Monday, October 3, 2016

laugh about it, shout about it

as the world turns into a crunchy-leaves-pumpkin-everything-sweaters-and-scarves-oh-look-a-skeleton whirlwind, i can't help but feel the tingling excitement of fall arriving myself. and while i love a pumpkin bagel as much as the next person and wait all year for hoodie weather to hit, i have to say that the thing i'm most excited for is that little voice in the back of my head, the itch in my fingers, that tells me that it is time to write.

i have been exhausted lately. like falling asleep at eight kind of tired. a toddler and a pregnancy will do that to you. but more than once in the past few days i have been overcome by the urge to write. the spark of something right on the very edge of my mind, that will only come into focus if i put fingers to keyboard. unfortunately, i haven't actually done much writing. you know, because of that whole exhausted-toddler-pregnancy thing i was just talking about plus about a million and three other things going on in my life right now that can all be thrown into the "oh my god why is this so stressful?" drawer. but fall means november. and november means nanowrimo. and nanowrimo means the one month a year that i allow myself to put my writing first. to ignore everything else that needs to be done and churn out a couple of thousand words a day. and i. am. ready.

i have my story premise, a sort of almost plot, a nearly complete main character and the urge to write. the urge is strong. the words are there. the inspiration is waiting. i just need the time. i can't wait. i'm even looking forward to the annoying dry spells when my story suddenly seems like the worst thing to ever hit a word processor and i'm cursing my brain for ever thinking it was worth my time and energy and i am trying to learn magic to pull words out of a hat because i certainly can't find anymore inside of me. that's how desperate i am to start writing again.

in other news, this pregnancy is almost half finished and i have honestly forgotten that i was pregnant for a good chunk of it. like, one day a few weeks ago, i was in the middle of a few really stressful things when one thing led to another and i thought "oh crap, what if i'm pregnant? i can't be pregnant right now! how will i tell my husband?! there's too much going on!" i was in the bathroom getting ready to pee on a stick when i remembered that, oh yeah, i am pregnant. i already knew that. duh.

surprisingly, all of this stuff has not been as bad on my schoolwork as i would have thought it would be. i mean, yes, okay, i didn't get anywhere near the amount of stuff done in september that i had planned to (really, nowhere close to my optimistically stupid summer me wanted), but i still feel like i have a pretty concrete idea of where i'm going. no wandering alone, lost in the woods of academia feeling for me. i may not be as passionate about this new topic as i was about previous ones, but i have to say, this feeling of knowing what i have to do and where i have to go next is actually pretty good.

the weather is cooling down. i may actually be able to finish this stupid degree which i honestly wasn't sure about last year. i have started to feel baby kicks and turns... i may be sleep deprived and stressed and stretched way too thin, but it is october. and i have the urge to write. and i think things are starting to look up again.

*Mrs. Robinson - Simon and Garfunkel

Monday, September 19, 2016

hey look! a new post!

while you take a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor and dust off your memories about who i am and why you liked to listen to me ramble (through your eyeballs...), let me catch you up on what i've been doing since the last time i checked in here.

[one] i am still dragging my feet on this whole phd thing. (surprise surprise.) but i changed my topic for, hopefully, the last time, and as long as i can manage to carve out some me time to work on this, i should actually be able to finish this stupid thing. fingers crossed.

[two] i am pregnant again! yup, in a few months cricket will have a brand new sibling, ducky. we still don't know the sex. we still can't settle on any girl names. i have complete confidence that cricket will be an amazing older brother.

[three] i tried this recipe for pumpkin banana bread and i was so excited for it and it was such a disappointment. like, i don't think i've been that disappointed in food in such a long time.

[four] i actually did manage to finish that poetry chapbook a couple months back (all the surprise from before with none of the sarcasm) and submitted it to a couple of contests. (that's a lie. i submitted it to one contest. my dream poetry publishing place, which i will likely not win, but i didn't want to risk any slight change chance i had by simultaneous submissions and by some miracle getting picked up by somewhere that is not my dream. so.) when i lose this one contest then there are a few edits i want to make to the collection before sending it out to other places (which are already carefully chosen). if (read:when) i don't get it in anywhere from the list then i have a mass list compiled of places that i should just start sending it to to cover all my bases.

[five] the past few months have been straight out of a sitcom/movie where the main theme is "what ELSE could go wrong?" the answer: everything. i have so much stress overwhelming me these days that i don't even know what to do with myself. except to keep moving. i must keep moving, or else i will be buried.

so i'm sitting at mason, just like the good old days that never freaking ended and turned into the good lord what am i still doing here days, and i was meaning to write this fabulous amazing blog post (because i should be reading a technical article but my brain has given up on life), and just as i started the floor i'm on got SO. LOUD. like, i'm not sure what happened, but i would really like these dudes to shut up. they are disturbing my peace. and my day was super long (and included being drenched in the rain walking around DC for over an hour) so the steam that i had coming into this thing has completely fizzled. so instead of a fabulous amazing post, this pathetic catch up post will have to suffice.

but i have mason days where i need to work, so i think i may be hanging around here a bit more than i have been. gotta say, i've missed it. i always do. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

you know what i really want to do? i want to take some time, a year at least, and just really focus on my writing. writing has always been what i want to do with my life, and i feel like i owe it to it and myself to actually try it for real. i want to get a babysitter for a few hours a day and force myself to write and edit and just do this thing already. i want to turn writing into a career. 

and i know that there are so many authors that balance their writing with their day job, but i find it really hard when i don't have a real "day job." all of my roles overlap too much. my day has no real structure. i do the whole stay at home mom thing with the keeping a kid alive and doing cleaning and laundry and stuff (which, if i'm being honest, is the bane of my existence. the domestic chores, not the kid. the kid is the light of my life.) and throughout my day i throw in all of my TAing stuff (answering emails, grading papers, having appointments, etc), and - while admittedly less than i should be - do my dissertation research stuff, and do everything everything that goes hand in hand with being a professional people pleaser. 

part of me has always sort of wanted to be one of those people that moves to saudi arabia for one reason or another and then complains about there being nothing to do and feeling trapped in the house. i always secretly harbored the thought that, if i was stuck at home all day, i would get so much writing done. i convinced myself that that was exactly what i needed. 

in reality, though, that's not what i need at all. i am the queen of doing nothing all day. stick me in a house with internet and i will waste my life on tumblr and netflix. take away the internet and i'll lose myself in books. i'll stare at a wall. i'll eat my weight in junk food. what i won't do, though, is what i "should" be doing. 

what i really need is structure. 

i have actually added a little bit of structure to my day, and it's amazing. after breakfast every morning, i let the rabbit out to play with the baby and i wash dishes slash clean the kitchen. it's small, and to a normal person laughable, but i haven't had a mountain of dirty dishes in the sink in a while, and it feels great. so what i think i need to do is start structuring in writing. i'll structure in TAing and studenting and people pleasing. i will no longer have loose, flowy, do whatever days, because obviously i am not responsible enough for that.

Monday, April 18, 2016

now it's time for me to take control

my birthday snuck (i know the right word is sneaked. i still like snuck) up on me this year. it was one of those times when you are forced to realize that even when world-stopping things happen, time moves on. i had just caught my balance the other day. sure, i was still reeling a bit, but i was stable for the most part and ready for life to start up again. you can imagine my surprise when my husband asked, "so what do you want to do for your birthday?" and i was hit by the fact that life had never stopped just because i thought it should. it had continued on, ready or not. (don't you hate it when people allude to some big life-changing thing that happened and then never actually tell you what it is? yeah, me too.)

luckily for me, i'm pretty sure there is no one left here to be annoyed by my lack of telling. (i mean, an entire year of sporadic blogging. goodness. the thing is, in my head i had never "stopped blogging." like, i can't even really wrap my head around the idea that so much time has passed between posts. occasionally i come on here and write up a draft, so maybe that's why i feel like i never stopped? or it may be because time for me has lost all meaning so honestly, a year is the same as an hour is the same as a month. and by that logic, it really hasn't been so long.)

anyway, back to my birthday. despite my sporadic posting, there was no way that i couldn't come back here and write a birthday post. this morning i woke up in an ugh mood, but instead of letting outside forces dictate my mood and ruin my birthday, i decided to take action. so as soon as cricket woke up, i got him dressed and took him to ihop for a birthday breakfast of cupcake pancakes. it helped.

that simple action is going to play into the theme for the upcoming year, but i'll get to that in a minute.

i think that one of my most defining characteristics is that i am a people-pleaser. one hundred percent. i know every single way that this has been helpful and self-destructive in my life, and i cannot change it anymore that i can change my brown eyes or love for reading. it is embedded deep within what makes me me, for better or for worse.

due to my pleasing people all the time, i have pushed a lot of my own things to the back burner. when my ship starts to sink, the first things that i throw overboard are mine. this year, i'm pulling myself out of second place. this will be the year of me.

last year, when things got stressful with a new baby and family drama and just, life, i dropped reading and writing. and while i love reading, writing is part of who i am. it is how i work through everything. it is how i celebrate and how i mourn, and stopping writing felt like i had completely lost myself. i woke up one morning without my identity, and it was like i had woken up without the ability to breathe. i was floundering, but there was no time or space to flounder because there were things to do, and people to please. so i kept pushing it aside and pushing it aside, and having a series of mental breakdowns to my husband, and then one day i decided that enough was enough.

i have always dreamed of being published, and so after doing nanowrimo and writing through some depression crap (my story was literally about depression, but it was like a separate world type thing that at first seemed like magic? and then there was this giant-winged-cliche-shadow beast? and a girl got trapped? and there was a lot of self-isolation and very thin metaphors and it was just... i want to say really bad but i also kind of love it.) and writing a bunch of poems/scenes into my phone, i decided to come up with a defined goal.

my writing goal is to write a poetry chapbook and then send it out slash enter it into contests. i will complete this by the end of the year and i will feel like i have done something. something only for me.

and everyone else can kick rocks. i am done with them.

just kidding, i'll still be over here people pleasing, because that is what i do. and obviously the whole putting myself first thing will not be an always kind of thing, but will be an overarching part of everything this year. the thought that i have stuck to the door of the refrigerator in my mind. i have worn myself thin for others, and now it's time to collect myself and do it for me.

*On My Own - Whitney Houston

Saturday, January 2, 2016

so before i had cricket, i had resigned myself to the fact that i would spend the next few years of my life without getting lost in books. i had heard, "i used to read, but then i had kids, and you know, you really can't anymore," so many times that i had accepted it as absolute truth. but then i had him and learned something about myself. i learned that a lot of the time, i will choose books over tv. i will choose books over movies. i will choose books over sleep. i will choose books over music (i went from music in the car to audiobooks. it's awesome.) it may take me longer to get through books, i may have to put it down way more often than i like, but i still pick then back up again (most of the time). i had kids, and i did not give up my stories.

so, without further ado, here's a post about my 2015 books. when i realized i was still reading, my goal was to read 15 books. i surpassed that, obviously.

my list of books that i read this year (mostly in the order that i read them in):
bold: favorites of the year
italics: this was a bad book and i read it so that you don't have to
*: disappointing (this doesn't necessarily mean that it was bad)
anything linked goes to my review of the book on goodreads

  1. Pwned by Matt Vancil
  2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline *
  3. Dragon Run by Patrick Matthews
  4. Hey Natalie Jean by Natalie Holbrook *
  5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  6. Six Moon Summer by SM Reine
  7. All Hallows' Moon by SM Reine
  8. Long Night Moon by SM Reine
  9. Gray Moon Rising by SM Reine
  10. Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray
  11. Emma and Elsie Meet Fitzwilliam Darcy by Maddy Raven and Monica Leonelle *
  12. The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
  13. The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima
  14. The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima
  15. The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima
  16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling (reread)
  17. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling (reread)
  18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling (reread) 
  19. Home by Clementine von Radics
  20. Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine von Radics
  21. Healing Old Wounds with New Stitches by Meggie Royer
  22. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (audiobook) (reread)
  23. Wings of Fire: The Brightest Night by Tui T. Sutherland
  24. The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart (audiobook)
  25. Love, Rosie by Celia Ahern
  26. The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet by Katie Rorick
  27. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (audiobook) (reread)
  28. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray (audiobook) (reread)
  29. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (audiobook) (reread)
  30. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
  31. Deception Point by Dan Brown (audiobook)
  32. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  33. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (reread)
  34. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (reread)
  35. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephenie Perkins *
  36. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephenie Perkins (reread)
  37. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephenie Perkins (reread)
  38. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephenie Perkins (reread)
  39. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl *
  40. Dramarama by E. Lockhart (audiobook) *
  41. Stargirl by Jerry Spineli (audiobook)
and i started but have yet to finish:
  1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray *
  3. Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry by Albert J Bernstein
stats (only counting the completed books):

75.6% of the books read were YA or middle-grade books (this year i'm thinking of reading for my age group more)
7% were poetry 
29% were rereads
80% of my favorite books of the year were rereads
43.9% were standalone books


i feel like i have to talk about the seven realms series (the chima books). i had so many issues with the writing and the consistency and the wasted potential of the characters and the predictability and just so many things, but it took me almost all summer to get through them because i was traveling and mothering and stuff, and by the time i was ending the series, i was legit sad. after spending so much time with these characters, i had fallen in love with them. i read the books on the kindle app on my phone, but i feel like they now deserve a place on my shelves. i just can't bring myself to buy the series again when there wasn't much difference in price between the ebooks and hard copies. anyway, i wasn't sure if i should bold it or not because i did love them, but i also really didn't. 

isla was another one that i was on the fence about. i remember being over a third of the way into the book and thinking "there is no tension!" (which was actually very helpful because that's always been a problem for me (starting the book too soon) and i never really knew how to fix it but seeing it in someone else's work was a very a-ha moment) and then when the "tension" hit i couldn't get over how contrived and stupid the problem was. but i still liked it? i dunno. i reread the rest of the series to see if that changed anything, but it actually did more damage than good because it made me see how problematic things in the other books were, and those were my go-to fluff in times of stress and now they're ruined. sigh. 

overall, though the titles are every bit as embarrassing as usual (and by that i mean you should all wish to have my taste in books), i'm actually pretty proud of the number of books i managed to get through. honestly, it would have been more if i didn't drag out the bad books because i refused to just put them down but couldn't seem to pick them up either. next year i'm hoping to branch out a bit. i'm also planning on getting through the books that i keep buying but not reading. my to-be-read list is getting a bit ridiculous. i think those two hopes may be contradictory.