Showing posts with label 2012. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2012. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2012

Wishing You a Happy 2013

I don't know about you, but I am happy to put 2012 behind me. This was a year of dualism, filled with disappointment and pain as well as much that was divine. There were so many horrific events and so much economic difficulty. And yet, this year was also filled with innovation and hope. Communities came together, and, in hard and even impossible times, people lifted each other up.

My 2012, in summary: 

My family faced illness and worry, and we bounced back. I traveled to visit all the members of my family this year. I also went to New York City for the first time to read at the KGB. Thrillingly, I discovered a new favorite writer in Edith Pearlman and found publication of my own short work in two of my all-time favorite journals: Gargoyle (#58) and PANK (as well as many other fine literary venues). I made new friends, and many friends moved away. I made a dent in my student loans, but still have many years to go. The husband and I moved to a larger apartment, where we can actually have our own space. We get along even better now. We both moved up in our positions at work, if slightly. I became very sick and began working to raise awareness about endometriosis in my small way; I was always afraid to write about this illness but no longer am. I became anxious a few times this year but bounced back naturally. I learned to appreciate a little more, cope a little better. I am, I think, on track to being healthier than I've ever been. I didn't write enough, didn't finish my novel, didn't look for an agent; but I am far prouder of what I wrote this year than I've ever been. I know I'm on my way. I've slowed down a bit, but this has helped my writing more than it has hurt. In 2012, for the most part, I did not fight with people who were out to fight. Engaging is losing. I worried over global events (large source of anxiety), but I also found myself in a better position to truly contribute to causes I believe in, to take a stand in my way. This feels good.

In summary, I'm glad 2012 is over and thrilled to begin anew. I have a lot of hope for this new year.

In 2013, I plan to:
  1. Have fun, take risks
  2. Read more
  3. Write more 
  4. Give back in the ways that do not drain me
  5. Somewhat conversely, say no more often
  6. Join a local group of some sort: running, foodies, something other than writing that will fuel writing
  7. Support other writers and writing journals
  8. Continue to eat better; workout, but know my limits (again, not too much)
  9. Finish the novel, finish the novel, finish the novel...
  10. Travel more, visit out-of-town friends and family, and make plans to travel out of the country sometime in 2014 (this will take a small financial miracle, but I have hope)
  11. Take a real vacation
  12. Meditate/relax/don't stress over what I can't control
  13. Aprender mucho de azar frases en español y utilizarlos de forma esporádica. En otras palabras, comienzan a estudiar español (correct me if need be... I'm out to learn)

So that's it. I wish you all the best in this new start. We're in this thing together, so I'd love to know your resolutions. Feel fee to share below. Peace. -Jen  

Oh, and...
Happy New Year!!!



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

5 Reasons Not to Travel on Christmas Day

This is a cautionary tale, in list form. It is based on my experience flying from Ohio to Atlanta to San Antonio yesterday, with a three-hour layover. The takeaway here is that I do not recommend traveling on Christmas day. I do not recommend it no matter how cheap your tickets. Here are the top-five reasons why:
  1. Multi-baby planes. Let me clarify here: I am pro-baby. And, I empathize with the challenges of the traveling parent. That said, this is a simple equation to consider when traveling. More families are traveling, and this means more babies. Consequently, there's a chance at least one will be crying during any given minute of the flight. And sometimes, two or three will be crying at once. Noise cancelling headphones can only do so much. 
  2. The people at the airport DO NOT want to be at work. Before we were greeted for our Christmas dinner in a restaurant in the airport, we heard a five-minute argument about how our server was not going to take any more tables, hell no, because she had to get to Christmas dinner with her family. And a rebuttal something along the lines of, I have a family, too, and I actually got here on time. It went on. 
  3. Things are out of stock. I don't think shipments come in on the holidays, so good luck getting your favorite brand of gum or sparkling water.
  4. Ukuleles. In my experience, there's a better chance you'll be in the waiting area next to a girl playing the ukulele as her boyfriend rubs her leg.
  5. Image by: William Fisher
  6. Bathroom bathers. Perhaps because people are going to meet family or friends/coming from meeting family or friends, it seemed the women I encountered in the bathrooms were more thorough. One seemed to be washing her hair in the sink, another flossing her teeth, complete with the pop-floss-out-of-space-between-teeth projectile action. My husband's experience, however, was far more disturbing. He reported a rather hefty and weathered man with his shirt off at the sink, wash cloth in hand, working on his pits.
So there you have it. It's up to you, but in my experience the cost-benefit ratio of traveling cheap on Christmas day turned out to be a mediocre deal. My family was more than worth it, and I had a magical time in Ohio as evidenced by my previous post. But, I'll be damned if there isn't a cost-efficient alternative waiting for me next year. 

(I'll post about writing this coming weekend. Now, to decompress, relax, and enjoy being home.) 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Finding peace when it is impossible

Sometimes it feels as though we are collectively punching ourselves in the gut, repeatedly, and that we will continue until we fall apart.

There is no denying the fact that the catastrophe of December 14, 2012 has left an impact that will never fully leave us. We are again changed. Turn on your TV right now, read the news, even make small talk with another person, and the spotlight will shine on the yesterday: a massacre that ended in twenty-seven people dead (including the gunman) for no discernible reason. And there is nothing to discern here, nothing to figure out, because there is no reason. The fact that so much violence has occurred over the last year in the U.S. is surreal and sickening.

Here's my plea:

Let's look within at times like these, take a moment, and then look outward to the opportunities we have to make those we share our world with more content. I am disheartened right now, sure, disheartened in a way I've been too often since 9-11. These mass shootings and suicidal missions seem to be recurring events, regularly scheduled programming, and we need to stop asking why and instead ask how to move forward. No matter how you dissect this, the bottom line is the murder of twenty young children and six adults, ending in suicide, is the definition of evil. It never should have happened. There is no reason.

Here's the thing: I firmly believe we can't dwell. The best way to fight our own pain is to look to what is out there that's beautiful and share that. Find balance. There is so much beauty! And the more we focus on it, and the more we nurture it, the more of it we'll notice and be able to share with those who have given up on the world. Conversely, the more we focus on the pain and the sickness, the more we become accustomed to the feel of tragedy, the more we feed its existence.

What I wish everyone would do: Show support. Research, if need be. But then take a moment. Focus on doing work that makes the world better. Do something nice, pay something forward, make another person feel a little bit better. There is no more important time to do this. This is my plea because I have to believe it will help. We are capable, communally, of being better than we've been. So let's get to it.

Thanks to my good friend, I began my day with this article:  22 Random Acts of Kindness That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity. It made me smile. And smiling is what I think we all need to do, if only for a moment today.

I'm not saying ignore; that is impossible. I'm saying look to the good. Our country has consumed so much pain and that pain has, in turn, consumed us. What do we have to lose by looking to find balance? Perhaps energy collected in a positive way will help to allow that spotlight to move a little to the right and maybe even illuminate our ability to come together and make change just when it seemed we'd fall apart.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Trying to better myself, damn it!

Personal:

In only two weeks, I'll be grading the finals for my creative writing class. I'll miss my students, but the extra time will be more than welcome. Then, gulp, here comes Christmas. How is it that ads, retail displays and even some holiday decorations go up as early as October, and yet the holiday sneaks up on me each year?

Holiday season or no, I am getting so healthy! Okay, not really, but I'm still trying to eat better. If I am what I eat, up to the last few weeks I'd be packaged in thin cardboard and stuffed in a freezer next to the Lean Cuisines.

Along with trying to reduce milk (switched to almond milk and oat milk), I recently bought a single-serve blender so that I can begin tricking myself (and hopefully the husband) into eating more fruits and vegetables. It has only two days, but I think I've already consumed more veggies than I did all last month, so it's working as of now. I bring this up because I am completely romanced by my blender, and now I want to get everyone on my list a single-serve version, which is quite affordable. This thing is magical, people! It's making it possible for me to eat kale without gagging. Point is, if we exchange gifts every year, and you don't want one, I recommend dropping me an email now.

Here's is my first creation:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • A few pieces of kiwi
  • A few small strawberries
  • Broccoli 
  • Mango Juice 
  • Protein powder
  • A splash of oat milk

There were no real measurements.

And the result? Wonderful tasting, but I drank it too fast and felt like a balloon for a good twenty minutes.

In support of a proposed new, healthier lifestyle, my husband went to Green with me today. This is a guy that wants a fried egg, bacon and extra cheese on his burger, and today he ate (devoured rather) his first veggie burger. What a guy! And the best part is, he liked it. I'm hoping I can make this work long-term. I'm never going to be one of those people who does everything right, but I'm on a mission to do all the holistic curative and preventative stuff I can tolerate without letting it keep me from normal outings. I'll let you know how I do, even if I end up reverting to old ways in a week's time.

Writing:

I was invited to submit a piece to Lost in Thought Magazine by the amazing Robert Vaughan, and I'm hoping I can deliver. I have a good start, so we'll see.

I found out a few of my short stories, notably the first three here at Fictionaut: A Glimpse, Soft like Snow, and Getting There, will be taught in a fiction writing course next term. This is the second college that my stories have been taught at, and I'm over the moon about it.

I've thought a lot about Duotrope's new subscription policy. This is a service for short story and poetry writers (and now even for those looking for small publishers for full-length manuscripts) to find journals that meet their individual needs; and more, Duotrope offers a tracking device for the writer's submissions so we don't, oops, submit the same piece twice and not realize it. Not that I've ever done this... Anyway, Duotrope is now a $50/year or $5/month subscription service, as of the first of the year. I've been discussing this a lot, debating the costs and benefits and rationale with other writers, and I've come to the following conclusion: They should charge! Here's why I've come to this conclusion after an initial response akin to oh-hell-no: 1) It's a service, and there are costs associated with said service, so there should be a fee to cover said costs. 2) Writers should read the journals they're submitting to, and programs like Duotrope are designed to allow a writer to bomb the lit industry with his/her submissions without ever having read many of the journals s/he submits to. And, 3.) There are plenty of other places to find lists of literary journals. Check New Pages. Check Poets and Writers. Check other writers' blogs and bios.

Finally, I'm officially shopping my second short story collection, which is a bit more diverse than the first, topically at least. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, I've been tinkering with final novel notes, and after my class is complete (the one I'm teaching), I plan to go at that bad boy full force. Maybe my blender and super-power green veggie and juice drinks will be just what I need to finish this damn novel.

Me versus My Novel
or
The Part of my Weekend I Don't Want to Talk About 

Have a beautiful week, all! Do like me, eat your greens!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Adrenaline

Cracks the stem,
removes breath
in waves of red,
nerves unpinch.
The cherry breaks
concrete thought,
loosens the band,
releases grip.


And so I attempt poetry again (don't laugh). As the tendon in my hand and wrist slowly heals (yes, it's a long, long journey), I've been going to great lengths to assist the natural process that will restore strength, and I wanted to share what's been working for me. Adrenaline, when focused properly helps, as does diet and meditation.

The first thing I've been doing is focusing my breath. One exercise I've found especially useful is the sixty second breath in which I sit comfortably and inhale slowly for twenty seconds, hold for twenty seconds, then exhale for twenty seconds. This exercise is a meditation in of itself.

I have also been  taking a variety of herbal and vitamin supplements that are said to help strengthen the tendons or reduce inflamation:
Tumeric
Cardamom
Glucosomine and Chondroitin
Vitamin B Complex

More: I've eliminated artifical sweeteners from my diet which is harder than it sounds because food manufacturing companies sneak Splenda and the like into a lot of products so that they can market processed foods as "healthy alternatives". Anyway, the point of this is that I've gone to great lengths to modify diet, along with a regimen of stretching, hand exercises, and ice/heat treatments. And, I've read that artificial sweeteners can actually build up in the joints. I don't want to take any chances.

I'm not sure which or if it all has helped, but, for what it's worth, the combination has done the trick. I'm on the mend. In fact, I'll be writing like a mad woman again soon. One thing I've learned about pain, in the meantime, is that it can be trumped. I've learned to see pain as a sort of blockage that can be loosened with perseverence and, more, patience. 


Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Who out there has resolutions in place for 2012?

I asked a dozen or so people yesterday whether they were making resolutions for the new year and every last one of them said no. There seems to be a negative connotation to the word for many people, but for me, the new year is a chance to reevaluate and wipe the slate clean. It's a time for renewal and to set goals.

Here were my 2011 resolutions:

1. Write some stuff.
2. Stop using smiley faces. :)
3. Continue to workout to those horrid Jillian Michaels tapes. I love/hate her.
4. Continue drinking coffee in abundance, but spend less money (i.e. less Starbucks)
5. Don't fall asleep in my contact lenses or on a bus.
6. Get Chris to workout by any means necessary.
7. Read as many books as I did in 2010, even if I find full-time work.
8. Say no every now and then just for practice, so it's not awkward when I really need to say the word (this will be fun).
9.  Come up with a bad-ass pen name so that I can write vampire erotica without anyone knowing. (I'm open to suggestions.)
  10. Blog regularly.     

So how'd I do?


1. Done
2. Working on it
3. I did this until May, when I pulled a tendon and had to modify my workouts
4. Utter failure until, rather recently, my car battery died in the drive-thru of Starbucks, which I took as a sign to man up and renew this goal.
5. Only a few misses here
6. Utter failure
7. Sure enough read as much as possible. I'm currently reading The Marriage Plot and will have a lot to say upon its completion.
8. Did it, and yes, it was fun
9. This may or may not still come to fruition
10. Semi-regularly

Okay, so I didn't hit on quite a few of those but I'm in no way, shape or form discouraged. In fact, I feel like I have all the more resolve for the new year. After some reflection and reevaluation, I'm ready to begin again.

2012

1. Tell the best possible story each time I write
2. Do not write to publish but simply write, then publish
3. Vary my workouts and avoid backbend push-ups, no matter what
4. Eat just a little better than last year
5. Don't fall asleep in my contact lenses or on a bus (this one is worth the carry-over)
6. Make trips to see my family despite finances 
7. Be patient with my loved ones--let them make their own resolutions
8. Pay outrageous student loans without cursing, stomping feet or looking up to the ceiling and screaming, "Why?"
9. Find either a) an agent and/or b) a fellowship that will bridge the gap between the larger literary world and my working life
10. Smile more (this one's weighted)
11. Get in the habit of turning my cell phone off at work and on when I get home (a biggie)

If you have resolutions, I'd love to hear them. 

Photo credit: Sarunyu_foto

HAPPY 2012!