Beginning to live the dream

I’m happy to announce that I am now a full-time employed writer! Since I was eight (according to my parents), I’ve said I wanted to be a writer. Although being an editor is fine, it just wasn’t what I wanted to do. I’ve been searching for something else for about a year and a half now. Technically, my new title is writer and editor, but at least writer is in there. It’s a step in the right direction (pun a little bit intended). My day-to-day tasks change a good deal because I manage the social media for the publication as well, but mainly I’m writing and editing things. Last week, my very first article went out in the newsletter to several thousand people. It was a big moment.

On top of the regular, full-time job, I’m also doing a fair amount of freelance writing. Currently, it’s all for one client consistently, but it’s better than nothing. At the very least, it’s an exercise in discipline as it’s an additional several thousand words per week. I’ve always been good with outside impending deadlines, so it’s got me writing consistently again.

Then, there’s the church writing group that Marcus got me pulled into. Our church is trying to foster a more devotional atmosphere this year, so we have a team of people writing and publishing weekly devotionals for the church. As of tomorrow, mine will be the first one out there. If you’re interested in reading it, I can send the link your way. This might be the most exciting project for me right now. At first, I was unsure whether I would like writing devotionals or not, but I actually found myself really enjoying it.

Anyway, that’s all I have to share for now. Many of you have seen me through my dark ISG days, so I wanted to give you all a quick update and tell you I escaped alive.

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Missy Pearl

Last night, we said goodbye to a dear friend. Missy, my childhood family dog, passed away. It wasn’t unexpected. She was a Great Pyrenees/Weimaraner mix, so her expected life span was anywhere from ten to fifteen. Missy was sixteen as of December 5, 2016. She was a fighter.

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Over the last year or so, she began losing her abilities. By the end, my mom and dad were helping her with pretty much everything, except eating. She could usually be persuaded to eat, especially if it was something other than dog food. A couple months ago, my brother said that she would probably never die because she was just too stubborn. That was definitely her style.

I remember when she was a puppy, she could play for hours on end. She would be ready to fall over with exhaustion, but she would keep bringing you a tennis ball or her favorite octopus toy to keep throwing. My mom used to lay on the couch and throw things for her because inevitably Missy would have far more energy than my mom. Another time, she knocked down three dining room chairs while trying to greet someone at the door. Her growth spurt had not really occurred to her yet.

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Missy was there for me, in her doggy way, during every hard, sad, or meaningful moment in my life. I’ve laid on the floor with her and cried; I’ve danced in the kitchen for joy while she looked at my nervously. She was truly the best friend I could have asked for.

Losing pets is always difficult. I wouldn’t trade those years with Missy for anything, though.

Messy

In less than two weeks, Marcus and I are moving to a new apartment. It’s closer to my work, more rural, and it’s on a pond, so it’s sort of the ideal next step for us. Right now, though, we’re deep in the packing stage, which essentially means that our house is piled high with boxes at every turn. This is not my ideal situation. I’ve always been one of those people who can deal with messes on the small scale (for instance, I routinely have a pile of clean clothes on top of my dresser, evidence of unsuccessful outfits throughout the week), but once it hits a breaking point, I have to clean it up. Otherwise, I can’t get anything else done. It distracts me to no end that there are piles of boxes on both sides of our kitchen table, piles in the office, and piles in the basement. The last sanctuaries from the encroaching boxes are the bedroom and the living room, though those will soon be packed as well. I can’t wait for it to be over.

Recently, I read Shauna Niequist’s new book, Present Over Perfect, and have been trying to internalize what she says in it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, whether it be with my work, my cleaning, or anything else. During my gymnastics days, I would spend weeks on a skill that I already knew how to do, trying to make it perfect before moving on to something else. While my perfectionism has made me attuned to details and helped me a great deal, I often distract myself with it. When I’m trying to control and organize everything around me, I end up grumpily pushing boxes into a corner and trying not to think about the mess rather than enjoying spending time with Marcus while we’re packing. Over the next two weeks, I am going to try my hardest to allow myself to be present, remembering all the wonderful times we’ve had in this apartment during the first year of our marriage. I’m going to try to let things get a little messy.

Thoughts on reaching the age of twenty-three

Today is my twenty-third birthday. It’s not a very exciting age – I can’t yet rent a car, I’ve been able to vote and drink for several years, etc. – but if this year is anything like last year, boy am I lucky. Twenty-two treated me very well. For anyone else, twenty-two and twenty-three are equally unexciting birthdays, but for me, this last year has been extraordinary. Over the last year, I graduated college, married my best friend, did some writing I’m more or less proud of, and got a hedgehog. And those are just the everyday life highlights. Thank you so much to everyone who made this past year spectacular – dear friends, professors, loving family, and especially my dearest husband. You’re all the reason this was such a magnificent year.

As far as twenty-three, so far, I’m hoping it includes lots of traveling, adventure having, writing important things, reading important things, and probably lots Netflix watching (seriously, though, how did it take me this long to get on the West Wing train?). I’d also really like to get a dog, if at all possible. That’s falling pretty high on my to-do list. Overall, it’s been an excellent year and I’m excited for what twenty-three holds for me. For now, though, I’m going to eat some chocolate, drink a glass of wine, and go to bed at a reasonable hour because it’s my birthday.

Thanks, Mom

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When I was little, I wanted to climb trees, build forts from the American Boy’s Handbook, ride horses, and jump on the trampoline. All while wearing a pink ballet tutu. I wanted to do ballet, then gymnastics, then start a small-town newspaper featuring stories about our chickens, then write and illustrate a novel, then become a veterinarian, and on and on and on. My mom’s mentality was always “if you want to do something, then give it a try.” Because of this mentality, I had a wonderful childhood, filled with strange outfits, poorly written prose about Louis the iguana, climbing trees, feeding the horses while wearing plastic dress-up heels, and especially laughter. I know my brothers would agree with this assessment of our upbringing, even though their childhood probably involved more go-cart building. When people talk about my brothers, they always remark, “Is there anything they haven’t done or can do?” I think they say that because we were raised to “just give it a try.”

It’s mother’s day today, so I just wanted to write and say thank you to my mom (and my dad, obviously, but his day is in a month) for allowing me to do crazy things and supporting my harebrained ideas – even when the neighborhood wasn’t particularly concerned about the backyard chicken beat.

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Wanderlust

Have you ever looked at Airbnb for more than like ten minutes? Seriously, I’m addicted and am currently planning trips we can’t afford and don’t have time for. The OED (yeah, I’m still using it ten months after graduating) defines Wanderlust as “a strong desire to travel,” but I think it encompasses a whole lot more than just that. It boils down to simply wanting to travel, but I think the more powerful urge is the desire to see and do new things – to experience more of the world and appreciate all the beauty it can offer. While this is a general state of being for a lot of us, it’s only heightened when you don’t particularly love your job (maybe I’m putting it mildly here) or what you’re doing with your life. There is so much more to do and see than four walls of a boring cubicle under a flickering florescent can ever hope to provide. For a lot of us, we’re confined and ruled by that cubicle. I know I am. I’m ready to be done with that.

While I can’t immediately pack up my belongings and run away with Marcus to some far off land and live the nomadic dream for a little while, I can work toward it. When would be a better time, really? So many people we know have done it. It’s not impossible. We just need to find the right balance of work and travel – and by that I mean, find jobs that allow that kind of balance. If you have any ideas, or want to hire a writer or designer, to help us build our own lives and escape the cubicles, let me know. Until then, I’ll be planning imaginary trips on Airbnb and working to realize them.

Lunch time thoughts

I’m currently sitting under a blinking florescent light in the lunch room at my not-that-enjoyable-but-pays-alright job, typing this post on my phone and wishing I was at home actually writing. Lately, my time has been pretty much consumed with work, wedding planning, and moving stuff into Marcus and my new apartment. None of these are bad things in and of themselves, but I do miss writing and talking with people who understand that. It’s something I definitely took for granted while I was at school, but that I miss more than a lot of things. I miss my friends a great deal as well, which is certainly part of the whole thing.
This lonely feeling has made me realize what it is to have a writer friend who relates to what you’re going through on that level. There is a major difference between talking to someone (even someone I love, like Marcus) who is not a writer, and talking to someone who is a writer. There’s just a different level of understanding between one another that makes me realize why so many great writers stuck together – the Inklings and the Lost Generation Writers, to name a few. Maybe part of the reason they’re great writers in the first place is because they have support systems. I’m not sure, but I know I miss it.
I’m trying to keep writing, but I think I need to find a writer friend who understands the types of things I’m doing, and who I can hopefully help in the same way. So, if you know anyone, send them my way. Otherwise, I’m going to start writing letters to my fellow writers from school. Check your mailboxes.

On finishing my college career and reminiscing

Today I finished my last final of my college career. It was a weird feeling. I’m not sure that it’s actually sunk in yet really. At first, I didn’t feel any different than I have with any other final, but then, after a little while, I got pretty sentimental. It seemed fitting that my last final was Shakespeare with Dr. Dixon, who was administering his last test of his thirty-nine year career. I finished college with a final in my own major, for a class with the head of my department, who is retiring now. Once all those things sunk in, I did feel sad, but the fact that I felt sad means that I have so much to be thankful for from these last four years.

Yes, sometimes I get frustrated with the bureaucratic nonsense and other frustrating things, but overall, my college experience has been truly wonderful. The friends I’ve made are ones I hope to keep close to me for the rest of my life. I’ve been privileged to get to know Marcus’s fraternity and consider them my brothers. The professors who taught me have shaped the way I see the world and changed the way I read literature and, perhaps more importantly, changed the way I write and improved it greatly.  This year, I got to write a hundred and sixty pages toward a novel and get credit for it. I’ve laughed so hard with friends late at night that my stomach literally hurt. I’ve had deep, important, emotional conversations (usually also late at night). I’ve cried over disappointments, shared joys, and laughed more than anything. It’s been a great four years, folks.

So, even though I am looking forward to going home and being with my family and marrying my best friend in eighty days (not that anyone’s counting), I will miss Grove City dearly and I think it will take a while to sink in that I won’t be coming back in August. For now, that is all for my sentimental ramblings.

Just keep swimming

“It’s almost break, it’s almost break.” This has been my mantra for about a month, which basically means since my last break. Before my last break when I went to Canada with Marcus to see my grandpa and his wife and meet my mom there, I really hadn’t had all that much to do. Since I’ve been back on campus though, I’ve been through two weeks of tech week for Orchesis Dance Troupe, hundreds of pages of reading, a nine page paper for Gothic lit on the changing view of sexuality as represented in vampire myth through Dracula and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which I totally got away with), and a ten page paper on the English Reformation which is due today. In short, it’s been crazy around here and I want to go home now.

Luckily, today begins Thanksgiving break, which I am extremely thankful for (pun entirely intended). Before I get to leave though, I have to get through two more classes – Early Modern Europe and Literary Criticism. Both classes take a lot of brain power, which I am entirely lacking today. I only got about three and a half hours of sleep last night because of this Early Modern Europe paper. Now that it’s done though, my motivation is just gone down the drain. I just want to go home, see my family, hug Missy (my huge ridiculous dog) and Vincent (my mischievous and mildly evil cat), and bake a ton of pies. Guys, I love pies. They’re seriously one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving day. Every year, my mom and I make between five and ten different kinds of pies for our family meal. We make everything from the crust to the filling using an old Swedish family recipe. It’s a good time.

So, in short, I can’t wait to be home and I wish you all a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving.

Writing motivation

November is approaching. Which means several things: Thanksgiving break is almost here, Orchesis is in three weeks, men everywhere (and some women) will stop shaving for the month, and NaNoWriMo will begin again. Most of these things are pretty exciting, but the most daunting for me right now is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Because I’m doing my independent study right now, which is writing a novel, I feel compelled to participate in this mad dash of writing. Over the course of the month, writers everywhere will try to complete a 50,000 word novel before December 1st. This may seem like madness – and it probably is – but it’s also strangely exhilarating. Hopefully it will force me to write more of my novel than I am required to, which will give me a jump start on next semester when I continue it for my honors project, and allow me to spend more time editing and rewriting too. We shall see. For now, here’s my calendar of what I need to write per day to get to the 50,000 word marker:

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It looks slightly more manageable now that I’ve broken it down into day-by-day word counts, but it’s still a lot. Especially given that it’s also paper season in all my classes.

Here we go.

If you see me slacking off, tell me to go write. I’ll thank you later. Maybe.