Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mandacation.

Our friend Manda visited us this week; we hardly worked at all while she was here. This meant that not only did we get to spend a lot of time with an awesome person, we got to go on vacation ourselves, running around town and watching movies and going on road trips and ending each day exhausted and eating until we were sick and all of my other favorite things.

Of course, now that she is gone, this means we are well on top of that awful post-vacation precipice: a combination of sadness, stress, and overall strangeness as we attempt to return to "normal" life, whatever normal life is.

But before I fall head first off that precipice into a pit of working and frantic wedding planning for the next month, here's a list of what I got to do this week before I forget it all:

- Attend the longest and raddest Gay Pride Parade; go to the art museum and look at all the art [I loved this part so much!]; eat at all my favorite places; see lots of waterfalls; drink a lot of my favorite beer; watch two of my favorite old nostalgia-filled Hanson videos; order pizza and play the Game of Real Life; go to the zoo and watch baby bears play with each other and a bunch of elephants take a bath [no big deal]; stay up late and sleep in as much as we wanted; drink jello shots at a trivia night where the only answers I contributed had to do with Duran Duran and Oranges being Not The Only Fruit; read Shakespeare by the ocean [how pretentious, I know]; spend hours upon hours driving along the Pacific in the sunshine; watch sea lions and sea otters get fed their lunch; drink PBR while playing video games [Tetris and Pac Man are all I need in life]; get drunk donuts; sing along to every best Disney song from the 90s; sing along to all the songs, really; see big mountains and smell lots of roses; hang out with two of the kindest ladies around.


It was a good week.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Trying To Do This: Part II.

Even though I'm still working a few jobs, it's occurred to me that I spent the majority of my time and headspace this week devoted to writing for AfterEllen: writing articles for them, thinking about future articles I'm writing for them, reading through comments, emailing with people, reading reading reading, etc. It's been sort of exhausting but this realization just made me think: wait, does this mean I'm Doing This?

Other signs that point to Yes: I just had a conversation with an editor who's going to be my official writing mentor, in order to make sure I'm, you know, not sucking. I have a mentor! Isn't that neat? And just in the last hour, I've gotten emails from two published authors telling me about their books for me to review. In addition: in the midst of the writing frenzy for AE, I've been inspired to submit something somewhere else, and I started working on this personal essay for myself that I've been thinking about on and off for a long time. (Spoiler: it is about trees. Yep. Trees.)

So, I mean. I think I am Doing This. It is a little overwhelming, to be honest. I'm grateful one of my jobs is ending this week so I'll have time to sit down and get a better handle on this new sudden, strange Writing Life.

As I promised myself in my first Trying To Do This post a month ago, I need to document all the shit that's in my head about all this shit because it might be monumentally boring to anyone else but if it helps clear my brain then I will write better and I will be happier and the world will explode in rainbows. Okay maybe not that last part, but it IS Pride month, so who knows what could happen.

Okay. Here's what I've learned. 

Dear self:
  • OMG, writing takes a lot of time, did you know that? Like, even when you are writing a simple thing that's not that long, it will still take you a long time! Of course you knew this, because it often takes you hours to just write a blog post here that only 10 people read. (Thanks, 10 people!) So deal with it, it's fine! 
  • (But also maybe you should establish some routines that help you actually concentrate, and make your life more efficient, as opposed to spending lots of time when you could be Producing Stuff just feeling sleepy and uninspired and weird in your pajamas, looking at Tumblr?)
  • (I mean, I'm not telling you to ignore Tumblr because Tumblr is amazing. But maybe wake up earlier, start the day fresh with tea and an attitude that You Can Do Everything!, and also, if you're going to be spending hours in front of the computer, have better posture, for Christ's sake. Also, take breaks to clear your head.)
  • After spending a lot of time working on A Thing, sometimes, hardly anyone will comment on that thing. That's okay. Was it meaningful to you when you wrote it? Are you proud of it? Okay, that's all that matters. 
  • Anyway, people often only comment when they have something extra to add or something to whine about, which is understandable. You read lots of stuff you like and you don't comment on it, either. Because who has time to comment on everything these days! (As part of a writing community, though, you probably should comment more.)
  • Writing, for you, seems to be an almost all-or-nothing pursuit: when you haven't written in a while, it feels almost impossible to start again, and you spend all of your time brooding about how you haven't written anything in a while and you probably never will again, sob, sigh! But then once you do write something, you suddenly want to write ALL THE THINGS and shout ALL OF YOUR THOUGHTS AND IDEAS TO THE WORLD! On and on and on word vomiting everywhere!
  • After you word vomit for a while though, you start to get self-conscious. Because like...God, isn't everyone tired of you, already? How much time can one really spend devoting their life to their own thoughts? Being surrounded by nothing but your own words can be a real mindfuck. Things start to get real meta and you start to feel tired and sick of yourself and you stop even though you have more to say.
  • Listen: don't stop. Keep writing. You might be exhausted, but those words will disappear if you don't write them down now. Trust me.
  • Speaking of the exhaustion thing, though: at the same time, listen to your body. Listen to your girlfriend. I know you want to take anything someone asks you to do, and I would continue doing this, but that day earlier this week where you tutored at two schools and you worked for six hours at Starbucks, AND you wrote two articles for AE, and you felt frantic all day and only got two hours of sleep by the time you finished everything? Let's be honest, that day kind of fucked up your body for the rest of the week. You still feel kind of tired and weird two days later. So let's not do that, anymore.
  • Hey, when you're writing about something you're not completely familiar with, you better do your research a little better. Yes, even if that takes EVEN LONGER than it's already taking you to string sentences together. People will call you on your shit and you'll feel mad at yourself because you know you're better and you want to sound smart, and you are smart, so be smart.
  • Write as much as you can for AE. But listen: keep writing for yourself, too. Make time to keep writing for yourself. It's important. Because while just writing about TV and culture and entertainment is all very fun, when that's all your mind is constantly churning on about, your soul fades away a little, too. Remember your soul, lady, okay? You like her.
  • Also: keep reading. But what the hell am I saying! You already knew that.
  • Be grateful. Always.
The real exciting news? When I have all of this down, at least a little better, in a few months, I'm planning on not serving lattes and frappuccinos anymore. I'll write, and I'll help kids if I can, and for the first time in my life, I'll only be doing things I want to do. It'll be harder, in a way, and I'll have to constantly Be Better. But holy shit, is the idea exciting. Mind-blowing, even.

Thank you, world, for helping me Do This.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

May Goals: Review.

So by some type of shenanigans, it is June. I know, it took me by surprise, too. This means that:

1) Kathy is graduating from school soon! We will drink a lot to celebrate! Yayyy!
2) Manda is coming to visit and it is going to be so fun and we will do so many great things and just yay yay yay fun!
3) My tutoring gig will be over for the current school year! I am so pumped to have more free time! I will then predictably get sad a week after it's over about never seeing some of these children again and then over-analyzing how I could be better at what I do!
4) OMG so close to our wedding in July, how the hell did that happen!

It also means I get to give myself a grade on the goals I made for myself at the beginning of the month. I'm just going to be honest and say the only thing I know I accomplished for sure was reading some National Geographics. So. I mean. You have to take pride in the little things, amIright?

+ Running goal: Buy sneakers. Buy a shuffle. Do it. Run at least five times, you big whineypoo full of excuses.
I did buy a shuffle, and it came in the most adorable little box, oh Apple and your charming design skills! Definitely glad I spent the money to buy a new music-listening-device; it's been really useful and helpful. Did not buy sneakers. And in addition to my sneakers still being in complete falling-apart, almost-useless condition, our cat Lily peed all over them this month! And I'm still using them! What can I say, I am a classy bitch.

I don't think I ran five times, but I think I ran four. Which is pretty damn close. And a few of those runs were really great runs where I felt like I could conquer the world! So I'm not going to be too mad at myself for this one. A solid B-.

+ Send out all wedding invitations! Whee! Start work on wedding favors. Start working out plans for the ceremony, since we pretty much don't have any.
We sent out the invitations! Except to just a couple losers who we're still waiting on confirmation of addresses from, but for the most part, it's done. Phew. And people have been really excited about them which has been really great and fun. People are nice.

I was all ready to be proud of ourselves for accomplishing this goal, and I completely forgot I made these other ones, too. So, eff me. Did not work on wedding favors, which I really should have, 'cause they're going to take a while. Did not really make plans for the ceremony at all, which we also should really do, 'cause I think that's like, kind of a big part of the whole marriage thing or something maybe.

+ Start cooking again. Make three new meals.
Hahaha! Eff me! Hells no! I made pesto stuffed shells at the very beginning of the month:


They were yummy, albeit slightly overwhelming in a "whoa, that is a lot cheese, even for me" way. But that is never TOO much of a problem.

The rest of the month's meals were 2/3rds mac & cheese or some other variety of pasta, with the other third comprised of ice cream or just uninspired constant snacking. I hear some people try to eat healthy before their wedding so they can look good and stuff. I clearly never even had a chance of being one of those types of people.

The only other cooking venture I had this month that I can think of was remaking one of my favorite recipes, but for some reason it didn't turn out as delicious as it normally does. So. That's a depressing story.

+ Find time to complete at least ONE solid hike. Columbia River Gorge, I'm looking at you.
I had a Columbia River Gorge hike all planned out, and then realized I didn't really have the time or gas money to get there. So Kathy and I went on an "urban hike" instead, which is a super dorky term, but whatever, I love urban hikes. And in Portland, there are so many ridiculous hills and hidden staircases to climb that to be honest, I actually feel like I get a lot more, or at least an equal amount of exercise doing them.

Secret: Kathy was actually really mad at me here because I didn't bring enough water and we were sweating like pigs!
But, pretty rhododendrons, right?

Also, part of the hike ventured into Forest Park, so it pretty much felt like I was in the woods of the Gorge anyway.


+ Call Lou. Call Sam. Call Zoe. Call Allie.
Eff me, I should be a better friend than I have been. The only one I got to call was Lou. And while it was lovely to hear his voice, I feel like I was kind of weird the whole conversation because it'd been so long since we've talked, and I was in kind of an emotional place when I called, and, ugh. I just need all of your beautiful faces in person.

+ Spend some time in the darkroom, make a portfolio of pictures of my cousin's lovely baby that I'm proud of. Print some pictures just for me, too, though.
I so, so, so wanted to have this portfolio done and ready to give to Meg by June, but I didn't. Eff me. That said, I did actually buy the portfolio to put the pictures in, which felt like an accomplishment, and I have about half the photos done and to be frank am in love with how they're turning out. I have this weekend off of work and am actually planning on spending a good chunk of it in the darkroom to finish these off. And yes, I did print one or two "for me" too, but I want to do even more of that! Darkroom photography, why must you be so expensive?


+ Post another photo gallery on daffodilly.net.
Ugh. I tried. I swear.

+ Finish TWO of the multiple National Geographics that are waiting for me, taunting me from the coffee table.
Finally! Here we go! I READ THOSE TWO NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICS LIKE A CHAMP! Sure, I'm still a few months behind, but WHO CARES! I did something I said I would!

One of my favorite things lately is also sharing some of my favorite photos/moments from my National Geographic reading on Tumblr. Yes, that WAS one of the nerdiest sentences you've probably ever read. But anyway, I like sharing interesting things and also the very act of sharing it helps it remain in my memory for longer. So I shared this great picture from this great story about tiny villages in Brazil founded by former slaves, and also a picture of flamingos and flamingo babies for kicks.

The Brazil picture got one like. The flamingo babies got 20. In conclusion: people love baby flamingos!


Other things of note from this month that I'm proud of:

+ I made a doctor's appointment for myself for a general check-up for the first time in around three years. This really isn't exciting, but is one of those things I always tell myself I should do but never actually do, so, go me!
+ Took a somewhat spontaneous one day road trip to Seattle to see my dad while he was there for work. This was so great for a number of reasons:

1) My dad is the best.
2) I went to the Seattle Central Library for the first time, which is one of the neatest libraries I've ever been in, for real!


When I think about the libraries I've been to, it's actually not a huge number, and if I were to rank them, it's hard to beat the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library in terms of classic epicness, but the Seattle Library was epic in its own way--it felt really fun and exciting, and I feel like libraries should feel fun and exciting as much as they feel classic.

3) I also got to get lunch with Ashley, who is ALSO the best! Seattle is really overall just the best!
4) This was the first road trip I'd taken by myself in, well, a really long time. And it was wonderful. 90% of me knew it would be wonderful, but there was 10% of me that was worried having six hours in the car by myself would make me feel a little lonely or make my brain go into overdrive-overthinking mode, which rarely ends well. But it was all just lovely, especially the hour or so in Seattle that I got to just wander around the city taking pictures of random stuff. I felt practically giddy with happiness the whole time. Whenever I am wandering around a place by myself, taking pictures, that is when I am Home.

Anyway, who knew I had so much to say about Seattle. But my main point is: even when you're in a long-term, healthy relationship, it's always reassuring, and important, to know that you can still make your own best company.

+ Lastly, this was the month that I feel I actually became an AfterEllen writer. Although I only published a few more articles other than my normal book review column, I have a few more pieces in the works that'll be published next week, and I feel like I've already learned a BUNCH. And I will be writing about these boring things I've learned soon.

Alrighty, June. You're on.