Category Archives: On Writing

The story takes place in the winter

She stepped into the February air and was surprised to not feel the biting sting of the forecasted eight degrees below. She had always run a bit hot, especially after a frantic effort to pull herself into presentable shape in the thirty minutes her delayed wakeup call had given, and rather than shiver in the cold she was relieved to let it pour over her. There is a delightful optimism to be felt in the time between threshold to cubicle. The day still holds such promise of to-do list items to be proudly crossed off and post-workday productivity in the form of yoga sessions, writing frenzies, and gourmet adventures. The reality is that more times than not upon crossing back through the portal that is the homestead she would find herself succumbing to the siren’s call of the sofa. But what if today she resisted?

The workday passed by in a grey haze of conference calls, email replies and menial tasks. While her heart did not flutter at the approach to her office building each day, it certainly appreciated the safety and comfort of an honest 40 hours and a guaranteed paycheck. She would daydream of owning a tea shop, a yoga studio, a book store – or all the above. Her heart would lift at the thought of her writing becoming more than simply a hobby, but a real bona fide profession. In public company she would meekly, shyly describe herself a writer, but it rang a false tune as her parents were the biggest fans of said writing. At the same time her heart would lift her stomach would plummet and she would instantly retreat to the safety of her nine to five. Trying was scary. Failing was assured.

And so to the sofa she would go at the end of each day. For the sofa meant no exploration of winsome possibilities. From the sofa no ideas would spark, no wanderlust would take hold, and no dangerous progress could be made on her ‘other’ interests. It was safe, it was snug, it was secure. And at her fingertips a wealth of distraction! Four hours and four episodes later would find her safely tucked in bed with no progress towards her passions.

Today though, today, she resisted. Perhaps it was the weather? Perhaps the uncharacteristic winter freeze warmed within her an uncharacteristic behavior. This time, when the siren call began to weave around her she took one rebellious glance toward the object of adventurous impediment and resisted. Snatching a pen, a pad and her tablet she retreated from the safety of home and back into the world. She wasn’t sure yet where to go, she just drove. The smell of hops beckoned, and with a mental image likening herself to Lewis or Tolkien sitting in a dim Oxford bar creating new worlds, she pulled into the lot of a neighborhood brewery and claimed her own dark corner. She sat down, and she began to write.

Today I decided to semi-creatively write. Thank you to the Seventh Sanctum for the writing challenge generator. Finding a place to start is always the hardest part.

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Interruptions

Interruptions are a fact of life. Sometimes life interrupts your plans. Sometimes a fire alarm interrupts your bubble bath. After a 5 month interruption, I’m writing from a hotel in Boston. This has been a lengthy interruption indeed.

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I go back and forth over whether I should bother to catch you up on the events of the past several months, or just pretend like I didn’t leave a gap of silence where my wit used to be. Truth is, maybe I’m just a little reluctant to summarize  because when penned my feats don’t seem particularly exceptional. Here goes —

– Quit my job

– Got a new job

– Started a side business

– Did lots of yoga

– Drank lots of tea

– Read. A lot

– Fostered four puppies

– Went on a business trip to Boston

– Didn’t write.

Just because you’re interrupted doesn’t mean you fail to continue doing what you love – or – that you don’t go back to your hotel room and finish shaving your legs. So here I am, back to writing because it’s just what I have to do.

This week I’ve been in Boston and in residence at the longest-operating hotel in the United States. It’s remarkable for such a proud and thriving city how small and familiar it can feel in just a matter of days. My first evening I managed to wander back to Charles Street and the quiet, cozy little Italian trattoria I discovered on my only other trip to Boston. It was a complete accident, but amazingly comforting to wander into the familiar when far from home. The weather has been bitterly cold, putting a damper on my curiosity. But, I’ve found when forced to be content with the same 4 block radius I hurriedly maneuver during my walk to the office, I can still manage to find something beautiful every day. Like the charming clock tower nestled between 1970s style skyscrapers casting a warm yellow glow across the cobblestone streets as I follow my colleagues to a dive bar down Milk street. Or, the small but ornate brick building which due to it’s historical significance has caused traffic to diverge in a pentagon all around it – a pattern which would make no sense and for which a lesser building would have been demolished long ago. But, no, this small building with it’s golden lion and golden unicorn facing off over the spread wings of a golden eagle — it remains. And traffic – it is interrupted. Today, in the absence of snow and freezing rain from the early part of the week, I was able to finally look up and study in detail the buildings along State Street. I noticed pink stars standing out amongst blue concrete next to red brick. I took in carved faces among ornate filigree, I read plaques about men long dead who made an unremarkable patch of street significant simply because they lived nearby. It made me start thinking about legacies… but that’s a topic for another night. Let’s not get too carried away on my first day back.

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Although enjoying the architecture, I came to Boston for an immersion program with my new firm. It was informative and uplifting. I’m on the company Kool-aid. Mission accomplished. After the noise of the week and being what I think of as “on” 24/7 — by “on” I mean actively combatting my tendency for Resting Bitchy Face (RBF) and my naturally introverted nature in the attempt to make some friendly collegial relationships — I was doing pretty well up until this evening. Right now I should probably be indulging in adult beverages in the time-honored act of camaraderie when you come through the other side of an intense experience with a group of people, but I was just so. damn. tired. I decided tonight was a night of aloneness. I slipped into my white, comfy hotel robe. I ran a hot bath, broke out my Kindle, and queued up for an hour or so diving further into Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. After no more than about 20-30 minutes this piercing noise comes from the other room — from my hotel phone it sounds like. Then, the calmest female voice I’ve ever heard emits from the phone suggesting I leave my room and head towards the nearest emergency exit. I debate a moment on whether I should run down in my robe, water still beaded on my skin – but as I said, it seemed more a suggestion than a true emergency. I towel off, throw on pants and a sweatshirt, grab my phone, my Michael Kors watch and the necklace my father gave me on my 21st birthday and head down 8 flights of stairs to the lobby. I catch sight of one of my colleagues, and head to the hotel bar to see if anyone has a clue what’s going on. There is a mock UN conference taking place in the hotel and the place is crawling with what I assume are middle schoolers. I’m also assuming one dumb kid pulled the fire alarm, as within 5 minutes we are permitted to return to our rooms. Kids are assholes.

Now – at this point I do have another thought – is the Universe trying to force me to be social? I mean, really, you had to interrupt me mid bubble bath, shove me out of my room and just plop a social situation right down smack in the middle of my alone time? Well screw you Universe. I’m stubborn, and so here I am blogging alone in my hotel room instead. In hindsight, I probably should have taken the hint. Sometimes interruptions happen for a reason. Sometimes they are just an annoyance. Sometimes you need to put aside what you want to do and take the opportunity presented by said interruption. Other times you need to accept that your heart wants you to write, and so you just get started (again.)

 

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Greetings from Hawaii! (almost)

Greetings from Hawaii! I really, really want to say ‘Aloha,’ but I’m resisting the urge. I mean, how much more clichéd can you get than ‘Aloha’ from Hawaii? As a college freshman sitting attentively in Journalism 101 several principles were drilled into my head. Number one was to avoid clichés.

Number two was strict avoidance of the word very. Very adds nothing. It is very redundant, very bland, and very lazy. A wealth of other adjectives can be used in its place, i.e., extremely, abundantly, extraordinarily, ferociously, inarguably, etc., etc., etc.

And this one I may have made up, but I hold it to be just as true. Number three is to be concise. Too much verbiage clouds your message. Precise wording creates impact. After you have a final draft, reduce your word count by about 25%. Your message will still be there; trust me. (A related rule is to remove superfluous words such as ‘that’ – you’d be surprised what little difference it makes.)

As I’m typing this, we’re experiencing horrible turbulence. It’s quite unnerving. I lied when I said ‘Greetings from Hawaii’ – I’m actually several thousand miles up en route to Phoenix, and about ten hours from the islands. Maybe I’ll break out ‘Aloha’ once I arrive and am seized by an island spirit which will overrule my writer’s code.

A more appropriate title of this post would have been ‘Greetings from First Class!’ as my extremely generous father gave me his front row seat. This is my first time sitting amongst the hot shots, and it’s everything I hoped it would be. They gave me real silverware and a lady keeps refilling my water glass. Actual glass. Thanks Dad, I hope you weren’t too cramped back there in coach!

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Coffee shops and drag queens

I’ve had this idea in my head (a positively ridiculous idea) that an unspoken initiation into the cult of writers is to sit and write in a coffee shop while distractedly sipping on scalding hot beverages. Today I perform the ritual for the first time.

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I hope that whomever oversees these sorts of things is paying attention. This is the one occasion where I would allow and approve of stalking — that I would find it acceptable for my Web cam to be converted into a spying device so that finally, I could publicly be branded a writer.

They caught me!

They found me!

This past weekend was all kinds of awesome. The boyfriend and I are on a ‘no alcohol for February’ challenge. We are learning to have sober fun in the hopes of dropping a few lbs (pronounced ell-bees) and enjoying all the other healthful perks of a detox. Thank goodness this weekend was entertaining all by itself, because I’m a bit of a wall-hugger when sober. I’m the epitome of a social drinker — without a little liquid courage, I go all introvert.

What were the highlights of my weekend you ask? Well, a few good friends of ours dressed in drag for charity. Heterosexual, manly friends. Frequent followers know that I am a huge supporter of the Cystic Fibrosis foundation — in part for the cause but also for the incredible people I meet who share my passion. One of our friends had a planned transformation to support CF, the other was solicited on the spot. I’m not sure he would like a public outing on my blog, otherwise I’d share a picture. To offer a rough mental image, as a man he is blonde and blue-eyed with a slim build. Minus the chest hair and prominent Adam’s apple, the impromptu special guest star made quite the convincing woman. With pink hair, pink skirt and amply filled leopard print tube top, he put on a bachelor-party-worthy performance to the tune of “All the Single Ladies” — an appropriately timed homage to Beyoncé. I don’t think I have laughed that hard in — well — I don’t know if I’ve laughed that hard ever. The experience reaffirmed my suspicion that at this point in my life I’m surrounded by pretty much the most awesome people possible.

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2012 in review – Gracias WordPress.com helper monkeys!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog. Wasn’t that nice of them? Last year saw 54 posts, which is not too shabby considering all the craziness that was my life this year. I promise loyal followers, I will double that number in 2013. This is the year I stop procrastinating, and really start writing. Enjoy the recap!

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Technology

This one is a quickie and mostly a gush over my new Microsoft surface. For my friends who are Apple fans, you may want to skip this one. Whether you’re a Mac or a PC, I hope you’ll at least appreciate that the addition of the Surface to my cache of Microsoft products will likely increase my blog activity exponentially. So please, bear with me through this brief commercial plug. (I was in no way compensated for this post, I’m just a huge fan.)

I’ve spent the last two hours customizing my Christmas present. Not building, not playing with, and not setting up. Nope, I’ve been customizing. I’ve been downloading tons of apps and placing their colorful little icons in nice, neat groupings with descriptive labels like “Media” and “Web Favorites.” My new Microsoft Surface is perfect for someone with an odd affection for organization (some may call it OCD.) I’ve always cringed from the iPad’s pages and pages of unorganized apps, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the layout and flexibility of Windows 8 which offers a vibrant and aesthetically pleasing array of active live tiles.

I have visions of myself sitting in coffee shops, streaming radio and writing away. I now have the power and function of a laptop in a slim, lightweight device. Perhaps finally in addition to my public rants I can begin penning down something with more substance, and an actual storyline.

 

I think I am finally ready to get to work. 2013 — the year I write.

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Excuses

Five (plus one) excuses for why I haven’t blogged in nearly a month —

  1. Although my desk at home is Ikea chic, the tiny little stepstool that serves as a perch for my bum is not the most comfortable of seats.
  2. The funhouse nature of my historic apartment is charming, but also makes the floors uneven. This makes the Ikea stepstool wobble. Discomfort is exponentially increased — and I’m not that dedicated.
  3. I tried to start blogging at work, but then realized they don’t pay me to be witty and entertaining. Their loss.
  4. Thanks to daylight savings ending, it’s dark when I get home at 7 PM. This makes me instantly want to crawl into bed and watch Netflix. Or Hulu. Especially if there is a new Once Upon a Time, New Girl, Revenge, Modern Family…. I just realized I watch entirely too much TV for someone who doesn’t have cable.
  5. I’m holding out so I can start blogging on my new Microsoft Surface. I’m pretty sure it’s going to improve the quality of content by at least 17%. Mainly because I can start blogging from my couch while watching Netflix, or from the bakery down the street while scarfing down Glorious Morning muffins and drinking pumpkin chai lattes. Pumpkin gets the blood flowing and increases creativity. That’s a fact I’m sure.
  6. My talent and success are working against me. I want to blog about people that now follow my blog and find it kinder to keep it all inside. Stop finding me so entertaining so I can mock you in the public space. Please? Just kidding, I actually have an anonymous blog where I can do that. Now you want to go find it, don’t you? Hehehe (evil laugh.)

Thought I’d throw you a bone loyal followers. The next one will be epic. I semi-promise.

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