Tag Archives: writing
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Censored!

19 May

A few years ago, I picked up this copy of Bill Buford’s Heat in a used bookstore. I’d heard good things about it and wanted to use it for research to get an idea of what it’s like to work in a restaurant kitchen.

Here’s the thing with used books: You never know what you’re going to get. I was reading away, enjoying the book, when I flipped the page to this:

Wait a sec–the black bar? What’s so bad that I shouldn’t read it?

I flipped the page and held the book up to the light. Oh, I thought. It’s “got cocky. Someone thought I shouldn’t read that.”

That made me chuckle, but as you might imagine from what I’ve heard about the back of house in restaurants, this was just the beginning of the censorship. A few fucks were crossed out, maybe some other words–the censor got really good with their blackout technique.

Then there was this choice:

 

 

 

So…..let’s cross out every time “fucking” was used, but “bastards” can stay in?

 

 

 

 

 

But the last straw was this:

 

This little passage must have gotten the censor really angry, because any word that’s part a sexual suggestion has been blacked out. Like “kissing.” Bad!

I don’t understand–if the book’s so horrid that someone was compelled to censor it, why even bother to make sure it exists anyway? Why not just recycle it back to the pulp from whence it came? I can’t imagine the couple of bucks they got for it really was worth the effort of all of this fine handiwork.

And if it was, this book certainly landed in the wrong hands, because I don’t give a fuck about they think.

 

Postcard from 29,000′

13 Jan

gold-status-expiring

Near the end of 2016, I started to get this email, which, as a frequent flier, sent me into a bit of a panic. See, I’d had Gold status on American for four years, and I rather liked it. Oh, I know what some of you might say–Gold doesn’t have a ton of perks and you can get most of those with a credit card that only has a $95/year annual fee–but why should I pay that if I’m doing the travel anyway? And if I’m traveling at least 25,000 miles a year, getting a free checked bag, early boarding, better seats and the possibility of upgrades is pretty nice (and I can usually snag an upgrade on a shuttle flight to or from Boston, which is sweet).

Extending my status wasn’t supposed to be a problem this year, but due to some family circumstances, I had to drop out of officiating a roller derby tournament in Vancouver–and that trip would have given me the mileage/segments to put me over the top for one more year.

Instead, I started getting the “extend your status now!” emails, and I did what anyone who has decent status in anything does: I worried. It’s not fun to lose perks, but it really wasn’t worth $399 to keep my status (nor was it worth opening up another credit card either).

However, with all problems, there is a solution, and for me, that was the mileage run. I quickly realized that I could fly to Dallas before the holiday travel season started, hang out in the airport for a couple of hours, and fly back to Boston for a fraction of the status renewal price.

This idea did not go over well at home. “You want to do what? Why?” asked the Boy. The Boy doesn’t like flying because he is very tall and doesn’t fit on airplanes very well. He doesn’t understand why people willingly fold themselves up into a tiny seat with Deep Vein Thrombosis-inducing amounts of legroom in the first place, let alone do it just to get miles.

I don’t bother to tell him that people will spend full weekends taking several segments through multiple countries in order to get Executive Platinum status. Even I think that’s a little extreme. I get it, but it’s extreme.

Needless to say, the Boy wasn’t thrilled about my plan, but I decided to spin it by calling it my very own writer-in-residence program. I’d have a quiet space and several hours for nothing but creative writing. It would be fine, great even!

And it was. I wrote about 3,500 words each way, banging out whatever came into my head. I have some short-short pieces and some beginnings to longer pieces–and likely a lot of garbage that was floating around my imagination. However, the goal was to write, and I did–I put my nose to the grindstone and cranked out some material, and that alone felt great.

I also wandered around DFW for a couple of hours–I actually had the faint idea that I could take the train downtown and get back in time, but I soon realized that where I needed to catch the train was too far away from my terminal to make that particular journey. Instead, I gave the Boy a status update while standing in the middle of a parking garage; I stumbled upon DFW’s chapel; and then went back through security. Then I decided it would be a good day for office holiday lunch, so I had a lovely sandwich and bubbly flight at Vino Volo before checking in with a client and getting back on the plane home.

Not that long after, I got this email:

gold-status-achieved

Achievement unlocked! But really, I had a fun, productive day that made me feel professional rejuvenated. Except now, I need to go back to that work, see what’s actually worth saving (Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts” comes to mind when I think of what gems this file of random writing might contain). Hopefully there’s work that’s worth exploring and expanding. But then I’m going to need more time for editing and sending out pieces, which I could do at home, but obviously, as I proved with this experience, when it comes to creative writing, I get more done when I’m on the move. Maybe it’s time to schedule some more writer-in-residence days. More air travel? Or should I see how well I work on the train next time?

Latest Travel Feature: Midwestern Fun in Valpo

6 Sep

I grew up about 45 minutes away from Valparaiso, so it was a real treat to get this assignment from AAA Midwest Traveler to write about the town and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore during fall. It’s a great time of year to visit and see a beautiful part of the country–then get a great meal from one of the many choices in Valpo.

We Dig These Dunes

Summer might be over, but it’s still beach time in northern Indiana.

Summer doesn’t have to end when the sun sets on Labor Day. September is a great time to hit the beach and enjoy the last warm days of the year — without the crowds. Lake Michigan offers some of the country’s finest dune areas, including Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park. Between the two protected areas, beachgoers can enjoy 15 miles of beach nestled between Gary and Michigan City, Ind.

Preservationists fought for decades to protect the area, succeeding with the development of the state park in 1925. In 1966, Congress created the national lakeshore along with the Port of Indiana. The two parks today have more than 15,000 acres of protected lands covering a variety of habitats, including marshes, prairies, bogs, and beaches.

Read more here.

Jazzing You Up

13 Apr

Freelancing is always interesting because you don’t know who you’ll end up working for and what you’ll end up writing. That’s the fun of the game though. When people ask me what I write about, I start going through a laundry list: credit cards, bridal, home, travel, corporate writing, etc.

Now I’m adding LinkedIn profiles to that list.

One of my roller derby officiating colleagues told me about an opportunity to write profiles for LinkedIn Makeover, so I went through a trial. I liked the work; they liked my work, and now I’m working with people from around the world who are trying to make better use of their space on this professional networking tool.

There are companies who do this? Well, sure. Just like there are companies that will help you write a good resume, there are companies who can help you maximize your professional presence online tool. LinkedIn Makeover’s founder Donna Serdula is really on to something, I think, as she recently described in Money Magazine’s online 30-Day Challenge: LinkedIn isn’t just a regurgitation of your resume, it’s a place where recruiters and other professionals can get to know you and hear about your expertise and accomplishments in a conversational way, much like an initial interview.

So far, it’s been really interesting work. I’ve met people from around the world who have some pretty amazing professional accomplishments under their belts. Seriously–I’m not one for cruises, but I worked with a cruise director who knew the clientele and planned such interesting events that I kind of wanted to book a cruise right then and there.

I’m also learning how to improve my own LinkedIn skills–it’s gotten me freelance work before, and I’m hoping that with a beefed up profile and more involvement on the site, it’ll help me get more work down the road.

At the very least, I’m being exposed to all sorts of careers, companies, industries and leadership levels. I’ve always been fascinated by how people do their jobs, and this gig helps me satisfy that itch, and I can help them show off their best side to help them network or find the next step in their career.

If you’re thinking, LinkedIn. Huh, I hear you. But the way business and social media work together today is really interesting, and if it’s important to you, it’s worth having a good LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn Makeover has a lot of good free tips and powerful profile examples to get you started on optimizing your own profile. Of course, we can help you do it faster for a price, but if you don’t have time or writing isn’t necessarily your strong suit, it might be worth it to pay a professional.

 

 

New Story Published!

5 Mar

Today I’ve got a fun announcement: Today Flash Fiction Magazine has published my story “Reflections on my Journey.” I’m really thrilled to be included on FFM–each day they post a great, quick read. It’s a great place to get a quick hit of literature. I’d go on, but really, a long piece about flash fiction doesn’t seem quite appropriate. Please check out the site though–you won’t regret it.

March/April Reading Update

14 May

It seems awfully early in the year to be wondering where time has gone, but such is the case with 2014. It’s seemed tremendously long already but at the same time has gone by far too quickly.

Anyway, I’ve been slacking on the book buying somewhat, which is probably good. I’ve also been slacking on the reading. Combining the last two months:

Books bought: 3 (I believe) (all in New Zealand)

Books read: 6

States/countries covered:  2 states, 3 countries + I repeated New York again

Total geography: 6 states, 5 countries

March’s reading list:

Life Would Be Perfect if I Lived in that House – Meghan Daum

Never Have I Ever – Katie Heaney

I’ll Seize the Day Tomorrow – Jonathan Goldstein

Paris vs. New York – Vahram Muratyan

April’s reading list:

Everybody Has Everything – Katrina Onstad

The Brightest Star in the Sky – Marian Keyes

Good reads? Pretty good reads.

Meghan Daum is a LA Times columnist, and I read her regularly. Her memoir is about belonging to the space you live in and working through her love affair with real estate. I want to be Meghan Daum’s friend — her writing style is smart, personable and relatable, and is a constant reminder that mine should be in a similar vein. While I don’t think friendship — or even paths crossing — is in the offing, I’ll put that out there for the universe to decide. I promise not to be a big slobbery fangirl if we ever meet.

If I were in my mid-twenties I might want to be friends with Katie Heaney. I thought I’d really like her collection of essays about being unlucky in love because my own dating life was pretty pathetic; however, I just wasn’t right there with her, so to speak. A decent read, but not what I wanted it to be.

My third memoir/book of essays for the month of March was from Jonathan Goldstein, and it’s a keeper. I loved his writing style. He made me laugh. He made really insightful observations about people and life, and he did in such a way that I could learn a thing or two about style and structure for my own writing.

I wasn’t quite sure whether or not to count Paris vs. New York because it’s more of an art/graphic book. It’s still a book though, and I’m counting it! [I will also count the Steve Martin tweets book my mother just sent me as a book, even though it doesn’t look like much of one. I need Texas!] I breezed through a copy on a friend’s coffee table and was really enchanted with the design and the concept of noticing little details. That’s one thing I like about traveling abroad — the tiny things that are different from home. This book made me happy…I might have to get my own copy someday.

In April, I read a couple of novels. Everybody Has Everything is about a couple who can’t conceive, yet friends of theirs are in a car accident and leave them guardianship of their son. It’s an interesting book about parenting and wanting to be a parent, and I’ve read it at probably the right time in my own life. I also liked the fact that this was set in Toronto, which is such a wonderful city, and I liked having enough knowledge of the city’s geography that I knew some of the places mentioned.

Lastly, I read a Marian Keyes novel. I like Keyes a lot, but this one was a bit of a slog. It takes place in one Dublin apartment building and follows all the various tenets of the building. I’ve read that when writing fiction, if you divide up the plot like that — tell three sides of the story, for example — you don’t have to write as much about each individual story, and when you’re done, you have a full book. Well, when you write about five or so stories, you have to say even less. It was difficult to get to know all of the characters, and some of their stories got a bit of the short shift. On top of that, there’s a conceit that’s supposed to tie the whole thing together, and it just didn’t work for me (I figured out what the conceit was inferring pretty early on, which also annoyed me — the surprise wasn’t really much of a surprise when it was revealed. I did enjoy some of the characters though and wished I’d gotten more of their stories. Ah, well. They can’t all be winners.

I didn’t read much during the last half of April, and May isn’t starting off so well either. Time to change that and schedule reading time. I’ve so enjoyed watching my spreadsheet fill in — it’s kind of like seeing your Goodreads finished shelf expand. And I’m slacking now. I’ll buckle down and get back to it. Onward and read-ward!

 

Where Does the Time Go?

5 Jun

It’s Friday, about 8PM Eastern time.  I’ve just finished working for the week.  It doesn’t seem right–some people who work in offices have summer hours, and boy, would I love to get on that schedule (with the Friday afternoon portion devoted to reading and being a little creative so that I can work on personal projects).

However, sometimes deadlines get in the way. I’ve been working on the newest edition of the E. 10th Street Civic Association’s e-newsletter, and hopefully it’ll drop next week.  The corridor that the association helps to develop is undergoing a bit of change–some renovation’s been going on at a few businesses, and construction will soon start to redevelop the streetscape.  It’s an exciting time for this area of Indianapolis, and hopefully these changes will help revitalize it.

When it’s time for me to work on the newsletter, I think I spent more time tweaking rather than actually doing the information gathering and writing.  The MailChimp software we use is pretty cool and puts out a nice product, but making it look good takes a lot of effort.  I always appreciate the work of graphic designers around this time and how it’s not so easy to “just whip something up.”  Making it look good and doing it right are really important, so I will tweak until it looks good.

I’ll soon be appreciating the work of web designers a little more too.  I also update the Civic Association’s website, and that also involves a lot of tinkering, a lot of making sure you get the code right.  One unclosed bracket, and suddenly something doesn’t look good. I’ll be making some updates to the site over the next few days, and I hope they turn out well.

I’ve been meaning to blog here a little more than I have–I want to play around a little bit with some writing, but time’s not been on my side.  Hopefully that’ll change soon.

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