NaBloPoMo #30: The Thing Itself

Prompt: What do you like to do to celebrate an accomplishment?

Supposedly, one of the most effective means of setting and achieving a goal is to decide on some sort of award, whether it’s a new pair of shoes because you’ve lost 10 pounds or a fancy dinner because you’ve been accepted to the school of your choice or even just an afternoon of vegging out in front of the TV because your finals are over. Focusing not just on the goal itself but a reward helps motivate you and gives your actions greater consequence – supposedly.

It never works for me. Part of the problem is that I never have the time or the money to give myself an award. This sort of reward-based system means that, once you finish your goal, you have time afterwards, that the bulk of your time was spent trying to achieve this one thing. What do you do when it’s only one of three or four things you’re doing? How do you justify a celebration that hurts you in another area of your life? Continue reading

NaBloPoMo #27: The Problem

Prompt: What’s the best purchase you ever made?

One of the hallmarks of growing up poor is not being able to regulate your spending.  You’re constantly splurging, getting into trouble, and then playing catch up — or you go an intensely long period of time without spending any money, feeling incredibly guilty whenever you do (only to blow all your savings in a weekend).  Budgeting is difficult as is saving, and you have trouble taking advantage of beneficial sales for things like vacuums, dishwashers, etc because you never have the money to spend.  Then, when you get a windfall (like a tax return), you don’t spend it on anything you need like a new refrigerator or paying off a credit card.  Instead, you get a Goddamn smart TV or Roku system and three weeks later your power gets shut off.  It’s a problem. Continue reading

NaBloPoMo #26: Fellowship over Food

Prompt: If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today (or even if you’re not!), tell us about the best cook in your family.

All week as I’ve delivered books to various daycares and assisted living centers, I’ve managed to pop in just as Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared or served.  My soul has been assaulted by the most luxurious, decadent smells from lasagna to turkey to sweet potato pie and beyond.  I’ve stared hungrily as elderly people are wheeled up to a crisp white tablecloth and presented with a well-laden plate and done my best to teach a comics workshop while various pots are bubbling in the corner, utterly wrecking my concentration.  It’s been a trying week. Continue reading

NaBloPoMo #25: A Jack of All Trades?

Prompt: Do you think it’s better to be a recognized expert for one thing or known to be really good at lots of things?

My big goal in life is to be able to support myself with my writing, but at this point, I’d take being able to make money off of it.  You see, even though I post every day (often several times a day), I don’t actually sell my work.  I never submit pitches, and I very rarely submit to contests, residencies, or other venues that could pay.  Part of the reason is simple laziness: I just don’t want to put in the effort to look for venues, craft a piece, and submit a pitch.  How would I do so anyway with my grueling writing and working schedule?  Where would I find the time?

But the other reason, and this is perhaps the biggest of the two, is that I simply don’t feel qualified to pitch anything.  Despite the fact that I am opinionated, decently plugged into the world, and good at research, I just don’t know what I could possibly say that someone would pay me for.  I work at a library, but I’m not actually a librarian.  I teach children, but I’m not actually a teacher.  I read and write but am neither a professor, a critic, nor a professional writer.  I’m not a recognized or self-proclaimed expert in any field.  I’m just me: an opinionated, irritated, articulate individual.  How does that translate to a platform? Continue reading

NaBloPoMo #24: Jane

Prompt: Who is an expert you admire and why?

Recently, I’ve made friends with a really cool girl named Jane. She’s an outspoken feminist and civil rights activist with a neat little girl and a passion for social work. She works full-time, goes to graduate school, raises her daughter, spends her free time petitioning for causes, and still has enough time to read and watch tons of comics and anime.

When I think of Jane, I’m torn between admiration and envy. I think what she does and, more importantly, who she is are so impressive. She manages to stay informed on major issues, and she finds the time to actually go out and help others rather than just talking about it. She makes me want to be more outspoken and try a little bit harder too. Continue reading

NaBloPoMo #23: What I Do Better

Prompt: What do you do better than anyone else?

A couple weeks ago, I was at an all-ladies comic book club. We were reading Bitch Planet, Volume 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and illustrated by Valentine de Landro As a group, we enjoyed it, which made it difficult for us to come up with a lengthy discussion about it. Without discord, it’d hard to sustain a conversation – unless someone’s willing to go literature student on everyone. Fortunately, that’s where I came in.

However, as I started off on the usage of the color pink to denote violence and my fellow ladies started flipping through the volume to confirm, stared at me, or zoned off, I became embarrassed. Despite the fact that a friend had encouraged me to start the meeting with a 20-minute diatribe (as I occasionally do), I felt exposed, isolated, and like I was doing something to deliberately alienate my peers. Naturally, I finished the thought and pursued it as far as it would go, but I’ve been agonizing about the moment since then. Continue reading

NaBloPoMo #20: Crippling Debt

Prompt: What do you hope happens by the end of this year?

Recently, I’ve begun to feel a bit desperate. You see, my financial situation is not very good. The Internet is not the best place to get into the minutiae, but suffice it to say that I’m despairing of paying my bills. Over the past year, I’ve acquired several outstanding financial responsibilities that have subtly but unendingly been slipping from my grasp. The current situation is getting dicey, but, hey, what’re your twenties without crippling debt? Continue reading

NaBloPoMo #19: Starting Young

Prompt: Where would you want to retire if money wasn’t an issue?

When I was younger and still full of hope, I would dream about traveling the world. Most of my dream sites were Western, places like Ireland, the UK, Greece, and Rome, but I was curious about Egypt, India, and Japan – and any place that could boast stunning views, outrageous architecture, and good food. Honestly, I just wanted to travel, leave Texas and my family, and have some kind of adventure. I really didn’t care what or where.

Such aspirations were too much for my father, who has spent my entire life (i.e., as far as I can remember) calling me stuck up and telling me not to dream so big. Apparently, wanting to one day earn 50k a year and tour the Caves of Lascaux make you elitist. Who knew? Continue reading

NaBloPoMo #18: Signs of a Life Well Lived

Prompt: What do you hope people remember about you after you’re gone?

When I was about eight, I suffered an existential crisis (see this post to learn more). It was at that time that I lost my faith in any divine being and suddenly and terrifyingly came to understand that I would one day die and the world would continue to spin on without me. It is not a coincidence that shortly thereafter I decided I wanted to be a writer.

While eight-year-olds aren’t dumb, they don’t always grasp the full significance of what they want, say, or do. I was peripherally aware of what a writer did (It’s in the name.), but I was very naïve about what writers could do. For many years, I thought that being a writer could make you immortal – in as far as writing would assure that your name and legacy lived on for centuries. I mean, Shakespeare was a thing, right? (Oh, and writing would totally make you rich.) Continue reading

NaBloPoMo #17: Iceland, My Great Hope

Prompt: What is one place you need to see to feel like your life is complete?

Located at 65 degrees north, 18 degrees west is a little island you might have heard of before: Iceland. This tiny island isn’t even the size of the state of Kentucky, and at approximately 323,000 people, its population is scarcely larger than Lexington’s. It is a land of contradictions with dramatic volcanoes, geysers, and hot springs as well as the country with the most glaciers and an average temperature that only rarely gets out of the fifties. It boasts millions of sheep and birds and dramatic landscapes of volcanic rock, soaring cliffs, thundering waterfalls, and lava fields dotted with small, fragrant flowers. Only a slight bit of searching will find you the great priest poet Snorri Sturluson’s stomping grounds, the warrior bard Egil Skallagrimsson’s beachfront, and elf houses abutting the Ring Road. Continue reading