Sit Down & Type Saturday: Drizzles, Drops, and Damn if it doesn’t feel good to work.

Sit Down & Type Saturday: Drizzles, Drops, and Damn if it doesn’t feel good to work.

Time to beat the rut before I fall in… time for a good, old fashioned timed 10 minute typing session.

Annnnd go.

I always grumble about Spring/Summer every year because I never want to wear shorts or get sweaty in jeans or get swallowed by a tornado, but I think it’s important to note this day for my future self: I spent the morning writing in a coffee shop drinking tasty locally-roasted coffee, listening to Morphine playing throughout the building while steady rain drummed down outside. Then we went with friends and walked around the zoo, and let me tell you, walking out of that freaking smoldering jungle and into a chilly light drizzle is sublime.

That is a good day. That is the kind of Spring I can get down with.

Right now I have a healthy amount of freelance writing work and an incredibly awesome new job. Yes, even newer than the other new job. This one is close enough to my house that I can walk there, and I get to bask in coffee, chatting, and the incredible ecosystem that is a small-town nestled comfortably inside a bustling city. Oh, and did I mention the fact that this job switch granted us the first full weekend we’ve spent together as a family in about two months? That’s good. That’s very good, too.

My husband’s jobs are good, the kids are good (which means adorable and wonderful and also prone to so much so much screaming), money’s tight but not quite as tight as it used to be, and I’m sure things will get unexpectedly tougher one of these here days, so I think it’s important to just remind myself of this lovely drizzly Saturday, so that I can revisit it in the future.

Changes and Spring and Stuff and Things

Changes and Spring and Stuff and Things

I am long long long overdue for a Stuff & Things post. Life has been full around here… quite full indeed.

I’ve got a FIVE-year-old.

What!?!?!?

I seriously can’t believe it. He’s already gone in for his Kindergarten physical. I want to say that it feels like just yesterday he was a teeny tiny baby… but it doesn’t. I remember those baby days, but I think it feels like I’ve just spent the last five years of my life with this guy in it, and those years were packed with a lot of awesome things. He’s so sensitive and creative, and he likes listening to Star Wars soundtrack albums. I’ll write an official “oh my gracious my Charlie’s five” post here soon, but I just don’t have the brain capacity (or a box of tissues on-hand) at the moment.

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I’ve DEFINITELY got a two-year-old.

I forgot how awesome/terrible two year olds are. I’m not kidding… the screams that can come out of Lucy literally make my ears feel numb sometimes. I think Stephen King could probably write the horror novel of the decade if he chose to focus it on the act of getting a two-year-old who doesn’t want to sit in their car seat to ohmygosh please just sit in their car seat. BUT then they also things like “Thees eengy bud Chewbacca.” (this angry bird is Chewbacca) and “I yut you mommy. And I yut Chawwie and Daddy.” (I love you mommy. And I love Charlie and Daddy) and “Thees my favit bobble.” (This is my favorite marble.) She’s hilarious and a little nuts… but most two-year-olds are, I’m learning. Luckily, though, with her small jumps in maturity, she and Charlie are beginning to have nice chunks of time in which they play together without too much screaming. Sometimes.

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Oh, hey there Change. Can we be friends?

I am not good with change. The mere possibility of change turns me grumpy, anxious, and unpleasant in general. Sure enough, though, change swoops in and suddenly I go from work-at-home mom to work-at-home-and-also-at-a-coffee-shop-and-also-stay-at-home-sometimes-mom. Paul was working at a slightly shady, unpleasant college here in town in addition to an above-board respectable one, so we decided to shake things up a bit. Now I’ve got a pretty awesome part time job making coffee, and he’s got a pretty awesome job teaching people, and we both get to spend a healthy amount of time with the kids. It’s change, sure, but it seems to be good change so far.

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Music! Old friend! I’ve come back to you!

In college, I loved music. I genuinely cared about it. I would go to Hasting’s Books and Music on Tuesdays to check out the new releases. I would stay up until midnight and go to Wal-Mart of all places, just so I could get my hands on new albums as quickly as possible. I have a plastic tote in the basement, full to the brim with band-plastered T-shirts that I collected when I was going to school. I don’t know if it was too many disappointments from John Mayer’s social life (how are you supposed to swoon over his songwriting when he’s clearly THE WORST?) or just the fact that life took over and the only music I cared about was Sara Bareilles’ ONE ALBUM for, literally, almost two years. I don’t know, I don’t know, but that beautiful and frantic genre that is Pop Punk has come back to sweep me off my feet with a vengeance. I don’t have much more to say about that, other than it’s pretty awesome.

Workin’ It                                                                          

A pleasant surprise is that my contract work has taken an upturn… It’s nice to have deadlines but not too many deadlines. It’s also nice to be able to contribute financially to our household as I start to turn my sights back to actively budgeting. I don’t know if any of you remember our Dave Ramsey stint allllllll the way back in 2011, but I’m gearing up to get a little hardcore about it again. We’ve loosely kept the principles over the years, but haven’t had the income to really attack our student loans with “gazelle intensity” as good ole Dave says. ANYWAY I’m getting more freelance work and it feels pretty great. I’m excited to re-attend the conferences I went to last year and get my face out there a little more.

I hope that you guys are emerging from the winter well, and if you’re getting presented with any big changes, I hope they’re at least being kind to you!

Sparks

Sparks

You know how you watch movies and read books, and for the most part, the main goal is to reach your “happily ever after” in your mid-20’s and then the story ends?

I’m grappling with this. Not romantically, but with creativity in general. Sometimes I worry that I’ve missed my creative peak… like for me to have created anything exciting and passionate and valuable, I should have done it when I was in my mid-20’s, when I was actually experiencing things that were (traditionally and in my media-tainted brain’s sense) actually exciting and passionate.

And then, in swoops the domestic disclaimer: Not that what I do now isn’t exciting and passionate. Not that I don’t experience excitement and passion watching my family grow and reach milestones and achieve goals. Not that I’m discounting or regretting what I do now. Not that not that not that…

Not that I don’t love the choices that have led me to my now. I do love them, and I do love my now.

But. But I know that there’s more to my now that I can achieve, and I feel like I’ve finally gotten the right inspiration. There was a click and I heard it, loud and clear. I know that, despite my mostly practical appearance and very basic home décor and super-disgusting bathroom, I need extravagant beauty and lush fantastical emotion and I need that in fiction. I thrive on fiction and stories that could exist in another time, another dimension, another reality, and regardless of the fact that they’re not technically, in the most tangible of ways real… I need to create them. It will make my now more real to have done so.

I shouldn’t need a domestic disclaimer: Wanting more doesn’t make me discontent with what I have. I think that wanting more is, in fact, my creative “happily ever after.” Hope that there’s always more is what I need to carry on and breathe. Resources may run out and headlines may get more terrifying, but there’s beauty in the world and in my imagination and knowing that it’s there if I truly need it is deeply comforting.

Although, I totally recognize that I should probably clean my bathroom. That, too, might make my now a little more aesthetically pleasing.

Sit Down and Type Sunday: Fairy Tales

Sit Down and Type Sunday: Fairy Tales

It’s official: At this point in my life I am not capable of keeping up a regular weekly feature on my personal blog. Give me a weekly work deadline and I’m your gal… those Benjamins, you know?

Anyway, I’d like to set a timer and free-write, but it’s not Monday, so… let’s just call this one “Sit Down and Type Sunday.”

Sometimes I like to find something creative and cool to read before I sit down to work… just get my brain kick-started. One of my awesome new friends posted this story on Facebook, and it was such a great read. Perfect for reading while drinking coffee and thinking on a drizzly Sunday morning. A super-quick summary is that it’s an interview with author Neil Gaiman in which he discusses the history of fairy tales, as well as his personal transformations of them.

Okay, timer time. 10 minutes. Here we go.

Honestly, this doesn’t have much to do with the article… it just got me thinking.

Fairy tales. I LOVED them when I was younger. I still love them… but loving fairy tales today has turned out to be much more of a thing than I ever thought it would be. Now they’re political, controversial, sexist, old fashioned, preachy… and I don’t really disagree with that line of thought. So what do I do with my feelings for a good-old traditional (in the 90’s sense, I suppose) fairy tale?

In the interest of full disclosure, I was smitten with the tales of princesses being rescued by princes. Yep, you show me a gorgeous, dashing dude with perfect 90’s heartthrob hair riding on a white steed to rescue me from some vaguely evil story element and you will probably get a small swoon out of me.

But, BUT, I also like to think of myself as a modern-thinking, progressive, quietly feminist human being. So how do I reconcile these warm feelings toward that White Knight with the feeling that I want my kids to grow up reading fairy tales about that White Knight being a strong, independent female who ends up saving a prince from his tower? Or princess from her tower? Who knows, you know?

I know; the answer to almost any question like this is one of moderation. Appreciate the warm fuzzies you’ve got, and keep your mind open to modern versions, too. I don’t need to ban my kids from watching Sleeping Beauty or Aladdin… but I do need to find some shows that combat that traditional representation with some powerful female leads. As much as I didn’t like Frozen, I have to admit that the values it highlights are more appealing than waiting for someone to swoop in and rescue you.

There’s the timer.

That was rambly… maybe even a little generic… but, it was on my mind, and now I have a new blog post, so there we go. This is TOTALLY a discussable post, dudes, so what are your thoughts? How do you feel about all of this?

10 Minute Monday, Wistful November Edition

10 Minute Monday, Wistful November Edition

I’m itching to be creative, but feeling completely sapped of motivation… so I’ve decided to inflict “10 Minute Monday” upon myself. It sounds like a weekly feature, but I’ll probably never do it again… you know me when it comes to keeping up with a regular blog feature.  Anyway, I’ve got the timer set for ten minutes and I’m just going to ramble.

NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo are going on right now, and I’m really yearning to create something massive and meaningful. Something like 30 days straight of blogging or 50,000 words of a novel.  I always wondered why November was the chosen month for these two behemoth organized creative endeavors, and I think I’m finally beginning to understand it. Something about that feeling of impending hibernation makes my mind a little frantic to get artistic and creative things done before Winter officially settles in and all I can think about is driving through the snow to get to my kids’ doctor’s appointments. Because, trust me, come December, we’ll all be full of snot and nasty coughs.

I finally went back and started reading my 50,000 word piece that I wrote back in 2012. I’ve only gotten about 4 pages in, and it’s spurred a lot of mixed feelings. Some of it is ugh stop it, Lauren, and some of it is actually good. I mean, like really actually good. But when I say “some of it,” I mean, “a paragraph here or there.” Is this the writing process? Is this for real what successful writers do? Sit down for HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS and slave over a keyboard, just to pick out 12 decent pages from 104?

I just read a manuscript written by one of my friends, and cripes it was fun. It had me thinking about high school and the early days of the internet and 90’s music and how perfect Vanessa Carlton’s CD was when that one guy broke up with me, completely out of the blue, right in time for Christmas vacation.

It had all of these memories bubbling up… from high school to college. These memories could all be stories, in one way or another… but I don’t think I’m as brave as my friend, who can lay it all out there, first person, and totally crush it. I do think, though, that I could pull it off in the third person… in a much more fictional way.

Sigh. Who knows? There’s the timer.

This was good. I should do this more often.

General Housekeeping

General Housekeeping

Why do I want to call this a “housekeeping” post? Is that a real thing? Did my brain just make that up? I don’t think it did. Anyway, I’ve got a few general announcements, and it feels like housekeeping, but not the lame kind. The kind where you fold clothes and watch seven episodes of New Girl in a row.

#Science

We’re doing something called a “Naked Egg” at home. You soak an egg in vinegar, then in corn syrup, then in food colored water over the course of four days to demonstrate THE AMAZING POWERS OF OSMOSIS! Here’s the video we found on YouTube from a couple of dudes called the Sci Guys.  Charlie loves science experiments, so if you guys have any favorites, please send them my way!

Omaha Bloggers Network

This is a pretty cool group that was started a little over a year ago by Erin at Her Heartland Soul and Lisa from The Walking Tourists, and I’m glad I’ve stuck with it. We had a meeting on Sunday at Wilson & Washburn in the Old Market, and discussed things like community, future projects, and the creation of a committee system. It’s exciting to see this group turn into something official and formidable, and I’m genuinely looking forward to participating in its evolution. It offers support and education for bloggers, a chance to share your posts, and even more chances to gain exposure and community involvement.  Leave me a note in the comments if you’re interested in joining, and I’ll help you get hooked up!

Curtain & Pen Book Club WOOOOOOOOO!

This Wednesday the 24th at 10 pm, head on over to my Facebook page to participate in the first ever Curtain & Pen online book club!

We’re discussing The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell. The book is relatively short, but does take some concentration, in my opinion.

I’ve been researching some discussion questions, so all you have to do is read the book and sit down at your computer ready to chat. Pants are optional, wine/beer/hot tea/cocoa is encouraged, and I can’t wait to see how this goes!

On Thursday, I’ll throw out three new genres to pick from, and we’ll start the whole shebang all over again!

*UPDATE 9/24/14*

I totally published this too early, because a guest post that I wrote went live yesterday! Flywheel is a super-hip local company that offers managed WordPress hosting for designers and other creative agencies.  The post is about public speaking and, although it’s geared toward designers, the tips highlighted in it would be helpful for anyone. Please check it out, and share if you feel so inclined!