Stuff I Learned the Hard Way – It Helps if You’re a Little Crazy

WHAT’S PLAYING: Kings of LeonSex on Fire” (Is it me, or does this song sound like the world’s scariest STD?)

A month ago, I learned that I was sick. Not “break out the black clothes and white lilies” sick. More “your life is going to suck for a while, but you’ll get through it” sick. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, so I nodded, put on my big girl panties, and moved forward.

Many of my friends commented on my positive and upbeat attitude. I tell them the secret is simple:

It helps if you’re a little crazy.

In my head, I’m invincible. No disease or injury can do me serious harm. They can only slow me down for a little while. Part of me suspects that if I lost a limb, it would grow back in a couple of weeks. No, I’m not going to try it. I’m crazy, not stupid.

Being just a wee bit out of touch with reality keeps me moving forward. All those travel plans I had to cancel – including my trip to England and, most recently, a writer’s conference in Ohio that I very much wanted to attend – in my mind, they have simply been deferred.

I will admit to being a little scared, but mostly I’m just pissed off. I don’t smoke, do drugs, or engage in unprotected sex. In fact, aside from the occasional cocktail and bone deep laziness, I’m usually very healthy. I didn’t do anything wrong, and yet I feel like my body has betrayed me.

Still, I love my life and no disease is going to stop me from living it.

To my friends and family who have been so supportive, I love you all.

Don’t count me out just yet.


Where Does the Time Go?

WHAT’S PLAYING:Florence + The MachineAddicted to Love

Work. Writing. School. Sleep. I haven’t been doing a very good job of updating this blog or responding to e-mails.


I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better.

Resolving to Make 2012 the Best Year Ever

WHAT’S PLAYING:  Joni Mitchell “Case of You

I’ve heard many people say that New Year’s resolutions are useless and counterproductive. I respectfully disagree. I think it depends on the person.

I’m a compulsive list maker. I love the little thrill I get every time I complete an item and cross it off. (If you haven’t already figured it out by now, I have control issues.)

New Year’s resolutions are more than just another list of goals to accomplish. It’s trying to bring order to my chaotic life, to home in on what’s most important. It’s cutting through all the bullshit and figuring out what I really want.

So, with that in mind, here is what I hope to accomplish in the next twelve months.

1. Read more. (I’m aiming for a book a week.)

2. Take better care of me. (This covers everything from exercising three times a week to getting at least seven hours of sleep a night.)

3. Become a better friend/daughter/sister (This one isn’t really quantifiable, but I’d be satisfied with talking to friends and family twice a month.)

4. Write every day. (This is a big one!)

5. Keep moving forward. (This one covers my mental state: appreciating what I have, maintaining a positive attitude, accepting my faults, etc.)

My list may not seem like a much, but doing these things will make me a happier, healthier person.

What about you? What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? Or do you prefer to take each year as it comes?

Either way, here’s 2012 finds you in good health and high spirits.

Writing Under the Influence

WHAT’S PLAYING: Glee Cast “Rumour Has It/Someone Like You”

My boss played a cruel trick on me yesterday morning.

Monday night, I went out with some friends to celebrate the completion of my first draft. I rarely drink, but when I do, it’s usually to excess. The liquor was flowing freely all night long, and I didn’t get home until 4 AM. Two and a half hours later, I got a call from my boss, demanding to know where I was and why I wasn’t at work.  


“What day is it?”

“It’s Wednesday,” he replied.

“I thought it was Tuesday,” I said, fumbling for my phone to check the date.

“No, it’s Wednesday. You were supposed to be here an hour ago.”

By this time, I was about ready to cry. Sure that I had lost an entire day to a drunken stupor, I started babbling and apologizing. (Give me a break. It was 6:30 in the morning, and I was still half in the bag.)

After letting me stew for a couple more minutes, my boss finally admitted that he was kidding and asked if I could work that day. I calmly explained that I wasn’t fit for duty, called him a dickhead, and slammed down the phone.

Everyone in the Chemistry Department thought it was hilarious.

I didn’t.

My job has a zero tolerance drug policy for obvious reasons, but I can have a drink every now and then as long as it’s not within five hours of having to report to work. Still, I try to keep my alcohol consumption to a minimum.

More than anything, I hate losing control. Not much in this world falls under my purview, but I can keep a tight rein on my behavior. If I’m going to screw something up, I want it to be because I screwed up. Not because I was too wasted to know what I was doing.


I know a lot of writers – some of them very successful – abuse alcohol and drugs. I know many people drink to deal with pain. Life hasn’t been exactly kind to me either, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there isn’t enough tequila on the planet to make my pain go away. Day inevitably follows night and I’m left bearing the same burden…plus a headache. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging. I just have to do what works for me, and that means keeping my head.

Many elements in writing – character arcs, pacing, prose, etc. – require precise and delicate handling. How can I control all that if I can’t even control myself?

Doubtless part of this discomfort stems from my Type A personality, but I think it’s more than that. Chemistry and writing both require a certain amount of cerebral dexterity, and without them, I wouldn’t be able to support myself. I’m not very athletic. I can’t sing or act or dance worth a damn. I’m too shy to try stand up comedy. Let’s face it, being smart is pretty much all I have going for me.

That and a dickhead for a boss.