Monday, December 31, 2012

Prompted: The Best Part About Writing Fiction Is...

The Best Part About Writing Fiction Is …
July 8, 2011

Finish this sentence: The best part about writing fiction is …

The best part about writing fiction is being able to leave reality and enter a world you’ve created. The characters act how I want them to act and they do what I want them to do. It can be a powerful feeling at times when real life is anything but controllable.

When I was at my worst and when my Agoraphobia was at its strongest, I could write for twelve and sometimes sixteen hours a day. I hated the situation I was in, but I loved being able to remove myself from it as I wrote.

It’s probably no comparison to talking to a therapist or being medicated, but writing is my coping mechanism when life gets too hard. I got to write about characters falling in love, something I’ve never really done. People got to be happy when I felt miserable.

This will be my best and favorite part about writing fiction for a while. When people start reading what I write, find themselves transported into the world I created and not wanting to put down the book and leave, then that will become the best and favorite part.  

Check out this prompt and other Writing Digest prompts here.

How Did I Do?

1. Cook at least once a week. Like actually cook with ovens and stoves, not just nuking a meal.
Umm. Didn't happen. I don't cook for myself. Never have and I don't really have much of a desire to. Something about the more dishes I use, the more dishes I have to wash and I'm really into doing as few chores as possible. Mommy prefers Chunky Soup and TV dinners. Not sure if that's because of my (lack of) cooking abilities or just because it's quicker and easier. Either way, haven't needed to cook a lot this year.

2. Find a primary doctor and start taking care of myself physically (finally...I'm getting on up there, ya dig :~/)
Check! Going back in January for my third HPV shot and my flu shot. Knock on wood I don't get the flu before I can get the shot.

3. Take my TExES and GRE tests. Passing them wouldn't hurt either.
Took all four and passed them all the first time! #WalkOff

4. Decide once and for all if and when I'm going to do this grad school thing and get the ball rolling if I do.
I decided. All that's left for me to do is get my letters of recommendation and pay the app fees.

5. Finish reading Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove series.
Finished in August...

6. Then read all of Jane Austen's novels.
...then got sidetracked by school and books from the library, so I haven't started Jane's novels yet. Winter in Austen anyone???

7. Find a half marathon to jog in (is there really nothing between a 10K and 13.1 miles??????)
Had to stop running in March for what turned out to be an ovarian cyst. Next month will be six months clean, so I'll start again then. Even found some insoles for my running shoes (I've had them for four years next month) so I can try to remain injury-free and start running in races again. 

8. Split myself evenly between the time I spend doing things for and with others and doing things that I enjoy.
Was I able to do this??? I say I was successful with this one. Just have to work on the balancing aspect of doing so.

9. Continue to be open to meeting new people and experiencing new things.
Meeting new people took a backseat this year as I reverted back to some of my agoraphobic tendencies for most of the spring and summer, but I'm still good on trying new things.

10. Learn how to let the little things go. And some of the big ones too...okay, stop wasting my time on what I can't change and either let it go or write about it and get rich off of it :)
Haven't written any stories about the little or big things, but I do have about a dozen songs on such topics that didn't exist last year. Check. 

11. Dedicate more of my time to writing and (Am I really doing this again????? Guess I'll have to until I man up and do it) Publish a story.
Didn't publish a story, but I did spend more time writing. I've started several short stories and plotted out several more of those as well as monstrosities. I'll find myself actually finishing some of these in 2013...

12. Read at least two major religions' holy books excluding the Bible since I've already read it.
Didn't make this one though I do now have a Quran and live near a library that has most of the major holy books. This will be an ongoing project starting in 2013.

The diagnosis:
This year was a strange one. March-August were a wash with random object growing on my lady parts, but I feel like I've done a lot in spite of that particular misfortune (which, it turns out runs on at least two sides of my family. Know your histories ladies and gents. It could save you from mayhem like that...)

I don't feel like I accomplished too much, but I am feeling some things I've never felt before: fulfilled and content. So task-wise, 2012 was marginal; life-wise, 2012 was my best one yet. Hoping for more of the same in 2013.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Never Have I Ever...

December: been to Cowboys Stadium. Crazy cool place. Just wish so many people didn't have to lose their homes for it to be built

My Take On...Celebrating Kwanzaa

I've been celebrating Kwanzaa on and off for several years now. It's an important holiday for me because it provides an opportunity to become more in tune with my cultural heritage.(You can read about my Kwanzaa-celebrating history here).

For 2013, I'm making it a goal of mine to involve the Nugzo Saba (the Seven Principles) into my daily life for the whole year instead of just during the week of Kwanzaa.

The Nugzo Saba (found here)

Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

My idea: support local businesses owned by African Americans and other minority groups (12/28/12)
Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

My idea: continue with my education and look for ways to help other people start or continue theirs as well (12/28/12) 
Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

My idea: to use my love for writing and the arts and learn to help others express themselves through a productive and constructive medium instead of a destructive one. I hope that by doing this, it'll get others off of the wrong path and keep them from traveling down that road again (12/28/12)
Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in God, our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

I'll come back to this post to update it when I have ideas as to how I'll establish each principle into my regular routine and when I've been successful at doing so.This time next year, I'll write another post to see how successful I've been at keeping up with this goal.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nouvelle: A Short Short

This story originally began as the first page of my first monstrosity (novel-length story). It then turned into the first assignment in a Creative Writing class I was taking. Now, well, I'm not sure what it is now. It'll come to me when it's supposed to.

Nouvelle: A Short Short

        Charlotte isn’t one of the thousands of people standing outside, celebrating the beginning of a new year. She sits alone in her loft, eating the pint of Rocky Road she purchased for the occasion.

         January 1, 2006. Another year begins.

         2005; another year wasted. 

         It’s been years since she last made a resolution and several years before then since she last kept one. 

         She leaves it to everyone else to lose those ten unwanted pounds, gain back twelve, then resolve to lose those as well.

         Enjoying the pint of Rocky Road is her deliberate doing. She’s yet to find another item that explains her life so fittingly. Too many stalled starts and utter failures in her life to recall now, but at age twenty seven, she has nothing—and more importantly, no one—to show for it, as people are quick to remind her.

         She places the tepid ice cream back in the freezer before curling up on her sofa and makes a halfhearted attempt to sleep in spite of the noises from outside from people who have something to celebrate; someone to celebrate with.

         Should auld acquaintance be forgot          
         And never brought to mind? 

         Should auld acquaintance be forgot
         And days o' lang syne...
         If only she could…

White Christmas

It snowed today! It doesn't happen often, so I'm so incredibly happy when it does. Here are some of the pictures I was able to take in between my playing and running around like a giddy little kid.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My Favorite Christmas

My favorite Christmas was Christmas 1995. I was seven years old that year and it also just so happens to be the least favorite Christmas of everyone else in my family.

For one thing, my grandma had the flu that knocked her out so she didn’t cook. She stayed in while the rest of us went to IHOP. Imagine my seven year old self being able to eat pancakes with extra syrup on Christmas. It was pretty cool to say the least. It wasn’t that I was oblivious to what my relatives were going through or that I don’t care now by saying that year's Christmas was my favorite.

It was the last Christmas that I was normal. Fast forward to a year later: my parents’ divorce was finalized and my dad threatened to not let my mom have me for Christmas unless she caved into whatever demand it was he had for her at that particular moment. It was the last year that I had one Christmas, with one family in one location. I was a K.o.D. (Kid of Divorce) after that. Every year was more contentious than the last because my parents never came up with a holiday agreement during their divorce. Every major holiday became a battle for how much time on which day. I stopped liking Christmas and every other custody-switching holiday after that. Didn’t feel much like celebrating after all of the nonsense it took to get to that point.

It was the last Christmas where I wasn’t labeled. From the second my parents divorced until my graduation, I was considered “at-risk” for one reason or another. I was the one teachers warned each other about when they saw my name on their roster. My fate was sealed before I took my seat at my desk for the first time. From that moment on, I was “different” from everyone else. I wasn't the only one to come from a broken home. Some classmates' parents had divorced before mine and others' had never been married. Still, for some reason, I could never shed my “different” image like other K.o.D.s could. 

I’m here now, no longer the pawn in my divorced parents’ never-ending chess match. Thanks to last year, I like Christmas again. I can even listen to Christmas carols without crying because I can remember hearing the song at some point when I was trying to ignore whatever argument my parents were having.

Last year was the first time I liked Christmas since I was seven. The main reason was because I got to bring Christmas to others who were in need. It was the first time in almost two decades that I actually enjoyed myself. This year's was a good day too and I think I'll have more of the same as I begin to finally get past my past for lack of a better phrase. Still, Christmas 1995 has been the best one so far, even if I was the only one who enjoyed themselves. 

It was the last time I was actually happy. Not just content or well-adjusted, but happy... 

Merry Christmas for those who celebrate. I hope your day was a good one.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's Been a Long Time...

My bad. Good news: my testing is done!!! I passed all three of my TExES tests and did well on my GRE! Just have to pay for the certification and fingerprinting and then I will be done with my certification. Also,  90% done with my grad school apps and still managed to pull a 4.0 this semester. The grades don't really mean much because I hold myself to the standard that anything less than an A is a fail, so that part is just handling my business.

Creative portfolio is also done and that was the most tedious part out of the whole process.

Also been busy reading like a feign. Books and articles about financial matters, writing and building your platform mainly. Good knowledge to have and now, I'm in the process of putting what I've learned to action.

Currently Listening To:
Black Prairie's "How Do You Ruin Me?" and pressing replay on YouTube like a madwoman.

Random Update:
Rabid football fan here. Going to try to watch all 35 of them this year. I've never made it all the way through before, so we'll see. Good so far. Watched both on Saturday (as well as some of the D-II championship) and am currently watching BYU vs. San Diego State (yes, while listening to a song and posting this...multitasking is my middle name...) A little fun at the end of what has been an extremely interesting year. 

November's Never Have I Ever:
...built a piece of furniture. Probably won't be doing that one again for awhile. I have little patience for it apparently, but I accomplished the task at hand. Forgive the mess. Room has since been cleaned (ish) and feng shuiied.

 Bible Reading:
Finishing the last three chapters of Revelation tomorrow (if there is a tomorrow...sorry. Couldn't resist...) and then I'll be done with it. Next year, I plan on reading through it chronologically. Might be fun and it'll let me see things through a historic lens instead of just a reader. 

Also plan on using that time to read The Quran and The Book of Mormon. Learned about putting more on my plate than I can manage this year, so I'm going to ease my way through other religions' holy books instead of trying to read them all in a year.

Can't think of anything else to write about right now. But yeah, I still exist. In rest mode now until the 7th. I start a job then and start a month of temping at another. Looking forward to it actually. It means steady income again and it also means that I'm done with testing and grad school prepping! 

Back to regular(ish) scheduled programming!

Until next time...

A Reality Show Idea

I have a love/hate relationship with reality television. I venture more on the hate side when it comes to the competition shows because I feel like it brings out the worst aspects of a person’s character qualities. One category of reality TV that I love to watch is the culinary competition shows like Top Chef, Master Chef and Around The World in 80 Plates. They’re interesting, have unique challenges and the competitors have interesting backgrounds and life stories.

One thing that I have noticed about shows like this are that they are not for chefs or cooks who have modified diets. Except for the challenge on Top Chef that Natalie Portman was a guest judge in, I can’t remember any show cooking a vegetarian or vegan meal.

The reason I notice this is because I went fully vegetarian at 18 after I stopped eating beef in high school and pork in middle school. I only know how to cook a very limited amount of meat products and I ate meat for longer than I have not. What about someone who has grown up vegetarian or a vegan who refuses to cook with animal products? Where is there room in competition shows for someone who has never tried or prepared lamb, veal or game?

What about those who observe religious customs and rules? Jews and Muslims can’t eat or handle pork; Hindus cannot eat beef. What will happen to them if one of the challenges involves them having to use these products?

So I have the idea of creating a spinoff of any one of these great shows. Top Chef already has Top Chef: Just Desserts, but I think it’s time for a show that showcases the talents of vegetarian/vegan chefs as well as religiously observant chefs. Same quickfires as Top Chef or unique challenges like Master Chef; just something that everyone can participate well in and succeed in.  

And while we’re at it, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Man vs. Food are other great shows. Many restaurants only offer side dishes as meals for vegetarians, but a lot of them have meat in them (green beans with bacon, mac and cheese with pork, black eyed peas with ham hock, etc.) and so do the salads they serve. How about a personality who tours American restaurants that are substantially or completely vegetarian/vegan friendly?  Their owners also have stories to tell and they’re automatically unique because a restaurant like that is in the minority of establishments overall. Triple D/Double V anyone?

Just a thought (or two)…

Prompted: Yesterday or Tomorrow

Yesterday or Tomorrow

If you had to choose between yesterday and tomorrow, which would you pick and why?

I want to say tomorrow because that means I’m seeing life pass through the proverbial windshield instead of the rearview mirror, but I can’t pass up the possibility of going back in time and changing the way things have gone. For those of you who are Star Trek fans, I know this violates the prime directive, but I feel like my past has affected my present and therefore the future more than anyone or anything else ever could.

The past comes back at the strangest times and prevents life as it should be lived. I’m lucky to have a good memory, but I remember the bad so much more often than I’ve ever been able to remember the good. Without a doubt, this is what holds me back from enjoying and experiencing life to the fullest.

If I can’t get the past right, no amount of tomorrows will matter. So I’m going back in time and hoping to get things right this time around. Tomorrow can work itself out once I get there.

Past or future? Which would you decide?

Check out this and other Writing Digest prompts here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Prompted: Inspiring Books

Inspiring Books

As writers, we all love to read good books for inspiration. What book inspired you as a writer and why?

I’ve been reading since I was three, so it would be easy to come up with dozens of books that have inspired me in one way or another. I would say that The Bell Jar and The Rape of Nanking inspired me to write, so I find those two some of the most important books that I’ve ever read. 

This was before Young Adult books really started to become popular, so once I was out of elementary school, I went straight for the Adult Section of the local library. I read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar for the first time when I was 11 and the first book that ever changed my life. The way that Plath told that story through Esther Greenwood mesmerized me. I read the book at least once a year for close to a decade straight.

Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking wasn’t the most appropriate book for a seventh going into eighth grader should’ve been reading, but so much of my world view and the way I saw other people changed by reading it. I hold it very important even though it’s a non-fiction book because of the lengths Chang went through to tell the stories of people who could no longer tell their own. It put a call into me that the reason a person picks up a pen or opens their laptop isn’t to tell a pretty story where everyone lives happily ever after; it’s to tell a story that needs to be told. A story that will not leave them alone or give them rest until they get it out of them. Success is nice, but is not necessary; you only have to stay true to yourself and give a voice to something or someone that can’t do it for themselves for one reason or another.  

Though both authors have passed, they left masterpieces behind that have touched my life in such profound ways. I will always be grateful for the gifts that they gave me.

What book or books have inspired you? Why have they done so? 

            Check out prompt and other Writing Digest prompts here.

My Take On...Steve Spurrier's Comment

Steve Spurrier ruffled some feathers when in an interview with The Dan Patrick Show, he said "Alabama, gosh, they look like they could beat a couple of those NFL teams that I've watched on Sundays" (read about it here) Sports commentators left and right said that there was no way that Alabama or any other college team could beat an NFL team.

It’s been a few weeks since Spurrier made these comments, but I’m left with the same thoughts I had then when everybody disagreed: have you seen some of these NFL teams lately? I think the HBC is right: not only could Alabama beat some of the catfish teams (the bottom feeders) of the NFL, I’ve begun to wonder if some of these other college teams could do so as well. If not win it outright, they could at least keep it close and respectable.

For example, I think Oregon’s offense could keep up with an NFL team with a mediocre defense and an atrocious offense. Would love to see them play Arizona, for example, whose defense has kept some of their losses close, but who appears not to a competent QB. I also think that Bama isn’t the only SEC school who could keep up with the pros. Florida vs. Jacksonville anyone? A&M vs. Kansas City?

Heck, until Carolina began to right their ship, I thought Alabama vs. Carolina would’ve been fun to watch; maybe Bama would get revenge for Cam Newton single handedly snatching Auburn’s Iron Bowl victory away from the Tide. Other teams like Oakland, St. Louis and Buffalo come to mind from time to time. Each week unveils a different team for the most part, so it would be hard to gauge a college team playing one of them.

So maybe the college teams won’t win. Maybe Spurrier (and I) would be proven wrong. Or maybe just maybe the best teams playing on Saturday could embarrass some of the long-standing worst teams playing on Sunday. Either way, it could be entertaining. More entertaining than that Jets-Titans Monday Night Football match up last night at least; and there’s not a lot that would have to be done in order to do that.

(Also posted on