Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The O’Funky Awards – AKA Books I Read in 2015

(Apologies to Marcelo Quinan for the horrible injustices I did to his beautiful photo.)

My goal: To recap the awesomeness I read in 2015. My brain’s goal: To procrastinate as much as possible.
So, basically my micro-recap of 2015 epically spiraled into "awards" because I could be procrastiworking on this blog post by making goofy graphics. Thanks for understanding. The struggle is real.
Apologies for the terrible formatting. Everything I wanted to do, Blogger said "NOT TODAAAAY." We may be breaking up.

Arranged in no particular order, here are just a few of the books I read in 2015!

I’m giving the Deadly Funny Award to Dirk McAwesome and the Giant Fire Breathing Space Ants  by Richard Junk because it is one of the funniest things I have ever read.

I read Dirk McAwesome in the gym and literally fell off the elliptical machine because I was laughing so hard. It is the epitome of ridiculous and I loved every minute of it. It purposefully takes every writing cliche and meta-joke to its most extreme, covers it in gold, and whispers, “My preciousssss.” #DED


For the awesome novels 
Beasts of Burdin and Hero Engine I’m bestowing upon Alexander Nader the MOAR NAO Award.  

Beasts of Burdin is detective noir + demons + much sass. It is utterly fascinating and I absolutely wanted to read MOAR. There is something about the characters, setting, and concept that is addicting. Luckily for us there are several books in the series, so go get your book crack!   

Hero Engine is a sweartacular superhero story with grit, heart, and realism. The main character, Jim, sees the supers as they are and not the shiny perfection that’s advertised. It’s a really fun read that’s fast paced and demanded my utter attention. It went places I didn’t expect it to go and I loved every second of it.

Deviltry: A Wanderlust Adventure by S.E. Lehenbauer receives the coveted I SHIP THAT Award. Reading this book brought back all the warm, fuzzy nerd feels of Firefly, but with a bit more sass. (Sass is my favorite word for January 2016. Hold onto your pretty floral bonnets!) No matter where the series takes us, I feel that Sally and her ship will always be my OTP. I ship it like Fedex. Unfortunately, this book is ever so temporarily unavailable. *tears*

The Bright Idea Award goes to J. Edward Paul for his stories The White Hand and The Trial of Tzithara

These two stories had very interesting and unusual sci-fi/fantasy concepts. Once, while reading The White Hand in the gym, I was surprised by the story and literally said outloud, "SAY WHAAAAT!" and scared the person next to me. True story. I loved those stories for their overall very intriguing concepts.

Zero Echo Shadow Prime by Peter Samet gets the Most Discussed Award! This was another book I read while in the gym. Every day on the commute home from the gym, my long-suffering husband had to listen to all my theories on what was happening in the book. The story kept me guessing and theorizing. It’s a really intricate plot with like 19 interconnecting pieces and universes. If I was to fall back on my English major word powers I'd say that it's discussing themes of personhood, individuality, and the definition of life through a complex sci-fi tale. 

I don’t even know how to categorize this award for Craig Johnson, so here’s a picture of some kitties having emotions. Craig Johnson gives me writer feels. It takes me forever to read one of his books because I savor every word and try to figure out how he makes the magic. I do exactly zero skimming and will re-read a page several times before I feel like I’m ready to move on. When I read his stuff I think “That’s what I want to be when I grow up.” Anyways, the Kitties Having Emotions Award goes to Craig Johnson for  The Cold Dish (book 1), Another Man's Moccasins (book 4), and The Dark Horse (book 5).

The Walt Longmire Series centers on Sheriff Longmire in Absaroka County, Wyoming, who is somehow both the last real cowboy in the West and a soft spoken, educated man of the world. This was my third time to read The Cold Dish! It’s just a thing of beauty with amazing characterization in every description. I’ll admit, I watched the Longmire TV series before I ever learned it was based on a book, so maybe that additional “connection” helps - but I was SOLD. 

Another Man's Moccasins set out to solve two parallel mysteries – one in Vietnam and one in present day Absaroka County – and it was performed seamlessly. Dang. It also explored Longmire’s own struggle with racism against the Vietnamese in really interesting ways. The Dark Horse took an interesting narrative twist by not telling the story chronologically, but - more than that - it effortlessly balanced solving the murder with solving the mystery that is “why does Walt, Walt?”
I’m giving James Dashner’s Maze Runner series the Just 5 More Minutes award because I couldn’t put the books down. I read the first two books in the series (The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials) in less than 12 hours over Christmas and refreshed the library website for straight up DAYS waiting to find out if my copy of the final book in the trilogy was available. 

I haven’t read the final book yet, but so far I’d say the Maze Runner series is like if the Hunger Games and Divergent had a well-adjusted child, all things considering. It's basically the most fun you can have watching teens get mutilated and die (I'm looking at YOU, Scorch Trials). I watched the movies before I read the books (again, I didn’t know there were books), so I had some preconceptions coming into reading the books. Movie 2 was only vaguely inspired by book 2, so that's a comfort if you don't like spoilers. I'm not sure why kids killing kids is such a popular thing, but there ya go.
This has been the 2015 (2016?) “O’Funkys.” Maybe next year I’ll give out the Golden Donut Awards or something. Roast me in the comments below, mmmkay?

[less than 3],

Rachel O’Funky
Funkytown, U.S.A.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fastfood Fanfiction Friday #1

Apologies to NASA for (mis)using their beautiful picture in this undignified post
Up until this post, my fastfood fanfiction was merely an occasional tweet to pour out some of my ongoing diet angst into 140-character love notes to food. Now, I present to you Fastfood Fanfiction in a longer form because I can. Note, these are ludicrous and over the top. Like a good fart joke, I hope it will make you laugh, groan, and feel something you’re sort of embarrassed to admit. For bite-sized morsels search for #fastfood #fanfiction on Twitter.

"A Wrap in Time"

Commander Macon mindlessly glossed over the reports from the overnight crews. God, I’m glad I got off the night shift. “Boring.”

That damned chirpy ensign jumped up.

“Did you need something, sir?”

“Nothing. As you were.”

More than a little hungover, the only thing that sounded better than a shot of whisky was one of those giant breakfast burritos from the mess hall.

Go to space, they said. It will be fun, they said. Hot, alien girls, they said.
Macon groused and scratched where his beard would have been if regulations permitted such a thing. All the aliens in this quadrant are the space fish-monster types. I haven’t seen an alien in months that didn’t immediately make me want to say, “Release the kraken!”

An enthusiastic beeping noise interrupted the heavy sigh he was brewing.

“What is it? Is it a colony ship?” He perked up considerably.

Even though every little noise was like a level four laser through his skull, the beeping might be a message from one of those advertised hot alien chicks. Or it might just be another bit of space dust the sciencey types were going to ask to stop and look at.

Ensign Excessively Chirpy punched a number of buttons that surely do something, but Macon wasn’t a man to care about details. She turned in her chair with a stricken expression.

“It’s … the space cannibals, sir. They just jumped out of warp off our bow.”

Commander Macon groaned and issued a captain’s chair worthy face palm.

“Cannibals again? They’re hungry. I’m hungry. God, I just want a burrito.”

“What do we do, sir?”  

“Burrito cannon,” he mumbled under his breath. The whisky-influenced idea just might be a two birds, one stone solution.

“What, sir? ... Sir, now they’re blasting through the airlock on deck 5.”

“Contact the mess hall and tell them to save me a burrito.” The ensign stared at him blank faced. That was apparently not the answer she was looking for. “Also … notify the captain about the cannibals. I’m headed to deck 5 to take care of it,” he grumbled and marched off the deck.

“I swear to the breakfast gods, if I don’t get one of those burritos I’m going to …”

On deck 5, the lift door opened to Captain Greggs' angry face. Macon paused.

“Cannibals before I’ve had my coffee?” The Captain tossed Macon a laser rifle. “They don’t even know the hell that’s about to rain on their heads.”

Macon gave one solemn nod to acknowledge the disrespect of disrupting a man's coffee. He took the rifle off stun.

“Sir, there’s a burrito with my name on it on the mess hall. And right now? I’m hangry.” The first of the cannibals broke through the airlock and was instantly blasted back by Macon's rifle. “For the burritos?”

“The burritos.” Captain Greggs hit the next unlucky cannibal to come through the airlock. “And coffee.”


Many thanks to WordNerd @Dammit__Woman for the title suggestion "A Wrap In Time"! 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Faces of the Crying Girl

I haven’t blogged in over two hundred years, so this post may come as a shock to you. What have I been doing since James Madison was president? So glad you asked.

I wrote a thing. Then I submitted it and somebody put it in a book. Um, how cool is that?!  

I’m talking about the Faces of the Crying Girl anthology. The basis of this project is Alex Nader’s (website, Twitter) short story “The Crying Girl” where a girl is seen crying at a metal concert right before heads literally start exploding. In our anthology, thirteen authors give their take on who this mystery girl is and why she’s crying.

The Faces of the Crying Girl is FREE (my favorite number) between now and 9/4/15. There is seriously no better time to check out this great indieproject
Xavier knows what's going on.

But, of course, it wasn’t just me in this glorious anthology. We have a really great crew of authors who took part in this awesome adventure. Check out the interviews below for a chance to get to know the authors a little better. Want to internet stalk them? (It’s ok. We understand.) There’s this handy little Twitter list where you’ll find us.

Many thanks for Alex for putting together these interviews! Also, if your eyes are sensitive to the majestic glow of cursing, avert thine eyes.

Ken Mooney

What makes you metal (as fuck)?
As if my taste in music didn't do it, the piercings, the tattoos (Thomas Pynchon, X-Men, Nine Inch Nails & my own work), the love of the word "fuck." I'm also (probably) one of the few published authors who has had a waking craniotomy which really helped to get out a significant number of the amount of fucks I give.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (i.e. the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)
A little bit of everything, but some of it was location. I spent a lot of my teenage years and early 20s at concerts and gigs, and here in Dublin, a lot of those venues are old converted theatres, places with a real sense of history and decadence. Seriously, have yourself a google of the Ambassador or the Olympia (ad a Dublin to the end of that image search) and you'll see where I see this stuff playing out in my head.

Ashley Davis

What makes you metal (as fuck)?
The love of my music life is TOOL.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)
The idea of Audiophilia is what got my wheels turning. I liked the idea of a drug that blurred the line between a high and reality, so I ran with that.

Bart Van Goethem

What makes you metal (as fuck)?
I’ve seen KISS, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Joe Satriani and many other metal and hard rock bands live in concert more times than you can imagine. I won’t even bring up my metal record and cd collection.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)
The girl. Who was she? How did she end up at the concert? In my eyes she was innocent.

Jessica West

What makes me metal as fuck?
My voice (the writing one and the actual one). It's deep and loud and clear when I don't hold back, and can be incredibly harsh or surprisingly pleasant depending on which way the switch is flipped. Like metal, my voice is typically visceral, brutally honest, gritty, and, on rare occasions, insightful and eloquent. Kind of like Slipknot, I guess.

What aspect of the original story inspired me the most?
The story was great, but it wasn't the story itself that drew me in, it was the first three writers who really brought it to life that did it for me. Alex Nader, Chris (Joriah Wood), and Jon (J. Edward Paul a.k.a. Eddy a.k.a. The Sexy Mailman) formed a natural collaboration and it worked out so well, I really wanted to be a part of that. Thanks for making that happen.

Rachel Ortego

What makes me metal as fuck?
The metal mod on my amp. Especially when I crank that bitch up.

What aspect of the original story inspired me the most?
The idea that music is powerful enough to have a lasting impression on people (even if it does kill them) has always been fascinating to me. What is it about music that transcends cultures and language barriers and all that stuff? When I read the original story the idea for my story just kind of came to me and I had to write it.

T.R. Orchulek

What makes you metal (as fuck)?
I spent five years in a metal band, playing shows and worshipping at the altar of bands like Tool, Metallica, Faith No More, Mastadon, Pantera, and the Deftones. I know that mindset. I know that life. I still listen to it everyday. It's in my blood. Now, I channel those same feelings and urges through my writing. So, naturally, there's a lot of chaos and violence and rage, but also beatuy, love and hope.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)
The mystery of the thing. The girl - who is she? What's her story? What happened to her before that fateful night? What is Audiophilia, and where can I get some? What would a Throat Slit Six song sound like?


What makes you metal (as fuck)?
I’m pretty far away from this music genre usually but after watching "Deadman Wonderland" for me it’s one song – “One Reason” by Fade that was opening there – a story of bloody metal reality I loved. So, yeah, it makes me feel that way every time I hear it.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)
For me it was this mad desire of Johnny to have his show (this special moment for him) no matter what – it made me wonder about the price he’d pay for it and this girl definitely had something to do with it.

Edward Paul

Why I'm metal as fuck:
I am NOT metal in the slightest. No tattoos (terrified of needles), no extreme sports (allergic to pavement burns), and no musical talent to speak of (tone deaf). I've never even broken a bone. Closest I get was having hair down to my ass in highschool. Does that count? Then 1/100th metal as fuck.

What inspired me from the original story:
It was the girl for everyone, wasn't it? How could it not be? The supernatural quality of a still, suffering beauty in a sea of discord. It's an image that begs exploration.

Chris Forshner

My mom was scared to send me to Kindergarden when I was proudly declaring Alice Cooper as my favourite and singing along. I grew up in a house of rock, and threw everything else in along the way. It's impossible to write without a song to distract the brain into focus.

Blood always captures my attention. Why is it there? What effect will its leaving have? Growing up in a pile of horror novels, it's always a sign of something.

Rachel O’Neill  (ME!)

What makes you metal (as fuck)?
I didn't choose the metal life. The metal life chose me. Just joking! I'm definitely not metal in any way, but music speaks to me. With metal you have to go all in - full blast, leaving nothing behind. I love that passion. It makes me want to put more passion into life.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (e.g. the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)
The power of music is so important to me and I felt The Crying Girl was a really cool interpretation of that. Music is what gets me through the day, so seeing music be such a heavy part of violence made me want to dig in and know more.

///Tangentially, on the power of music, in the "unpleasantness" between North and South Korea this week, South Korea blasted K-pop songs at the border (including one of my fav songs lol). North Korea was like "Um, Dude. That's gonna have to stop. Like, RFN." This concludes story time with Rachel.///

Daniel Cotton

What makes you metal (as fuck)?
Musical taste more than anything else - first gig was Rammstein, seen Slipknot, In Flames, RATM amongst others since.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (e.g. the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)
Personally, the single most powerful aspect of the original story was the image of the crowd and the crying girl captivated by the live music. It encapsulated the spine-tingling connection between a spectator and the artist, which somehow means that everything outside of that connection becomes diminished and non-existent during the live music experience - and this particularly resonated with me given that I have seen a host of awesome metal bands live.

Chris Smith

What makes you metal (as fuck)?
Ultimately, what makes me metal as fuck is not caring if people think I'm metal as fuck. I know what I like, I know what moves me, and I put my energy into the things that are most fulfilling. It's not that I don't like people, or want them to like me--quite the contrary. I try not to be a jerk about it, I want to get along, but if you don't like what I do? It's cool. I don't mind. We can all be ourselves.

As far as the trappings though--I have a sweet metal goatee, examine my playlist and you're gonna find about 85% of it is the tightest metal you've ever heard, and the biggest problem with "11" is that it's never loud enough.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)
First, the atmosphere. I could feel the crowd's energy, and the band members standing on that precipice between nerves and release.

The funniest part of the whole thing is that I somehow missed the drugs the first time I read it through. In fact, I missed the drugs totally until *after* my story was written. Would that have affected the route I took? Most definitely. I think I worked them into a later draft, but my own sloppy reading skills changed the whole course and direction of my story.

Really, though? The image of a girl crying at a metal concert...if you've seen it, you know why cameras cut to them. Music is an emotional experience to begin with, and when someone is crying at a concert, you know that they're totally captured by something. There's an emotional purity there that is going to be hard to find anywhere else.
And when those tears turn to blood? Come on...who doesn't want to know what happened there?

Andrew Moore

I hitchhiked across the Kavango region in northern Namibia, spent the night with a stranger in the regional capital, then walked 4 miles to a hospital in the morning with a bag strapped to my back: I did all of this with blood poisoning working its way from my right thumb to my heart. I was out of the hospital in an hour and continued to my thing.

The story:
Having complete control of creating this girls life story while trying to make it fit within the general theme of the original plot. It was a good exercise and a lot of fun.

Alexander Nader

Well, fuck. I just sat down to organize this post and read through everyone’s answers for the first time. Immediately, I am humbled that these excellent story tellers took cue from something I wrote. Second, all of their answers kicked ass, what in the hell is left to say?

What makes me metal (as fuck)?
Ummm, shit. I once bit the head off a bat. No, wait, that wasn’t me. Okay, this one time I totally…no, wait, that was Danzig. Okay, okay, fine. I listen to my music like really, REALLY loud. Okay? Maybe?

And as far as the story inspiring me, it’s funny. The original story was all about the guitarist for me. The girl was an afterthought of sorts. Then Chris was like, ‘Dude, I have to tell her story,’ and I was all, ‘Go ahead, bruh’, and then Jon jumped in like, ‘Hey, guys, can I play too,’ and I told that fucker no, but he showed up anyway, and then Jess got all on Twitter like, ‘Hey, you guys should make an anthology,’ and just like that Faces of the Crying Girl was born.

The book is awesome and it’s free for a few days. I promise it’s worth at least ten times that much.
Thanks for joining us! I hope you enjoyed hearing from the great Faces of the Crying Girl crew. Get this FREE anthology HERE.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When Your Story Isn't Turning Out “Right”: Writing Week #4

I'm in the last week of my self-imposed writing challenge to write every day in July. For Week 3, in lieu of a normal blog post, I wrote a story for Elise Valente's blog

The Fourth Instance” is a scifi story about what happens when you procrastinate on your current WIP. Um, oops, no. But that's actually how I wrote this story. Never underestimate my ability to procrastinate by doing something “useful” and “important.” But I digress.

I worked that short story up one side and down the other (is this just a southern saying?) and still never quite got what I was looking for in the pacing and the voicing. Then there's always the conflict of “what I originally imagined” and “what something turns out to be.” Why is it that even if something is going well, if it doesn't look like our original plans we feel a little upset, striving to get to that original view?

Working through some of these feels generated other feels. I most epically don't have all this figured out, but some of the things that are helping me right now might help others, so here goes.

When Your Story Isn't Turning Out “Right”

Consult an expert. This may look different for each person. I'm a verbal processor, so I don't even know what I'm thinking until I've had the chance to talk it out. Sometimes all I need to do is try to explain my situation to my husband and then stuff becomes clear.

Put the offender in time out. Take a little time away from whatever is misbehaving and do something else. You can ignore the troublemaker for a couple minutes to give yourself some new perspective. Or, if it's really stuck, put that story/piece of art/song/whatever in time out and come back to it tomorrow. Take the weekend off for that particular project and write something else just for fun. Read something new. Don't let the story tangle you up inside.

Remember that you can always change things. I am a compulsive hoarder of words. I save old drafts as a safety net in case I do irreparable damage. Just knowing that I can change things, to refer back to old notes for some ridiculous minute detail, helps me have courage to go for big changes.

Roll with it. Who says that this new thing that your story is morphing into isn't going to be cool? Or better? Maybe it won't be what you originally expected, but maybe it's going to be way more awesome, deeper, and more colorful.

Stop judging yourself. Yeah, I know. I just said for you to build a life size Empire State Building using only Cheesewhiz and a prayer. What you write today is setting the stage for what you will write tomorrow – figuratively and literally. You don't know the full effect of the experience you are gaining as you put together every blog post, short story, novella, or novel draft.

Stop judging yourself, part 2: Everyone has to start somewhere. Give yourself permission to suck. My friend John Adamus (TwitterBlog), masterful writer-editor-encourager, changed the way I think with just that one phrase: “give yourself permission to suck.” It's ok for things to be “rough,” but the point is that you can learn from it and get better.

Do you know what for me the most comforting part of having my stuff not turn out “right” is? This means that I am writing, creating, and working. I'm actually doing something. I'm making progress.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Sidekick Is a Spreadsheet: Writing Week #2

Week 2 of my self-imposed writing challenge is now done and I’m 12,005 words “richer” than I was on June 30. ICYMI, my focus for July is primarily to get in the practice of writing every day.

As with any goal, knowing your strengths and weaknesses can make a big difference in the journey to achieving that goal. In my efforts to write every day in July, I’ve called upon the two main heroes of my life: To Do Lists and spreadsheets.

I am a big fan of lists. I am the dreaded list-maker your mama warned you about. Lists, and other linear paths of organization like spreadsheets, are how I keep sane.

Other list-makers out there (all the list-makers in the house say “Heeeey!”) know that there is nothing quite like crossing an item of your To Do List.

But, if you read last week’s post, you know that procrastination is one of my great weaknesses. What happens when a master list maker is also a master procrastinator? Inner turmoil. Ha.

The result is that as much as I get the “planner's orgasm” from crossing items off my To Do List, I will do almost anything to procrastinate on my To Do List.

That being said, if I put Writing on my To Do List I am 62% more likely to at least attempt my writing for the day so that I can cross it off the list for that little completion afterglow. I’ve discovered that reaching my goal word count for the day typically isn't very hard. I often reach my goal before I realize it. Like many things, the hard part is getting started.
Namor knows the power of the spreadsheet.

After I get started, my good friend the Spreadsheet keeps me rolling. I like to see that word count climbing. One cell calculates how far I’ve come and another cell shows how close I am to achieving my goal. It’s like magic.

The only thing that keeps me from procrastiworking on my writing by something like “I'm going to draw stick figure art to accompany this scene!” is that I can't count it towards my word goal for the day. Otherwise, you can bet your last brownie that I would suddenly want to design special art for each chapter and page heading.

Right now I’m just trying to keep focused on throwing words on the page. They say “write drunk, edit sober” but that's never going to be me. One ounce of wine and I will be ready for nap time. For me, I think the motto will be more “write passionately, edit dispassionately.” Throw my heart into it now and my critical, judgey mind can sift through the garbage later.

Now's the time to shovel some words out of the deep, dark hole of my mind. My word count is growing with each shovel ... and so is an ever-so-tiny bit of confidence. I might be getting in the swing of things. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Fine Art of Avoidance: Writing Week #1

Batman knows procrastinating when he sees it.
As part of my goals for 2014, I'm working on the hyper-specific, professional, and detailed goals of:

1a) Write Stuff
1b) Finish Something

I'll wait while you take a moment to deconstruct those complex goals.

As part of working towards these goals, I've challenged myself to write every single day in July. I have a comparatively low word count goal to achieve, since the main point is for me to get in the practice of writing every day.

Writing every day is such a basic, fundamental task for writers. “Writers write,” they say. “Write what you know,” they say. (“Stop telling fart jokes,” they say...) This writer should write about fear because that's what I know.

Fear has kept me from putting words on the page for a very long time. I gave in to fear for far too long.
 - Fear that I wouldn't be able to finish anything (which, strangely enough, didn't help me have courage to finish anything …).
 - Fear that what I write won't be worth reading.
 - Fear of success (it's another flavor of my great nemesis: the unknown).
 - Fear of my own shadow, etc.

When fear wasn't lurking, there was another one of my good friends: laziness. Why try this new, scary thing called Finishing Something when I can sit here and watch Netflix while I eat brownies? Brownies and Netflix. :::sigh:::

Seems legit.
My other great partner in “crime” is procrastination. I am a master procrastinator. In my bag of procrastinating tricks there's something I like to call “procrastiworking.”

Procrastiworking is when you procrastinate under the guise of doing legitimate tasks (cleaning the kitchen, paying the bills, doing other tasks that you're also wanting to avoid, etc.). You feel legit and adult-y while procrastiworking, but you know the only reason you're cleaning out the edges of window frames with an old toothbrush is because you're avoiding something.

I have brought the art of procrastinating to such a magnificent level that my tablet occasionally suggests “procrastirachel” as a word choice. Yes, my tablet downgraded me from a proper noun to shame me in my misbehavior.

I know I'm not alone in facing the old frenemies of fear, laziness, and procrastination. If you have old projects, big projects, scary projects, dream projects, or new projects that you have shelved for whatever reason, let's work on those a little bit at a time in July.

I'm still finding ways to procrastinate and I'm stumbling on little places where the fear is keeping me tame, but I'm moving forward. I'm making progress, writing every day, and Doing The Stuff. My word count for the first 7 days of July: 7069 words. That's not a lot compared to what others have written in the last 7 days, but that's about 7000 more words than I put “on paper” in probably the last 5 years combined. It's my victory – and it's just the beginning. There are 3 more weeks left in July.

But don't ask me how long I procrastinated on writing this post. Let's just say my kitchen is really clean right now.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thoughts on My 31st Birthday

FACT: You look 80% more contemplative
when wearing glasses. (Me on my birthday)
I just turned 31 and I've got to say that it was a bit harder than turning 30. Age feels like a crippling number in our society. Hit a certain number and BOOM! You're expired. Off the shelf. Not a contender. But it's not just the number that's bothering me.

I'm a very introspective person. Like many, I am my worst enemy and my harshest critic. I had my first “midlife” (tenth-life?) crisis when I turned 10. I berated myself endlessly because I had lived a whole decade (ten infinitely long years) and had absolutely nothing to show for it. Absolutely nothing.

But I digress . . .

Just after the new year, someone asked about my new year's resolutions. I said that in 2014 I want to hate myself less. She laughed. I laughed. But it was true.

I'm all about process improvement. I'm working towards being a person I can be proud of. I am a work in progress and some days we make more progress than others.

Many people wish “a happy birthday,” but beyond the general fun birthday happiness of cake and parties I thought about what “wishes” I would like for myself in the next year. I gotta say, wish I could buy this stuff on Amazon Prime.

Here are some “wishes” and general ponderings for myself in my 31st year.

I want to have the passion of the heart not to give up so easily when things get tough.

I want to face “failure” and not flinch. I want “failure” to be something that I don't give a crap about.

On that note … I want to give myself permission to fail. Permission to suck. Permission to start at the bottom … because I know that I will get better.

In addition to introspection, cake happened!
I want to go for the “big” goals. I want to chase after something really amazing and go forward despite the fear.

I want to be less afraid. And where there is fear, I want to Do The Stuff despite the fear.

The unknown is never going to completely go away. I can't wait for everything to be totally clear before I do something.

I want the courage to speak what's on my mind … and then the thoughtfulness to speak in a way that people will understand.

I want to be someone that after I'm dead people will remember me for more than just fart jokes or purple hair.

Not everyone is going to be a fan and that's ok. I can't please everyone – and really? There are a few people out there that I really don't want to make happy.

More often than not, I want laziness to be a condiment - not the main dish - of my days.
Birthday roses from my husband.

Hey, it's ok to write something contemplative and melancholy (like this post). Life isn't all fart jokes and unicorns.

Don't give headspace to jerks. They don't deserve that much screentime.

I give myself permission to return books to the library without having read them. Let go of the things that make you feel trapped in obligation.

Anyway. Those are just a few of the things rattling around in my head this year, but never fear! All of this contemplative introspection and occasional self-loathing came with traditional birthday “wishes” like blueberry lemon cake and roses from my husband.