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Thursday, April 6, 2017

One Last Bite Before I DIe

I am stealing this intro and the idea for it directly from my cousin Carol's blog post, as I am in this story-writing club, and I think posting it to our blogs (the few of us who have them) is a great idea, and hey, a week off of writing a new post for me! Check out Carol's blog here!

I wrote this because there I was at my cousin Sara's baby shower last month and Cindy, another cousin, said, "My grandmother was allergic to caffeine so she couldn't eat much chocolate. She loved chocolate. When I was little she made me promise that if I could catch her as she was dying, I should put some put some chocolate to her lips. She said ‘I just want one last bite before I die.’"

Carol cracked, "A Bite Before I Die? Great title!"

About 7 of us decided to write an essay with that title, no particular length or subject restrictions.  Our stories were as diverse as we are, and we couldn't wait to see who wrote what. In the end, we had poetry, silly stories like mine, real life essays, and more. It was a really fun exercise!

We gave ourselves a two week deadline and this is what I came up with.

A piece of my soul dies every time Barry brings up the future, because I know I have to end it. He has started talking about it more and more lately, as if he really thinks we’ll get married and have kids and a dog and that white picket fence.

I can really pick them. Let me tell you, I have quite the colorful dating history. I seem to attract the crazy ones, and I have no idea why. Maybe it’s my love of reading thrillers? The fact that I hate pickles? Maybe they can sense my love of reality TV and each guy takes it as a deeply personal challenge to make me aware that real life is way crazier than anything you see on TV?

The last guy I dated was Ozzie. He and I dated for a few months, it wasn’t super serious on my part, but I liked him. He was always dressed well, and he owns a nightclub. Ozzie really seemed to have it all together, and we got along well, but there wasn’t really a spark.

Until he was arrested and indicted on organized crime charges! Turned out he was completely embroiled in the crime world, and I had no idea! I guess a tuxedo can hide a guy’s true nature for a little while. Yeah, that’s the kind of guy I attract.

One I dated had family issues. Oliver was great at first, attentive and interesting. He’s a rich kid, but I didn’t hold that against him. He has overcome some really tough obstacles, and is really smart, and seemed to really like to just hang around and talk. His ex was always around, though, and I don’t think of myself as jealous, but he said he had to save her a lot.

Oliver’s dad died a few years ago, and he said that everything he did was to make him proud. He never talked about his mom, though, and he would literally be at his sister’s beck and call. I don’t know what he was helping her with, but he always came back from helping her sweaty and covered in bruises. It was just too much, he was definitely hiding something, so I left.

Hal and I got along well, but it was just chemistry. There didn’t seem to be any depth there, and he had this way of speaking that just freaked me out sometimes. He said he was in the military, but I never saw anyone in the military with a hair like that, and he wasn’t deployed like normal, he’d be gone for a week or two and then come back wanting to see me. He also always had money but didn’t really explain where it came from other than a random family business. We just had nothing to talk about, but man I could tell you some stories about his idea of a party!

Ozzie and I have been over for about a year now. I had been single and having a great time, and I accidentally let down my guard. I met Barry at a bar. He was the most awkward person there, he barely looks old enough to drink, even though we’re the same age. But he’s funny and nerdy, and we’re both into some of the same stuff. He seemed like the whole package!

So I said yes when he asked me out. What could it hurt? Except in some ways, Barry is just like the others. He disappears sometimes with no explanation, he comes back bruised or cut. He has this awesome job working with the police, but he barely talks about work. He volunteers at a science center, which is really neat, but he said I’m not allowed to come. Even though I have a biology degree! He also seems oddly fixated on his adopted sister. I think she’s his sister? He doesn’t talk about his family that much.

Barry is still talking about why he likes corgis, and I’m kind of just staring at my food. This place is amazing, Il Forno. It’s the best Italian food in town, and my penne alla vodka is perfect. Every bite feels like I’m inching my way to heart attack, that’s how good this place is.

“Hey babe, I’ll be right back.”

There he goes again. Basically he’s gone for what only feels like a minute, but I swear he’s off running a race or something.

“Jeez! Why are you so sweaty? And you have dirt on your head. Where were you just now?”

“Dirt? Oh, ha, must be from wrestling that art thief! Ha, where do you even get this stuff? I was in the bathroom!”

See? Another lie. I know dirt when I see it, and he’s wearing a different shirt! As if I wouldn’t notice that he’d changed? I know it makes no sense, he was gone for maybe two minutes, but there we are.

And now I have to break up with him. I hate this part. He’s so great in so many ways, but there’s always something. Maybe it’s just me, and I focus too much on the negatives? My sister says I self-sabotage my relationships by finding one thing and blowing it out of proportion. Could she be right? Sometimes I wish I was gay. I met a great new girl the other day, Natasha and I are already becoming fast friends, and she has a lethal wit.

Ah, well. One last bite before I die a little, again. The penne is still perfect, and as I swallow, I start with, “Hey, Barry, we need to talk.”

“Hold that thought, babe, I’ll be back in a flash.”

P.S. ...have you ever wondered what it's like for a normal girl to date superheroes?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Working From Home: Me Myself, & I.

I work from home full time, which is a pretty recent thing (3 weeks!). I am LOVING life and my job, and this is the first time in my adult life that I am excited to go to work every day and that I make my own schedule.

The positives far outweigh the negatives in my new lifestyle. I can travel more (and have!), as I can work from anywhere with wifi (like a New Orleans cafe, or my sister's house). I can make my own hours (all of them), I can stay in my PJs and not shower that day (it happens). I can take on new clients, or not. I can choose the type of work that I'm doing. I am my own boss.

But there are certainly a few small drawbacks. It's easy to oversleep. It's easy to slack off when no one is watching. It's easy to keep working well past business hours. It's easy to get distracted. It's easy to eat poorly.

I thought I was going to finally have time to go to the gym again. When I was working full time and also building this business, I was working every evening until bedtime and all weekend long. It was a constant grind, and I loved it, but I was busy every waking moment. Previously, I'd gone to the gym 3-4 days per week!

Now, I am finding it all too easy to snack all day, much more than ever before, and then get caught up and busy and suddenly, Husband is home from work, I wrap up my day, and then I want to hang out with him, not leave and go to the gym. When I have time between calls during the day, I'm not going to the gym, I'm writing, organizing, working, marketing, etc.

So, I've gained about 10 pounds, which I'm feeling bad and insecure about. But again, I love what I'm doing and that is my own fault.

I do spend more time with my cat, less time with people, and have found it all too easy to stay home for several days at a time. It's actually an issue, because I don't have a ton of friends in NY, and I am getting isolated.

To address this, my plan is to try to get out of the house and:

  • Take walks
  • Go with my neighbor and her kids to the park once a week
  • Find somewhere to volunteer
  • Try to get back to the gym
  • Pop into the city now and then. 
Last Friday, I took the afternoon off and went into the city to meet up with my old boss and some friends for lunch and then drinks, and it was great! I felt like my old self, but better.

Being an entrepreneur is great. I am truly happier than ever, but it can be stressful, isolating, and lonely, and I need to make sure my physical and mental health are properly addressed, not just my business. I used to love going to the gym, because it was my "me time," and now I am having "me time" all the time! Maybe that has been a stumbling block as well.

I am constantly trying to improve. I want to learn, grow, build, make money, write more, and do better every day. So when I am able to identify what I'm doing wrong, I can work on myself and do better!

I guess the advice I am trying to give myself is this: it's a lot of change, you're still figuring it out, 10 pounds isn't that big of a deal, you're working on it. Relax! You're doing great!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Poem about Working From Home

I could dye my hair teal
I could take a week off
I could go somewhere new
I could sleep until noon. 

I feel so different
Though I look just the same.
There's no outward symbol
of this liberation, this gorgeous transformation. 

Working for myself,
Somehow staying sane,
Isolated but fulfilled.
Supported and happy. 

My husband says to leave the hair alone. 
He told me to try
Wearing hats
Wearing a skirt
Leaving the house, and also
Working at Starbucks and feeling quietly superior to everyone there.

To be fair, that
Last one sounds fun. 
I want to put it out there
That I am not much of a hat person. 

Entrepreneurship is 
Not worn on your sleeve. 
And when people ask, and 
I say "I'm a writer,"
I am nervous that they think
I'm an "aspiring" writer, or
Lying, or 
An unpaid blogger, or
Somehow completely ruining 
What I do. 

I don't usually care
What people think of me. 
I am confident in myself.
Except I've worked

Worked so hard
To build my career, and
Move up and make
Decent money.

The last thing I want
Is for people to now
Assume I am sitting at
Home eating bonbons
While my husband 
Brings home the bacon. 

I do the grocery shopping
In this house, and I too
Bring home bacon. 
Though maybe a little less than him. 

I am now confronted
With my misconceptions
Of how others view me
And any preconceived notions
They have of those who
Work From Home.

Monday, March 6, 2017

End of an Era & New Beginnings

I have been working 2 jobs for the last few months. I've been working in my corporate sales job in the staffing industry during the workday, and then building and running a writing business in the evenings and weekends.

My husband has been having an unlimited amount of nag-free video game time, and I have been so busy I could barely catch my breath. We were both loving every minute.

When I decided to really try to be a writer, I told Husband that I was going to be cautiously optimistic and say that I could quit my job in 12 months.

I started on 11/1/2016, and met my arbitrary number that we agreed to in January 2017, where I could have quit altogether. Instead, I went down to part time and figured that would help me with the transition to working from home. I was wrong, it actually was very difficult and a strange dynamic to be working part time in an office and part time at home, and still having to work nights and weekends to get everything done.

So now, this week, 3/8 is my last corporate work day. My team and I will have lunch and it will be bittersweet for me. In the end, the team will move forward and succeed wildly without my help, and I will fade from their minds, to be thought of when one of my clients pop up or my name shows up in the database. I'll become "oh, she used to work here."

But instead, I'll be living my dream.

It's still bittersweet to leave. Corporate sales has been my home for about 10 years, and I have the most amazing boss, a guy who has become a close and trusted friend.

I've also recently discovered that I go stir-crazy when at home alone for too long. Time to start making work from home and neighborhood friends! I do have a friend in the neighborhood to talk to, and hang out with when she takes her adorable kids to the park, so I have a good start!

I also plan to find somewhere to volunteer for a couple hours per week. I need to find something local, and then I'll have somewhere to direct some passion and give back to my community.

I have a TON going on with my writing, including 3 new clients and tons of work. I am loving it, and I am so excited that it took me only 4 months to get to this point.

I am proud, I am scared, and I am excited.
I'm exci-terrified.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Easy & Amazing Shrimp & Grits!

Oh my god, I was in New Orleans 2 weeks ago with my best friend, and I ate shrimp and grits every single day we were there, and it was so, so good. My husband was jealous of all the delicious food I had while I was there, so for Valentine’s Day, we made shrimp and grits.
The first meal I had in NOLA: shrimp & grits! (At the Ruby Slipper). Top is my BFF's meal of egg's benedict.
We don’t make a big deal of Valentine’s Day, we generally cook together and spend the evening at home, which I love. 

I love shrimp and grits, and it’s a pretty simple and filling meal. It’s also a bit rich, which I happen to love. Buttery, creamy grits with spiced shrimp and a sauce made mainly of bacon grease. What’s not to love?

My husband's favorite thing is seafood, and he particularly loves shrimp. He even likes cooking it, since it's so fast! And he brought me flowers, so we were happy and cooking up a storm! 
Gerber daisies are my favorite, and we had them at our wedding!
I like to cook on instinct. I’ll read several recipes and then kind of make it my own by following none of them, I just need to compare recipes and see general similarities.

I used Quaker grits, but not the instant kind, but just the old fashioned grits. My grits came out very creamy and delicious, and I believe the secret to those were that I did not use water in my grits. Also, most grits use cheddar cheese, but I find that mozzarella adds to the creaminess and flavor without making them super cheesy.
Our final product!! So delicious!

-1 cup grits (also known as stone ground hominy)
-3.5 cups chicken broth
-Half cup heavy cream OR half n half
-1-1.5 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
-2-3 tablespoons butter (to taste)
-4-6 strips of bacon
-1 pound of cleaned, peeled, and de-veined shrimp
-1 clove garlic
-1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
-0.5-1 teaspoon of lemon juice
-Seasonings to taste (Salt, pepper, garlic, cajun seasoning mix, adobo)

  1. In a medium saucepan, put the chicken broth and cream on high heat, waiting until it gets to a rolling boil. Add a dash of salt to the liquid. Once that is boiling, add the grits slowly, stirring as you add. Cover it, turn heat to low, and stir every 2 minutes until the grits have absorbed the liquid. Takes 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, spray the bottom with cooking spray (I use Pam with olive oil), and cook the bacon. Once cooked, take bacon off and chop it up into bacon bits, to go on top with the shrimp.
  3. Leave the bacon grease in the pan, and add the garlic, then the raw shrimp. Season as you want. I used cajun seasoning (McCormick Perfect Pinch, Cajun is what I have), adobo seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  4. While the shrimp is cooking, add the Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice to the pan. Mix it around so that the shrimp and the spices and the bacon grease and everything is mixed up together. Taste the sauce to adjust seasonings.
  5. Once the shrimp is cooked, remove from pan. Check grits, they should be about done. Into the grits, add the shredded mozzarella cheese to your preferred level of cheesiness, once that is fully mixed, add the butter a bit at a time to get the consistency you want. Add salt, pepper and garlic (if you want), tasting as you go.
  6. Serve hot with grits on the bottom, shrimp and bacon on top, and add a couple spoonfuls of the sauce from the bottom of the pan! Enjoy!! 
I know there are several places that say 2-3 or 1-1.5, and the reason for the variations are that grits tend to be a thing that people like a certain way. As your grits thicken up, you should taste after every step. Grits can be more coarse, more smooth, more spicy, more creamy, more salty, more buttery. You want it to be the texture and taste that YOU prefer, which is why I have written the amounts this way. 

Personally, I like my grits to be rich and creamy and buttery, but not particularly cheesy, and then I like you to be able to taste the garlic and salt and pepper, so I add more as I go.

Good luck! This whole thing only took about 15 minutes to make! My husband, who rarely cooks, made the shrimp and bacon, and we both really loved this meal. Rich and comfortably spicy, with that very comforting feel of hot southern food.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Poem

I wrote a terrible poem, and since this is my blog and I can post what I want to, here we are.

Gentle yet insane.
Making yearning known
What is timing?

Best laid plans;
Holds no consciousness.

Well, there we are, then. 

Life is so interesting. I find working from home to be both awesome and isolating, so far. I feel lonely, yet I speak with multiple clients per day. I was scared I'd be unproductive without the office environment, but I think I'm getting stuff done!

Either way, I was feeling a bit weird and I wrote a poem. What can I say? I'm a word person. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

3 months from Inception to Quitting

I got my first paying client on 10/31/2016. It was a Monday, and I had messaged a few people the week before, wondering if I could get paying clients for writing. I’ve long been a writer, but I hadn’t been getting paid regularly. I had had a couple of paying clients over the years, writing resumes and cover letters, editing academic papers, simpler things like that.

When I started on this journey, I figured the only thing people would pay me for would be blogging, and to my surprise, my first few clients were for website copywriting and editing, and copy for ads.

I then moved to doing interviews and articles, before really settling into a sweet spot that is a combination of content marketing (blog posts and other content, including social media marketing) for clients, and ghostwriting and book editing.

The interesting thing is that I’ve always wanted to be a book editor. I genuinely hope I am able to continue doing this, and build a career in this editing.

Today is Friday, January 27th, 2017. It was my last full time day at my corporate job as a sales and business development professional at a staffing firm in NYC. It has been 3 months almost to the day since I started seriously pursuing writing as a career.

I have decided to stay with my corporate job part time for a month or so, to both assist with their transition, and also to help me. I've never worked from home entirely before, and I need to learn to create a new routine and organization for myself.

I've spent the last 3 months working every night and most of the weekends, and now I'm going to be able to work during the day time hours!

All the stars have aligned and it is the perfect time in my life to able to take this kind of risk. I am happier, healthier, and making more money than ever before, I am in a steady, stable relationship with a guy who is 100% supportive of this new adventure, and has sacrificed time and activities together during these last months.

I want it, and I am willing to work hard at it. I'm already working hard at it and am making money, bringing in clients, and being successful.

Here I am world, hear me roar. :)