The Gift of Cash

I’ve heard it. You’ve heard it. Giving cash (or often, gift cards) shows you don’t care. You don’t feel like taking the time or trouble to pick out a “real” gift.

Let me tell you a thing.

Once, years ago, a friend had been trying to find something to give me for Christmas. I was in rough financial straits at the time. It seemed silly to give me something useless. I had bunches of books and movies already, and also he didn’t know what I might want. (This was in the days before Amazon wishlists. Or at least, before I had one.) I had just moved from a good-sized house to a tiny apartment, so I had no room for anything more than I had anyway.

Anyway, as the situation dragged into January and he got to feeling worse and worse about it, he finally handed me $50. He told me I couldn’t spend it on bills–I had to get something I wanted.

Friends, I went to a discount home store and bought myself some curtains. My little white box of a living room got curtains, and my new place became much more homelike. My daughter’s room got purple sheer curtains, and I got to stop worrying about how she never remembered to close the blinds before changing. My bedroom got bright red blackout curtains–so I had a pop of color AND some additional darkness for days I got to sleep in. I even bought a little curtain for the …

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Soundtracks of My Life

Have you ever thought about if your life was set to music, what would that music be? Or if your life had a theme song?

I feel kinda unhinged talking about it, but things for me personally have been a bit weird lately, and I got thinking about it today. What songs would I choose and why?

Theme song: War of Change by Thousand Foot Krutch. My Google-fu says this band is a Christian band, but you wouldn’t know it. They’re hard rock, and this song impressed me so much that I went and bought the entire album. These lyrics specifically speak to me:

Wait, it’s just about break/ it’s more than I can take/ everything’s about to change
I feel it in my veins / it’s not going away / everything’s about to change

(I love this video because of all the b&w. But I’m not sure what they’re doing with all the dust and light bulbs.)

Adam Lambert’s “Ghost Town” deserves a mention. He’s said that the meaning behind the song (for him, at least) is “Life sucks. Let’s dance!” and if you watch the video, there’s a ton of dancing. (I love all things dance). And kudos to him for more b&w!

This next one has a special place in my heart. It’s from Queensryche’s first album with their new singer, Todd La Torre, and probably my favorite song off it. It’s called “In This Light.” (This is a live video, as there is …

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I Miss My Kitchen

Oh, friends. I have no kitchen. I have not had one for slightly over a month, and it is terrible.

(I am also aware that this is such a first world problem. I have had to wash the dishes BY HAND OH NO)

(But seriously, I hate doing the dishes even under ideal circumstances so this has been hell.)

We live in an early ’80s house, which is an interesting period architecturally in that it lacks the vintage chicness of older houses and the mod openness of newer houses. Also, sometimes they put carpet in bathrooms, because that makes logical sense somehow.

In an attempt to improve Feng shui or whatever, the previous owners of the house essentially removed all the cabinets from the kitchen. I mean, they were hideous; we saw another house of the same floorplan that had left them in. They stretched the entire length of the kitchen, leaving a weird foot-and-a-half gap between cabinet and counter where you could kind of see into the family room.

So removing the cabinets was a definite improvement, Feng shui wise. From a functional kitchen standpoint, it was less than ideal. So, for six years, we have had a single cabinet to store all our dishes, and apparently this was slowly driving my husband mad.

And now this madness has resulted in the complete redoing of the kitchen. And I do mean complete. We tore out the floor. The walls. The ridiculous drop ceiling. The wiring. The lights. The plumbing. …

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Beating Writer’s Block…Again

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m prone to long periods of not writing fiction. These tend to be accompanied by self-flagellation and an existential crisis: if I’m not writing, who am I? Then comes depression (or sometimes that happens first), which makes it even harder to write, and round and round I go.

The only way to break the cycle is to start putting down some words.

This, obviously, is easier said than done. It’s intimidating, especially if you’ve been away from the blank page for a while.

In the past I’ve tried fanfiction, though it’s not normally my thing, or played around with a completely different genre–not to try selling, just to play with. This time, since the beginning of the year, I’ve gone through several different stages. It’s working, so I thought I’d share…

1. First I resurrected my own blog. It’s not fiction, and doesn’t completely fill a need for me in the way writing fiction does. But I do blog with an audience in mind, and putting together coherent opinion pieces or travel posts is good practice in writing down the words, finishing a piece, and shipping.

2. Then I branched out from non-fiction and started writing the smallest possible thing every day. On some days, they were fragments of stories that didn’t and probably won’t go any further, but mostly they were haikus. I’m not trying to become a published poet, so I was writing …

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