October Accomplishments

I was slightly less productive in October than I was in September, but only slightly:

  • Wrote 41 poems
  • Submitted 7 poems
  • Submitted my chapbook manuscript to two competitions
  • Started assembling a folder of potential poems for my next manuscript
  • Started a spreadsheet to keep track of writing guides and whether or not they helped me
  • Figured out a good work/life balance. Finally. That only took six months.
  • Completed October Unprocessed (I’m typing this as I eat a completely unprocessed yet utterly decadent mushroom and zucchini lasagna).
I did not get around to developing a recording system for chapbooks/poetry collections I’ve read and liked, but I’m beginning to think that’s not necessary.
Goals for November:
  • Continue with my regular plan of daily poetry writing, weekly poetry submissions, and biweekly chapbook submissions
  • Continue developing my folder for the new manuscript
  • Begin a long nonfiction project I’ve been thinking about since April
  • Do research for the coolest horror story ever. I can’t wait to write it. But it’s the kind of thing I want to prepare for first.
  • Survive the move to our new townhouse relatively unscathed

Weekend Adventures

This weekend was theoretically a relaxing one. But it proved once again that I thrive on being busy.

Last week was frustrating for a couple of reasons, the main one being that my wonderful friend Reesa is back in the hospital. She’s been battling a recurrence of breast cancer for pretty much the entire year, and was hospitalized for pretty much the entire summer. Last week, she went back in with a blood clot in her lung, as well as a staph infection. There’s been a lot of worry. But on Friday, she was allowed to start getting visitors again, so Jon and I went over there after dinner, and spent several hours talking and laughing. It was a relief, after a week of worry, to just be able to see Reesa. She’s still sick, but getting to have a conversation with her really helped me relax. I can’t wait until she’s back home.

I had a relaxing Saturday morning, which consisted mostly of revising poetry, before going to lunch with members of the Austin Writergrrls, which is a writing group I belong to. We had some great conversation about creative work, day jobs, and life in general. I always feel encouraged and inspired after spending time with them.

After lunch, I went to my salon for a haircut and some new color. While I enjoyed the bleach blonde look, it was frying my hair. So I ended up with this:

I love the way it came out, and I like the idea of changing my hair color to match the seasons. Good thing I have plenty of time to ponder a spring look.

After my haircut, I went home and began to put a Halloween costume together. I am usually really lazy and don’t bother with Halloween, but this year, Jon put together a Breaking Bad costume, and it was awesome:

He even shaved his head to complete the look. I was only slightly traumatized. He looks good with a shaved head, actually. It just took some getting used to.

Anyway, I decided I actually wanted to dress up, so making liberal use of safety pins and tape, I finagled one of Jon’s suits to fit me. Sort of. Next year, I’ll start planning more than 4 hours in advance. Anyway, one suit and a hat later, I ended up as Don Draper, and together, Jon and I were AMC Original Programming. We also came in 9th place in trivia, which was awesome considering that we didn’t have any of our teammates with us (as they were off doing other Halloween things).

On Sunday morning, Jon made migas, we did errands, and I made a double batch of tomato sauce. Then I spent the afternoon at a small going-away gathering for one of my dance friends who is moving to Seattle. I’m going to miss him, but he’s keeping his rental property in Austin, meaning he’ll be back for visits and such.

After the party, I came home, made a delicious pizza, and spent the evening chilling out before turning in early. A great end to a great weekend.

October Unprocessed: A Little More Than Halfway There

I’m a little more than halfway through October Unprocessed. Despite the fact that I feel fantastic, this has gotten to be a genuine challenge, which I didn’t expect. I assumed that it would be really tough at the beginning, and get easier as the month progressed. Instead, the first week was easy, and it’s gotten more and more difficult. Last week, I thought about quitting on a number of occasions. But I’m still at it, because I don’t want to give up on this.

Last week in general was tough. It was fun, but it was also exhausting. I was helping to prepare for (and then participating in) Austin Rocks. Cooking unprocessed food was just another chore to add to my list. Even if I wasn’t cooking that often (I’ve been making large batches of things to eat throughout the week), any cooking was a tiring obligation rather than something fun. I wanted to run across the street to get a sub for dinner rather than make something healthy. I envied my friends at work who got to microwave frozen food at work instead of having to plan their food for the week. And at the competition this weekend, I definitely was jealous of my friends who got to eat wherever and  whatever they wanted without having to think about it or plan ahead in case they didn’t have any other options.

But I powered through. I’m still unprocessed. I haven’t caved. And things definitely feel easier this week, now that I’m not running around with almost no free time. I’ve made some inspiring food. This is going to work. And I’m still planning on sticking with this to some extent once the month is up. Not 24/7, but I’m thinking five days a week. Which will keep me mostly unprocessed, but still allow a few delicious indulgences.

Weekend Adventures: Austin Rocks!

What a weekend!

I really shouldn’t be blogging. I should be asleep. But this weekend was excellent, and I need to brag about it.

This past weekend was the inaugural Austin Rocks! event, which is part of The Challenge. The fabulous Taletha Jouzdani (who just so happens to be my instructor), hosted the event. And she did a fantastic job.

Austin Rocks started on Thursday night, with a happy hour at the Hotel Allandale. Unfortunately, our musician got sick at the last minute, but the lovely and talented Denise Hudson came through and saved the day! She gave us a fantastic acoustic set while we relaxed by the pool.

After working on Friday, I had just enough time to tidy up the guest room (I was hosting Houston friends this weekend) and grab dinner before it was time to run to the studio and work the registration desk before hours upon hours of social dancing, with the fabulous Trent Haynes, Ruby Lair, and Cher Peadon serving as our DJs for the night.

I woke up on Saturday morning after too little sleep to work the registration desk again, and then attend a workshop hosted by Barry Jones, as well as one hosted by David Simpson and Sandra Lopez. I learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to applying these new moves into my dancing.

Saturday afternoon meant a trip to the Alamo Drafthouse for a screening of Love ‘n Dancing, a thoroughly horrible movie that we got to watch accompanied by an MST3K-style snark track done by Jody and Jeffy Moscaritolo. Trust me, the film is only worth watching with the snark.

Our Treaty Oaks bar spread

After the film, there was just enough time for a nap before it was time for another happy hour. This one had drinks sponsored by Treaty Oak Rum. I feel weird plugging our sponsors on my ad-free blog, but they need to be acknowledged for being so great to us. Plus, their rum is great. And I also was the one who got us the sponsorship in the first place, so I want to brag a bit about my accomplishment.

It isn't Austin without tacos!

In addition to the drinks, we had a taco truck, because there isn’t anything more Austin than delicious tacos. Add fantastic live music by J.J. Usher, and it was a perfect pre-event evening.

Then it was back to the studio for the Jack and Jill competition. There were so many fantastic dancers competing. Congrats to everyone who is moving on to the Challenge finals in December!

The pro show was the highlight of the evening. Each couple danced two songs per usual. But for the all-skate, things got a little crazy. Taletha came up with a bunch of funny ways to make dancing more difficult. Each couple got one of these challenges. The all-skate thus looked a bit like this:

It was one of my favorite pro events ever. I can’t wait to see the video.

Once the competition was done, it was time for even more social dancing, with more fantastic music and dancers. I had a great time, and was bummed that the night had to end.

Sunday closed out the weekend with the Sunday Funday bus tour of Austin, with some great photo opportunities along the way.

There was also karaoke on the bus.

Once the bus tour was done, it was time for social dancing at the Copa. We got a second amazing set by J.J. Usher, plus music by some great local DJs. It was another late night, which made getting up this morning for work less than fun, but it was worth it!

In other news, I’m about to stab Google because they changed the way the Google Photos upload works, so I just lost 57 photos that I spent forever and a half uploading, because I’m tired and wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing. This means it’s time for me to sleep. Someday, I’ll get to bed at a reasonable hour. Maybe.

Houston Poetry Fest this weekend!

It’s almost the weekend! Which means it’s almost time for the Houston Poetry Fest. I’ve never attended before, so I’m especially excited to check the festival out and see the readings. I’ll only be going for Saturday, unfortunately, because I have things to do in Austin on Sunday, but I do look forward to seeing all of the fantastic poets on the Saturday lineup. Plus, I’m developing a real affinity for Houston, and I like to take any chance I can get to visit. And nothing compares to the feeling of driving down 290 with the top down. 🙂

I hope you all have fantastic weekends as well!

October Unprocessed: Days 1-5

 

So far, October Unprocessed has been relatively easy. There have been a few frustrations here and there, like not being able to order any delicious snacks while watching Breaking Bad at the Alamo Drafthouse. And then I had to explain why I wasn’t eating any of the free Chinese food we got at work on Monday. But the actual eating part has been great. I’m rediscovering my love of cooking and exploring lots of new recipes. I’m eating healthier than I have in a long time.

It’s frustrating to realize just how much space in grocery stores is occupied by things full of artificial chemicals. It’s amazing how many things I like I just can’t have right now. But I also remember how lucky I am. I have privileges that allow me to take this challenge in the first place. I don’t live in a food desert – I have access to lots of fresh produce (which currently comprises the bulk of my meals). I have leisure time on weekends to bake bread from scratch. I have a car, so a trip to the grocery store takes 20 minutes rather than 2 hours. I have income to shop at more upscale grocery stores which offer a better variety of unprocessed foods. This challenge can be tricky sometimes, but it’s a challenge I might not be able to take in different circumstances.

Overall, this has been a positive experience so far, and I’m already considering the extent to which I want to make unprocessed eating part of my daily life after October. Ideally, it would be forever, but that would mean never eating at certain restaurants or cooking certain comfort foods ever again.  I’m trying to figure out what sort of balance I want to strike.

September Writing Accomplishments

I had a busy September! Here’s a look at what I accomplished writing-wise:

  • Wrote 43 poems
  • Submitted 10 poems (3 rejected, 7 pending)
  • Received a poetry acceptance from a submission a few months ago
  • Had a poem appear at A Handful of Stones
  • Completed my chapbook manuscript, entitled We’re Smaller Than We Think We Are
  • Submitted the chapbook to two contests (1 rejected, 1 pending)
  • Started Daily Text I Like
I’m please with what I accomplished! Especially getting the manuscript finished (with thanks to the help of the fabulous Abe Louise Young). I’ve been working toward that goal for a few years now, and it’s finally coming true.
Here are my goals for October:
  • Continue to write at least one poem a day
  • Continue submitting individual poems and the chapbook manuscript
  • Start keeping track of the poetry collections/chapbooks I read to get a sense of what I like, which poets inspire me, and what doesn’t draw me in. I want to do this to get a better sense of my inspirations and models.
  • Start keeping track of the writing guides I use to see which are the most useful
  • And, in non-writing things, I am going to attempt October Unprocessed, in which I vow to not eat any processed foods for the entire month. This is going to get interesting.

The process of a chapbook

Last week, I completed the manuscript of We’re Smaller Thank We Think We Are, a poetry chapbook containing a variety of pieces written over the course of about two years. Just completing the manuscript was a huge accomplishment for me, and I had a lot of great help along the way.

I’d been trying to put a chapbook together for a few months, but had been floundering. I had poems, but I didn’t have any clue how to actually turn them into a cohesive book. Plus, my poems were competent (a term my college poetry professor Jerry Harp used to refer to his own work once), but they needed some work, and I was blocked.

I turned to local poet Abe Louise Young for private coaching. Over the course of six weeks, we worked one-on-one to hone my revision techniques, get my poems up to par, and arrange them in chapbook form. Abe has been a fantastic mentor. I feel like a better poet, and now I have a sense of what makes a manuscript complete.

I also had help from my husband, Jon Eric, who read the first version of the manuscript and gave me some feedback that helped shape the final manuscript into what it is now. My friends Reesa, Carly, and Lynn also served as encouraging beta readers. I’m grateful for their support.

Now comes the process of submitting the chapbook to various places. As well as writing more poetry. Because I’m not going to stop at just one chapbook. 🙂

100 Words on Revenge

I’m doing another one of Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenges. This time, it’s 100 words on the subject of revenge. And according to Microsoft Office, this is 100 words right on the nose!

 

Untitled

When you’re gone, I sit down to write the list of all the ways I will get my revenge, pending my ability to evade the law. But as each idea falls across the page, I cross it out. TP-ing is harmless. Slashed tires are cliché. Salting your lawn is expensive. I don’t have an original revenge idea anywhere in my head, and that’s when I realize I need to just let the whole thing go. No point in prolonging the drama if I can’t be theatrical about it. The list goes in the trash. I go on with my life.

Flash Fiction Challenge – Plucked From the Pages of History

Chuck Wendig is hosting another of his excellent flash fiction challenges. I haven’t participated in a long time due to various other projects, but I’m trying to get focused on writing flash fiction again. So here is my effort for “Plucked from the Pages of History.”  The person (well, people) I chose are more famous than historical, but I couldn’t resist the idea when I got it. At the end of the post, I’ll talk a little bit about where I got the idea, but I want the story to exist on its own first.

____________

“I’m too tired for this,” Stefani says as she kicks off her eight-inch-high stilettos. She throws back a shot of vodka, but even the burn in her esophagus won’t stop the tears forming in her eyes. “I can’t take it anymore. First thing tomorrow, I’m hosting a press conference and coming clean.”

“No!” her manager snaps. “You can’t. It will ruin everything.”

“I’ve spent years pretending to be two different stars at the same time. Now, it’s killing me. Let’s just let the world in on the joke so I can move on with my life. Besides, it will give them something to talk about. I’m not sure I’ve been talked about enough lately.”

“But you can’t! Your other half still has–”

Stefani interrupts him by throwing her glass against the wall.

“Has what? The tour got canceled. Did you see that last pathetic attempt at a show? I was so exhausted, everyone thought I was totally strung out. It was fun for a while, but being two people at once is exhausting.”

“Well, you’re not hosting a press  conference.”

“What am I supposed to do? It’s not like anyone will believe Amy just disappeared off the face of the earth.”

“If I may,” a friend says. “I believe Shakespeare had a solution for this.”

Stefani raises an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?”

Romeo and Juliet. She fakes her own death, remember?”

“I also remember that not working out so well for her.

“That’s because she didn’t have your entourage,” the manager says. “Yes, this plan is genius. The only question is, is a drug like that actually available?”

The friend laughs. “This is the 21st century. Of course it is.”

***

Five days later, Stefani comes to in a swanky hotel room. The first thing she does is flip on the television. It’s all over the news: Amy’s body found dead in her flat, everyone assuming overdose.

Stefani smiles and checks her schedule. New songs to write, a tour date to make, and a meeting to plan her performance at the VMAs. She goes to the bathroom to shower and prepare for the day. Looking in the mirror, she notices hints of roots starting to appear in the mirror.

Maybe I can quit bleaching now, she thinks.

________________

This story doesn’t draw much on truly historical figures, but was inspired by me hearing that Lady Gaga started bleaching her hair because she kept getting confused with Amy Winehouse. With the power of Google Image Search, I did note some striking similarities. And then I couldn’t help but wonder: what if they weren’t actually different people?

So that’s where that one came from. I hope you enjoyed it.