Sunday, January 31, 2010
I'm so far beyond exhausted this morning that it almost IS funny.
When am I going to start learning that I am in my thirties now and NOT in my twenties. I can't stay out until 3 in the morning after only having had 4 hours of sleep the night before and then expect to wake up by 7am. Just ain't happening.
Anyway, I'm in a big ol' hurry because I'm already late. So I apologize to my original selection for this week's Blog of the Week and am just going to tell you about one of my favorite giggle-worthy sites: The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotations.
I'm a grammar nut. And one of my biggest pet peeves is misplaced or unnecessary quotations and apostrophes. It's amazing how one tiny little hash mark can change the meaning of an entire sentence.
Friday, January 29, 2010
O what a big weekend have I got ahead of me.
Tonight, I get to hang out with The Nephew. That kid is so dang cute. It's impossible to have a bad weekend when I get to spend time with the cutest 4-year-old on the planet.
And then Saturday morning, I'm heading to a Super Secret Location to chat with the stars of the upcoming web series Miss Behave, after which I'm meeting up with someone to hang out in LA for a few hours.
As much fun as it's all going to be, I'm looking forward as much to my Sunday afternoon nap as I am to all the fun stuff between now and the Sabbath.
(Yeah. I'm totally exhausted, but I'm still awake and it's, like, midnight. What's wrong with me?)
Where was I?
Oh, yeah. Goals. And checking in. And stuff.
It is Friday, after all. And that's what we do on Fridays around here.
Last week I decided to work on #30 on my 65 in 365 list. The goal was to find the names of my great-grandfather's parents. As of last Friday, here's what I knew:
Herman was born in Stockholm Sweden sometime in the late 1800s. At some point, fairly early in his life, he moved from Sweden to Ohio, where he met and married my great-grandmother, Clara, sometime in the twenties. My grandfather was born in 1924 in Ohio, so I was reasonably confident the two were married before 1924.
Beyond that, I didn't know much of anything. I don't know who his parents were or if he had brothers and sisters. I had no idea when he'd actually arrived in the States or why he left his homeland or whether he came here alone.
I'm sorry to say that I don't know much more than that. Yet. I have learned that sometime between 1924 and 1930 the trio moved from Ohio to Pasadena, CA and that Herman came to the States in 1909. I know he was born in 1888 and that he was 35 when he married his 33-year-old bride. It was the first marriage for both.
(Since I'm turning 33 next month, this gave me an unexpected bit of comfort.)
I hoped to know more by today, but these things happen. Especially when it comes to family history.
Which is why I'm glad I got the brilliant idea to email my aunt and ask what she remembers about (duh!) her own grandparents. I remember talking to my dad about it once, but he didn't really know much. It's not really his thing.
So that was my week. A little bit of success. Not quite enough to scratch something off my list, but it's progress. I'm getting close.
And in my downtime, when I wasn't scouring census records and begging the internet to show me a marriage license, I looked over my 65 in 365 list. And you know what? There's some pretty good stuff on there. Some darned good stuff. I set goals that I don't even remember setting, but I'm excited about them.
Like #16. I really need to back up all of my photos and music. I love my laptop and it's only 11 months old, but it's a small computer. It could disappear. It could get a virus. It could commit suicide. I can't afford to take chances. So I'm going to take my brand new external hard drive and spend this week backing everything up to it. I'll get the chance to clear some files off my hard drive while I'm at it.
What about you? What are you working on this week?
Join our Blog Hop and let us know! And be sure to go check in with Jennee and find out what she's got to say!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The workplace. It's something we are ALL familiar with. Whether you spend your days in a corner office with a beautiful window view of downtown or flipping pancakes and grilled cheese for your toddler, you work. A lot.
And you've got something to confess. You know you do.
Are you harboring a mad crush on the UPS guy?
Is it YOU who raids the refrigerator lunches?
Do you pretend to be on important phone calls to avoid talking to certain coworkers?
Me? Well, I've got a confession.
When I moved to Utah, I had no place to live and no job. I'd planned the move for several months and had a few leads and connections, but nothing solid. My friend Sara and her husband graciously offered me their guest room until I found something permanent.
Not wishing to impose my transient self on their generosity or their newlyweddishness, I took the first job I could find and started work six days after rolling into town. As a telemarketer.
Did I say I have a confession? Really? I've got several.
- When someone was particularly rude to me, I might have sort of, kind of forgotten they requested the Do Not Call List and set them up for a callback instead. Maybe.
- My coworker made a chess board out of paper, tape, and one panel of a view binder and we spent hours playing chess in between calls.
- I hated my job so much that I used to hope to get into a car accident on the way to work, just so I wouldn't have to go that day.
- I sometimes lied to customers to get sales, because my stats were looking bad and I was afraid of getting fired.
- I still giggle about the deep-voiced customer named "Rainbow."
- And I still giggle about how some customers of particular ethnicities said, "I'm not interesting" instead of "I'm not interested."
I hated everything about that job. I hated it so much that I didn't even make an effort to stay in touch with any of my coworkers after I left. And a couple of years later when I heard that my boss had died of cancer, I didn't feel a thing.
Worst job ever.
And now it's your turn! You know what to do and you know you want to.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
CAN. NOT. WAIT.
While there is some haziness to my memory of exactly when I saw the first promotional trailer for this new fall series starring the guy from Party of Five and that other guy from Lord of the Rings, but I do remember that I was sold on LOST the moment I heard Dominick Monaghan utter the infamous line, "Guys. Where are we?"
I waited MONTHS for the series premier, anticipation building throughout the summer. I had very little idea what it was about--
(There's some people. And they're on a plane. And it crashes. On an island.)
--and I didn't care because it was going to be amazing.
I know there are a lot of fans out there that have only kept going because they've already invested so much time in the show, but I've loved every minute of it. I've been confused and befuddled and, well, lost more times than I can count. I have very few solid guesses about where they're going with this. But I'm jazzed.
Sticking with Lost has been like reading the Harry Potter series as the books were released. Each season has answered burning questions, while asking many more. And with each finale, we know we're getting another step closer to the end, to knowing everything we need to know about all the mysteries and the riddles and puzzles.
It's been an exciting ride.
And, seriously, if I'm ever stranded on a tropical island in the middle of the South Pacific, I really hope it's with this guy:
In seven days, the end begins. What I've been waiting five years to see. I'm really excited. And I'm a little bit sad. Because in just a few short months, there will be no more guessing. No more confusion. No more wondering what could possibly happen next. And no more Matthew Fox on my TV every week. At least, until he gets his next gig.
One more awesome promo video for your viewing pleasure. I have a feeling this might be a bit of a spoiler, but at this point, all bets are off, right?
Monday, January 25, 2010
You know how your motto is, "It's Your Store"? Well, since it's my store, I would like to institute a policy change, effective immediately.
Just once I would really like to go into the grocery store without being attacked and shaken down for extra change by those church people in the red sweaters that hang around just outside your doors and don't even speak enough English to explain their cause. Can you please start up a Solicitor-Free Day? That way, I can do all my shopping on, say, the first Tuesday of every month. You can still have all the other 29 days and I can duck in and out without having to lie and claim I don't carry change. See? Win-win.
The Owner, at least, according to your commercials
Please start working right.
I'm seriously considering having you removed out of spite.
Don't think I won't. It's not like you're doing your job anyway.
Someone who likes to breathe once in awhile
Dear New Followers,
Thanks so much for joining in the fun! Sorry it's taking me awhile to make the rounds and visit you all. There are only so many hours in a day, you know?
A blogger who already spends way too much time on the internet
Dear Chinese Guy Standing Outside Talking on the Phone,
Dude, it's like almost midnight and I can hear you through my closed window. Seriously. What gives? Are you trying not to wake up your family by going out on the porch and waking the neighborhood?
Go back inside and let the rest of us get our beauty sleep. Some of us need it more than others.
Someone who really should be sleeping instead of blogging anyway, but that's beside the point.
Dear Conan O'Brien,
I love, love, LOVE that your ratings beat Leno and Letterman combined this week. Just one of those things that made me smile. I always liked you best, even though I rarely could stay up long enough to watch you on Late Night.
Or The Tonight Show, for that matter.
I'll try my best to heed your advice and avoid the cynicism. Even though NBC majorly sucks right now and needs to go down.
(After Chuck and The Office and Community have had nice, long runs, of course. Or get sold to a better, more deserving network.)
You've been so graceful through this whole thing and I will follow you anywhere. Even to that travesty that is Fox. A late-night Conan show on Fox would actually double the number of watchable programs there. I'm hoping to hear good news soon!
Keep it classy,
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I really can't believe it's Sunday again. Already. I slept through so much of this week that it almost feels like it never happened. I'm headed back to the doctor tomorrow. In some ways I'm doing much better. In others, a little worse. But I have an awesome doctor and I know she'll get to the bottom of this. The more I think and chat with others, the more it makes sense that this is simply a case of previously undiagnosed asthma that needs to be taken care of. Hopefully I'll get some answers tomorrow.
But I don't want to make this post all about me and my health. Not when there are awesome bloggers to shower with attention instead!
And this week, I want you all to say hello to: Eternal Lizdom!
I love Liz's blog. She's so honest and real. She's married and has two great kids. And, like some of my other favorite bloggers, she makes no claim that her children are perfect. She tells it like it is, tantrums and bad habits and all. She tells the good and the bad about her kids, about her life, about herself.
Liz is a compassionate woman who stands up for what she believes, and she's really taken the Haitian crisis to heart. She has her opinions about things, and she doesn't mind listening to what other people have to say, even when they disagree with her.
So stop by and say hi to Liz today. I'm sure you're going to want to stay awhile and have some pie.
Have a great Sunday!
Friday, January 22, 2010
(I know, it's confusing because my title says Week 4. Well, that's because I started Week 1 on Day 1, so this is Day 1 of Week 4. Does that make sense?)
So, three weeks have passed and, by now, most people have given up the Resolutions they so enthusiastically set on or about January 1st.
Maybe they started smoking four hours later.
Maybe they overindulged in the junk foods during that exciting (and disappointing) Jets/Chargers game on the 17th.
Maybe they never really started being nicer to their spouses in the first place.
Whatever the "broken" Resolution, the point is that Resolutions rarely work at all.
The problem is that Resolutions are usually so all or nothing. You're setting yourself up for failure.
If you've always been the healthiest person in the neighborhood and you resolve to only eat Twinkies every single day for breakfast and lunch, well, that's probably not going to happen right away. It takes some time to get into that new habit. And the first time you reach for a bag of carrots instead of a box of Hostess, you'll declare yourself a failure and slide right back into your healthy ways.
And, really, who wants to see that happen?
So how do we avoid this whole setting-ourselves-up-to-fail thing?
Don't set Resolutions.
Make Goals instead.
Goals are different. They're measurable. They give us the opportunity to progress, to reach, to strive. If we slip a little bit, it's okay. We can get back up and keep going. With goals, setbacks do not equal failure.
Someone very wise once told me, "A goal without a plan is just a wish."
And that's the key to meeting our goals. We have to have a plan.
It starts with something tangible. This week, I am going to focus on #30 of my 65 in 365. I'm going to work on finding the names of my great-grandfather's parents.
That's a concise goal that has a measurable outcome.
I plan to start by using online resources such as FamilySearch to try to find information on my great-grandfather and his family. Because he was Swedish and Scandinavian information is notoriously difficult to decipher, I have a Plan B in place in case my online search doesn't pan out. I'll go to the Family History center at one of the local LDS churches and enlist the aid of one of the very knowledgeable and helpful staff members.
And now it's your turn. Whether you set Resolutions or Goals, go back and evaluate them. How are you doing? Are they specific enough or do they need to be tweaked? And what are your plans to achieve them?
We want to know how it's going! So link up on the newly reinvented Blog Hop down below. The great thing about the Blog Hop is you can enter your link just once and it'll show up on Jennee's blog, too. But, of course, you should still go over and check her out. Because she's awesome and stuff.
And then, go have a great weekend!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
It's just how it is.
So I ignored it.
I felt fine. No fever, no achiness, nothing to suggest I might be sick at all.
And that's how I spent the weekend. And so, I didn't think about it. Just went about my business, went to a movie on Saturday, conducted a phone interview on Sunday, and spent the evening hanging out with The Nephew.
I knew I wasn't sick, in that stay-away-from-me-I-need-to-be-quarantined sort of way, but I also realized by Monday that something wasn't quite right and figured I would be fine after a good night of sleep. Which was kind of funny since I was just finishing up a three-day weekend.
But, when I woke up on Tuesday morning, I knew I was going to have to miss work and see the doctor. Five days of symptoms isn't usually a good sign, and when I was having trouble breathing, I thought that I had somehow skipped getting a cold and had gone straight to bronchitis.
It's a little bit scary when you call a doctor's office to see if there is any way you can possibly get in that day, tell the nurse your symptoms, and then get an appointment immediately. I still felt generally okay. I knew I didn't have a fever, I still wasn't achy. Other than the minor issues of severe exhaustion and the inability to breathe properly, I was basically fine.
The doctor asked a ton of questions, and most of them dealt with allergies and asthma. She ruled out cold, although she did test for the Swine Flu. Just in case.
(Have any of you had that swine flu test? Where they shove this thing up your nose? Seriously awful.)
Anyways, the doctor thinks I have asthma. And she thinks I've always had asthma, that it's just gone undiagnosed.
How does that happen? How do I get through 33 years of life without any doctor ever suggested something like this?
So, she gave me prescriptions for an inhaler and for cough syrup with Codeine.
I've basically been drunk for two days.
It's been awesome.
When I take it and go straight to sleep, I'll snooze for a good 10 uninterrupted hours of bliss. But when I take it and stay awake, well, apparently it's a lot of fun to witness. My roommates laughed right along with me yesterday as I lost my words, giggled at nothing, and refused to make any sort of rational sense at all.
So, yeah, it's been an interesting week. Still don't know exactly what happened. The doc suggested it was a virus that aggravated the asthma or something. The good news is that I'm not contagious. The bad news is that I felt generally okay through Tuesday, but started to feel crappy on Wednesday and it only got worse as the day went on. Today, I don't know exactly how I feel. I have no voice, which is interesting. And, I think my house got hit by a tornado because it will NOT stop SPINNING. Seriously. What's the deal?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
(It's because I'm sick, not lazy!)
(Well, maybe a little bit because I'm lazy, but I really am sick.)
(Yes, yes, okay, I just found out that it's probably asthma, but I only found out because my symptoms are pretty much exactly like bronchitis.)
The news about Haiti is waning some as Americans return to focusing on their own lives and the important events that are unfolding right here within our own borders, but the situation is still dire. There are still thousands with limited, if any, access to food and water and shelter; others still have no way of contacting and reuniting with loved ones. And nearly everyone is asking themselves, "What now?"
Even though it's not getting as much coverage on our televisions this week as it was last week, aid is still pouring in as volunteers from around the world send donations, supplies and themselves in to help. It always amazes me--
(and I really wish it didn't)
--just how generous people can be in times of crisis. Whether the crisis is big and impacts a nation or a region, or small and impacts only one person, there are so many opportunities to serve and so many people willing to pitch in and do it.
And so, dear friends, I decided that today's Confession topic is serving others. Yes, it's great to hear how others have helped you when you needed it. But you are kind and generous and giving, and I want to hear about what you've done to help others. It could be something big or something small, but no matter what it was, it helped someone when they couldn't help themselves. Let's 'fess up. Don't worry about tooting your own horn today. Let us know how kind and giving you are!
As for me, well, I really didn't pick this topic to give myself the opportunity to brag. Honestly. I tried to figure out if I could pose this question and get responses from you without actually answering it myself. But, you are all so astute that I knew I couldn't get away with that.
So I decided to talk about Jill. This is Jill:
Jill was this awesome lady I met in Ottawa, Ontario. She was part of a group called the West End Achievers. It was a service organization through the Anglican Church that gave disabled adults the chance to get out of the house/nursing home/hospital for a day every week. It's a great organization that serves people with strokes, Down's Syndrome, Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis. Jill had MS.
As LDS missionaries, we spent 4 hours per week helping West End Achievers. We mostly played games, did arts and crafts, and once helped them perform Pinocchio. It was the best community service I was ever a part of.
I met Jill on my first week, and we became fast friends. We played Scrabble every single time. At first, we played against each other. And, even though she couldn't manipulate the pieces herself and often couldn't tell where they should go, she somehow beat me every time. She had a gift, I'm telling you.
After a few weeks, others started joining in the fun. One was another volunteer. An older man that, I think, had a bit of a crush on dear, sweet Jill. When we started getting company, Jill and I were a team. We never lost. We were unbeatable. I loved every minute of it. But, most of all, I loved seeing Jill smile.
She had lost everything after her diagnosis. Her husband, unable or unwilling to face the burden of caring for a wife who would soon be unable to care for herself, placed her in a nursing home and filed for divorce. Her son and daughter, of whom she always spoke so fondly, never visited. She was completely on her own. The only friends she had were those she met weekly at West End Achievers.
I don't know what ever happened to Jill. After I transferred back to Montreal, I was unable to keep in contact with her. But I still think of her often and the fun we used to have. That chance to serve helped me more than it ever helped her. I think that happens a lot with service. We do things for others, but are blessed and often changed in the process.
Now it's your turn! Tell us something you've done to help someone in need. Whether it was tying quilts or donating canned food and lending a listening ear. You've done something for someone when they couldn't do it for themselves. Let us hear about it!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
We started out light, talking about the cloudless blue Southern California skies in comparison to the hints of snow that are falling in his part of New York.
(Of course, within three hours, the clouds rolled in and Southern Cali started getting a whole lot of rain.)
We also chatted a bit about football and agreed that we like any team that’s playing the Cowboys. I could tell instantly he was one of those approachable people. Not pretentious or exceedingly scholarly. Very intelligent, of course, but polite and, most of all, kind.
After a few minutes of small talk, I couldn’t wait to launch right into questions about The 13th Hour.
Me: So, I read online that the movie rights were actually sold before the book. How did that happen?
RD: I’d written the third book in my Thieves series, Thieves of Darkness and was waiting to hear back from my editor on it when Joel Gotler, who represented me in selling the film rights to Thieves of Heaven, asked for a standalone story. He’d been asking for one for a while and I figured I had about 30-40 days free that I could do it. I thought I could write The 13th Hour that quickly, so I did. I wrote it in 30 days, and Joel sent it out right around Labor Day . Word got out about the movie, which New Line bought, and then my publisher started asking me, “What’s The 13th Hour?” So I sent it to them and they agreed to publish it.
Me: [This is a story that starts at Chapter 12 and essentially counts down to Chapter 1. Only the main character knows what's happening.] How did you keep the story straight? How did you write it backwards without getting it all confused?
RD: I wrote a one-page outline. I wrote the beginning and the ending of each chapter, just one sentence or so for each, on one page and wrote from there. Most of it unfolded in my mind as it went. It felt like I was playing five different chess games in my head at once. But it helped that I knew where I was going. It was some of the greatest fun I’ve had creating this story because it was such a challenge.
Me: Where did your inspiration for this story come from?
RD: I consider myself a story teller first and a writer second. I try to write a story every day. I have a file of story ideas. On April 26, 2008, I wrote down “Story in reverse.” Then, on June 30, when I sat down and asked myself what I could write in 30 days, I saw that and there were so many possibilities that it just grew from there. I started with Chapter 12 and went backwards.
Me: You started with Chapter 12. Where did the 13th chapter come from?
RD: Well, that was sort of the wrap up of the book where everything gets explained. All the action is over and it was the time to learn what was really going on.
Me: You mentioned on your website and I’ve read in a few other places that your relationship with your wife is really the inspiration for a lot of the relationships in your books. Can you talk about that?
RD: My wife and I have been married 22 years and we’ve got just the best relationship. And, of course, in [The 13th Hour], you’ve got Nick, which represents myself and you’ve got Julia, who is my wife, Virginia. Their relationship echoes all the good things in our life, loving each other unequivocally. I thought a lot about how far I would go to save my wife if I were in that situation. I’m very lucky and I have learned that when you have something great, you hold onto it.
Me: In The 13th Hour, one of the elements that keeps coming up is this plane crash. What was your inspiration for that?
RD: There’s an airport right outside of town here and the flight path passes directly over the field where my son used to play ball. I got to thinking about the idea of playing with time and unintended consequences. When you change one thing, there has to be some consequence to that. And in the book, when Nick saves his wife from one thing, that leads to putting her in danger of something else.
I used to fly a lot. I’ve probably flown close to 400,000 miles and I don’t think anyone takes a flight without ever thinking about the possibility that it might crash. So I thought about that.
With this book, I didn’t really have the opportunity to do any research because it was written so quickly, and so everything was just based on my own thoughts and what was in my mind. I knew where I was going and new things popped in as I went along. I get a high off of writing a particularly good chapter and I wrote this book so fast that I got that high just about every night, which made it easier and more fun to keep going.
Me: How do you keep that momentum?
RD: Well, for this one I had a self-imposed deadline, which made it easier. I really just wanted to get the story down on paper. When I was writing my current book, I spent a lot of time trying not to repeat some of the elements of The 13th Hour. It was more psychological, which also helped keep me going.
Me: You started out in business. How did you end up writing your first novel, The Thieves of Heaven?
RD: Before Thieves of Heaven, the longest thing I ever wrote was probably five pages, back in high school. But after I graduated from college and wasn’t required to read anymore--you know how it is, you read more when you don't have to--I read probably about a book a week. That was writing school for me. Everyone says they want to write a book. I get so tired of hearing what people say they’re going to do. I decided to do it. And after I was done, I gave it to a few friends. My wife read it and said it was good, but she’s, you know, my wife. She suggested I give it to a friend who owns a bookstore. That friend gave it to an agentfriend, who got it to my film agent, Joel. He sold the movie rights to 20thCentury Fox and then my agent took the package to Random House, where they gave me a two-book deal.
I love writing and to have the privilege of doing what I love is such a gift.
You never know where opportunity comes from. That friend who owns that bookstore? I used to coach his kids in baseball. We never know what begets what. Take opportunities when they come.
**I would like to thank Richard Doetsch for this interview. It was so much fun to talk about The 13th Hour and writing in general. I encourage you all to pick up a copy of The 13th Hour. It's a fun read and a great way to pass the day when you're facing Storm Watch 2010!**
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Most of them have already been said by others, and far more eloquently than I ever could.
I think I spent the first half of the week in some sort of bubble. It was the first week of the semester and the ensuing stress and exhaustion kept me from understanding the seriousness of the crisis until I finally saw videos and images on the news Thursday morning.
If I had the means, I would have headed straight to the airport instead of to work. Rather, the means AND anything even remotely resembling a useful skill, of course.
There have been comments, speeches and remarks that, well, to say they were disappointing would be an understatement. Some believe the Haitians brought this on themselves. Others think the millions of tax dollars our government has sent them in aid through the years has already satisfied our obligation.
I happen to believe that we are all children of God. As such, we are all brothers and sisters. It's our responsibility to look out for one another, to be there, to "succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees."
We are in hard economic times. There's no escaping that fact. Many of us that really wish we could help simply don't have the means to donate significantly. But, in a crisis like this, any little thing we can do makes a big difference.
I was going to forego the whole Featured Blogger thing this week, but that was before I found Hope for Haiti. Jenny from Simply Delightful Designs started Hope for Haiti mere hours after news of the earthquake hit the airwaves. In just a few days, she has joined forces with nearly two dozen bloggers and organizations to raise funds by raffling various products and services. Together, they have raised almost $5000 on 30 different raffles.
When crises happen, I always find myself wondering what I can do. Jenny didn't wonder what she could do. She jumped online and got to work. No one can do everything. But everyone can do something.
I encourage you all to go visit Jenny and check out the amazing site she has created.
And while you are in the mood, Leslie is collecting items for hygiene kits. I don't know Leslie, but I was touched when I read that she is trying to collect enough to make 100 hygiene kits. I say that we use the power of the internet to send her enough for five hundred. Heck. Why not a thousand? Everything she needs can be found at the local dollar store. She's also accepting Pay Pal donations. And for those of you in the Salt Lake area, she would even appreciate just an extra couple of pairs of hands to put the kits together.
Those are two great ways to help. Here are just a couple of others:
The Chic Life is organizing an online bake sale.
Amanda is donating a quarter per comment on this post.
AphroChic is auctioning off various awesome accessories.
and Alyssa Francis has a long list of linked up bloggers that are donating in different ways.
I hope you'll all have a great Sunday. And be sure to count your blessings. In times like these, it's hard not to be grateful for all the wonderful gifts we have in our lives.
Friday, January 15, 2010
**Also, today is my day over at 30 POV, so please go check it out!!**
Okay. I think I'm done with the shameless self-promotion. For now, anyway.
It's time again to join me and Jennee in checking up on our various stages of progress.
Have y'all had a good week?
In the last few days, I've read a lot of new posts about resolutions and goals and I've been giddy seeing all the great things in store for my bloggy friends this year.
There are goals to lose weight. Resolutions to be nicer. Lists of books to read this year.
Really fantastic stuff.
My 65 in 365 is coming along. Given that it's only been 2 weeks and I've got 50 to go, the vast majority of my list won't be finished for a few months. Which was sort of the point anyway.
So I don't have anything to cross out this week, and I'm okay with that.
Instead, I thought today I'd let you all in on a couple of my Goals That I Have No Control Over Accomplishing.
1. Score myself an invite to the premier of any (or all) of the following films: Alice in Wonderland, Iron Man 2, The A-Team, or Knight and Day.
I know I'm getting some awesome opportunities and connections in the movie biz, but...yeah. It's going to be awhile before I meet the right people for this one. But hey, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr, Liam Neeson, Patrick Wilson, Bradley Cooper, Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz...if any of you happen to stop by, just know I will only say nice things about you until the end of time if you can help a girl out. Just sayin'.
2. Get a Tweet from the King of Twitter: Ashton Kutcher.
Seriously, the guy is crazy. And often funny. Everyone knows he practically lives on Twitter these days and he's got, like, millions of followers, but how awesome would it be to get a TWEET from ASHTON KUTCHER?
Am I the only one that thinks that's cool?
3. Be picked as one of Blogger's Blogs of Note.
Before I discovered SITS, there was Blogs of Note. I found some truly cool blogs that way. And with millions(?) of blogs registered through Blogger, I honestly don't know how they weed through them to pick awesome ones, but it is my DREAM to wake up one morning and see my name there on the list. Chosen. Deemed noteworthy. If anyone knows anyone that does this sort of thing, could ya maybe put in a good word for me?
All right, so those are my totally unrealistic goals. Will my life be incomplete if they don't happen? Nope. Will my life TOTALLY ROCK is one of them does? Absolutely.
But then, considering what we've seen in the world these past few days, I have to admit that my life pretty much already does totally rock.
How are you doing on your goals? Are you still plugging away? (Good!) Have you already given up? (Don't!) Let us know what's happening by linking to the MckLinky with any of your goal posts. We wanna know how it's going!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
For all of my talk about Southern California's 70 degree January weather and wearing flip flops while the rest of the country is bundled up in wool socks and Uggs--
(Oh, who am I kidding? We wear Uggs in Southern Cali, too.)
miss the snow.
I know, I know.
I have no interest in ever shoveling another driveway. Ever.
Or scraping an inch of ice off my windshield so that the defroster can have a chance to break through the rest.
Or wearing ten layers of clothes just to run out and check the mail.
What was I saying?
Oh, right. I miss the snow.
I've lived through seven Winters. One in Quebec and six in Utah. Winter is cold and wet and unending.
But it's beautiful. And exciting. And provides the chance for unexpected days off.
I miss the excitement of the first snow of the season. And I miss being surprised at how much wider the streets get when the snow starts to melt. The thrill of an unexpected warm day in the middle of February, and the way a neighborhood is eerily quiet after three or four inches of fresh powder have blanketed the streets.
I know. It's crazy. I love California's weather. I love being able to go to the beach in January and I love not worrying about black ice. I am certainly not complaining. I mean, it's supposed to rain later today and our temperatures are going to plummet into the upper 50s. I'm definitely not whining about that.
But I am just a tiny bit jealous of all of you, my blog friends, and your sledding pictures and your White Christmases and your adorable new winter coats.
I guess the grass is always greener...or whiter...on the other side.
Do you love the winter? Hate it? Wish there were more snow days? Wish you could trade places with me? Confess!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
It's kind of funny, since I have a degree in Political Science and I constantly bore my friends and family with endless rants about global warming and health care and bag taxes.
I make no secret of the fact that I am fairly conservative and that I prefer Fox News and Rush Limbaugh to NPR and CNN.
But a) this isn't a political blog and b) I am keenly aware that many of my readers have very different views from mine. So I usually avoid politics in favor of other, less divisive topics.
(Like how awesome my hair looks.)
That being said, I read a post over at Gina's blog last week that I just haven't stopped thinking about. She wrote her post in response to something on MckMama's blog the day before.
Everyone has an opinion about something. Some people have an opinion about everything.
And there's nothing wrong with that.
In fact, I think it's a good thing.
For every issue or topic, there are an infinite number of different opinions to be had, which is also good.
(Except on some issues when I just CAN'T, for the LIFE of me, understand why everyone doesn't see it MY way.)
The problem comes when debate ceases to be intelligent and polite and becomes angry and overly emotional. This leads to personal attacks, hurt feelings, and yelling about everything except the issue at hand.
Which is not a good thing.
Honestly, most of us want the same basic things. We just have different ideas about how to get there. And instead of stopping and listening to the other side, we--
(And, of course, when I say "we" I really just mean "people.")
(Cuz I'm not trying to single anyone out. Well, except maybe you in the blue pj's.)
--get louder, talk over each other, and then fling insults that often make no contextual sense until we forget what we were even debating in the first place.
I believe 94% of the problems in Washington could be fixed if our elected officials would listen and converse rather than turn off their hearing aids and bloviate.
(The other 6% would be fixed by some retirements, resignations, and a few good, old-fashioned firings.)
I don't know where this idea came from that we are all against each other. That Liberals and Conservatives, Democrats and Republicans have to take sides, maintain boundaries, and cross those boundaries only at great personal risk. It's ridiculous. It's pointless. And I, for one, am fed up with watching politicians take their arguments to the interview chair, rather than getting all sides in on a debate where the doors are open, everyone has the chance to speak their mind, and some real, true compromises can be created so that everyone gets something they want.
Why does it have to be about power and control?
Isn't this supposed to be the government OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people?
If we could just listen as much as we talk, there is no end to the amazing work that could be accomplished in this country and around the world.
I think that if we just stopped talking for a minute, we'd discover that we have more in common than we ever imagined.
**Tomorrow's Confession Wednesday Topic: Snow Confessions!**
Monday, January 11, 2010
On Friday, my hair did NOT look something like this:
I certainly did NOT have too many split ends because I am diligent about getting my hair trimmed every 4-6 weeks, just like every magazine and style expert recommends. My bangs were NOT hanging pathetically and begging for some fun.
And I was definitely NOT sick of the half-colored/half-grown out look.
Oh, and I did NOT manage to avoid showing off my sad roots in this picture...
I have NOT been planning for two months to make a drastic change to my 'do.
I did NOT wait to make such a change so that I could get used to the idea and/or talk myself out of it.
I was NOT a little nervous when I went to the salon for my appointment, and I was NOT excited when I met my new stylist, Paul. I did NOT giggle when I saw his pink bedazzled styling tools and I did NOT thoroughly enjoy talking about boys and books and Kate Gosselin's new extensions with him.
I was NOT a little disappointed the first time he washed out the color when it was a little different than I expected. And I was NOT a tiny bit nervous when he suggested adding a toner to try to do what I really wanted. I totally trusted this complete stranger, so what is there to be nervous about?
And when he was finally finished--three and a half hours later--I did NOT absolutely fall in LOVE with this:
Tell me you do NOT love it, too!
Not me! Mondays were started by MckMama. Stop by and visit to find out what others have NOT been doing around the blogoverse!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
(And nope. My new profile pic does not show my new style.)
But that's not really why you're here today, is it?
Yes, friends, it's time for a new Blog of the Week. I was pleased with the response to last week's blog and I hope you like this one, too. This week's feature is: Does This Blog Make Me Look Fat?
(Yeah, I know, I'm sort of going with a theme here. Sue me!)
From all the time I spend reading all of your blogs, I know I'm not the only one that really needs to get to living a healthy lifestyle. I certainly don't plan to make weight loss and lifestyle blogs the theme for the entire month of January, but I felt like this was a good one to spotlight.
Last week's BotW was from someone who has succeeded on that journey to health and skinniness--
(which is apparently a word since my Spell Check didn't flag it!)
--and is able to share the story of her journey.
This week's feature is written by three ladies that are at the beginning. Janet, Regina, and Elizabeth's Gone launched Does This Blog Make Me Look Fat--
(Isn't that such a cute name??)
--back in August. They have had their ups and downs, but I appreciate the chance to go through this experience right along with them, to celebrate their triumphs and commiserate the setbacks.
It's a great blog. They aren't whiny or full of excuses. They're living their lives and just trying to do the best they can.
These ladies are incredible and I hope you'll give them a little bit of encouragement as they all get going on their new goals for the new year!
Friday, January 8, 2010
I hope you've all been enjoying the first full week of 2010!
(Is it twenty-ten? Or two thousand ten?)
So, how have you been doing on your goals?
I know that last week a few of you said you weren't into that whole Resolution thing, but then, you went ahead and made some anyway.
Melanie? I've been scanning all my favorite reality shows just to make sure you're keeping yourself in check. Bravo on surviving Week 1!
And Kristina...is your hair sufficiently Nancy Graced yet?
Oh, and DeNae, my mom had her gall bladder removed this week so that you don't have to!
See? We're all about helping each other out.
Anyway, I jumped right into making some progress on my 65 in 365 goals. I've almost finished an entire book. And I watched a movie from my Netflix list. So that's good.
But the biggest goal I plan to accomplish this week is happening a little later this morning.
(For some of you, it'll be done before you even read this.)
I'm pretty excited about it.
Today, I'm changing my hair.
I'm not going to tell you yet because I don't want to spoil the surprise and also in case it turns out horrible and I have to take drastic measures to correct it, then I can pretend that was my original intention all along.
But...yeah. Today's the day. I wanted it done before school starts on Monday. I have this weird thing about making big changes in the middle of a semester. I don't know why. I'm crazy like that.
I don't have any other big accomplishments to brag about or any brilliant words of advice. Maybe I will when I start making some progress.
Anyway, have you talked about your 2010 Goals/Resolutions this week? Link it up down below! We're all about support and encouragement around here.
And go check out Jennee @ Cheap Therapy and see what she's been up to this week!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
And today's topic is a really good one. Today, we're talking about how to attract readers to your blog.
Now, Stephanie already did a great job of writing about the Number 1 way to get people to visit you. Go visit them. Seek out blogs and comment on them and, quite often, those bloggers will stop by and visit you.
But how do you convert a Visitor into a Reader?
For me, it's about content.
There are a lot of things I mean when I talk about content, but I'll just break it down into my top 5 tips for turning your blog into a must-read.
1. Create an interesting page that is organized and not too busy.
You do not have to pay to have a personal design made. It's fun and I still smile every time I click onto my blog. But it's not necessary. I don't know much about WordPress, because I'm a die-hard Blogger girl, but I know there are dozens of sites out there which offer free blog layouts. In addition, Blogger offers 15 or so basic layouts, all of which can be edited by going into the Layout tab and changing colors, fonts, etc. One of the great things about blogging is that you can keep it totally and completely free.
And pay attention to those sidebars. Make sure things are kept up-to-date. When Eclipse is out in theaters and your Countdown Clock is just sitting on 000:000:00:00, it's time to take it down. I know you like it, but it's gotta go. Try to avoid having too many Blinkies and Slide Shows and all of those other fun things you can add. Too much of a good thing is just distracting and makes me not want to come back and visit again.
2. If you want to attract readers, be a good writer.
Okay, I know writing isn't everyone's strong point, and that's just fine. You don't have to be working on a novel or have a degree in English to be a good blog writer. But there are still some basic things you can do to help make your posts more readable. For one, use spell check. It's there for a reason. That little box is lonely. Click it. Read through your post before you publish it. Make sure it makes sense. Check to see how many times you used the same word in a single sentence and maybe swap out a different word.
(Although I'm still looking for a substitute for "Blog.")
Keep up with the basics. Try to avoid run-on sentences except in the rare occasion that they work for what you're writing.
Generally, keep paragraphs short. Big blocks of text are often daunting. Even if it's the most fascinating and brilliant piece ever written about the History of Why Karen is Awesome, eyes will glaze over and your visitor will click right off the page rather than taking the time to read it.
Blog writing is different from novel writing. Remember that.
3. You don't have to sugar coat your life, but don't be overly whiny either.
If you make your life seem too perfect, people are going to stop reading. For one, it doesn't sound real and we already saw a big SCANDAL! last year over a "fake blog" involving plagiarism and a lot of hurt feelings. Tell us how cute your kids are and how perfect your husband is. That's fine. But it's okay to also admit that you have a black thumb and kill every plant within a ten-mile radius and that you recently burned down your kitchen boiling a pot of water.
On the other hand, though, don't whine about everything. If your life was that totally and completely horrible, you probably wouldn't have time for blogging. Or, at least, you wouldn't have any sort of access to a computer or the internet.
Mix up the good and the bad.
4. Keep your posting regular, but under control.
You don't have to write every day, but it should be more frequent than 2 days here and three days next month and then you take the summer off.
Also, I recently stopped following someone who started posting 5, 6, 10 different things every day. Links, pictures, jokes. It was too much. If you feel like you have that much to say, sign up for Twitter.
(Which is another good way to find followers.)
5. Add the Follower Widget to your sidebar.
I know this sounds obvious, but the other day I visited a blog where the writer mentioned that she didn't feel like anyone was out there reading. She didn't have that little Follow button enabled.
It's true, there are other ways to follow blogs, but why add extra steps for your potential readers? Not everyone that regularly reads is going to become a Follower, but you certainly increase your chances of getting them to join in. It also lets your readers get an idea of who else is reading your blog. You might start to see some familiar names and, the next thing you know, you've got a community.
Okay, so there is my overly wordy collection of tips for converting Visitors to Readers. It's not 100% effective. Unless you are a celebrity or have some kind of niche, you're not likely to develop a readership in the thousands. But it is really fun to cross into the 100s and these are some of the ways I did it.
Have some tips of your own? Want to see what others suggest? Click on over to Steph in the City and see what the rest of the group is talking about.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I know plenty of people that have that stuff down the day after Christmas. It's like they just can't wait to put it all away, say so long to the holidays and move on with their lives.
My mom isn't like that. I remember years when the Christmas stuff was still up until February. We once had a Christmas tree that posed a bigger fire threat than dropping a burning cigarette into a can of gasoline.
When I was roommates with Emily, I
I went home to California for Christmas and came back sometime around New Year's and we left the tree proudly displayed atop the corner table I used to make it appear taller than its 48 inches.
And then school started and the tree stayed where it was.
And then the end of January approached and Emily and I got to talking.
"Why don't we just leave it up?" I said.
"We could make it a Holiday Tree," Emily suggested.
We talked about it and thought about it and hatched a plan to decorate it for all the holidays, year round.
- January: Martin Luther King, Jr Day
Valentine's DayPresident's Day
- March: St. Patrick's Day
- April: Easter
- May: Memorial Day
- June: Arbor Day
- July: Pioneer Day (What? We lived in Utah.)
- August: ...uh...
- September: Blueberry Popsicle Day (It's real. Look it up.)
- October: Halloween
- November: Thanksgiving
I took the tree down the next day.
In general, I like to leave Christmas up until sometime around New Year's Day. Earlier feels somehow disloyal to my favorite time of year. Anything more feels like I'm just being lazy.
What about you? When do you like to put things away and move into the new year?
Want to play? Grab the button up above and link your confession down below!
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
On Saturday morning, I decided to go to the movies.
AMC Theaters only charge 6 bucks for any show that starts before noon on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays.
I hemmed and hawed and couldn't decide which movie to see. But when I got to the cineplex, I decided to see Sherlock Holmes again, because I really liked it the first time.
I got some popcorn and a drink--
(Yes, it was before noon, but it was, like, after eleven. So it's okay.)
--and went into the empty theater, choosing a seat somewhere in the middle.
I pulled out a book--
(I really need a nook!)
--and started reading while the theater slowly filled up.
And then the lights dimmed and the previews started.
I was glad to see different previews from the week before when I first saw Sherlock Holmes. I even saw one for a new Tom Cruise (!) movie that I had only vaguely heard of and knew nothing about.
But then, the movie started.
I didn't remember there being so many trees in London. And I didn't remember the opening sequence being so vivid with color. And I didn't remember Sam Worthington narrating.
And then it hit me.
HOW had I walked into the wrong theater??
I'd been so careful to check the ticket stub and to check the number and even to check the sign above the door that I just KNEW had said Sherlock Holmes.
But, sure enough, I was somehow watching the beginning of Avatar.
Which led to the dilemma.
Should I stay? Should I leave?
I want to see Avatar. I even have completely unfirm plans to see it with my brother sometime this week. But if I saw it before him, would he be upset?
On the other hand, the theater was now quite full and I didn't want to disturb the other patrons as I picked up my stuff and squeezed past them to get to the stairs.
And then, from somewhere behind me, a guy bounded down the stairs and out the door.
And then a couple down in front got up and left.
And then the dad right in front of me who brought his two daughters that were far too young for Sherlock Holmes OR Avatar, got up and moved to the aisle.
Slowly, half the theater around me emptied as everyone figured out that we were ALL somehow in the WRONG movie.
Once it dawned on me, I decided to just stay put. I had a feeling they would get this straightened out and I didn't want to risk losing my seriously awesome seat smack dab in the middle of the theater.
Sure enough, less than a minute later, everyone who'd left returned and the whispers filtered through the crowd as people assured one another that They were "working on it" and would start the right movie in just a minute.
They fixed the issue, started up the movie again and we got the pleasure of sitting through another twenty minutes of previews before finally getting to OUR feature presentation.
It's a good thing Jude Law is cute.
Monday, January 4, 2010
It seems like everyone else is doing it. And I didn't spend nearly enough of my high school life giving into peer pressure, so I thought I'd start now.
The end of a decade. Depending on who you talk to. On the one hand, there was no year ZERO, so it makes sense that decades, centuries and millenia should be counted as 1-10. Which would mean that we have just entered the last year of the decade.
Or, you could argue that, no, there was not a year ZERO, but that anytime more than one digit changes in the year, it's acceptable to welcome the new whatever.
I'm sort of a go with the flow kinda girl--
(Stop laughing, Mom.)
--so I figure I'll just go with the crowd and say we just entered a new decade.
Which means it's time to look back on the past ten years. To summarize, to evaluate, to remember.
And so, here's a look back at my life during the...
...first decade of the 21st century.
Yeah. That's it.
7--times I packed up all my stuff and moved
10--other live stage productions
3--stamps in my passport
3--times I voted for President
1--time I wanted to vote for "None of the above"
4--chances to be a bridesmaid
2--awesome kids were born and became my unofficial niece and nephew
1--official cutest nephew on the planet
Quite honestly, I really didn't think much had happened in my life. I mean, when it started I had no boyfriend, a job I didn't love, a vague plan for the future but no real idea of where I was headed. I volunteered in Job's Daughters, was very active in church, and spent my free time watching movies and reading books and generally looking for something to do.
Today, I have no boyfriend, a job I...like well enough, a vague plan for the future but no real idea of where I'm headed. I volunteer in Job's Daughters, am very active in church, and spend my limited free time watching too much television, too many movies, not enough books and blogging until all hours.
But then there's the in between.
Thinking about those numbers up above, I've realized that the last decade was actually a pretty exciting one.
In 2000, I met and dated a guy that was all wrong for me, tried to make it work, was heartbroken when it didn't. But, along the way I learned a BIG lesson about myself and about relationships and was finally able to move on. And I did move on. To Utah. I packed my life and moved 700 miles away to a place where I knew approximately 3 people. It was the scariest thing I had ever done, but it was also the best.
In Utah, I worked, I met people, I went back to school--
(Weber State! Weber State! Great! Great! Great!)
--and generally lived it up. I found friends and a life and hardly ever spent a weekend at home alone with nothing to do. It was the life I had been looking for and I was loved it. Until winter came and it snowed.
In 2001, my paternal grandfather passed away. And then the nation and the world learned about the worst kind of grief imaginable.
In 2002, I went to Germany and France, learned to accept the torture of unrequited love, watched on television as the ANGELS WON THE WORLD SERIES, moved into a haunted house, got a new job, broke up with a friend, and somehow managed to have a great time. Maybe because I ended that year watching my best friend marry an amazing guy.
2003 was the year I graduated from college, my maternal grandfather passed away, and then I watched my mom marry the love of her life.
In 2004, I moved into my OWN PLACE which was the BEST THING EVER. I mean, I've had some good roommates through the years, but there is NOTHING like having your own space. I also watched my younger brother marry the love of HIS life, and cried like a baby through most of the ceremony.
(Because I was really, really happy for him.)
(Not because I was depressed that he got married before me.)
2005 was fairly uneventful until I had to break up with another friend--
(which is a story that would make for a GREAT blog post...)
--and then watched two of my best friends marry each other, a week before my nephew was born. I also moved in with my Utah BFF, Kelli, and started going to a new Ward with the families of a lot of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the first time the war really, really sunk in for me, even though I'd personally known a few soldiers that had been there.
By 2006, it was time to come back to California and I did. I was excited to come home, but cried for at least the first 3 hours of the long drive across the desert. I still desperately miss my friends. But then it snows and I remember that I like living here.
In 2007 I turned 30, started my current job, and lamented the fact that I was 30 and living in my mother's office slash guest room. And I discovered BLOGGING.
In 2008 I moved out of my mother's office slash guest room and into an awesome townhouse with two cool roommates. I also met a really great guy and fell in love.
And in 2009, I watched my best friend graduate from college, my brother graduate from law school and dealt with the worst heartbreak of my life. It's getting better, but the hurt is still there. I think some little bit of it will be for a long time.
I don't know what the next ten years will mean for me. I don't know what roof I'll wake up under on January 1, 2020. Maybe I'll be married and have kids. Maybe not. Maybe I'll be a successful and published author, or maybe I'll just be content with maintaining this blog...if I still have stuff to blog about ten years from now.
I don't know what life holds for me. But I do know that it's time to make some decisions and some changes. I can't spend the next decade wondering what to do with myself and waiting for life to start happening for me. I finally figured out that it doesn't work that way.
So, hopefully I will see some more concerts, do some more traveling, welcome another niece or nephew, and have some amazing experiences. But the biggest thing I hope to accomplish is to figure out what the heck to do with my life.