Friday, August 31, 2012


My blog! My blog! **Hugs Computer** I've missed you. Also, I see I have two new followers. Hello there. Thanks for following :)

As is the story of my life, nothing comes without struggle. I have literally had to fight for every single thing; places to live, food, ginger ale, my job, my life. Last year, actually a year ago today (I believe) the fight for my life began. Now this year, the fight for Redirection begins. I'll explain this in a story called:

If you look up and toward the right
there's a dark blob.
That is the cat.
Once Upon a Time Baxter Treed My Roommate's Cat

Now, this can't be fully proven. But the first or second night at my new place, I let Baxter outside to go potty before we went back to the basement for the night. His ears perked up, a sure sign he saw something. Within seconds, he darted into the darkness, there was a loud crash (I thought he'd run into a tree, or taken down a tree). After screaming (quietly because everyone in the house was sleeping) he returned unscathed. I figured whatever he went after was unscathed, too.

In the morning, my roommate told me her cat was in the tree. And I don't mean ten feet off the ground, scared to come down. I mean thirty feet in the tree, meowing like she's dying. My only thought is Oh crap, that is totally Baxter's fault. But I smile and play sympathetic, because well...I don't want her to hate me the first week I'm here.

So night comes, the cat's still up there. Morning comes, she's still up there. I have the morning off, so I decide to take matters into my own hands because it's ridiculous that she's been up there so long and chances are, it's my fault. First failed attempt was trying to climb the tree. Well, the branches were small, and the tree I tried to climb was pretty much dead, so each time I put weight, the branches broke...and I have bruises.

After some time stairing upward, I call for reinforcements. Soon, my Partner in Crime arrives. (Turns out he lives down the street. Huge perk to the new place!) I show him the cat, and his jaw drops. Then he asks, "What's the plan?" I explain that I'm going to be like a contestant on Ninja Warrior and still shimmy the tree, but I need a leg up first.
Yes, I totally treed myself

We bring over a picnic table, and angle a slide. I try to shimmy it, and it wobbles. This plan fails, too.

At some point, I stand on the picnic table, and look at the broken branches. Some of them look like little grab-able hand holds. I'm small, but I have a decent amount of upper body strength. So, I jump off the table, and start climbing. I'm going strong until I do the thing you do not do when going high places.

I look down.

And Partner in Crime is very small. And the cat is still above me. "Well," he calls. "You're half way there."

My legs start to shake. My breathing comes in wisps. My heart starts pounding so hard I think it's moving my shirt. "I'm not sure I can go any higher."

"I figured."

I talk to the cat for a few minutes. I tell her I made it half way, it's her turn. She doesn't budge. I get Partner in Crime to take a picture because I blog and tweet about everything, then climb down, forgetting that I'd launched myself from the picnic table. Coming down would mean a small drop. But a small drop to a girl with knee injuries means death, and maybe some crying. But definitely crutches.

With Partner in Crime's guidance, I get as close to the ground as I can go. With my arms fully extended, and my legs dangling beneath me, I prepare to let go. hands don't release the small stubs I'm clutching. I dangle for all of ten seconds before panic sets in. "Help! Help! I'm stuck!" Meanwhile my head is saying, Then Lynn(e) goes splat. Then Lynn(e) sprains an ankle, ends up in surgery again. Then Lynn(e)...(enter worst case scenario.)

Like I weigh all of a clump of fur, Partner in Crime comes, wraps his arms around me, and sets me on the picnic table. I have more bruises.
The last plan

"Now what?" we ask. The cat hasn't moved. At all.

We resolve to our next plan, which is also ineffective. After, we leave the tires and the branch so if the kitty so desires she can climb down something that's less steep. We sit in the yard drinking iced water, and catching up about life, and he shows me pictures of Burton's new snowboard line. Then he leaves.

Later that night, the cat is rescued by the roommate's son and a ginormous ladder.

So what is the point of all of this? First of all, I wanted to tell you this story, because it's fun (and funny). Secondly, because sometimes we have these plans. We see them happen; climbing the tree, stuffing the cat in the backpack, and being on the stable ground. Everyone is happy. Everything goes according to plan.

Unfortunately, my plan for the next two years of my life fell through yesterday.

After I'd done my motivation speaking bit, I decided I wanted to enlist in Teach for America. It's a two year commitment to teach basically, in underfunded schools. It was the first time I'd felt passionate about something in a long, long time. I planned to move across the country, be a teacher, write after class, influence kids, help save lives.

But I checked my e-mail, and I wasn't chosen for a phone interview. And I sat at the computer in the library and cried. Then went to the pharmacy, and bought wine. Then went home, and drank an entire bottle and a half of wine, and cried for a couple more hours.

The question circling in my head continued as, What now?

Simply because this was my plan. This was my climbing the tree, stuffing the cat in the backpack, and being on the ground. (The tree being the application process, the cat in backpack being the actual teaching/writing, and being on the ground being selling novels and finishing up with a teaching degree and saving the world.) But sadly....that is no longer the plan.

So this morning I'm on to finding redirection. AWP is in Boston this year, so at least I'll be close for that (plus my family lives like an hour outside of Boston so housing fees won't suck). I've gotten some pretty heartbreaking rejection letters this week, too. But life changes. Plans change. Gotta shrug it off and keep going. I believe everything happens for a reason (and I've seen things like this happen and fall perfectly into place later). I guess this TFA thing was just me treeing myself trying to rescue a cat.

Last night, I shrugged via wine and cigarettes. Today, I went running with the Partner in Crime (horrible decision. Turns out I'm quitting drinking until the road race in October). I'm sitting in a library and writing this blog post to say that things change. Plans change. Don't fight it. Go with the flow, and find out where it's taking you. Chances are where you'll end up will be a fuck ton better than where you wanted to go.

Oh, and have a good weekend :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Things I Won't Miss

I'ts official. I'm moving.

By the end of today, I'll be in the new place. But each box I carry to the car, and each air mattress I deflate reminds me that there are things I will miss about this place...

And then things I won't. At all. With that said (because I like lists, and they're easy to make when you're short on time)...

Things I Won't Miss About this Apartment

It is pretty, at least...
10) The 45 minute to 1 hour drive
Sure, it was scenic. But when I had to make stops, or get stuck in traffic, especially at night, the drive felt like the trek from North Carolina to Maine. I'd be tired, and cranky, and STILL have to let Baxter out. Speaking of Baxter, if I was working an eight hour shift, he'd be alone for about ten hours a day, making me feel like the worst pet parent in the world.
The new place is about ten miles from work. Not forty. It'll be swell to not pay an additional $80 in gas a month.

9) Stumbling in after a long day
As an environmentalist, I don't like to leave lights on or things plugged in. Therefore, when I came home from work, I'd instinctively open the door and flip the light switch to have...nothing. Right, there's no light when you just walk in. Then I'd us my phone, trip over shoes, Baxter's food bowls, and make my way to the living room light switch. It took a lot of skill not to fall to my death. It'll be nice to come home and have a light that works.

8) Bedroom Lights
Speaking of poor lighting. When I came to look at the apartment, it was daylight. No real need to test the lights, right? It wasn't until my first night here I realized my bedroom has no light. It has a switch, but no light. I've lived here since May telling myself that this fact is charming, and that at some point I'd buy a lamp. Well, I never did. Really, it's not charming. If I needed anything from my room I'd have to rely on my phone to guide me, most times saying screw it and waiting until morning. I also couldn't ever read in bed, which I also found lame.
It'll be lovely to have light in my bedroom again.

I had my car in this for perspective
7) Traffic and Trains
My apartment is the closest to the road and subsequent railroad tracks. Every night around 11:30pm, the train goes by. It shakes the foundation of the complex. Plus, each time the train whistles, you can't hear yourself think. Because I'm irrational sometimes, I'd imagine being murdered, and no one being able to hear me scream (yes, that loud). Each night I had an anxiety attack.
The same goes for traffic. Each car that passed shook the place. Each semi-truck was awful. The first few nights meant minimal sleep. Now, I think I could sleep through a hurricane, so it's not all bad.

6) Air mattresses 
::Sigh:: as much as I loved them, I deflated the first one a couple of days ago. The second will be deflated around noon today. I've slept on air mattresses for the last three months (almost four months). Before that, in North Carolina, I rocked them as well. They make a good emergency bed for a girl who doesn't own real furniture, but it gets old after awhile.
The new place has a bed. An actual box spring. It'll be nice to be human again.

5) Blinds on the windows.

The following three windows are blind-less: living room, bathroom, bedroom. About a month ago it was rumored we had a peeping tom, and I don't like to wear shirts. (I prefer just lounging in sports bras, I mean, who do I have to impress?) Well, the lack of blinds put a damper on that fun. Plus, when the neighbors started going crazy, you could see right in to everything I did/do.
It'll be nice to have privacy again.

4) Sans Microwave
I haven't been able to use a microwave since my basement dwelling days. Which means everything I've eaten was made in a blender, toaster, oven, or just eaten right outta the fridge. I got pretty creative with some stuff, but when you just wanted to nuke something for thirty seconds, and instead would have to wait 23 minutes, it was kind of lame. PLUS, I've had boxed popcorn I haven't been able to eat all this time.

3) Television
The Olympics. Every four years since I was a tyke, I'd sit in front of the TV and watch the gymnasts soar, and fly, and twirl their bodies. Well, this year, I didn't get to enjoy ANY of it. It's the first time I never even got to catch a glimpse of the track and field events, swimming...nothing. Usually I relish being without a TV, but sometimes, it'd be nice to watch a movie, you know?

2) The neighbors fighting
I'm sure you've seen me blog or tweet about this. The walls between complexes are paper thin. The guy next door is angry, and he'd yell at his ten years younger girlfriend, and make her cry, and she'd scream back, and it was just not cool. I don't like fighting. Especially when the guy sounds that angry.

1) The neighbors. Period.
I won't miss being afraid to come home, or fearing that my dog may be dead when I returned. Granted, in recent days things seem to have quieted, but if anyone was on the porch, I'd cringe. I won't miss worrying that they've done something to my car, put dog crap on my steps, etc.

While I'm going to have a roommate at the new place, and I'm back to basement dwelling, I'll be saving money for my next move. Baxter will have an adorable playmate. But the good things about the new place will be a list for another post, just as the things I'll miss from this apartment will be another post.

Hope ya'll have a good weekend. The new place doesn't have internet set up yet, so I'll be back ASAP.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Was in the Paper!

I've been behind on blog posts because as usual, life is getting in the way. Well, life and sleep. Slept for about 15 hours last night...turns out the weeks of insomnia caught up to me. But I'm trying to be productive again, so here's some news for you.

I was in the paper! Not once, but twice.

The first time was during my basement dwelling days. I'd stopped to get gas, and a reporter asked me to be a part of their Person on the Street column.

The question I responded to was, "Should schools be responsible for disciplining students who cyberbully elsewhere?"

I basically said yes, I think they should. I've talked about bullying, and hate words, and fun stuff like that on this blog. I believe it is social responsibility; if you know someone is bullying, YOU need to step in and stop it. It's unacceptable. If the school knows, if the school provides the medium, they need to step in.

It was kind of cool to get to say that in a newspaper.

Then, I was in the newspaper again two weeks ago. It was the Real People column. I was asked about my life growing up, my life now, my goals, etc. It was pretty cool. It turned out that the woman interviewing me was a regular where I work.
Through an e-mail (because that's the easiest way to correspond with me), she said this:  For as young as you are you have certainly lived a lot of life and seemed to have survived a difficult upbringing to become a fine young woman.  My hat is off to you!

You can read that article, here.

One of my other regulars brought the paper in and asked me to sign it. Others commended me for what I said, and for turning out the way I have.

Just recently, I was a winner in the Tea Tag Contest from Good Earth Teas. (Thanks again for voting for those of you who did!). A reporter has been calling to ask some questions, so it looks like I'll be in the paper again. 

That's three articles in a four-ish month period. I kind of feel like a celebrity. 

Now, if only one of those articles could be about landing an agent, or you know, getting a book published :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers

It's almost 10pm, and after a long day at work I'm finally driving home. It's pitch black outside, with the exception of my headlights cutting through the darkness. My gas light turned on about ten miles ago, and I have another ten to go til I reach the gas station. (And another 15 after that to get home.) I'm holding my breath, and sucking in my stomach in the hopes I can make my car forget its 120 pound passenger and will make it to refuel okay.

Well, we do.

I'm tired as I work unscrewing the gas cap, eyes shutting against the sudden burst of lights above me. All I want to do, is get home to my dog who's been home alone for 10 hours now. I want to curl up in a ball and sleep. I do the math in my head, and figure I should have about $10 left on my credit card (because I have $0 left in my bank account). I watch the numbers zoom by, and release the handle. $9.93, sufficient to get home and maybe to work tomorrow. From there, I don't know what I'll do, but I'll breathe for tonight.

I cap the can, dig my wallet out of my car, and enter the gas station to pay. When I had the cashier my card, he looks at me robotically and says, "Declined."

I stand there, heart sinking through the floor, breathing coming in quick gasps. Can they siphon out the gas if I can't pay for it? I shake my head. "Try running it again."

My sensor didn't look anything
like this, sadly :(
He does, same response. Now I can't breathe. The toll of work, the long drive, the lack of money hits me. What am I going to do? What am I going to do? I have to get home tonight, I have to get to work tomorrow. (Insert f-bombs now.)

"I don't know what you want me to do," I say, ice chunks breaking off inside me as I swallow the tears. There are about four people in line behind me, and I can't look at any of them. "I can leave you all of my contact information, I just checked my bank account today, it said I should have money. Literally, I drive by here every day on my drive to work, it's not like you won't see me again. I don't know what you want me to do." (Pretty sure I am shouting this.)

"You can leave something here, but if you're not back by the morning to pay, we'll call the cops," he says simply.

I go through the list of things in my car; my ID (nope, I get pulled over too much for that), my credit card (not sure they'll accept that as clearly there is no money, so technically, right now, it has no worth)...I have nothing. For a moment, I consider giving him my shoe, but it's my work shoe, and I need that, too.

I stand there shaking my head, struggling to breathe through the wisps of air I'm getting. My heart is a drum beat in my ear, louder than the stereo in my car. I storm out to my driver's seat, combating the tears that just want to burst out of my eyes, and pull out my phone. I call my credit card, and they tell me I have close to $15 pending, and an available balance of $3. It's better than nothing. I start digging through the bomb explosion of my car to find more change, because maybe, just maybe, I can find enough money (not likely).

There's a knock on my partially opened window. I look up, eyes red and swollen from the tears still trying to come out. There is a man (with glasses) I believe. Because I have automatic windows, I can't open the window any farther.

"I'm sorry it's mostly in change, but here is $10," he offers.

And a damn erupts inside me. Tears fall freely from my eyes. "I am so sorry," I say sobbing. "I thought I had more money than this, and I just...." I can't talk, the liquid strangles my words as the kind stranger puts his hands through the small crack and hands me gas money.

"Just get home safe, okay?"

I cry more before regaining composure and the ability to drive home.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened. There was another night a kind stranger put $5 in my tank. Two days ago, another stranger gave me $1 so I could buy the 3 liter of water (because I felt like I was dying). One of the women I follow on twitter has offered to send me money via pay pal because she knows I'm broke. I've never met her, but her kindness amazed me. There are a lot of horrible things going on in the world, but people like this give me hope. I can't wait until I have enough money to be the kind stranger to give handouts, but for right now, I'm the one with tear stains accepting them.

To those of you who are the kind strangers from time to time; thank you. With every bit of my being. (Baxter thanks you, too.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reasons You Do Not Want Me As A Roommate

This is my "work station"

I am a severely flawed individual. But, I'm aware of these flaws. It's why I prefer to live alone, with my dog, and rock out to all sorts of Justin Beiber and Mandy Moore. I am not meant to cohabit with others, because I don't play well. With that said....

A Quick List of Reasons You Wouldn't Want Me as a Roommate

1) I'm messy.
I live under the Oh, I'll pick that up later, I'm just leaving it here for now, mentality. The truth is, once that shoe is there, I can trip over it fifty times, and STILL not pick it up. You can trip over it, too, yell at me, and I'll wave you off saying "Yea, I'll get it," and then take a nap instead. Because, well, it's more interesting. My car looks like a hurricane swept through. During my basement dwelling days, the four year old I was staying with looked straight at me and asked, "Lynne, why does your car smell bad?" Aren't four year olds supposed to...not notice bad smells?

2) My books are more important than you.
I've met three of these authors.
Oh, you want to look at my book? Cool, but don't leave finger prints and DO NOT under ANY circumstances bend the binding. If there is a mark, you're buying me a new book, (I'm not kidding. My sister had to do this because I FLIPPED out on her after reading A Walk to Remember) and if it's a signed copy you've just ruined, you're giving me your soul. Even Baxter knows to steer clear of my books.
There are a few you can handle, most of those are second hand, but even still, I am very protective. For the safety of you, your soul, and your wallet, you may want to...just look. Don't touch.

                                                                         3) I refuse to do my own dishes.
For a time, I figured that living on my own would change this fact, but it hasn't. In college, my roommates and I made a rule that if a boy were coming over he had to do the dishes before hanging out with us. Well, I live alone now, in the middle of nowhere. There is no one to do the dishes, and for that matter, my sister isn't hovering over me saying, "Those are your dishes!" So...yea. I hate dishes. I'd rather chew off my left arm than wash them. I think my sponge may be moldy, too.

4) What's that? Yea, I'm not listening.
I'm pretty self involved. Usually I'm working something out about my writing, or reading, or playing on twitter. The only times I really want to interact with you is so I can later use it in a novel. If that's not possible, then you're useless to me. BUT it is your job to sit there and listen to me while I read entire chapters of my WIP out loud. However, don't offer feedback because you don't read, PLUS you don't anything you say will be incorrect. I know best, okay, thanks. Continue along.
Not only that, but I like to be by myself. I've spent the last two-three months living alone without a TV, and I've LOVED it. Now I'll have to go back to a roommate....and share

5) Do not touch or move my stuff.
Both of us will trip. One of us will move these things.
And that person better be me, not you.
I don't care if the strawberries in the fridge are moldy. They are mine, do not touch them. I don't care if you've tripped over my shoe, it's mine, do not move it. The only exception to this rule is if you're doing my dishes, or walking my dog. You can pet my dog, he likes to be pet. My books/shoes/clothes/everything else does not like to be moved. I turn into the Hulk if you touch my stuff. I rip my shirt off and everything. That whole invasion of personal bubble thing. You can trip, but do not touch.

6) Food and laundry detergent.
Food is sacred to a Schmidt. At our best, we are truly primal beings, living off beef flavored Ramen Noodles for survival. Probably because as children we were rarely fed and at least two of us developed eating disorders, but none the less, we guard it. Readily.
So if we treat ourselves to ice cream, or ginger ale, or beer, we become a wild bear, and those goodies are our offspring. If you come between us, you will get maimed. But if yours is left in the wilderness of the refrigerator, I will help myself when you're not looking. But don't you dare do it to me. I'm also not so good at sharing, so don't expect me to offer anything, either.
Then laundry detergent. Granted, if you leave yours in a communal area, I'll probably steal yours.I mean, why waste mine when yours is right there? But if I catch you using mine without permission, I will go nuts and start screaming. (And never admit that yes, yesterday yours was completely full and now it's down to half. Maybe it spilled?)

It's terrifying, isn't it?
7) I will tweet about everything.
If we have a fight, if your boyfriend comes over and starts screaming at you, if you leave dog poop on my porch step, if you come into my room completely naked, the entire world will know. It's the digital age, my friend. If you don't want everyone to know, don't be dumb. You're more than welcome to tweet about me, because I will tweet about you. And maybe even blog about you.

8) The monster isn't UNDER the bed. It's IN the bed.
I value sleep more than food, or laundry detergent, or you leaving my stuff alone. A boy once straddled me during a nap and tried waking me up, only to find a fist to his special places. I was too tired to be apologetic. I trained my dog by snaps and hand signals so that for the first half hour I'm awake, I don't have to say anything. So if you see a zombie stepping out of bed, it's best to pretend I'm a T-Rex. Stand still and I won't see you.

9) Passive aggression
I don't like confrontation. Maybe it's from growing up in an abusive household. Maybe it's because I'm an Adult Child, or maybe it's just because at heart I'm chicken sh*t. If you do something like steal laundry detergent, or break my toothbrush, I will leave a note saying something like, "Whoever did this, please replace." Clearly, if it wasn't me, and it wasn't Baxter, it was you. I know this, you know I know. But rather than confronting you about it, I'll just add to the tension.

10) Mental disorders.
Depression runs rampant in my family. Sure, I'm stable now, but there will be times where I'll swim out to the deep end and manage to bring you down, too. Not only that, but I'm 99% sure I have an undiagnosed and untreated bout of Borderline Personality Disorder, which causes self destructive behaviors, negativity, selfishness. Sometimes, when I'm not trying to get myself hurt or arrested, it can be fun. Most of the's not.

I read all of these things to my sister, who I was forced to share a room with during our formative years. Then when we moved to North Carolina a couple of times. She further confirmed that I am a horrible roommate, and should live alone. I'm pretty sure I've opened some wounds she's forgotten about :)

What do you think?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Change of Perspective

It's pretty in the winter, too
Months ago, I tripped into the Winter Wonderland of Maine, and it saved my life. When I arrived, I was still crying on a pretty consistent basis, I barely knew anyone, and I had no money. At all.I was only able to relocate due to donation and loans from close friends and family members (this number easily passed $1000).

Upon my arrival, I was awkward, anxious, and uncomfortable, and froze 90% of the season, but it was better than being in sweltering southern heat. This Wednesday, I got the opportunity to hike the trails I spent all winter attending what I considered mountain therapy, and the view was amazing.

It hit me just recently that it's August. Close to the end of the month is what I consider the beginning of the end. I've already warned my managers at work that the next two-three months I may be an emotional mess because Hurricane Irene hit around that time last year, and then everything turned in to a shitstorm. The flashbacks have already started in the form of pumpkin spice lattes, Fall leaves, and certain songs that I have to change immediately. It doesn't help that my current WIP is rocking out in North Carolina, so I'm constantly re-triggering those memories, anyway. The simple truth is: the fact that I'm still standing blows me away. When a friend visited me recently, I expressed that half the time I feel like a cat that's been thrown in the water to test if it can swim.
Peter taking a sit break. Notice there is no shade?
My back is peeling...

"Well, you sure as hell can swim," my friend said.

And it's true. Whether I want it to be or not.

It's weird, because even though I've had some crazy neighbors and crazy roommates, in the last almost 12 months, I've felt more stable than I have in a long, long time. I've had most of the conversations with the people I've needed to, had a few relapses, but otherwise, I've been okay.

I've also written some kick-butt novels that are in the submission game, so maybe, hopefully something will develop with that. Without what happened in September and October, those novels would not exist.

So when Peter, a friend from the mountain, came to visit and said he wanted to go hike, I invited myself along. It's been a couple of days and my body is still recovering from the mileage, but during our water breaks, and sit breaks, it gave me time to breathe and reflect on life. First, my knees and hips felt like they were about to explode (kind of like a soda bottle that someone played soccer with then opened...only my knees hadn't opened yet). It was a constant reminder that even though I've changed my name, traces of the life I lived last year are still present.

The chair lift...with no snow
Peter would jump on certain rocks and tell me about some of the jumps on the trail, which I faintly remembered from the winter months. And while he stood there in the sun, and the trees were green with life, I could see the snow and the marks my snowboard made. Before I'd started as an instructor I'd been too terrified to try anything he spoke of. Now, I can't wait until it snows.

My hair was short then. It's long enough to be pulled into a ponytail now.

When we got to the top, I had that "We're here already?" feeling. It seemed to go so fast (though I was pressed for time). We sat on the chair lift, and I've never seen chair lifts without snow. It was breathtaking.

The hike down was substantially easier, just with an increased risk of tripping over a loose rock and falling to our death. (Okay, a little dramatic, but I did stumble quite a bit.) When we got to the bottom, I could feel the sunburn setting in (I refuse to wear sunscreen, even though I burn like a Ginger), but we went to the river, anyway.

The moral of all of this is that sometimes, all you really need in life is a change of perspective. Nothing ever stays the same. Snow melts, friendships and people change, you move from a basement into an appartment, you relocate. If you're like me, you chop your hair off, change your name, and fake-it-til-you-make-it.

Friend refused to take picture.
Yay auto-timer
One of the things I've learned through mental health is to give yourself things to get excited about. So I keep looking forward; to November and finding out if I got a position I've been waiting for since May. To December and snow. To going to Utah to visit my sister, or Michigan to visit my other sister. I never stop in September or October. It's straight from August to November, December, January...

And so this year, for the first time in...forever, I'm trying to look forward to October 19. It's my half birthday, but last year it held a little more significance. This year, I'm going to try to go camping, be around friends, celebrate life, and the trails and trials I've survived.

I've had countless people ask me recently why I don't get discouraged when I get rejection letters. Compared the the last year I've lived, having an agent say, "Sorry, this isn't for me" is the least of my worries. Especially because I'm keeping the faith that one agent will say, "Hey, let's chat. This rocks."

Friends constantly try to tell me that people don't change. Well, I'm living proof that they do. If you feel like you're crashing down hill, it's never too late to change everything about yourself and go to places you've only imaged. Even if it's the querying process, or the submission process, keep your feet firm, and push yourself to keep going. You'll be amazed what happens a year from now.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Books You Should Read

I'm stealing this quick little review idea from J.A. Bennett, because I liked her mini-reviews so much, and well, I needed a blog post because I've been slacking ALL WEEK.

Without further ado, here are some excellent books I've read recently:

Best Friends Forever
By: Jennifer Weiner
Rating on Goodreads: *** of *****

During my basement dwelling days, I saw this book in a box of...well...stuff. I asked the woman of the house about it, and BOOM, I got a hardcover of the novel (she was going to donate it because she'd already read it. I also inherited four other books this way).

I loved the story. Weiner did an awesome job of maintaining different perspectives, and showing how much we change and grow up (or sometimes don't at all) after high school.

It was a fun, beachy, read.

Such a Pretty Girl
By: Laura Wiess
Rating on Goodreads: **** of *****

My good friend, Patrick, got me this book for my birthday a few years back. Finally got a chance to read it.

Any novel that can make my stomach have a constant need to vomit gets a pretty high rating in my book. Wiess did a phenomenal job with characters, the MC, the mother, the father. I couldn't put this book down (except when it became too much, and I literally had to, or I'd vomit).

Exceptional writing. Not a beachy read. This one is more-so needed if you're in need of a good depression.

By: Michael Harmon
Rating on Goodreads: *** of *****

My sister bought me this book for Christmas. Well done, sister, well done :)

I loved Poe. At parts, the writing felt a little weak (which I'm crediting to the fact that this was a male trying to get inside a female's head), but it was a fast read. I did not expect the climax to get my eyes to pop open and be all, "OH NO YOU DIDN'T!" but, Harmon did, so, cudos!

This one was also a little too intense to be called a beachy read.

Looking for Alaska
By: John Green
Rating on Goodreads: ***** of *****

I bought this book in Florida because I was waiting for LeakyCon Lit Day 2011 to start. Yes, this is a signed copy, and yes, I was one of those geeky people who ambushed John and was all "PLEASE I WON'T BE HERE FRIDAY, PLEASE SIGN, PLEASE SIGN!" Even still, it took me a year to read.

It also took me two tries to read. The first one I got distracted and couldn't commit to reading. The second time, I finished it in a day. The only other book I've done that with was If I Stay (recently, anyway). At one point, I litearlly threw this book across the room and started SCREAMING at John Green, but the novel was beautifully written, and I fell deeply in love with each character. I literally think about this book every single day, AND just got The Fault in Our Stars, so that's exciting!

I'd give myself ample time to recover after reading this novel. It's amazing, but again, not beachy.

Have a great weekend! What are some good books you've read recently?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Writing Books V

Welcome to round five of the Writing Books Series. I know, I know, I haven't kept up with this, but since it's Thursday, and I got an amazing new book, I figured I'd let you guys know.

So, what does this mean? Basically that each Thursday (ideally, sometimes real life gets in the way) I try to post a book I've found helpful in my writing career, tell you why I found it helpful, and try to tell you a price range. I'll attempt to keep this up until I run out of books, or lose motivation, whichever comes first :) (Chances are it may be another few months, but you know...)

Book Five is:

The Emotion Thesaurus!
I have had this book all of two days. Day one, it sat in my lap as I rifled through its magical pages. It helped tremendously with the novel I'm working on. Then, I was so excited, it slept in my bed that night (not. kidding.) A regular Thesaurus goes through and tells you ways to say the same word, right? Well, The Emotion Thesaurus says, "You're angry, here's what you may feel, what you may do," and offers a huge launch point to fully utilize showing vs telling. I am so, so happy I own this, and I hear there is a Volume 2 coming out soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

I found it cheapest on Amazon (it was $14.99 new!), but it's available at B&N (I think it's closer to the $20 range though). Either way, if you don't have this, you need it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

If It's Dead, Let It Die

Caution: This blog may be traumatic for some of you. This definitely has an 8/10 rating on the WTF scale.

Growing up wasn't easy in my house. Sometimes it was an adventure (like the time we went to Niagara Falls), but most times, it usually left scarring memories that would some day equate to yet another, more detailed, memoir. Or hours in therapy. Whichever.

One such instance took place at the Shepherd House. This is the only place I've ever truly called home, and we lived there from the time I was in kindergarten until the early parts of my eighth grade year. With that being said, I can't remember how old I was, I just know it had to have been before I was 14.

My mom had been gone a lot (staying at her boyfriend's house an hour away). Once, late at night, she burst into the house, frantic, throwing newspapers down on the kitchen table (where we ate dinner, mind you). Soon, she carried something grey and lifeless in, and laid it on the table.

"Oh God, oh shit!" she chanted. "Come on bunny!"

"Mom, what happened?" I asked, looking at the fluffy adorable thing sprawled sideways on the table.

Not a bunny.
But we do have a fascination with
dead things now...
"I hit the bunny with my car," she said as she proceeded to administer CPR to the lifeless rabbit. I'd like to blame my youthful ignorance, but as I stood there watching my mom pressing on the small creature, I imagined what it would be like to have a pet bunny (meanwhile, the day after this, we would discover our bird dead in its cage. Why? Oh, we forgot to feed it....for a couple of weeks).

The CPR went on for a few minutes until she dug a mirror out of her purse and held it to the bunny's pale pink nose to test if it was breathing. It wasn't.

Standing at the threshold of the kitchen and living room, I adjusted my position, and saw the underside of the bunny's face. It was streaked red, from its eye downward. Clearly it wouldn't be hopping off the table any time soon.

"Mom," I said, tears threatening to spill out at any second. "It's dead."

"What?" she said. "No, there's still hope!"

I pointed to the blood. "Look."

She flipped the bunny over and pools of blood were left on the newspaper. "Shit." At last she broke down and began crying. "I'm sorry, bunny."

I began to cry, too. The side of the face that wasn't leaking maroon was furry and adorable, and it was here, on my kitchen table, dead at my mother's hands. My sisters and I buried the bunny and the bird together in the animal graveyard to the right of the house.

So, what does this mean for writing?

Well, there's a point in a story or novel, where you just keep trying to give CPR to the dead lifeless sentence, chapter, whatever. You keep trying to breathe life into something that refuses to live. When that happens, you may need to adjust your perspective, it may already be dead and maybe, MAYBE you should bury it. If it's dead, let it die valiantly. (Though save a backup, you know, in case you can fit it in a future work.)

(I just hit 19,000 words with my WIP....In 11,000 I'll have to decide whether or not this novel, like that bunny, is already dead.)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Falling in Love

I've had a lot of time alone to dissect what draws me to people/what repels me from people.

During my stay in Seattle, I met a boy the night Jen and I went to celebrate. I'd been brave and talked to not only agents, but editors as well. Thus, Jen and I put on dresses, and make up, and hit the town.

When I'd ordered a drink, a lovely gentleman with an OK GO t-shirt on called to our waitress, "I'll buy those drinks, actually." What could we do? Of course we asked him to sit with us.

This picture makes me laugh, so hard
After a few minutes of gushing thank yous from both Jen and me (as we're super broke), the drinks (Irish Car Bombs) arrived.

I looked to Jen, and looked to the cute Irish stranger sitting near me. "I'm going to drool all over the table, don't judge."

His response? "I don't judge, I work with drool all day."

I stopped. Jen stopped. Immediately I was attracted (I come from a long line of droolers. It always makes an appearance in my novels.) "What do you do?" I asked.

"I'm a veterinarian." There are two types of people I love in this world. 1) Writers, because we're all batshit crazy. 2) Veterinarians, because they're pet people. (I actually got a degree in Medical Biology for Pre-Vet)

And like that, Jen and I dropped the shot into the mug and chugged. Sure enough, I drooled all over the table. He handed me a napkin and bought the following round. Early in the night he took me and Jen out on the dance floor (allowing us to share him equally).

18 Second Video. Highly recommend watching it
(It is kind of dark though, sorry!)

It was then I knew I loved this stranger. Not only was he a vet (we talked quite a bit about my dog and his work), but he knew how to dance, RESPECTFULLY. He wasn't feeling me up, or groping me, or grinding on me. Instead, he would twirl me, and spin me, and dip me, and lead me the way the guys do in movies.

During one of our magical dances, he dipped me and proceeded to kiss me, which caused heat flashes in every part of my body. He was thirty something, I was twenty something, and in the hours I spent with him, I planned out the rest of my life.

But all fairy tales come to an end, and like Cinderella, my prince had other plans and left the bar around midnight, taking my phone number and never calling again. (In all fairness, by the end of the night, I found another boy to dance with, and when the vet returned, new boy had his arm around me, and he just stood, suddenly very uncomfortable. I excused myself from the table to talk to him, and do you know what he said? DO YOU? "I just came to make sure you guys were okay." And my heart died. I wanted to tell him that I'd leave new boy for him, that I should shoo away the other person, but the damage had been done. He left again, and my little heart went with him.)

So why am I blogging about this?

When I read a book, I want to fall in love with characters. I want to see the things that draw me to them. Sure, tall, dark, and handsome rocks (you know the kind, dark hair, jet blue eyes). But tall, dark, and handsome can have a collection of dead babies in his closet. I need more, I need the flawed, the intense, the spontaneous, or whatever else. This lovely gentleman made this night in Seattle memorable, and now, nearly a year later, I still think of him (and regret not being able to spend more time with him). I knew him for maybe four hours, and his presence resides in my heart.

The question for you, writers, is:

Will your characters steal my heart, too?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Villains and Fear

Last week's YaLitChat revolved around horror, and the chat went from scary, to super scary. We talked about invasion of space (that feeling you get when you think someone has broken in to your place), what really scares us (monsters under the bed), etc. But the things that scare me the most are the things that happen in my head. That whole, "What is he/she willing to do next?" Conveniently, this saga unfolded shortly after this topic:

This is a mile walk from my apartment
I love this. Love it.
I've had my share of horrible living environments. I lived in a place in North Carolina that got infested with bedbugs because of a creepy man in his 50s. Before that I lived with a girl whose dog pooped and peed on the floor so Baxter got a rash, and I got sick for two months.

Then I moved to Maine, and I thought it'd be smooth sailing. My 60-70-80 year old roommate played guitar, talked a bit much when I was writing, but I thought you know, it'd be okay.

Then he and his elderly mother decided to start terrorizing me (yelling, moving/touching my stuff, throwing my food away, locking me out of my room, turning off the heat in the middle of winter, etc), so Baxter and I began staying in my friend's basement. Then, when I returned to the house to get my stuff, he exposed himself to me....and I called the cops. (The arresting officer is a somewhat regular where I work. He's said he thinks he has PTSD from the ordeal. You and me both, kid. You and me both.)

After staying almost two months in my friend's basement, when I found my apartment, I was so blissfully happy. So happy, so excited for the future. The only reservation I had about this place was the driving distance, but soon I rocked out to all sorts of CDs, and on days where I had to be up by 5am, so I could leave by 6am, and make it to work by 7am, I didn't shower (those are overrated, anyway).

The stuff under my name is his response
The neighbors seemed cool for the first couple of weeks. There was one I didn't like because she is living with her boyfriend, and yet spent 2-3 nights all over another guy (classy, huh?). Only one of those nights she was drunk, and so I was judging her pretty much the entire time she was stealing his hat.

Anyways, we'd sit on the porch, and chat, and try out for ninja warrior. I breathed easy for the first time since November. One of my neighbors invited me over for dinner a couple of nights, another let Baxter out while I was at work.

But, as is my luck with living situations, the crazy set it much too quick.

First, it started with the crazy neighbor next door and the wifi (yes, this was the one with the boyfriend). Then it exploded this last week when I went down to the laundry room to find my Tide laundry detergent in the trash (I'm broke, I had half a bottle left. When you get one day a week to do laundry, this is not what you want to find). So I did what any other passive aggressive person would do. I wrote a note:

It was nice to come down to do laundry today and see that someone has stolen all of my Tide. I had about 1/2 a bottle left.
Whoever you are, please replace. I was hiding it for a reason, and that s#$t is expensive. 

A bit later, I went to check my laundry, and my note was tapped to my door, with chicken scratch that read:

Next time leave your f@#$ing soap in the house Don't accuse any of us of stealing your s%^t and speaking of s&*t the next time I step in s&*t your gonna hafto buy an extra jug of soap to clean your car. And (neighbor's girl's name) is no longer at your dog watching disposal cos of your being a b@#$h. 

First of all, it was hard for me to take this seriously due to all the cursing, the misuse of your/you're, cos rather than cuz, or even because. (I judge people who misuse words.) At the bottom he wrote other threats, and crossed them off (that purple blue streak.)

Let me explain this a bit more. The neighbor who wrote this, yea, he's been in prison for murdering someone. Clearly I'm not comfortable with having me or my car threatened, and so I called the landlord to let him know. Landlord said he'd talk to the guy, and I figured that'd be it.

Instead, after a long day at work, I came home to find this:
Yep, that's poop.
So, we're adults, right? We're not sixteen years old. The dude is 32 years old, I can hear him screaming at his girlfriend nightly, she's come over after several of their fights, once when he allegedly threw her engagement ring in the bushes. (By the way, she's only 22.) You can look up my twitter feed because the walls are paper thin and I live tweeted them.

So I let Baxter out the poop night, and we get back inside, and I lock the door because that villainous fear crept in, What is he going to do next? Followers on twitter told me to call the cops, and my manager at work said the same thing. Because it wasn't an emergency, so much as annoying, I figured I'd wait until morning.

But instead of him being crazier, it was the wifi neighbor, who created an account that same night specifically to attack me. She tweeted at me about 9 times, all of which I didn't respond to, but continued to complain about the dog poop, the psycho neighbors, etc. Well, around 11:30pm, I heard her yell something and storm over and start pounding on the door. I told her point blank (through the open window), I'm not opening the door, to go home, or I'd call the cops. She told me to call the cops, so I did.

I'd finally started making this place my own!
Well, cop hottie (who is married but let me out of the fine when he pulled me over) showed up about an hour later. He told me this is ridiculous, and I couldn't agree more, but I was somewhat more comfortable because if something happens to me, to Baxter, or to my stuff, there is now a record of this craziness.

I texted a picture of the poop to the landlord saying that he needed to speak with his tenants because this is unacceptable, and by the time I got home from work the following day, the poop was removed from my door step.

None of the neighbors have had contact with me since, though an animal control officer (who walked over from next door), came over yesterday to ask if Baxter was registered because we'd been here for longer than 10 days (yea, bro. We've been here two months. Where were you then?), which leads me to suspect one of them is still trying to make trouble.

I'm very frazzled about all of this. My mangers at work are suggesting a new living arrangement but, I love this place. Not the neighbors, but my apartment. My place to live alone, my punching bag in my bedroom with my air mattress, a mile walk to a river and beautiful views.

But, if we move, it would be closer to work, and I could potentially go home during lunch to let Baxter out. If I could find a cheap place, maybe I could actually start saving up some money.

But if we move, I wouldn't be able to hop the border and head to New Hampshire and avoid sales tax. I'd give up the river, the drive where I get to collect my thoughts (though granted, sometimes the drive sucks). We'd have to give this up:

I'm not sure I'm ready to do that, but maybe giving all of this up is better than you know, coming home to a dead dog, huh?

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