Writer’s Workshop – I’d rather…

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1.) 9 things you’d rather be doing today.

Though I think this is rather negative thinking, I’m in a dreaming mood today so why not?

#1: I would much rather be at the beach. But you know, I don’t know if I’d want the family there. As much as I love going with the kids, it’s also not as relaxing. I’d either rather be there alone or with just Ash or my mom.469ded129eca17259945a4c9f67f8be3

 

#2: I would rather be at home, either reading or cleaning, crazy as that sounds. If you’re like me and have a lot of work and a family, etc, you find that there’s little time to really clean. Sure, I make sure things get done and tidied up but really clean takes time and an empty house.

#3: I’d rather be walking around in the woods. I know North Florida isn’t exactly Hike America, U.S.A. here but we have some great trails you might not really know about. If we’re talking a little more logistically unreasonable, I’ll take exploring the mountainous region around my family’s home in Western New York: the beaver pond, Little Rock City, down Hale Road. These are places I explored as a kid and a leisurely stroll in the quiet, cool woods might help reboot my frazzled brain.

#4: I’d rather be spending the day at Disney. Sure it’s hot, but I don’t mind that so much. i had a whole heck of a lot of fun at Epcot last month and I could use a Magic Kingdom day.ff93b5bffee3f14b0595efae32493a6b

 

#5: I actually feel kind of crafty lately so I’d rather – if I had money to burn – be shopping at Michael’s and figuring out some kind of project to do. Something artsy.

#6: If we’re talking unrealistically, I would LOVE to go back to the Mandara spa in the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where we stayed for our honeymoon. I got a massage there and only briefly explored the rest of it, though I had a half day pass to use all the facilities. I guess I felt guilty for leaving Ash on our honeymoon so I didn’t stay there too long.e00088dc3ca444e3be7202a4c5eafe7b

 

#7: On that note, I’d rather be back in Hawaii! I don’t know if you can truly understand the magic of that place; it was, well, perfect. I want a little cabana by the ocean, endless drinks, yummy food, and the best tan in the world.

#8:  Hmm, these last two are proving difficult. let’s see… I would definitely rather I DIDN’T have any work to do, though that’s in my dream world. I have another 20 pages of this manuscript to edit and a few journals to grade and a few outlines, too. I also have to make some labels, shore up some documents, and email some folks too.

#9: In essence, I’d rather be somewhere relaxing but have the sense that I accomplished something to earn that time off. I’m actually kind of bad at just sitting around unless I know that there’s nothing else I need to be doing. Otherwise, those thoughts will ruin my good time.fe0e0c8935b2f9a5b3ead0d062c361c3

Writer’s Workshop – Book Review!

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Recently, I downloaded Ready Player One, after my friend told me about it and in a lull between books, this seemed promising.

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This book surprised me in a lot of ways. It opens up in the future (2040s, I believe) in a post energy-crisis America. The entire country is in a state of chaos save for large cities. Small town are reduced to rubbish where everyone is poor, huddling in RVs stacked on scaffolding. Our “hero”, Wade, is a high schooler who has been plugged into the OASIS, the virtual reality world created by James Halliday, since he was a young boy. In fact, most of the world spends their time plugged in to escape. But what turns everything on its end is when the creator of this virtual world dies and tells everyone that there will be a hunt for his fortune. It involves three keys to three doors and if you find it, you inherit it all. So players everywhere, known as Gunters, go on the search.

What we quickly learn is that Halliday was a huge fan of the 1980s, so the entire Oasis has little homages to aspects of 80s pop culture and nerd culture and the clues to find the keys are all hidden within the things Halliday himself liked most. There are entire planets built as replicas of his favorite movie scenes and even his pizza place hangout and his home and room.

We follow Wade as he starts deciphering the clues from his special hideout. Though he lives with his aunt, he found an abandoned van (from when people started deserting their vehicles when gas prices rose too high) and made it his safe spot from which he could access the OASIS. He gets close to the first clue and we’re introduced to his best friend, Aech (pronounced “H”) and then he meets Art3mis, Daito, and Shoto, who – though they are in competition with him – are still in league with him and his avatar, Parzival, because they fight for good. On the other side of this are the Sixers who are basically corporate gunters, hired by a huge conglomerate that represents all that is evil in the world. If they find the keys and the treasure, they’d use it for personal gain and then raise prices on the OASIS and take away the one last thing most people have.

To me, the best parts of this book lay in the ways Wade connects pieces together from the 1908s tidbits of information. That was fun for me. I also felt a connection to him when he fell in love with Art3mis, especially seeing as how so many young people today are used to a world in which we carry on relationships online without ever having met the person.

This book took an interesting turn about 3/4 of the way through so even though it is in first person, something I don’t typically enjoy, it works and kept me on edge. I wanted to read this book every day and yet, I dragged out the last few chapters so it wouldn’t end. If you know about “nerdy” things, computer things, 1980s culture, etc, you’d probably like this. If you’re pretty mainstream, some of the stuff might be lost on you (i.e. the place where he bought some items is the L33t HaXorz; this means something to me.) It didn’t receive the highest reviews on Amazon but to me, it was a really fun read.

From DeviantArt:ready_player_one_by_alexiel1910-d6evwf3

 

Writer’s Workshop – Favorite June Photo

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This week, I chose my favorite photo from June and explain it.

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We’d already exhausted all of our hotel options at that point: the pool was out due to rain, we’d been in the arcade a bunch of times, and eating was too expensive. Ash was busy with his conference so we were left to fend for ourselves. I’m not made of money so we opted for walking around Downtown Disney again, with no intention of actually shopping. Luckily, my sister and her boyfriend happened to be off the Wednesday we were in O-Town so they joined us. The walk from our hotel to DD was only about a half block but the sun in Central Florida can be brutal and by noon when we got there, we were hot and sweaty. We moseyed about some of the shops we’d avoided on our trip there the day before, looking at Christmas ornaments, other Disney shlock. The boys rode the little train and spent a good hour excavating in the T-Rex store. We walked nearly the entire  length of the attraction then decided to stop for food.

We ate some deep fried stuff and then got caught in a thunderstorm, huddling under our little umbrella on the patio then diving between stores to make it back to the hotel. By the time we did get back, the rain had stopped and the sun was out, so the pavement was steaming and the air was so thick it was like walking through soup. Finally, we emerged into the hotel’s freezing cold air and wove our way to our room. It was a rather large affair and took a while to get back, since they had escalators in the conference entrance and we had a stroller, so we had to seek out the elevators. Once back in our room, my sister played with the baby for a bit and Justin entertained the boys with jokes and juggling. Finally, they had to leave in order to avoid I-4 traffic on their way back to Sanford. My boys argued about resting once it was quiet and Baby Girl was napping so instead of fighting them, I turned on some cartoons and tended to some work I had. Turning around to ask them something, I found that they’d both straight up passed out. It was kind of charming to see them so peaceful, both with their doggies they can’t seem to give up. They had been kind of annoying during downtimes on this vacation but watching their chests slowly rise and fall with each breath as they recouped their energy was a moment I cherished.

Writer’s Workshop – My how things have changed

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1.) What were you writing about last year at this time? What has changed?

Below, I will post my Random Tuesday from April 16th, 2013, then break it down.

  • Random acts of violence really bother me. Especially bothered by the fact that it affected runners and spectators of a running event. The racing atmosphere is one of unity and fun; not the place for bombs. I’ll be really interested to see if they can track down the culprit. I’m thinking someone much like the Unabomber.
  • In other random news, I watched this show on the Nat Geo channel last night all about how the 80s made America what it is, down to the good and the bad; mostly the bad and the whole “me” generation stuff. I kind of miss those times sometimes; be it because of the economics or the fact that I was a carefree kid.
  • What I didn’t know was that when the Romanian leader allowed the Who Shot JR episode of Dallas to air, the Romanian people wondered why they didn’t have all these cool things like Americans and they revolted against him and overthrew him. Huh? Who knew the affects of Dallas were so far-reaching?
  • I just beat level 102 of Candy Crush; I honestly thought I might be stuck there forever!
  • Last night, I let the dogs out and there was a small green frog on the glass door. I think I scared him when I opened it; he jumped about 5 inches and then this stream of liquid slowly dripped down the glass. Did I scare the piss out of a frog?
  • Temps in the low 90s today?? We skipped right from Winter to Summer, apparently, though we got the pollen crud from Spring. Not fair, Florida.
  • I miss Boston Market. We used to have three locations; now we have one but it’s not in an area I drive often. Now and then we’d get it for dinner and as I get deeper into this pregnancy and don’t want to cook, home-cooked type meals are more alluring, especially if someone makes them for me. Le sigh. The good places always end up closing down.
  • I didn’t think it was appropriate to have Man Candy today so I present a… patriotic image, in light of the recent tragedy  Happy Tuesday, folks.

And I included a picture of Captain America. So it looks like I was ranting about the Boston bombings and rambling on about other random stuff in my life. I can’t believe I was on 102 of Candy Crush; I’m on 268 now! It was hot then but today, it is 54 and beautiful. Seems like the weather is a little wonky this year compared to last. I looked up what I wrote about the day before and here are some highlights:

  •  Ell’s game was at 10:30 and it was wonderful weather: sunny but not hot, breezy too. His team “lost” but I figure it was payback for the butt-whooping we gave them last time. Promptly afterwards we went home, changed, made some pb&j sandwiches and hit the road. We decided to go all the way (all one hour and 50 minutes!) to St. George Island. In spite of the wind, it was still really quite wonderful.
  •  We watched both Old Yeller and An American Tail.  Isaac is going through a can’t sit still phase though so movies are a little on the outs for him

Isaac watches movies now, Ell’s team is winning games, and we went to the beach and it was cool. But for the most part, it looks like we’re doing all the same things! We have sports and movies and beach trips and relaxing and family. Now we just have an added body. I was at a particularly good phase of pregnancy in April; I felt good and able to live life normally. Now, I am free of her inside me but burdened by the fact that an infant is rather demanding. This morning, for example, I was in the bathroom and it’s by far the worst time to be indisposed. The boys are getting ready and whining about stuff and they want breakfast and then SHE wakes up and it’s not like I can just up and vacate the bathroom to help everyone. The boys can wait but an crying baby is all like, “Come get me now before I pop a lung here!” But I am happy with where my life is.

To be honest, reading my archives from last year has made me realize just how good we have it. I’m in awe of how my outlook has turned around. Writing this post has been wonderful!

Writer’s Workshop – You thought you were busy before…

workshop-button-15.) Something that is a challenge for you

As a mom of three, keeping up with everything is a challenge for me and here’s something I wrote about it:

 

It has been a scant 20 seconds since I gave at least three hugs and kisses to each boy, tucking them back in after they got up to close the closet or move a shoe or something of that sort. The door creaks open and one is now thirsty; the other is, therefore, also dying of extreme thirst and they both pad into the kitchen. I tell them goodnight one more time and sit on the couch, holding my breath. What other stalling tactic will I see next? How long before I hear the door again? I don’t, but then my seven month old remembers it is still evening hours which means she should scream her lungs out for absolutely no justifiable reason. It is her job as a baby – who does little else – to exercise those new lungs so I’m up again, cradling a tiny warm body in hopes she stays quiet for a little while, because after a nine hour work day where my office is a revolving door of grad student with their own set of problems, the last thing my fragile psyche can handle is more senseless crying.

A friend once told me that the hardest thing is going from zero kids to one. That first kid is a doozy but as you add more, it’s never so bad. You’re more prepped, they explained. You’ve done it before and at least know what to expect. Ok, I’ll give my friend that: as I had my second and third children, I went into it knowing how the kid thing works. But I don’t know if it’s “not as bad” so much as it is just entirely different. One to two seemed like my problems enhanced exponentially. They didn’t just double but intensified based solely on each individual issue that arose. The thing I had going for me that second time was that I had another boy so I felt comfortable in doing boy things. No new clothes needed to be purchased. The nursery stayed as it was; all the toys were good to go as boy #2 aged. Sure, having two boys amplified the sound in our household tenfold and there were a lot of pretend guns and cars and dinosaurs. But it was also pretty magical. Still, I don’t think zero to one was harder than two to three. Dividing my attention amongst everyone is by far the most difficult part. I’m pulled in so many directions: the boys, husband, jobs, my own basic desires like, you know, going to the bathroom.

There are days when 24 hours is enough. I get work done, the kitchen cleaned, dinner made, kids in bed, AND find time to work out and watch an episode of Inkmaster. Still, there are days when you’d think I hadn’t the slightest idea how to be a mom. Jeans didn’t get washed or we’re out of apple sauce and the dogs are jumping on kids and kids are crying and this mom has had it. There have probably been times when my neighbors thought they should call the Child Services because I’m ranting about my kids’ lack of sense. I would kill for just one or two more hours to wash dishes and maybe – just maybe – I could even read a book.

I chatted briefly with a guy who works at a downtown eatery I’ve been frequenting for years. I knew he was getting married over Spring Break so we talked about it and he beamed happily explaining his honeymoon in Paris and Rome. Then he said, “Well, back to the grind. That’s the way it is.” And he’s right. This is life; the good stuff presents itself here and there and sometimes you get a break but day to day this is what we do. We’re busy, we have to get stuff done, we give ourselves over to inevitability of responsibility. You could go crazy thinking about what the point of it all is but then, when my oldest son comes out of his room again, even after the second glass of water, and gives me a sweet kiss on the cheek and a tired “I love you”, then I know why I do all this. I know.

Writer’s Workshop – I needed that smile and laugh

workshop-button-1Last night, I was still busy with grading papers so Ash did the laundry (I almost died of shock!) and then threw on one of our all-time favorite stand-up comedians, Eddie Izzard. My first run-in with him was actually in one of my favorite movies, Velvet Goldmine but his stand-up is hilarious and exactly my kind of humor. It’s been a while since I laughed hard and this was just what I needed. Below are some key parts of the shows.

I know I didn’t write much, seeing as how it is WRITER’S workshop and all but these speak for themselves. And the laughs were well worth it.

Writer’s Workshop – Compare and Contrast

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1.) Find a photo of yourself taken 10 years ago and display it on your blog along with a current photo. How have you changed since the day that photo was taken?

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To be honest, the first photo MAY have been taken in about 2002. So it’s more like 11-12 years old. But it was a good one to show Ash and I doing a pre-selfie era selfie. Then, there’s the photo the nurse took of us mere minutes after Dakota was born in August.

The ways in which I have changed are vast and varied. I was a much different girl back then and I suppose, though I always wondered when it happened, I have become a woman in that time. In 2002, I’d been dating Ash a few years, I was graduating from FSU with a BA in English, and I had absolutely no idea where I wanted my life to go. Work? Grad school? I didn’t have a lot of motivation or even vision for the future. So at my roommate’s encouragement, I applied to CompUSA. He had recently quit so he could focus on school and he knew they needed cashiers. I’d worked a register once before: during a two week stint as a Baskin-Robins employee. I wasn’t very good at it and they let me go. The only other job I’d had before that was as a camp counselor, which is pretty different than retail.

I learned a lot working in the “real world” as opposed to sitting at a nice safe desk in a brick building on one of the most gorgeous college campuses in the country. I grew up a whole bunch in my two years there. I learned how to deal with people and not only that, but myself. I used to be a staunch believer in just that: my beliefs. And sometimes I let those stop me from being reasonable and/or putting up with something. In some situations, you have to let silly little principles go so everyone can move forward.

In 2003 I applied for the FSU Masters program in Creative Writing. Surprisingly, they let me in. In 2004, they gave me a TA-ship and I started teaching. In hindsight, this was pretty much the best thing I could have done because now, I work in that department and my degree allows me to continue to teach as well. This pretty much defines my adult career, though at the time, I wasn’t sure where it would take me.

Of course, back then, I couldn’t even see myself getting married, let alone having children. What changed in those years was my confidence. I had pretty low self-esteem and confidence in my abilities. As bad as it sounds to say Ash brought those out in me, it’s true. I had to have that approval to foster in myself those feelings of self-worth. These days, and since becoming a mother, I can do it myself. I don’t need approval to better myself. Though it doesn’t hurt to hear how awesome I am!

At the time of that photo, I’d say I was at least 60-70 pounds overweight. Though in my newest photo I am ten pounds heavier than my lightest, I am definitely more in shape now and aware of my eating habits. I run now and I know that I have to keep in shape to keep up with the kids. Back then I was pretty much on a 3 AM pizza diet every day.

I have changed in so very many ways in the 11+ years since that photo of us. It’s kind of crazy to think just how far I have come and matured. I am much happier now, I can tell you that much!

Writer’s Workshop – Unpopular Opinion: I love Florida

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4.) List 8 best reasons you love living in your state.

1.) Though I don’t like this about myself, I am the kind of person who likes to show people when they’re wrong. SO, reason number one that I love living in Florida is to shove it in peoples’ faces when they say that there’s nothing but Disney World and Miami here. Does this look like a big city or an amusement park?7051827873_1624ecd317_c8552339411_8d3af0d80f_c8712394444_02a986b116_c

2.) Now, just because I said we aren’t all amusement parks doesn’t mean I don’t totally love them! I grew up in South Florida and though my parents didn’t have a lot of money, they found ways to make a yearly Disney trip possible. And when we moved to Orlando in ’94, we bought annual passes. I LOVE Disney. I love how it makes you feel like the outside world simply doesn’t exist. Once you live near it, it almost feels like the parks are yours. When you get to go in for special things or know someone who works there and can get you in for free, they become your special place. (Below: my mother and I at EPCOT, 1984 and my kids there this past summer)7176869287_36b5a71cc3_c9059500785_ab484c66f3_c

3.) I love the weather. Sure, it gets hot but I am used to it now and I kind of hate the cold. I live in north Florida now and we get just enough cold to remind me why I would not want to move anywhere with snow. And, though most people will disagree, we do get leaves changing color and nice Springs; it just depends on the year.4452649922_23d1662875_z

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Ell in a frosty winter field

4.) I actually kind of like that we’re a joke to people. Yes, there are a lot of nut bags in Florida. Just look at these! enhanced-buzz-25878-1383591045-10

5.) I like that we have three state school football and three professional football teams and right now, only one of them is any good (Sorry, UM fans). Uh, that would be FSU, ICYMI. Go Noles; woot woot! (Below: me in front of a mosaic in FSU’s coach’s office)7983689714_dcfafbeaf1_c

6.) I love our beaches. You might tell me that they’re better in Cali or Hawaii; of course they are! But they’re pretty awesome here too.images8648579558_0e2baba422_c

7.) I love that Florida has so many regions. Much like my answer to #1, our fair state can be broken down into so many subcultures. I, personally, like living in the north where it’s southern, if that makes any sense! (I’m a country girl at heart.)A_6ab1fe_790984

8.) It’s home and it always has been. I lived in the southern portion, the middle area, and now, the panhandle and no matter where, it always just feels like home. I traveled a lot as a kid but there’s no place like home, as they say.il_224xN.489663637_5ig2

Writer’s Workshop – Makin’ it work

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2.) Your top 5 secrets to a successful marriage!

I feel a little out of m league taking on this topic but let’s give it a go.

Ok so my husband and I recently celebrated eight years but I have known him since 1999. It wasn’t always happy times, let me tell you that. But we’ve managed to make it work and we get better and better. So, the secrets to it?

1. You always hear people say communication is key. And it is, very much. But I think you have to learn how you best communicate with each other. I tend to “take one for the team” a little too much. Luckily, Ash is very intuitive and understands people way  more than I do so he knows when I am harboring feelings and problems. He coaxes me to open up and once we discuss something, everything feels much better. This keeps us even-keeled.

2. Division of labor, knowing it won’t ever be equal. I remember being a kid and complaining how nothing was fair or equal. Well, it isn’t. The world is not a fair place, as my parents endlessly explained. I used to expect Ash to do stuff around the house but then he told me we just see things differently. He’ll never notice when the floor needs to be swept. And his idea of when the dishes need to be done is different than mine. So if I wanted things done, I had to let him do them his way. As we went along and had more kids, he started taking on certain tasks and I didn’t have to ask anymore. He’s still never swept or vacuumed but hey, we all have our things. And this works.

3. (TMI alert) Healthy sex life. It’s true. y’all. I went to one of those Passion parties and the woman who ran it was probably 50 or so and she was so down to earth about loving her husband and how they kept the interest after all the years. I’m not saying you have to buy toys, etc, but you do have to put in the effort. I think that’s different for everyone, of course. For some, it might just be easy because you find you’re still totally in love and attracted to them. I speak for myself in that this is true, but for others, I think exploring a variety of things in the bedroom may help bring two people closer. And that part of a relationship is quite important.

4. Having your own things/hobbies. I struggle here because I often allow chores/motherly and wifely duties to be an excuse for not doing things for me.  I have the kind of husband who has no problem with me going out with the girls on occasion or running off to the salon for a pedi at a moment’s notice. Ash goes out on Mondays and plays Magic and every three months does an all-day tournament. I have no problem with this since we have that kind of understanding. This stuff keeps each person sane and happy with themselves, enabling them to be better spouses/parents.

5. Another obvious one but still: trust. I can’t speak for everyone (and having just watched a particular Breaking Bad episode where she is on to him!) but this is the uber key to success. And I don’t just mean trusting each other not to cheat or do other shady things. I mean simple things. Sometimes I start to stress and Ash has to calm me down. And he always tells me to just trust him that when it comes to the “big stuff”, he’ll take care of everyone. On the other end, he trusts me to get all the little things done for the kids, the house, etc. It’s a wonderful balance we have and it has led to our success.

There’s no sure-fire secret but you have to be rational and attentive. Things are constantly changing so you also need to adapt. However, I believe the above five facets will  solidify any marriage.

Writer’s Workshop – Oh, I miss it

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5.) List 10 things you miss about being a kid.

Now you see, back in 2011, I actually did a post just like this. Here you go, take a look. I’ll work on a few of these for the sake of this post and elaborate.  http://incognitusscriptor.com/2011/08/04/13-things-i-miss-from-my-childhood/

Now, things about being a kid are a little more general, I know, so here goes:

1.) I loved being able to run and run and not really feel tired or bothered by the heat/sweat. I mean, I LOVED to run all out. I loved how it felt as the wind rushed past me and the thrill of beating other, slower kids.

2.) Being invincible to food. Who knew that as you aged, some food wouldn’t sit well in your system? I can’t eat a sausage without heartburn these days. And I am not actually prone to heartburn.

3.) On that same note: eating fast food and not ever feeling guilty. I was a pretty sturdy kid but never overweight; that didn’t happen until high school. I miss going to McDonalds with my dad on occasion and having a good old fashioned Happy Meal.

4.) The television. I spoke of cartoons in my other post but I miss the feel of 80s TV. There was something so charming about the commercials and the type of shows. I mean, Full House! My kids love watching that, which is a testament to how those values stand the test of time.

5.) I miss the curiosity. I still do have a thirst for knowledge but when I was younger, there was this desire to find out how things worked and to acquire knowledge. And I had all the time in the world to do it. These days, I am lucky to pick up a few facts from the internet.

6.) Accomplishments felt bigger. When I got on the honor roll or won an award, people praised me up and down. These days, victories are smaller and sometimes only I care about them or just my husband. There’s no reason why i can’t celebrate more, but it’s not the same. (Though, when I beat this one level of Candy Crush, my kids and I jumped around the living room like fools; I was just so excited.)

7.) I miss my room. A kid’s room is a special place. It feels like yours in a world where you actually own so very little. I spend very little time in my room now aside from sleeping so it’s nothing special.

8.) The excitement of the first day of school. Granted, I was a nerd but I loved going into a new classroom with a new teacher and the possibility of making friends. As an adult, all this stuff freaks me out.

9.) I liked that school was my job. I tried my hardest and then knew I got to go home and play. Now, I go to work only to go home and do more work. Though the perks are pretty awesome – my kids make it better.

10.) I miss getting really excited about the next thing. You remember how magical it felt to look forward to something? I still do look forward to stuff but that unfettered feeling of joy is just not there.