Writer's Digest website that is positively loaded with great advice. Even if you only take one pointer you further ahead than when you started, so have a look.
25 Ways to Improve Your Writing in 30 Minutes a Day

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mystery Solved

Well, the dog and I are doing much better today and the mystery of how Maddie got sick in the first place was solved last night when my husband discovered her eating from the garbage (a banana peel to be specific).
Our Maddie is a sneaky creature, so we don't even keep our garbage in the kitchen anymore. We keep it in the office where we can close the door and completely deny her access to it. Unfortunately, my husband is absentminded and has been forgetting to close the door, which resulted in a mischievous dog sneaking bites of garbage. Ugh. So, now I've been careful to close doors after my distracted husband and keeping a close eye on my mischievous dog. A mom's work is never done.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Like Puppy, Like Mommy

Yesterday, my husband and I both had the day off. This is a startlingly rare occurrence so we decided it should be 'date day'. Unfortunately, I woke up congested with a sore throat. I thought I could shake it off, but after lunch, my cold also developed a headache, and then stomach and joint pain were added to the mix. Today I have a full fledged flu (there's an interesting word combo) and I'm stuck on the couch in my jammies, watching tv while trying to coax down some liquids. But I'm not worried about me. I'm worried about my dog.
Maddie's life thus far has been riddled with bumps in the road in regards to her health. My baby has a delicate stomach, prone to long and trying bouts with diarrhea and when she was only eight months old she was subjected to major surgery after ingesting some kind of rag or towel. I still haven't the faintest clue as to how she managed to eat it without my noticing. I am, after all, a truly overbearing mommy. I worry constantly and I always have my eye on her. Well, last night as I alternated between shaking like a leaf and sweating buckets on the couch, Maddie lay on the rug at my feet. She seemed perfectly fine until out of nowhere she threw up. I'd hoped she'd just eaten something that upset her tummy, but this morning she has the runs, and she hasn't had the runs for months now. To make matters worse, I think I saw a little blood in it. Now I'm terrified. Maddie is like my child, her health is my number one priority. I'm still hoping that it's minor and she simply ate something disagreeable. But let's just say my own symptoms aren't my number one priority at the moment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Halloween is Coming!

What do you do when you hate your job, but there's still a bunch of stuff you want to buy there? Do you stay and wait until you've purchased everything you like (however long that takes), do you quit, suck it up and buy things at full price. or do you buy everything you want in one big swoop and then quit? I don't know what to do.
I promised myself I wouldn't still be at the furniture store at Christmas, but last night we had a staff meeting. Not only did they have out all the Halloween stuff, but during the course of the meeting they showed us a sneak peek of the upcoming Christmas merchandise. I'm fairly certain it was all a convoluted plot to keep me from quitting. (Don't worry, I'm being sarcastic. I'm not that delusional. If retail stores really didn't want their staff to quit, they'd pay better. As it is, they don't and we're all replaceable. I accept that.)
Every year the same thing happens. As summer nears its end (and I cry myself to sleep every night at the prospect of another long, bitterly cold winter), retail stores begin bringing out their Halloween merchandise. And a funny thing happens. Like a child who's lost their balloon, but forgets it immediately at the prospect of an ice cream cone, I too completely forget that summer is leaving and focus on Halloween. It's not until Halloween is over that I remember once again that summer has left me, but luckily the Christmas season is there to distract me. Of course, in January there's no longer anything fun to focus on and the bitterness of winter slowly beats the joy out of me as I wait for spring.
Anyway, getting back to Halloween, last night at the staff meeting I barely heard a thing. All I could do was stare at the Halloween decorations, plots for Halloween dinner parties and haunted houses filling my head. I love Halloween. The costumes, the decor, the candy. I love taking the dismal emptiness of fall and turning it into a spooky wonderland. Honestly, it makes me wish I had more friends. I'd love to throw an epic, gigantic Halloween bash, but I"m a small circle of friends kind of person. So instead I focus on intimate, spooky dinner parties. And this year (if I can convince my husband) I'd love to buy nearly everything from the furniture store's Halloween decor and throw a fabulously haunted dinner party. Yes, that would keep thoughts of a long winter firmly banished from my brain.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Bad Day with a Sweet Aftertaste

I had kind of a crappy day today. First, when I left for work I forgot my lunch, only remembering when I was too far away to turn around. Then, completely distracted by the fact that I would have to eat lousy food court food, I parked my car in a pay parking lot and marched into work without remembering to buy a ticket. By the time I remembered, it was three hours later and I'd already been awarded a thirty five dollar fine for my absent mindedness. Taking that into consideration with my less than stellar sales for the day and subsequent boredom and it added up to a really lousy day. That is, until afterward.
When work was finally done for the day I raced out to my car, exhilaration giving me new energy. I was going for coffee with a dear friend of mine. Sitting in that coffee shop, laughing and chatting with her, all the stress and irritation of the day melted away. Honestly? It was hard to say goodbye and go home afterward.
Sometimes there's only one way to get rid of the bitter taste of a bad day. And that's to chase it with something sweet. And so, I sit at home now, about to go to bed and I feel good. I feel peaceful and ready to face another day tomorrow. Although I'll definitely be parking somewhere else.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To Fix or Not to Fix?

Last week, on my epic Tuesday 'Writing Day', I made a startling and unpleasant discovery. As some of you may know, I finished the (very) rough draft of my novel at the end of May. My plan was to spend the summer editing it myself before getting it professionally edited. Unfortunately, that hasn't gone exactly according to plan. Truth be told, I've done a pitifully small amount of work on it thus far. Well, I decided to turn it all around and use my epic writing day to give it a thorough read through, making notes as I went along. About midway through the book I set it down, a frown of dismay plastered on my face.
To fully relate my discovery, I will now delve into deep metaphor (prepare yourselves). If you've ever bought a house, or went looking for one, you've probably toured a fixer upper. You did your walk through, horrified at the abysmal decor, realizing that it needs a ton of renovations. Despite the unfathomable design choices of the previous owners, you begin to see the charms underneath and decide that with a lot of hard work, elbow grease, and a little love it could really be something. It could be amazing.
You put in a bid and get a building inspection and wait for the verdict. When the building inspector comes through and finishes his inspection, he hands you his assessment. There's structural damage. Not only does it need a complete face lift but the bones underneath aren't good.
Now it's decision time. Do you want to take on such a massive, time-intensive and possibly unresolvable project? Or, do you walk away and find something that doesn't need so much work?
This is exactly how I feel about my book. I was prepared for it to be bad, horrible actually. I was prepared to take on massive edits (and it needs it), but as it turns out I have major issues with the plot. And now I have to decide if I want to stick with it, tear it down to the roots and rebuild, or walk away and start a whole new project. What's a gal to do?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Unwanted Advice

Have you ever received unwanted advice from someone? Don't you just hate their smug, self-satisfied words, their torrent of better-than-you knowledge flowing unwelcomingly into your ears despite having made no request for their advice? Well, today I made the most unpleasant discovery. I am that awful person. Oh horror of horrors! I am that delusional idiot spouting off completely unasked for advice to tortured individuals unable to escape my egotistical rants.
Today's victim? One of my very best friends. Poor thing never even saw my e-mail full of relationship advice coming. What can I say? As my sister tells me, I was born without a filter, which means I say/write things that get me in major trouble without thinking. The problem this time? I really thought that I'd well, thought it through. What I didn't consider was the fact that I had absolutely no right to give her advice in the first place. Oops. Now, I'm left trying to fix my terrible mistake. Unfortunately, she's incredibly offended (and has every right to be) and I have no idea how I can put it to rights.
I just can't believe I'm that person. I always thought I did such a good job of not being that irritating advice giver, but now that I look back on it, the evidence is clear. My husband would make a star witness if this were my trial. He'd be able to bring load after load of incriminating evidence, showcasing my bossy, know it all tendencies. (Although I usually give myself a pass when it comes to him. He's my husband, he has to take it!) My sister is another casualty of my abundant advice giving. The poor thing's spent far too many an hour putting up with my lectures on all things I have no right to give advice on. But this time a good friend has taken the hit of my irritating habit, and I know I've gone too far. I hope she can forgive me, because in truth I couldn't possibly be more contrite. I feel like an idiot (probably because I've been one) and I don't know what to do.
The first course of action is clearly an apology, oh ever so many more apologies. For the second I'm considering getting my husband to sign off on everything I say and write. He's a much better judge of what's appropriate than I am. And thirdly, I think whenever I feel the need to give advice, I should write it down, read it over and then burn it. Burn it into a pile of smokey ashes and walk away. Because advice unasked for is just harassment.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Writing Day

In keeping with my 'brand new week' writing philosophy, I've decided that tomorrow - my only day off this week - will officially be writing day. To prepare for tomorrow's endeavors, I've made an evening run to Walmart to get supplies. My plan is to have no feasible reason to leave the house aside from walking the dog, and therefore avoid distractions.
A small word of wisdom - don't go for groceries when you're already jonesing for chocolate. I came home with chocolate chunk cookie dough, two king size Reese Big Cups, and a party size bag of M&Ms. Somehow I don't think that's going to be 'thinking food'. Even still, I'm feeling pretty good.
I'm hoping that my brain will still be functioning at maximum capacity. It seems rare these days to be awake, sharp and ambitious. Most of the time I either have a headache or I'm barely conscious. But with a good night's sleep I think I should be all right. The hard part is knowing that the day is dedicated to writing. Often times, the pressure gets to me and I end up spending the entire day working my way through seasons of Top Gear, Drop Dead Diva and the like. Which is why I have a plan to get myself going. I'm going to start the day with my morning pages.
I read about this technique in The Right to Write, which is a decent book on writing although tends toward being a little too hippie and new-agey for my tastes. But basically the long and short of it is you're supposed to start each day by writing three pages. They can be on anything you like, although for me they usually end up being a kind of journal entry. I like it because it gets my wheels turning, it puts me in the frame of mind for writing. It's a great way to get past the obstacle of actually getting started. Writing those three pages gets ideas (and words) flowing and I'm able to approach other projects with a lot more zest and creativity.
But now it's time to get to bed and get a good night's sleep. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I'll have a successful day, although with king size helpings of Reese Big Cups I don't see how I can lose!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A New Week and A Good Sleep

It's amazing how the days can just flee from you when you have a pile of work to do. For the past five days I've been knocking my head against the wall trying to find time to write. Both my schedule and circumstances have not been kind to my writing goals but it's the start of a brand new week and I have high hopes that I'm going to get some solid work accomplished and make some serious headway in my writing.
But first, I need to get some sleep. The past two nights I've averaged about six hours of sleep per night and that is not enough. I'm a night owl that requires a great deal of sleep to function. Ideally, every night I'd get at least eight hours, preferably nine to ten. I've heard it's detrimental to sleep more than nine hours but I don't care. My body decides how much it needs and is very good at waking me up when its had enough. I prefer this system to the irritating blare of alarms.
Unfortunately, my night owl habits have had to be put to rest lately (literally), thanks to my dog. Maddie is very insistent that she should get her breakfast impossibly early each morning. She wakes me up at the crack of 7:00 every day (trust me, for me this is very early) and won't leave me alone until she's been let out and fed. After that she's perfectly content to climb back into bed and sleep for another hour or two, but sadly I'm the type who once they're up stays up. So, in order to get my recommended amount of sleep I've had to go to bed earlier and earlier. I'm getting used to it, but I'm not happy about it. I do my best work at night. This is when all the cogs and wheels of my brain are firing at full capacity. Just ask my husband. Every night as we attempt to fall asleep I can't help but babble on endlessly about all my ideas, worries, fears, everything that still needs to be done, travel and vacation ideas, zombie apocalypse action plans and so forth. I am the Maddie to his falling asleep.
Still, it could be worse. At least neither of us snores.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Miss My Wizard

Never underestimate just how much you're going to need the moral support of others to make a go of it as a writer. And I'm not just talking about friends and family, because let's face it - sometimes it's hard to believe praise or criticism when it comes from loved ones. When they say your work is really good, it's hard not to believe they're only saying it because they love you. And when they tell you something needs work, it's hard to take their editorial advice seriously.
It's been about three months now since I last met with the Writer in Residence (my wizard of oz), as her residency has now ended, and I won't lie - I feel a little lost. Every time I went to talk with her it felt as though she'd lit a fire under me. Suddenly I was filled with inspiration and the only thing standing between me and my dreams was myself. Not to mention it felt good to have a professional see potential in my work. (Even if that work needed some serious tweaking.)
I'm on my own now, and a sense of woe and lethargy has descended like a fog. Where's the fire? It seems to have sputtered out and been replaced with a confusion of what I should do next. Suddenly everything seems to be in the way and sitting down to edit my book feels like a trip to the dentist.
I'd like to take a class or attend a conference to give me another kick in the pants, but with three jobs that seems almost impossible to fit in.
I need to find a way to motivate myself, but I"m not sure how.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Day Off

Today is the first actual day off I've had in a long time. When I'm not working full time at the make up counter I'm usually at the home furnishing store or doing a restaurant review. But not today. Today there was no where I have to be. No appointments, nothing. And so far it's been wonderful.
I slept in (relatively) this morning, took the dog for a long walk, went to the grocery store to big up some goodies for supper and then went for another walk with the dog and hubbie to get some soft serve ice cream at a nearby cafe. My flavour of choice? Pina colada. And yes, it was delicious. Now I'm just going to put my feet up for a little while, do a little leisurely work on writing and then prepare my (hopefully) amazing supper. What a fantastic day off. Not to mention Maddie (the dog) is happily passed out on the floor from all of the walking fun. Now if I only had a pool to go for a refreshing swim in (it's crazy hot and we have no air conditioning) then everything would be perfect.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I Like Being Funny

Sometimes, when I hear especially intelligent writers pontificate on their craft I feel a little bad about myself. I'm not that smart and I'm not that serious. I prefer comedy. I don't like reading Oprah's Book Club style novels. They stress me out and I often find them depressing. I prefer to use my leisure time for light-hearted and clever writing, something that entertains and makes me laugh. That's also what I prefer to write. I can't help it, I just can't take it all so seriously. I like being ridiculous and sarcastic. Comedy gives a freedom that serious writing just doesn't. When I give myself the freedom to be ridiculous and off the wall, my writing comes easier, flows better and is a lot less predictable. I'm more creative when I'm funny.
And so, I may never win a noble prize for literature, or a pulitzer prize, but I don't mind. If I can make people smile, and a few of them even laugh out loud, then I can hold my head high. I'm happy in the role of the playful jester. After all, some of the smartest and most universal things I've ever heard have been in jokes. And that ain't bad.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why Do I Write? Because It Isn't There

Sometimes when having three jobs starts to get to me, when I'm feeling tired and frustrated and I can't seem to find the time to write, I forget why it is I do write. And the answer to that is because it isn't there. I write because I have experiences, opinions or small witticisms I want to share. I write because I love expressing myself and I love entertaining others. I write because it's fun, because it allows me to unleash my creative juices and go hog wild with boundless imagination. I write because I have to, because nothing else makes sense.
It's funny how simple it is when I actually sit down and write it down. There it is in black and white. This is why I write. And suddenly, it's a lot easier to shuffle my schedule, to pull out my laptop even though I'm tired and grouchy and all I want to do is turn my brain off with some good TV. Suddenly, the sacrifices of today are worthwhile, because who knows? Down the road writing might be my only job. But only if I make it a priority today.
"Why do writers write? Because it isn't there." Thomas Berger. Why do I write? Because there's a voice that's missing, and it's mine.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Time to Quit?

Today I went to my job at the home furnishings store. I've cut my hours back to only one day a week now that I work full time at a make up counter, and honestly the only reason I haven't quit is because I enjoy the safety net. I like knowing that if I quit one job I still have another job waiting in the wings, but today really made me think about quitting.
When I arrived at work, my boss was there (which she usually isn't) and I went out of my way to say hi and exchange pleasantries. Did she return the favour? No. She immediately demanded to know why I wasn't at the staff meeting last night. Why wasn't I at the staff meeting? Because it wasn't on a Monday. DUH. I only work here on Mondays. You know this. I've explicitly told you and put through paperwork to make it abundantly clear that I'm only available on Mondays. When I told her I was at one of my other two jobs, she didn't let it go. She wanted to know when I was finished. When I told her six, she told me the staff meeting had started at 7:00. Uh huh, but here's the thing: I only work on Mondays! I don't care what time I was done yesterday, I wasn't coming to work after.
Thoroughly disgusted with her lack of tact and common sense, I started my shift in a nasty mood. Which got me to thinking, why am I still here? Aside from the coworkers that I adore, why do I bother to hang onto this job? Yeah, the extra money is good, but it only amounts to an extra forty dollars a week. That's not really worth how irritated and bored I am with it, or the fact that I'm working six days a week (aside from my restaurant reviews) to keep it. Maybe its time to let if fall by the wayside and move on. Maybe its time to quit.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tonight I'm Down

Sometimes life just gets you down. I was phoning restaurants today, trying to set up a review for this coming week, and one particular restaurant manager was especially rude. He snarled at me that I shouldn't phone on a weekend because people are busy having fun and don't want to be bothered. After I hung up I couldn't help it. I cried. He was a complete dick and obviously his restaurant will get no kind words from me, but it still shouldn't have caused me to break into tears upon hanging up the phone. I just couldn't help but feel completely frustrated. Here I was, doing his restaurant a favour, and he couldn't even do me the courtesy of being polite. And I still don't have anything booked for this week. Sigh.
I'll keep trying tomorrow, and hopefully get something booked. But tonight I'm down and I hope that karma takes a bite out of that jerk manager. (I'm not a big enough person yet to be above it all)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mountain Climbing

Building a writing career is a lot like climbing a mountain. You start out at the bottom, trying to get your first foothold. Bit by bit you make your way up, reaching for the next hand or foothold, more often than not missing and staying exactly where you are. It's a trial of hard work and determination, never letting the feeling of despair or the almost impossible odds get you down. Inch by inch you begin carving your way up the stone face of your mountain, working your way up until you reach the summit. Very cheesy, I'll admit, but accurate. Although at least with writing it's very rare to lose a few fingers.

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Own Backyard

Lately I've been researching my own backyard. For those of you that don't know me, I'm a travel junkie. My parents own a travel agency, so I was lucky enough to grow up jet setting around the world since a very young age. The first plane ride I remember being on was at age six when we went to Germany to visit family, but I was on a plane even when I was still in my mother's womb, on a trip to Japan. This has resulted in a deep-seated travel bug. Every year I get antsy to go somewhere, to hop on a plane and see something new. Mostly, I prefer hot, luxurious locales, but I dig history and culture too.
In any case, despite my best attempts I'm not yet filthy rich, which means no vacation this year. It'll be the first time since my husband and I got married that we won't be going on vacation, which has been three years in a row. Sadly, 2011 has crept by without a single bought of jet lag or turbulence induced nausea. Am I a little depressed? Yes. But am I going to let it get me down? No! Instead, I've decided to research my own province and see what it has to offer in the form of luxurious, unique experiences. Perhaps a weekend getaway to a hidden local gem will lessen the sting of my airplane-free year.
At the very least, it serves as a perfect distraction from hauntingly tropical destinations and may just teach me to appreciate my own little piece of heaven here at home.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How Do I Do It?

I am SO busy. I honestly don't know how other writers do it. They all seem to have full time jobs and children on top of their writing and it positively staggers me. Even without children I feel completely overwhelmed. Not that my life is especially easy, I am currently working three jobs. I work five days a week at a make up counter (trying desperately to earn a very piddly commission), I work one day a week at a home furnishing and decor store, and in my free time (I know what you're thinking, 'what free time?') I write for VerbNews. My work doesn't end there, in what little time is left I try to write. I edit my novel, I work at getting a freelancing career off the ground, and even attempt to have a social life. And, honestly? I'm exhausted.
I took last week off from doing a restaurant review for VerbNews because I was busy working on my first feature for them, which was very exciting. That's all done and turned in, so I turned my attention back to my restaurant reviews and attempted to book a restaurant for this week. No go. I couldn't get a hold of anybody until it was too late in the week. Now I have to do three next week, because I've officially had two weeks off and completely lost the lead time I had from doing multiples before. Which means I had to book a restaurant review on the anniversary weekend I'd booked off to spend with my husband. Damn it.
I'm not a happy camper at the moment, and it's got me wondering what it's all for. How can I be working three jobs and still be poor? How am I supposed to get any extra writing done when I have so little free time? And how can I sequester some special time to spend with my husband when I can't even keep my anniversary weekend sacred? I mean, it's not all bad, I didn't book it on my actual anniversary. But I'm mad. I was hoping for two days off, back to back, just for the purpose of having a fun, relaxing stay-cation with my hubbie.
Which brings me back to my original question. You know that old question, 'how does she do it?' Well, I'm asking it. I've read articles about hardworking writers who work full time as freelancers, have three kids and still manage to churn out best selling novels. I would really like a sample of the drugs they're on that they're able to be that productive and work that hard. Because I'm tired, and I don't know how I'm going to do it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Gourmet Prose

A few days ago I finished Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery. This was her first book, but I'd read her second book first. I'm glad I did, because honestly her second book was better. By reading her second book first, I was able to appreciate the subtleties of the first. If I hadn't, I might have been a little too bored and given up. But because I was already familiar with her style, I could just relax and enjoy her beautiful prose.
Gourmet Rhapsody is the story of a food critic on his death bed. He hasn't been a very good man, he's a terrible father, husband and in general, human being. But on his death bed, when you'd think he'd be pondering all his failures as a person, he's thinking about flavours. With only 48 hours until his demise, all he wants is to taste a particular flavour once more. The only problem is, he doesn't know what it is. So he thinks back over everything he's tasted in his life, looking for the flavour that he's missing.
It's an interesting book, not especially riveting, but I really enjoyed the descriptions of the food. Muriel Barbery is an especially talented writer when it comes to crafting beautiful prose, but the story line was indeed lacking. But, if you're willing to just have a book that you take your time with and just enjoy the poetry of the language, then it's a fine read.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What Have I Gotten Myself Into Now?

I've already written (multiple times) that I have to keep a day job besides writing in order to pay my bills. For nearly two years I've been working at a Home Decor store, but in April I started looking for a new job. I wasn't making enough money working there, I needed to upgrade. It didn't take me long to realize there wasn't much out there. For someone like me, a woman whose only secondary education was in massage therapy, there wasn't a lot of options. Every job I looked at paid just as terribly as my current job. So, I reached out to friends and family, asking them to brainstorm ideas of where I might be able to make a better wage. The only feasible idea they came up with was at a department store make up counter. Those girls were supposed to get paid much better, as well as earn commission - meaning I could have a little more control over my income. Excited, I set off to apply. Two months later, after four excruciating interviews (yes, four!), I had my first day.
Never in my life have I felt more defeated, deflated and depressed. When I signed the paperwork, I finally saw what they would be paying me. And I wanted to throw up. Ten dollars an hour and only 3% commission. Parking alone was $2.00 an hour to work there, so my wage was really only eight dollars an hour, and 3% commission meant that with every hundred dollars of product I sold, I would be paid only three dollars. Three dollars. Three f*cking dollars. I wanted to quit that day, but  friends convinced me not to.
"You don't know how much they sell in a day, it still might be worth it."
So, I decided to give the job another day to prove itself. Sadly, the outlook was horrible at best. The daily sales targets for my counter were two hundred dollars. That meant six dollars in commission, not even enough to cover parking. Determined to quit, I marched over to the manager and explained that I was actually making less money at this new job than at my old one, a feat I didn't think was possible. She convinced me to give it some time, explaining that the sales targets were so unbelievably low because no one had been manning the counter for such a long time. Frankly, I wasn't convinced, but I'd already booked the time off my old job, so I figured I might as well be earning something.
It's been two days now with me on the sales floor, attempting to sell my wares and I've only sold three hundred and seventeen dollars worth of product. The forecast for this job isn't bright. I'm waiting until after the weekend to give my pronouncement, but barring a miracle, I will be quitting soon.
I honestly don't know where this particular department store gets off offering such a shitty wage when the parking is so expensive. And offering 3% commission? Why not just be brave and slap me in the face? What a sneaky, underhanded way to insult someone. I don't know if I can stay, just from sheer disgust with the department store.
It's too bad, really. I actually really like the product. But I started looking for a new job to make more money, not less. And it's not as though working there is a carnival of ice cream and candy. It's work. It's long hour after long hour of work. If they aren't going to pay me properly for it, why would I stay? They need to realize this is why they're so understaffed. No one can afford to work there. You couldn't possibly live off the wage they're giving you.
We'll see what happens after this weekend, but stay tuned for the 'I quit my job' announcement. Because I don't think this place has a hope in hell.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Fair Lazy

Today I finished the first book on my summer reading list, My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster. It was actually really surprising. It never takes me that long to get through a book, especially one by my favourite author. Admittedly, this wasn't one of her best. It was a little boring, not as funny. But I really enjoyed the ending. She brought it all together at the end and I just can't deny that I adore her. I love her unconditionally. Why? Because she was the one that first got me thinking about being a writer. Reading Bitter is the New Black was the very first step in my journey towards becoming a writer. It awakened a longing in me. I know it's silly, but I never realized an author was allowed to write about themselves when their lives really weren't altogether that fantastic or unusual. I didn't realize that an author could be funny, that they could break all the rules. Reading her first novel, with all of its hilarious footnotes, was like seeing an airplane for the first time. I didn't realize it was possible to fly.
And so, I will always be grateful to her. And I will always be excited to read her books. Because she proves that its possible to follow your dream. Maybe one day I'll get to tell her that in person.