Saying Hello (Changes)

Where do I begin? In the last week I have attended an out-of-state convention and started a new job. Anxiety? Yes. In buckets. I’ve learned that even positive changes disrupt my mojo and make me feel off kilter. But GOOD THINGS!  Random Parks and Rec gifs because it is my go-to show in the time of political and personal turmoil.

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I recently finished an audiobook I only entertained because I had no others, and it was the deal of the day. It was called Suggestable You and, for the most part, went over some obvious psychology ideas. What I DID appreciate, however, was that it really hammers in that we create our own reality. We decide how we’re going to feel, how we’re going to respond, and what kind of life we’re going to have, ultimately. I have been working a lot on self-improvement, as touched on in the last blog. I realize I dwell on a lot of things and have been working on using my energy wisely and not letting negativity steer. It was a lot of work at first, but honestly,as I’ve done it more and more it’s been easier and easier to do as it’s rewarding in itself. I still get anxiety but I actively work to override the worst edges of it.

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And drinking. Oh drinking… Since I claimed to give it up, I’ve slipped twice, but while I still miss it I can tell you life has been 100% simpler without my favorite bandaid. I want to add that several people came up to me and discussed this with me at Norwescon and offered support and that is just so, so amazingly generous. Also a little frightening – I tell myself no one reads this.

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Which brings me to Miscon – What a fantastic convention. Small but it’s bigger on the inside. I had the fortune of making the 8+ hour drive with friends. This is where Suggestable You comes in. Midway there I realized I had a pretty serious case of food poisoning. I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate my travel mates and their patience as we made several stops. Ew. Right? But once there I didn’t let this ruin the trip for me. Nor did I let a rather rude encounter with a guest of honor upset me. Too much.. I had a chill and wonderful time, made some dynamic new friends as well as spent some quality time with tried and true friends. It would have been all too easy to sulk in my motel room and let the sickness sour everything. I powered through Friday and Saturday and it did get infinitely easier.

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Missoula, Montana has the lovely small town feel I grew up with in Oregon. The people are sweet and conversational. It is HOT as Hades and the local ice creamery is all the sweeter for it. I enjoyed this on the last day as my stomach was still pretty angry Fri-Sunday. This may have helped the not drinking, but this was my first completely sober con. I had food poisoning, and nerves anticipating starting my new job Tuesday, but all of the social/nervous energy was manageable because I wasn’t trying to drown them.

I kept stressing the idea of starting a new job and having no idea how it was going to go. In the “managing energy” department, I kept refocusing on the immediate convention, and on friends, and sure enough, any stressing was for not. The job is amazing and everyone there easy going.

Since leaving my job of over three years at the tail end of 2016, it has been a struggle. I knew I wanted to get out of logistics and into a more traditional office setting. I know I like working with data and don’t necessarily like extroverted quest lines. My new assignment places me in the heart of Bellevue, in a big, beautiful building, and behind an updated computer and a sit-to-stand desk. My officemates are lovely, progressive people for the most part, and my job allows me to listen to audiobooks while I solve problems. Achievement unlocked. I am so content here. It is everything I’ve been looking for. The caveat is that I am still on a trial basis and will not know for a while if they will take me on permanently. I do know that I work hard and am a diligent worker bee.

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But as far as the craziness the last few years have entailed – staying here permanently would resolve a major life piece that’s been out of whack for ages. I don’t know about you, but as a single mom, I find steady, low-key employment to be an asset. This will also be my first summer in four years I will be fully present for as I will not have what was called “peak season” over the whole sunny season. I won’t miss that.

Next month I turn 31. 30, and 29 too, have undoubtedly been the most upside down years in my existence. There have been extreme highs. Extreme lows. Just…craziness. I am focusing on the positive. I am a person that likes routine in the day to day life, with adventures on weekends and delicious foods and familiar company. I am grateful for all the messes the last year has brought because I have learned, if not all my flaws, a damn good deal of them. I’ve opened the messy closet of my soul and starting getting shit organized. Yes, every time I move one thing it makes a mess somewhere else, but it feels so good to be working on it. Kids aren’t that stressful. Yeah, I said it. We have a routine. We have our day to day with some amount of predictably. I have a new job I would love nothing more than to keep. I’m alcohol-free. I’m working in the whole foods, though life is too short to not enjoy –some- pizza. I’ve been working out regularly and it does wonders for stress. I’m taking accountability. I’m finding the bugs. I’m working them out.

And I love every damn one of you for what you’ve done to help along the way.

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Saying Goodbye

I love routine, and sometimes even things that are bad for us are hard to let go of.

This past week I’ve spent a lot of time mentally combing through my past. More specifically, at decade-old memories. When I was nineteen years old I took a course and became a certified nurse’s aide (CNA). I had been taking general courses through Olympic college with the idea of becoming a nurse. I became a CNA to see what it was like, in the field, before pegging myself to this specific line of work. I was a single mom, with one baby son, and nursing paid well, was always in demand, and offered flexible scheduling.

I would spend three months working in the long-term care wing of a state-run nursing home. I worked with people that knew this was their last home. I listened while helping them bathe, dress, and walk to their appointments. They talked about their families, their memories, their hobbies. But what stuck to my memories, like rust to metal, were their regrets. They wished they had worked less. They wished they had traveled more. Wished they had made more time for family and friends. The wishes were long and often painful. There were few truly happy people there, though I should add this was a state-run facility and many people that were there had no other options and no family that could take them. It was purgatory, and their words stick with me to this day, but not so much as their expressions do.

It hit me, hard, and while I was engaged at the time I broke it off and I changed my major back to English. I wanted to pursue what was important to me. I wanted to make decisions that would lead to a happy life even if they meant things were uncomfortable at the time. I would make decisions that didn’t turn out so well, but I risked it. I didn’t want to let opportunities pass.

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I have gotten better at noting red-flags, though while my second marriage failed, I am still happier for it than I would have been otherwise. My children are the best of me. They are the world and there are worlds within them.

But what now? I spent the whole last week considering the last decade. How much time I spent dwelling on the negative. How often I let my thoughts drive me – my emotions, too. What did I write in the last decade? Writing is so important to me, what have I accomplished? I can show you in less than 10 pages how much I’ve written in the last decade. Time is a gift – an expensive commodity- and in my last decade I did a lot of good things, but I also missed opportunities to grow. And this is when a little reflection leads to a rude redirection.

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I quit drinking. It was a crutch- some kind of response to social anxiety, some melancholy, or stress in general. But I look back at the last decade and see many, many things that might have gone better if I hadn’t been drinking. Or may not have occurred at all. I know too much now to continue drinking, as the initial band aid it offers soon gives way to crippling depression and anxiety. If I look at years 20-30 and the negatives that could be attributed to alcohol consumption, and I take out the alcohol consumption, then 31-40 should be better. I broke some things that cannot be repaired, though, and that regret will linger.

I don’t know that depression and anxiety can be reduced so much in the next decade but I know there are steps to managing them. Not letting them run the circus. I’ve been working hard lately on redirecting thoughts when I start to dwell or overthink in certain areas. I make lists of what I CAN do, and I do my best. I had spent so much time in the previous decade stressing things when often nothing happened. All that mental energy, all that time in a negative space, achieved nothing. I vaguely remember a quote to the effect of “You never kill your demons, you only keep them on a leash.” I have no doubt I’ll always have lows and bursts of anxiety but I don’t have to let them dictate.

Self-care. That whole idea. Eating right and exercising. Who knew giving your body better tools made it perform better? I’ve been through months before of eating a whole-foods diet and exercising regularly and I KNOW it helps a ton, so why not go back to it? Life is short, I’ll still sometimes cherish a cupcake, but I can, as a rule, do things I know will help keep things in balance.

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Discipline means writing more, and spending more time in general on extended goals. Namely, getting a draft done this year for my novel, as well as continuing to work on short stories to throw at places. Family time means being more present and appreciating my kids even when I want to sink into the couch after a long day at work. My eleven-year-old is a consistent reminder of how fast time goes. When he was small, when it was just me and him for 6 years, I always thought I’d get my shit together. Almost 6 years later I’m still struggling. We’re working on that.

I had meant to move before he reached junior high. Renton was never supposed to be it. But making what I make, and the school district being decent, compared, it looks like the fam is staying put. While there is some melancholy in there, I am relieved at having the decision made. It wasn’t a simple one.

The TL;DR version: I’m not entirely proud of the last decade. I wasted a lot of time and opportunities. That noted, I intend to do better in the following decade. Positivity being the key term. Discipline being the second. There are chances I lost out on. Sometimes there are no second chances. Only lessons. And should I see a different opportunity, I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

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Friends and Fellowship

I am updating from my phone, of all things, because my laptop is busted. While a new one is on the list, with my recent job changes, it isn’t a priority in the budget. And while I should be writing, it’s hard to stress it because…

Everything has been great.

After the stress of my last job, and the relative “chill” that is now, I’m focussing on the positive more than ever. I have been doing a lot of reflection and working on myself as a person, fully aware that I am flawed. One of the bigger issues I have has been always paying more attention to the negative. And that should be a crime! Life is so short. And I am a lucky, lucky person. I can’t imagine wasting so much time on the negative when I have so many things to be excited about.

I have an amazing tribe filled with some of the most talented, most funny, most intelligent, most beautiful and most loving souls around.  Who am I to ignore that? Why can’t I realize that as much as I realize all the things that are wrong? I have four beautiful, healthy children that inspire me daily. Their wonder and optimism alone should be enough. I have opportunities. The list goes on.

Yeah, I’m on a bit of a high. No drugs, no alcohol. Just came back from Rainforest Writers Retreat where I spent the weekend submerged in a snowy haven with interesting people, good books, and -some- writing on my part. Went to a reading yesterday where it was a flash of the same thing, but it was also exciting to share in someone’s success. Plus cake. Decadent cake. Light-as-air cake. But…Mostly the writer success stuff. My new job is ten times more chill than my last. I was a ball of stress and at the end of my rope all summer. I won’t have to do that again. And I can’t believe my people put up with me, those that did. I don’t blame others for bailing, either.


I don’t want to be one of those people that has to lose something to fully appreciate it. And I don’t want to be the constant victim that wants so desperately to be miserable. I have choices. And more than that, I am fortunate beyond belief to have those that I have, and while I have them, I’m going to focus on the positive 🙂

Emerson’s 5 Plum Pie (Pushing Daisies)

It has been 5 days, 3 hours, and 22 minutes since my last pie was made.

If you ever want to watch the sweetest, most clever little show that involves pie-making, a tall, awkward and handsome man, and a girl named Chuck, you have to see Pushing Daisies. But I will warn you in a way I was never warned – there are only 2 seasons. In a show that rivals Firefly for most significant numbers of people wanting a resurrection, this show ended before it could take off.

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Ned the Piemaker and a Girl Named Chuck

As a writer, the premise is witty, charming, and endless. Ned is a piemaker that can wake the dead for 60 seconds or someone else “in proximity” dies permanently (but the rez’d person lives). As soon as he touches the dead again, they are dead forever. So naturally, in the first episode, he resurrects his first love – a girl named Chuck. But he can never touch her again, or she will die forever. Emerson is a cynical private detective that uses Ned’s ability to solve murders and gain rewards. Olive is Ned’s salty waitress at The Pie Hole. The whole show has a beautiful, 50’s style aesthetic without the social issues that time period was privy to.

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Olive has needs.

A tall, dorky man that bakes? Yes, I loved Ned immediately. But the show also made me curious with all the pies they were constantly making. For her aunts, Chuck makes a pear pie with a Gruyere crust. I have tried this, though the cheese is lost on me, my inability to smell and all. Emerson often orders a plum pie and I FINALLY am making that as it is one I have not yet made. You ever realize a lot of pies start with the letter P? Pecan, pumpkin, peach, pear, pineapple, and plum… I know I’m forgetting something.

Here is the recipe – Again, I love Allrecipes as the comments and reviews often allow for tweaking of even the best and most solid recipes. This one includes their crust, but I used my own tried and true flaky crust. A struesel topping means only needing one pie crust, and throwing a bunch of stuff on the top. I have to admit, I love it, especially on the last berry pie I made.

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While I wish this show had more seasons, they did try to wrap it up at the end, at least. But I always wanted to know – What happened with Ned and Chuck!? Sure, it was super sweet – They kissed with plastic wrap between them, as he couldn’t physically touch her again. And while the show is fairly PG he made references to..prosthetics, but seriously? The love of your life and you can’t touch, skin to skin? WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? My love for this show feels an awful lot like a relationship where it’s all magical and sparks and upwards movement and then one day you’re sitting by yourself, staring at a blank space, going “What happened?” But let’s not get TOO real here 😉

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Emerson keeps it real.

This is my rainy day, “the world sucks” show. So naturally I’m rewatching it lately. It’s so optimistic. It’s romantic. It believes in the best in everybody. It’s purely fiction. You so desperately want to be Chuck but realize you’re Olive, left out, drooling over someone that has their googly eyes on someone else. We all want to be someone else. The older I get, the more I realize, as cliche as it sounds, and as messed up as I am – I like being me.

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Pie! Oh the pie – Let’s go back there. I made this pie. It’s the first plum pie I’ve ever made, but really, any fruit pie is the same process. I do think my favorite is still the honeyed pear pie, but moods dictate a lot. When I’m up in the air I LOVE going to the Pie Bar in Ballard and trying a pie that sounds good for the moment and a delicious mixed drink to pair with it. Which makes me think of Valentines day and how unlike so many previously I may actually have a date with a handsome stranger. But there are no GIFs for that 😉 Going to keep those for my lil’ brain.

Really shouldn’t drink wine and blog. But look at this! The kids loved it. But I dare say their bar is fairly low for all things that include fruit and -some- added sugar.

Going to go curl up with some delicious red wine and some plum pie. It’s getting insane out there, fam. Take care of yourselves. Love your neighbor. Don’t be a dick. We’ll all get through this together ❤

Dating: Still Weird (An Update)

Dating is still weird.

Since the last post a few things have happened.

First – YES! I made it to the Twin Peaks diner with some amazing girlfriends. Another little life rule I live by goes along with “When In Rome”. But in my case it is more “eat things you haven’t tried before if it’s a regular thing there.” This included crickets on a date last year (crunchy) and at the Twin Peaks diner (Twedes café) a friend let me try a peanut butter burger. As I can’t smell, I can say it was enjoyable. I definitely preferred my avocado bacon burger ❤ After the diner we went to see Snoqualmie falls. It was beautiful, as could be expected.

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Twedes Diner with some damn fine ladies

Second – After swearing off OkCupid dates, I received a text from a 4th person I had forgotten about. It was on a Friday where I usually wouldn’t be able to go out, but had arranged for a sitter so that I could visit Rustycon. One of my favorite conventions.  Having little hope on it going well, I told him to meet me at the bar there, thinking he’d take off at some point and I’d continue to do my con thing. He even said he had to pick up friends at the airport at a specific time, so I knew I’d be free sooner than later.

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Goofing off at a Rustycon party with another writer

Side rant – Apparently this time barrier is a THING. And it pisses me off greatly. One, I don’t like being misled, and two, if we make plans, and we agree to end at a certain time, and I have other plans after, I am expecting to keep those plans. On date number 2 (referenced in last blog) I had explained that I had some free time Saturday but was meeting a girl friend to see a band play by 8. So we agreed drinks only, to get in a face to face, and then he had a party to go to as well. Well, he kept saying his party was delayed, and then said he could make the concert with me. I felt rude, and I hate feeling rude, but I explained to him as nicely as I could that I had just expected to meet my friend and have a girls night as that was what we had planned on before.

This happened at Rustycon with #4 as well. He had a time he had to pick up someone by. We’d have time for a face to face, and I was sold on fun convention things after without the weirdness that is new people. Well, DATING new people. I love meeting new people that don’t expect too much of me personally. So we’re at the bar, and various wonderful friends come up. Everybody loves this guy. He’s not bad looking, he’s tall, he’s funny, he’s smart. Sure, I get that. I keep asking if he needs to go because it’s past that time. He says their flight has been delayed.

Sure, I get that that happens. That makes more sense than a PARTY being delayed, but we had a plan. We had a PLAN dammit and now this is 50% of my recent dates that have gone into time I had planned for something else.

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But that’s the rant – that’s the thing. It was explained to me by my translator of manly things and he assured me that their wanting to stay was GOOD because it meant they wanted to. My problem with that was we’re just meeting, and you’ve said you had this thing, and then you’re changing what the plan was. If a date is great, sure, I’d love to meet them again. But I prioritize current friends and current plans. Apparently this deal involves people making pre-excuses to get out by a certain time if it doesn’t go well enough but if they want it to continue they say their plans changed. No, newbie, I’m not cancelling my plans because you made yours up. Open to staying on a date all night? Plan for that. Tell them you have to go if it’s not going well. Don’t fabricate plans and then impede someone else’s. I don’t understand any of that.

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Side rant acknowledged – I had been ready to give up dating. My heart wasn’t in it. It was still in the shop from the last accident. This guy came to the con, wow’d everyone. I agreed to go on a second date with him. This is where the devil’s bargaining just goes nuts, and I’m a classic overthinker. I wasn’t sold on this guy, but figured I was convincing myself not to continue for the wrong reasons. So we went out again.

It went ok. It really did. We had a lot in common, it was enjoyable, but after the second date, I just wasn’t interested in continuing. That Tuesday I texted him a nicely put-together “Sorry, I had a good time, but I’m just not ready to date right now.” I left out SO many things I could have referenced as to the previous date. What did I get back? I barrage of insults as well as numerous guilt trips about how he had done blah-blah-blah and…it was kind of scary. I was glad he had no idea where I worked, where I lived, etc. It went from manic to depressing. He insulted my body, my life style, various other things, just because I said that I did not want to go out again.

That was Tuesday.

After I never responded, Friday I got a text asking if I wanted to go out. I didn’t respond to that either.

That was last week. This Friday? Today? Another message asking if I’m free tonight.

What. The. Hell. This is why I like to get to know people gradually. This is why people need to listen to their gut and not override it. And this is why numbers get blocked.

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That said – There is happiness to be found. But that’s for me 😉

In case you haven’t figured out my new binge-worthy, croon-worthy show – I’m catching up on Stargate: SG1. Daniel Jackson is DAMNel Jackson. That nerd is totally going to get me through the 9 seasons I have left!!

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Familiar face from Twin Peaks on SG: SG1

Serious Side Note: The other week I participated in the Womens March in Seattle. It was spectacular. So much love. So much acceptance. Everyone was looking out for each other and every supported each other. Why didn’t I blog about THAT instead of my stupid rage against online dating? Because others have summarized it better. I don’t see the point in making a blog post that vaguely covers the generics of something but doesn’t really hit anything definitively when others have done such a better job at covering the event. Seattle was just one location – Millions of people, men, women, and children, marched all over the world. There is much to be done, and sometimes you have to do more than share a post. I intend to do more, and more and more as needed.

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Dating is Weird

Dating is weird.

The internet just makes it all the stranger. Sure there are benefits – Ability to target certain types and demographics. Certain lifestyles. But I have trouble with the logistics of it all. Looking online, you have no idea if you have chemistry with these people. If there’s a “spark”. Add to that the fact that when you meet, there is added pressure and ideas of what may or may not go along with a date that keeps organic connection hard to recognize. Maybe others don’t experience this, but I know my anxieties make a lot of noise in my head. Are they attractive? Maybe. Are we conversing alright? Sure. But I don’t know this person, and for me, it takes a –long- time to feel comfortable around people. Experience has reinforced this as well. When you meet someone in real life first, you at least get some kind of sense of who they are before there’s this expectation.

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I definitely feel more comfortable at home on the weekends when my kids are at their dads. Binge-watching a new (or old) show. Lately I’ve been watching Twin Peaks – I was told I HAD to see it after an in-depth discussion of Stranger Things brought out the fact I was not familiar with David Lynch. Season 2 is on now as I haphazardly type this. Point is, I was made for long-term relationships. Someone I know and trust, where we can still have adventures, but the key moments are in comfort, at home, with a glass of wine and a little bit of intimacy. But in my situation, you have to go out to do that. To meet people. To…date.

OkCupid lures you in with “stats” though I’ve often found the percentages do not necessarily coordinate with romance. Getting along sure. As friends, sure. But I have yet to find even a trace of a spark through various attempts of the years to use the site.

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I’ve had quite a few experiences dating (via OkCupid) and my best date was mildly pleasant at best. The worst? Well… That could be a whole other blog. This last weekend I went on three dates. A lot, yes, but I have very little kid-free time, and like trying on clothes, well, I knew many don’t work out J My kid-free weekends are always a toss-up in that I can socialize, stay home and catch up on writing, cleaning…So many things. Dates frustrate me (or did this weekend) because I just don’t feel “the thing” and then I feel guilty if I know I’m never going to see the person again. If they’re just looking for friends, sure, but a lot of times..That pressure is evident. There’s an unsaid expectation. The first date I went on was horrendously awkward as it had this in spades. I ended up in my car, upset, and wondering why I went out at all.

The second date was the opposite. I will add it is fun to have someone to try new places. Places I might never have gone to otherwise. This date was pleasant enough. But for its lack of awkward expectation, there was nothing exciting either. The third date we had some great conversations, but ultimately, at the end of the night, if I had to weigh them against a night of comfort in my sweats and a book, the book would win.

I guess my long, convoluted point is that the internet doesn’t really work for me to meet people. I know for a fact it works for many. But I went many years without finding my tribe. Finding the writing community has lead me to better, deeper relationships from the get-go than most I had before. There’s an overall general understanding – of being introverted, of loving stories, of loving to learn.

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It’s also a bit soon, for me anyway. Other stuff. Life. I am starting a new job this week. There are many transitions going on and a lot of stressors still boiling. Not a rolling boil, as they were this summer, but simmering still. I am content to wait for a bit. While it sounds funny to say because I love staying in, I want to WANT to go out. If that makes sense. I want to feel the twitters in my stomach, a flush in my cheeks. When I date again I want to be excited about it. Yes, there will always be a gluttonous little demon on my shoulder telling me to stay home with some wine and a book, knowing that is –always- enjoyable. But I’ll make it out one day. I do like to meet people organically. I like feeling the connection, whether it is as friends or there lingers a hint of something more.

Yes. After two failed marriages, I’m still a sap. An idiotic romantic. But I’m also very happy with my life as is. My kids take up a lot of my time. My friends get my free time. I want that long-term romance one day. And I know one day I’ll have it. But I’m not chasing it on the internet anymore. I still believe in the universe. In crazy random happenstances. I believe everything happens for a reason, after everything.

I believe in a thing called love.

I am going to take the things I like from dates, and sprinkle those things all over people I do enjoy spending time with. Friends and family. I love going out. Having tasty crafted cocktails with delicious baked goods. I love Sunday markets. I LOVE petting all the cute and cuddly looking dogs people take to Sunday markets.  I love coffee and discussions about tabletop games and bad art.

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And after I finish season 2 of Twin Peaks I’m going to find this diner and have some cherry pie.

The “New Year” Blog

2016 was a bit off for everybody, to put it mildly.

For me, personally, I started off the year in the hospital with blood poisoning and infected kidneys. I was  six months pregnant. I was on so many drugs I vaguely remember a nurse saying “happy new years” in a darkened room. I had a skin cancer scare the resulted in minor surgery and, in its defense, the friendliest form of skin cancer you can get. That was 7 or 8 months pregnant. I had another hospital visit when my blood pressure went so high they thought about inducing me early, but luckily didn’t. I had a baby in March (not at Norwescon, as many had hoped would happen) with a man I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with. I went back to work after three weeks and just in time for peak season and a building a move. In the middle of peak season I was moved into a position I barely knew after someone rage quit and I was the next closest to knowing it while I didn’t know half. That whole season was a blur between the stress and a new baby and life stuff in general.

I fell in love. And had my heart broken. No fault here – we were simply in very different places in life. But there was a noted rise and fall on the chart here for 2016. I learned a lot, and still consider them a friend, and one of my favorite people.  Just…life. You know?

A major player that cannot be ignored here is self-responsibility. While some of my poorer decisions happened in 2015, it was a great example for future endeavors. And you know what? I still believe everything happens for a reason. The work stress prompted me to take another look at education and classes that would lead to something better for me. The relationship, compared to previous, was definitely a step in the right direction but prompted personal growth. The constant, constant stress I was exposed to, from high-risk pregnancy to work, taught me that I really don’t handle stress well, and that taking action in the future and making better decisions can prevent a lot of that. In the end, I write my own story. And in 2016 I earned a ton of experience points. Some of the lessons were a bit obvious, and I don’t see getting much XP for those, like don’t have a baby with an asshole. In my defense, he put on a good act when we were dating.

But I’ve already gone more negative than I’d like. Don’t even get me started on politics. I think we all can guess what we have to look forward to. But you know what??? Nothing like the idea of nuclear war to promote the “live each day like it’s your last” mentality.

Love your people. Be generous. Be kind. Don’t make time for assholes. Don’t let anyone drag you down. If there was one major thing I learned this year, it is that I alone am responsible for what happens in my life and my happiness. Others can be jerks, no doubt, but I have to CHOOSE to let them affect me.

In 2017 I have so much to look forward to. And I have so much work to do. I have a number of conventions I’m excited about, and a work-in-progress I am SUPPOSED to be working on. There are a ton of good books I have yet to read, and author friends coming out with books this year I haven’t seen yet.

2016 had its moments – In the middle of all the stress I made amazing new friends and a new minion. My kids remain fantastic and teach me something new daily. I started to cut back on animal products. Started eating better. Funny enough, also baked a ton of pies and brownies and cookies and other delicious goods. I attended Rustycon, Norwescon (I remember half of it, maybe, I was on a lot of medication for the blood pressure) Westercon, Randycon, and my favorite Cascade. Let of a con and more of a workshop, but a lot of familiar faces. Not bad for being as busy as I was.  I submitted a handful of short stories, which were all rejected, but it is something J I went “camping” in La Push with friends, and stayed in a cabin near Rainier.

This next year will have more friends, familiar and new. More adventures. I want to go to Canada. And out camping, for real, in a tent by the ocean. I want to visit peeps in Portland and eat ice cream and hit a brewery. I’m going to finish a damn first draft. I’ll go to Cascade again. I’ll add more cons. I’ll attend favorite cons. I’ll drink wine with my favorite people. I’ll find even more fantastic places to eat, though I have a favorite sushi place and waffle place now, and that’s something. I’ll do even more things with my family. It’s going to be a good year.

2016 had a lot of firsts. I got into tabletop games. Given my kid schedule though, I don’t get to play as often as I may like. But I am definitely making time for it when I can.  I went on a first date with someone I met from the internet. It went better than I’d anticipated. Though I still retain some skepticism. I started Doctor Who. Still need to catch up. I was on some panels at a con and tried to act like I knew what I was doing. I commissioned art from a kickass artist friend. I had an editor interested in my work. I submitted my first short story and earned my first rejection.

It’s hard to throw 2016 in the garbage all together. I love a lot of people. I had some great experiences. There are a lot of parts I wouldn’t change, even knowing how they’d end. I may be consciously naïve, but dammit – Everything happens for a reason.

I choose the good. I choose to do better. I choose to develop my relationships with my kickass tribe even further, and to add to it with the caution I’ve earned from past mistakes. I choose to bake goods when it makes me happy. To write. To be vulnerable. To put myself out there. From everything I’ve learned this last year, bad things will happen. But it’s what we choose that determines the outcome.

And now… Pictures from this year that make me smile. Not in chronological order, at all.

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Second hospital visit – High blood pressure. Gibbitt comes and visits, sneaks me out to cafe. Brings me pudding. We love Gibbitt. Thanks for busting me out.

 

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Rustycon, in my top 2 favorite cons, at a place that servers breakfast (favorite), with some of my favorite people. Rustycon is in 2 weeks!

15871317_1815480895359412_1154033152_nFinn babe. You were a lot of work. I love you ❤ Even while you’re currently crawling on me like a cat and making typing difficult.

 

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In August 75% of my minions age up. This year we celebrated at Alki Beach.  Their second time there. It’s a lovely place.

15871195_1815480935359408_152306842_nThe girls went on their first airplane ride with their dad to visit family. Siri looks so grown here 😦 I missed them, and the couple weeks was the longest I’ve been without them, but I had a new baby, and if there was going to be a more decent time to go, I had my hands full.

15841514_1815481305359371_1979742548_nI went out to dozens of beautiful places when my kids were at their dads – Things to pass the time. Times to socialize. There was sushi, waffles, pizza, drinks and one of my favs – the Pie Bar in Ballard. This was a berry pie and a strawberry margarita. I highly recommend. I look forward to new places in 2017 with new people, and familiar faces. Dating is awkward. Dating is even more awkward as a single mom and a super dork. Food helps!!

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Noah man and lead minion explores journalism in his school at the end of last year (2016, 4th grade). Think he wrote more than I did!

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Pumpkin patch with family friends. There were goats, and swings, and slides, and pumpkins, and tons and tons of mud.

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Pax starts kindergarten.

 

15822273_1815481335359368_1928856551_n“Hole in the wall” at Rialto beach.

 

15822480_1815481075359394_2075958223_nGirls playing on Alki beach on a super hot day in August.

15841042_1815480948692740_645404755_nWilliam feeds baby Finn, dubbed by friends as “Finn Loki Skywalker”.

15822450_1815481062026062_676204336_nLovely faces in my critique group at Cascade Writers workshop in July (Tacoma).

15822115_1815481055359396_1622227716_nOne of many bbqs at a friends place. Summer is the best.

 

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Halloween with my loves. It was a long and stressful year, and these babes put up with me. And I love them even more for it ❤

And I’ll leave on the minion army – I’m lucky to have them. This next year will bring even more wonder ❤ 15870583_1815481328692702_23882478_n

Honest Pie (Apple, in this case)

I am going to share my links first, because I HATE having to scroll through a person’s life story just to get a to a recipe –

I followed this apple pie recipe, and the second link is my GO TO flaky crust recipe, though mine is modified now (for reasons listed below).

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/12682/apple-pie-by-grandma-ople/

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/24094/butter-flaky-pie-crust/

While the pie crust recipe is gold on it’s own, a knowledgeable friend taught me to cut the water with vodka (it cooks out) and for personal reasons, I no longer use butter in my recipes. I personally love allrecipes.com because they allow for reviews, and even the best recipes have rated comments where someone tells you what they did differently. I cannot smell. I rely a lot on what other people say works for them.

But to disclaim on the vodka and the butter…

I no longer drink. Which is a simple personal note of sorts. I at first advocated that drinking helped me get past my social anxieties when it instead magnified my anxiety and depression. So I cut it out. Simple as that. But for temptation reasons (I have the self restraint of a toddler) I no longer keep alcohol in the house. So while vodka does wonders for a flaky pie crust, I no longer use it – but it’s a fantastic tool.

I also TRY to not use animal products. This is a phasing out period where I am sure to slip at times, but I realized lately that I know far too much about the practices used to render animal products to use them. I do not judge others for what they do – that is their business. I can only speak for what I do. And while in the past I have LOVED my animal products (bacon, cheese…any kind of meat, really, and eggs, the list goes on…) I am choosing to no longer partake in them.

What does this mean for pie crust? You didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway!

Recently at a gathering of sorts I experimented with gluten-free, dairy-free pie. What better time to experiment than when you’re with a large group of people in which you do not know half of them??? I don’t make good decisions, and if you do not know this about me, you will soon find out. I was told they turned out ok, but I am always suspicious of overly nice people. The point was to make a non-discriminatory pie, and that objective was achieved.

I’ll tell you that I LOVE this coconut spread and re: the last 3 pies I’ve made, I’ll swear by it (in place of butter). Now, nothing spreads like butter, but if you’re going to swear off animal products, this is the way to go –

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Behind it is my trusty hand-processor. I’ve dreamed about an electric food processor, but as far as inexpensive things go, the hand processor does the trick. When making pie crust you want to use a mechanical device because your hands will warm the butter (or butter substitute) and you want it to stay cold to make the crust flaky. If you replace half the water with vodka, it also cooks out, leaving for flaky, delicious crust.

Where I made the gluten-free crust, at the wonderful gathering of people I did not wish to disappoint, I learned that while Bobs Mill makes a wonderful gluten-free pie crust powder, it does not spread….Especially when combined with non-butter. You kind of patch it together in the pan. But everyone can eat it without dying. And that’s always a plus for me, when people don’t die eating my pies. So yay. This pie I made tonight, the crust spread fine with the coconut spread and the gluten-saturated flour, so that was cool. I just like knowing how to officially do both.

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Apple pie is a classic. And for good reason. It’s delicious. The “ople” version listed above entails simmering a sugary mess to pour over it, which in this case, lead to the “caramelizing” on top. Caramelizing is a euphemism for “it looks like I fucking burned it” but I’m told it is a good thing. By overly nice people. Can’t trust em 🙂

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How did it turn out? We shall see. Between you and me, I can’t smell and think a lot of things are fine. My kids will put up fights for the weirdest stuff but devour pies. So I can safely say it is officially a pie and it will disappear tomorrow as they’re all in bed already, but I got some stress baking out of the way, and it helped.

My next blog will cover the last year, and I just might have a drink for that, though I’ve sworn it off, because….2016, right? 2016 was a year filled with firsts for me, and half of them were great.

Random Movie Trivia: If you have not seen the movie Waitress GO WATCH THE MOVIE WAITRESS. Keri Russell. Nathan Fillion. PIES. And in a vein of dark news, the director (a woman, pictured in the featured photo, on the right) played a waitress in the movie, and her daughter was an extra at the end. She was murdered tragically in a random incident of violence before the movie made it into Sundance. See the movie for many, many reasons, including the fact that it’s great, but also see it because she wrote it and directed it.

PS: I need an apron

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