Monday, September 8, 2014

Catching Up

Just to take a step out of the land of serious blogging, I thought I'd give you all a little glimpse into the recent goings-on in my life.

WARNING: This post is going to be rambly!


I moved!  Again.

As much as I loved my darling loft apartment with its exposed brick walls and the elevator and the little call-box thingy that I'd get to use to let people into the building, back in March/April I decided that I'd had enough of living alone.  I was tired of eating poorly, spending the majority of my income on rent/utilities and coming home to cold polished concrete floors and echoing 12-foot ceilings.

Around Memorial Day (end of May for my non-American readers) some of my closest friends found a newly refinished duplex for extremely reasonable rent that is just a block from my work.

I love it here.  Our house is spacious enough that even with four adults living here it never feels like we're on top of each other.  Our house was built in the 1890's but with the recent upkeep that was done I think it manages to look quite stylish, especially since all four of us like decorating.  (Come Christmas, we'll put the Griswolds to shame.)

I moved the last carload of stuff out of my old apartment at precisely 11:30pm on June 27th.

I woke up at 5:00am on June 28th, drove to my parents' house and then my dad, brother, and I drove to Chicago, caught a plane to Milan, Italy where we met my mother and boarded a train to Venice.

We did a whirlwind tour of Europe that included two nights in Venice; 5 nights in Switzerland staying with our family; 1 night in Germany; 1 night in Luxembourg; 1 night in Belgium; 1 night in Amiens, France; and 2 (or 3?) nights in Paris.  We also had dinner in Holland and visited Bruges for an afternoon. At least... I'm pretty sure that's how that all went.

It was an amazing experience that I'd love to talk on and on and on about right now, but I'll just post a bunch of pictures

Venice was beautiful.  I've kind of been saying I didn't think I ever needed to go back.
But looking at all of the pictures... I think I need to!
On the way to the top of Jungfraujoch in Switzerland.
Green grass, snowy peaks, and weird t-shirts.

At the top - low altitude is to blame for that facial expression.

The house in Bischofszell, Switzerland where my great-grandfather was born.

Celebrating the 4th of July with my cousins in Bischofszell.
Wearing an America on my chest and a Swiss flag on my head.
At least I represented!

Der Kindlifresserbrunnen (The Child-Eater) of Berne, Switzerland
We explored the ruins of an old castle in the German countryside.

Bruges, Belgium - I could have spent weeks exploring this town.

I got to explore the city on my own, so I made
sure to find my way to the canals.

Did I mention it was raining the whole time we were in Bruges? I was a pretty! 
It also rained most of the time we were in Paris - 

It was rainy and foggy - but that didn't stop me from going all the way - 

To the top of the Eiffel Tower!  I was the only one of my family brave
enough to tolerate the cold, wind, rain and fog for pictures of mist.

Our last day in Paris had beautiful weather. 

I walked all over and explored the city on my own.  It was amazing.

So many lovers have visited this bridge and locked their love to stay forever.

I met a surprise bicycle marathon as I was approaching l'Arc de Triomphe

Our last night in Paris ended with a sunset visit to Sacre Coeur in Montmarte.
I would go back to Paris, just to visit this church again.

Needless to say, June/July were a couple of crazy intense months for me.  As soon as I returned home from Europe I had to finish unpacking from my move.  Luckily, my roommates had done a lot of work in the weeks I was away, but we planned a house warming party for two weeks after I returned so the house needed to be in tip-top shape.

But we got it done! And we got a fully-stocked liquor cabinet as a result of the party... which I've already had to partially replenish...  I like making weird shots, it's a problem.


Other than that, I've been camping, kayaking, swimming, boating, and getting up to all manner of other summer shenanigans.

Our house has become a meeting place for many of our friends since we're right in the heart of downtown and are within walking distance of everything.  I've always loved having a house full of people so it's a great situation for me.


I'm still working on my book, though the behind-the-scene planning is still getting in the way of me doing much development with the story-line.  It's going place though, which is a wonderful feeling.  I got a lot of writing done in my downtime in Europe and hammered out a lot of the holes with the main character's back-story.

I estimate you'll see it on the shelves of your local bookseller (aka Amazon...) no later than the fall of 2030.


So that's kind of a whirlwind tour of the big goings-on in my life.  A lot has changed, more has stayed the same.

I'm still struggling to figure out adulthood and asking myself really hard questions about what I want my future to look like while simultaneously recognizing that much of it is already here.

I hope you had a wonderful summer!

Is anyone else as excited for fall as I am?

Much love,
Annie Jay

Friday, September 5, 2014

Self-Censorship Vs. Courage

Back in January, I decided to erase all of my old blog posts.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that they’re all back.

I read through the old posts over the last weekend and I realized that I can’t just erase the last two years of my life.  It’s full of good times and some bad times.  This blog is a record of my journey as I try to figure out what being an adult is all about.  It’s not always perfect, it’s not always appropriate and it’s not always about me being the best person I can be. 

But that’s life. 

One of the greatest struggles I face as a writer is self-censorship. 

I believe in being open and honest about my life (not just when writing but in person as well) but that can sometimes make people uncomfortable – hell, sometimes it makes me uncomfortable to be so exposed.  But as much as I’d love to sit around and talk about what an angel I am and how I lead a Pinterest-perfect life, I just can’t do it.

In this day of social media and unending image-crafting, it can feel shameful to lead a life that is anything other than the standard white-picket-fence-shiny-happy-people American Dream. 

Sometimes I’m not happy.  Sometimes I think mean things about people.  Sometimes I really want to talk about staying up until the sun comes up dancing in my friend’s living room.

Sometimes those seem like things I shouldn’t write about. 

This inevitably leads to long dry spells in my writing.  I’ll have things on my mind that I want to talk about but I’ll be too afraid of offending someone or looking like a fool that I just end up not posting anything.

A few months ago I tore down the wall between my personal life and my professional life. 

On August 16th I celebrated my eighth anniversary at my company.  As I neared that milestone, I realized that I’d been working tirelessly in all of that time to keep my work life and my personal life separate.  It was probably the right decision for the first few years.  I was just 21 when I started and although I had a drive to prove myself professionally, I was still making the kinds of decisions that 21-year olds make.

But as time went on I settled down a bit and became more comfortable in my skin.  There came a point where keeping the division felt like being unfair to myself as a person.

Since tearing down that wall I’ve had to constantly fight with self-censorship.  The whole reason I did it was to become a more-whole human being.  If I keep trying to edit my life, it defeats the purpose entirely.

I’m still working at it – just as I am with my writing.  Some things I want to write about are still uncomfortable but I have to ask myself “Is this something someone else might find useful?” If the answer is yes, I have to put my comfort aside and realize that bravery and creation go hand-in-hand.

I’d imagine I’m not the only person who feels this way – let me know if you’re the same.  What do you do to keep your voice genuine without feeling uncomfortable sharing?

Love and things,

Annie Jay

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

True Love: How a Turkey and Parsnips Made Me Cry

Every year at Thanksgiving, my company gives each employee a turkey for the holiday.

The past several years, I’ve donated my turkey to my mother for our family Thanksgiving.  But last year I decided that I wanted to host a dinner for my closest friends.  I picked a weekend halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas and set out to make the menu.

For weeks, I perused cooking websites and asked family and coworkers for recipes. My friends all signed on to bring dishes to share.  Then I finally put together my menu.  I’d be preparing the turkey, dressing, several side dishes and appetizers. 

In the weeks leading up to the event, I must have asked my mom “How long do you roast the stuffing?” at least fifty times - among so many other questions.  Even though I kept waiting for her to tell me to back off, she was always supportive – she wanted my first “grown-up” dinner party to go well almost as much as I did.

The day before the event, it was finally time for me to cook the turkey.

I will be the first person to say that I’m willfully ignorant when it comes to many of the details of food processing.  I buy individual, nicely trimmed chicken breasts and pre-cut roasts from the meat counter at the grocer’s.  I’ve seen my mother prepare turkeys in the past – had listened to her tell me many times about thoroughly washing the bird and what parts needed to be removed - but I’d never actually handled one before in my life.

Turkeys are slippery. 

And wobbly.  

How the hell was I supposed to rinse the thing?  And what is with that weird flap of skin?  Am I supposed to pluck the random feathers that are still on it?  The neck has bones in it?!? Two openings?  And ok, Martha Stewart said to tie the legs together and tuck them - OH GOD! DID I JUST BREAK ITS LEG?

I stopped a few (dozen) times.

I’d cleaned my kitchen immaculately before beginning the process of preparing the turkey.  You could eat pudding out of the garbage can and mashed potatoes off the floor – before I unleashed the turkey.  But after just ten minutes it looked like a band of deranged interior designers had taken over and declared that Salmonella was the perfect accent color to compliment my polished concrete floors.

But after just a little more gentle coaxing the struggle ended.  The turkey was cooked, carved and ready for the next day’s festivities.  I re-disinfected my entire home and the day of the event finally arrived. 

I like to put a lot of work into hosting events for my guests.  I want people to feel welcome and, most importantly, I want them to have fun.  So the morning and afternoon before the dinner party, I had more work to do. 

That was how I found myself, just couple of hours before the event, getting weepy while cutting parsnips.

It had been stressful preparing the meal and cleaning my home.  But I was filled with excitement.  And for such a stupid thing – it was just a meal!

But I thought of my mother and my aunts and grandmothers and how they did this year after year, holiday after holiday. 

And I finally understood. 

Because yes, it was just a meal but more than that, it was a way to celebrate the people I love. 

It was an attempt to give back to them something that was tangible and in some way showed them that they were worth it all.  I had toiled away cleaning, wrestling dead birds, and murdering parsnips in order to give them something special.

Most of us are still putting the pieces together to figure out what this whole adulthood thing means.  Most of us are still living in less-than amazing homes or working less-than amazing jobs.  Most of us still think a good night out is one in which we don’t drunkenly lose our cellphones or end up with any broken bones. 

Humor often replaces sincerity and genuine emotion is hidden in favor of aloofness and bravado.

But the reality is that we are lucky. I am so. damn. lucky.

My friends and I often talk about how we’re a family.  We’re blessed in that most of us have families ourselves, many of them close by, and most of us love our families very much.  But the family of friends that you build as you step into adulthood is the one who sees you in your most vulnerable moments.  They see you as you try a new experience for the first time and are there to laugh it off with you when it doesn’t work out or hold you up when it threatens to drag you down.  They are the ones who celebrate you and push you to be better.


Not everyone has that.  Not everyone has someone they can turn to at a moment’s notice for a ride to work.  Not everyone has someone who will come over and make them breakfast because they woke up on the cloudy side of the rainbow.  Not everyone has someone who will forgive them when they’ve been a real jerk.

So as I finished cutting my parsnips I reflected on what it meant to work to provide people you love with something special, something out of the ordinary.  I smiled as I felt the warmth of love in my heart and laughed at myself for getting weepy over vegetables and turkey. 

I say this without any exaggeration - Every time I am with my friends is my favorite day.  It doesn’t even matter what we do.  When we’re together, I’m surrounded by love. 

They are the loves of my life.

Strange and pasty as they may be.

What do you and your friends do to celebrate your lives together? 

Do you find it challenging to share genuine feelings amongst your friends?

Much Love,
Annie Jay

PS - This was the first part in my new blog series, True Love, about how love manifests in the world around us. 

 I'd really like to expand the conversation.  

Shout at me via email at, via Twitter @TheGrowUpPlan, or comment right here on this blog.  I'm down for questions, suggestions of topics you'd like to see covered and most of all - your own stories about how you've found yourself in the presence of love.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

True Love: Introducing a New Blog Series

I’ve been thinking about love for the last few months.

I know you’re sitting there thinking “Oh my god! I’ve been waiting for someone to talk about this topic!”  I know, it’s cutting edge stuff.

But here’s the deal; the world kind of… sucks – sometimes.

(No, I could not choose which punctuation to use there, thankyouverymuch)

And most of the time we don’t have the energy to deal with all the sucky parts so we turn off all our feeling parts and instead turn to distractions that take us out of the present and throw us into a nice numb world where nothing feels bad.  Nothing feels all that good, but that’s alright if it also gets rid of the bad.

In the World of Feelings, we have to deal with the fact that some of those things feel rough around the edges, or prickly, or stabby, or tear-my-heart-out-stab-it-with-an-arrow-and-throw-it-into-the-lava-pits-of-Mordor-y. 

But I think a lot of us forget that by turning off the Sucky, you turn off all the things that feel smoother than silk on your skin.  You turn off all the things that taste like devil’s-food cupcakes with raspberry filling and cream cheese frosting being served to you by Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon-Levitt wearing perfectly tailored suits and - *ahem* …where was I?

Sometimes, when you’ve spent so much time in the Land of the Sucky – or in No-Feelings Land – it’s hard to trust the Good Feelings when they come along.  You fear that if you trust them, they’ll just disappear again and it’s just so much easier to keep on being numb instead.  So you don’t invite the Good Feelings to your dinner table and instead, you just keep on keepin’ on. 

Wake up.  Drink coffee.  Go to work.  Come home.  Make dinner.  Zone out.  Go to sleep.  Repeat.

Meh. It’s not bad.

But –

HOLY FUCKING SHIT ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? You’ve got one life to live, Puddin’ Cup.  If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re somewhere in your 20’s or 30’s so even if you only live until you’re 70-years old, that’s a solid 40-50 years left of this bullshit.  Is “Meh” really all you want your life to be?

I’m not saying that you have to go out and start jumping out of airplanes or stealing submarines. (But seriously, who wants to go steal a submarine with me?)  It’s totally ok to lead a perfectly normal life – but just remember to experience your life.  It’s important to let yourself feel the good feelings, just as much as it’s important to feel the bad feelings.

So starting today, I’m beginning a new blog series.

I don’t know how often I’ll post, or how many I’ll post but posts there will be. Posts posts posts.

I often find that it’s easiest to reflect on the bad things in my life, so for the purposes of this blog series, I’m going to be focusing on good things – specifically – love.

Because when you get right down to it, love is pretty much everything

I won't just talk about romantic love.  I’ll tell you stories of times when I witnessed love manifest in a new couple and in a long-existent one.  I’ll tell you about times when I saw love pushed to the limit and times when it came easy.  I’ll tell you about times where love was weird and times when love was so sugary sweet you’ll need a root canal by the time you’re done reading.

And sometimes I'll just talk about this pile of kittens.
Love is more than just what happens with you and your significant other - it's realizing that someone is going to be ok when they haven't been for such a long time.  It's realizing you can look in the mirror and be happy with the face looking back at you.  It's the teeniest tiniest moments that stick with you through the decades.

It's called the True Love series.

Hopefully by sharing stories of the various manifestations of love I’ve witnessed it will help you to recognize similar times in your own life. 

If you have anything that you’d like to add to the conversation, just shoot me an email at thegrowupplan@yahoo.comEmail me your own stories, questions, or anything that you feel would be worth talking about here.  You can also join in the conversation in the comments down below.

I’ll be posting the first story in the morning.  Stay tuned!

Hugs and Kisses,

Annie Jay

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Clean Slate and Putting Up With Less Than You Deserve

This kitten has absolutely nothing to do with this blog.
He's just here to be adorable.  Good job, Wulfie.
(For those of you who’ve been reading my blog for some time, you’ll notice that some things are missing… like the last two years’ worth of blogs.  Sometimes you just want a clean slate, ya know?)

It’s Saturday.

I woke up at 7am with the knowledge that I had a ton of stuff to get done before a birthday party I’m going to this afternoon. 

Naturally, this means I have been finding every excuse I can to procrastinate doing what actually needs done.

Thus the revised blog.

As you know (or don’t know, if this is your first time here), I’m writing a book.  I came to terms with the idea about three or four months ago and set myself a target deadline for having it written.

I will have my book written by May.

But as it turns out, writing a book is more than just merely thinking up random situations and hijinks to throw your characters into.  It seems that writing a book, especially a sci-fi space-travel book, means creating not just a world, but an entire universe.  And I don’t’ know about the rest of you, but if God created the heavens and the earth in only seven days, he must’ve been mainlining coffee-laced crack-cocaine to get the job done so quickly.

How will the physics of this world work? Are the planets that my hero visits inhabited by human settlers, or different humanoid-ish species, or something in between? Does everything I write only seem to be derivative of one of the hundreds of sci-fi/fantasy stories I’ve heard before or am I straight up plagiarizing my favorites? Do I need to worry about the fact that at this point in all of my characters seem to be speaking with the same voice – namely, my voice?

And most of all, it’s no wonder that I find the character and place names in Dune to be so laborious to read. (Tlielaxu, indeed.  WTF, Frank Herbert?)  How does a person create differentiated and memorable names for alien lands and species when one only has the mildest understanding of how our modern Earth languages are formed?  At times it feels like I should just free fall into the English alphabet and pull out letters at random in order to name places.  They can’t all be called New Iowa, right?

Needless to say, although I’m over 100 pages into my writing, I’ve decided to start over.  Relax; I’m saving what was written so I can use it again in the future.  I just need to get to know my universe better before I can send my hero on an epic quest to save it.

But still, I have four and a half months to get at least a shitty first draft of my book written.  I think I can handle that.

In other news –

It’s surprising what a difference sleeping on a level surface can make in a person’s life.  (How’s that for segues?)

Over a year ago, when I was still living at the Barpartment, I realized that one of the casters attached to my bed frame was bent.  After ten-years of drunken sleepovers and countless hamster-piles, I guess the sonovabitch decided it needed a reprieve.  It was only slightly bent, so using the carpeting in my bedroom at the Barpartment I was able to keep the caster held in place and I didn’t think of it again until moving into my current apartment.

My bedroom now has polished concrete floors,which means that not only was there nothing to aide with holding the bent caster in place but my bed was also extremely prone to rolling around in the middle of the night.  It was not uncommon for me to awaken to my alarm and find that my bed had rolled three feet from the nightstand the alarm sat upon.  This motion surely helped in worsening the bend in the caster, but hindsight is hindsight.

Shortly after moving into my apartment last April, I began to wake up every day with a sore back, barely able to move.  By July, my morning routine would include vain attempts at stretching, shedding tears as I shampooed my hair, and eventually popping a couple Aleve to get me through the day. 

“My body is aging before its time,” I emphatically told myself with the depressing clarity that comes only when one is sure that they have reached the end of their lifecycle.

(*ahem*…You may or may not know that I often like to ignore the rational part of my brain that tells me when I’m overreacting about things.  This was definitely one of those times.  Just like when I was five-years old and screamed and cried as a chipmunk tried to befriend me.)

It took until October for me to figure out that what was really happening was that I had been sleeping on an incline.  Apparently facing my imminent demise was more exciting than taking a moment to follow the logical thought process from “Hmm, I wonder if I should investigate what’s causing this problem?” to “Oh, duh. My feet are a good four inches lower than my head each night.  I bet my spine hates that.”

No, I lived for six months considering how I would tell my parents that they would soon be caring for their invalid daughter.  Some part of me even spent the time rejoicing at how much writing I’d get done when luxuries like walking and sitting were no longer an option for me.  It was all very romantic, in that depressingly pitiful sort of way.

Until one day when I snapped out of whatever stupor I was in and realized that there is a hell of a lot more life left in these rattling old bones.  I could put up with my situation, or find a way out of it.  Luckily, the remedy was as simple as removing my bed frame and moving the fuck on with my life. 

The whole debacle has made me aware of how easy it can be to accept what seems to be the worst-case scenario (I’m dying) instead of looking for a simple solution (take the frame off the damn bed) to improve everything.

So why the hell did I feel the need to share this sad little tale with you all? 

Well, I think a lot of us tend to put up with shittiness like this from time to time without considering the ways that we can improve our situation.  In my case, it probably had a lot to do with fear. 

If I always kept the “maybe my bed’s just fucked up” thought in the very back of my mind, I could ignore the possibility that maybe I had a back issue I needed to deal with.  Because if I fixed the problem with my bed frame and the back problems persisted, I had a much scarier process of figuring out what was actually wrong with my body to face.  That thought alone was scary enough to keep me sleeping on a slant for six months.

Taking such a simple action required little actual physical effort (although, do try removing a bed frame while balancing a queen-size box spring and mattress on your back and then tell me how easy it was for you) but I had to cross some mental hurdles to get myself there. 

What shittiness are you putting up with out of fear?  Maybe it’s as simple as removing a bed frame.  But maybe it’s something more.  Either way, fear is never the reason to put up with less than what you deserve.

And in case you’re wondering – you deserve awesomeness.

Much Love,
Annie Jay

PS – I find it really creepy that as soon as I got done writing this post I went on Facebook and saw a link to this TED-Talk in my newsfeed.  I guess the NSA really is watching what I do online.  At least they’re being helpful about it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This is Halloween!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Yeeear!

I love Halloween.  I hate to ever pick favorites and, you know, Christmas/NYE are pretty awesome, but seriously dudes – Halloween!!

There’s magic in the air on Halloween.

You can dress as someone completely different and embrace an aspect of yourself that you keep hidden the other 358 days a year (because Halloween is a week-long celebration, obviously). 

I actually lost a friend once because she ragged so hard on Halloween (we made up eventually and now we’re friends again).  I’m not pointing that out to say “Don’t you dare criticize Halloween in front of me”.  I’m pointing it out to say “Don’t you dare criticize Halloween in front of me unless you want to get stabbed in the kidneys and in the face.”  I don’t take Halloween haters lightly.  You’ve been warned.

*ahem* Sorry about that.  I’m a little too murder for my own good some times. *Back to the post*

Since I love Halloween so much, I usually go all out on my costumes. 

This year, I planned to be a phoenix.  Like Dumbledore’s bird, Fawkes, not Jean Grey’s alter-ego.

At the beginning of October, I went on Amazon and purchased roughly $70 worth of ostrich feathers in black, red and orange.  I went to the fabric store and bought more feathers and eight yards of organza and sequined fabric in varying fiery hues.  I made a pretty skirt out of some of the fabric:

The edge of which still needs to be hemmed...

The intent was to make the rest of the costume out of the same fabric and then put feathers everywhere, paint my face to look fiery and have wild hair.

Then I tried sewing the feathers.

Then I said Fuck. That.

Sewing feathers is super hard, time-consuming, and just all around awful.

So I returned everything I could (which was everything other than the fabric I’d already cut up) and last Monday I began to panic about what my Halloween costume would be.

For work, my department is dressing up like the characters from Clue.  It was my idea because even though I don’t know if other people think of it that way, I always feel like Clue is a great Halloween movie.  I’m going as Mrs. White.

I thought I had the appropriate black tube dress in my closet but when I went to put it on, I realized 1.) It was way too short for work and 2.) I looked like a stuffed sausage when I was wearing it.  So once again, I was up a creek without a paddle.

Luckily, the crafting gods were smiling on me and within one of my many boxes of crafting and sewing supplies (I like making things, don’t judge me) I found roughly four yards of a beautiful black fabric that I’ve had around for over a year and had forgotten about entirely. 

I immediately set about making myself a simple tube dress in the most complicated way possible.  Since I didn’t have a zipper on hand I thought, “Eh, I’ll just get creative with buttons and hook-and-eye closures.”  Yeah, that didn’t work out well.  By Friday night at 7:30, I was at my wit’s end so I decided I had to set it aside, resolving to work on it this week instead when I wasn’t in such a rush.

That’s when I dug out my box of Halloween costumes and found my Mother Nature costume from five years ago.  I also had some lovely green fabric I’d been intending to use for throw pillows but decided to turn into a quick cape instead.  By Friday night at 10:00 I had a fun costume – and it was good!

Saturday, I spent the day cleaning and decorating my apartment for the Halloween party I had that night.  Around 5, I went over to Natalia’s and she did my makeup, which turned out amazingly!

The Halloween party went off well and I don’t think I pissed off my neighbors too much. 

I think it’s safe to say a good time was had by all.

I barely remember taking this picture of me and Quail Man
Now I just need to finish my costume for our work contest tomorrow!  I haven’t touched it since Friday. Luckily I work best under pressure ;-p

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

An Apartment Tour and a Startling (to me) Announcement

I’ve been increasingly hermity lately.  But unlike the past when times like this came from a pretty negative place (depression, social anxiety, general hate-the-worldiness) I’m thinking this time it’s more for positive reasons. 

1 – I really love my apartment.  It’s beautiful and makes me feel grown-up and I can do whatever the fuck I want there.  And I don’t have to wear pants.  Or shirts.  Or anything.  And it’s pretty darn awesome. All of the entertainment I want is readily available to me.  I have my books, my writing, my paints, my Netflix, my apt’s gym, my keyboard… and on and on.

And oh - hey, I never took you on a tour of my apartment.  Please see the below pictures. I took these a few months ago on my crappy cellphone that takes crappy pictures and that I can rarely hold steady.  My bedroom and bathroom are still rather boring looking so they're not pictured here.

Someday the keyboard will get a proper chair.

Backless bookshelf born out of "Oh shit, the bookshelf got
broken in the move!" and my brother's ingenuity.

The fun things on the windowsills get rearranged every time the windows
are opened. They look nothing like this anymore.

The scary wood thingie on the wall that Mom and Dad keep suggesting I
cover up.  Dad suggests an American Flag.  Jokingly... I hope.

Couch courtesy of Grandma and Granpa's old house.

Sadly, those stools still don't have cushions on them.

Clearly, this place is not lit for photography.
So yes, that's my little hodge-podge home :-)  Now, back to the post - 

2 – I feel like the things I do at home are better for my personal growth than the things I do outside of my home.  I go out, I have some laughs, I have copious amounts of alcohol, I make questionable choices and I… that’s about it.  But if I stay in, I have some laughs, I learn some things, I edge closer to being the person I want to be.

3 – I’m using my money more effectively.  AKA – I’m paying my bills and buying decent food instead of putting off my bills, feeling like I’m drowning in debt and eating takeout all the time.  I’m living more frugally and it feels freaking fantastic.

Now, I’m not saying I never leave my house except to go to work.  But Sunday-Thursday, you’re most likely to catch me at home than anywhere else.  Friday and Saturday I do try to get out of the house to socialize with my friends, but I’m also trying to make these events more likely to be events where I’ll meet someone new instead of just visiting the same old dive-bars we went to when we were 21. 

Because, really, I’m tired of the same old same old, and if that’s the alternative I’d much rather stay at home where I feel like I’m doing things that cause me to grow, than sitting around having the same conversations in the same tired places. 

Maybe I’m just becoming an old fuddy-duddy?  


In other, sort of unrelated, news, I’m still writing my story. 

It’s weird.  This is the first time I’ve put this much thought into anything I’ve ever written.  I’m planning the storyline, creating the world (because it’s very Sci-fi/Fantasy), and trying to create believable but highly differentiated characters.

And so here’s the part where I decide I’m going to stop saying “I’m writing my story” and just finally admit (to myself as much as anything) that -

I’m writing a book.

Well great jumping jackalopes, that’s a little scary to look at.

But the fact of the matter is, the storyline that’s developed in my head is so incredibly massive it seems unfair to continue to just refer to it as “my story” as if it’s some kind of trifle.  Ever since I was 10 years old and began writing for fun, I’ve been writing “my stories”.

But this thing, it has taken on a life of its own and to call it anything less than a book feels like I’m insulting its integrity.  So it is, with great fear, anxiety, pretense and many vomity feelings, that I’m going to start saying –

I’m writing a book.

*Whew* Well, now that that’s out there in the universe…

I’m not going to share much of the plot because it still feels a little silly.  When you’re a rational adult, trying to explain a story about space travel and magical abilities is very blush-and-giggle-inducing.  So far I’ve only talked to my family and Han about the actual plotline and the physics of the world I’m creating.  Han’s gotten a chance to read the first ten pages and has helped me over a couple of the hurdles I was initially facing.

But here are a couple of questions you can all help me with:
  • Do you prefer to know a character’s back-story all at once at the beginning or in little pieces throughout?
  • What are some tired plot devices or character types that you never want to see in another book?

I’d love some input :-)

Much love,
Annie Jay