Writing Again

The month of November is unofficially known as National Novel Writing Month, when aspiring writers can commit to writing an entire novel, or 50,000 words, in 30 days.

It’s a daunting task, and I’ve participated on and off for the past 5 or 6 years. One year I even “won,” which really just means I managed to get 50,000 words down on paper in the span of 30 days. I’m not sure what even happened to that draft, or what that particular novel was about, but I’m sure it was crap.

I have files and files of half-written stories, or scenes that have come to me in a moment of inspiration, or more often just 10 or so pages of a story that quickly fizzled out. I’ll start writing, convince myself it’s actually crap, and then quit. Or I’ll start writing, hit a road block where I don’t know what happens next, and then quit. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a kid, but it turns out it just isn’t as easy as it seemed back then.

I’d kind of given up on the dream, figuring maybe being a published author wasn’t really for me. I’m not that great at grammar, if I’m being honest. Past participle? No idea what that is. “Sally and me” versus “Sally and I?” Your guess is as good as mine which one is correct. I have no idea if anything I’ve ever written is any good, because I don’t often share it. Obviously what I write here can be read by anyone that stumbles across this blog, but this is all carefully edited true stories. There’s nothing here that was born out of my own imagination. I did have a short story published online once. I was damn proud of it, too. I shared that link with everyone. After it was chosen and published. The fact that a stranger had read it and validated it made it okay to share with people I knew. I can’t imagine myself ever sharing something I’ve written with friends or family without first getting that outside validation. I don’t know why, it just feels like I would be exposing too much of myself.

I don’t even tell people when I am writing. The only one who knows I’m working on this novel right now is my husband. He keeps asking me how my novel is coming and I can’t tell if he’s being sarcastic or not. I think he’s being genuine, but I think he’s also making a point to show how supportive he is of my hobbies, whereas I constantly act like his hobbies cause me physical pain. (To be fair, his biggest hobby is snowboarding, which does indeed cause me physical pain when I do it.)

The idea for this novel, hand to God, came to me in a dream. How corny is that? Or at least, a scene did. I wrote that scene down. Then I worked it into another idea for a book I’d had rolling around in my brain for years. I scoured back through old drafts I had started and abandoned, picking up ideas to incorporate. I messed around with the characters a little bit, writing a few scenes for them just to see how they felt. It felt good, I thought I might actually have something this time.

I’ve been planning for this novel for a few months now. I don’t think I’ve ever done this much planning before. I read a ton of articles about how to plan a book, and plot structure. I did a bunch of character building exercises. I found some of it helpful, and some of it not so much. I’ll probably get into that in another post once all is said and done.

I’ve already blown my word goal for the week out of the water and it’s only day 3. Usually by this point I’m struggling hard and resort to just jumping ahead to a scene I think will be more fun to write and leaving out anything in between. This time, I’ve just been writing non-stop. Is all of it good? No, I’m sure it’s not. But I am so damn excited to write this thing. I have the same feeling about writing this book as I do when I’m reading a good book. I can’t wait to get back to it. I can’t wait to find out what happens next. And I already know what happens next! Having the bare bones figured out for a scene and then having it actually all come together right before your very eyes? Phew, what a rush. I’m very, very into this book and I hope the momentum keeps up. Pulling myself away from it has been hard. Forcing myself to do anything other than write has been hard. I dreamt about the damn book characters last night, that’s how deep I’ve gotten into this. I walk around in a daze because my brain is still in this novel, thinking about what’s going to happen next.

I don’t know, maybe this will turn into something great and maybe it won’t but I’m having a damn good time writing it so far and it feels really, really good to be back at it.

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Better Off Wed

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Hey guess what! I got married!

Finally, right? Besides the fact that I’ve been neglecting this blog for months and months, I really just didn’t want to talk about the wedding.  You know why?

Because I hated every single second of planning it.

Every single one. Except perhaps for the tastings of the food and the cake, that was okay. everything else was just A LOT. It felt worse than it probably was because I so stubbornly just did. not. want. to. do. it. Planning a wedding has never really excited me as much as the notion of being married, which to me feels like the right way of looking at it. I don’t want to point fingers at Pinterest or the wedding industry for making having a big fancy wedding such a big deal, but I just could not wrap my head around it. All that planning and money spent for one day? One day? It still boggles my mind and it’s stressing me out just writing about it now. I absolutely 100% did this for my mother. She knows that, and bless her heart she funded most of it, so I can’t be too hard on her. But if I did it all over again? Backyard wedding, all the way. Courthouse wedding, even. Small, casual, cheap.

Despite my feelings about planning it and deep down inside wanting something completely different, it was the best wedding ever. I might be biased, but everyone else says so too, so there. Seriously, everyone had a blast. The food was awesome. Literally no one ate the cake except for the two bites we took when we cut it, which I knew would happen. Don’t bother with a cake, brides. Trust me on this. We danced, we drank, we ate. I wish I could have eaten more but I physically could not fit anymore food into my dress. The food was just that good.

Now that the wedding is over, life has returned to normal. I am free to use all that mental energy on something else. Lately it’s been work (found out I was getting a promotion just before the wedding, what a treat!) and the house. I love being married, but it feels real good not having to deal with wedding planning anymore.

Photo by the amazing Abby Lorenz.

 

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Some Thoughts on Fitness

I have never been an athletic person. Even as a child I avoided physical activity like the plague. Gym class was torture, I hated every sport my parents ever signed me up to play, there are numerous pictures of me looking miserable on rollerblades or a bicycle. If forced I would play tag, but only freeze tag where I would immediately try to get frozen which meant I was now able to just stand quietly while the rest of the game progressed around me. I would have much, much rather been alone with a book or my American Girl dolls.

hate bike riding

like let’s not.


It shouldn’t be a big surprise then that working out is a struggle for me. It’s the biggest mental challenge I have on any given day-forcing myself to work out. When I woke up this morning with an achey knee and an overwhelming desire to just sit quietly in my kitchen and write, I was wracked with guilt.

“Just because your knee hurts doesn’t mean you can’t do an upper body workout,” said the devil on my shoulder.

“You deserve a rest day, stop being so obsessive. You work out for at least an hour 6 days a week! Enough is enough!” said the angel on my other shoulder.

Today, obviously, I listened to the angel, because here I am. But I still feel guilty, and I don’t like that.

This guilt isn’t coming from anyone but myself. If I texted my trainer right now she would probably tell me it’s fine to take a rest day and to just make sure I don’t lose momentum for tomorrow and the next day and to not eat like a monster today. She’s not a drill sergeant, she understands life is a thing that happens and rest is important.

The guilt comes entirely from myself and this obsession I have about being a certain weight for my wedding in 38 days (but who’s counting?).

Am I the skinniest I’ve ever been? No. But I am the strongest I’ve ever been. And my wedding dress fits. And I wouldn’t be ashamed to be on the beach with my smaller-than-they-used-to-be stomach rolls. So why am I still obsessing?

I have no idea. But I do know it has to stop. I can’t keep beating myself up about a weekend spent eating off-plan, or a missed workout. I need to focus on what I’m doing right and not worry so much about being wrong. I think if I didn’t have the wedding as such a concrete goal I may not feel this way, but with just over a month left every missed or half-assed workout feels like a gigantic failure.

I do know that after the wedding I need to re-evaluate what fitness really means to me, and what place it has in my life. I can guarantee post-wedding it will not mean working out 6 days a week and spending astronomical amounts of money on gym memberships. I need to find that happy medium where I still feel proud of the things my body can do, but I’m not crazed about hitting that next goal.

The “fit life” might be having a moment right now, but deep down inside I’m still that kid who would rather be laying down in a hammock with her book, and I have to remember that that’s okay.
 

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The Great Blog Revitalization

Oh hello! Remember me? Wandered off for the past six months or so, but recently I was hit with the urge to revitalize this old blog so here I am.

I miss having a record of everything going on in my life. When I used to blog regularly it used to be so fun to go back and see where I was this time last year. What was I doing? What was I wearing? Who was I back then?

My goal here is to keep up with this space more regularly. I’m not sure what that will mean yet. If I had to guess, I would say this space will be mostly words. I’m not a photographer by any means and I don’t particularly enjoy having my picture taken. I’m hoping this can be a space where I can share stories about my life, my hopes and fears, my wins and losses, things that annoy me and things that make me laugh until I cry. I’m hoping that maybe someone out there will read something I’ve written and say, “Me, too!”

I hope you’ll come back and visit as I figure out what the heck this space is going to become.

I’ll leave you with a Harry Potter quote because obviously:

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

 

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One Year House-iversary!

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I’m a bit behind on this one, but Columbus Day weekend was our one year house-iversary! That’s the weekend we moved in last year, so that’s the weekend I am saying is our house-iversary, even though we closed nearly two weeks before that.

What an AMAZING year this has been. Owning a home is no joke you guys. It’s a ton of work and a ton, A TON, of money. But we’ve managed, and gosh darn it do we love it. I am a huge homebody and having my own home to be in 24/7 is really just the best. And it’s taken an entire year, but I think we’ve just about got this whole “taking care of a house” thing down pat. Maybe not perfectly, but we’re getting there.

For example, last year we figured out that if you just leave all the fall leaves in your yard they will NOT disappear over the winter. They will turn into a mushy swamp which is ten times worse to clean up than dry crunchy leaves are. This year we’ve raked up nineteen bags and counting. Nineteen!

We also made it through the Worst Winter Ever here in Massachusetts (no really, it was actually record breaking). This year we have a bigger snowblower so it probably won’t snow at all.

We’ve also done a lot of work on the house. Mostly cosmetic at this point, no major overhauls or construction because, poor, but we will get to it down the line. The picture above is what the house looked like when we did our final inspection. Since then we’ve painted the front doors and the shutters, and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me driving around the corner and seeing our cozy little red-doored home.

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I’m going to start documenting the projects we’ve tackled so far, and eventually the ones we plan on taking on in the future. So stay tuned for those coming up!

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Unemployed: Conclusion

Long, rambling post ahead. Synopsis: I got a new job and it’s great! Keep reading for the long version.

Well I have reached the conclusion to my unemployment saga! I feel pretty fortunate that it luckily wasn’t that long or that traumatizing. Was it ideal? No, absolutely not. But it could have been worse. All in all I was only unemployed for three months. Over the summer. Yes, things definitely could have been worse.

While being unemployed wasn’t particularly traumatizing, it was, obviously, extremely stressful. I’m not sure I realized just how much of an effect it had on my well being until the last few weeks. N and I got engaged in May, and less than a month later I found out I didn’t have a job. That seriously put a damper on the excitement of being engaged and planning a wedding. I wanted nothing to do with wedding planning. It all felt like a huge waste of money. (To be honest, I STILL think it’s a huge waste of money, but now that I have a paycheck again, and the majority of our vendors are booked, I’m feeling a bit more excited.)

I was also very, very cranky over the summer. I knew I was cranky, but I couldn’t seem to snap out of it. I did, however, snap at N on a daily (hourly…minutely…) basis. Now that I’ve been back to work for a few weeks and I’m focusing more on maintaining a schedule, I’ve been feeling A LOT better. I still snap at N probably more often than I should (I’m not perfect and neither is he, hence the snapping), but I like to think I’ve gotten a bit more pleasant to be around.

The end of my job hunt was probably the worst part of being unemployed. I had applied to what felt like a million jobs, and I was either excited about them but super unqualified, or I was qualified but super unexcited. I ended up applying to a company I was really excited about because it was the industry I wanted to be in and had a nearly 100% virtual workforce. Since I’d already been working from home, the thought of going back to an office setting was less than appealing. At the same time, I also applied to the company I had previously worked at for several years, reaching out to some of my contacts there for some help.

I was interviewing with both companies, but the company I used to work for extended an offer before the work from home job did. It wasn’t by any means a great offer – it was less everything (pay, vacation, etc) that I had before I got laid off, and it was even less than what I had when I was working for that company before. The role I was offered wasn’t even doing the type of work I wanted to be doing. All the negatives about that company and my reasons for wanting to leave came rushing back, and I started to panic. I didn’t want to pass up a perfectly good opportunity, especially when it was the only job offer I had received. I pushed them off as long as I could while I waited for the work from home job to complete their interview process. I had a strong gut feeling they would be making me an offer, but I didn’t know for sure. Eventually, I couldn’t put the first offer off any longer, and I had to make a decision.

Whenever I give someone advice, 99% of the time it’s “go with your gut”. Deep down, you already know the solutions to most of the problems you’re facing. The tough part is actually admitting that to yourself. Sometimes what your gut is telling you isn’t what your brain is telling you. Sometimes your gut is suggesting you do something that might even make some aspects of your life HARDER. That’s the position I found myself in. The work from home job sounded so, so amazing – but it was an entry level position and it would mean a big pay cut. I also had no idea how a completely virtual company would work. Even when I worked from home from my last job, the company was based locally and I worked face-to-face with everyone fairly frequently. On the other hand, even though going back to my old company would mean going back to the evil I knew, and even thought it would be familiar, I knew deep down I wouldn’t truly be happy there.

It was super scary, and I worried endlessly I was making a big mistake, but I turned down the first job offer. Without having another offer to fall back on. As soon as I turned it down I felt a HUGE weight lift off my shoulders. I felt terrible about it, and I felt terrible that old colleagues had gone to bat for me for no reason, but I knew it was the right choice for me. Happily, the work from home job called two days later to offer me the job. I gladly took it, feeling optimistic and nervous.

I’m nearing the end of my third week at the new job, and while I’m freaked out about making a lot less money, I can honestly say I am very happy with my decision. Having to make cuts and do without in the short term to have the career I want and feel excited about in the long term is worth it. It’s only been three weeks, but I am already more impressed with this company than I have ever been by any place else I have ever worked. I’m excited to work my little butt off in this next chapter of my career and extremely thankful to be employed again!

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Unemployed: Part II

The excitement has worn off and has been replaced with complete and utter boredom.

Often while I was employed I would think that if only I didn’t have to work I would have so much time to get things done. My house would be spotless, because I would have time to clean. I would be in great shape because I would have plenty of time to work out and cook nutritious meals. I would finally write that novel I’ve been dreaming about writing since childhood. I’d take a photography class. Learn something new. The possibilities seemed endless!

You know how many of the above things actually happened while I’ve had all this time? None. None of the things. I’ve made half-hearted attempts here and there, but not having a job doesn’t give you more motivation to do anything. If anything, it gives you less. There’s no reason for me to wake up at any particular time in the morning. It requires, for me, at least, a great amount of willpower and coffee to convince myself to do anything more strenuous than sitting on the couch bingeing on Netflix. Without a job to schedule my day around, I’ve found myself without any kind of schedule or routine, and creating one from nothing has turned out to be harder than it sounds.

Another thing that has become a nuisance is requesting my unemployment payment each week. I really shouldn’t complain, since I desperately need that payment and I’m lucky to have it, but the novelty of requesting it has worn off and I find myself claiming it at the last possible second each week. I’ve gotten so lazy that the thirty seconds of “work” it takes to get the unemployment payment seems like a burden. It could be a lot worse – instead of having to physically go to an unemployment office I just have to log on to a website and tell them yes, I am still unemployed and yes, I am still looking for a job.

Looking for a job has also lost the excitement factor. At the beginning of my job hunt, every posting was like a shiny new opportunity full of potential. Now, the decent job listings feel like they’re few and far between and none of them even sound remotely appealing. All the drive and determination I felt at the beginning of my job hunt is slowly fading away.

Basically, being unemployed has gone from making me feel like the world is my oyster to making me feel like the laziest human on the planet. The last few weeks I’ve at least tried to go to bed around the same time and set an alarm for the same time in the morning, which has helped immensely, but I still go through periods where I’m at a loss as to what to do with myself. At this point I can’t wait to find a job just so I have something to do.

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Summer 2015 Recap

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Summer 2015 was a DOOZY. It all started Memorial Day weekend, when N and I got engaged! It feels both not real and like we’ve just always been engaged. From there we threw ourselves into summer like a coupla animals. N built us a firepit in the backyard, which we barely used (damn bugs) but are deeply fond of. He came to the beach with me MULTIPLE times, which is unheard of.

In June I got rear-ended and got to drive a sweet, sweet minivan for a month while my car was being fixed. Still miss that thing. Helefab herself came to New England TWICE this summer, much to my delight. I spent a great afternoon up in Portland with her.

Fourth of July happened in there somewhere, with multiple sets of fireworks and time spent with friends. There was a trip up to Ogunquit and swimming in the icy cold ocean. We sat in traffic for the worst FOUR HOURS of my life going down to Foxwoods for a night.

Concerts also happened! So many concerts, which is so unlike me. I saw Dashboard Confessional, the Ataris (a dream since high school), and had an absolutely amazing, drunken time at Nelly/TLC/New Kids on the Block with my squad.

In June I also found out I was losing my job. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions. However, it has given me tons of free time to spend with N adventuring.

IMG_8192The end of July brought the annual Cape Cod trip with PERFECT weather and beach lounging and kayaking.

August was jam packed with parties, including a surprise pool party for N’s 30th that was a huge success. I also surprised him with a day full of fun, including him getting to fly a plane and brew his own beer. I really outdid myself this year.

Around the house saw a lot of hallway-centric updates being made, and not much else. Without me working we’ve been super budget conscious. The hallway got painted and the mudroom got a huge facelift (more to come on that).

As usual the last weekend in August was St. Anthony’s feast in the North End, which involved much, much food and a peek inside Old North Church of Paul Revere fame. I’d actually never been inside! It was churchy.

Labor Day weekend was low key and involved a motorcycle ride down to Concord for lunch and a historical cemetery stroll. We finished the weekend up with another pool party at N’s parents and an unofficial end of summer sunset. Phew! I’m exhausted. This was a great summer and I am SO READY for fall. Bring on the crisp air and pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin!

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My Love Affair With White Paint

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hallway + view into dining room as they looked during the open house

Before we even bought our house, I knew I wanted to paint the entire interior white. White walls everywhere! A blank canvas! Then the naysayers (my mother, it’s always my mother) started voicing their opinions: “White? Everywhere? That’s so boring!”

Was it boring? Was I clever and crafty and artsy and designy enough to handle white walls? Could my HOUSE handle white walls? Was it too dark? Were the ceilings too low? The rooms too small? I had no idea. All I knew was I was painting something white, come hell or high water. I painted the connected living and dining room with Behr’s Polar Bear. We chose Behr because we can’t afford Benjamin Moore and seriously, IT IS PAINT. There’s no way I would be able to tell the difference between a $30 can of paint and a $50 can of paint if you paid me. We are young barely-professionals and Ben Moore is just not in our price range and it’s not in the price range of 99% of the people I know In Real Life. I know home bloggers and interior designers love him but I am not a home blogger nor interior designer. I’m just a girl, living in the world, and wishing it was less expensive.

Anyway, Polar Bear is a nice, warmer toned white that I thought would be good in the space since it doesn’t get a ton of light all day. N liked it because it was named after a “winter animal”. Whatever.

The walls were painted and I loved it. Everything looked fresh and clean and the creamy white was a nice contrast to our dark floors. (Have I talked about our floors? I need to talk about our floors. Another post for another day.)

Yet still, the words of the naysayers were in my mind, so I figured when it was time to paint the hallway and the kitchen I would choose a color. A nice, pale gray. (Not making huge leaps and bounds here as far as color goes, I know.) I spent at least an hour, if not more, in Home Depot agonizing over the paint swatches and finally choosing a lovely pale gray. Grays are tricky, because a good, true gray is shockingly hard to find. Mix some black and white people, why isn’t that A Thing? Every single gray has a tinge of blue, or reads green in certain light, or is really quite beige when you put it next to another swatch. It was an absolute nightmare. I finally settled on one and brought it home though, and today I got to painting.

I did one coat and then stopped to let it dry and as it dried I assessed. The color was beautiful, just liked I knew it would be, but it was not at all right for the space. It was coming across very blue and we have absolutely no blue in any of the rooms leading into the hallway. It was wasn’t meshing as well as I’d hoped. So I went on Pinterest and looked up best gray colors. At this point I was so frustrated I was willing to pay more for the damn Benjamin Moore if it was going to be perfect. But the more I looked the more my gut said “Just use white! Paint it all whhhiiittteee!

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hallway + view into dining room as they look now (whhiiitttee)

When my gut speaks, I listen. It is always right. So I put the lid back on the paint can, hammered it shut, and labeled it “upstairs bathroom”. We don’t have an upstairs bathroom, BUT WE MIGHT SOMEDAY, and now we already have paint. Then I hustled to Home Depot for some more of my beloved Polar Bear paint and hustled back home to paint over the gray before N saw what I’d done and realized I had bought paint we didn’t need.

Man, am I glad I went with my gut. The hallway is a fresh white, and it looks so much more open and bright. I can’t wait to get in there and hang pictures to really add some color. Next up is the kitchen, and I cannot wait to see how transformative my cuddly Polar Bear is in there.

OH! Also, as I was waiting for them to mix my paint I saw this Glade Paint Additive sitting in a display on the counter. You pour the little packet of oil into your can of paint, mix it all up, and it scents your paint so it doesn’t smell like, well, paint. I chose Lavender Vanilla and now that the paint has dried it is like a lovely, light, wisp of a scent when you are walking down the hallway. Like I’ve just cleaned or done laundry, neither of which are usually true.

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Unemployment Article

Hey! I wrote a little article on how I really feel about being unemployed for The Financial Diet. Check it out here!

If you found your way here from The Financial Diet – welcome! This space will be growing in the coming weeks, and I plan on writing lots more about being unemployed and how I’m handling it, so make sure to check back or follow!