Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ring It On In

I'm starting to feel like a broken record each New Year's Eve, fondly reminiscing about the past year and utterly confused as to how the year went by so fast. And then there's the resolutions—you know, the ones you make, mentally or literally, organized numerically or perhaps by bullet point. Many of which you (read "I") will undoubtedly be struggling with before January is even over.

Still, broken record or not, it's fun to look back each New Year's Eve and be thankful for what the past year brought, and it's exciting to imagine what the coming year will bring.

This year went by so fast, and it wasn't a bad year, but there are a lot of things I want to do differently next year. Writing, for one. I've been sorely neglecting writing in every possible form. I've been awful about blogging, and I don't even want to talk about the amount of creative writing I did (or didn't) do. Also reading. Reading and writing are the two main things I'm disappointed in myself for not doing more of in 2013. So I'm keeping my resolutions list vague for 2014. You know, so I have a better shot at actually doing them.

  • Write More.
  • Read More.

There. It couldn't be more simple than that. My goal for 2014 is to turn out way more words than last year. And to turn way more pages. And I'm really looking forward to it. I've got some challenges already out there, carrots on a stick for my writing. And as far as reading goes, well it's safe to say my "To Read" list is never-ending, so I have no shortage of books to pick up.

That being said, I'm always taking book recommendations to feel free to share your current read! Or even your own resolutions, for that matter! I always love hearing from you guys, comments make me smile.

Anyway, au revoir 2013! It's been a good, bad, slow, fast, crazy, boring, totally rich and full year and I can't wait to see what's next.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Time Travel

What? No. No WAY has it been so long since I last posted. That's not possible. Nope. Okay, I know the phrase is, "time flies," but this is just ridiculous! I'm starting to wonder if I haven't accidentally done a little bit of fast-forward time traveling.

I can't believe how busy I've been the last month or so. My schedule has more or less doubled as far as "Things I Have To Do In A Week" goes, and I keep thinking I'm going to have some time to relax but apparently I'm not adjusting as well as I'd thought.

My work schedule has gone from a Monday through Wednesday, Four Day Weekend situation to a more typical Monday through Friday, Two Day Weekend scenario. Who knew adding two extra full days would wear me out so much? I used to job share with one other person, but she has since left the company and now it's all me. It's a small business, and I love working there, and now I'm the entire Shipping Department, and we are swamped.

I know, I know. This post is all Me, Me, ME. And excuses. Always the excuses.

But I haven't forgotten my last post, and I am SUPER excited to do this series of posts based on questions I received. Thanks so much to all who participated, and as far as I'm concerned, if you still have a question for me or a topic you'd like me to discuss, it's never too late to let me know. It might be too late once I've finished all my responses, but hey, who knows?

Seriously though, I appreciate the participation. I know I have been unreliable and irregular in my updates, but it means so much to me that people still read my blog. I love writing, and I love sharing with you folks, and I love interacting in comments, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

I'm about to start using my down time to work on those Question Response posts, and in the mean time lets be excited about some stuff together, okay??

First of all, HALLOWEEN. It's almost here! I'm so excited, even though I'm still lacking a costume, which normally wouldn't be a big deal except I absolutely must have something to dress up as when I go to work on the 31st. It's practically mandatory. See why I love my workplace??

Secondly, NaNoWriMo is less than a month away! I'm beyond excited. I have really high hopes for this year, and a couple of story ideas I'm mulling over for my NaNo Novel. Anybody else participating this year?

Thirdly, since it's almost November, it's no longer too early for me to start brainstorming how I want to decorate for Christmas this year! Let's face it, I'm kind of always thinking about how I want to decorate for Christmas.

Anyway. This is a very disjointed post, and for that I apologize. But thanks for reading anyway, and stay tuned to see your questions answered!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Question & Answer

So, I like the idea of having an interactive blog. I started this (much longer ago than it seems, in fact) in an effort to develop my casual, chatty, nonfiction voice. And heck, I'm not sure how much it's really developed, but I've had a blast meeting new folks on here and, although my updates have been more sparse as of late, rest assured that I'm not going anywhere. I'm just going a little slower.

Just a few excellent example questions.
Reading comments is always super fun, and I try to respond to everyone, but if you guys are like me, I don't always notice when someone replies to my comment.

That got me thinking, what if I throw this out there? Ask me something—anything. A serious question, a funny question, a random question, off-the-wall, it's all fair game.

I think this could be fun, and I'd like for you guys to have the chance to get to know who I am better. Especially since you've been good enough to follow, read, comment, or any of the aforementioned.

I've never tried this before, so it could be a little sloppy, but here's what I'm thinking. I'll give you guys a couple of weeks to get your questions in. You can post them as comments, or ask me via Twitter (@Pencil_to_Paper).

So, ask away, and ask before August 10th, and let's see what we come up with?

What do you say?

Up for a little Q & A?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Those Across the River

There's this thing that happens to me sometimes, when I'm reading. I get really into the story. This other world. And if I'm really entranced, somewhere toward the middle my pace picks up and I fly through the pages and I actually literally cannot stop reading until the climax and the resolution and the bittersweet end. And there's something so final and poignant about reading the last page down to the last word down to the very last punctuation, and then the back cover pulls in and (if this has happened to you, then you know the exact soft, yielding sound that follows), it's done. And there's this strange feeling of accomplishment, because you reached the end. And a sense of loss because it's over. And sometimes, as is the case with the book I just finished reading, there's confusion. I'm conflicted.

The book, if you're curious, is Those Across The River, by Christopher Buehlman, and I very much liked it. The prose, I think, is quite beautiful. Old fashioned, but I think that's really what worked for me. It's poetic, in many ways, written as a period piece, set in the 1930s—think Southern Gothic Horror—so it just feels unlike a lot of the current fiction I read. 
And here I am, finished with this very engaging story with such a strong protagonist, with such an interesting voice as a first-person narrative, and I liked the story, but I'm not sure I enjoyed it. No, that's not quite right. I'm not sure it was fun. But I couldn't stop reading it, and I think that I did enjoy it, but I'm not sure that I'm satisfied. And I'm also not sure that 'satisfied' is exactly what I mean, either. Because I didn't feel dissatisfied with the outcome, but I was not happy at the end.

I was about two thirds finished when I picked it up last night, and I intended on reading a few chapters before bed. As it turned out, I kept turning pages, totally engulfed as things for the protagonist, my guide through this story, kept spiraling, and before I knew it, it was just after one in the morning and it was over.

I'm not sure I realized how invested I was in all these charming-in-their-own-way people residing in this small southern town until I had to say goodbye. Sure, I can always open it up and read it again, but there's something magical about the first read-through. Everything is new, you don't know what's coming next, and you can't wait to find out. A second read can be just as telling, but in different ways, but there's nothing quite like reading a good book for the first time. And this one has stuck with me, I don't think I've actually put it out of my mind since I finished it.

I don't know how that sits as a book review, but I will say this—if you like horror at all, and imagery, and secrets, and things that go bump in the night, and shadows that lurk deep in the woods, read this book.

That is all.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Great Game-Change

When I was a kid, I used to think adults who said they still didn't know what they wanted to be when they grew up were liars. Or at least just kidding. I mean, come on—Adults are Grown-Ups. Synonymous. Grown-Ups, thought my childhood self, are finished. They have real life jobs that they picked out special when they went to real life school, and now they work and that's it. And they do what they want. Game over.

Granted, my childhood self saw this somehow as both less of a downer than it seems (Game over? How...depressing) and also fantastic—a life goal. To pick a Job (capitol J!) and ta-da!, the rest of your life basically unfurls before you, ripe for the living.

Then, the strangest thing happened.

I grew up.

And the game changed. Suddenly my "Adults have it all figured" strategy wasn't working anymore because my adult self began regurgitating those funny things Grown Ups used to say: I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

And I discovered there's a lot more to that than just an oxymoron. There's fear, kind of. Or maybe that's just me. But a fear like, what if I never figure it out? What if I spend the rest of my life perplexing children by being this bonafide adult who hasn't picked out an adult life yet? Anxiety. What if pick the wrong career? What if I end up back in a lecture hall, drooling mindlessly over lecture notes praying that my purpose in life will suddenly flash before my eyes during another text-laden PowerPoint.

I never wanted that for myself. When I was younger, teachers, people like that, would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and it was okay that I didn't know then—I was six, or ten, or twelve, or whatever. But now I find myself having those conversations again, in a way, and I'm often at a loss. I'll meet someone new, commence small talk. And, of course, school comes up.
And this is how it goes:

"Oh, you went to A&M?"

"Sure did."

"What's your degree?"


"Oh, cool, so you want to teach?"

"Really not."

Ok, so that's an awkward way to wrap up that exchange, I know. But it's true. Yes, I have an English degree. No, I don't particularly want to teach. But that's always the conclusion people reach, and then I start questioning things. Should I want to teach? If not, should I have majored in something else? But there wasn't really anything else I wanted to major in. So what am I doing? What will I be doing?

And the stress returns.

But folks, here's what I'm learning the older I get, and maybe 26 isn't old, but it's older than I was when I first started college, and a lot has changed.

I think it's okay to not know. I think it's fabulous if you do, and I know people who were blessed with a gift and the passion to go for it and the incredible luck to know exactly what they want to do now that they're "grown up". But for all of those people, I know just as many that are still searching, seeking, learning. Trying to find where they fit, taking stock of their skills and natural gifts and looking into the marketplace of jobs to see where their niche is.

And that's okay.

I used to think once you picked, that was it. You take a job, and by golly you'd better love the crap out of it because that's The One. The Job. The end-all/be-all mystical career you will climb ladders in for the rest of your life.

I don't think that anymore.

Sure, it's ideal. And if you've got it, congratulations! That's brilliant.

If you don't, don't panic! Don't shy away from things you're unsure of because What If. Because the thing is, it's a job. If you hate it, you don't have to stagnate in misery. You can bow out, pop another bit of experience on your résumé, and try again.

Because I do believe that eventually you'll find it. And you'll transcend your childhood "I dunno" and find your adult "I do know" and you'll be satisfied.

And if you aren't, you can continue to baffle people by telling them you still don't know what you want to be when you grow up, exactly like I've been doing.

And you can keep looking.

Chins up, friends. Your place in the world is out there. If you've found it, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, you will.

Until then, embrace the journey, accept the challenge, and don't stress yourself stupid trying to measure up to any other Grown Up out there.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Little Bit of Geekery

Well guys, guess what. Today was both E3 and WWDC. Playstation and Apple announcements all in one day. My tech-obsessed and nerdy self really can't handle much more excitement.

Let's face it, I game all the time. In fact, I'm usually gaming when I should be doing probably anything else. Like, say, writing, or keeping my blog up to date. (I feel the shame.) I've been so excited for any whiff of news about PS4 since rumors first surfaced that a new console would be out soon.

All the months of being teased and tempted with blogger speculation and general whispers finally culminated in tonight—Finally, we know what PS4 will look like. Now if only I could get my hands on one right this second...

And the games! Oh, the games that will be coming out soon, not only for PS4 but also on PS3. I really can't even... There's simply not enough time in my day for all the play I want to do.

Yeah, I'm pretty stoked.

I'm 50% excited about PS4, 50% distracted by the Watch_Dogs ad in the background.*

And then Apple, you sly dog, announcing iOS 7 at WWDC this year.

If you guys have followed my blog for awhile, and a lot of you have (THANK YOU, you folks are fantastic), then you know I love Apple. Any and all things Apple. It's what I grew up using. The only kind of computer I've ever owned. And when they hit the cell phone market? Well, all my days of switching SIM cards when I got sick of whatever phone I currently used were over. From the second I picked up the original iPhone, I was hooked.

But okay, I admit, some of the new phones out there that aren't iPhones have been starting to look pretty nifty. The thing is, like I said, all I use is Mac. iPhone seamlessly moves between my iMac and my MacBook Pro, and everything is where it should be, and my calendars sync, and my iTunes—well, you get the idea.

And it's just like Apple to announce something that completely obliterates any piquing interest in any other kind of phone just as that little tickle of stagnation hits. See, upgrading from iPhone 4 to iPhone 5 didn't feel like much of a change as far as the operating system. But iOS 7 look to be a serious reimagining of iPhone's OS. And I honestly love everything about it. At least as far as I can tell from this video.

Now if only I could get a solid release date for iOS 7. Then my tech-brain would be satisfied.

As it stands, I'll be content eagerly waiting on both counts!

*Copyright, all rights reserved to Sony. No infringement intended.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Short Short Story

A trick of the light. A strong gust of wind through the branches and he's there.

The wind settles and he's gone again. 
Was he even there in the first place? 

A trick of the light. Or maybe much more. A glimpse of the truth behind the veil. A brief and fleeting moment of utter reality, wherein he has no where to hide. 

Wherein you realize—you should be the one hiding. 

But where did he go? 

Gone again with a gust of the wind. 

Perhaps just a trick of the light.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

End of a Quarter

This is it, folks. Tonight is the last night I'm 25. Ok, ok. On the surface, that's not a big deal. But look, if—IF—I live to be 100, I'm already a quarter of the way there.

That's so surreal to think about.

I know when you're young, birthdays can't come quick enough. And time seems to lurch forward at a snail's pace, lingering at all those stages you don't like. Right before you're 13, when you're so sick of being a "tween". Again at 14, 15, when all you want to be doing is driving. 17 when you wish you were 18 and a legal adult. 20 when you want to be 21 and REALLY a legal adult.

But speaking from experience, after 21, I really want to hit the brakes. Or maybe just encourage time to go back to that snail lurch again. Because soon you're in your mid-twenties, staring anxiously at your mid-thirties , and forced to reevaluate where you are and what you're doing and who you're doing it with.

And it's not that there's no excitement left. I get really excited thinking about what the future holds. Where I'll be when my next birthday rolls around. Even though I'll be one step closer to thirty.

But you know how your parents tell you, or told you—or both—all those times in between then and now that one day you'd wish things would slow down? That although it seemed impossible at the time—because everything you wanted in life hinged on the earth making one more full rotation, everything depended completely on reaching that next milestone and adding another tally to your "years alive" scoreboard—that yes, even still, you'd reach a point where you'd want to go back. Even just a little. Even just one day. Because the lurch has morphed into something more like a sprint and the finish line is maybe just that much closer than you'd like.

Well, they're right.

And on the cusp of 26, I'm feeling that truth, and looking back on my 25 years and wondering at how all of that time, which seemed like so much as it happened, feels like so little now that it's passed.

But anyway. This is it. I'm standing in 25 and looking at 26 and clearly I'm a cluster of conflicting emotions like reluctance and anxiety and expectation and hope. And by tomorrow I'll be 26 and looking back. And forward. And trying to figure out how to do both of those things at the same time.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Time Flies, and a Video

So it's already February. March. (Yeah, see what I did there?)

What the heck. How is this possible?

I know my parents always told me not to rush this whole growing up thing, that one day I'd want to go back instead of rushing forward, but I mean... I didn't think they'd turn out to be so right. At least not this soon.

But the thing is, I'm 25—26 soon enough, and now I feel like time is flying.

And not just 2013 specifically, although true enough, it seems like I was ringing in the New Year just the other day and definitely not over two months ago. Just in general, I wish time would slow down.

Every year has me reevaluating where I'm at, what I'm doing, what I've been doing, and what I'm planning to do. It's not like my future is bleak, but am I really living up to the standards I set for myself as a child? All those fantastic dreams, like being a New York Times Bestselling author, or a critically acclaimed artist, or a highly sought after lawyer, or a dinosaur?

And then I start to stress about how I'm not doing any of those things, and I start freaking out thinking I'm running out of time because I'm 25-almost-26 and what have I done with my life?

But then I take a deep breath, and tell myself to calm the heck down because I'm only almost 26, and I have plenty of time and I really shouldn't panic.

Besides, mid-midlife crisis aside, I'm actually pretty happy with my life right now.

Now, to wrap up this mildly introspective and very random post, a video. (Notably, the first personal video I've ever posted here, just sayin').

This is my blogging process.