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.

When it Rains…

…It pours.

I’m not boy-crazy, though I do realize that a lot of my recent posts have dealt with persons of the opposite gender.  Love and dating have been on my mind a lot lately, but I blame society and all of the stupid happy people around me.  (Okay, I blame myself for a good portion of the happy people around me, I did make a conscious choice to spend my weekends coordinating weddings, but I’d rather blame society.)

I’ve spent most of my adolescent and adult life wondering why guys aren’t interested in me.  And then, for some reason, all at once, guy after guy pops up and makes me question whether there really were no guys interested before or if I was too busy belittling myself to notice the guys who were.

Today I went to get my oil changed.  When my car was ready, an employee called my name and I went to the desk to pay.  I took one of my headphones out, but left the other one in while the guy told me my total and I handed over my debit card.  While the transaction was running he asked me something, but I was looking away and didn’t really register that he had spoken for a couple of seconds.  When I did, I took out my other headphone and he repeated himself, “What have you been up to?”

“Just working.”  I shrugged my shoulders and put my book back in my purse.

“Do you remember me?” he asked.  I finally looked at him, trying to recognize someone from high school, but though he looked vaguely familiar, no name came to me.

“Should I?”  I couldn’t believe I asked that, but it was the first thing I could think of to say.  He smiled and pointed at his name on his shirt.  It took me another second or two and then it dawned on me.  I had dated this guy!  Not seriously, we went out a couple of times when I was a teenager, he used to be a regular at the skating rink where I worked in high school.  (I know skating rinks are incredibly uncool, but most of the jobs I’ve had have been incredibly uncool.)

I let him know I knew who he was and asked what he’d been up to.  He said he thought I looked familiar but wasn’t positive until he saw my name.  It was a very strange encounter.  I didn’t really know what to say to him, I didn’t really remember much about him, not even his last name.  What I did remember was kissing him in a movie theater.  I’ve only kissed a few guys- four to be exact.  And he was one of them.  Yet, I hadn’t thought about him in years.  Probably not since I quit the skating rink (almost 10 years ago).

There are guys in my past that I cared very deeply about, even though they didn’t feel the same for me.  I still think of them sometimes and wonder what they are doing and how they are.  Not in a creepy stalker way, but I’m sure you know what I mean.  People who are important to you have a way of imprinting themselves on your life, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen or talked to them.

I found it odd that this guy hadn’t imprinted.  I would have thought that one of the few men I’d kissed would have, you know?  I suppose if someone had asked me this morning how many guys I’d kissed I would have been able to tell them and I would have been able to name this guy, but I can’t be positive about that.

I don’t know why it affects me so much, but I feel guilty about it.  And at the same time, I wonder if I’m that forgettable.  Probably to some.  But maybe there are men out there who I imprinted on somehow.  I can’t be certain that’s the case, but maybe.

Sorry, back to my original topic.  When it rains, it pours.  I thought when I turned twenty-five approximately 10 months ago that this was going to be the year I met someone.  I was sure of it.  I wrote down a love story in the hopes that it would propel fate or destiny or whatever.  Of course it didn’t.  Then I stopped expecting it to happen.  And of course as soon as I stopped expecting it to happen, Religious Guy asked me out (and dumped me- although it wasn’t really a dumping since we were only trying each other out, more like he decided I didn’t fit) and then Waiter Guy tells me I’m beautiful and then Dog Guy appears to flirt with me and then I run into Guy-I-Once-Kissed Guy.  Now, I know none of these guys are the someone I’ve been hoping for for so long, but they are building up my confidence a little.  I believe in myself a little more.  Enough to smile at Dog Guy rather than looking away immediately.  Maybe in a couple of weeks I’ll have enough courage to actually speak to him.  Maybe twenty-five wasn’t my year.  Maybe twenty-six won’t be either, but it’s looking a lot better today than it was yesterday.

This is supposed to be a blog about writing and about me trying to be a writer.  But sometimes it’s so much more than that for me.  I know I ramble about random and stupid and silly things sometimes, but sometimes this blog is all I have.  After the encounter today, I really wanted to tell someone about it.  But I didn’t have anyone I could tell it to.  I’ve been closed off for a long time.  I keep to myself because friends who I thought I was close to let me down, they didn’t care about me the way I thought they did.  Now I have 2 friends who I consider to be close friends, but they aren’t physically close.  And the truth is, it’s still hard for me to talk to them about certain things.  I don’t know how to bring something like this up with them.  I end up feeling guilty for talking about me instead of them and so I make light of whatever it is I wanted to tell them in the first place.  I feel selfish if the “problem” I have isn’t big in comparison to a problem they may have.

This blog is the only place I can truly express myself and my fears and tell others about things happening in my life without feeling guilty because I’m talking about me.  I used to keep a journal and if I went back to read my old thoughts, I’m sure they would sound an awful lot like this blog- often repetitive and back and forth emotionally.  I love life, I hate myself, I love myself, I hate life- you get the picture.  I often wonder if I’m optimistic, pessimistic, or just plain foolish and sometimes I wonder if I’m bi-polar.  My mood swings probably aren’t that extreme, but what can I say, I over-think and over-analyze everything.  All of which to say that while I still intend to use this blog to chronicle my writing journey, I think it’s important to use it to chronicle the bigger journey that I’m on, too.

A journey to be happy.

The Road That Led to Now

It’s amazing how seemingly insignificant moments in life can become catalysts for major change.  At least that’s what I’ve been told.  And it must be true because I’ve witnessed the phenomenon time and time again.

I tend to be the type of person who thinks I always know what path I’m walking when, in reality, I could stumble upon a fork in the road, trip over a tree root, or walk right into a dead end at any moment.

I think I can trace my first fork in the road back to my senior year of high school.  I desperately wanted to go to NYU and pursue a theater/drama degree.  (Does the “desperately” show my penchant for theatrics?)  One look at the cost of tuition, though, and I found myself at UNCW the next August instead.

It wasn’t a bad place to be, but for some reason at the end of my freshman year I decided that as much as I loved acting, I didn’t have what it took to actually be an actress.  I can’t pinpoint the particular tree root in the road which caused this loss of faith, but I’m sure there was one.

I switched majors.  To Criminal Justice.  I thought I’d go to law school and maybe be a criminal attorney, a prosecutor or public defender (I always went back and forth on which side of the court I wanted to be on).  I worked hard, got good grades, and took the LSAT.  I applied to four different schools, confident that my 3.97 overall GPA and 4.0 major GPA would earn acceptance.  Only, they didn’t.

Facing a dead end for what felt like the first time in my life, I decided to take some time off.  I moved home with my parents and waited tables to save money.  I was reading Pride and Prejudice for the twentieth-or-so time and realized I should get an English degree.

Of course!  I’d always loved to read.  Why hadn’t I thought about it before?  The fact that I didn’t take a single English course in undergrad didn’t discourage me from this new path on the road.

So I packed up and moved to Raleigh, enrolling in two graduate level courses in English Literature as a Lifelong Education student.  I loved every second of it.  But I hit another dead end.  The semester came to a close and I couldn’t afford all the costs associated with applying to and continuing a graduate program.

Instead, I moved back home again and tried to kickstart another new career.  I landed an internship with a wedding consultant.  I know, I sound like I have multiple personalities, right?

After six months, the consultant I was assisting announced that she and her family were moving, but she knew of someone I could work with.  I switched companies and began taking on my own clients. Yes!  Great!  I thought I finally found my career.

And maybe I did.  I don’t know.  I’m still working weddings, but I don’t have enough clients to do it full time.

Being a single girl who is constantly surrounded by wedding bliss isn’t as difficult as I expected it to be.  In fact, I love watching the happy couples I work with pledge to spend their lives together.  It’s amazing to be a part of that kind of love.  At least, it was until…

My younger sister got engaged.

I knew it was coming.  Our whole family knew it was coming.  But it still felt like my feet got tangled up in a huge tree root, sending me face first into the dirt and gravel.  Younger sisters aren’t supposed to get married first.

But I handled it.  What else could I do?  And I really was happy for her.  She choose a great guy who really loves her, how could I deny her that?  When she asked questions about planning or etiquette, I was excited and pleased to lend my expertise.

It was the constant reminders from my mother that drove me to tears on more than one occasion, though.  Poor Mom!  She didn’t know, how could she, how much it hurt to be reminded every day that I WAS NOT getting married.  And not only that I wasn’t getting married, but that I probably wouldn’t be for a very long time.

So, one evening, after listening to her complain for the millioneth time about not being able to give my sister more money for the wedding, I decided I needed to do something to take control of the feelings of desperation surging through me.

It was another fork in the road.

On that day, I picked up a pen.  And began to write.