Tag Archives: advice

What kind of writing do you want to do?

20 Jan

Turning 29 did something strange to me. I’m not lamenting getting older, and if anything, I’m looking forward to what the rest of my life will bring. So many adventures, loves, opportunities. But there is something about approaching 30 that shakes my core whether I want to admit it or not. If only because it is the end of an era, simply a numerical one, but an era nonetheless. This is the last year of my twenties, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what that means to me and how I want to move forward

I have more or less finished with vet tech school, and I have been looking into what my next step is. While I love my job, it’s not enough for me. I want bigger things. I want more education. I want to move up in a field. I want to always feel good about the things I put out into the world, and I had to figure out what that means.

I circled back, as I always do, to this notion of being a writer. I decided I was going to fully invest myself in it moving forward. So I revamped my linkedin, started applying to every writing job I came across, read an endless sea of articles on how to be a published writer. I networked until I found some real life writers in New York.

Through a friend of a friend, I met Katie. She was so kind and helpful and agreed to meet me for drinks so I could pick her brain about the writing industry in New York. We met at a bar in Midtown, and I asked her about her writing path. She told me about journalism school, about endless internships while waitressing, about small gigs, and about eventually landing an assistant editor position for Yahoo News. She was smart, interesting, impressive. I was excited to be talking to her, thinking, “I could do that!” Then, she asked me, “What kind of writing do you want to do?”

Just about the most obvious question to ask anyone pursuing writing. But my mind was blank. I muttered about my blog, about books, about short stories, poetry, essays. All the things I’ve written over the years and written well. I’ve had numerous writing projects. But what kind of writer did I want to be? I simply didn’t have an answer.

Over the next couple of weeks, I thought about this question that I don’t think writers ask themselves enough. What kind of writer am I? I managed to get a couple of freelance, part-time offers. The first writing blog posts for business websites, the second writing click-bait articles about love and relationships. Real writing jobs! Things that would give me a byline. That foot in the door. On the subway train to the Love and Relationship job, I brainstormed article ideas. I could write about break-ups (I’m a reluctant expert), I could write about the types of guys I’ve dated. I could write about epic fights and moments of love and following one’s heart.

And then I had the answer to that question. “What kind of writing do you want to do?” Not this, I thought. My personal relationships and life are worth more to me than $12 an hour. I didn’t want to give away articles about my sexual history, about the men I’ve loved, about the men I failed to love to some start-up website. Yes, it was a foot in the door. It was a way to get published. And, yes, a part of me does want to write about all of that, but on my own terms. That website is not the kind of writing I want to do.

In December, I wanted 2016 to be the year I became a real writer. That I got published and paid to write. That I could earn some sort of badge I could show everyone that I am a writer. But in January, I realized I don’t need that. Writing, reading, words are fundamental to who I am, and they always will be. I’m 29 and unpublished, but I haven’t formulated anything I want to put into the world. I haven’t yet figured out what piece of my soul I want to share and how. Maybe it will be poetry. Maybe I’ll finally pull together a novel about my crazy Upper East Side vet tech life. But I’m learning to be more gentle with myself. There’s no deadline to be a writer. I am a writer, as much as I’m a girl with freckles. It’s a part of me. I can’t sit at a desk all day writing like some writers do. I write best after a long day or a stretch of days on my feet, absorbing the people around me, the world. As much as I’ve read and researched other people’s writing processes, that’s mine. Slumping in near-exhaustion at my desk and writing for a couple of hours before I pass out. And maybe I just haven’t found that one subject, that one book that will tell the story I was born to tell. And that’s okay. I’m only 29 after all.

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3 Lessons I’ve Learned in 2015

26 Dec

2015 New Year celebration

I’ve always been a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve figured that the key to good resolutions is in the specifics. You can’t say “Be healthier.” It needs to be something trackable like “Eat a salad once a week” or “Work out twice a week.” I’m not one to lecture on these things, though, since I only went one-for-five on my resolutions this year. But I made significant progress toward the other four, so that’s a start!

I read somewhere on the inter webs this week an article a girl had written about her lessons learned over the year. I can’t for the life of me find it, but the idea of it stuck with me. It’s not enough to set goals moving forward, we also have to look back and choose what lessons we take with us.

I’m surprised at how hard I had to stew in my thoughts to figure out what are the things I’ve learned this year. Of course, there were a million mini-revelations like finding the right shade of lipstick for my pale skin tone and just how much money I save by packing lunch (so much money!). But I turned to my diary to recap the year and see if there were any grander life lessons to be gleaned.

LESSON #1: TRUST THAT GUT FEELING

In the relationships of my past, I spent a lot of time trying to make things work, hoping things fell into place. I’d make excuses about timing and how things can develop. But as I get older, I realize that voice inside of me that quietly whispers, “This ain’t going to work” shouldn’t be ignored. I’ve always been open to giving someone a chance, but at some point, you know. You know in your heart of hearts that this person isn’t YOUR person. This was the year I decided I was done with settling for anything less than amazing. It saved me time and heartbreak and saved the lovely people I dated time and heartbreak to accept that moving forward wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t a set of deal-breakers or standards that I set. It was trusting my heart when it told me to move on.

LESSON #2: A NIGHT IN IS A VALID AND ACCEPTABLE OPTION

I love going out with my friends. I love trying new things and meeting new people. But for a long time I measured my life by how amazing my nights out were. And if I found myself home without plans on a Friday or Saturday night, I almost felt like I was in a panic. What did that say about my life? I’m in my twenties, shouldn’t I be out on the town having adventures? Is my life as exciting as those I see on Instagram?

When I was a senior in high school, I had an odd falling out with my best friend at the time. We stopped talking, and I was ostracized from my social circle. I spent months with nothing to do on my weekends. So I started going to music shops and book shops alone and buying NME magazine, the New Yorker, Harper’s. I’d spend my evenings listening to Brit Pop, the Velvet Underground, David Bowie. I’d read my dorky literary magazines and write for hours in my diary and other notebooks. I eventually made new friends who have remained some of my closest friends to this day. The point is, I used the time alone on my own to grow, to give time to things that I loved and was interested in. I brooded on existential questions about what I wanted out of life and I made collages of cool bands from the magazines I read.

I loved those nights, and I’ve brought them back. I treasure my nights in reading, writing, cooking, studying. I learned to stop caring about whether my life is as glamorous as it could be.

LESSON #3: INVEST IN SMALL KINDNESS

Here’s a key to instant happiness: do something nice for someone else. It doesn’t have to be big. I got paper valentines for my girlfriends in February. I bought my friend who was having anxiety issues a small book about breathing and introductory meditation. I tried to smile and be as nice as possible to cashiers and waiters. No matter what. Even on my worst days when I curse the city, the subway, the weather, the smells, the everything. In fact, those are the days when I needed it the most. By smiling and making a genuine effort to be kind, I found that the kindness was mirrored right back to me. It didn’t take much to make my forced smile become a natural one. If I made a stranger’s day better, so be it. If I reminded friends and family that I love them and appreciate them, that’s great! Being kind to people is never a bad idea.

 

Penn Foster Vet Tech Program: A Review

13 Oct
Cat Restraint for Practicum 1.

Cat Restraint for Practicum 1.

The vet tech career is unique in the medical world, because many vet techs don’t necessarily need a degree to work. Personally, I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing with no interest in medicine. However, I ended up as a receptionist at a vet clinic, trying to make ends meet. Within a year, I realized I loved being around the animals, was fascinated by the medical aspect and the head vet tech was willing to train me.

It was a rough road at first. But, at my job, I am surrounded by talented technicians who I am still learning from. And while I saw that apprenticeship and experience was all that was needed to have a job as a veterinary technician, I also saw that without a degree in the field, I was limited in my upward mobility. I have an ambitious personality, and I didn’t just want to be a vet tech. I wanted to be a licensed vet tech. I want to become a board-certified anesthesiology vet tech. The first step was a degree.

After weighing a number of different options (including the leap of faith of going to vet school), I settled on enrolling in the Penn Foster online vet tech program. That was almost three years ago. Now here I sit, still working as a vet tech, done with my four semesters and first practicum and pulling my hair out trying to complete the second. These are my honest, not-sponsered views on how the program went for me and advice to others thinking about pursuing this program.

  1. Time management is key. I can’t stress this enough. Penn Foster advertises that the great thing about the program is the ability to make your own schedule. Realistically, this isn’t going to work for some people. I’m a book nerd who enjoys studying and has always been good at pushing myself. So I was able to sit down at the end of a long day at work and study. I loved that I was able to keep my job and not have to balance work with a class schedule. But at the same time, that structure would have been nice. I went through a 6-month period where I doubted whether this was really what I wanted to do, and I didn’t study. I wish I hadn’t squandered that time, and if I was enrolled in a community college program, I don’t think I would have. Penn Foster has tried in the last couple of years to set up suggested deadlines for tests and classes which could be a big help to less-motivated studiers. But self-discipline is a prerequisite to finishing the program.
  2. The Proctored Exams are difficult. So how does an online program establish legitimacy in their students? After all, it’s all open book, submitted over the internet, surely it is ripe grounds for cheating. These are true things. The way they eliminate the cheaters? Proctored Exams. At the end of each semester, you are given a live, timed exam. And it is difficult. It is in essay form and asks some of the most minute details from the courses. I’m still haunted by the memory of opening my first semester exam and seeing, “Name the six types of bird feathers.” Sure, I had read over that in the Integument section of Anatomy and Physiology, but I had spent no time memorizing them. Despite meticulous studying, I don’t think I got above a 75 on any of the Proctored Exams. And, yes, it is quite easy and possible to cheat on the Proctored Exams as well, but after all is said and done, we all still have to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) which I hear is quite difficult. The degree from Penn Foster is worthless without passing the VTNE, so cheating is only doing yourself a disservice.
  3. You need to be already working in the fieldThe most difficult part of the program is the Practicum. After the second and the forth semester, every student is required to complete an externship at a veterinary office under the guidance of a veterinarian or a licensed veterinary technician. I had already been working at my vet clinic for years when the first practicum came around, and all my co-workers pulled together like the dysfunctional family that they are and helped me get all my skills and paperwork completed. I don’t know how possible that would have been without already having worked in the field. Experience is more important as a vet tech. The degree is in many ways a formality at larger clinics and veterinary institutions. I suggest to anyone not already working in the field to get a foot in the door any way they can. Become a receptionist, a kennel assistant, volunteer at the ASPCA and befriend some of the people that work there. Find a way in.
  4. It’s less respected, but who cares. An online program doesn’t carry a lot of weight with people in the veterinary world. But the nice thing I already mentioned is that experience is more key anyways. Laws are slowly being passed, and the veterinary world is shifting to a more corporate atmosphere where licenses are becoming more required. But I’ve seen licensed vet techs come through my clinic doors that can’t hold a dog correctly and think diarrhea is icky. (If you can’t handle icky things, run away, run away now.) Some of the best vet techs we’ve seen are the unlicensed ones that come with references from other clinics saying that they are competent and know what they are doing. Again, it’s key to get your foot in the door somewhere to start learning immediately about holding and about the inner workings of a vet office.
  5. It’s shockingly affordable. If I haven’t scared any prospective students away, this is the biggest plus for the program. It was easy to pay off. They let me make monthly payments, without any interest added on. They also offered me deals on paying it off faster. For instance, when I had only $1400 left to go, they offered to knock off 30% if I made one final payment. So I finished paying the program off almost a year ago, and I don’t owe the school a thing. All textbooks, webinars, study guides are included. It’s clear that they make their biggest profit from students who sign up on a whim for the first semester and don’t stick it out. Just make sure that you aren’t one of those people!
  6. More than this, I did it my way. When all is said and done, I’m glad I did this program, because it was the right thing for me. I could spend my days off and my weeknights studying while still working, playing softball, writing. I could travel without worrying about missing class. I didn’t have to commute to a classroom, but could instead sit in my pajamas with a pot of tea and study. I liked that I had that freedom and that school became a part of my life without taking over. There are times I wish I had done an in-person program- for the networking, the face-to-face with professors, the structure and lack of Practicum paperwork. But at my age, and at this point in my life, it was the right thing for me.

ANYONE ELSE OUT THERE HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH ONLINE OR IN-PERSON VET TECH PROGRAMS?

Conversations with Maya Angelou Edited by Jeffrey M. Elliot

8 Jun

mayaWhat an incredible woman. My associations with Maya Angelou where formulated in high school when, like so many others of my generation, I read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I remember liking it, but like so many books forced upon me in high school, I don’t remember too much about it, or her, other than the basics. She was raised in the South during segregation, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, and she had her son at the age of 16. She went on to become a symbol of Black female strength and was even named Poet Laureate during the Clinton Administration, becoming the first poet since Robert Frost to read at the presidential inauguration.

A+ for that book report. But reading these interviews about Maya Angelou made me want to re-read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and perhaps to go back and read all those other books I rushed through in high school so I could finish my Calculus homework.

I knew she was a poet and an author. I did not know that she was a playwright, a screenwriter, a director, an actress, and a dancer. That she had been nominated for Tonys and was the first black woman to write and direct her own film. She worked along Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X during the Civil Rights Movement. Fluent in seven languages, she also was a master at cooking regional African cuisines that she learned while teaching in Ghana. All this from a woman who never went to college, who worked as a madam and a stripper. She seemed to always push forward, pick herself up and accept any challenge presented to her.

These interviews with her felt like How to Live Life 101. So much zest for living, always striving to write better, and looking for ways to influence and improve the world around her. So many gems to quote, like…

“What do you mean, do I consider myself a feminist? I am a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. I’d be stupid not to be on my own side.”

or

“I want to know more- not intellectually- to know more so I can be a better human being, to be an honest, courageous, funny and loving human being. That’s what I want to be – and I blow it 86 times a day. My hope is to cut it down to 70.”

This book spans her thoughts on racism in America, the plight of white women vs. the plight of black women, motherhood, creativity, how to write, travel, and how to be happy. From page 1 to page 240, I was gripped by her unwavering love of life.

“Living life fully, fiercely, devotedly, makes you much more able to accept other people who are doing the same. All we’re trying to do is to get from birth to death. And you can’t fail. Even if you only live five minutes, you have succeeded…But it seems to me that life loves the liver.”

Phenomenal woman, indeed.

Crooked Lines

28 Oct

Last Thursday I was at work when my friend Jeff texted me that he had an extra ticket to an off-broadway musical called “Here Lies Love” and could I be at Astor Place by 8. Normally I would have said no. Thursdays are my night in. I work till 8pm and have to be back at 8am the following morning. But something about the randomness of it all pulled me to say, “Sure!” despite not knowing how on Earth I could get there in time.

I took a cab, then ran through giant puddles on the Lower East Side to arrive at the theater at 8:07. The ushers shove me into an elevator and take my coat and bag from me for coat check. I exit the elevator and walk into what looks like a giant dance club. Jeff waves at me as I make my way across the room, and the second I am by his side, it begins. I had no idea what I was in for.

“Here Lies Love” was created by musical geniuses David Byrne and Fatboy Slim about the rise and fall of the former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos. I’m unsure how to describe the following 90 minutes of my life. It was incredible. An interactive, multimedia, dance-hall themed musical. People in space suits (not as crazy as it sounds) shifting the crowd around, the performers coming into the audience to sing, breaks in between songs for the crowd to do DJ-led, Filipino-style line dancing! Every once in a while, Jeff and I would look at each other in ecstatic amazement.

After a crescendo of political strife, assassinations, the institution of martial law, a headline on the screen showed that Imelda Marcos and her husband, Ferdinand Marcos where helicoptered out of the Philippines for refuge in the United States. At this point one of the stages had been morphed into stairs where the audience sat. After the multimedia, dance club extravaganza, one singer came out with a ukelele and performed a song called, “God Draws Straight.”

The minimalism of the performance almost brought me to tears. The lyrics struck something in me. Despite having never heard the song before, it wouldn’t leave my mind. I downloaded it the next morning and have been listening to it on repeat for days. The crux of this song’s chorus is this line:

“You might think you are lost, but then you will find that God draws straight but with crooked lines.”

This is an idea I’ve been coming across a lot the last couple of weeks. This sense that everything happens for a reason, that things are unfolding as the Universe intended. It’s hard to comprehend and make sense of it, but the line in this song made it click. I’m not where I expected to be at 28, and I can’t believe how winding the path has been. But I have to believe that all my experiences, the good and the bad, are leading me toward a better path. I don’t feel lost the way I did at 25 or 22 or 18. I do feel nervous about my future though. I don’t have a sense of where I’ll end up living, what I’ll end up doing, or which people will be around me. But that’s not because I’m lost, I’ve just been heading down crooked lines, and that’s okay.

My Filipino co-worker who has already seen “Here Lies Love” twice is bringing me the full soundtrack to the musical and a documentary about Imelda Marcos to work tomorrow to lend to me. I’ve put a couple of books about her along with a book about the Power People Revolution on hold at the library. As Jeff and I left the theater and walked down St. Mark’s looking for a place to grab a beer, we could hardly express our amazement at what we had seen. Jeff summed it up pretty well, “David Bryne! That crazy, creative, genius son-of-a-bitch!”

Cat-lovin, baseball-watchin, hot dog-eatin

3 Oct
Will and Kate

Will and Kate

I updated my profile picture on Facebook on Wednesday. I posted a picture of me with my sister’s cat, Miles. A friend of mine from Seattle commented about how amazing it is I’ve done an “about face” from hating cats to loving them. I’ve heard similar comments from my co-workers. It doesn’t bother me. Why would it? It’s the truth. But it felt like a weird thing to bring up.

I never hated cats. I’ve just always been a dog person. Still am. I think when I was younger, cats freaked me out. Those sinewy bodies, their fickle affection, the claws, the hissing, the claws, the claws, the claws. But I have found cats to be an acquired taste, like whiskey and coffee. After getting to know more about cats and spending time around some exceptional ones, I learned about the joys of holding a cat while it purrs, how excited they get when you scratch their lower back or under the chin, their exceptional personalities. I love them. And due to my job, they are a huge part of my life now.

So what’s the big deal? I changed my mind.

It’s not just the cats thing though. It’s comments like: “I can’t believe you love baseball, despite having been a moody, artsy teenager” or “I can’t believe you play sports in spite of your lifelong ineptitude” or “How can you love hot dogs so much when you used to be a vegetarian for eight years.”

BECAUSE I CHANGED MY MIND.

And thank God, because I live for the Mariner’s, weekly softball or soccer. I didn’t pursue a career as a poet, and I couldn’t be more happy and fulfilled right now saving furry lives on a weekly basis. I guess what bothers me about these statements from other people is they make me think they’re saying, “THIS isn’t who you are. THAT way you felt years ago is who you are.” Or maybe they’re saying who I was and what I believed so long ago wasn’t who I really am. But I think it’s all me.

I’m an evolving piece of work. I love that at the age of 28, I feel like I’ve lived a couple of varied lives. The moody, punk-obsessed teenager moping in suburbia. The aspiring poet/barista/student living on her own for the first time in Seattle. The Mariner employee who made the decision to stop being scared to speak up and try new things and stand up for herself. The ingenue in New York who had NO sense of who she was or where her life would go, desperately clinging to a failing relationship and floundering through heartbreak. Now a softball playing, karaoke singing, boxing veterinary technician.

I hope to God that when I’m 38 I’m not in the same place doing the same thing with the same interests. Sure, I’d love to keep some of them around. After all, I’ve held on to a number of passions and friends from my past lifetimes and been a happier, better person for it. But my mind is open to the world around me. I’m willing to be convinced, to adapt, be willing to say, “I was wrong about that.” I’m stubborn, and it’s been hard for me to do in the past. But adaptability and an open mind are two of the things I aspire to most in my life.

Risk Averse

2 Sep
Burning of the Witches Festival, Prague, 2007

Burning of the Witches Festival, Prague, 2007

About two weeks ago, I had dinner with a friend of mine who has a knack for popping in and out of my life. We fomented our friendship in Prague and for a while when I was new to New York, he was living in Brooklyn.

I admire him a lot. He can lean towards the hipster side of things, but he leads a life that I envy in a lot of ways. After college, he cultivated his bartending skills. He spends a couple of months in one place, living a meager existence while squirreling away as much money as possible, working at as many bars that will take him. Then he heads somewhere new to him with one tiny backpack and wanders wherever he wants to go, until he has barely enough money to fly him back to the states where he can crash on someone’s couch until he finds a bartending gig that will start the cycle over again.

During desperate times in my life, I’ve thought of his travels and adventures and thought that’s exactly what I should do. But for better or worse, I like my things. I like my life. I like the friendships that I’ve established and the career (however humble it may be) that I’ve built. So I stay. I settle for the vacations here and there and go about my daily routine.

Back to our dinner. We went to a Himalayan restaurant near my apartment, and we caught up. I heard about his upcoming travel plans which include train hopping and road tripping across the country and then booking a flight for Southeast Asia where he’ll ramble at will. I asked him for Central American travel advice. I want to go to Costa Rica, or Nicaragua, or Ecuador. Anywhere new! But I can’t find a travel companion, and I’m nervous about going alone.

“Well, that’s because you are risk averse,” he told me.
“RISK AVERSE!? That’s not true.”
“It’s absolutely true.”
“I took a boxing class today for the first time!”
“That’s spontaneous, not risky. You’re spontaneous and brave. But you are risk averse.”

I spent the rest of the night making him regret he ever said that. I somehow found a way to repeatedly circle the conversation back to “risk averse” and how I could not be risk averse, what are the steps I could take. He couldn’t give me a real answer on it and resorted to teasing me for trying to plan out how to be less “risk averse.” They Type A in me just can’t hide.

Risk averse. I have spent the last two weeks walking around thinking about that. It pops up in my head like a catchy pop song. I’ll be buying a salad for lunch and as I order, I think, “risk averse?!” Part of me wants to say I’m not. I’ve taken risks, tis true. Staying in New York after a devastating break-up. Risky. Battling evil cats at work. Risky. Drinking whiskey after beer. Risky.

But another part of me wants to be mature enough to take it as constructive criticism. I tried to think about how he must see my life and my choices. While I know he respects them, they could seem risk averse. Some of them are. I see the choices in my life that have been the easiest path or the path of least risk of pain. And while I don’t believe that I am one to be labeled as risk averse, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that he got that annoying phrase stuck in my head. My life could use a few more risks, a few more hasty decisions.

He left for Chicago yesterday morning. I have no idea when our paths will cross again. But when they do, I can’t wait to enumerate to him the ways in which my life in the interim has NOT been risk averse. Knowing me, I’ll probably have an outline.

How to Use the Ladies Room

21 May
Blurry Bathroom Art

Blurry Bathroom Art

A bizarre epidemic has swept female restrooms, particularly in bars. I’ve been encountering it more and more the past couple of years, and it is on its way to becoming ubiquitous. It strikes women in their twenties, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that women in their thirties are doing it as well. It’s causing unsanitary conditions, and it needs to stop. I’m talking about women hovering when they pee.

Most of us were raised to sit on the toilet, but women, in scores, have decided to not do this in public, but instead to squat over the seat while they urinate. These misguided souls are so disgusted by public bathrooms that they imagine a toilet seat covered in disease-causing germs. This is simply not the case.

To clarify, I’m talking about the seat. The bowl, the flusher, the door handle, the floor. Yes, those areas are riddled with billions of bacteria, and I fear those areas of the bathroom myself. Yet, the seat really isn’t a problem. Our butts do sit on them. But not the germy part of our butts. When sitting on a toilet seat correctly, no genitals or anuses will touch the seat. If you find your nasty bits coming into contact with the seat, you are doing it wrong and should seek out someone you trust to talk to about your problem. If you do it right, only the skin of the thighs, and maybe a little bit of buttocks will come into contact with the seat, not much more skin contact that sitting on a public bench wearing short shorts.

When you hover, you are part of the problem, not the solution. In this hover/squat position, women tend to sprinkle the seat with their urine. Sometimes a gentle mist, sometimes more. I’ve had friends defend themselves to me saying that they wipe it down after they’re done. You are still wiping urine off of what would otherwise be a clean seat. Unless you’re wiping it down with Lysol wet naps, you are still leaving the toilet seat more germy that when you began.

The toilet is an engineering marvel, making all our lives easier. The beauty of it is that if you sit down, your vagina and anus are hovering in air, not touching or contaminating anything. Your urine falls perfectly into the bowl and is flushed away. If we all peed while sitting on the seat, no one would have to errantly sit on a damp seat in a darkened stall.

So by all means, be a germaphone who carries around hand sanitizer and uses paper towels to touch door handles. Indulge yourself. Just stop being a menace to society and sit down when you pee. Learn to pee like a lady.

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro

13 Jan

It’s such a tiny, little book. It fit so snuggly in my purse, and I took it out almost everywhere I went the week I was reading it. It’s not even a book as much as an amalgamation of all the different things she has learned in her years as a writer. It’s her wisdom, it’s the wisdom of the people who have inspired her, it’s little tips on how to approach writing.

I had fun reading this book. So much so that I bought my own copy while I was still reading the one I had checked out from the library. It now sits atop my printer on my writing desk with its own designated bookmark. Each nugget of advice is only a page or two long, and I’m trying out a ritual (at her suggestion). I read one little nugget as preparation for an hour of uninterrupted writing. It inspires me and reminds me why I write. It makes that hour of solitary writing a little less lonely.

Jealousy

10 Jan

Two types of veterinary technicians exist. There are the ones like me that enjoy the career as is, possibly want to do it their whole lives and bask in the freedom of much less responsibility. Then there are veterinary technicians who are earning an income and gaining experience on the road to becoming a veterinarian. I work with three of this second type of technician, and in this last week, two of them were accepted to Cornell University’s Vet School.

I SHOULD be happy for them. It’s an amazing accomplishment, and they are both hard-working and deserving girls. They’re going to make wonderful veterinarians one day, and I know that. But that wasn’t my internal reaction when I found out about their news. I was jealous, angry, spiteful. I found myself thinking that maybe they’d fail out of school eventually. And I felt disgust with myself soon after.

I carried around this ugly, jealous feeling for most of the day, ashamed of it, and trying to decide exactly what to do with it. I don’t even like to think that I’m capable of those thoughts.

I decided two things. One, I will be happy for them. I will find a way. I will smile and ask all about it and support them until I make myself believe it. Not sure if it is possible to kill those jealousy feelings in there, but succumbing to that kind of resentment is the first step on the road to bitterness. Two, I have to focus those feelings on myself and change them into something else.

I don’t want to be a veterinarian. I know that. I’ve thought long and hard about it, and the medical/science field is not for me. My creative spirit pulls me elsewhere. But the jealousy comes from their accomplishment. Those two lovely ladies worked hard, for years, and will have to work hard for years to come. And while I don’t want to follow the path they’re on, I have dreams and aspirations that require hard work, perhaps years of it, perhaps a lifetime of it. The last week I have brainstormed a good New Year’s Resolution for this brave and glorious year ahead. I tend to pick many specific commitments, but this year I have decided to pick one that is vague and noncommital.

Work Harder.

If I want things to happen for me. If I want those big accomplishments, I need to make some changes. When I think of the hours spent playing Candy Crush or the hours watching the same youtube videos over and over again or the dozens of times a day when I refresh my news feed on Facebook, such a waste of time! This isn’t to say that there won’t be any of that. I love relaxing and unwinding. There just needs to be less of it. I need to work harder, and I need to start now.