Adventures in Writing

Posted: February 21, 2015 in writing
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I’m a visual person to a degree: I like things in the proverbial black and white. I like exactness, and tracking progress with precision. I like facts and figures. I like, for example, knowing that at the beginning of March, I will have increased my personal net worth by 10%, thanks to my still-in-progress budgeting and tracking system. Perhaps 10.2% or 10.3%. I do like precision.  Which is to say, I’m still in the negative thanks to a mortgage, but less so.

I’ve surpassed 9k words in the novel, perhaps a paltry number when measured against the total of a true novel, but I look to be on track to meet 10k or even 11k words this weekend, and I’m a bit proud of that. It’s progress. Not bad for someone so lacking discipline as myself, with a full-time job and attempting to contract with a possible client for web content.

With the exception of a single successful NaNoWriMo, (which was horrid in execution), the only time I’ve ever written this much on a single project was for my senior thesis.

Which reminds me, I should pull that out. I enjoyed the end result of it. I had a catchy title, I’m sure (I’ve always been fond of not-too-straight forward titles), and it focused on the power exchange information transference.  What is private versus what is secret. How they’re handled. Motivation for keeping and sharing secret and private information.

I do enjoying examining power exchanges: who benefits, who suffers.

I read once that everything is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power. I disagree: I think everything is about power.

But I digress.

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I’ve ranted about Fifty Shades of Grey.  I’ve argued with, well, everyone I know who likes it, that Fifty Shades should have been called Fifty Shades of Shit.  How it’s horribly written, more about domestic violence than BDSM, blah blah blah.  I really do get tiresome when I get on my soapbox.

In fact, I’ve deleted almost 700 words from the original draft of this post to do just that.

Tiresome indeed.

Besides, it has been done by people far more organized and articulate than I.

I will say that BDSM isn’t inherently abusive.  It certainly does offer the potential for abuse, just like any other relationship, but it is NOT in and of itself bad.

When arguing for the positive points (and I’ll admit, there are a couple) of FSoG, people “in the know,” have referenced Secretary, the 2002 movie starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhall.

Comparing Fifty Shades to Secretary is like comparing arsenic to ice cream.

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The More Things Change

Posted: January 28, 2015 in musing
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Two margaritas are my limit.

From that wonderful day oh-so-long-ago that I discovered the bliss that IS frozen margaritas, two margaritas have been my limit.

I’ve experimented with this. I know, for example, that bumming someone else’s two-fer during 2-1 Happy Hour, when added to mine, is beyond my limit. I also know that a fish-bowl margarita is far, far beyond my limit.

I meet with my best friend at least once a month, and we partake of the margaritas.  It’s become a lovely ritual.  Last night, we revisited our ritual.

I, with my steak half and he, with his chicken half, of a steak-and-chicken-fajita-combo sat merrily with our margaritas as we discussed my writing and the changes it has brought about, our shared interest in the stock market and how our stocks were faring, updates on our pets, and so forth.

It was about half into the second margarita that I felt a bit woozy.  Another quarter and I was sick.  I excused myself to the restroom and took care of business, returning shortly and feeling both sober and well.  We finished our meal leisurely and started home, with his driving and my enjoying the scenery.  Woozily.

It was the first time I rode in his car; usually we take separate vehicles but mine’s currently in the shop. It might very well be the last time I ride in his car.

Deck the halls with bits o’ chicken, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.

I warned him but he couldn’t get over in time. I decorated his dashboard, windshield, I shed my soaked shirt and draped a garbage bag over me for the rest of the ride  home.

Damn, the boy’s prepared.

I made it home safely; he made it home safely.

But today, sober and strangely energetic, I find myself wondering: what changed? Was it the Energems I popped most of the day to stay awake? Was it something I ate earlier? Has my 40 year old body decided that 2015 is the year that I move from two to one margarita? Perhaps it’s part of a bigger, overall change.

At any rate, I rediscovered why I quit drinking heavily in my 20’s.

It’s interesting, though. Having the stomach flu over Christmas is what kick-started my writing. I was sick. Sick for days. And, in the midst of, well, burning the candle at both ends, so to speak, a single word came to mind, and I laughed, laughed, laughed.

And I had the start of the book.  And the opening scene is sickness. And it’s good. And for me to think something I’ve written is good is, well, perfect pearls are less rare.

Almost at 6k words, it’s moving. Slowly, in bits and pieces, but it’s moving.

And life is good.

Although, the bff and I may be going out for Chinese next month.

Pessimism and Happiness

Posted: January 14, 2015 in writing
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“Whoever said that hope springs eternal is full of shit.”

That’s the opening line of my version of the Great American Novel.

I find it strange that I’ve known my entire life (well, at least as early as 8th grade), that I’ve wanted to write, but it took me over 40 years to realize I needed to write.

The need has been lying there, buried under boredom and bullshit, for my entire adult life.  Once I committed to a paltry 100 words a day, the flood gates opened.  Whether I have a good idea, no idea, another idea, whatever, it comes.  I wake up in the middle of the night with the next scene, or the need to find my old flash drive that had my fiction class short stories in it.  Or an entirely new story.

The novel itself is plodding. It’s a fun place to be, mostly, and not any particular genre.  But the writing is just coming, and I realize that I’ve finally found–to my chagrin of using a horrible cliche–my happy place.

I have a sense of balance I didn’t have before.  Things don’t bother me like they did.  Unimportant things slide, and priorities rearrange as if by magic.

It’s a good place to be.

Despite totally overdoing my Christmas budget (Saving money? Who wants to do that?) breaking my http://www.lyricalfool.com (I’ll just install this plug in, wait, where’d my admin page go?), and damp temperatures doing very mean things to my joints, right here, right now is a very good place to be.

I even started a goofy little word count map, full of doodles and dates.

I’ll post it when I have a semi-decent word count.

Over and Over and Over

Posted: December 2, 2014 in Exercise
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“I should be further along than I am now.”

That was a statement I’ve said recently, echoing statements I’ve made over the years.

There’s been a gap, ever widening, between where I want to be and where I am.  Or, perhaps more accurately, what I want to do and what I do.

My publishing resume reflects that (nothing since college), my finances reflect that and, now, finally, my blood work reflects that.

I’ve always held that being fat isn’t the problem; being poor isn’t the problem.  Each is A problem, but not THE problem.

They are symptoms of bigger problems. They carry their own consequences, sure, but they are primarily symptoms.

And it’s time that I put the symptoms in check.

Tonight, I walked.  Not far, and, of course, I lost my pedometer along the way. But I walked.  With an arthritic hand and a terribly behaved dog, I put one step in front of the other before the sun went down.

Which is a whole set of accomplishments right there. Getting home from work before dark (an increasing challenge with the time change and this time of year); getting out the door rather than looking at “one more thing” on the internet; remembering to bring the doggy bag for the presents the pup always leaves on our walks.

It’s a start. And I’m moving again.

That’s something.

Also: I don’t think I’ll ever refer to take-away food as a “doggy bag” again.

On November 25, 2014, Federal Judge Reeves struck down Mississippi’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

That’s pretty much how every story about the decision starts.

I probably should have started by calling Hell, Michigan, and asking what the temperature was.

I haven’t finished reading the transcript, which, incidentally, can be found here, but it’s pretty much what I expected: Mississippi’s Constitutional Amendment has been found unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The Clarion Ledger said, “Others, like Forest Thigpen, president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, derided the decision as tyranny against the will of state voters who in 2004 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage” and then “‘We have reached this point where the voice of the people and their elected representatives doesn’t matter,’ Thigpen said in a statement” (1).

Cause, you know, state law supersedes federal law. Cause Mississippi.

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Child’s Play

Posted: November 23, 2014 in Children
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I am officially a woman of a certain age.

I consider myself young still. I still love a lot of the things I dug when I was younger: Tool and the Cure; having espresso drink-off’s to see who could be the most Beavis in the shortest amount of time; the sheer pleasure of eye rolling at the only Candlebox song that ever got rotation.

Arguing, eye-rolling, and smartassedness.  I wish I could have majored in those.

As both a pre-teen and a teenager, I loved Saturdays: ThunderCats, Gargoyles, and X-Men. The PeeWee Herman Show, even.

I can almost trace my childhood through kids shows: The Letter People (that song, 30-some odd years later, still rings in my head) led to Smurfs led to Thundercats and G.I.Joe led to Gargoyles led to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and ultimately, Batman, Spiderman, and the X-Men.

I had secondhand knowledge of Transformers through my younger brother, but the X-Men and the various DC Hero shows were mine, all mine.

I figured I had shopping for a five year old who is into some of the same stuff I was into as a kid nailed.

This is so not the case.

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My cat has decided I am spending too much time attached to the computer.

She often stares at me like so:

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She is judgmental, this cat. She has a PhD in Judgmentalism.

A couple of months ago, I set a few goals:

 Get a financial plan in place.

Get some sort of chore management program in place.

Go out once a weekend, and preferably not for just groceries.

So far, I’m doing pretty well. I’m still tinkering with the financial plan, but I started tracking assets and debts, and am glad to say that I’m definitely moving in the right direction. I’ve set a chore management plan, and still tinkering with it as well.  As for the going out, I’m rating about 50%.

One of my biggest challenges, financially speaking, is attempting to save for so many things at once with a finite amount of income. When I say I love my car, I mean I LOVE my car. Unfortunately, she’s 12 years old and, like ice cream especially in my house, won’t be around for ever. I want to have an emergency fund of $5000. I want to pay off my house. I want to save for retirement. I’d like to buy something fun once in a while or go on vacation some time before I shake off this mortal coil.

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I turned 40 a few months back, and have spent the past few months, well, struggling.

Over a year ago, I had begun pulling down my posts here at WordPress, attempting to consolidate my online presence as I was attempting to launch a writing business. I was attempting to plan an exit strategy from my current job, and hoping that the writing would be somewhat profitable in a year so that it would allow me to go part time at work to maintain health benefits and  but shift my focus to writing.

I had formed the company, purchased a domain, and paid a goodly amount of money for someone to design it for me. I had vision; I had focus; I had the enthusiasm of a kid the night before Christmas.

And then I got sick again.

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2003, and it was several years after that I discovered I have Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder which, to be honest, I still don’t understand.  In the 11 years that I’ve struggled with this, I don’t think my thyroid has been within normal range for more than three months in a row. It’s caused weight gain, overwhelming depression, and a sense of exhaustion that words fail to explain.

Which is okay, because that’s not what this post is about.  Just a set up.

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One of my greatest spiritual teachers has been (and continues to be) money.

It sounds strange, even to my ears.

When I think of spiritual teachers, I think of the Buddha, Jesus,  St. Francis, Rumi. Saints and Sufis, philosophers and monks.  I think of men and women who have demonstrated spiritual law, who have lived godly lives, who have magnified peace and compassion.

I don’t necessarily think of things. Especially not money-type things. After all, love of money is the root of all evil (or all kinds of evil, depending on your biblical version); it doesn’t seem to be an expressly spiritual thing.

And yet money seems to be my first–and longest lasting–teacher in mindfulness.

I first started paying attention to where I spent my money when it seemed I was running out of it.  I had, month after month, mindlessly paid my bills and without ever paying attention to them.  Why? I had enough to pay for them. It was only when my “safety net” dropped below my “acceptable” threshhold that I really started to pay attention.

I noticed how very much I was spending in a nation-wide “big box” store, a store, I might add, who promised to save me lots and lots of money.  I hated going to this store, everything about it was unpleasant, from the struggle to find a parking space to the obviously unhappy cashiers. The chain has a horrible reputation both for poor customer service and for the way it treats its employees.

I knew all of these things.  But yet, I went.

Because it was convenient. It was convenient, I found, to be able to buy light bulbs, socks, and milk all in the same place. It had everything I needed.  And then some.

As I became more aware of my distaste for the store, I began shopping at local stand-alone grocery stores. The prices were higher, I noted, in some cases much higher. So, for a while, I vacillated, torn between the better service and quality of the grocery store and the lower overall prices of the big box store.

And a strange thing happened. Read the rest of this entry »