Monday, July 30, 2007

The Big Reveal

I've been hinting around at some good news and it's finally time to let the cat out of the bag.

Drum roll, please....

I got a new job!!! I'll be working for a bigger company that's closer to home doing technical writing more exclusively and for more money. It's an all-around win-win situation! I start next Monday, and I'm very excited. Except for when I'm totally nervous, second-guessing my decision, or feeling sad to leave my current co-workers. But I know it's a great career move and I'll be better off in the long run. It's just overcoming the initial resistance to change that's slightly stressing me. I'm equal parts overjoyed and overwhelmed. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's Crazy!

Things are a bit nutso around here. Work has been absolutely crazy. And when I say crazy I mean I-just-worked-12-hours crazy. For a job that is normally 8-hours-on-the-dot, not-very-stressful, leave-it-at-the-office easy, things have been off the chiz-ain since last Monday.

I've been working on some new essays in what little free time I've had, though. I went to my first writing group last week and I (stupidly? naively? bravely?) volunteered to be on the hot-seat next month. Now I have to decide which piece I'm going to offer up for feedback (which means reading and editing several essays until I'm happy with something).

I'm heading home to visit the fam this weekend and I'll be meeting with two women about two very exciting projects while I'm there.

With all that on my plate, I'm not sure how much I'll be posting for the next week or so. You'll hear about all the good stuff as I hear about it, though!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Creative Concoctions

Mi Vida Local has me getting creative. When I'm shopping at the farmer's market, my eyes are always bigger than my appetite during the week and I end up having to come up with recipes to use up my purchases before they start going bad. Here are a couple of the concoctions I've come up with this week.

Green Bean and Feta Salad


1 1/2 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 TBSP olive oil
3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste


Put about 1/2 inch of water in a large pot and add beans. Boil about 5-7 minutes until beans are tender but crisp. Drain and cool.

Once beans are cool, place in large bowl with cover and add feta and onions. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Cover and shake until well combined. Pour over the beans. Toss lightly to coat and chill. Best served after several hours.

Balsamic Eggplant and Tomatoes with Mozzarella


1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 oz. mozzarella, cut into small chunks
1/4 basil leaves, torn
1 TBSP olive oil
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


Grill eggplant until tender. Place cooked slices in a large bowl and add tomatoes and cheese. Drizzle with olive oil. Pour vinegar over the mixture and add basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently. Serve at room temperature or chill.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #7

We've had quite the hot week here, although it's cooled down nicely today. Enjoy this week's Thirteen!

Thirteen Things I Do When It's Almost
100 Degrees Outside

1. Worry about the electric bill.

2. Suck it up and turn on the AC anyway.

3. Sleep on the couch because I'm too cheap to turn on the upstairs window unit, too.

4. Stay up later to read, write and/or watch TV because it doesn't feel like bed time if I'm not in bed.

5. Drink a lot of water and get up a dozen times during the night to pee.

6. Quickly learn to water the plants in the container garden first thing in the morning so they don't shrivel up during the day.

7. Stare longingly out the window and wish for a nice cool breeze so I can stand to go outside.

8. Remember what it was like this winter when I was wishing for hot summer days.

9. Enjoy the time with my lazy kitty, who seems to prefer the empty bed in the hot upstairs to the cool joys of the couch downstairs.

10. Make easy meals that don't involve turning on the stove.

11. Watch the grass in my yard grow inches each day without any remorse for letting it go. I could die out there mowing!

12. Let my hair air dry so that I don't have to turn on the hair dryer.

13. Be thankful I have a job that keeps me inside in the air conditioning all day.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Living Memories

Again, I know it's Monday and I'm just getting around to posting (and writing, frankly) my Sunday Scribblings. What can I say? I'm a rebel. I'm also fighting the urge right now to do a major cleaning in the kitchen. But since I haven't done my writing today, here I am pondering how in the world I'm going to use "slippery" in an entry. Guess I better get started.

Prompt #67: Slippery
"Living Memories"

"I've lived more than seven decades," the woman said as her granddaughter brushed the thinning silver hair that covered the older woman's head. "I can barely remember my name some days. But on the good days, I can remember moments in a world that no longer exists." The young girl, sensing something important was about to happen, put down the brush and came to sit on the stool facing her grandmother.

"Memories are slippery suckers," the grandmother said. "They slide into my mind and then, before I can grab hold of them, or even bring them into focus, they slip right out again." She reached her thin and age-spotted hand out as if trying to hold onto a particular moment in time.

"Some days they're slower than others," she continued. "Some days I can see them clearly, the moments I thought I'd lost forever. They crawl around for a while so that I can get a good look at them and then they mosey away with a wave and a smile. Those are the days I feel young again. I see pictures of my parents before age settled into their bones. I see my first love sitting beside me at the Diner. I see your mother the day she was born."

The young girl leaned forward, putting her chin on her folded hands, her elbows on her knees. "What was she like, Grandma? When she was young, what was she like?"

Her Grandmother gazed into the air over the young girl's shoulder, willing the memories to visit today. The granddaughter could see the effort in her grandmother's face and she reached out to touch the old woman's knee.

The touch seemed to bring the woman back to present, but it didn't bring with it the answers her granddaughter wanted. "Some days they'll stay for tea," she said, as if she'd never been inturrupted. "They'll tell stories that invite other memories to join us. On those days, the memories don't like to go home. They claw at the creases in my brain, holding on for dear life as they fall, sliding gradually off the cliffs of my mind." She grimaced as if she could feel the fingernails of memories sliding through her cerebelum. The girl stayed silent now, waiting on whatever her grandmother needed to tell her. Answers didn't come when she asked questions anymore. Now they came whenever her grandmother had them. The young girl knew she had to always be listening or she might miss what it was she needed to hear.

"On slippery days, they pass in and out of the rooms in my mind like eels through the water. I try to catch them; I do what I can. I smooth-talk them and bribe them, but they just won't have it. No gift will lure them into sticking around. So on these days I resign myself to their slipperiness and hope for a sticky day tomorrow."

The old woman closed her eyes and breathed deeply, but the young girl waited, hoped. When her grandmother opened her eyes again, she looked directly at her granddaughter. The young girl held her breath. And then she got what she was waiting for.

"You are just like your mother," the grandmother said. "She gave you everything she had. When I look at you, I see her. You are my only living memory."

Mi Vida Local: Week 1 Round-Up

Week one of Mi Vida Local has gone well, with just a few small bumps in the road. I've learned a few things that should help me get through the rest of the month:

  1. I have to plan. When I don't, I end up needing a mid-day snack at work and heading to the Royal Farms for a granola bar and Diet Dr. Pepper--two no-nos this month. Next week: Prepare fruits and veggies for easy snacking and pack more in my lunch bag during the week.

  2. Eating locally for a while makes the stomach super sensitive to certain foods. A quick trip to a fast-food place (another no-no) for a super-late dinner after a long day was a really bad idea. Next week: Prepare dinners (or ingredients) early in the week, for quick heating or cooking on late nights. If eating out is a must, I'll stick to local restaurants (not fast-food) and call ahead for take-out.

  3. Necessity is the mother of invention. I've been using all of my creative cooking juices, coming up with some new recipes and rediscovering and altering some of my old favorites. Next week: Find and create some new recipes BEFORE I go to the market, which will keep me from scrambling at the end of the week to use up all the produce I bought.

  4. If you plan to freeze produce for the winter months, make sure you have plenty of room in your freezer. While it wasn't a requirement of my local eating experiment, I'd gotten the great idea to preserve and freeze fruits and veggies so that I'll have them later when they're not so plentiful. Unfortunately, my best intentions to reduce my non-local eating this winter were stopped in their tracks when I realized I didn't have room in my tiny freezer for all the vegetables and fruits I wanted to put in there. Next week: Pull out that dehydrator and dry some fruit instead of freezing it. Next year: Look into buying a small chest freezer so that I can stock up on farmer's market fresh produce for the winter.

I haven't been completely successful this week in sticking to my local-only rules (with the allowable exceptions). But I'm learning a lot, and I'm enjoying the challenge to change my habits. Next week I'm going to be better about planning, which should help me avoid the non-local traps I've fallen into this week. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #6

Thirteen Things I'm Doing to Amp Up My Writing Routine

1. The 14-Day Challenge to write something creative for at least 30 minutes every day.

2. Joining a Creative Nonfiction writing group that meets once a month in my area.

3. Sending in my dues for the local writer's association so that I can attend regular meetings and network with other writers.

4. Scheduling time for my writing each day so that I can't make excuses and procrastination doesn't take over.

5. Using prompts like Sunday Scribblings and First 50 Words to motivate me when my muse isn't talking to me.

6. Reading those writing magazines that are piling up in my magazine rack.

7. Doing more market research to find publications that will think my essays are worthy of their printed pages.

8. Stepping out of my comfort zone to promote my writing and editing services to anyone and everyone I come in contact with that might need them.

9. Pursuing a really exciting writing opportunity that might lead to a published book.

10. Surrounding myself with people, places and things that encourage and inspire me.

11. Stretching my imagination and pursuing every idea through at least a shitty first draft.

12. Talking to more writers and networking more.

13. Taking chances on myself. I'm contacting editors I've worked with in the past in hopes of getting future assignments, and I'm stepping up to challenges that I wouldn't normally take on for fear of not being good enough.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

*Thursday Thirteen graphic courtesy of Karen

A Writing Routine and a Positive Rejection

Yesterday was the beginning of my second 14-Day Challenge. While the first one started off well, the exercise fizzled out at the end. I'm sorry to say that I wasn't successful in kick-starting my workout routine. The good news is, I was more successful than I've been in months at motivating myself to exercise. And I think I figured out that the real goal where exercise is concerned is to establish a routine of getting up earlier in the morning. Working out in the evenings after work just doesn't happen regularly. I make all of the excuses in the book. But when I was working out religiously in the mornings, I had less excuses and more energy. I'm sensing a third 14-Day Challenge in my future.

In the mean time, I'm concentrating on my Writing Challenge. I’m in a particularly creative mood these days, and seem to be quite motivated, which may skew my challenge results a bit. I won’t spend the money before it’s in the bank, though. I’m planning each day’s writing ahead of time, so excuses and procrastination can’t keep me from reaching my goal of at least 30 minutes of writing each day. And what better motivation to keep writing than the kind rejection I received in my mailbox yesterday:

While [your essay] didn’t fit our needs right now, I appreciated your courage and candor, both in grappling with the body/weight issue and writing about it. It needs to find a place in print and I’m sure it will. Thanks for thinking of us.
Who wouldn’t want to keep writing and sending out their stuff after getting encouragement like that? Of course, now that I’m re-reading it, he doesn’t directly comment on my actual writing, does he? Still, it was just what I needed to kick-start my new writing ritual.

Stay tuned for some story and essay samples, if all goes well.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Capricorn at Heart

Prompt #66: What's your sign?

I'm a Capricorn. This doesn't really mean much to me. I'm not a regular horoscope reader. I don't call Chloe for my daily reading. According to Horoscope Universe:

Capricorns never repeat their mistakes. They are very careful, slow, practical and thrifty. Their reserved personality can cause problems in their relationships. They are faithful to their family and loved ones. Their personality is also kind and affectionate but is suppressed by shyness. Trying to be perfect in everything they undertake, they often miss great opportunities because of insecurity in their abilities. Careful planning and insuring against any negative outcome is a must for all their deeds. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn. Capricorn's nature can be easily changed when they are loved or respected by other people. Capricorns are good brokers, politicians, economists and bankers.
Does that describe me? Yeah, pretty closely. Particularly the "very careful, slow, practical and thrifty" part. I'm also shy, but affectionate and kind. I'm a perfectionist who doesn't take risks because I'm afraid of failure and insecure about my ability to be successful in the thinge I choose to do. I tend to take on only those challenges that I'm certain I can handle, which often means I'm not living up to my potential. I do see these characteristics shift when I'm surrounded by people who love me and support me. I am not, however, a banker, broker, politician or economist. Neither do I believe I'd be much good at these things. And I highly doubt I'd actually enjoy myself doing them.

While I've never been much of a believer in astrology, I used to read my monthly horoscope in Seventeen and wish it would come true. Eventually, though, it occurred to me that they were nothing but generalizations and open-ended suggestions for my future. I think that astrology has some merit in the sense that the time of the year in which we're born influences the development of certain personality characteristics, but I don't think there are people out there who can tell me what my future holds. And I don't think that the month I was born in determines definitively who I am and who I will become. That's my choice to make.

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