Sunday Gratitudes #45

What are you grateful for this week? I’m grateful for…

🌹- Valentine’s Day!

🌹- Remembering to get a card well in advance AND remembering I had it and where.

🌹- Getting a reservation at our favorite restaurant at the last minute.

🌹- Posting about it on Instagram and the restaurant commented and was super happy, heh.

🌹- How nice the cop that pulled us over was. He even made suggestions about the best way to approach the DMV about fixing the problem. (Which is basically that they never sent me new registration tags after I renewed.)

🌹- Sitting next to a table of guys talking about cider, and I was brave enough turn around and give them a card from the cidery I work for. (They were talking about cider and Amsterdam, we were seated with our people.)

🌹- Reaching a compromise with my boss about which half of Friday I could take off to go to the DMV. Even though she got the better end of the deal.

🌹- Finally getting all that DMV crap taken care of, including updating my address. It only took a couple hours and $20.

🌹- Experimental baking. I took lots of pictures and wrote down the recipe as I made it up, but I made the cutest little mini pies on Friday after the DMV. The crust is my go-to recipe, which is always the best, but the filling was an experiment with two nectarines, 6oz of blackberries, freshly squeezed orange juice, and whatever else I had in the kitchen. It turned out well, though it still needs some perfecting.

🌹- My new purse. I wasn’t planning on getting one so soon, but my partner saw it, ran it by me to see if I liked it, and bought it for me as a three-months-early birthday present. I love it. And it was only $45!

🌹- Meeting more of my partners family. An aunt and uncle were visiting, and we joined everyone in the city for dinner with a view of the ocean.

🌹- The opportunity to give each couple at the dinner a mini pie to take home. It made me feel like a good lil baker. ‍

🌹- Waking up covered in cats.

🌹- Tampons. Also, Tampax has changed the color design on the Supers from light green to vivid real and blue swirls. Very fetching.

🌹- Lazy sunday mornings spent reading and commenting on WordPress posts.

🌹- Rain. I mean, I hope we don’t get too flooded, but the sound is nice to wake up to.

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Monday Musings #15 — Anxiety, Horror, Zen

Do you follow Zen and Pi? There’s a newsletter associated with the blog that I’ve subscribed to and read, eventually. Today I didn’t feel like getting it if bed right away and it was one of the most recent Unread things in my email inbox. So I opened it.
There are always links to interesting reads at the end. I have to admit that I don’t usually click on most of them, and when I do it’s somewhat haphazardly. After all, I usually have a lot of blog post notifications from the blogs in subscribed to waiting in my inbox to be read as well. But today I saw this and clicked immediately: “Horror movies for anxiety?”
One of the hurdles I had to get over in order to ask my doctor about anxiety medication was simply that thinking about how long I have been living with anxiety makes me uncomfortable. As far as I can tell, I went from relatively extroverted to an introverted bookworm at some point just before or during fourth grade. By sixth grade I was a huge Stephen King fan, my favorite movie was Jaws, and vampires that are actually scary became (and for the most part continue to be) my favorite type of humanoid monster. So reading this article about how many people with anxiety self-soothe with horror at first made me uncomfortable because it points out something I’ve been doing for longer than I’d like.

Continue reading “Monday Musings #15 — Anxiety, Horror, Zen”

Monday Musings #14 – Just another Manic Monday

When I started this blog, I wanted to focus on creative writing — my personal experiences as a writer, techniques, fun things to write about, etc. I’ve since discovered that there are a lot of blogs like this. That doesn’t bother me, because everyone’s experience is different and has a unique perspective, so it’s not like the niche is ever going to fill up. It does create a lot of other noise for one blogger’s voice to get lost in, but I didn’t start this blog under any illusions that it would make me Internet Famous.

Mostly, the reason I haven’t been posting much lately is that I just haven’t been writing.

My personal life has been complicated recently by apartment problems. These problems have been half solved, half replaced… by moving and unpacking and trying to get organized again.

Also, there’s work. I have two jobs right now, but the same boss for both and technically I’m still on just one payroll. One of these jobs is a sort of marketing/sales support catch-all for family farmed hard cider. In the past couple months I’ve built a website from scratch on Wix, made fancy-looking brochures, made new social media pages to start building up followers and impressions, and written lots of marketing copy…

Not bad for a creative writing major with no specific schooling in marketing or graphic design. I’m still trying to find my footing and get my work-life balance

But I do miss writing, both for this blog and the stories I haven’t been working on for the past month or two. I want to focus back in on that once the unpacking is all done and I have more free, non feeling-burnt-out time at home. I’m also considering opening up my blog theme a little more to include social media tips or something. What do you think, are there any questions you’d like answered that sound like they would be in my skill set?

Monday Musings #13 — Morning Pages

Good morning! Yesterday I hit my 100th post, and to celebrate I spent the rest of the day changing my blog theme and adding a guest blogger contact page (if anyone would like to submit anything). Today I’ve armored up against the week, however flimsily, with earrings, a t-shirt I’ve had since preschool, and the knowledge that I won’t have a two hour commute to get home tonight. It’s a start, anyway.

I tend to do that. Sometimes I armor myself with optimism, or with exhaustion, or occasionally a dreary “it is what it is so just deal with it” realism that neither worsens nor betters the situation. Often, I try to armor myself with rituals. A cup of tea in the morning. Meditation. Sunday gratitudes. Taking walks. Listening to audiobooks in the car. Remembering to floss. You’d be surprised how many times you might be able to tell yourself that you can handle anything just as long as your teeth feel clean.

It’s a toss-up whether or not most of this does any good. At least I haven’t had any cavities in a long time, and the meditation does help. I should do it more often — that and taking walks. But I’m always on the lookout for new good habits, just in case they are good and, importantly, just in case they’ll stick. Continue reading “Monday Musings #13 — Morning Pages”

Monday Musings #11 — Censorship

I find a lot of songs on the radio irritating. Some because I just don’t like the genre or something, but a lot of the time it’s because of censorship. Have you noticed that quite often, the “clean” version of a song changes “fuck” to “love” for all the delicate, shell-like ears out there?

Which would be fine, but those things aren’t just fucking interchangeable. One might be in love with someone they’re fucking, but there are lot of songs out there that are really talking about the other, no emotional strings attached kind and potentially giving impressionable listeners (this is the “clean” version after all, so any one could be listening) the wrong idea about what healthy love is like.

Here are just a few examples. Continue reading “Monday Musings #11 — Censorship”

Monday Musings #8 – Online Consent

Last week, a fellow blogger‘s post got me thinking. The post itself was about a personal struggle with being entrusted to read other people’s writing, but what struck me is that her main example dealt with a request from a friend who had sent both the request and their writing in the same message.

We all have to give each other some benefit of the doubt when it comes to the internet. To me sending the request and the writing together is presuming you’ll get a yes, or a sly end-around to being turned down by making it that much more uncomfortable to do so… I will admit, that was my initial thought because I’m a bit of a cynic sometimes. But it could just be the awkwardness of a fledgling writer seeking out serious feedback for the first time.

So dole out the grains of salt, because not doing so might lead to online attacks and shows like this, but at the same time there are some things about consent that I think we should hold each other more accountable for.

consentFor writers seeking out beta readers, always ask if someone is willing to read what you’ve written before sending it. Even if it seems like that just takes more time, and it’s a hassle sending and keeping track of all these emails. Especially if they’ve never read anything for you before! And even if they have, it’s only polite to ask, “Do you have time for this right now?” Because we have to respect the fact that we each have our own lives to deal with, too.

Another (somewhat unrelated) thing that pings my radar a lot is baby pictures on Facebook. And anywhere, really, but that’s where I see it most often, especially with grandparents and new parents eager to show off their new arrivals. It’s cute and sweet and I’m happy for you — but that picture is on the internet forever. That infant or toddler or cute little kid is going to grow up and realize that they had an online presence long before they even knew what that was or had any control over it. Is that scary? That seems a little scary to me, and I say that as a card carrying millennial.

And it’s not just kids. I haven’t been tagged in a photo in a while so I don’t know if Facebook has changed the way this works, but it at least used to be that if someone tagged you it gave you the option of whether or not to make that tag visible to anyone else and include it in your account’s collection of photos. But even if you declined the tag, that picture of you was still there, online, for anyone inside the poster’s privacy filters to see. What if you were uncomfortable with that?

With photos as with beta requests, I personally feel that it’s only polite to ask first, then act with consent. With adults, let them know in advance if you’re going to post a specific collection of photos and give them an opportunity to say whether or not they’re comfortable with that. (Like, if it’s something they might not want their boss to see, they might at least want to ask about your privacy filters.) With kids, I don’t know. I’m not sure what age they’d start being able to really understand and give consent.

This has been a rant. But consent is important to think about, especially as the concept of an online life becomes more “normal” to incoming generations. How transparent do we really want to be online? To what extent do we inadvertently make that choice for other people? What’s the social protocol here? That’s especially hard to nail down given the global nature of the internet, but so necessary for every individual on it.

Monday Musings #7 – Thoughts About Zombies

Some of my followers are already aware that I am a Walking Dead fan. Since my binge-watch introduction to the show two summers ago, it’s become my favorite portrayal of the zombie apocalypse (although World War Z is a close second and Newsflesh is a not so distant third). Once, my partner and I made these awesome brain cupcakes for a mid-season premiere party (of four people, lol, but hey- more cupcakes for us). At some point I will get around to borrowing the comics from a friend, but for now I think I’d rather just enjoy the show. 2014-10-12 20.14.34

From time to time I pick up a new zombie story. My most recent find is an audiobook copy of Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, which I have not finished yet to be honest. But it’s fascinating to me because I found the attitudes in the book so irritating at first, and now it’s starting to grow on me.

The following review doesn’t exactly contain spoilers, per say, but it does go over the context of this book’s zombies and apocalypse.  Continue reading “Monday Musings #7 – Thoughts About Zombies”

Monday Musing #6 – Unexpected Inspiration

Everyone studies something they never expected to, at least once. In school or in life. Since I got my undergrad I’ve learned a lot about marketing (not what I majored in) and, randomly, the food industry (same).

In college, it was art history.

As I mentioned to Danielle over at The Caffeinated Writer recently, I went to a school so liberal arts that it didn’t believe in math requirements. It didn’t believe in language requirements, large class sizes, tests, or letter grades either. I chose this school largely because of the focus on writing, but also because I didn’t want to have to take any more classes in my least favorite subjects: math, foreign language, and history. I got through tolerably well to AP Calc in high school which was plenty of math for me, thanks, and I scraped through enough years of Spanish class to learn grammar rules and that I’m not good at learning languages. As for history, I’m just awful at keeping track of dates and always found the subject to be generally pretty dry.

But what I didn’t account for was class sizes (10-20 for a seminar, 20-60 for a lecture), and how competitive it made some courses. If it was a popular subject or professor, forget about it. Well… still try, but have lots of backups.

In my sophomore year, I started working on my lecture credit requirements by signing up for a class titled Art & The Sacred. Although it was technically listed as a history class I was able to overlook that fact in favor of the focus on art and it’s historical connections to religions. It turned out to be taught by a delightful little old man whom one of my friends was absolutely convinced was a Time Lord. (Don’t as me why. Dr. Who is something I keep meaning to get into but for some reason never have.) I sat through the entire semester enthralled, especially by illuminated manuscripts.

Continue reading “Monday Musing #6 – Unexpected Inspiration”

Monday Musings #5 – Positive Bragging

Raise your hand if you hate writing cover letters.

(Anyone not raising your hand, please tell me your secret. I crave enlightenment here.)

A few years ago I worked with a career counselor who, to my great benefit, introduced me to marketing by suggesting an internship I could apply for. While I can’t say my career has skyrocketed since then, I can say that I’ve taken significant steps in becoming a more confident and effective part of the workforce.

Now that I’m job hunting again I have a lot more experience and qualifications to work with on my resume… but that’s always been a hard thing for me. I don’t know, I think there’s something about my brain that gravitates towards writing fiction so much that writing non-fiction is a bore and a chore and a pain. At the very least, I have not always been very good at being my own advocate.

So I thought I’d share this for anyone who feels they’re in the same boat. I recently shot an email to that same career counselor and he recommended I fill out this questionnaire adapted from BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus. I had the most trouble with the second question, because I could only think of nine really interesting things I’ve done or have happened to me, but it’s a really great worksheet and resource. Here’s an example of one of my answers… Continue reading “Monday Musings #5 – Positive Bragging”

Monday Musings #4 – Math?

Last night I caught a glimpse of one of the frames that the Comcast X1 platform goes into whenever it’s in screensaver mode. Most of them are just picturesque seasonal photos, but this one was explaining that if you forget the channel number you can just type the channel name on the remote and get to it that way. I know this feature well — when it comes to remembering numbers, I’m terrible! Even when I was little I often got 6’s and 8’s switched around, and in middle school social studies classes I became aware of a limited capacity to remember the specific years of events.

It’s funny, because when I was a kid I really liked math. In fourth grade I sometimes stayed after school or during recess to learn really basic algebra. Over the summer between fifth and sixth grade, my parents got me a computer program so I could take sixth grade math and when the school year started I could take the seventh grade class. In high school I didn’t enjoy Geometry at all but I hung in there through another year (Algebra 2/Trig) and didn’t burn out until Pre-Calc and AP Calc AB.

So today I was idly thinking of myself as numerically impaired, and then I caught myself and thought about something for the first time… What if I just never liked math as much as I thought I did? What if I just wanted to, because I wanted to be like and/or please my parents?

I was raised by two computer engineers in the Silicon Valley. Every now and then in high school, my mother would hear about an extra credit math test I could have taken before school and seem genuinely baffled by my disinterest in waking up early to do that. They’ve worked for companies you’d recognize the name of, and there was always a Polish calculator in the side table in our living room. For those of you who have never seen a Polish calculator, it looks like some sort of Star Trek tricorder. (For those of you who have never seen a Star Trek tricorder, you were not raised by this kind of nerds.)

Continue reading “Monday Musings #4 – Math?”