When You Shake Off the Writer’s Block

My writing process is simple: I just write and keep writing until my brain stops working. That’s how I work. Then, I look back at what I managed to write and try to unwind it. Half the time I don’t even realize where a story is going before I finish. I don’t usually have some end game that came to me. I don’t reverse engineer my work, starting with the ending and working my way back to the beginning. Instead, I rely on my characters to tell me where they should be going. It’s probably not the best approach. Arguably, I’d probably be a more successful writer if that weren’t my approach, because if it did work I’d probably have sold more works. (Though, considering my inability to promote myself and such, making over $100 in total on my works isn’t actually that bad.)

We returned from our vacation on Sunday. I did read Seth Rogen’s “Yearbook”. It was fantastic. If you want to laugh and forget about your troubles for a bit, it’s definitely a great read. At the local bookstore in the Berkshires, I did manage to find a single copy of “Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner. While I didn’t have the time to read the book in a day like I did “Yearbook” (I’m a very fast reader), I also definitely recommend “Crying in H Mart”. Being able to relax, take 2 very relaxing bubble baths, and just read was essential in getting the recharge that I needed to get back into things. Sure enough, a little before passing out at night, I sat down with my “Anything is Pawsable” notebook my husband bought me for inspiration and started to sketch out a character. Then, all of a sudden, words came to me. And I started to flood a few pages with excitement. I’m not good at much, but cooking and words are absolutely my strengths.

What is the story about? No clue. I have a main character named Elise. I have words that start a story, which I’m hoping will be part of a serial. But, I won’t know until I get in there. I can picture her. I know the basics of her situation. From there? I guess I’ll see where the story takes me.

What I like about this approach to writing is that it takes me on the same journey as the reader. I connect with the characters. I feel bad for their situation. I laugh at their jokes. I put so much of myself into these works that it’s like watching a child grow. You can only do so much to help, but eventually they are going to take the reigns and you are just along for the ride.

The only thing I know is that this is the first time that I was really able to write something outside of blogs or ghostwriting work. This was something that I think I’m going to love. This is a journey that I hope I can continue on. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Pride Month 2021

While I admittedly toe the line with my political ideals as an independent, one thing that you will never sell me on is discrimination of another human being. When it comes to social issues like LGBTQ+ rights, I will always be on the side of consenting adults doing whatever they want as long as they aren’t hurting anyone. I believe people have the right to be happy and in love. They have the right to be married and enjoy the perks that come with that. People have the right to live their lives as long as they aren’t hurting anyone. Have a problem when a gay couple is holding hands? Don’t look. What they are doing has no impact on your life. Have a problem with them making out in public? I have an issue when straight couples do as well, and I just don’t look. My not wanting to see any couple of any orientation making out doesn’t mean that they don’t have the right to do it. Just do you. If people want to be called by specific pronouns, just do it. How does that have any effect on you? Spoiler: it doesn’t.

They will always have to fight just to get an inch while the “normal” people have miles ahead of them. They have to fight for the ability to love who they love. They have to fight to be who they want to be. Who cares if someone identifies as trans? Just let them live their lives to the fullest as you have the right to do. The Stonewall Riots took place back in 1969 and this group is still fighting to be recognized as human beings. To have the same rights that other people have. They just want to be happy and comfortable in their own skin. Why should they be ostracized for that? How is their right to happiness detrimental to you? I just don’t understand the problem. I don’t understand how religion can preach about love and honoring thy neighbor, except if your neighbor isn’t the same religion as you or if they have a different lifestyle than you. I spent a lot of time in CCD and I don’t remember any of my readings saying “Love all people… with the exception of….” I remember love thy neighbor. I remember how important it was to be a servant to the community and offer support and kindness to those who need it. Not those who need it except for ______. How can people be religious and believe that only God can truly judge, while taking it upon themselves to play God and judge and make laws that limit the rights of a group of people that are different than they are?

I know. I normally say that people should just live their lives and if it doesn’t impact other people, why does it matter? But it does matter when you work your entire platform to hate others. That does have an impact. Hate should never be acceptable. People have the right to religion, but not to push their religion on other people and make laws based on those beliefs. Especially when your religion is known for hiding pedophile priests who prey on boys while still saying homosexuality is a sin.

It makes me think that not too long ago I wouldn’t have been able to marry my husband because of laws based around hate. It was just in 1967 that interracial couples were legally allowed to marry according to federal law. Why is this any difference? Just because I am straight? Why does it matter who I love as long as we are consenting adults that love each other and are committed to each other?

The point of this is I am an ally. I will always be an ally. If someone needs a place to be who they are, they can share mine. I will always stand up for people having the right to live their life in a way that makes them happy as long as they aren’t hurting anyone and are consenting adults. We all have the right to be happy and live free and sexual identity or sexual orientation shouldn’t be the exception to that.

There’s Something Special About Family Recipes

Over the weekend, I saw delicious strawberries at the grocery store. It inspired me to make a family favorite dessert for my boys, that we haven’t enjoyed in a few years: strawberry shortcake. Instead of my homemade biscuits, I grabbed some angel food cake for them. I have a textural issue with soggy bread, so I opted just for a strawberry sundae.

As I was cutting the strawberries, it reminded me of every time that I made this with my mom. She taught me when I was younger. These family recipes, the ones that are passed down from generation, are just special to be a part of. Even though I tweak the recipes, there’s still something special that I feel a part of when I make these recipes. I remember making meatballs and rolling them with my mom. I remember making beef stew with my dad. It’s being a part of those traditions. It’s something that I love sharing with my kids and nephews.

My recipes are part of my legacy and will hopefully be passed on to their kids. I hope that they have those memories come up every time that they make those meals for their families or friends. Food is something that we all share within our families, but it’s more than just eating amazing food with loved ones. It’s about the stories behind those meals. People always put so much emphasis on pictures, but I have an easier time connecting memories to events rather than looking at a picture. As I start to make my meatballs as my mother taught me (with some tweaks that I made), I hear her voice in my head going “more cheese”. I remember proudly sneaking the first meatball the next day after it had rested overnight in the pasta sauce. Those are memories that pictures can’t always capture, because you’re not an active participant.

As I go through this journey of re-losing weight gained due to not focusing on myself, I keep hearing people point out that food isn’t supposed to be an emotional experience. It’s a means to nourish your body and nothing more. I don’t necessarily agree with that. You can have an emotional experience with food. You can use food to connect with others. To make you feel warm inside, especially when thinking about those memories. The thing is that you need to take things in moderation, not deprive yourself. People who have an unhealthy relationship with food, whether it’s that they eat too much of it or that they avoid it in fear of getting unhealthy, have issues deep inside that have nothing to do with anyone/anything else. Food is an experience that can and should be shared.

Take the time to teach your kids your family recipes. They may be more willing than you think to be a part of it. My youngest has even helped make things like my cornbread recipe or even the cranberry sauce that I make. My oldest is always curious about what I’m making, often hanging around in the kitchen waiting for an impromptu lesson. Food can be something that connects everyone and help your legacy live on long after you’re gone. That’s what makes it so special.

Can’t I Just Send Him to Summer School?

I’m fortunate that I have 2 very bright boys with unique personalities. I try to navigate the difficult world of discipline, without the purpose of breaking who they are. My youngest, who is always described to me by others as “lively”, “willful”, or “quite the handful”, is probably the most difficult of the two to navigate. He, unlike my oldest, has yet to respond to my simply glaring at him. I just give the look to my oldest, he cowers in fear, and apologizes. Sometimes, I do it just to mess with him and to remind him of my power. I’m an awful human being and sometimes that just translates to my parenting. It’s all about psychological warfare, giving me the upper hand as the alpha of the house.

My youngest is his own brand of beast. He’s defiant, often just for the sake of being defiant. He’s impulsive. He lives life by the motto of “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission”. My struggle now is pointing out that “Sorry” is meant for an accident, where you didn’t intend for something to happen. Apologizing for intent is meaningless because that means you knew what you were doing and simply didn’t care. He’s a sweet boy, who mostly means well especially when his meaning well gets him to what he wants. But he’s a kid. That’s what kids do. Due to the age difference between the boys, each of them had their own time as the “only” child. The difference is that my youngest is the baby of the family and that’s the way that it goes. He’s mine. He’s my special child that once he gets through this phase, is going to make his own positive mark on the world. We just need to make it through the now.

Over the course of remote learning, I struggled with desperately wanting to send them back and desperately not wanting to end up in the hospital or worse because of the virus. I did know that when the schools opened up that this would be the best place for him because he needed that environment to thrive. Some kids don’t. My oldest didn’t, but I sent him anyways because he’s a senior and he needed to suck it up and enjoy his last year in the school. Plus, I wanted them to not spend the entire day eating $200 worth of groceries in one sitting. Boys, am I right?

The summer school in our district is free. They bus the kids. I joked about sending my youngest to summer school, because with the way the year ended up, he spent most of the year at home. This summer school would be the break that I needed! It was a funny joke, but then after thinking about it, it doesn’t actually sound like a bad idea. My youngest works best when he’s in a strictly structured environment. His routine every day is down to the minute on the clock. That’s how he’s always been. He’s a bit more flexible about it than he was, but the basic need for routine and knowing what to expect for the day is still important to how he functions and deals with the day. It’s a thing.

I won’t send him to summer school, but you best believe that I’m going to fantasize about it while I’m arguing with him about why he doesn’t need to eat an entire bag of family-sized salt and vinegar chips in one day and why buffalo wings are not something that should be eaten 3 times a day, 7 days a week. Or while I explain mommy needs to work and doesn’t want to know about his YouTube video at this exact second of the day and maybe it can wait until after work. I’ve earned the right to fantasize about summer school for my kid and so have all of the other parents that had a difficult year.

As They Grow Into Adults

I’ve always said that my approach to parenting was all about the long game. It was about raising future adults. I wanted to be the change, doing my part to raise a generation of kids with a strong work ethic, a duty to serve others, and to just be kind human beings that did their part in the world as functioning adults. I wanted them to be self-sufficient. As I raised my oldest, I taught him how to do laundry as soon as I felt it was safe to. I taught him how to cook. I taught him “girl” things because I wanted him to be able to take care of himself as an adult. I wasn’t going to be raising a 32 year old that was incapable of doing the simplest thing for himself. I wanted him to be able to live on his own and if he did get married, he could take care of his partner.

It’s amazing to see it happen. It seems like you blink and one day they are on the last week of high school, like my oldest son is now. But when you think about it, you saw the process happen in slow-mo. You watched those little steps. You watched the first time he made your famous curry dish and proudly showed off. You watched him do his homework and get honors and high honors on the report cards. You saw his hard work as he worked towards his goals, getting into his top choice college. It was a process that was an honor to be a part of. While I always want to protect my little (not-so little) boy adult, it’s time where I move onto the sit back and worry stage. It’s under his control now. He is the driver of this ride that he’s on now. I now have to transition into the guidance stage. The stage where I support and offer advice, but ultimately, it’s on him now.

This is why I thought it was so important to play the long game. I wanted to make sure that he was equipped out there. That he was equipped to make the right decisions. That I did the best that I could to make sure that he would carefully think out his next move. That I did the best that I could to raise an adult that would contribute something great to society. I hope I succeeded. But when he moves onto campus in a few short months, that’s when I’ll know for sure if I did my job effectively, while still letting him know that this would always be his home no matter where he lives.

You try to deny that this growth is happening. Not my little baby. But eventually the days count down and you can’t avoid it anymore. But, I have a sneaking suspicion that this adult will find his place in the world and do something great. I even imagine seeing him on ID, talking about how he profiled and got the bad guy. I look forward to seeing the great things that this young man will accomplish. I did my part in this arrangement; now, I have to trust that he will take it and run with it.

When Research Isn’t Enough

I’m a bit of a geek. I like to read about everything. It’s a thing. I get it from my dad. I end up down rabbit holes sometimes and find out I’ve wasted 3 hours of my life because one thing that I researched led me to about 20 different things. I find it helpful to know as much as possible about things because it makes me feel good that I can chime in and show off. Plus, I just like to know things. Knowing things is probably one of the best defenses against the lies that the media and the “media” want to push on you, knowing that most people are only going to research other similarly biased websites. Education is so important.

I understand why people are hesitant about the technology behind the COVID vaccines. They believe that this is rushed science and seem to only read information that backs that. The thing is, even with just a quick Google search you can find studies that go back a bit further than just last year/this year. For instance, this study that was dated back in 2018. I’m not very well-versed in science, but the basis is that they were using new technology for mRNA vaccines that show it could potentially be very effective against viruses. But the research data goes further back than that. This study from 2008 shows the potential of mRNA and how it can be used for vaccines in the future (we’re now in 2021). Another study from 2006 discusses how these can be potentially safer. The point is: this isn’t some new technology scientists pulled out of their butts when COVID hit. This has been extensively studied for a very long time. This was used for vaccines that were tested out for Zika, rabies, and a few other viruses and COVID just happened to be the first thing that they could really apply this technology to successfully.

Another reason why people are hesitant about the shots is because they track the VAERS data. While I’m sure this can be a useful tool, I’m not entirely sure I trust a tool that can be updated by anyone without any real validation of that data. I could say that the vaccine transformed my DNA and turned me into a man with dog ears and a tail and they would have to list that. Then, the alt-right would say “The vaccine turns people Trans” and it would be a whole thing. But, I don’t trust data that hasn’t been verified. I can’t say I even looked at VAERS data just because I don’t want to know if the COVID vaccine will make me stub my toe more.

The fact is that you are responsible for making your own medical decisions. I pay my doctor to keep me alive, so I typically listen to her. If she tells me it’s safe, she’s not someone who likes to mess around and will tell you exactly what she thinks. She thinks I should get it, I get it. I did my research from various science sites that are trusted. I don’t find anything worrisome and in fact, I am excited to see that this technology could be used for cancer vaccines. Can you imagine that?

I get my second Moderna shot on Saturday. As someone who has a very questionable immune system (at best), even an “untested and microchipped” vaccine is better than what would happen to me if I ended up with COVID. I managed to walk away from this pandemic with my sanity intact (primarily because I am a loner anyways), without sacrificing too much despite a loss of income, and managed to not get sick with COVID, the flu, and only had 1 cold. I’ve even decided to follow the Asian traditions of mask wearing during the cold/flu season in the future because I just enjoyed only being sick because of my own body’s failings, not from an illness. I’ve decided to trust the science and I appreciate other’s for finding science that disproves my research and following that. I don’t judge. If they ask my opinion, I give it. If not, I can be happy with my vaccinated self and move on.

People make the beds that they chose to lay on and as long as they can sleep soundly at night, there’s not much else you can do. You can’t hate people because they don’t believe what you do. We’re not supposed to agree on things. Science may be divided by politics, but people don’t have to be.

You Just Need to Step In Line

I never understood the need for stepping in line or blind loyalty. My most treasured friends aren’t the ones who just back me up; they are the ones that question me. They don’t just tell me I’m right because they think that’s what being a good friend is. They tell me the truth because they know that’s what being a friend is. My friends don’t just step in line and nor do I.

That’s what makes this whole thing with Liz Cheney so amazing and appalling to me. Do I agree with her politics? Not usually. Do I think that she should be punished for not bowing down? No. This is freaking America. The land of the “free”. A good politician doesn’t bow down to the president (or former) because of their standing in the party. A good politician questions the things that they don’t support. They are supposed to challenge the president. They are supposed to challenge each other. Politics shouldn’t be about stepping in line and following the “Supreme Leader”… because this is America, not an absolute monarchy or dictatorship. I would have more trust in a politician that questions their party’s leader than I would one that just bows down and kisses the ring.

This is why our country is in such trouble right now. Both sides have their blind loyalists that refuse to see what’s really going on. They don’t care that they are further isolating the Independents, the ones who actually think freely, because those are wild cards. Instead, they decide to focus their efforts on brainwashing the ones that they can into blind loyalty and enjoying that rabid base of followers. It’s been effective so far because no one seems to care that this is going on. They just eat the pebbles of food offered by “their party” and think that they are perfection and the answer to all of our problems. But they’re not the answer. Because they don’t want to be the answer. Being the answer is not quite as profitable.

A point that I keep mentioning is this: they don’t care about you. Why blindly follow a political group that would so quickly sell you out to their donors? That’s why I don’t follow a political party. They just want their cushy no term limits jobs where they can just make a fortune and do nothing all day but bicker about how the other party is the party of obstructionists. And that’s what they get paid for. Not to do their jobs and make the lives of the American people who put their trust them better.

Stop stepping in line. Stop blindly following political parties and politicians that actually don’t care about you. They want the power and money, not to improve your lives. Start fighting for things like making them work for the minimum wage that they want us to work for. Fight for term limits. Hell, I’d say even get rid of the 2-party system. Because what we have right now just isn’t working.

What’s New, Coming to You… Maybe

This will be a short one. I could talk about the craziness in the world, but instead I’d rather share some news with you guys of some things that I hope to come soon.

First of all, Kindle Publishing has announced a new program for people to create serial works. I have to admit that I excel more in shorter pieces than I do longer ones. I work better with less, if you will. So this seems like something that I’m really going to try to work on and get some stuff out there soon. I hope. It’s going to be a work in progress and a battle with my writer’s fatigue, but I hope it’s something that I can start getting out there. I’m excited for this and I’ll be announcing something soon (hopefully).

Another announcement is something that I have been considering for a while now: dipping my toe into recipe blogging. I have considered videos in addition to pieces, but my business manager (husband) is embarrassed by our tiny galley kitchen and doesn’t think it would work with videos. He probably has a point. So instead, just pictures and whatever type of recipe that I can come up with. This will be starting probably some time this summer/fall with a monthly recipe on either Wednesday or Friday. I am starting this later in the year because I want my boys to enjoy the food. While my husband is still on fodmap, I’d hate to tempt him with things like my fried mandu (Korean dumplings) though I did make this amazing looking “challenge phase” pizza yesterday that he loved. I will be announcing more on this later as well, so that gives me time to actually learn to measure things out.

These are some exciting projects in the works and I can’t wait to share them with you guys.

They All Inevitably Grow Up

Exactly one month from today, my oldest will be graduating from high school. I spent all year (actually the past 4 years, for the interest of full disclosure) mentally preparing for this. As the college offers came in and the eventual acceptances to all of the schools he applied to, I offered insight and advice when asked. I didn’t have to help him decide where he wanted to go: the minute he saw the criminal justice program at one school he immediately knew that was the school for him. It wasn’t the most prestigious of the schools that he had been accepted to, but it met his criteria: it was a small campus, quiet town, and had the programs he was interested in. And he was accepted into his top choice school, Salem State. He considered the closer schools, but UMass Amherst was too big for his liking and the other schools didn’t quite have the program he really wanted. Salem was perfect. Plus, he loved the added bonus of walking around the area of the witch trials. It was in-state, as affordable as college can be, and it made him happy. I supported that decision.

There have been the battles, reminding him to get off his butt and apply for scholarships. Reminding him about other deadlines. Reminding him that there’s no secret trust fund to pay for his college tuition. Telling him to get his scholarship letters to the school. But, it’s been an experience for sure. It was a learning adventure, learning to step back and watch him decide the trajectory of his life. This was his call. If he wanted to find a job and skip college, that would be his call. But he has his grand dreams of becoming a forensic psychologist and helping to solve crimes. He wanted to do his part in making the criminal justice more fair, from the inside. It’s not my job to tell him what to dream; it’s my job to support him where I can.

Yesterday he signed up for his freshman seminar and orientation. It would be virtual due to the pandemic. It made everything so real. I’m happy for him to move onto this next chapter of his life. But it’s going to be sad. You dedicate so many years trying to grow these babies into adults, getting them ready for the real world, that it does become a bit sad when you have succeeded. The most rewarding of sadness?

I’m excited for him to get out on his own. I’m hopeful for him. I have said for a long time that this boy was going to change the world. I was wrong; this young man is going to change the world. Everything he has done until this point was just minor in comparison to what he’s going to be capable of in the future. He may be leaving to college far sooner than I would hope, but he’s ready. I just hope I’m as ready as he is.

The One Time You Were Rooting for a Blackface Scandal

I’ll be the first to admit my overall disdain with about 99% of all “news” personalities. I’m not a fan of anyone on MSNBC. Definitely not a fan of most people on Fox News. The only reason I default to CNN is because they are the least annoying. Meaning, I can make it through most segments with eyerolls of disgust rather than getting enraged at watching what is unfolding in front of me. Don’t tell me any one of them are any less biased than the other. Because I don’t buy it. They all have their agenda that they are paid to push on the viewers. I’m just not dumb enough to buy what any of them are selling. As someone who has aspired to stick to journalistic integrity, when I’m not writing an opinion piece like my blog, I can see the big picture of both sides. My nasty habit of being able to effectively play devil’s advocate is something that definitely pisses off my husband. But it’s a necessary skill if you are going to write something unbiased.

…which definitely won’t be the case today. Because I’ve mentioned a few times on my blog my particular disdain with someone who is so far right that… I don’t even know where I’m going with it. The fact that so many people blindly follow this wildly incapable toddler amazes me.

Recently, social media (particularly left leaning sites) latched onto a commentary by Tucker Carlson complaining that someone stole a yearbook or something and he was obviously getting ahead of the story. I, for one, never thought I would be rooting for a blackface scandal. Maybe that would be the one thing that took down this mediocre “personality” (can you even be a personality if you lack one that didn’t buy you?). I waited, eagerly anticipating it. Not because I thought that his fans would care that he did blackface. Not that I thought that someone like him would care or understand why blackface isn’t great. But because maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have to hear about him again.

Then the Twitter trend #TuckerYearbook happened and I was so excited. I jumped on that, ready to gleefully see that beautiful display of racism. Would he fully dedicate to it as Justin Trudeau did, with full body blackface? Would it just be a dark face? Would he go super racist old school with the blackface everywhere but around his eyes and mouth? I couldn’t wait. Until, it wasn’t a blackface scandal at all.

All the yearbook showed was what any sane person could already see: he was a racist homophobe that never quite grew out of the awkward teenage phase. (Which explains all of the angst we currently see from him.) I mean. Was that a shock? Blackface… blackface takes people down. Admittedly being a racist homophobe when most people can obviously see that already? That’s not earth-shattering journalism. That’s clickbait that raises your hopes for something really good, but only tricking you into clicking 20 pages to see why “Blue is the coolest color.” (It is.)

Call me when we see him in blackface. Otherwise, maybe he’ll just say something so awful that even the people who still somehow watch him will walk away and he can go into Alex Jones oblivion.