Hello again

It has been quite awhile since I last posted here. I can’t say that I have much to report. This is my first day off in seven days so I’ve just been recharging. This week has been very draining. Paul has been sick and I’ve been trying to keep up with my committment to the gym. As a result, I haven’t had much spare time!

The gym thing has been going better. I used to be so good about going to the gym but that habit died off and then when I resumed it was more of a chore, not something I wanted to do. I joined Gold’s Gym back in October and once again, started trying to go more often but it still wasn’t very much fun and for the slightest of excuses, I would avoid going. However, I signed up for the 12-week challenge and invested in a course of personal training sessions. In the last few weeks, my attitude about exercise has been changing and I’m feeling more compelled to go exercise instead of finding reasons not to. I don’t know if I am losing weight or inches or any of that stuff but I do know that I am getting stronger and as a result, a lot of aches and pains are diminishing. I’ve still got a ways to go but I find that very encouraging. I don’t think I would be achieving as much if I didn’t have a personal trainer. Weight training has always been a mystery to me and I’ve relied on using a series of machines to exercise certain muscles. My trainer has been isolating a lot of areas of weakness and as a result, the improvements I’ve been making have been considerable. If you are considering getting a personal trainer, my advice is to go for it!

Apart from that, I’ve been busy doing my taxes. They were kind of complicated this year and I did them via H&R Block. I wasn’t able to efile thanks to the kajillion forms I had to fill out. Hopefully they will be ok. I managed to glitch up the system a bit and spent some time talking to customer support to make sure everything was ok. I figure that if there are any problems, at least I’ve filed ahead of time so there is time before the deadline if the IRS gets back to me! Next year, they should be much more straightforward, which is a very good thing! I can also recommend H&R. When I started having problems, their customer service was awesome.

I’m trying to get back into making jewelry. I’ve signed up for an online video course but this poor little netbook can’t hack the whole multi-media thing. I’ve been thinking about upgrading and that finally moved me to action. I got a great deal on a Sony VAIO and it should arrive this coming week. I’m also planning to get back into playing around with graphic design. I have this cool illustration tablet that I haven’t been able to use because the netbook is not really suited to that either. I’ve never used one and I’m really looking forward to learning more about that.

I guess that is about it for me. Thanks for reading!

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A wild Danni blog post appears!

Procastination: +5

Creativity= -3

Burnout= +99999999999

This whole coming up with original and interesting things to write about while maintaining a full time job is not going so well. Unfortunately, I have a lot of committments on my time and when I do get some free time, I’m so burnt out, I sit there like a lump, watching old episodes of Buffy or Angel. It isn’t good, I know but that is just the way things have been going lately.

I even had a few weeks away when I went home for Christmas. Sadly the first week I had to work remotely so I ended up with one week where I really got to relax, and once again, the concept of writing a blog seemed like to0 much effort for my foggy brain. I know, it is weaksauce really.

So what has been happening since I last posted? Well my contract got extended to March which is good news. As I said a moment ago, I went home to see my family. Paul and I flew from Austin to Billings, MT where my parents met up with us. From there we drove on to Williston, ND and we also spent a few days with my grandparents in Baker, MT. It was really, really nice to see everyone. A lot of my family  I hadn’t seen in TWO YEARS which is totally mind-boggling to me. I can’t believe I went that long without seeing them. I hadn’t seen my dad in over a year and the person I had seen most recently was my mom, who came down at the end of May when we moved to Austin. I’m hoping it won’t be so long before I can see everyone again.

I’ve read a few books although my reading has decreased since I spend my entire days proofreading magazines. One of the most recent books that I read was by Michelle Evans, my stepmother-in-law and it was totally amazing. Whether you live in the US or the UK, you can order Am I Me? from amazon.co.uk. Considering how much time I spend reading about yachts, horses and trains (amongst many, many other things but there are an enormous number of magazines on those particular subjects), it was a real pleasure to read something so insightful and well-constructed.  I’m in total awe of Michelle for creating it.

Paul has suggested that perhaps I should write and share about some of the random and often bizarre facts that I learn from magazines. That seems like a good idea to me so I’ll go through the notebook I have at work in which I write down some of the more intriguing things that I run across. I will try and write here again a little more frequently. So far, I haven’t been doing so well with that.

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Long time, no write

Sorry, sorry sorry! I haven’t written here in such a long time. I do have a good excuse though. I got a job just over three weeks ago and I have been kept very busy by it. I’m working as a proofreader which involves reading hundreds of pages of text every day so my appetite for writing anything has been seriously diminished. However, today I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop drinking a gingerbread latte and I’m finally getting used to my new and insane schedule.

My job is an eight week contract at  LibreDigital. I am proofreading magazine text for them, mainly checking for formatting errors. It is interesting work and suits me since I love reading anyway. I’m getting faster now which is good. I’m hoping I get another contract after the Christmas break is over. My current contract ends on the 16th of December and I’m heading to North Dakota via Billings, Montana on the 17th of December. I am really looking forward to seeing my family. Apart from my mom, I haven’t seen anyone else in over a year and in most cases almost two years. I was so happy to discover we would be able to go up for two weeks. I did not anticipate getting so much time but I certainly appreciate it.

Apart from that, my birthday was almost two weeks ago. I worked but had a really nice evening out with my husband, Paul at The Melting Pot. I got some great presents, including a new point-and-shoot camera from Paul. I’ve been pining for the Lumix LX-5 for ages. I’ve had a few chances to try it out and so far, I really like it. I need to read the manual so I can better understand how to change settings and stuff like that. It’s great to have a camera that I can keep in my handbag. I am forever seeing nice things to take pictures of and the SLR is kind of big to lug around everywhere. I’m hoping to go to the German Market in Fredericksburg in a few weeks and taking both cameras. That way, both Paul and I can take pictures to our hearts content!

I worked last weekend so it has been very nice having this one off. They need proofreaders  7 days a week so I trade off with my colleagues working weekends. During this 8 week contract, I’ve got two weekends to work. I try and get in as many weekday chores as I can when that happens. I get Thursday and Friday off on those weeks. Anyway, this weekend I have enjoyed catching up on sleep. I went to a bead store yesterday evening while Paul spent a couple of hours at his office. Then we used a Groupon I bought a little while ago at a restaurant called ‘Texas French Bread’. They are all about using seasonal and locally-sourced products and their menu changes constantly as a result. We both had mussels in a fennel and Pernod sauce and shared a big bowl of fries. We shared a slice of coconut cake with meringue frosting for dessert. Everything was delicious and I would definitely recommend this place to anyone!

Well, I think that is it for me. Hopefully I’ll be back a little sooner this time!

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“Your best investment is in yourself”

The other day, Paul and I decided to head over to Chick-Fil-A for dinner because I was in a funk and didn’t feel much like cooking. I accidentally parked in the wrong parking lot, which belonged to Panda Express. Although we could easily have walked over to Chick-Fil-A, we decided to go to Panda Express instead since neither of us had ever been to one. The food looked yummy so we decided to give it a try. It kind of reminded me of the chinese places in The Stables in Camden, where there are loads of different dishes out and the attendant lets you try them if you like (Although in Camden, the people behind the counters have samples ready and call out to anyone passing by to try them).

Anyway, we had a few fortune cookies with our meal and the above title was the message in mine. Now, I’m not sure that this statement is always true but right now, for me, it is. I have a lot of free time right now and I find myself often wondering what to do with it. Then I end up doing fairly unconstructive things like playing Plants vs Zombies or a variety of Facebook apps (Hello Cityville) for ages. Not good. Then I find myself feeling depressed and blah because at the end of each day, I feel so dissatisfied with how much time I’ve been wasting. This week I finally gave myself a kick up the butt to do things that are more likely to benefit me. I’ve started going to the gym on our apartment complex more often. I’m writing stuff and reviewing work from my writers’ group. I baked cookies for a friend and Paul’s workmates the other day. I read books and analyze their structure to understand how to improve my own writing. I run errands so that Paul and I don’t spend our time together on the evenings and weekends doing all that boring stuff. In short, this week has shown a much improved outlook for me and the time I spent actively working to improve me has made a big difference. Now I just need to keep it up!

The funny thing about investing in yourself is that it gives you the appetite to do more. Hey I’ve been exercising; Maybe I should go visit all the job boards and apply for at least one job! Hey I’ve written the short story for my writing group and got it in on time; Maybe I should catch up on my jewelry design newsletters! I really do not know why I stop doing all those things. I feel worse and worse, the more I avoid doing constructive things. This week, I am facing the weekend feeling more optimistic about everything. When you invest in yourself, you know exactly how it pays off and sometimes, it leads to a bigger return than you expected.

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A recent creative writing exercise

As I’ve mentioned before, I recently joined a creative writing group here in Round Rock, Texas. So far it has been a great experience and I’ve been doing a lot more writing since I started attending the group. The book we use, Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer, has been a really useful tool. Most recently, I completed an exercise about perspective. I was tasked to write something using different perspectives for each paragraph (I changed that to using different perspectives for each section since I used dialogue in the story and it seemed kind of weird to abruptly change perspective after someone said something!)

The first section is in 3rd person close. The second section is in 1st person. The third section is in 3rd person omniscient and the last section is in 3rd person close again but from a different character than the first section.

If you are interested in reading my exercise, please click below to continue…

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Writing day

I spent a good chunk of my day today at Starco attempting to get caught up on my writing.

I seem to have so many priorities pulling me in so many directions lately and my writing time is definitely suffering as a result. I’ve been on a real reading kick which has taken up a lot of time. I’m trying to really pay attention to the different ways that people write dialogue and how authors keep up the momentum in their stories when their 20,000, 30,000, 50,000 words in and so on. You may be wondering why I would do such a thing. Well, I have my new creative writing group to blame/thank for that!

For my first writing exercise, I had to complete an exercise from a book called Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. It was supposed to be 2-3 pages of writing. Well guess what? I started writing and this character suddenly became very clear to me and I could not write fast enough to get her down on the page. I ended up writing about 8 pages and having to select excerpts from my writing for the exercise. Then we had a work-in-progress meeting this weekend and I’ve been receiving more feedback on the first 10 pages (double-spaced). So far, this has been a great experience and I’m determined to write the rest of this story. I’m really excited about it so far but now it is time to get some more words on the page!

Apart from that, life is going well. Paul and I had a really fun weekend and met some neat new people. We’ve played a variety of card games (Dominion Intrigue, The Resistance and Munchkin Color). We went out to a local mini-golf course/arcade on Saturday night and played the course. Paul and I also played a Star Trek shoot-em-up and I played an old favorite- skee-ball.

This week seems to be whizzing past. I’m trying to figure out what we will do this weekend. It’s nice to have at least one fun activity to do and I’m not short of opportunities to do fun stuff around here. Next weekend we are going to see the Round Rock Express play. There’s even going to be fireworks! I got the offer via Groupon and I just couldn’t resist. Especially since they are playing the… Albuquerque Isotopes!

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No time to write

Sorry, it has been a little while. I’d hoped to post a little more regularly than this but life has been a little bit crazy lately.

First of all, I joined a creative writing group so I’ve been focussed on getting my first exercise for that done. It spawned a bit project so I have been writing like mad, just not here.

Secondly, all our stuff from the UK showed up Friday night. Our apartment went from pristine minimalism to a cardboard jungle. I’ve been working non-stop to put things away. We bought a chest of drawers from Ikea and spent most of the afternoon and evening assembling it. We didn’t finish it so I did that while Paul was at work today. I then spent the rest of the day putting more things away. We had about 30 boxes and we are down to 4 now so progress has been made! The bedroom is great but the living room is still looking kind of rough. It’ll be better when I get rid of all the paper and garbage bags that we have been using. I’ve got all the boxes on the patio right now and those will have to go too.

I’ve been looking at doing some freelance work too. I’ve applied for a few things on odesk but I think I’m kind of expensive for a lot of the employers there. There are lots of writing jobs where it’s $1-$2 per 300 word article and you have to do the research on every article. I just don’t know how I could make that work. I will keep looking I guess.

Maybe I should just start buying lottery tickets huh? I think the jackpot is over $200 million or something like that. that would be nice. ;-)

(don’t worry; I’m just being silly)

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