Let me fill you in

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  I am such a blogging slacker.  I don’t even have a good excuse, but for all 5 of you who read this (when you see it posted on my facebook page), here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Publishing Honor’s Lark!  The book went live on May 13th on Amazon, with the official release (i.e. me telling everyone I know about it) on May 15th.  Sales and reviews have been trickling in slowly (like really slowly.  like glacially slowly.  like the hare lapped the tortoise twice and is coming up on lap #3), but I’m so proud of it.  Even if only one person buys it and reads it, I’ll be happy (and my mom did both, so I’m good!).
  • Fulfilling a lifelong dream.  My friend Brooke and I went on a 9 day trip to London, baby!  It was amazing.  I’ve been jokingly calling it my Jane Austen pilgrimage because we literally did everything I could find that was Jane Austen related.  We went to her house in Chawton, which has been converted to a museum, and saw the rooms where she ate, slept, and most importantly – wrote.  It was a literal dream come true.  I cried. Not heaving sobs or anything, but dainty, Austen-like tears.  (Hell, I cried when the plane landed in London.)  We went to the British Library, where they have a copy of Persuasion written in her hand and her old writing desk.  We went to the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, where she once lived.  We walked streets and saw buildings she wrote about.  We did a lot of other things in London and it was all amazing, but I would have been happy to just travel to Chawton and spend all day there.
  • Celebrating.  My friend Tracy Banghart’s self-published book, Shattered Veil, was bought by Alloy Entertainment as part of the launch of their Amazon digital first imprint!  The book (which is amazing and you should definitely read) is now titled Rebel Wing and is available exclusively on Amazon.  We went out last night and had a blast celebrating the awesomeness that is Tracy and her book.  You should definitely go and check out the twitter feed from the party, after all, you need to know what the official hashtag (#flamingscorpion) is all about.
  • Celebrating.  My two best friends both had babies in May!  I have two beautiful new nieces, Finley and Emerson.  They are so sweet.  I’ve been so busy, I’ve only been able to see Finley once, but I’m going to rectify that really soon.
  • Celebrating.  My sister is pregnant again!  Another little boy or girl will be joining our family in January.  Plus, we had an adorable Minnie Mouse-themed second birthday party for my niece Addison in June.
  • Turning 30.  Oh, the big 3-0.  It came, it went, I survived.  I even got a tattoo in honor of the occasion!  Abby would be so proud.
The Honor's Lark paperbacks arrive
The Honor’s Lark paperbacks arrive
My new tattoo.  Sometimes I need a reminder...
My new tattoo. Sometimes I need a reminder…
My sister, niece, and brother-in-law at the cutest Minnie Mouse birthday party ever
My sister, niece, and brother-in-law at the cutest Minnie Mouse birthday party ever
Jane Austen's home in Chawton
Jane Austen’s home in Chawton

I’m Very Disappointed

in the citizens of my state today. I voted this morning against Amendment 1, and I know a lot of my friends and colleagues did as well, but unfortunately, more people voted for it. When, when America, will you live up to your reputation? When will you stop claiming to be the land of freedom and tolerance and actually become that land?

I’m a single, straight, childless woman. The fact that the passage of this amendment does not directly affect me right now does not make the passage of it any less offensive to me. I’m ashamed. Ashamed to live in a state that would not only consider the creation of such an amendment to our State’s Constitution, but would also pass it in a majority election.

Equality should be for all- not just for those who think and act like one group wants them to.

Have we made no progress since the Civil Rights Movement? Where is our compassion for our fellow man? Our love for him? Our solidarity? What are we so afraid of?

I’ve Been Busy

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, I’ve been a busy girl!  Here’s what I’ve been up to:Image

3/17/12 St. Patrick’s Day weekend with my sister and brother-in-law in Charlotte.  Had an amazing time drinking and walking around all day (2 things I never do!)

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3/19/12 My nephew, Lane, was born!  He was a really big baby- 9 lbs 10 oz!

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3/24/12 My Brookie got married!  Above is the Bridesmaids’ (and Bridesman’s) luncheon.  Below is the happy couple.

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3/31/12 Altar Ego Fashion Show which featured some gorgeous table designs by your’s truly and a brilliant team of event professionals.

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4/3-6/12 Seattle, Baby!  My old college buddy, Brittany, and I went to visit my old college roommate, Brad.  We saw all the main touristy-type sites, plus Brad knew the best local places to visit to get the true Seattle experience.  It was really refreshing to be able to spend time with these people I haven’t seen in years and still feel like we were close.  I think that’s something you have with college friends that you don’t really have with people from other times in your life.  In college everyone is growing and changing, so it never seems weird that they’ve evolved, you know?

More Seattle pics:

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3/31/12 I got the keys to my new apartment!  Yay!  Finally a place of my own.  I didn’t really move into it until after I got back from Seattle, though, and I’m still steadily working on making it a home.  There’s a lot of stuff I need/want, but the best part about it is my brand new, grown up bed!

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I’ve also been busy planning weddings and my sister’s baby shower:

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So I hope you’ll forgive me for being MIA!

Missing out

Days keep passing.  My life moves on every moment.  And I feel like I’m missing out.  I feel like I’m missing out on THE fundamental experiences of life.

I’ll turn 28 years old in three months.  It sounds young, but it doesn’t feel young- especially not for a woman.  Think about it- the potential for pregnancy complications and birth defects increases dramatically at age 35, which means I need to have children in the next seven years.  And even though that sounds like a fairly decent amount of time, you have to consider the time necessary to meeting, dating, and marrying the man who would be the father of my children.  Because, I’m sorry, but I’m not a person who would be strong enough to raise a child on my own.  Suddenly, seven years doesn’t feel like that much time, does it?  I think about my sister and her husband.  They started dating in high school and got married when they were 21.  He turned 30 this past November and she’ll turn 30 in four days.  They are expecting their first child in June.  Nine years of marriage, and almost 12 years together- that’s what they got before they had children.  And they still have plenty of time to have more kids if they want to.

But I’ll never have that.  It’s impossible.  I know not all relationships are the same.  Every person is different- no one has the same path in life.  I don’t know exactly how to put it, but it makes me sad – that kind of relationship was NEVER a possibility for me.  It’s unfair.

I’m turning 28 in three months and I’m not just upset that I haven’t had kids or a long term relationship.  What bothers me the most is never loving at all.  And never being loved.  In Twenty-Five, Abigail told Ben that no one had ever made her feel pretty, that no one had ever cared about her, or even liked her.  That’s me.  It’s a true for me now as it was three years ago when I wrote it.  I can’t figure out why.  It seems so incredibly unfair to me.  I can’t understand what I’ve done to deserve going through life completely alone.  Unless you’ve gone 28 (or more) years completely single- you have no idea, no idea whatsoever how it feels.  I can’t even describe it really.  Some days I’m fine.  It doesn’t even register on my radar that I’m a single person.  Other days, everything reminds me that no one loves me, and at this point, the likelihood that anyone ever will seems to be steadily decreasing.  You can’t imagine how that kind of thing affects your self-worth and overall happiness.

The absolute worst part of it is that I have no one I can really talk to about it.  The few people I have in my life who do genuinely care about me don’t understand, no matter how much they try to.  Comments like, “It’s better to be with nobody than with the wrong person,” are not helpful.  Getting advice on dealing with being single from a person who hasn’t been single since they hit puberty is not helpful.  I appreciate the thought, but it doesn’t make me feel any better.

So many instances have happened recently to bring on this onslaught of self-pity.  I’ll mention the two that are most prominent in my mind.  I was at a meeting a couple of days ago with a couple and their officiant, planning their wedding ceremony.  The officiant asked them to share something personal about themselves to be included in the address and they mentioned their belief that one of the great things about marriage is having someone who is always your fan: someone who cheers you on and supports you no matter what.  The officiant likened it to being each other’s # 1 fan.  I teared up a little during the meeting, it was so sweet.  Then later, thinking back on it, I teared up again, realizing that I had no one who could claim to be my biggest fan, and no one I could claim to be their biggest fan.

The second instance happened during the St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl I went on with my (other) sister and her husband.  At some point in the evening, my brother-in-law told a story about how he once almost punched a guy my sister hugged while they were out at a bar.  Apparently, she used to date the guy, and my bro-in-law was drunk and jealous.  I know girls aren’t supposed to want their men to be jealous, but a little bit of envy shows passion.  And once again, no one has ever felt that kind of passion for me (nor have I felt it for anyone else).

This post probably makes me sound crazy.  At least, if you are a guy, you are jumping to that conclusion.  I don’t know- maybe I am a little insane, but I don’t think I am in a bad way, and truth be told, I think guys like to use the “crazy woman” explanation any time a woman behaves in ways they can’t (or won’t try to) understand.

I don’t expect to accomplish anything by writing this, except maybe a little relief.  I know it’s not the first time I’ve indulged my sadness and bemoaned singledom via the blog, so for those of you who have read through it more than once, thank you and I’m sorry.

My Father

My father is a quiet man.  A strange man, I suppose.  He finds pleasure in few things: beer, fishing, watching sports on tv.  I often feel sorry for him because I don’t think he has any friends and I’m not sure if he’s very happy with his life.  But I also love him, very much.  The way only a daughter can love her father.

We’ve always had a different connection than he has with my other siblings.  The joke is that I’m his favorite child, but I think over the years the joke has grown less and less funny as my siblings regard him less and less.  Which also makes me sad.

Right before or right after I was born, my father was laid off from his job, so my mother became the sole breadwinner of our small family for a short time.  She went to work while he took care of my older sister and I.  Of the four of us, I was the only one who he primarily cared for during infancy.  Our family thinks this is where our special bond comes from.

I have no memory of this time of our lives, obviously, but there’s a story Mom loves to tell.  My older sister was between two and three, I was under one, and Dad was making cookies in our small Buffalo apartment.  Just the thought of Dad making cookies is pretty funny- he’s really not the domestic type at all.  But anyways.  He was making cookies, but left the apartment for a few minutes to retrieve a load from the laundry room across the hall.  When he returned, he found the door shut and locked. My sister had locked him out.

I don’t know if he panicked thinking of his young daughters all alone in the apartment with the oven on, but I’m inclined to say he didn’t.  He probably kept his head- he isn’t one to panic normally.  I don’t know who he called, or how (this was before cell phones) but eventually he got back into the apartment, where he found my sister and I shut in a closet, my sister playing school with me as if I were her very own baby doll.  I imagine he was relieved we were there, safe, but that isn’t part of the story, so I can’t know for sure.  It would ruin it to ask.

There aren’t a lot of memories of my dad from my childhood.  He worked, Mom raised us.  Mom did the girl scout troops, the PTA, the class trips and awards ceremonies.  But I remember every Christmas morning- my siblings convincing me to wake Mommy and Daddy up so we could open presents because Daddy wouldn’t get mad at Me.  And fishing- on Lake Erie in a boat with my dad, my cousin Erin, and my Uncle Jim; and on the banks of a lake at a park near our home in North Carolina.  I raced my brother back to the parking lot one time, tripped and skinned my knees so badly I still have the scars.  My dad put me in his newly remodeled Chevy pickup truck and drove to the nearest gas station, holding napkins against my knee.  He cleaned the wound with cool water from a pump outside the station’s store, gently, like my mother would have if she had been there.  And I remember hiding his cigarettes because I hated his smoking.

My friend, Myron, used to ask me if my father worked for the CIA, because he was never around, never involved like my mother.

I remember a t-shirt I had in kindergarten, “Daddy’s Girl,” it said.  Black fabric with white block letters.  I wore it to an outing, some sort of party at my teacher’s house where we played Duck, Duck, Goose.  My mother was there.  I don’t think Dad was.

I remember finding a similar shirt when I was older, middle or high school age.  It was also black, but with purple, glittery, cursive lettering also reading “Daddy’s Girl.”  I imagine he has no idea I ever possessed any such articles.

I don’t know if this is coming out right.  I never doubted his importance in our family circle.  I never resented him for not being “more involved.”  He took care of us the way he knew how- by working and bringing home a paycheck.

My biggest memory- the best- the one I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, the one I’ll remember one day when he’s gone, is the day I graduated college.  My parents, sisters, and grandmother drove to Wilmington, attended the awards ceremonies, and took me out to lunch before helping me pack up my college life and apartment so I could leave.  That night, back in our house in Burlington, standing in his kitchen, talking about God-only-knows what- probably not even really talking, maybe me just looking in the fridge- he said, “I’m proud of you.”  Then, he motioned me over and hugged me.

It’s the only hug I can remember receiving from him, even though there are pictures from when I was little.  I imagine that, unless I get married some day, it will be the only hug I ever get.  But it let me know how much he loves me, and being the only one somehow makes it mean so much more.

I Won A Writing Contest Once

when I was ten years old.  I was in the fifth grade and my AG teacher, Ms. Pyles, encouraged me to enter.  (AG stands for Academically Gifted.  Shortly after I left elementary school, they changed it to AIG, Academically and Intellectually Gifted.  I cannot attest to the truth or suitability of myself being labeled as AG, but I was tested in the third grade, and there you are.)  My best friend, Ashley, also entered and won.

I don’t have a lot of memories about the actual contest, I don’t know if other members of our AG class entered or if it was just Ashley and I and so we won by default, but I do remember Ms. Pyles inviting me to her house for tea so we could “edit” the story before it was bound into a little book.  My sister Theresa, such a great big sister, drew illustrations to go along with the story.

I’m very surprised I’ve never posted the story on this blog, because it really cracks me up, so I’m going to post it now!  I posted it on The Next Big Writer a long time ago and here are some of the remarks I got:

Well, Rachel, LOL! What a cute story for a ten year old to write. I can see how you won the contest, and I know you’re proud to look back at the little book and reminisce. While I was reading it I couldn’t help but think about that old song “Purple People Eater.”

Anyways, thanks for sharing this with us. It made me laugh!

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Ooohhh, I have three brothers, does this martian have any friends? Especially for my older brother, I would love to control him for just about ten minutes MWaaaaaahhhaaaaaaahaaaaaa. Very cool story. I wrote a novel when I was 9 called the mystery of the doorknob. My older brother found it a little bit ago and had to point out all my faults. 😦 . Very well done, a neat little story.

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LOL Rachel! THere’s still not a frickin nit in this blasted thing! And you were TEN! Oh man, you read my stuff when i was ten and you’d realize how incredibly talented you really were and still are! You’re right, your voice hasnt changed all that much, just you’ve gotten even better at storytelling.

I’d hate to be your little brother! LOL! 🙂

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Rach, when you said ten, I couldn’t resist. That’s the age my students are! I love your story! It has a clear beginning, middle, and end, which is the hardest thing to get them to do. Most of the stories end with one sentence, like: And then they went home and everything was okay. 😦

I see some typical ten year old stuff, like what is it with ‘whispering excitedly’?? lol Everyone in a story by a ten year old girl whispers excitedly.

Darn good story, dear!

Does that make you want to read it??? Okay, here you go, my contest-winning short story: “The Summer Aliens Ate My Brother’s Brain”

 

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Dedication: This book is dedicated to Theresa Hamm for illustrating my book and being a great big sister.

Hey!  My name is Rachel.  I have a brother named Danny and a sister named Amanda.  We live with Mom and Dad in Burlington, North Carolina.  My story begins on a windy July afternoon…

“Hey Danny!  Wanna play some football?  You can be the Buffalo Bills.  Please!!”  I shouted to Danny, who was in Amanda’s and my bedroom looking for something.

He came down slowly, looking smug.  “I’ll play if you let me read your journal.”

“No way!  I’ll get Manda to play with me.”  I went outside where the wind blew my hair back.

“Amanda! Where are you?” I shouted in the wind.

“I’m right here!” she yelled, jumping out of our treehouse.

“Wanna play some foo…”

“Dinnertime!” interrupted my mother.  We ran inside and ate dinner.  Then we went to bed.

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In the morning, I slipped quietly out of bed and tiptoed downstairs to Danny’s room.  The door creaked when I opened it, and I crept softly to his bed.  I slid my hand under the covers and tickled his feet.  He opened his eyes and stared blankly at the ceiling.  He didn’t laugh or say anything.  I figured he was putting on an act.  Then I saw it!  A small green and purple polka-dotted, well, thing, climbing out of Danny’s ear.

He was shaped like a human.  He had arms and legs and hands and feet.  He was just as tall as my pinkie finger.  His ears were huge, as big as his face.  He looked a lot like Ross Perot.  He stared at me blankly.

“What are you?!” I asked.

“Huh-oh, Me?! I’m a Martian!  I now own your brother’s brain,” he said gleefully.

“You mean you invaded his brain?!  I can’t believe this.  Are you sure?” I asked in one breath.

“Yes, quite sure.”

I was speechless.  I didn’t know what to do.  Suddenly I grabbed the creature. “Fix my brother now or I’ll fix you!” I was angry.  With Danny’s brain being invaded, I couldn’t tease him any more.

“Rachel, are you in there?” Amanda asked slipping into the room.

I turned around. “Look at this!” I cried thrusting the Martian in front of her.

“Cool! What is it?” Amanda exlaimed.

“A Martian!  He invaded Danny’s brain!”

“Wow!  Let’s keep him.  It’s so cool that he actually invaded Danny’s brain,” Amanda whispered excitedly.

“You know, now that I think about it, it is cool.  Let’s keep him a secret,” I said, suddenly realizing this could be exciting.

“Hey! What’s going on here?” asked the Martian.  I’m not a toy, you know.  I don’t like this!”

“Don’t worry.  Everything will be fine, just fine.  You keep controlling his brain, and we’ll keep you safe!”

“OK,” the Martian answered warily.

We all went upstairs and got dressed.  I put the Martian in my jumper pocket.  Then we went downstairs to eat breakfast.

“Mornin’ girls!  Go wake up Danny for me, will ya?” sang my mother.

“Sure thing, Mom,” I replied.  Amanda and I dashed to Danny’s room.  We went in and I got the Martian out of my pocket.

“Tell Danny to get out of bed, get dressed, and eat breakfast!” I told the Martian.  He climbed in Danny’s ear and went to work.  Danny got out of bed, dressed, and went to the table.

“All right!” Amanda shrieked.  We ran out and had breakfast.

After breakfast, I had to do the dishes.  I didn’t feel like it, so I told the Martian to tell Danny, “Clear the dishes off the table, rinse them in the sink, and put them in the washer.”

“Right.” said the Martian.  He climbed in Danny’s ear and told him, “Clear the dishes off the table, rinse them in the sink, and put them in the washer.”

Danny went in to the kitchen and got to work.  I went upstairs where Amanda was waiting.  She had set up Monopoly, and we started playing.  Then, all of a sudden, I heard the washing machine running.  I flew down the stairs and raced to the kitchen.  Danny had put the dishes in the washing machine.


“Oh, no!  What did you do?!  Oh no!  This is my fault!  I gave the wrong directions!” I exclaimed.  I turned off the washer and looked in.

“Even worse!  The dishes are broken.  What now?!” I asked myself.  I took out the pieces, and tried to put them together.

“Oh, what’s the use?”  I threw down my hands and put the pieces in the garbage.  I was just about to slip out the back door so I could go and buy new dishes, when my mom came in.

“Where are you goin’?” she asked suspiciously.

“Just out for fresh air,” I replied.  I went out and ran across the lawn.  I walked timidly to the store to buy some new dishes.  I got them, and I was out of the store.  I ran as fast as I could home.  I ran inside and put the dishes away.

I decided that this Martian thing wasn’t going to work.  Sure, it was fun for a little while, but not any more.  I talked to Amanda about this, and she agreed. So I got the

Martian out of my pocket and said, “You need to stop controlling Danny, please.  This isn’t going to work.  Will you please go back to Mars, so that we won’t get in any trouble any more?”

“Yes, I’ll go home.  Besides, I was planning on it anyway,” he replied.

“Oh, good!  Thanks so much!” Amanda shrieked.  We said goodbye to him as we watched his spaceship float in the sky.

Everything at our house turned back to normal, and no one ever heard from the Martian again.


Why I’m Awesome, if you hadn’t already figured it out

I’ve been in depression-mode for a while, I’m very sorry that I haven’t been posting any quality writing on the blog.  Especially since the site-view spikes I get after I post something very short make me feel guilty that I’ve not provided anything decent for anyone to read in a very long time.

The truth is, sometimes creativity takes work.  It’s very difficult (for me) to come up with interesting topics to write about for this blog, especially when I have to create interesting topics to write about for two other blogs now due to work.  Personal writing has taken a toll.  A very heavy toll.  And that makes me very sad.

But.  The other day, thinking about what I could possibly talk about that I haven’t already covered, I decided to give my readers a bit more of myself.  I’m already a pretty open book, I’m very honest about who I am and what’s going on with me, but I’m usually only inspired to share the crappy stuff.  The stuff that keeps me up at night and won’t allow me to move on until I’ve purged it here.  Today, I’m not going to do that.  I’m going to talk about my other side.  The side that is pure awesome.

That’s right.  I said pure awesome.  Intrigued?

1. I’m awesome because I have a lot of passion for very little things.  Like Softlips chapstick- it’s the only kind I’ll use.  And Sunkist soda- the best foods and beverages are orange, afterall.  And pens- if you haven’t figured out my love of pens yet, what are you still doing here?  I love writing with a pen for a couple of hours and then pulling it apart to see how much ink I have left in it.  Stupid, yes, I’m aware.  But I don’t really care if it’s stupid.  I like it.

2. I’m awesome because I’m independent.  I’m not always good at being independent, but I try really hard to be.  I work three jobs to pay my bills and I know how to change a flat tire on my own and while a man in my life would be nice, I certainly don’t need one.  My friends like me single and fully awesome.

3. I’m awesome because I have a great memory for nonsense.  I remember silly little stories like the time my friend Ashley made me walk into a tree while playing Ghost in the Graveyard as children- we both laugh whenever I bring that up.  I can recall random facts that I read somewhere that really only have a fraction of something to do with the main conversation, but I tell them anyways.  My boss asked me once if there was a song I didn’t know the lyrics to, which brings me to number 4.

4. I’m awesome because I love to sing, even if it sounds horrible.  I learn the words to songs after only a few listens and I love my long commutes simply because I get to listen to the radio and sing at the top of my lungs while dancing in the driver’s seat and entertaining the other drivers around me.

5. I’m awesome because I genuinely enjoy doing nice things for other people.  I love to make home-made ice creams cakes for the staff at work.  I go above and beyond for my clients.  I give compliments that are deserved and will make someone smile.

6.  I’m awesome because I love to laugh.  I like watching comedy specials on tv, I laugh aloud to books or movies.  I’m not particularly funny myself, but I appreciate someone who is.

7. I’m awesome because I’m pretty realistic.  I don’t make plans that are over-the-top or logistically impossible.  I don’t expect a white knight on a noble steed to come charging up to rescue me.  I know life isn’t always easy and most definitely isn’t fair.  I see myself through unclouded lens.

8. I’m awesome because I know my limits.  I’m not a good or particularly fun drunk, so I don’t drink a lot and when I do, I drink very little.  I’m not good at sports, so I only play them occasionally with family and then usually to made up rules where it doesn’t matter how good you are.

9. I’m awesome because I can type pretty quickly.  May not seem like something that’s too awesome, but I love the feeling of my fingers flying over the keys and letters and words suddenly appearing on the screen.

10. I’m awesome because I’m kinda a slob.  But an organized one.  Kinda.  I am pretty messy in private, but at work, everything has a place.  I’m super efficient and I know where everything belongs.

So, now, why are you awesome?

It’s Been One Year…

365 days and 100 posts.

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One year ago today, I picked up a pen and started writing down the story of how I came to pick up a pen in the first place.  It’s crazy how much (and how little) can happen in a year’s time.

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I was working at a hair salon last October, frustrated that I couldn’t pay my bills and hating how stressed out every day at work made me.  I had fallen in love with Ben Harris, the character I dreamed up to fall in love with my fictional equivalent, Abigail Bronsen.  I had never sent out a query letter and I had no idea how self-esteem crushing writing one could be.

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In November, I attempted my first NANO novel, which I called Anita’s Dream Diary.  There were certain things about ADD that I loved- the first chapter contained a rather hysterical (I think) suicide attempt- but as I kept writing, I just realized the entire style of the book wasn’t suited to my voice.  It was an interesting lesson in learning to let go when things aren’t working.  I started writing The Death Effect on Thanksgiving Day and I didn’t “win” NANO, but I’m still glad I attempted it.

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December was a big month.  I gave my boss notice and started looking for other jobs.  I knew that I was never going to be happy working as a hair salon receptionist.  So I moved on.  And on January 20th I started my new job.  As a receptionist at an orthodontist’s office.  Okay, so I’m still a receptionist, but the great thing about working at the ortho is that when I leave work- I’m done with that job.  I don’t have to worry that someone is going to call and ask me to work their shift or about the crazy guest that didn’t like her hair.  I’m not on-call 24/7.

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I went on a couple of dates in February!  It didn’t end in a love connection, but it felt good to get out there and feel some butterflies and wonder where it was going.  I hadn’t been on a date in seven years, so even being asked out boosted my confidence!

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March and April were wedding months for me.  I met with a lot of brides, worked a couple of weddings, and started planning with a full-service couple.  I really really love being a wedding coordinator.  I cannot wait until that grand day when I’ll get to do it full time.  I really hope it happens soon. I know that whenever I’m able to quit my day job to do weddings full time, I’ll be able to put a lot more of my free time into 1- writing and 2- having a social life!

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Disney World and all of it’s fantubulousness happened in May.  It was a much-much-much needed vacation.  I really needed to see my friend, Brooke, and I really needed to have some fun and some alone time with my writing.  I got all three things.  And my adorable niece, Gracyn, was born on May 24.  She is one of the happiest things in my life right now.  She’s not my actual niece, but her mother and I have been friends since first grade!

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I turned 26 in June.  If it’s is possible, I think turning 26 was more difficult than turning 25.  I had my book to focus on on my twenty-fifth birthday.  On my twenty-sixth, all I had to focus on was the fact that I was twenty-six!  I realize I’m not old.  I realize I’m still young.  But I am not living like a 26-year old.  I’m a nomad.  I don’t have a real home.  I have three jobs.  I’ve never had a relationship.  I wonder what’s wrong with me that at 26 I’m not more grounded.  Some people would be happy with leading this kind of existence.  I am just not one of those people.  I like order and stability.  I can’t understand what’s been keeping me from living the life I want.

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A client was unhappy with me in July.  I can’t explain how uncomfortable and upset that makes me.  I want to make everyone happy.  I am sickeningly accommodating of people, especially my clients.  It keeps me up at night when someone is angry at me.  But I had to push through it, because I kept getting prospective clients and I still had other weddings to plan and coordinate.  It wasn’t easy for me.  And I still think about it sometimes on my long commutes to and from work.  I hate that I can’t get over things like that.

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The Hamm family took a trip to visit more of the Hamms in August.  We spent a long weekend with my grandparents in Buffalo. It was another much needed vacation.  My really good friends Ashley and Charles moved to Burlington with beautiful Gracyn around the same time.  I’m soooooo happy I finally have close  friends nearby.  And that I don’t have to spend all my weekends alone in my bedroom!

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September and October have been wedding-crazy-busy again!  As you can see, the year started with writing and it pretty much fazed out and into wedding work.  I wish I had an extra twelve hours every day so that I could focus equally on both my loves.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to.  I miss writing.  I can’t remember the last time I sat and wrote anything new.  I’ve been slowly editing Twenty-Five for the past month, but haven’t picked up a pen and written anything fresh.

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So that’s where I am, on this, the one-year anniversary and one-hundredth post of my blog.  I hope I’ll have another eventful year.  I hope I’ll grow and maybe have another finished book by the time October 15, 2011 comes around.  Maybe I’ll be in love.  Maybe I’ll be living on my own.  Or maybe I’ll have learned to start living in the moment and not looking to the future.  Who knows.  But I hope you’ll stay along for the ride.

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Quick reminder- I’ll start posting my book chapter by chapter on Sunday.  Please, if you are a regular reader, but have never commented- let me know how you like it!  And share it with everyone you know.  Especially if you know any literary agents or publishers 🙂

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And thank you so much for reading, for following this journey I’m taking to become a real writer.  I appreciate it more than I can say.

The Books I’ve Read This Year, Part 2

My original plan was to post this on New Year’s Eve, but it’s getting kind of long and I need a 98th post and don’t really have a topic for one, so here’s PART TWO of the Books I’ve Read this Year!  If I get a chance to read any more- which seriously might not happen because I have 3 weddings coming up in the span of 6 weeks, and that’s a ton of work, and I’m also thinking about giving NANO another shot this year, so November is out for the most part, plus polishing Twenty-Five and posting it here, well, you get the idea- then I’ll post a part three.

Quick Stat update before I get into the books:

This is my 98th post.  There are only 11 days left until my one-year anniversary!

My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands. Read for the first time.  Finished 7/11/10.  I’m sure there will be some readers out there scratching their heads- why is the virgin reading about one night stands?  Well, I blame (and thank) my sisters.  My older sister and I went to Charlotte for the July 4th weekend because that’s where my younger sister and her husband live and it was her birthday on July 5th.  While we were there we somehow made an agreement to each buy one of Chelsea Handler’s books and we’d read them and write notes to each other in the back and then swap.  Younger sis got Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea, older sis got Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang, which left My Horizontal Life for me. (I’m the middle sis, I pretty much just do what I’m told) It’s probably appropriate seeing how I’m the only one still capable of having a one night stand (since they are both married).  Sadly, I have no desire or inclination to act upon this power I possess.  Which is how I know that Chelsea Handler and I could never be friends.  No matter how funny I find her.

The Choice: Read for the first time.  Finished 7/12/10.  This book wasn’t bad.  But it wasn’t as good as I think it should have been.  I normally love Nicholas Sparks, because I love love stories.  But I feel like he put all of the good stuff in Part One of the book and half-assed Part Two.  I just didn’t feel emotionally connected to the characters at the end of the book.  This sparked a conversation with my mother who believes that I don’t enjoy reading anymore because I’m reading everything through a writer’s eye.  She’s partially correct.  I definitely read differently now that I’ve spent so much time reviewing and making suggestions of other people’s work and having other people reviewing and making suggestions about my work.  I hate getting reviews of my work, honestly.  I know I need it, but I hate it.  It usually makes me feel like no one understands me and it is so frustrating.  But anyways, back to the point.  My mom loved this book.  I thought it was okay.  I would have written it differently- and therein lies the problem.  Everyone who writes would have written it differently- would write my book(s) differently, very often suggest that I should write my books differently.  And I think that’s why I’ve stopped working on my books.  I’m sick of being told to write it differently.  So, maybe I should stop imagining how I would write someone else’s…

Bleachers: Read for the first time.  Finished 8/6/10 (on the flight to Buffalo).  This book was really good.  I enjoyed the simplicity of it.  No crazy complicated plot or characters.  Just real life people dealing with real life stuff- only fictionally.  I wasn’t sure if I’d like a John Grisham story that wasn’t based around lawyers or a courtroom, but it worked.

Same as it Never Was: Read for the first time.  Finished 8/9/10 (read during the trip to Buffalo, on the plane ride home from Buffalo and in my house when I should have been returning emails after I returned from Buffalo) LOVED LOVED LOVED this book.  Claire LaZebnik! I’m so happy I bought one of her books at random and was able to discover her beautiful stories.  Why can’t I write like this?  Did I mention that she sent this one to me?  And autographed it? But that’s not why I loved it.  I just couldn’t stop reading it.  And I’m such a sucker for a love story.  I want a love story!

Also read for the second time.  Finished 10/2/10.  I couldn’t help myself.  I really wanted to read it again.  And I’ve been so good this year about repeats, that I let myself.  Besides, I had to get in Claire LaZebnik mode so I could read her NEW book. (See below!)

Other People’s Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See: Read for the first time.  Finished 8/20/10.  This was a collection of actual real-life love (and some hate) letters written between couples.  Some of the letters were so sweet I actually teared up.  I saw this book when I was in Buffalo (visiting my grandparents) at a store in the mall and I really wanted it, but it was like $23!  Which I feel is a ridiculous price to pay for any book.  So I found it later on Amazon for cheaper and I’m so glad I bought it.  It’s going to be my go-to “I need a smile” book from now on.

Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang: Read for the first time.  Finished 8/21/10.  The second round of my sisters-bonding readathon.  I liked this book better than the first one, I thought the stories were funnier and more likely to be true- plus some of them had pictures accompanying the chapters.  This book was more about her relationship with her family and her boyfriend, and not about random one-night stands.  Perhaps that is why I enjoyed it more.  I mentioned in the blurb about My Horizontal Life that we were writing little notes in the backs of the books to be passed on to each other and I wanted to share a little bit of what I wrote in this one.

Interesting fact: Somewhere around chapter 5 or 6 I told our mother she could really be a bitch sometimes.  I think Chelsea would approve.

Now to clarify, yes, I did indeed tell my mother this.  But, in all fairness, she said I could be a bitch sometimes too.  And that’s why I love my mother.  Oh, and no, at no point in the book does Chelsea call her mother a bitch.  She does refer to her father as mentally retarded, psychotic, and delusional though, and devotes several pages to the idea of her brothers and sisters and herself euthanizing him.  I would never do that to either of my parents.  I don’t think.

Jesus Wants to Save Christians: Read for the first time.  Finished 9/2/10.  My really good friend Ashley bought this book for me after the incident with Religious Guy- and I have to say, it was just amazingly good.  The book is about Jesus’s real message and how modern America has gone off-track and built an empire instead of pouring out our bodies to do good for the poor and needy.  The larger and more powerful an empire becomes, the more it feels greed and entitlement, which just leads to violence and the acquisition of weapons in order to maintain the power, which leads to more greed and entitlement.  We are not entitled!  Christians need to remember that God’s message is one of love, humility, assistance, sympathy and empathy.

My favorite quote from the book:

“When people are manipulated with guilt and fear and when they are told that if they don’t do certain things they’ll be illegitimate, judged, condemned, sent to hell forever- that’s violence.”

Please go out and buy this book.  Read it.  Live it.  And share it.  For my part, I already try to be super conscious of keeping my judgments at bay, but I’m not perfect- I have to work harder to really live what I believe.  I also need to remember that I have a good life and that there are so many people out there who are worse off.  I need to be generous with myself and with what I have and always remember that when I help the less fortunate, that is when I’m truly living the life God wants me to live.

Conversations with the Fat Girl: Read for the first time.  Finished 9/5/10.  I bought this book because of the title and because, let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of fat literary heroines for young 26-year old tubbies like me to look up to.  I actually related to a lot of what the main character, Maggie, was going through, but I can’t say that I really enjoyed the book.  I hated how the author started every chapter with backstory.  And I hated how the main character constantly contradicted herself.  And I really really really hated the dialogue.  It was soo unrealistic.  Like she needed to spin the conversation so the characters HAD to say what she was making them say, but most of the time, the things they were saying made no sense.  And she used a lot of question marks in dialogue after phrases that were not questions.  Really annoying?  Yes- absolutely annoying.  I never felt immersed or engaged in the actual story, I could feel the author on every page.  Very disappointing.  But like I said, I did relate a lot to the main character.  I’ve felt like a fat girl for most of my life.  I know the pain of trying on outfit after outfit and nothing fitting; of going out with a group full of girls, none of whom are larger than a size 4, who can’t understand why I feel uncomfortable talking to guys.  Hell, I even make my MC’s pretty and skinny so that I can live vicariously through them.  What the hell is wrong with me?

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Read for the first time.  Started and Finished 9/6/10.  Great book.  What a character.  I mean the whole book was Holly Golightly, and it was just entrancing.  Everything Capote wrote about Holly brought her to life.  I could see her, hear her.  Amazing.

If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now: Read for the first time.  Started and finished 10/3/10.  Claire LaZebnik knocked it out of the park again.  I have to say I’m wildly thrilled that my random bookstore adventure one day led me to her books and blog.  Her MCs always seem to be in a place that makes sense to me personally- I can really relate.  In this case, Rickie is a single 25 year-old woman living at home with mom and dad and wondering when her life is going to change.  Can I just say, um, hello!  Me too!  Of course, Rickie has the added responsibility of a 6 year-old son and feelings for said son’s PE Coach whereas I have a bag of Doritos and good ole Ben & Jerry (they never let me down), but I still got her frustration with her mother and trying to figure out exactly what she’s supposed to do to change her life when she feels stuck in the situation she’s in.  Of course, I cried at the end.  Because I don’t really consider a book good unless it makes me cry.