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Expecting My Pulitzer Any Day Now…

Well, folks, I’ve finally reached a milestone I can be proud of.

That’s right — I’ve landed my first, paid writing gig.  (Besides this, of course, for which I earned $7.88 in one year.)

Here she blows:

What Your T-Shirt Says About You — Part 1:  The Lovable Geek

 

Well, I hope she doesn’t blow, because that would… blow.

Anyway.

Feel free to leave a comment on that post saying how awesome the writer is.  There are a couple of writers for that blog, and unfortunately our names don’t go on the posts, so there’s no solid way for readers to tell who wrote what.  Except that mine are awesome.  (Okay, the others aren’t too shabby, either.)

Did I mention I’m getting paid?  Not substantially, mind you –and I’m probably putting more effort into each than is required by what I’m getting paid, but hey — money is money.  I’m hoping my work and portfolio-buildage will pay off eventually.

Aside from short t-shirt and costume related articles, we also get to concoct lists.  Here’s my first list:

Costumes Guaranteed to Humiliate Your Dog

It’s kind of cool that I’m getting paid for that.  Of course, I won’t actually believe I’m getting paid until I have that check in my fat little fingers, but here’s hoping.

Anyway, I have some projects I’m working on and some recipes to share, so don’t worry — I’m not dropping that part of the blog.  I just haven’t had time to go through the photos yet.  I know — can you believe it?  I’m actually busy.

I’m kind of shocked myself.

I still haven’t heard back from the real-life job, but they told me to expect a call on Monday.  I won’t hold my breath that long, but if you could do it for me, that would be great.

Anyone have any exciting weekend plans?

Cat’s Out of the Bag

Not that the cat was ever in the bag to begin with.  Seriously?  That would just be cruel.  Who comes up with these things?

Okay, so sometimes I might chase my dogs around the house with the vacuum or try to trap them in the laundry basket.

But that’s not the same thing.  Because they know it’s all in fun.  I’m pretty sure.

Anyway.  For some reason, they’ve let me post another article to the site, Musings on Life and Love.

Even though I have no clue what I’m talking about.

Shhh.  I won’t tell if you won’t.

Go check it out!

Some Revelations

This month will mark one year since I started this blog.

When that realization hit me last night, I decided it was time to do something I’d been putting off this entire time.

That’s right.  I needed to define domestiphobia.

What does it mean, anyway?

The truth is, I’ve never really known, because I’ve never taken the time to define it myself.  Until last night.

And honestly, I think its meaning to me has morphed and evolved a great deal over the past year.  The word is fluid and subjective, and when you read it, it might mean something different to you than it does to me.

The following is my current perceived definition and subsequent explanation that I wrote on my newly revamped “About” page:

do.mes.ti.pho.bi.a

noun də-‘mes-ti-‘fō-bē-ə

:  the exaggerated, inexplicable and/or irrational fear of domestic life

Example:  Her fear of leading a stagnant, lethargic life devoid of personal growth and meaningful experiences could be described as a mild case of domestiphobia.

do.mes.tic

adj. də-‘mes-tik

1   :  tame, domesticated <the domestic cat>

2   :  of or relating to the household or the family<domestic chores>

3   :  devoted to home duties or pleasures <leading a quietly domestic life>

 

My name is Katie, and I’m a domestiphobic.

I didn’t know it when I married my wonderful husband in 2006 at the ripe age of 23.  But, for reasons I didn’t yet understand, I slowly began to feel a terrifying sense of suffocation as all of the “expected” pieces of a “normal,” domestic life began falling into place.

Stable office career?  Check.

Fixer-upper in the ‘burbs? Check.

Couple of mutts?  Check.

Kids?  Now wait just one damn minute.

These were the things I was supposed to be doing, but did I really want them at all?  My actions were leading my life into a revolving door of repeated days, weeks, years.  The same morning traffic, the same weekly meals, the same company parties, the same family gatherings.  Maybe it’s because traditions are one of the most painful castrations in a divorce-torn family like mine, but my newfound sense of repetition provided me no comfort.

In fact, it was quite the opposite.

In what can now only be described as a quarter-life crisis, I quit my job in 2010 to travel to Costa Rica with a dear friend (and temporary blogging cohort) for a couple of months.  The experience only further spurred an itch I’ve been longing to scratch for a long, long time.

Now I realize some things.  I have some wants that lethargy simply won’t feed:  I want to be a better person.  I want to be a better partner.  I want to change, and grow, and experience new people and new cultures and new cuisine.  I want to learn how to play the guitar and become fluent in at least one other language.  I want to write and make people think.  I want to inspire.  I don’t ever want to leave without leaving something good behind.

I’m not afraid to say what I want.  I’m not afraid to be selfish or make mistakes.

Because, it turns out, I can’t be who anyone else needs me to be until I embrace who I need me to be.

Today, I still live in the ‘burbs with my (astoundingly supportive) husband, the mutts, and zero babies.  But now I’m trying to find that thing that feeds my wanderlust – both physical and emotional.

This blog is a journal of my domestic and non-domestic experiences – where I struggle to tie together the things I’m fortunate enough to have with the things I’m crazy enough to want – where you will find me learning to cook and working on home renovations when I’m not playing with ‘gators in the Everglades or jumping out of planes in Hawaii.

Welcome to my world.

 

 

Wonderful Deathless Ditties

I knew what I was going to name this post before I wrote it.

That never happens.

Or has never happened, I should say.  Up until now.

I once read a book by Mark Haddon called, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.  It’s written in the voice of a 15-year-old autistic boy named Christopher who, at one point in the story, expresses his dislike for “proper novels” because they are essentially lies.  And the beauty is that his disdain for lies is not a question of morals – he doesn’t care that lies are wrong – what bothers him is the fact that while only one thing really did happen at a particular time and place, “there are an infinite number of things which didn’t happen at that time and that place.”  And when he starts thinking of all of those things that could happen in a lie, they keep filling his head until he feels shaky and scared.

There are too many options.

And sometimes, that’s how I feel about writing.

When I try to write fiction – to make up a story – I become lost with possibility.  I’m afraid to let a character choose a direction and get too far, only to find out that direction isn’t where I wanted him to travel at all.  My head swims with the possibilities and I give up before I even start.

But blogging?  This makes more sense.  I can pick a topic on which to focus – or not focus, as the case may be – and just have at it until I’ve exhausted the details to my satisfaction.  This writing is train-of-thought – typing the words as they run through my mind, with little thought of how they’ll sound or backtracking to make them be… better.

Because it’s something I have yet to accomplish, I admire those who can create a story, beginning to end, complete with developed characters and coherent, conceivable plots and inspire joy or compassion or hatred or grief.

I feel the same way about poets and lyricists – writers who can instill these same emotions or conjure vivid imagery without excess words.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found immense inspiration from just the right lyrics heard at just the right time.  They have the power to find ways into your subconscious like water through cracks in cement and

alter moods,

break hearts,

change minds.

Perhaps no one pays better homage to these artists than Arthur O’Shaughnessy in his poem, Ode.  Although you may not know the poem, you’ve likely attributed its opening lines to this guy:

“We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams”

But it was O’Shaughnessy who first said it – who said what the rest of us feel but can’t express about those who create from scratch – novelists, poets, playwrights and musicians – those “wonderful deathless ditties” that leave marks on our souls (*if you don’t like poetry, pretend these are song lyrics):

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

The poem is actually nine stanzas long, but you get the idea.

Think of some of your favorite song lyrics.  How have they changed you?  Defined you?  Affected your spirit?

Maybe I’m just an idealist, but I think in the end, that this is the status for which all artists strive – perhaps not for the ability to “trample an empire down” with their words, but to make an impact.  Inspire change.  Become a “mover and shaker” of the mind of at least one person.

That – more than wealth, more than education, more than caste – is power.

 

How to Make $7.88 Per Year

Today I did something that scared me.

Not something that scared me a little (like opening a tube of refrigerated biscuit dough), but scared me a lot (like hand-serving a select portion of my insides on a platter to Hannibal Lecter and, for some inexplicable reason, finding myself hoping he likes it).

I wrote something and submitted it to an online publication.

Well that’s not a big deal.  You do that practically every day on this blog.

True, but I can write whatever I want on this blog.  There are virtually no restrictions except for the ones I place on myself.  And the people who read this are not under any delusions that I’m an “actual” writer – I’m just a girl with a blog.

Well I checked out the link and it looks like anyone can submit to that site.  Just like anyone can write a blog.  That shouldn’t be scary.

Theoretically, no.  It shouldn’t.  But this is the first step of a process through which I am trying to gain viable freelance writing connections and start building a portfolio.  I’m trying to get them to like me.  (And they will even more if you read my posting and hit “save” – you might need to sign in to the site to do so.)

Haven’t you ever been the new person at a job and you’ve had to head to the break room for lunch on your first day, frozen Lean Cuisine clasped in your nervous little hand, wondering how the hell you’re going to break the ice with these people?

Photo source

That’s a little what this feels like.

The editors at Trazzler are going to judge me based on 124 words over which I agonized for over an hour.  (Wow, it kind of sucked to admit that.)

What lit this fire under your ass?  We thought you were happy with this blog and your renewed passion for serving people food and alcoholic beverages?

I do love the blog.  And I’ll choose to ignore the food comment.  But honestly?  This stemmed from a surprising little email I received with the subject line:

Demand Media, Inc. sent you $7.88 USD.”

And I was all, Who sent me $7.88?  In U.S. dollars, no less?  And how do I get them to send me more?

Turns out I finally got a payout from Ehow.com for an article I wrote… I don’t know… about a year and a half ago.

But did the tiny payout deter me?  Heck no.  Turns out this is exactly what I needed to realize there is just a slight possibility that I could actually get paid for something I write.  I’ve just never tried, because I’ve never known where to start.

Turns out you start by writing.

So that’s what I’m doing.

I know there will be rejections.  I know there will be failures.  But in the end, I’d rather have the feeling that I failed after trying than failing without trying at all.

Great Expectations

So my soon-to-be ex co-worker Stacy (remember her?) recently brought my attention to this little article.

Before I go into my analysis, I just want to say that I’m proud of the fact that we have male and female readers.  Even though Erin and I are a couple of chicks, I like to think we’re throwing something out there for everyone.  So please don’t take the following rant as guy-bashing.  It’s not.  I love guys.  Some of my favorite people are guys.  Truly.

What follows is stupid-article bashing.  And while I don’t think Erin and I intend to frequently use this blog as a forum for debate, I’d love to get your take at the end – male or female.  Just don’t be too mean.  Oh, and please excuse my overzealous use of quotation marks.

RELATIONSHIPS VS. HAPPINESS

First, I’d just like to say how much I love the fact that Fox News decided to write an article called, “Romantic Comedies Can Damage Your Relationship, Study Says” and then file it in the “Sexual Health” section of its website.  Now I don’t tend to frequent the Fox News website, but if I did, I think I would head on over to the “Sexual Health” section to look for articles about how often I should get a mammogram, or how to get rid of the crabs that happened in Vegas but did not, in fact, stay in Vegas as promised.

What I would not expect to find is a whiny fluff piece about how romantic comedies (aka. “rom-coms”) are horrible for relationships because they provide a “warm and fuzzy feeling [that] can adversely influence our [womens’] view of real relationships.”

Huh?

So are they saying our view relationships should be cold and abrasive?

I’m already confused.

Dr. Gabrielle Morrissey, director of the so-called study and apparently a “relationship expert” states, “It seems our love of rom-coms is turning us into a nation of ‘happy-ever-after addicts’.”

What’s this, Dr. Morrissey?  We shouldn’t hope for happiness in our relationships?  And if we do, then they must not be real?  Then why are we wasting our time with them?  If we didn’t expect relationships to be happy, we’d probably never seek them out.  Picture it: women wandering listlessly through the streets looking for a bit of chocolate or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s while men casually stroll by asking them to step into an alleyway every now-and-then.

Never expecting happiness in a relationship?  Sounds pretty miserable to me.

The article explains that the study shows these rom-coms lead women to have unrealistic expectations of their partners – outrageous things like wanting their partners to buy them flowers or get down on one knee to propose.

Okay, Fox.  I totally could’ve bought your argument if the study showed women were suddenly expecting their men to learn guitar, write them a love song, and serenade them in a courtyard in front of a bunch of strangers ala “A Lot Like Love.”  (Great rom-com, by the way.)

But chiding women for expecting a couple of nice gestures along the way?  Are these seriously high expectations?  Come on.  We don’t need to watch romantic comedies to want our partners to do something nice for us.  Geez, I’d hate to think what would happen if women asked men to swallow.

Suddenly a little boom box action isn’t looking so tough, is it?

In all fairness, Dr. Morrissey goes on to state, “Real relationships take work, and true love requires more than fireworks.”  Really.  Because it took an “expert” to tell us that.  Of course relationships take work.  Maybe work like… I don’t know… thoughtful gestures?  But wait.  They already said those were unrealistic expectations.

The thing that irks me most of all is her use of the term “true love”.  It seems to me that someone who believes “real” relationships should not be “warm and fuzzy” has no business using a term as goopy as “true love”.

That phrase is a little much even for me, and I’m a known sucker for romantic comedies.

FAIR AND BALANCED

There is a key argument missing from this entire story.  So, in order to make sure Fox can stay on top of its whole “fair and balanced” motto, I’ve decided to write the second half:

Forget how rom-coms will make us silly, impressionable, doe-eyed women unrealistically expect our horrendously lazy and selfish bastardly man-children to occasionally buy us flowers or get down on one knee while proposing.  The nerve.

Most women understand what’s realistic and what is not.

Unrealistic expectation?  Probably.

Unrealistic expectation?  I hope not.

And in this day-and-age, this works too:

But the other argument this study didn’t reveal is the unrealistic expectations these movies give men about women.  Here are just a few:

  • We don’t sleep in our makeup.
  • If we do, we don’t wake up with it still looking as fresh and perfect as it did when we first applied it.  Instead, it would be smeared all over our face and our pillow.  Oh, and our hair doesn’t curl itself in the middle of the night.
  • We don’t discuss men while sitting around together in our bras and panties.  (And if we did, we certainly wouldn’t tell you about it.)
  • Sometimes we fart.
  • We’re not going to freak out if you talk to us like grown-ups.  Avoiding confrontation isn’t “cute” or “charming” and in the end, lying about something is going to tick us off way more than you telling us you just want a night out with the guys.
  • Many of us talk about sex more often than we talk about relationships.
  • We have hair.  Hair that social norms require us to shave, wax, chemically burn, or pull out by the roots much more thoroughly and frequently than you.  It’s a pain, and sometimes we’re going to get a little lazy.
  • I can’t think of a single one of us who would mistake you-know-what for hair gel.  And if you run across a woman who does, you might want to run the other way.


So that’s that.  Guys, just because we’re out there watching these movies doesn’t mean we expect our relationships to be full of grand public gestures of your undying adoration.  But do we appreciate thoughtful gifts or kind words?  Sure, probably as much as you!

Relationships are work and they do require open communication.  And to that effect, maybe the rom-coms are on to something.  I think most men and women understand that.  Problems arise when we get lazy and start taking our partners for granted – when we stop doing nice things for each other just because we don’t want to take the time, spend the money, do the work.

I am certainly not a relationship expert.  The hubs could attest to that.  But some things are pretty straightforward.

The bottom line? Guys, no matter how many romantic comedies we watch, women won’t expect you to base-jump off the top of the Empire State Building to prove your love – as long as you don’t expect us to wake up in the morning with fresh breath and flawless eyeliner.

And that, my friends, is compromise.

Monday Poem

A Poem, inspired by my current surroundings. 

From stock.xchng (click photo for link)
From stock.xchng (click photo for link)

 

My cube is cold, 

My coffee’s old, 

But that is life – 

Or so I’m told. 

Unrest, it grows. 

My mind, it knows. 

A windowless world – 

It really blows. 

How’s that for a rainy Monday?  

Don’t worry, I’m working on some solutions to my boredom, which I will share as they (hopefully) come to fruition.