31 October 2013

Ordinary days

I've been struggling for the past few days to find something to blog about. I've had some things going on in my life, but I can't blog about them. And I'm just not feeling the other topics I've come up with.

I'm in a good routine now, and pretty well settled into my life here. Work is going well, the munchkins are doing well, and the coffee house book is progressing nicely. I'm in a nice, quiet period right now.

This is a good thing, really. As chaotic as my life has been over the past....well, couple of years....it's nice to have some time in which there's just life, especially before the holidays. I'll be traveling for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, so November and December will likely be quite a bit busier.

The downside of this quiet time is that if I find myself with nothing to do, I get a sudden, panicked feeling and I'm sure I'm forgetting something important. So I'm working on enjoying the moment and being present rather than worrying about what's coming or fretting over what has passed.

It's a process.

How are things going for you?

25 October 2013

Do You NaNo?

I've decided not to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. After my recent move to Florida, job change, and crazy personal life, it would be too much.

NaNoWriMo is designed to prove to people they can write a novel in 30 days. I know I can. (Although I may participate next year to write one of the books in the collection since the coffee house book will be finished.) I have plenty of freelance and fiction work to do in November.

That being said, if you're on the fence about doing NaNoWriMo, I encourage you to try it. The beauty of NaNo is that even if you don't "win," you still win. Because no matter how much you write in November, you'll have more written on December 1st than you did on October 31st. That makes it worth it.

It isn't just about writing a novel, either. NaNoWriMo provides a community of writers for you to write in. There are people all over the world getting ready to write a novel next month. You can connect with them through the forums or through local meet-ups in your region and find crazed writers just like you.

It's a wonderful adventure. And while I'm not officially participating, I'll be using the event as another reason to work on the coffee house book (maybe I'll even attend a local write-in or two).

Are you participating this year? What are you planning to write?

24 October 2013

Parent-teacher conferences

Yesterday afternoon, I went to Puck's very first parent-teacher conference.

I remember parent-teacher conferences from the other side. As a kid, I was always afraid of what the report would be. I mean, overall I know I was a good kid who did the work, but I also had a lot of anxiety that my teacher would tell my parents something I'd done wrong, or that I was not liked in the classroom, or that I'd be held back....

I didn't like parent-teacher conferences when I was in school.

But now I'm on the other side of it. I imagined it would be easier now. I'd get to hear about how Puck is doing, how I can help him do better, and be done. But I felt anxiety all over again leading up to the conference. What if Puck isn't doing well? What if I'm not doing enough at home to supplement his education? What if he's not making friends or getting along with the other kids or spends the whole time off on his own? What if he won't be ready for kindergarten next fall?

I know, but I'm a mom. I worry.

I didn't need to. Puck's conference went really well. Ms. VPK* is a wonderful teacher. She's passionate about helping the kids get ready for kindergarten, and she's done wonderful things for Puck. He's exceeding expectations in two of three areas, and meeting expectations in the third (though Ms. VPK is confident that he'll exceed expectations in the third area when he is tested again). He's socializing well with the other students, speaks up to make his wishes known or when something occurs that he doesn't like, and doesn't let other students get him in trouble. He's doing very well in school.

It was a good conference. I'm so proud of my boy!

*Not her real name. I know: shocker.

23 October 2013

Sick day

I had to take a sick day from work yesterday. It was one of those feverish, headache-y, can't sit up sicknesses. All I could manage most of the day was ice water. So when I got up, I took some medicine, drank some water, and went back to bed. The munchkins are with Monty this week, so I had the luxury of being able to rest all day.

I hate taking sick days, especially as a freelancer. Not only because I hate being sick, but as any freelancer knows, if you don't work, you don't get paid. There is no PTO in the freelance world.

The good news is that I started to feel better around 4:30 in the afternoon, so I got up and had something to eat, and did a little work before going back to bed again. It made me feel like the day wasn't a total loss.

And I got to watch a lot of shows on Netflix, so there's that.

20 October 2013


Fair warning: This is a vague, personal, kind of rambly post. If that's not your thing, feel free to skip it.

I make a conscious effort to live without regretting my decisions, knowing that I made the best decision based on the information I had at the time. Sometimes it's hard, especially when a decision turns out to be the wrong one. But all I can do is move forward from where I am and make it work.

Over the past couple of years (especially a couple of years ago), I've had to make some hard decisions. Some of the decisions have changed my life in dramatic ways. I'm happy with the decisions I've made. Even the really hard ones were the best decision.

But today my confidence wavered just a bit about one decision in particular that I had to make.

Intellectually, I know it was a good decision, and I had to do it. But for a moment, I wondered if it wasn't a bad decision. I wondered if I could have avoided it. I wondered if there's anything I could do to change it.

I hate feeling this way. And I think it's worse because of what decision it is in the context of so many of the recent changes in my personal life. Usually, when I have glimmers of regret, I remind myself of the things I've gained from the decision I'm struggling with. It didn't help this time.

I'm sure I'll get over it. I'll remember why I made the decision I did. I'll continue moving forward and have new decisions to make.

But this week, I have a little knot in my stomach.


Tink has a lovie. It's red and pink striped sock monkey that was given to her at her first Christmas by one of my family members.

When she first got it, she called it "Monkey." But because her language skills were still developing, it sounded like "Muh-mee." Eventually, this developed into "Muppy" (by Tink), and now that's the lovie's name.

You never know what to expect for the toys kids will form strong attachments to. Tink also has a small plush Foofa toy (from Yo Gabba Gabba) she also loves, and I thought that might be her lovie for a while. It's smaller, so it was easier for her to carry and love on than Muppy initially was.

But there's something about Muppy that Tink has connected with, so that's her Muppy.

Muppy is a wonderful lovie. She has long arms and a tail that are perfect for carrying, and her mop of yarn hair on top of her head is another way to grab her when she's almost out of reach. Some of the stitching around her head has come loose, and there are several mystery stains on her. She's even a little taller than she once was since carrying her and pulling her by limbs and neck has shifted her stuffing a bit.

There have been a couple of times we couldn't find Muppy. I think I was as worried as Tink as we searched everywhere to find where Muppy could be hiding. Thankfully, we've always found her. I don't know what Tink would do if we couldn't find her one of these days. Mama might have to get Muppy's twin to keep handy just in case....

Do your kids have lovies? What are they? Where did they come from?

19 October 2013

It's book order day! Calloo! Callay!

When I was a kid, some of my favorite school days were the days the teacher sent home the order booklets for Scholastic books. We would usually get the booklets earlyish in the day, and when I had a moment, I'd go through the pages and mark the books I wanted my parents to order for me.

I never got all the books I wanted in any given order, but my parents did order books for me (and my siblings). And then, when they came in, I was ecstatic! New books to read!

Yesterday I picked some books to order for the munchkins from Puck's very first school book order. I think I was just as excited filling it out as I once was getting books of my very own. I chose carefully, picking things I think both kids will like, that will bring value to their home library.

As you can imagine, reading is important to me. And I'm hoping to foster the love I have for reading in the munchkins. I don't want to make them read. I hope that, when they're old enough, they'll choose to pick up books on their own and spend time exploring other worlds.

Since this is Puck's first book order, he doesn't actually know what's happening. He knows that the booklet contains pictures of books, and that Mama has ordered some books, which we'll get "soon." The booklet didn't hold the same excitement for him this week that it did for me.

A few orders into the year, and I think Puck will be much more excited when he sees the Scholastic logo on a handout at school. If not, I'm sure I'll be excited enough for the both of us.

Do your munchkins read? What are their favorite books?

18 October 2013

I have a new coffee maker.

So I bought a new coffee maker this week. I've been managing without one since I moved in to my new place (it's been hard, but I've been drinking a lot of Earl Grey tea), but I just couldn't do it anymore. I needed coffee.

So I bought an inexpensive, 12-cup maker with the intention of getting a nicer one when I decide whether I want a Keurig or a French press. Or a commercial-grade cappuccino maker.

I'm really glad I got to have coffee this morning, but then I remembered the challenge with a new coffee maker. I'm going to have a little trial and error until I get it right.

Coffee makers can be temperamental, and each one is different. So the way I've made coffee for the past two years won't work in this maker. So my coffee this morning was not awesome. Passable, but definitely not awesome.

Tomorrow's pot will be better. And, pretty soon, I'll have a Keurig or French press, and I'll be much more tolerable when my alarm goes off every morning.

And I may be making a stop at Starbucks while Puck is at school today.

15 October 2013

Work flexibility is not always a good thing. Mostly, but not always.

This morning I was talking to a fellow freelance writer I know who told me that she took Columbus Day off. She closed her office on Monday and didn't work. She said she just needed some time away from the screen.

One of the great things about being a freelancer is the ability to work whenever, wherever you want (or need) to. You can work on the road, in the middle of the night, early in the morning, weekends, whatever you need to do to make it happen.

I love the flexibility because I have two munchkins at home. The flexibility I have means I can work when they're gone or sleeping, and when they're awake and with me, my time and energy is devoted to them. It's wonderful.

However, there is a flip side. (There always is, isn't there?) When the kids are gone, it can be hard to tear myself away from work for a break. I often eat lunch at my desk, work late into the night, and work through weekends when I don't have the munchkins. It can be very productive, but I know that it's also important to take breaks once in a while, even when I don't have Puck and Tink around.

Everybody needs time away from work. We need to focus our brains on other things and recharge before jumping back into work.

I've been working hard lately. I've had a lot of projects going on (a lot of them with close deadlines), so it's been hard for me to justify taking real time off. Sure, I'm not actually working when I have the kids, but as soon as they go to bed, I'm trying to move projects forward and gets stuff done so that I don't have to when they wake up the next morning. It's been good because I've gotten a lot done. But I know I need to make sure I take time for myself, too. I need to step away from work when I can and do other things. Or, better yet, nothing at all.

I'm planning on taking a little time off at the end of November to go up north and visit family and friends. It will be a much-needed trip, and a good chance for me to take a real break from writing and marketing and projects and paperwork to just spend time with family. I'm really looking forward to it, actually. A vacation.

It will be wonderful.

13 October 2013

How faith made me lazy

My life is a lot different now than it was a few months ago. Of course, part of this is the whole moved-to-Florida and went-back-to-freelancing thing, but there's more to it than that.

A few months ago, after a lot of thought and personal investigation and a little nudging from a dear friend, I came to the realization that our world is a magnificent, awesome, frighteningly beautiful place all on its own.

Since then I've been doing a lot of thinking about what I believe and what I stand for. And I've come to the conclusion that my faith made me lazy.

Here's what I mean.

As a woman of faith, when I faced difficult situations or fears or "trials," I prayed. I asked god to intervene, give guidance, show me the path to take, give me strength to get through it. I believed that whatever I went through, as long as I had faith in a higher power, everything would be fine. God would take care of it.

And so I relied on that faith instead of my own strength. I didn't get up and make shit happen because I believed that god would make it happen for me. So I was patient, and prayed my way through some really hard times.

I don't pray anymore. And neither do I sit patiently expecting that something will happen to make everything okay. Instead, I'm the one who makes it okay.

When I'm faced with an obstacle or a challenge or a bad situation, I get shit done and frakking fix it. There's no waiting or hoping, I make it happen. That's the only way to get through your challenges, after all. You have to get up and do something.

I know a lot of people who talk about the dangers of religion. Besides the obvious*, there are other, "smaller" ways that religion is dangerous. As I've just described through my own experience, I think faith and religion (particularly blind faith) can make you lazy about your life and situation. You rely on your higher power to take care of things, so you simply sit and wait.

Or, worse, you face a bad situation and decide you're being tested, and not only do you not do anything about the situation, but you justify staying somewhere you should not be because your faith is being "tested."

That's what I did. Too many times. But now I get up off my ass and make shit happen.

*The "obvious" I mean is the Westboro Baptist Church, but I refuse to link to it. If you really want to know more about this particular organization, you're welcome to look it up on your own.

11 October 2013

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day.

I came out to myself almost two years ago, though it was something I struggled fiercely with for long before that. Now, looking back, I can see now that I have always been gay, but it just never occurred to me that I was.

Since I've accepted that this is who I am, I am more at peace with myself than I have ever been. I know who I am now. I like who I am now. And I am absolutely not ashamed of who I am.

I've seen lots of articles and blog posts and random stuff online that reminds us that coming out still matters. In fact, that's the theme of the HRC's celebration today: COMING OUT STILL MATTERS.

Of course, as a lesbian, I wish very, very much that I lived in a world where coming out didn't matter. After all, straight people don't have to come out as straight, so why do others have to come out as gay or bisexual or trans or anything else?

Still, it is important because, right now, it's part of living authentically, which I think is very important.

Living authentically means you aren't ashamed of who you are and make no compromises for it. That's what coming out was about for me. I finally knew who I was. I finally had words for my feelings and an explanation for a lot of the struggles I have gone through. Coming out meant living authentically the best way I know how, so I did.

It's important for me to live authentically not only for myself, but to teach my children to live authentically, as well. I never want my children to be ashamed of who they are. I want them to be true to themselves out loud. And I can't expect that of them if I don't do it myself.

I am a lesbian. I am out of the closet, and I am living authentically as a lesbian.

Happy National Coming Out Day.

09 October 2013

I missed the rain

One thing that can be said about Florida is that it rains here. During the summer, it's likely to rain at least briefly every afternoon.

The clouds come out of nowhere and darken the sky, the rain falls, and just as quickly, the sun is back drying the pavement again.

I missed the rain while I was living in the Midwest. I didn't realize how much until I was back here.

Since I moved, it's been raining off and on, as is the custom. And I find myself opening the blinds on the windows so I can watch.

Sometimes the rain is heavy, with fat drops tapping on the windows. Other times, the rain is fine, almost misty, reminding me of snow the way it almost floats to the ground, giving the pavement a sheen.

I leave my blinds open a lot in my office space (so I don't have to turn the lights on for the majority of the day), and when it rains, it's hard not to just stand by the window for a while and watch it fall. It can be distracting in the middle of a work day.

What kind of weather do you like?

Photo source: Christian Southworth/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

08 October 2013

The possibly added book

A few days ago while I was making breakfast for the munchkins, I had an idea for another book in the collection.

Originally, there were nine* books planned, but I have to decide if this new idea I have fits in with the collection, or would be better served as a standalone book, or just something that I have an idea for that doesn't get written any time soon.

The thing is, I think I would really enjoy writing this new idea because of the subject matter. It's something near and dear to my heart, and I think could provide a lot of insight to people who have been through similar situations.**

So I have to decide if this new book fits into the collection, and if so, how. (There is somewhat of a chronology to the collection, though the coffee house book ranges wider than other books in the collection.) I don't know if it really will fit, or if I'm just trying to make it fit because I like the idea. And do I like the idea because it's not the coffee house book, or because it's an idea with its own merit?

I'm fortunate because I have writerly friends I can turn to for advice or insight. And I know my heart sister will always tell me if something I'm working on is stupid or won't work.

In the meantime, I'm continuing to move forward with the coffee house book, and soon I'll be starting the background work for the next book in the collection.

What do you do when you get a new idea in the middle of a project?

*It may be seven or eight. There's one book I'm on the fence about including in the collection because it may work better as a stage play. There are two other books that are similar, so I am likely going to drop one of them.

**Sorry for the vagueness. It's still an undeveloped idea and I'm not going to give too much away.

07 October 2013

We are a TV-free home.

There is no TV in my new home. It was something I'd been considering from the time I knew I was going to move. I thought the transition would be a good opportunity to leave it behind. I figured the munchkins would be excited about their new home and routine, and wouldn't miss not having it.

I was right.

Last week, I asked Puck if it was okay that I don't have a TV. He has a few shows he really loves, and will ask to watch them frequently. He said it didn't bother him. He pointed out that we do watch things on my tablet sometimes, and that there are other things to do.

He's right. There's always plenty to do without turning on the TV. Shows and movies can be entertaining, but with as much as Puck and Tink are learning and growing right now, I'd much rather engage their minds in other ways. They both love to build things with blocks, and they're kind of addicted to puzzles right now. I'd much rather spend an hour doing that with them than watching another episode of some mindless cartoon I've seen a hundred times.

I think, too, it's a way for me to continue de-cluttering my life. Moving has allowed me to pick and choose what's important enough to stay in my home and get rid of stuff I've just been carting around for no real reason. Well, not having a TV is a way for the munchkins and I to de-clutter our minds.

Our home is more peaceful without it. After a while, even favorite shows can become just noise. And I'll admit that there have been times I've turned something on just for the background noise. Eliminating that has helped me quiet my mind more.

I still have subscriptions to Netflix and Hulu+ for the time being. After all, I have to get my Doctor Who fix somehow.* But since my tablet is working well for watching the few shows I like, as well as the occasional shows for the munchkins, I'm happy to continue as we are.

Do you have a TV in your home? How often do you watch it? What do you watch?

*Also, last week we watched Doctor Who for our evening show, and Puck got very upset during David Tennant's final episode. I explained that a new man was playing the Doctor, but it was still the same Doctor just with a different face. Then, Puck got very excited when he saw Matt Smith for the first time, and it was all good.

05 October 2013

It is what it is.

I've been feeling like I'm in a pretty good place right now. I'm making progress on the coffee house book, work is going really well, and I'm starting to feel settled as a Floridian.

It's true that I'm not where I expected to be (at all). But, as I've said dozens of times in the last few weeks, it is what it is.

Sometimes shit happens. Obstacles arise, things don't work out, plans have to change. And all you can do is take a breath and move forward from where you are.

It is what it is. Now what are you going to do about it?

Aura by Carlos Fuentes

As part of a project for a client, I got the opportunity to read Aura by Carlos Fuentes. It's a novella written in second-person point of view (present tense).

I've had this review in my drafts for a few weeks now. Because this book is different from a lot of what I've read, and because I read it for work, I've been struggling to put my thoughts about it into words. But I need to, so here we go.

The point of view and tense was difficult for me, at first. But once I got used to it (a few pages in), I think it's an effective use of the point of view, especially for this particular story.

Aura is the story of a man who accepts the job of finishing the memoirs of a deceased man, at the request of his elderly widow, near death herself. He is at the house for three days and, during that time, uncovers a strange situation, particularly in the relationship between Consuelo (the widow) and Aura, a young woman at the house.

I'm reluctant to say more. I'd rather encourage you to read it for yourself.

Aura is one of those books that rewards rereading. While I was working with it for my work project, I read it about three times cover to cover (being a novella, that was possible in this case). Each time I read it, I felt like there was a layer to the story that had been staring me in the face, but I'd missed until that moment.

It's a dark story, and one that draws the reader in to the dreamlike (nightmarish?) world of Consuelo's house. I think that's why the point of view and present tense of the story work. It puts the reader in the middle of the action, rather than being an observer, and adds to the blur between reality and imagination that occurs.

I'll be honest, I had an idea of what was really going on in the story with some of the first clues, but I attribute that to my usual wibbly-wobbly entertainment tastes. My mind goes to the most convoluted solution, and I work backwards from there. However, that's not to say I didn't enjoy the story. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

I think, overall, the imagery was effective, the story was well-crafted, and it was just the right amount of creepy for me.

I think I'll likely read Aura again sometime in the future, when I'm not reading it for work. Now that I've (sort of) studied it, I'd like to read it again for pleasure and see if it comes across any differently to me.

I definitely encourage you to read it for yourself. It's a quick read, and definitely worth it, in my opinion.

My rating:

04 October 2013

Pushing forward

This long, strange, hard transition that's been going on in my life has been dominating my thoughts (and energy) lately. It's been frustrating and there are times I'm sure I'll be in this state of transition forever.

This post is not about that.

This post is about the coffee house book.

In the free moments between the munchkins, getting settled and my crazy work load, I've been working on the coffee house book. And I've made some really good progress on it, too. (Who needs sleep, anyway?) And the best part is that I've fallen in love with the project all over again.

The characters are interesting to me. And the boring ones are interesting in their boringness. There are characters I like and some I dislike. I'm enjoying giving each of them a voice through the story I'm telling.

As you probably know if you've been reading this blog for a while, the coffee house book is just the first in a collection (not a series, mind, but books that are interrelated but stand alone). And in some ways, the coffee house book is sort of setting up some of the future books. That's another fun part of it to me--adding in the little nods to other books that readers will pick up on later, and, in a few cases, laying the foundation for the stories in other books.

I've been working on this book for a long time. Almost ten years, to be honest. But I always come back to it. Whatever else I work on, I can't stop thinking about this project. And that's why I keep working on it, little by little.

It's encouraging to have made so much progress over the past few weeks. And it seems like the more I'm able to get done, the more I want to get done. Maybe that's why it was easy in the beginning to make excuses for not starting. It was overwhelming. Now that all the background work is done and I'm in the middle of actually writing, it feels more like something I can actually accomplish.

I hope to have the first draft done by the end of the year. In the meantime, I'll just keep pushing forward, word by word.

How's your work in progress going?

03 October 2013

Starting to feel settled

I've been in the new place a couple of weeks now (my move-in date got delayed for a variety of reasons, including the promise of new flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms, and all new appliances), and I'm finally starting to feel settled, and like this is where I live, not just where I'm staying.

Of course, when I was in the hotel, I definitely didn't feel like I actually lived in Florida. Now that I'm in my new place and getting everything arranged the way I want, it's feeling much more like home, little by little.

I had a strange moment this week when I bought a ceramic.... "thing" for my kitchen utensils to sit in. (It's not a jar, and not really a pot.... you know what I mean. A thing.) I had lots to choose from, and I picked one I liked, took it home and put my utensils in it. Then moved it to the other side of the stove (because I'm left-handed). And in that moment, I realized that I'm right where I need to be.

It may be silly or cheesy, but I've really struggled with this move to Florida. Not only because my entire family except for the munchkins are in the Midwest, but because of the major career change that came with the move, and the major change in my short- and long-term plans.

Maybe that's part of why it's taking me so long to feel more at home here: I'm still working on adjusting my plans. I know that's what life is, but it doesn't mean it's always easy. This is one of the not-easy phases of my life. And I'm adjusting, making it all work for me.

It was a strange revelation to come on the heels of putting a spatula in a thing, but there you go.