Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Used Book Connection

I'm sitting in a used bookstore, planning to do some writing, but mooching their free wi-fi waves to check my email and do a tiny bit of research first. My internet connection at home is unpredictable at best these days, and mostly it's just nonexistent. So here I am. And I've found my new favorite place to hang out on a Saturday or Sunday and read, think or work: Ukazoo Books.

I first discovered Ukazoo during a meeting of the Maryland Writer's Association's Baltimore Chapter. It's a quiet and cozy place, filled with my favorite things. Shelves and shelves of books in every shape, color and subject. I've found two great books for my nephew's birthday gift, a nutrition book I've been looking at for months now but didn't want to pay full price for, and several other interesting tomes. I'll be coming back for more of those books on my long to-be-read list, too. Why pay full price for a brand new book, when you can find like-new copies at Ukazoo or your own neighborhood used-book store?

I have to admit that I feel a little guilty over my new found love of used books, though. I do plan on one day writing (dozens of) books and selling (millions of) them, after all. Don't used books decrease new book sales? Maybe. But they also provide an opportunity to own books when you might have just picked them up at the library for free. Plus, there's something incredibly inspiring to me about holding in my hands a book that someone else recently held and (hopefully) enjoyed. I start wondering about the story of the child who read the Spiderwick Chronicles every night before turning out the lights. I imagine the woman, strengthened and reborn in her ability to nourish her body with food and love. I become connected to these people in a sort of circle of life. And I want to pass that connection on to others and widen the circle. I only hope that I'm not the only one who turns the pages of these well-loved books and wonders about the last person or long line of people who have also done the same.

I wonder why holding library books never inspired such imaginings. Is it the fact that someone picked these books up off the shelf in a store and found something in their covers or their first few lines that drew them in and required a purchase? Probably and I can relate. I, too, am lured into book purchases by the smell of their pages, the sound of their brand new covers crackling as I open them, the sight of the black letters printed there on the pages, and before I know it, the book is waiting for my attention on my tall shelf of books I have yet to pick up again and experience. And once I've done that, I want to share that experience with another. What better way than to allow someone else to hold that same book, smell its pre-turned pages and open its slightly scuffed cover to find something new and exciting inside?

Plus, I'm saving a few trees along the way.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #18

Here's a little something for a Thursday afternoon. Not much, but something...

Thirteen Things I Thought, Did or Said This Week

1. Thought, Did and Said: See my last post.

2. Thought: (In response to a post I read at a girl, a dog, and a second chance) Why do people insist on having personal conversations on their cell phones in the middle of the check-out line at Wal-Mart at levels that allow them to be heard three people back even amidst the din of the after-work crowd?

3. Did: Made an excellent shrimp and vegetable pasta dish for dinner. (Stay tuned for the recipe.)

4. Did: Taken four trips to a grocery store in as many days. All different stores, I might add.

5. Said: (to My Love after a wild rant about SUV-driving, inconsiderate, environment-destroying crazy people) "Yes, I'll still love you if you want to buy a pick-up truck, but only if it's not your main vehicle and you keep your car to drive unless you need to haul something."

6. Said: (to my co-worker after describing the wild rant I'd gone off on and the ensuing conversation between My Love and I) "I think my desire to be a better person is making me too judgmental." His response was: "You don't say."

7. Thought: (while listening to an NPR guest discuss the uninhabitability of the earth over the next century based on current human activity) Will my children's children have a planet to live on?

8. Thought: (in response to #7) Am I ever going to have children?

9. Did: Started a new routine of lunch-time workouts. I've decided I can't get up early in the morning; my body's just not having it. And I make too many excuses in the evening. So, since I'm lucky enough to go to a gym that's just around the corner from my office, lunch-time workouts are perfect. I don't have to get up early, and I can't make any excuses when it's time to go home. Let's see how long I can stick to this one...

10. Did: Watched Casanova. I don't even remember putting this on my Blockbuster queue, but I'm glad I did. It was surprisingly good for a silly romantic comedy. Also a little weird to watch because it stars Heath Ledger and I kept thinking...

11. Thought: It's so sad that Heath Ledger won't ever make another movie.

12. Did: Gave away my old refrigerator on Freecycle.

13. Did: Had major issues with my internet connection at home. Working on it, but in the meantime, my lunch break and early mornings at work are the only internet time I have. Verizon is not on my happy list right now.

What did you say, think or do this week?

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!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Stalking Philosopher

I'm almost embarrassed to write this, but it is a funny story, even if I feel like an idiot now.

Let me set the scene. I'm waiting for a meeting to start and decide I'll walk to the bookstore and check out the magazines for a little while. The magazine racks at this particular bookstore are laid out so that they make rows, so I slowly meander through the racks, picking up and glancing at the various magazines that catch my interest. I stop at the writing section, which is at the end of one of the racks, and pick up one magazine to flip through it.

At this point, I notice out of the corner of my eye that there's a tall guy (from here on out known as Tall Guy) standing across from me on the other side of the rack and he's looking in my direction. I continue to glance at the table of contents and don't give it much thought, but then he comes around the rack to stand beside but slightly behind me. I move down a bit so that he has room to see the magazines, making the assumption that he's looking for something. I start to get a bit weirded out by Tall Guy because he stands next to me the entire time and doesn't even feign to pick up a magazine. Still, I put that magazine back and lift a few others to check out their covers before heading around to the other side of the rack to see what I can find there.

I take a look at one or two and find something interesting that I decide to flip through. Within a few moments, Tall Guy has come back around to the side of the rack he'd just left and is now standing behind me. Again, I move down a bit so that I'm not blocking his view and continue to flip the pages, hoping beyond all hope that he will pick something off the shelf and walk away. I'm totally distracted now because there are many other racks of magazines that this guy could be looking at, but he seems to be hanging around in my direct vicinity no matter where I decide to go. And none of these sections is similar in any way. So I'm not particularly paying attention and am debating at this point if I should drop the magazine I'm holding and make a run for it.

I thought about it too long, though, because before I could turn another page, he came around in front of me and said, "Are you a writer?"

Now here's where you need to understand that this is the question every writer loves to answer, so despite the heebie-jeebies I was getting from this guy, I proceed to answer with a smile and, "Yes I am." Also, to myself, How did you guess? You were just standing over my shoulder while I proceeded to look at every writing magazine on the rack. But I still don't run for safety. Big mistake.

"Oh, I'm a writer, too," he says. "What do you write?"

The question a writer loves to answer second best. So again, I answer with, "A little bit of everything. Mostly essays and some magazine articles with a little fiction thrown in." I turn back to the magazine I'm holding and flip another page, hoping to give the tall guy the hint. He's smiling, but not in a weird way, so I relax for a moment. Maybe he just wants to network, I start to think to myself.

"I'm a writer, too," he says again, and the heebie-jeebies creep back in. "I don't write for magazines, though. I write philosophy."

I try to be kind and joke, "Ah, the deep stuff, huh?" Back to flipping pages that I'm obviously not reading. Why, oh why didn't I run when I had the chance?

"Yeah, the deep stuff. Maybe you'd want to read my book sometime." Now his smile is starting to weird me out, too. And he's nodding at me in a steady, hypnotic rhythm, to which I attribute everything that I do next. I swear he must have put some sort of spell on me.

"Sssuuurrrre," I say slowly, trying to figure out someway to get out of this without hurting the guy's feelings.

"Right, sure," he says. "Why not, right?" Still nodding.

Oh. My. God. HowdoIgetoutofhere? HowdoIgetoutofhere? I start glancing around, put the magazine on the rack, look at my watch.

"We could get together and talk about it after you're done," he says, clearly not getting my hints. "Maybe I could read some of your stuff, too." Now he's smiling so widely I think I may have just accidentally agreed to marry him.

"Um, OK, do you have a card?" There, that will do it. He'll give me his card, I'll walk away and I'll never. ever. call.

"No, that would be a good thing to have, wouldn't it? Do you have one?"

Before I can even stop myself, I'm reaching into my purse. I'm not thinking, I just want this to be OVER. I pull the card out and hand it to him. I can't make words come out, I just hand it over.

"Thanks, great," he says, studying the information on the card. Which is when I remember that there is an address on those cards, personal information that I should never have had printed on a business card. What was I thinking? I need to get new cards and shred those! Thank God it's my old address. "OK. So you don't have any vacations coming up any time soon that I should know about, do you?"

Huh? "Um, no, not that I know of," I say. Is this guy for real?

"Good, so I can call you at this number." He's still grinning at me like the Cheshire cat. I'm pretty sure all color has drained from my face and I must look like I've seen a ghost. But he just keeps smiling.

"Yes, but I might not answer because I do work a day job." Can I go now? Please?

"OK, I'll call you then."

"OK." He starts to walk away and I say, as a last thought, "What was your name?" At least now I'll have a first name to give the police. Of course, he has my full name, previous address, email address, website and cell phone number. UGH!

Why do I do this? Please yell at me and tell me what an idiot I am. I get myself in these situations all the time because I don't want to be mean to people and I end up putting myself in really awkward, and sometimes dangerous, positions. How would you have handled it? I need to learn some new avoidance techniques. I need to learn to get a backbone. I need to learn a good brush-off. Something. Anything.


Sunday, March 23, 2008


As promised, here's the newest edition of True Blogsphere Story. In this episode, you'll meet nejyerf (Jen) from "calling dr. bombay." She's fun, snarky, and sometimes off-the-wall, and she's the best blogger friend you could ever ask for.


What's the inspiration behind the name of your blog, "calling dr. bombay"?

I always knew someone was going to ask me that, and I wish I had a good answer. It's a reference to "Bewitched". Samantha would call Dr. Bombay whenever one of her spells had gone wrong. I just liked the way it sounds. People can "call" me for silliness and lightheartedness. Pretty boring isn't it? Can you come up with a better story? That is what you do, after all.

That's right. I’d totally forgotten about that. Very clever. I wouldn't even try to come up with a better story…besides, this is your interview. No turning the focus on me. Back to you. Your favorite color is orange, but if orange were, let's say swallowed by
a black hole, what color would you choose as its replacement and why?

I checked in my closet to see of what color I have a lot, and it turns out, I’ve got a lot of blue… teal blue, baby blue, dark blue. Who knew I liked blue that much! I have no idea WHY I have that much blue. It must be an unconscious thing. I also like yellow. Yellow is so bright and sunshiny.

And what's up with your boobies? You haven't talked about them in a while.

My boobies thank you for the inquiry. They are doing fine. They are currently hibernating, but will come back in full force now that the weather is getting nicer.

And your Oreo addiction? How's that coming?

You probably won't believe this, but I've really cut back on my Oreo consumption. I limit myself to MAYBE three a day, when I even have them in the house. Shocking, isn't it?

Not so much shocking as encouraging. It gives me hope that I can battle my chocolate addiction after all.

You know…sometimes admitting you have a problem is half the battle. And I'm so not kidding when I tell you that too many Oreo's acts as a laxative and if you are also mildly lactose intolerant one injudicious binge has far-reaching and embarrassing intestinal ramifications and that's putting it delicately.

Your incredible sense of humor is something I really admire. You're funny in a very snarky way. Are you always a jokester or is this something that only comes out in your online persona?

I have an over-developed sense of humor. I would call it irreverent (it might even be a little perverse) All I know is that life seems so much easier if you are laughing. We all should try to find a little bit of humor in every situation.

I think you're right, although I have to admit it's easier said than done sometimes. What's one thing that always makes you laugh?

I like British humor and I like a good play on words. Here's my favorite joke....."How do you top a car? 'Tep on the brake 'tupid!"

On a more serious note, you live with MS. When were you diagnosed?

I was diagnosed in 2003. I think. I really don't remember. Seems like I've always had it.

Having MS certainly doesn't define you, but I wonder, how has living with MS shaped who you are?

It has made me slow down and really listen to my body. When my body says "Jen, I'm getting tired." I don't force it to continue. We sit down and rest. It has also made me less tolerant of people and their illnesses. So what if you are sick. So am I. But I'm still getting up and going to work everyday and trying to maintain and so should you. Don't succumb.

I suspected you’d say something like that. You seem like the type of person who would beat the &@!# out of anything or anyone that tried to keep you down. But has there ever been a time when you’ve just wanted to stop fighting and give into it?

Sometimes I do break down and cry and feel sorry for myself. Like the time I was at my FIL's house to take a shower and slipped getting out of the tub and fell down with a great thump that shook the house to its very foundations. I sat in a sodden, pink, naked lump and sobbed. When I finally gathered myself together and got dressed and went downstairs, tears still trickling down my face, Kathy, my FIL's girl-friend asked if I was alright. My husband, who was sitting at the kitchen table eating pot-roast, unconcernedly said "She'll be okay, she gets like this". That pretty much sums it up.

I think because people don't treat me or see me as an invalid really helps. If my husband coddled me I might get sucked into the whole "I have a disease" thing. Although I am not averse to reminding people that I am a cripple when I don't want to do something!

Tell me something that you've never told anyone (in the blogosphere or in the "real" world).

There was a guy I went to school with. I've known him since elementary school. I longed for this guy all through high school. Given the chance, I think I would totally sleep with him. Just the one time. To get it out of my system.

What's your favorite thing about blogging? In other words, why do you do it?

I like to talk. My mother has always said that I have diarrhea of the mouth so I guess blogging is the next best thing to talking. And I don't ever have to shut-up!

What's your least favorite thing about blogging?

It has been documented that I don't like the use of LOL and people giving virtual hugs. There are some seriously bad blogs out there. And I have real issues with people who say they want to write a book. People seem to think that just because they can write a coherent *POOF* they are a writer. But they never do anything about it. Then there are people like you, who are constantly writing and putting quality stuff out there.

There's a lot wrong with our world today. If you were Queen of the World, what's the first thing you'd fix?

I do find myself saying "what is WRONG with people" quite a bit. Then I have to remind myself that we can't be responsible for what other people do, we can only make sure what WE do is right and true and fair. Not to get all religious or anything, but the ten commandants are actually good rules to live by. We should all try abiding by them for a while and see where the world would be.

Wouldn't that be a nice change? Even if we just stuck with a few of the biggies, like "Thou shalt not kill."

And here's something else…I wish we could lose the whole political correctness thing. We have to be so careful not to offend anyone. It seems like people are walking around just waiting to be offended. It bores me to tears.

Who's your biggest inspiration in life and why?

You know, this is going to sound all kinds of cheesy and gay, but my friend Sanna is kinda my touchstone. Oftentimes I find myself wondering whether or not she would agree with what I'm buying, writing, etc. And when we disagree, and remember, this is all in my mind, I'm always a bit surprised by my audacity to defy her.

I have a friend like this, who kind of brings me back to center and reminds me to check myself, even when she’s not around. How did you and Sanna meet? How long have you been friends?

Ah, this is a good story, Sanna and I met when I moved to a new school just after I started 4th grade. At first I thought she was a boy. She had a bowl cut and a pair of cleats tied to her desk. We somehow gravitated to each other and found that we were “kindred spirits” when we discovered that we both loved Anne of Green Gables. We’ve been through so much together: wearing glasses and braces (at the same time!!!), bad hair-cuts, teen-aged crushes, field hockey, high school plays, parties (she gave me my first beer!), boyfriends, weight gain (mine) weight loss (hers) the list goes on and on. Our friendship has waxed and waned but through it all, I know if I needed her she would be there for me and vice versa.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Another Mid-week Round-up

Wednesday seems to be the perfect day for me to stop and catch my breath, evaluate what I've managed to accomplish over the last few days, and plan ahead for what I need to do before the weekend (or during the weekend if the list is really long, which it usually is). This week started out like a slow-moving train and has picked up speed unexpectedly. The thing is, I have great projects going on right now that make the busy-ness and minor sleep deprivation seem worth it. Since I haven't really had much time to write up full posts, I thought I'd give you all another mid-week list of things that are rolling around in my brain to keep you entertained. Hope it works!

  • If you're interested in living "green," you might want to check out National Geographic's newest contribution to the world of publications: Green Guide. While I haven't actually seen a print copy of this magazine yet, I'm interested to get my hands on one. The green-living information available for free on the website seems pretty helpful, too.
  • If you've been around for a few months, you know that I took part in the Great Interview Experiment (which is STILL going on by the way, so you're welcome to go join in on the fun if you'd like). Now I'm branching out and taking it upon myself to interview some of my favorite bloggers and non-bloggers. So, prepare yourself for the first independent installment in the True Blogsphere Story series. I'm working on the interview now and hope to have it up by early next week. And who knows, you just might be next...
  • A little motivating note to anyone else out there who struggles with eating issues and/or weight problems. I've lost 10 pounds over the last 2 and a half months, and I did it without dieting. It's amazing what can happen when you start listening to your body and stop starving it.
  • I officially sent in my check for the CSA. This has me doing a mini Dinner-at-Hand challenge to try and empty out my freezer and refrigerator in preparation for the onslaught of fresh produce. I know I'm a little early, but it's also in preparation for a new-to-me refrigerator that a wonderful friend of mine is giving to me. It's only a few years old, but they just remodeled their kitchen and didn't want the old one to go to waste. My 1970s model isn't big enough, energy-efficient enough, and doesn't work well enough to handle the quantity of food I hope to be freezing come summer and fall, so this is a wonderful blessing!
  • I've been trying to get into a more consistent yoga practice at home, for both strengthening and relaxation, and I just found a great tool to help me. Yoga Journal's free weekly yoga podcasts. You can download them through iTunes or listen to them at the Yoga Journal website. They're about 30 minutes each, and the instructor, Jason Crandell, who's a writer and staff yoga teacher for Yoga Journal, does an excellent job leading you through the practice. If you're a beginner, or need more guidance on some of the poses, you can follow along with images on their website, too, which makes it really accessible for anyone who isn't as familiar with yoga.
  • I'm also working on getting through that 2008 To-Do list. All in all, I'm doing pretty well. So far I:
    • Started one of #4
    • Started #5
    • Have been doing #6 religiously
    • Have been trying to practice #7
    • Have been consistently working toward #8
    • Am on track with #9
    • Am on schedule for #12
    • And am dipping my toes into #13
Well, that's enough of that. Have a great Hump Day!

Monday, March 17, 2008

TBR Challenge: So Far, So Good

I'm right on schedule and feeling really good about my reading so far this year. Not only have I finished 3 of my TBR books, but I'm also plugging away on several "professional development" books and making a slight dent in my ever-growing magazine pile, as well.

As for the 2008 TBR Challenge, my third TBR book was We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg. This was a good coming-of-age story about a southern girl whose mother, Paige Dunn, was paralyzed from the neck down after contracting polio while pregnant. Fourteen-year-old Diana Dunn learns about life, love and sacrifice in 1964 in Tupelo, Mississippi. In the midst of racial tensions and social unrest, as well as her mother's sickness and their never-ending financial distress, Diana tries to enjoy her summer, while Peacie, Paige's caretaker and assistant in raising Diana, worries about her husband's involvement in Civil Rights marches.

Elizabeth Berg is one of those authors that doesn't always stand out in my mind as a favorite, yet I haven't read a book of hers yet that I haven't liked. While I felt like the ending of We Are All Welcome Here was a bit contrived, I really enjoyed watching Diana grow up and grow out of her resentment and selfishness. If you like books like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Secret Life of Bees, I think you'll enjoy this one.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: A Veritable Smörgåsbord of Kissing

I had so much fun with this last week that I thought I'd do some more scribbling this weekend. And it's a U-Pick week, where I can pick from any of the 101 prompts that have been offered up so far. When I saw "Kissing" in the list, I thought, Why not continue my story from last week? And then I got the crazy idea to try to include both this week's prompt (smörgåsbord) and kissing. Let's see how I do.

Prompt #102: Smörgåsbord/Kissing

If you'd asked her six hours ago where she'd be at midnight, her answer would not have been sitting in a dark corner booth at the local pizza dive sharing a large pepperoni and extra-cheese pie with a guy she'd just met a few hours before.

For the last hour, they'd been chatting like old friends. They talked about their families, their friends, the environment and politics. It was a veritable smörgåsbord of conversation. Andrew was a junior, and a business major, and it turned out he'd never been in the science department before this semester. He was, in fact, taking the only science requirement he needed to graduate. If he hadn't dropped his cell phone during class that afternoon, he would have never run into Jessie and they probably never would have crossed paths.

There was a momentary lull in the conversation, as Andrew chewed. Jessie sat across from him, picking a piece of pepperoni off her third pizza slice and eating it, wondering how she'd gotten here. This was not what happened to her. She was not the girl who got the guy (the really hot guy)...ever. She was, after all, the girl who spent her evenings and weekends in the science labs or the library. She didn't go to fraternity parties or happy hours at local bars. She wasn't a sorority girl or a flirt. She was just Jessie. Yet, here she was, on a date (was this a date?) with the cutest boy she'd ever seen on campus.

Andrew broke into her thoughts when he reached across the table for the cheese shaker and brushed her hand. "What's with the grin?" he asked.

"What?" She looked up at him, only then realizing that she was smiling. "Oh, nothing. I was just thinking."

"About?" he asked, taking another big bite from his own slice after coating it in more Parmesan.

"Tonight. How I ended up here." She stopped talking abruptly. Was that even OK to say? she wondered. She was no good at this. Andrew smiled at her, though, and she relaxed a bit and continued. "I mean, this isn't how I normally spend my Friday nights, eating pizza with a stranger."

Andrew put his pizza down and looked at Jessie. "Change is good," he said in his nonchalant manner. She already liked this about him. When they were leaving the lab, she'd asked him where they could eat at that late hour, and he had just shrugged his shoulders and said, "We'll find a place." She probably should have been worried, should have begged off and headed back to her dorm room instead. But for some reason, she wasn't afraid. It never crossed her mind to be, not from the moment he walked into the lab and offered his help.

"So what do you normally do on Friday nights?" Jessie asked, breaking a bite-sized chunk off her slice and sliding it into her mouth.

Andrew finished chewing and then said, "Pick up unsuspecting strangers in the science lab and take them out for late-night pizzas."

Jessie stopped chewing mid-bite and looked up at Andrew, a worried look crossing her face. When he smiled his broad, perfectly straight-toothed smile, she let out her breath and grinned back at him. They both laughed, but Jessie sat back in her seat and watched him more closely now, wondering if she'd misjudged. She mentally calculated the best escape route, just in case things got out of hand. "Really, though," she started, more hesitantly, "you don't seem like the study-on-a-Friday-night type. You must have had better plans than hanging out with me running organic chemistry reactions."

Andrew sheepishly picked at the cheese stuck to his plate. "I was supposed to meet some buddies at a party, but..."

Jessie waited for him to continue. When he didn't, she leaned forward again, crossing her arms and putting her elbows on the edge of the table. "Won't they wonder where you are?" she finally asked.

"Nah, they're probably wasted by now trying to hook up with the first girls that cross their paths." He smiled at her again, the uncomfortable silence gone. "That's really not my scene. I only go because they go. Believe me, I was much more comfortable watching you mix your compounds than watching them make fools of themselves."

Jessie laughed and felt her shoulders relax. She hadn't even realized how tense she'd gotten. "That's the good thing about being a nerd," Jessie joked. "No one expects you to go to parties and socialize. They know you'd rather be in the library than at a fraternity any day."

Without any warning, Andrew raised himself up on the edge of the table and leaned over the pizza pan to kiss her. His lips were soft and tender against hers. It only lasted a moment, but it seemed like a lifetime. When he pulled away she found herself following him for a few inches back toward his seat. She caught herself and pulled back when he said, "I'm glad I'll know where to find you."

Jessie, her face flushed with excitement and embarrassment, looked in Andrew's eyes and nodded. After a long moment of silence, she asked, "So, you know where to find me, but where can I find you? I don't think I've ever seen you around."

Andrew went back to eating his pizza. "I'm around. Don't worry, you'll see me now."

One of the bus boys started mopping the floor near their booth and giving them the evil eye. It was after 1AM. "I guess we should go," Jessie said, tossing her napkin on her plate. "I'm stuffed anyway."

"Yeah, me too," Andrew said, tossing the three remaining pieces into the box they'd asked for over a half-hour ago. "Do you want to take these for breakfast?" he asked her.

She cocked her head and raised her eyebrows. "You eat pizza cold for breakfast?"

"Yeah, it's--"

"Really good," they both said at the same time. Then Jessie said, "I thought I was the only person who ate cold pizza for breakfast." They laughed until the bus boy stopped mopping and just stood watching them.

"OK, OK," Andrew said, standing and grabbing their jackets from the hook on the booth post. "We're leaving." They laughed all the way out the door and back to Jessie's dorm. At the door to the building, Jessie thanked him for the company and the dinner.

"Can I call you sometime?" he asked her.

"I'd like that she said," pulling a pen from her bag and ripping a piece of paper from her notebook. "I'd like that a lot." She handed him the number and he held her hand for just a moment longer than necessary.

"Good," he said and kissed her one more time.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Party's Over...

Well, the Ultimate Blog Party officially ended yesterday. I'm a little sad that's it's over already, but I'm so happy that I decided to take part in the fun. I've met dozens and dozens of great bloggers, many of whom I'll be reading regularly from now on. My Bloglines feed is overflowing with new Blog Party finds, and I'll be adding more as I make my way through the long list of Partiers that I still haven't had time to visit. Oh yeah, I won a prize, too! #39-the Amazon gift card from The Organized Knitting Club. We all know what that means - More books!

I hope you've all enjoyed getting to know me, too, and I hope that some of the party-goers that have stopped by to say hello will stick around for a while. It's always nice to know that there are people out there who "get me" and enjoy reading what I have to say. Plus, I love getting to know new people. Who knows? I might just decide to interview some of you!

Now that the party is officially over, I guess it's back to the normal routine. Maybe by the time next year's party rolls around I'll have managed to meet everyone who partied this year. Here's to Ultimate Blog Party hangovers!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Random Thoughts for Friday

I took today off, as I mentioned on Wednesday, to wait around for the appliance repairman. Thankfully, he got here a little after 8 and was gone by 9, so I had plenty of time to get other things done. I paid a couple of bills, washed my dishes, did a load of laundry, watched a little TV and then took a trip to one of my favorite places. You know what's coming if you know me at all...wait for it...

The Bookstore.

Yes, I spent my afternoon surrounded by magazines and books, smelling that sweet scent of paper and ink, gazing lovingly at colorful book jackets and beautiful covers. And I managed to walk out with only one magazine that I got for 20% off, thanks to a coupon.

When I was done browsing, I had a great lunch at Panera while reading my new magazine. I also had the pleasure of people watching, which is where the random thoughts come in.

  • Are we really at a point in our evolution as a species where three people can sit down in a booth to eat lunch together and spend more time talking on their cell phones than talking to each other?
  • Is it just me, or does the smile and curiosity of a three-year-old the most beautiful thing in the world?
  • I hope that I am lucky enough to spend much of my adult life with a man who will still carry my tray, pull out my chair, gaze at me lovingly, and hold my hand when I'm 70 and beyond.
  • When I see people together--girlfriends talking and laughing, a couple sharing a Friday lunch together, a group of frat boys talking about the next big party--I always wonder about the story behind them. How did they meet? What brings them together and keeps them that way? What are they thinking about one another behind those smiles and laughter and loving eyes?
  • Food is really good if you take time to taste it and chew it and think about it. And I don't need nearly as much of it to feel satisfied when I do this. Also, bread is good and I'm never going to give it up. I don't care what the anti-carbohydrate gurus say. A good baguette--crunchy on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside--is like medicine for my soul.

Well, I'm off to do some more blog-hopping. There are more than 1300 Blog Party hosts left for me to visit. At the rate I'm going, it will be 2025 before I finally get to meet them all. But I'm going to do my best to stop by and say hello to as many as I can. Hope you had a wonderful Friday! Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #17

In honor of the Ultimate Blog Party, I decided to give anyone visiting who hasn't joined (really, what were you thinking?) a taste of what I've been enjoying. These are just a few of the many bloggers I've met over the last few days, in no particular order. And remember, there were more than 1300 participants when I wrote this, and I've only had time to visit a little more than 100 of them, so this list is in no way representative of the group who joined and I'm obviously leaving out tons of great bloggers that I just haven't had the chance to meet yet. Still, I thought it would be fun to share the love. So click around and meet someone new!

Thirteen New Bloggy Friends

1. Jen's Genuine Life - Living Life in the Peach State, this Native Atlantan Mom of Twins Offers Some Recipes and Menu Plans, Tips for Moms, and Glimpses into her Everyday Life

2. Girlfriendology - Inspiration, appreciation and a celebration of girlfriends

3. Crunchy Domestic Goddess - Raising social consciousness and a new generation of tree huggers since 2004

4. Quirky is a Compliment - She's quirky, 'nuff said.

5. My LA Blog - Life & Ramblings of an LA Blogger Gal

6. Cherry Blossom Adventures - An Aussie girl living in Tokyo with her Japanese boyfriend trying to make sense of her crazy yet funny Japanese life...

7. Especially Heather - Hope is necessary in all circumstances. A hopeful blog by a mother fighting brain cancer.

8. Fully Alive...Ready to Smile - ...recognize the true importance of a single moment in time, the instant when you are fully and completely alive!

9. Genesis Moments - A writer's journey

10. Cabrelli's at Water's Edge - Two Cabrelli's, a Zumchak and Ow and Colonel move to Nassau, Bahamas.

11. T with Honey - Just like tea, life can be served with lemon or honey

12. My Two Boys - Adoption, autism, family, friends and more...

13. Duckabush Blog - The musings and ravings of a bloggart family

Now remember, that's just a few of the 1300+ blogs joining in on the Ultimate Blog Party, so if you haven't already, head over there and check out a few more.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mid-week Round-up

It's Wednesday again, and while I've been pretty good about blogging everyday thanks to the motivation of the Ultimate Blog Party and lots of new visitors, I haven't had enough time to get many of my thoughts, comments and random ramblings into posts. So I've gathered a list of bullets to keep you up to date on what's going through my head this week.

  • Can I just say, "What were you thinking Eliot Spitzer?" I mean, really, what are men (especially men in powerful and/or political positions) ever thinking when they cheat/purchase time with prostitutes/lie about anything? Don't they know that they're just no good at it? For all you men who read my blog (are there any?), remember this: You. Will. Get. Caught.

  • Speaking of politics, is Hillary serious? While I think it would be wonderful if the two Democratic candidates could bury the hatchet and run together come November, I don't think now was a good time to bring up the idea, particularly since one of Hillary's big arguments against Barack's candidacy is his lack of experience. Qualified for VP, but not for Prez? Not a good campaign strategy...

  • And I'm not quite sure how I feel about Geraldine Ferraro's comments and the ensuing debate. This election is clearly wrought with opportunities to offend, considering the socially sensitive situation. Making any comment that even has the possibility of being construed as sexist or racist is probably not a good idea.

  • I've officially decided to join a local CSA farm for the 2008 season. The cost averages out to about $12.50 per month for a half-share of produce, which should feed 1-2 people. Since it's just me most evenings, I think this will be perfect, and sounds like a really reasonable price. At that cost, I can easily supplement what I get from the CSA with additional fruit and veggies from the Farmer's Market and other staples from the grocery store. I'm not expecting I'll need much, though. (If you're interested in joining a CSA yourself, check out Local Harvest to find a CSA near you.)

  • Since I'm committing to the CSA, I have to get my butt in gear and get a new refrigerator with a bigger working freezer, or an additional small freezer for my basement. My current freezer situation is not good, and I'll probably need to freeze/can some of the produce I get at the height of harvest season. My dream refrigerator wouldn't even fit in my tiny kitchen though, so I'll have to compromise until I can remodel or get a bigger house.

  • I got my new recipe book, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and I'm super excited to start trying some new dishes. I really like what Mark Bittman says in the introduction:
    Increasingly, Americans are becoming "flexitarians," a recently invented word that describes both vegetarians who aren't strict and meat-eaters who are striving for a more health-conscious, planet-friendly diet. It's likely that by the time How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is published, 50 percent of us will meet that description...What flexitarians and vegetarians have in common is the willingness to base meals exclusively on vegetables. Much of this long-term trend is about health, but there are also the desire to treat animals more fairly, and interest in treating the earth more intelligently, a growing awareness that supreme self-indulgence may lead to long-term disaster, and a recognition of the benefits of a more varied diet...
    I mentioned last week that I was thinking about trying a vegetarian diet, but I think what Mr. Bittman says here hits home with me. I'll make a better flexitarian (which I guess I would consider myself now based on his definition) because I find that any restrictive diet makes me desire the things I'm restricting even more. My meat intake is already pretty limited compared to the average American, so I think I'll stick to what I know and just get a bit more creative with my vegetarian meals.

  • I'm taking Friday off to sit around the house and wait for an appliance repair person, who should be here sometime between 8 and 12, will likely spend 10 minutes looking at the two appliances (my washer and my stove) once he gets here, and then tell me he'll have to order parts. (If I had my way, they'd both be kaput, and I could afford to get these and this to replace them.) Which means I'll have to take yet another day off to sit around waiting for someone to come repair the appliances. Why do service companies do this? The cable company, telephone company, plumber, repair services--they all insist on forcing 9-5'ers to be available for a 4 hour block of time, meaning taking vacation time. Isn't there some way to get around this???
OK, I think that's enough randomness for today. Maybe you'll get some more tomorrow. Or maybe I'll actually pull together a Thursday Thirteen post again this week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who Made the Difference?

A short while ago, Mocha Momma posted about a teaching couple who impacted her life in ways she'll never forget, which of course got me wondering: If I had written this post, who would it be about? So I decided to do just that and write my own post about some people who've made a difference in my life. This is what I discovered.

I can't come up with one single person or couple of people that have made a difference in my life. There are too many to count and this list won't do them all justice. But these are a few of the people who have impacted me in ways I will never forget.

My parents, of course, molded me and taught me life lessons that will be with me forever.

My high school biology teacher taught me that hard work and self-confidence can get you anywhere. After I graduated, he also taught me that you should stand up for what you believe in, even if it costs you your job.

Then, my college biology professor taught me that if you don't really want something (i.e. to go to medical school), you should let it go and find something you do really want.

One of my closest friends
showed me how to treat my body well and helped me find confidence in my own beauty.

Another friend
taught me to stand up for myself, even if it was only after following her lead and giving in to her one too many times.

That same friend's mother
showed me how to love unconditionally and have faith in things bigger than myself.

My old roommate
taught me how to live with someone without killing her, how to ask better questions, and how to open up even when I don't feel like it.

My best friend
teaches me more and more about how to be a good friend every time we talk and she loves me even when I suck at it.

The list could go on and on, and if I left anyone out, know that you're in my heart and you're part of who I am. I truly believe that people come into our lives for a reason and I try to learn from everyone that I encounter. Sometimes it's harder than others, but when it happens, it's a wonderful thing.

So who's made a difference in your life?

Monday, March 10, 2008


I had planned to write a really great post yesterday for all my new Blog Party friends. Instead, I spent the day Internet-free thanks to a wind and rain storm Saturday that knocked out my phone service and, therefore, my DSL connection. The good news is I got plenty of other stuff done yesterday. While not having an Internet connection kept me from doing some market research, completing some screen shots for documentation I've been working on, and sending out some important emails, it was amazing how much writing I got done when I didn't have the distraction of email and web surfing. I really need to practice self-control where the Internet is concerned. I'm much more productive that way.

Fortunately (or not, depending on how I look at it), things seemed to be working OK this morning before I left for work. I still don't have a dial tone, but my DSL was working. Weird, but I'm not going to question the Internet gods. We'll see what's going on when I get home tonight.

In the mean time, if you're new around here and want to get to know me better, why not check out some of my favorite posts from the past?

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: The Experiment

I've got a lot of writing to do this weekend, and some of it might even be creative, so I decided to use this week's Sunday Scribbling prompt to get me going. Let's see where this takes me...

Prompt #101: The Experiment

It was late already, so dark that the windows showed nothing but the blackness of the night and her reflection. Jessie sat at the lab table under the bright fluorescent lights, waiting for the concoction in her beaker to boil. The Bunsen burner hissed and the clock ticked while she stared at the liquid.

Jessie was used to spending time alone in the lab. Not many other college seniors found chemical reactions as interesting as she did. In fact, she was pretty sure 95 percent of the campus was drinking it's way into oblivion at that very moment. She, on the other hand, was well on her way to discovering the cure for some major diseases. OK, right now she was just rerunning her organic chemistry lab to make sure she'd gotten all the details right for her report. But some day she'd be receiving the Nobel prize for advances in medicine. She could see the ceremony now.

A bitter smell brought her back to reality and she looked down to find the beaker in front of her dry and burning. "Shit!" She jumped up and grabbed the beaker off the burner without thinking. "Ow! Shit, shit, shit!" she yelled, dropping the hot glass on the lab table and shattering it. "Argh!" she groaned. She turned off the flame on the burner and went to the sink to run her hand under cold water. "Now I'm going to have to start again," she mumbled to herself, checking the time. Maybe she should have gone to that party after all, and tried a social experiment instead.

There was a knocking behind her and she jumped, splashing water down the front of her. "Is everything OK in here?"

Jessie turned around, wiping her shirt with a paper towel. She stopped mid-dab when she saw the man standing in the door way. He was tall, with broad shoulders and black hair. His eyes were so blue she could see the color from where she was standing, half-way across the large room. "Uh, yeah...yeah, I'm fine." Pulling herself together, she picked up the hand broom and dust pan and walked back toward the lab table to clean up the glass. "I just got distracted and messed up my reduction. I'll be here all night at this rate."

"I heard the glass break," he said and she could hear him coming into the room.

Her palms started to sweat. Great, she thought. Just what I need tonight. "I knocked it over when I tried to turn it off." He didn't need to know she'd burned herself like an idiot.

"Want some help cleaning up?" he asked, bending down to pick up a piece of glass that had fallen on the floor.

"Oh, I can get it. I'm going to be here all night now anyway." Jessie stopped sweeping the counter to look at the stranger, smiling. "I thought I was the only one on this campus that spent Friday nights in the chemistry lab."

"I left something after class today, and I came back to get it. I was just leaving when I heard you yell." He smiled back with a soft, crooked smile.

"Great, so I am the only one who spends Friday nights in the lab," Jessie said, laughing. "I'm Jessie, by the way."

He smiled widely. "Nice to meet you, Jessie. I'm Andrew."

There was a long moment of silence while they stood, smiling at each other. Jessie broke the spell. "Well, Andrew, I should get back to work if I want to get this done before morning. Thanks for the help."

"Sure. I guess I'll see you around then," Andrew said, backing toward the door.

"Yeah, see you around." Jessie waved her hand and finished sweeping the shards into the dust pan. She emptied the mess into the trash can and pulled another beaker from the cabinet. When she turned back to the lab table, Andrew was sitting on a stool holding the striker in his hand.

"Maybe I could light the burner or something," he said, scraping the flint on the striker a couple of times. "The faster you get done, the sooner we can go grab a pizza."

Jessie just stood there, holding the beaker in her hands, stunned.

"I'm not a creep or anything, if that's what you're thinking." Andrew put the striker down and stood up, holding his hands up in surrender. "I swear, I just thought pizza sounded good, and I thought you might be interested in sharing some. So maybe I could help?"

Jessie shook herself out of her trance and walked to the table. "The company would be nice. But it will really be more like watching. There's not much to help with."

"Then I'll watch." Andrew sat back down and crossed his arms. "Let's get this experiment started. I'm hungry."

Jessie grinned and lit the burner. "Me, too," she said. Who ever said chemistry couldn't be fun?

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Party's Started

Ultimate Blog Party 2008Like so many other things, I almost missed the biggest party of the year. It's the Ultimate Blog Party 2008 and everyone's invited. You can get your boogie on, too. Just head on over to 5 Minutes for Mom to learn more. But remember, it's BYOB (Bring Your Own Blog). Now get over there, get the scoop and get on the dance floor!

OK, now for the introductions. I'm smtwngrl and this is my little corner of the blogsphere. Here at Writing My Life, I like to write about, well, my writing life, but I also like to write about food, books, health and nutrition, the environment and living a greener life, and anything else that strikes my fancy. After all, it's my party and I can blog what I want to, right?

I also write for a health and nutrition blog and a green living blog, and I'm working hard to build a freelance writing business so that one day I can say good-bye to my technical writing job in corporate America and work for ME. I'm learning to network and market myself, but it's not easy considering I tend to be a bit of a wallflower. Thankfully, I have found some great examples to learn from.

So, now that you know a little bit more about me, why not take a look around? Check out my archives, take a jog around my blogroll or just close your eyes, spin around three times and point to a post. You just might find something you like. Welcome to Writing My Life!

P.S. The Ultimate Blog Party is offering tons of prizes for 2008. My favorites are:
  1. Custom blog design by Summer (#45)

  2. A $20 gift card(#39) for Amazon (so I can buy more books, of course) offered by The Organized Knitting Club

  3. $20 for Lush (#149) provided by After a Cup of Coffee...Or Two

  4. A set of greeting cards (#41) from Just Being Notsey

  5. Customized fitness plan (#58) with Go Workout Mom

  6. A blog makeover (#67) by See My Designs
Of course I'd also be happy with #70, 93, 91, 60, 9, 36, 79 or 21. There are so many prizes you'll have a hard time making your own wish list, I promise!

And this year you don't have to be a blogger to win. Just post a comment at the official Blog Party post and then leave comments at the blogs of at least 20 of this year's party-goers to qualify. I'm sure you'll find some new friends along the way, too, and isn't that prize enough?

Broccoli Slaw-licious

Ever since nejyerf over at calling dr. bombay mentioned broccoli slaw a while back, I've been meaning to give it a try. I grabbed a bag of broccoli slaw mix at Trader Joe's on Tuesday and I mixed up a delicious slaw on the fly tonight. Inspired by the oriental-style slaw nejyerf made and the recipe on the bag of slaw mix, I came up with the recipe below. Give it a try. It was really good!

Broccoli Slaw with Wasabi Soy Dressing


1 bag of broccoli slaw mix
1 cup chopped apple
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins
2 TBSP rice vinegar
1 TBSP soy sauce
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tsp wasabi powder


In a medium bowl, mix the first four ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the last four ingredients to make the dressing. (I used an immersion blender to make sure the dressing was smooth and creamy.) Pour the dressing over the slaw mix and mix well. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

It's Wednesday Already

Where in the world did the last week go. I have a lot of things I wanted to talk about this week, but time has gotten away from me. Here's a list of bullets about things that have been rolling around in my head since Thursday:

  • Apparently Freeganism is Oprah-worthy. Reading about Lisa Ling's report got me thinking about how much I waste. It did not, however, make me want to go dumpster diving.
  • A subdivision in my state was set on fire in protest because it's apparently being built on a plot of land that many people think should be protected. A group known as the Earth Liberation Front (E.L.F), a recognized eco-terrorism organization, is claiming responsibility. While I'm all for environmental protection and activism, how in the world does this help things? Just another case of extremists giving the larger group bad name.
  • It's National Nutrition Month. I wrote a post at Feed the Soul on this today. You can read it but if you don't feel like it, here's the gist: The American Dietetic Association wants you to stop fretting about the bad stuff and focus on the good stuff. If you're making healthy changes, but you have an occasional treat, don't worry. You're still making progress toward a healthy lifestyle.
  • I'm considering becoming a vegetarian for a while. I don't eat much meat anyway, and it might be an interesting experience. Plus, I just ordered How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, so at least I'll have plenty of ideas.
  • It's almost spring, so that means it's time to decide if I want to participate in Community Supported Agriculture this year. I've been meaning to do this for four years now and every year I've let the deadlines slip by. After my experience last summer of trying to live locally, I figure this is the next logical step. Has anyone else ever participated in CSA?
Ok, that's all I've got time for now. Enjoy!

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