Milestones

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What would we have done if we had only eight fingers instead of ten? Would we have lost eight and nine and gone straight from seven to ten? How would we have marked significant milestones that we now note in terms of fives and tens?

These are the questions that popped in my head with so many milestones happening in these current months. I know… How fascinating is it to be inside my head?

Today I turn 43, a nice prime number. Divisible only by itself and one. But less than a month from now is the 25th anniversary of my high school graduation — something that requires five hands to count.

About the same time is the 20th anniversary of me tucking my tail between my legs, dropping out of grad school, and lighting a few bridges from Rock Hill to Greenville as I moved back home.

Then last month, this blog observed its tenth anniversary. No, you didn’t miss the party; I’ve been late throwing one.

Ten years ago, for the second time, I got shuffled out of the writing department at my job because The Powers That Be wanted production instead of creativity. When the creative department was all but dissolved, I got moved back to producing newsletters, again.

When emailing back and forth with a former coworker who had moved to Asheville, I noticed a link in his email signature. I clicked on it and wound up on his own website. I didn’t know it was called a blog, although it was hosted on this site called Blogger. I could have my own website. For free! I could post my own writing? Sign me up!

I felt energized and showed my new site to The Husband and shared my triumph about how I would show them.

And then The Husband said, “You can’t write about work on here?”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he is the big, fat safety pin to my floating, pink balloon.

“Wha-huh?” I asked.

“You start bitching about work on there and someone finds it and you’re fired.”

So with my bubble burst, I found other things to write about. I had a book of writing prompts, and that was a main source at the beginning. Eventually, I posted other stuff I’d written and talked about my struggles with writing my own fiction, but then this blog sort of turned into a chronicle of my life as well — when I had my gall bladder removed, when my grandmother passed, when I lost my job, when my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma, when our sweet dog, Domino passed, and when Dad lost his battle last summer. From the time I was a teenager, writing was an outlet for frustration and sadness. I suppose it should be no different now.

However, for my 43rd birthday, I have given myself a present. Last night, I posted a very early draft of a story on Wattpad. Yes, I’ve posted some of my own original work on this site before, but Wattpad has thousands of users who will see this story and be able to “like” it as well as comment on it. I have metaphorically split myself open for a public feast, and it’s pretty freakin’ scary.

Click here if you want to read it. It’s a young adult/teen fiction kind of thing, so if you have teenagers, they might like it as well. It’s got language (sorry, Mom). I’d give it a strong PG-13.

It’s a present and a commitment to myself that by the time my 44th birthday rolls around, I will have finished a rough draft of this book that I will edit and eventually put up for sale as an ebook. Because screw the whole traditional process of getting published. I’m tired of waiting.

And I’m sure as hell not getting any younger.

The R Word

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Finish LineToday’s topic from the Daily Post was to name a resolution I actually kept. My immediate thought was, “All year?” Because the answer to that is just me laughing hysterically. I think the longest I’ve gone with a New Year’s resolution is four months.

I know I’m not the only one who’s never kept a resolution, but I also know that I have this ugly flaw of not finishing things. (Also, hitting on another Daily Post topic.) I love to plan, make lists, envision the big picture. I get all wide-eyed and excited and Cinlach tells me how cute I am (probably because he knows I’m going to crash and burn). Then I get bogged down in the minutiae, the setbacks, the lack of time. I get impatient and just want it done.

So when I see things aren’t going according to plan, I give up. I learned in therapy that this is actually a perfectionist trait. Some people (your obsessive cleaners and workaholics) will go and go and go until a project is done while others (yours truly) wait until they believe they have the time to devote all their time and energy and complete the task from start to finish. This was the reasoning I gave my mother when we talked about my cluttered office. I don’t think she bought it.

Yes, I know that I can spread things out and stop even though they’re not finished, but sometimes my brain doesn’t comprehend that — that’s one of the reasons why I went to therapy.

So that flaw brings me to the real gist of today’s post. Thoughts on Plot provided a great exercise for setting goals for 2013. (I refuse to use the R word.) Here’s her four-part process and my responses.

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This scene dialogue runs through my head on occasion.

  1. Pick one word to frame your year. Finish: I think I’ve sufficiently explained why.
  2. Pick a verse or quote that embodies this word. “You fail only if you stop writing.” — Ray Bradbury. So many times we all avoid doing something from a fear of failure. This quote is a great reminder that we don’t truly fail unless we don’t finish.
  3. Pick some categories in your life you want this word to impact.
    1. Writing (short stories): No one publishes unfinished short stories.  
    2. Organizing (my home office): Sitting with my back to the clutter doesn’t make it go away.
    3. Walking (5k & 10k events): It’s something that gets me out of my house and out of my comfort zone.
  4. Pick a friend who you can share your goal with and encourage one another this year. I’m currently taking applications for this position, so feel free to submit your resume to — kidding! I actually haven’t asked said person yet, but I have someone in mind.

I figure I’m already doing pretty well. When my freelance gig ended in November, I set three monthly goals for myself: write one short story a month (rough draft), read at least a book a month, and post at least one blog post per week. It’s January 2nd, and I’ve posted two entries this week. Pardon me while I do the butter churn and then throw the goat with the manliest grunt I can muster.

Little victories, people, little victories.

2012 in Review

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A cold, rainy day here in Upstate SC provided the perfect opportunity for me to look back on my 2012. All in all, it wasn’t as eventful as 2011 but not nearly as sucky as 2010 — or 2008 for that matter — but I find myself comparing years to 2002. For some reason I look back on that year as a great one — perhaps because I was finally writing on a full-time basis and we had just bought our first house. Things just seemed more promising — although things aren’t bleak right now. I don’t know. I suppose I spend too much time comparing years instead of trying to make the current one the best it can be.

When January 2012 began, I really thought we were in for a lousy year. Our 11-year-old shepherd/collie mix, Domino, had just been diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, elevated liver enzymes, and diabetes. In the first two weeks of the year, we dropped at least $700 at the vet. Yeah, happy New Year to us. Combine that with my dark-thirty toilet demolition on New Year’s Eve, and I pretty much decided to just go stick my head in the sand until December 31st.

But we bought a new toilet tank, and Domino’s liver enzymes stabilized in February so that we wouldn’t have to fork over $200 for those meds every two weeks. Plus we all got the hang of the twice-daily shot routine, so things started leveling out nicely.

At the end of March, despite the lack of training, I did my second Cooper River Bridge Run — which I vowed never to do without training again, especially since I might have to toss a bitch into the Cooper River.

It took me until April to actually post on here again — and even then, it was a blip of a conversation between Cinlach and me. I’m trying to change that frequency, but more on that later.

I hit the big 4-0 in May and celebrated with a party at a local pub. Some friends came, we had drinks, we played Rock Band, and we almost burned down the bar with my cake (kidding!). I think a good time was had by all. And then the next week I came down with my first verifiable case of food poisoning. One of my friends (this chick) and another coworker took me out to eat for my birthday and let me pick the place, so I chose one of those hibachi places. Here’s a fun fact you might not know: Rice has a naturally-occurring toxin that is released if not cooked/stored/reheated properly. Who knew? I sure didn’t, and apparently the hibachi restaurant didn’t either.

I’m still wary about rice, and I haven’t been able to go to another hibachi place since. It’s not that I’m necessarily afraid of getting food poisoning again, but you know, once that comes back up on you, you just don’t have the appetite for it.

We went to the Heroes Convention in June — its 30th anniversary — and Stan “The Man” Lee was there. We didn’t pay the buttload of money to stand in line to get a pic and autograph, but he did show up to the artists’ auction on that Saturday night.

In July, I finally sat down and gave a real post: a tribute to my friend Carmen, who had passed away in December 2011.

Also that month, I delved deeper into geekdom and started doing some D & D type role playing stuff. Right now, the coolest things about it are painting the figurines and collecting the neat-looking dice.

The hard drive to my iMac died in August, but luckily, I have a back-up external drive and an Apple Care plan. So I didn’t lose too much stuff, and there was no charge to replace the hard drive. Ironically, two months later, I received an email from Apple about the hard drive issue that encouraged owners of iMacs to go ahead and back up their stuff and go get a new hard drive. Thanks, Apple.

August also brought a few tense weeks for us in that the company Cinlach worked for was not renewing their contract with a huge client, so we didn’t know who would pick up the contract and if he would have a job with them and if he did, would said job be here in town? Lots of hand-wringing and back-up plans being made.

But in September, the new company was announced and decided to hire him — as well as keep operations in town — so we dodged a bullet. That same month, I signed up for several fall 5k events to start training for the Cooper River Bridge Run. My first event was the Race for the Cure; I finished in 1:04:49. I felt pretty good about that since I’d been walking diligently for a couple of weeks.

I kept improving in October with the Upstate Step Out to Stop Diabetes, finishing in 52 minutes, and the Spinx Run Fest, finishing in 57:50. Also in October was the International Day of the Girl, which I observed with a letter to my 15-year-old self.

In November, we went to see Kevin Smith at the Peace Center, and we had awesome seats on the second row. He says he’s coming back this year, and the husband and I plan to be there again — thoroughly enjoyed his stories. During this month, I also ended my freelance gig with LivingSocial. Well, I actually didn’t, they ended it and hundreds of other freelance gigs (no doubt in an effort to conserve costs). On the one hand, I’m gonna miss the money. (Boy, am I gonna miss that money.) But on the other, it did take up a lot of time from my own writing — whether for this blog or for my own fiction.

December brought one final 5k, the Furman Flatlander, which I finished in 57:24 — thanks to help from Kaylin and her urging that we beat the whiny girl who kept lagging behind her mother. My husband and I also celebrated our 13th anniversary. We went to a lot of hockey games. The world didn’t end. And the holidays flew by in a blur.

So here I sit on January 1st, the last of my eleven days off — the longest streak I’ve had since being laid off in 2008 — plotting and planning for my 2013. I do plan on posting here a lot more often now that I don’t have daily deal copy for LivingSocial, and I ‘d like to build this thing up more. A few years ago I had quite a few regular readers and commenters, and then I got slack and things just sort of dropped off.

I leave you with a video slideshow of some of my favorite 2012 photos. Happy New Year, y’all!

Back to Basics

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It sounds a little cliché these days:  “We need to get back down to basics.”  Not the best title, but the basic premise behind me starting this blog was to do more writing, and while things started off strong for about two years, the number of posts have definitely dwindled down.

But I want to get back to the writing, so I had already planned to commit myself to posting something every day:  a story, a poem, some thoughts, a funny conversation, or even a photo.  The folks at WordPress.com have even come up with a Post a Day Challenge, so I’m taking them up on it — 1 post a day, 7 posts a week, 365 posts in 2011.

See ya January 1st!