What a Difference a Day Makes

It has been one month and six days since my last day of class at Western.

And what a month it was! My parents drove from Wyoming to come see me walk. My girlfriend flew in from Arizona to see me walk. I started the process of finding work, which in the past has been a struggle. Having a bachelor’s degree changed a lot for me. I had 3 interviews inside of 30 days, as well as an interview offer that I declined and a pending interview offer that I didn’t accept because I got the job offer.

The interview that got me the job was a surprise. I was forwarded the business from another place I’d interviewed at. The interviewer emailed me and told me about this place and offered to be a reference for me. It was a great gesture that I wasn’t expecting. When I was invited to the interview, I was made to understand that it was just going to be a meet and greet, to see if my personality would fit into the business. Sometime during the interview, something changed and my interviewer got serious, asking me interview questions and then inviting me back to her office to fill out background check paperwork.

So, I ended up getting an offer for that job, which validates 3 years of hard work. The feeling of having a good job has been heady for me, and I haven’t even started yet. I’m starting tomorrow, and I’m really excited about it. I’m nervous, too, wondering what will be expected (I have the gist, but the reality is always slightly to the left of what gets advertised.) I’m sure everything is going to go well tomorrow, but how will it spool out? That’s yet to be seen.

I’m also getting back into the swing of writing, which was something I did for school but now am finally doing for myself again. I have to balance my two jobs with my busy life, but it’s all worth it. I loved school and it fills my heart with joy that finally after twenty years I got the degree I wanted. It’s a beautiful moment of success and I’m terrible at letting myself enjoy it before pushing on to the next thing. So I will take a moment to savor that I did the thing, that I spent 3 years doing what I loved, and that I learned so much.

Then tomorrow, I’ll start the next phase of my life.

A Moment to Breathe

I’m so close to graduating now, but I have to get through the Summer, and I thought… if I waited for this huge milestone to arrive, I could go eight weeks without another post. This is my problem – milestones. It’s hard to recognize them, it’s hard to respect them when they show up. I’m not done with this quarter, after all. I have one horrendous final left, which is taking all my energy to not freak out about. I’ve been studying, which means I’ll do better than if I didn’t, but I’m struggling with the material, which isn’t usual for me. So yes, pretty much a freakout.
This quarter has gone well overall, all three of my professors have professed that they loved their classes and we were “one of their favorites.” I felt that it was earned; in the three classes I was taking, the students I interacted with were definitely sharp and engaged. I’ve had the luck of many good classes in my time at Western, but these were up there.
I’ve been doing this college thing for three years now, and the end goal is in sight. Summer quarter will only be six weeks long for me, and a side benefit of being online courses. They’re also classes in my minor and won’t be senior level, so summer could be less difficult than my last two quarters have been. I say could because I know if I don’t everything could go sideways on me. I do hope that this quarter is easy. I’m ready to be done and on to the next adventure.
June is already piling up as a busy time. My son’s birthday is late in the month, I had to coordinate his birthday party, which I am looking forward to. The downside is that it’s on Father’s Day, so I have to find a way to make sure my husband feels special too. My parents are coming into town for the occasion, which isn’t always possible, so that’s great. It also means summer vacation, which means a lot more time with my son. A friend of ours is also moving from Federal Way to Lynnwood, so I see more future trips to visit.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

I’ve been trying to slow things down a bit, but until the last final is taken, I feel that it’s just not going to slow down for me. I’ll have to keep ninjaing reports back as I can, and maybe some flash fiction this summer. I’m nothing if not ambitious.

unsplash-logoClark Tibbs

When You’re in College, Everything Looks Like an Assignment

So I haven’t been blogging lately at all, and I blame being a senior. I have so many assignments to turn in right now, that thinking about doing one for myself feels like wooooork and my brain begs me not to do it and I realize I may be on the edge of doing too much and not quite looking towards jumping off.

I am in three excellent classes right now. I’m taking a seminar fiction class (which means, lots of writing.) I’m in a Queer Studies poetry class, which means lots of reading and writing. Then I’m in a communications class, which is a lot of research and activity. They’re dovetailing nicely, the concepts from one class folding over into another until I’m not sure where one starts and one ends. I’ve heard of integrated learning like this before but usually it’s designed that way, and this is spontaneous. I accept it as part of the weirdness that can pervade my life.

I’m getting to the end of classes, though. This quarter, then Summer quarter, and I’ll be graduated, which is freaking me out a little bit. This bubble that I created for myself was a safe place where I wasn’t expected to be out in the job market is about to pop. I’m anxious about finding work after school. I’m sort of an anxious person anyway but this isn’t helping. Imagining getting turned down to jobs I haven’t even applied for yet is probably not the healthiest way to spend my time, but brains don’t always play nice.

There are other struggles playing havoc right at the moment, too. Such as, my son. He has a tooth that has snagged on the root of another tooth and isn’t growing right. We’ve been trying to get insurance to cover it for months, and I got a letter in the mail today saying it was approved. I got a call from the orthodontist saying it would be denied. So, I called my orthodontist, and they have no record from the insurance company that the procedure for Toby has been approved. When I tried to book an appointment, they were booking out to July. We’ve been fighting with this since October. Our other option is to pay a private orthodontist which will be faster but much pricier. Rock, meet hard place.

This is what life is when you’re busy making other plans.

unsplash-logoAnete Lūsiņa

Shoot for the Moon; Land among the Stars

Have you ever wanted something so badly you could taste it? Something that seemed so out of your reach that no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t do it?

Did that stop you from trying?

I know the likelihood of me being a successful author is low, with so many authors being already out there and amazing at what they do. Everyone is so prolific now, and self-publishing has made writing easier to distribute. Book prices range from a dollar to fifteen, but you damn well better have the last name of King before you can command those higher prices.

The market is saturated, it’s beyond saturated, it’s Houston in Hurricane Harvey saturated, and not even rafts of fire ants to be seen.

And yet.

There is a fire inside of me. It began when I was young. I wrote constantly. There was never a time that I didn’t have a notebook and pen with me. (Okay, maybe when I was riding my bike. Maybe dinner. You get it.) I won awards, although they were little kid awards, meant to bolster that tender self-esteem necessary to ford the slings and arrows of later unsolicited feedback.

I thought it had died. I spent so long not writing, or maybe typing up a page or two before giving up and going back to life, which at the time was so much more interesting, and so much better than applying ass to seat.

I was surprised when it roared back to life. Being laid off and having a two-year-old child left me with time on my hands but being mostly housebound. I wrote two books, one that would later be published and one that may never be. I was hooked, I had to keep going.

Now here I am, years later, and my storytelling style has gone through a complete renovation. I outline. I forecast word count. I write two books at the same time because alternating stories means less mental fatigue. I can estimate where a book is going to end, and if it’s not going to hit the submission requirements, I can take steps to fix it. I submitted to an online ‘zine on a whim. I have short stories on standby if my friend wants to publish them. (Edit: Except she took them all, and now I must write more. Yay Hot Mess 3!)

So, if anyone tells you that your dream isn’t worth chasing, my expert advice is to tell them to Fuck Right Off. Even if you don’t make it all the way, the things you learn in your pursuit are worthy, and can change your life.

 Photo Credit:


Summer Summary

This summer has been a roller coaster, for real. The first month was all grandparent visits, which both were fantastic but energy-intensive as all visits are. There was a short span of time where things were routine. My son went to the Boys and Girls club, we had two vehicles, and I went out on visits with my friends. My anniversary to my husband rolled around, and we spent a glorious weekend doing house chores and going to movies.

It turned out to be a good decision to do one particular chore. We put heat film on the windows to make our room cooler. We’re on the second floor, and so adding this film cut the heat. This was an absolute godsend, because two weeks later came a heatwave in the PacNW that has coincided with wildfire season.

The heat wave also coincided with the death of my valiant steed, the Subaru. I drove that vehicle for twelve years, so losing it was a shock to the system. I mean, you’re not just losing a car at that point, you’re losing a family pet. My son’s reaction reflected my own. My husband was disappointed not to have two cars anymore, but didn’t see the value in fixing our old car. There are a lot of details to manage when a vehicle dies. We sold it for salvage, had to find the title, and yadda yadda yadda. It will be a while before we go to purchase a second vehicle. Possibly until I graduate.

This has nothing to do with writing, which is pretty much one hundred percent accurate. With so much going on, I haven’t had much time to write this summer. I have started on the third novel in my trilogy, but it is the first draft, and I’m not even 20% of the way in yet. So, nothing close to done. I believed I could churn out a draft “with all that spare time” I would get in the summer. Alas, life doesn’t work that way sometimes.

However, I am glad that I didn’t have classes this summer. With everything that happened, it would be difficult to balance classes and visitors and car death. And the summer hasn’t been a long string of bad things. Our visitors and our trip both were awesome. I wouldn’t have a working vehicle right now if my parents hadn’t visited and gifted us Mom’s Impala. Things have been working out beautifully. They’ve been keeping me quite busy.

Summer is winding down. The Boys & Girls’ club will be closing down after this week, we need to buy school clothes, and we’re ramping up to doing homework so my son isn’t clubbed over the head with it when school starts. I will be sorry to see it go, but it will nice to have routine back in the house again.

Summer Progress

This summer has been a whirlwind. My parents came for a visit, and we had a great time. We watched movies, we went out to the wilds of Birch Bay, and we went out to a backyard bbq. My parents were in their element. They are a dynamic duo. My dad’s a great storyteller, and my mom is an empathic listener. They are always welcome at parties.

My dad’s favorite hobby is taking pictures, which he made sure to do while we were out and about. My mom taught me what a Zen Tangle was. It’s a complex pattern that seems like a fun way to spend an afternoon. Luke and I showed them Fool Us and Macklemore and Maru on YouTube.

By the end of the trip I was tired out. I probably didn’t have to try as hard as I did, but I’m an overachiever, even if it’s not explicitly what my parents ask for or expect. I had to make sure everything was great for their visit.

Even after their departure, I can’t seem to find it in myself to relax. I jumped back on my writing projects with gusto, worked on chores on the house, and took my son to the Raspberry Festival.

I need to figure out what to do with the rest of the summer. I am not outdoorsy by nature, but I have a ten-year-old son that if left to himself would sit inside all day. The B&G club has been a godsend, but there’s something to be said to taking him to a park or out on a Pokewalk to get him engaged in the outdoors. I think I’m stressing out about this more than necessary, because I haven’t been able to carve out a routine.

This summer has been a roller coaster, and I can’t believe it’s halfway done. Yesterday during a conversation with Allison, I laughed and said, “Remember how we were going to do ALL THE THINGS this summer?”

She laughed too.

The summer progresses at its own pace.

The Pause that Refreshes

I can’t believe that school has been out for almost a month. Well, that’s a technicality. I’ve been out of school almost a month; my classes didn’t have classic finals so finals week was kind of a freebie. I was so stressed out from my classes. I loved them, but they were hard and pushed me to new edges of limits. Even the debate class was better than I expected – not that the bar was set high.

As soon as Toby was out of school, we swept away to Central Oregon, to visit the Three Sisters, Mt. Hood, Mt. Bachelor, and several others. Where I grew up, we had the Black Hills and the Bighorns. Neither one of them were fraught with individual names, so the idea of naming mountains struck me as superfluous. Then again, these mountains jut well above the hills that surround them, snowy peaks breaking up the landscape dramatically.

Oregon is like the bastard child of Washington and Wyoming. There were lots of trees, but we left the rainforest behind and entered the high plains. The sage brush and pines rolled out mile after mile, and at one point I even saw an antelope in the high grass.

The vacation itself was fun. We stayed at a condo that had a very fine pool, and after some shenanigans with our key cards, we settled in for some fine dining and swimming. The next day we went out to Tumelo Falls, which were gorgeous. While we were there a confused butterfly landed on my hand and proceeded to unfurl his proboscis, licking me furiously. I was too stunned to move for a minute, but I managed to sneak out my phone and catch a hand selfie with the butterfly contentedly moving his tongue this way and that, trying to discover where I’d cleverly hidden my nectar. It did get the hint eventually, only to veer off to my son’s shirt for another fruitless search.

Then we left the condo and drove off to my first adventure at an AirBnB. I could go on for ages about what happened, but I’ll condense it to saying that after a drive through four-by-four tracks to reach the place, I was stunned by an open floor plan that opened up into a kitchenette, a daybed, and a random mannequin. The upstairs floor plan was wide open, with a futon, a queen bed, and a view of the neighbor’s goats. Lying awake in the dark and listening to the goats bleat softly to each other was a new experience, as was having the bathroom door knob fall off in my hand at two o’clock in the morning.

My son’s birthday was celebrated by a long drive and an expansive spread of dirt. We went hunting for thundereggs, which are like geodes but solid, full of agate. They are easy to spot and were all over this site, so the challenge level was low, but on a hot day under the scorching sun, you don’t want it to be difficult. We dug up at least twenty pounds of rocks and brought them home. They are awaiting The Great Project, where my husband will rent a tile saw and saw them all open. Which leaves me to wonder, what exactly are we going to do with twenty pounds of semi-circular rocks, but that’s tomorrow’s problem.

Did I write? Yes. I pledged to Junowrimo (yes, it’s a thing) and wrote 20k words on one project, and 7k words on another. Not bad for being away from the keyboard a significant chunk of this month. I’m juggling a lot of projects, mostly short stories.

Oh, and I got my grades back from school. A B+ in my Debate class (I would have accepted less, was quite pleased with this) and an A for both of my writing classes. Not bad for bucking teacher recommendations and heading out into the weeds.