5 Things, Personal

New Things!

5 New Things I’ve Done Since Turning 30

openhouse

[Has it already been a week? I promise, this will be last time I milk this but come on. It’s not like someone turns 30 every day…]

1. Took a Project Life class. I’ve really gotten into it. It’s a perfect scrapbooking technique for people like me who have a hard time focusing.

2. I tested and confirmed that I am allergic to cats. This is very sad. But my husband and I are now looking at getting rats, so…yay!

3. Went to an open house at a place down the street. Never done that before.

4. Actually went to a phone store. It wasn’t for me but for my husband. But I’ve never actually gone through that experience of buying a phone in person. It was a lot of fun.

5. Created a sculpture with Kinetic Sand! It was really relaxing!

I have to go on a trip this week to receive a MAJOR AWARD(c) at my day job, but I’m slowly getting back to working on this, that and the other thing. But enough about me. How are you doing?

5 Things, Personal

30 by 30: Part 6

30 Things I’m Glad I Know Before I Turn 30: Part 6

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26. Being nice.

It’s the trick to getting through anything, whether it’s international travel, getting caught in a bad spot or calling customer service. I am happy to say that I am really freaking nice and I know how to not be an asshole. Hooray!

27. How to form a habit.

If I want to do something different, I know now how to adopt a change to a behavior. That used to be really hard for me. I used to just say, “Nope, I could never do that.” But it’s all in the baby steps.

28. The definition of marriage.

Life thus far with my husband has been awesome, and it’s because at some point in our relationship, we decided that we just weren’t going to listen to anyone about how to do things. Just because other people are married doesn’t mean that it’s the same in every other couple. I’ve learned how and when to break the rules, and in what cases to say, “That’s awesome you think that, but we’re doing this our way.”

29. How to get the most out of a bad situation.

Smile. Laugh. Take notes. Put the story out there asap.

30. Where adventure is.

Everywhere. Every day. If you’re willing to look for it.

Here’s to another amazing 30+ years!

5 Things, Personal

30 by 30: Part 5

30 Things I’m Glad I Know Before I Turn 30: Part 5

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21. Public speaking.

Not only do I actually excel at this, I look forward to it! I love going over things with people, presenting materials, reading, whatever. It gives me a rush!

22. Persevering self awareness and self perception.

I know who I am and how I fit into the world. I am a snowflake, a butterfly, a grain of sand. I am a speck in the universe. I am stardust. It’s okay.

23. To always say yes.

Like in improv, life is a lot more interesting when you go, “Oh, wow, that doesn’t sound like anything I’ve done before so I’m going with…yes! Of course I’ll try it!” But then I also know…

24. When to say no.

Just because someone else thinks they know what I should be doing with my time doesn’t mean I’m going to agree. You think I should get rid of x, y or z in my home? You think I shouldn’t be wearing what when? Haha. No.

25. How to cook.

I buy no prefab meals from the grocery store anymore. And you know what? That feels good.

5 Things, Personal

30 by 30: Part 4

30 Things I’m Glad I Know Before I Turn 30: Part 4

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16. What to do in an emergency.

I can stay surprisingly calm in these situations nowadays.

17. How to defend myself.

And not just physically. My armor is solid in every way it can be. I know who I am. Nobody can tear me down, whether it’s with words or fists.

18. How to cut myself a break.

I have spent a large part of my life acting as my worst critic, parent and stern teacher. It took a long time for me to say, “You know what, you did your best. Go take a nap already.”

19. Appropriate communication.

I used to be unable to handle confrontation. The idea of stepping up to someone and sharing my feelings in a direct manner pretty much guaranteed a panic attack. Now, after being a part of not only a day job but also a marriage, I’m pretty on top of being able to know when and how to talk about something.

20. How to handle my money.

I don’t sweat where money for something is coming from. I am comfortable with how I choose to spend my cash and I’m responsible about bills and financial commitments. I’m walking into my birthday with no credit card debt. How about them apples?

5 Things, Personal

30 by 30: Part 3

30 Things I’m Glad I Know Before I Turn 30: Part 3

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11. When to ask for help.

And that there is a fine, fine line between that and being a drama queen. I’ve gotten to where I can tell someone, straight up, “I can’t do this alone.” I’m not ashamed. I’m not embarrassed. And if people try to make me feel that way when I reach out to them, that’s their bad, not mine.

12. Who my friends are.

See #11. I keep good people around, but I’m always accepting applications.

13. That I have a say in every aspect of my life.

If I don’t like something, you can bet I’m going to stop doing it. If I want to make something happen, I can get where I need to be make it happen. In fact…

14. I can do anything I want to.

And so can you.

15. Who God is to me.

Just because I don’t prescribe to a specific dogma does not mean spirituality isn’t important to me. I know what I believe, it doesn’t hurt anyone else, and I’m happy I can comfortably say that I keep in touch with that part of my soul every day.

5 Things, Personal

30 by 30: Part 2

30 Things I’m Glad I Know Before I Turn 30: Part 2

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6. My body.

I know what I like. I know what I hate. I know what will happen if I put certain things in it. I know my chemical imbalances. I know when I feel good. I’m very aware of my physicality. I am a meat bag.

7. How to tell people how I feel.

Confrontation. Telling it like it is. Being blunt. Padding where appropriate and showing emotion as necessary.

8. How to forgive – both myself and others.

Letting go of grudges doesn’t just go outward. It also means saying to myself, “Yeah, you fucked up. Don’t do it next time, yeah? Yeah. Off you go.”

9. My hobbies.

I used to be absolutely paralyzed when people asked me about my hobbies. Especially after I stopped LARPing. I used to deal with a terrible anxiety about doing stuff other than what I thought I “should” be doing at a given point. By letting go of that, I now have a laundry list of interests: taxidermy, painting, felting, sculpting, traveling, photography, on and on and on.

10. How to have a day job.

If I had a dollar for every day during my twenties that I was angry about the office jobs I’ve had as a post-graduate, I could probably take a Caribbean cruise. Over the years, though, I’ve learned a lot of great lessons about how to handle not doing what you think you should be doing 24-7. I’m sharing some of these secrets in my newsletter, by the way.

5 Things, Personal

30 by 30: Part 1

As I mentioned last week, I’m going to be turning 30 this Sunday, October 19. I am finding this milestone seems like a big deal to the person to whom it is happening (me) but to everyone else…meh. I also know, however, that I have a following of younger folks (who I love), so I’m making this list I will be sharing a little of each day between now and Sunday.

30 Things I’m Glad I Know Before I Turn 30

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1. How to get a job.

Resume, interview, dress well, do your homework. Rinse, repeat.

2. How to have a car.

There are a few things to this one: I have bought 2 cars, had to take care of it and gotten accustomed to driving it. In all occasions. In all sorts of environments. Including Manhattan.

3. How to travel.

I can officially say I’ve gone places by plane, train and automobile. I’ve been to a non-English-speaking country. I’ve crossed America by roadtrip. I’ve been from New York City to Seattle. I’ve been everywhere, man.

4. How to get along by myself.

I love being alone. It’s fantastic. I can keep myself occupied, take myself on dates, the whole shebang.

5. How to do my own makeup.

Here’s a lady one. When I was a teenager, I hated makeup, and my mother and sisters could not get their heads around it. I could not understand why I had to put on globs of garbage to make myself look…not like myself. It wasn’t until my twenties that I realized that cosmetics are about you first. You feeling sexy or empowered or just interesting. Screw everyone else.

5 Things, Writing Tips

Writing Tips: 5 Ways to Fit 30 Minutes of Writing into a Day

One of the best ways to get into the habit of writing is to commit to a little bit every day. Ask yourself: what is 30 minutes? On its own, sure, you wouldn’t want to be tortured for 30 minutes, or sit alone at a date for 30 minutes, or even be in subway for 30 minutes. However, in the grand scheme of things? A half hour is doable.

Here are 5 ways to find it:

1. Get up a little earlier in the morning — even if you aren’t writing, 15-20 minutes out of the sack can mean freeing up 30 minutes somewhere else. You can get other pieces of your to-do list out of the way and, once you’re used to it, you’ll feel like writing.

2. Breaks/lunches at work — what are you doing right now during those, huh? Standing at the vending machine? Smoking? Pull out your phone or a pen/paper and write down some ideas. Write a poem. Make a list of topics to query about. You can get a lot done during those little periods of time.

3. Your morning and evening commute — obviously I’m not saying you should juggle a laptop on your steering wheel, but we live in a world of amazing technology. Apps like Evernote allow you to make audio memos to yourself when you’re on the go. Switch off driving with a friend or partner and get in some time freewriting.

4. Commercial breaks — they aren’t just for jumping jacks anymore. Keep your work in front of the television and when you get to a commercial break, hit mute and go to town until your show comes back on.

5. Baking breaks — I am a big believer in mis-en-place, which is the fancy way of saying, get everything together and prepared before you start cooking so you are literally just following the directions when you get to making the dish. Once you have that casserole in the oven or noodles boiling, jot down some plot points for your book.

Sure, none of this is perfect, but you would be amazed how inspired you’ll feel when you start even doing a couple more minutes a day. You’ll practically be stealing the moments you can spare!

What do you do to find time for your passions?

Fifteen Minute Fiction

Fifteen Minute Fiction: Regaining Control

More from our vampire-y character. And another new character. Are you guys enjoying these? Or should I let this character go to bed for a while? Thoughts.

Prompt: Losing control.

When she came out of the blind rage and back into slow, uneasy awareness, she was in the middle of a field. Her clothes were torn, and her hands felt dry but dirty. Like something had gotten on them and dried into a layer of nastiness.

She puffed out a breath of air that steamed in the cold, wanting to touch her face to get off some of the awful nasty there as well. Finally, she rubbed under her eye with the side of her arm. It didn’t help.

Running a tongue over her teeth, she realized that her fangs had shrunk back into plain canines. That empty, cavernous pit that had opened up in her body had been filled up by something.

She pressed her lips. They were still wet, cold now, but…

Forcing herself to look around, the field opened wide and far. In the distance was a town, but that was a good five or six miles. No houses around. A shell of a barn, but that was it.

So…what did she eat?

I waited too long, she thought. And that happened. I need to not do that again. I cannot wait and wait and wait. I have to find something or I’ll…

Somebody groaned.

She leaped back, eyes wide. It came from a few feet ahead of her, a spot that she had thought was…something else. Even now, as her eyes adjusted in the night of cold stars and only a sliver of moon, it seemed big, bulky, furry. A bear, she thought. A big dog, maybe.

But that sound it made, that was human.

She called out, “Hello?”

The thing – which she realized had been shifting – stopped moving. “You have got to be fucking kidding me.”

“Sorry?”

The mound turned to her. It was a bear after all — brown, bleeding, huge, with inky black eyes and a snarling muzzle. “After all that shit. ‘Hello.’ How do you fucking do, psycho bitch from hell…”

The bear was talking.

The bear was talking to her.

“I am…so sorry,” she blurted. “Oh my God, you’re a talking bear and I…I don’t even know what happened. You have got to believe me.”

The bear shivered and the grass around it seemed to take a breath. And after a second, it was gone, and there was a man standing there. Tall, black, with scars that looked pink against his chest. He pointed a finger at her. “You. Need to get your shit together.”

Then, as quickly as all of that had been said, he passed out. Naked and bared in the cold air.

Now what the hell was she supposed to do?

Writing

What goes bump in The Basement?

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Today, the City Paper posted an article I wrote about The Basement, Pittsburgh ScareHouse’s adults-only, full-contact haunted attraction. And if that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what will. Click on the picture to read it! Or go here!