50 Happy Things

I posted this yesterday in response to a challenge on a fitness site I frequent, but I thought it was a good post for here. I know, I know … I have been quite absent from this place for a long time. But I’m posting today, so you all may rejoice.

Anywho, here is my list of 50 things that make me happy: 

  1. A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones (even when the show deviates from the books and annoys me)Image
  2. Mad Men
  3. Getting lost in a good book (noticing a theme …)
  4. Rolling green fields
  5. Large bodies of water
  6. Swimming
  7. Finding clothes that look super cute on me
  8. That awesome pair (or 50) of shoes
  9. Cuddling
  10. Finding long-lost friends online
  11. Pinterest
  12. Writing
  13. Listening to music I love at full volume and singing along
  14. Dancing

    Center Stage screen shot.

  15. Long walks and talks with good friends
  16. Alone time
  17. Yoga
  18. Animals
  19. Mike Rowe (hee hee hee)
  20. Introducing people to things I love and seeing them love those things, too (i.e. yesterday I told my daughter’s boyfriend all about Top Secret! and insisted he watch it or he isn’t allowed to date her anymore — I know he’ll love it. Who doesn’t? But anyway, I’ve turned many people on to that movie and also Real Genius and none have been sorry.)
  21. Natalie Merchant live
  22. Sarah McLachlan live
  23. Editing
  24. A cheese plate and chocolate mousse from France at EPCOT
  25. The county fair

    2013 North Florida Fair. Photo by Renée M. Liss (c) 2014

  26. Cherry candy-dipped soft serve chocolate ice cream
  27. Shirley Temples (the drink)
  28. Waterfalls

    Ithaca, NY. Photo by Renée M. Liss (c) 2014

  29. Sitting outside reading a book
  30. Discussions with intelligent people
  31. Pretty language
  32. British sitcoms
  33. A dark, clear night looking at the stars
  34. Beautiful art
  35. Getting so lost in a movie that you wish it wouldn’t end
  36. Monty Python 
  37. Anything John Cleese
  38. Visiting old friends I haven’t seen in years and feeling like I just saw them yesterdayImage
  39. Halloween
  40. Baseball (live!)
  41. Boston
  42. A northeast autumn
  43. Snow during the winter holidays
  44. Throwing parties
  45. Realizing I have a wonderful group of friends where I live, even though I moved here as an adult and it’s difficut to meet people and make close friends once you’re out of school, especially if you move away from home
  46. Flowers
  47. A drama-free life
  48. Bookstores
  49. Caramel hot apple cider
  50. English breakfast tea with honey and cream

Call it Writer’s Block

On Facebook, I “like” a particular page for writers that regularly posts quotes about writing. Imagine that!

Today, the page administrator(s) posted,

Writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all. — Charles Bukowski

I don’t think I necessarily have writer’s block. I’m not really sure what’s going on with me. Last spring, I hit my stride. I was writing like a madwoman. I would estimate I was about two weeks away from actually finishing a novel for the first time, with two more on its heals. I was on a roll.

Then I went rollerblading one Saturday morning.

Write SomethingI shattered my right wrist and fractured my left elbow. I was in a lot of pain. I had to have surgery to put a metal plate in my wrist and after they removed the splint, I had to wear a brace. My wrist hurt all.the.time. Even if my brain hadn’t been muddled by the pain killers, the pain was too much and I could only type with my right hand, which got tiring.

I lost my momentum. I figured I’d be able to pick right back up where I’d ended, but I couldn’t. I had to restart the book I had nearly finished and now the writing is coming hard and in spits and spurts. I’m frustrated.

Last week, I committed myself to write one hour a day, every day. I managed two or three days of that and haven’t done much else. I can’t get in the mood. I’m annoyed with myself.

So here I am blogging and hoping this little exercise will help me get back on track. While I love that I at least am able to make a living by being a writer, technical writer for a government agency is not my dream. I appreciate that I can be a little creative, that I can spend my days writing and editing and even more, I appreciate the paycheck and benefits that come with it.

I’m also quite afraid that if I do finish writing a novel, I will not find an agent or a publisher. I am afraid to fail. I’m not afraid of failure on its face. I’m afraid to find out that being a novelist is not really the life I was born to live. I’m afraid to lose my dream. But if I never try, I will fail for certain. That’s even worse.

And so back to the grind.

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A Plan Forms

It’s time to get serious. I have been writing on and off quite a bit. I have four or five novels in the works, none of which I’m working on nearly enough and none of which are anywhere close to finished, but they’re all good in their own right and I have goals. I want to be a novelist. I want to write for a living. It’s important to me to get there.

And I’m fat again. It’s mostly not my fault. The weight I gained over the past few years was a direct result of my birth control, but now that I’ve had that removed, I need to take control and lose it. I started out well with that yesterday. I planned a full day of healthy eating and I walked and jogged more than four miles after work. Then I went to a friend’s house and ate this:










And this morning, I nearly got sick in the shower (if you’ve ever experienced morning sickness, it felt like that) and then a pair of pants that fit me fine last year wouldn’t even come close to buttoning. Yeah. That happened.

But no worries because even before the truffle/cheesecake incident, during my workout, I had formed a plan in my mind. I am going to remedy all my woes.

First, I will go to the gym three times a week to lift weights. On the days I go to the gym, I will do some sort of cardio exercise to round out a full hour and on the days I don’t go, I will do a full hour of cardio. I will also do at least thirty minutes of yoga every day. I will write for a minimum of one hour per day and I will read a book each week. I mean, I started the book review blog before my surgery and I feel like I wrote two great reviews and was on a roll and then … I stopped. And that isn’t OK with me. I have big plans for that blog. It has a theme and a purpose and it’s pretty. It’s time to get serious.




Photo courtesy http://www.fanpop.com.

I’m going to keep this short because I don’t think there’s a need to dissect this movie. I simply want to say that I think you all should see it. I haven’t read the book, but I’m told the movie compares very favorably. And the soundtrack is to die for.

In basic terms, the movie will make you feel:

You know when you’re on a roller coaster and you have that constant knot in your stomach from the tension of climbing hills and knowing that when you reach the top, you’re going to go really fast down a hill of equal proportions and while it’s exhilarating, it’s also incredibly scary?

That’s how this movie made me feel. And I was on the verge of tears from start to finish, even though there were some funny parts and sad parts and everything in between.

And it makes us children of the ’90s (well, adolescents of the ’90s, because really, it’s us Grungers who will really understand it) nostalgic for a different and simpler time.

Finally, anyone wondering if there’s life after Harry Potter, wonder no more. Emma Watson’s performance was superb.

Yeah … Another New Blog

I decided to start a new blog for the express purpose of reviewing books I read. My goal is one a week and a Friday post.

I will start a Facebook fan page for it probably this weekend, but if anyone is interested, my “about” page and my first review (A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling) are up and ready: http://inaperfectword.wordpress.com/about/.

I’ll still post here, but only non-book review posts. Enjoy!

Should I Read this Book?

On Labor Day (United States), I went with a friend to Goodwill. She wanted to take advantage of the store’s sale on clothes and I was just going along for the ride. I need to lose about forty pounds before I even think about buying new clothes. But  a welcome surprised when we arrived was that there was also a sale on books, most of which were no more than three or four dollars full price.

One of the books I left with was Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. I’d been interested for several years in reading that particular book, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Since it was such a good price, of course I snatched it up, along with four others.

If you read the back of Reading Lolita, the publisher describes it as being about a woman who holds what basically amounts to a book discussion group in her Tehran, Iran, apartment where the members (the former college professor’s students) read books that the Iranian government has banned. Obviously, one such book is Lolita.

By that description, the book most definitely sounds interesting. But the description is misleading. Yes, this book group is a part of the book. In fact, it takes up the entire first section. But there is so much more to it.

For those less familiar with Reading Lolita, the author is a woman who received a literature degree in the United States and then returned to her native country in 1979, just as Ayatollah Khomeini and his, shall we say minions?, seize control of Iran from the Shah. I’m more than half way through the memoir and the majority of it is about the author’s experiences during and after the revolution and of course throughout the course of the Iraq/Iran war of the 1980s. Her life touches those of her students and she tells what she knows of their experiences, as well.

What this book is, really, is a personal history lesson about an extremely tumultuous time in history that changed the world and I’m learning so much more than I ever did in school.

Miss Auras by John Lavery

In reading Reading Lolita, I began thinking about how publishers so often drop the ball in promoting books. I suppose in a way, what they’re doing is working, since the books I’m talking about have been best-sellers. But I wonder at the same time, what am I missing out on?

I’ll begin with Harry Potter. I didn’t read a single word of any of the books until last July and then I devoured all seven of them in sixteen days and re-read them all within the next year. But I only did so because I happened to catch a couple of the movies on television. The impression I had of the books, based solely on the publicity they received, was that they were very juvenile and a bit silly and while others may have loved them, I didn’t think they were for me.

The next book I nearly missed — and didn’t thanks to a movie preview — was The Help. Everyone raved about it. I thought I should give it a go. Then I walked into Borders, picked it up and read the cover. It said something about a young southern girl looking for her missing nanny and learning lessons along the way. I immediately put it down. I only bought it after seeing a preview for the movie (which I hated) and realizing there was much more to it.

Once I’d read The Helpit became clear just how ridiculous the description was on the back cover. Was Skeeter, the heroine, looking for her missing nanny? Well, yes. But that was mostly a subplot that took a back seat to her stealthily interviewing black housekeepers in Alabama at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement in order to publish a book exposing the truth about what went on behind the manicured lawns.

That was an excellent book. The one described is sentimental and hackneyed.

I wonder if it’s always been this way. I don’t think it has. I’ve been a reader my entire life. I don’t recall a time I wasn’t. I’ve always chosen books at random. I walk into a book store or library and a title catches my eye. I read the back of the book or the inside jacket if it’s hardcover and if it interests me, I take it home and either love it or hate it. This method has worked well for me for thirty-five years. And now? Not so much.

Now I walk into a store and look at the books and they all sound awful. And many of them are. And now I can’t even count on the publishers to help me figure out which is which.


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