Bring on the blonde jokes

I bet you thought i was going to forget to post today. If I didnt have a WordPress app on my iphone, I probably would have.
Remember that time i told you guys I was going to dye my hair brown? Well I did and I guess for a whole week now i have officially been a brunette.
i’m honestly not sure how I feel yet. For the first few days I thought it looked like I was wearing a wig. I have been blonde my entire life, so this was quite the adjustment. Opinions?
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i just don’t..

Inspired by Ashley and Becky’s posts, I decided to also share all the things I don’t do.
Ashley wrote about the mask of perfection, in the sense that, while there are so many wonderful things she has experienced or witnessed via blogging, she also see so much “perfection” on blogs that just seem too good to be true. She suggested we “declare ourselves rife with imperfection” (love that phrase) which I think is just the greatest thing we can all do. Here goes nothing…

  • While I do actually work at my 101 in 1001 list, I never update the blog. This drives me insane personally, because I take notes and take photos; all I need to do is post them. My first 101 list ended on 10/1/2011, and my second one started 10/2/11. I haven’t even posted or updated anything about the new list! I’m so behind schedule.
  • I don’t write nearly as much as a graduate student (in creative writing) should. I hate to admit it, but it is true. That is something I have been working on very hard this semester, and I should probably pat myself on the back and admit that it is slightly getting better.
  • I haven’t been on the 20SB site in forever. I love the community and what it has grown to be, but I’m neglecting it.
  • I buy birthday, holiday, new house, new baby, new job, congratulations, thank you, retirement and sympathy cards all the time. When I need one, I usually fill it out and address it. Then it sits somewhere stamp-less for way too long. I just found a card for one of my friend’s who got an awesome job in May. It is November and it was never mailed.
  • I don’t know how to cook very much. I can cook killer breakfasts: anything with eggs, pancakes, waffles, french toast, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread.  I make a mean spaghetti, great chow mein, mac and cheese, oh yeah I made a great salmon (like twice) ehhhh… I can grill stuff good too. I sear a tuna like a  pro. Basically, I’ve been learning how to cook. Mr. O has been helping me learn, and I’m excited about it.
  • I don’t spend as much time with my grandparents as I would like to. I know how important it is, and I just need to put more effort in.
  • I don’t comment on blogs like I used to. I read every single post in my reader, and I “star” so many of them so that when I have a chance I can go over and comment. But 1/2 the time I never end up doing it. 🙁
  • I don’t ever complete a NaBloPoMo. Ever. I’m on day three and going strong though, so I’ve got hope for this month.
  • I don’t clean my apartment like a normal human. I’m hardly ever there, so I tend to just let things pile up until it is a big mess and then try like hell to attack it all at once.
  • I don’t do my laundry more than once a week. In fact there is a good chance that I do my laundry every other week. How? Well, I’m fortunate to own a LOT of clothing. The only thing that stinks about this is that I usually do a LOT of loads all at once.
  • I don’t get my oil changes on time… EVER. I wait and I wait and I wait and then the guilt piles up and finally I get it done.
  • I don’t send attachments in emails. Most of the time. I’ll send an email out at work that says something like, “reference the attached email,” but then forget to attach it.
  • I don’t remember half of what I am supposed to. It is sad, but true. Lists keep me sane.
  • I don’t complete 98% of the DIY or craft projects I aim to. I still however love to shop at Michael’s and AC Moore.
  • I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy this season. It is my favorite show, but I just can’t remember to put it on.
  • I don’t wash my hair everyday. If I did it would be stringy and gross. However. If I go more than 48 hours without washing it, it will be ridiculously greasy. It’s a lose-lose.
  • I don’t floss as often as I should. I’ve got no excuses for this one.
  • I don’t write in my diary. I like my diary, but between school, this blog and the talking I do with friends and family, there isn’t that much more to say.
  • I don’t wake up early enough for work every single morning, which in turns make me rushed and almost/sometimes late.

the past two days

Last night Mr. O and I went to my grandparents’ house to drop off their birthday presents. There is a water tank directly across the street that has been there since my mom was young. They are taking it down now and plan on replacing it with a new one. I watched them for a while and thought the process was so wild, so I figured I’d share a picture.

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 On Sunday, Mr. O and  I decided to do a little more cooking together.  I knew I wanted corn, but we werent sure what else to eat. We decided to make some kabobs and I couldn’t be happier with how they came out. Here are a few iPhone pics of the process.

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On being a fiction writer

Phil Lemos was the first person I “met” at my graduate school program. Why? Because I was fortunate enough to have him as my Big Brother. It was a match made by the writing gods, and I’m forever grateful to have been paired up with Phil. Don’t forget to find your way over to his blog after you’re done reading this. He’s quite the funny guy.

Phil and I at my first grad school residency

This week I finished the first draft of a novel. Also this week, somebody asked me what I do for a living. (I’ve been unemployed long enough to develop an intense aversion toward fielding that question.)

I paused for a minute and then said I’m a fiction writer. The logical next question was, “How long have you worked as a fiction writer?”

“My entire life,” I said.

And it’s true. Even when I was a gas station attendant, stockbroker or payroll supervisor, I was a fiction writer, even if I may not have realized it.

My career as a fiction writer began early in my childhood, when I wrote elaborate short stories in grade school that entertained and bewildered my teachers. The creative side of my mind invented a series of fictional universes and I pumped out stories in those universes. When my teacher asked us to write a 3-page story, I wrote a 12-page story. While the extra pages could easily have driven them batty, my teachers would always suggest to my parents that I pursue a career in writing.

Writing soon took a back seat, though. I didn’t major in creative writing or English at Syracuse, though I took three writing classes (two A’s and a B+). I graduated and the real world intervened.  I had to get a “job” that would “pay the bills.”  I spent eight years writing, but as a newspaper reporter, not a fiction writer. Then I got bored and also discovered that newspapers were slowly dying. So I left journalism and became a stock broker.

Four years ago, for a variety of reasons, I walked away from my career as a stockbroker (none of which involve any clairvoyance regarding the looming stock market crash). I sold my practice and tried to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I began writing again – first in short, private bursts on my laptop and then in emailed short stories and mock newspaper articles to my friends, who frequently wrote back, “You should do this for a living.”

That’s when it clicked. Fiction writing was what I always wanted to do. I just never had the chance to do it.

I’ve spent the past couple of years pursuing my Master of Fine Arts in fiction. The novel whose first draft I just finished will be my thesis. I’ll spend my final semester revising it. Writing the novel has been fun, painful and exhausting all at once. Obviously, I hope to find a publisher and make some money.

There are long odds against that.

At times I ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” It’s counterintuitive to devote a lot of time to something in which the opportunity for financial success is minimal. Yet people do it all the time – athletes, musicians, actors, hoping for that opportunity to seize.

I guess writers are cut from the same cloth. For every Jonathan Franzen, Mary Karr, T. S.  Eliot or Diablo Cody there’s a struggling writer out there hoping to find the right hands to place their work. But even if it doesn’t work out for me, no matter what career path I land on, I can always say that I’m a fiction writer.

blast from the past

So this past weekend I went to get some of my old toys and books out of storage. I figured at this point, most of it was junk, so I wanted to put in a little effort to go through it, keep the few items I knew I didn’t want to part with, throw out the trash and donate the rest. I decided to bring little Miss Fenway for the ride. She still isn’t the biggest fan of going for a drive, but she was so excited to go inherit some of my old stuffed animals that she can now tear apart.

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Here are a few of the random finds:
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Yeah, I don’t know how Trolls were all the rage back in the day… These things just scare me!

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Little People! These were my favorite. I am absolutely keeping this house. I brought it home, and my nephew saw it before I packed it away with the rest of my stuff. I might be paranoid, but I think that little guy is making plans to steal this when I’m not looking… Yeah, not going to happen.

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Sweet ride. I loved my Barbie dolls.

 

poor, not poor: debt be gone, saving be done

So, I like to shop…. I also like to save. Let me share some tips (and back-story) with you.

I got hit by a drunk driver in March, totaling Jude, my Saturn Vue (sniffle, sniffle). This event forced me to car-shop, which is probably my least favorite thing in the world. Anyway, a little over a month after the accident, I purchased Bob, a Honda CRV. Now, of course I made sure that Bob was the best deal I could get for the money I was spending, but since I wasn’t planning on such a big purchase, I’ve been a bit anxious about money in the past week or so.


Bob makes his debut on the blog!

Something else you should know. I was 100% (for the most part) completely out of debt. I’ve had a bit of credit card debt pretty much since I graduated college. I just didn’t understand how credit works, and I made some silly decisions. (Never put stuff like laundry detergent and toothpaste on your credit card if you can afford to pay for it with cash or a debit card, because I have the feeling I just finished paying off some Tide I bought in 2006). Point is, I spent the past year and a half really trying to learn about credit and finances, pay off the debt I was carrying and choosing to never make a similar mistake again.

The thing is, I actually love my credit cards, especially Discover. I love the perks I get for using my cards. So far, I’ve earned two round trip tickets from Southwest by Chase, and so much cash back and other awards from my Discover card. I think I got over $200 cash back just by using my Discover card to purchase MacDaddy, aka William F*cking Shakespeare, my MacBook Pro. Now that is a great credit card. The trick is to pay off your balances in full every single month. If you cannot do that, then you should not be using credit. EVER. I’m serious. I never, ever, ever, ever want to be weighed down by unnecessary debt again.

So back to the story in hand. As of January 1, I had a credit card debt (only a small amount though because I was almost finished paying it off). I also had a car loan, and technically I have school loans. The reason I say technically, is because it is for graduate school, and since I’m currently in school right now, I’m pretending these loans do not exist. I will acknowledge them the day after I graduate. So lets pretend that as of January 1, 2011 I just had credit card debt and a car loan. I did not have a mortgage or any other type of loans or debt. I know that I was better off than many other 26-year-olds, but I still felt suffocated. I hated to make life decisions based on the hold money had on me.

So, I finished paying off my credit card debt 100% in March. Not only that, but my car insurance considered my car totaled, and then paid off the remainder of my loan (which by default checked an item off my 101 in 1001 goals list).  March was a great financial month for me, huh?

But, a girl can’t get to her job that’s 55 miles away by walking back and forth every day, so it was about time for me to buy a new SUV. Bob is wonderful; with gas prices so high, I really appreciate how great he has been. Even though the accident wiped out my car loan, Bob just created a new one for me. The deal I got on my CRV was great, and so are the loan terms. Technically I can pay Bob off in 4 years easily, but I am going to pinch every penny possible and keep my fingers crossed that Bob will be paid off by the time I graduate (per that my financial situation stays the same). This means that I will have paid the SUV off in approximately one year and eight months. If I choose to stay an extra semester in grad school (which seems like a possibility right now) that will add an extra six months to my timeline (it will also add money to my school loan though). I just want the car to be paid off in time for me to start paying for my graduate degree.

Good news though, folks. Don’t fret! By THAT time, I plan on being a best selling memoirist or columnist who gets overpaid on every word she not only writes, but thinks. Phew! I’ll just close my eyes and snap my fingers after I get handed my diploma and *poof* school loans be gone!

So yeah, that was a whole long explanation. All I wanted to do with this post was share some of the tips I’ve learned and link to a bunch of great websites I adore and use regularly. Instead, Bob made his debut on the blog for the very first time (Welcome, Bob!) I completely detailed my financial situation (Note to potential robbers: Please notice the fact that I never mentioned the thousands and thousands I have in savings or in goods, because it doesn’t exist. I might be out of debt, but I’m still poor.)

So what is a poor young lady who loves to shop do? Make good spending decisions. And I do that by looking for deals, using coupons and regularly keeping my eye on “deal” websites.

My all time favorite is probably Groupon. I don’t even want to bother trying to explain why. Here are the sorts of things I’ve purchased through the site: gift certificates to Subway, FTD.com (flowers), Vistaprint, Shutterfly, Barnes and Nobles, Love Stamped (who I highly recommend), got a few items like a tickets to a hockey game, a canvas stretched photo, and to a few places in my area like a cupcakery, a high-end liquor store and a bookstore. I honestly check the site daily. Well truthfully, I get updates in the morning on my cell phone, but you get the idea. Also, if you purchase a Groupon through the DiscoverCard store (which I do), you get 20% CASH BACK on your purchase. AWESOME! If you don’t use Groupon yet, I honestly feel a little sad for you.

Another site I keep my eye on is Jasmere. What I like most is that the more people who purchase the deal, the lower the price gets. Only when the deal is over is the price confirmed. Scenario: I go on and want to purchase something, lets say a $40 gift certificate for jewelry, and the advertised price is $19. (Now that I’m thinking about it, this is actually something that happened) Well, if a whole bunch of people purchase after me, the price could drop to $17 (which is what happened to me) or who knows, maybe even $15! Jasmere only has one deal every single day, which I like because sometimes GroupOn has too much stuff for me to sort through (am I really complaining about too many deals?) However, I don’t always love the deals on Jasmere. In fact, I probably only love about 40% of the deals. Don’t let that get you down though, because the stuff I’ve actually purchased through this site has been ahh-ma-zinggg and top notch quality. The last deal I bought was for Pangea Handmade, and I got two rings and a pair of earrings for only $17. (Yes, this is the deal I keep talking about.) So check it out and see for yourself.

Hmm, whats next? I think y’all are just going to have to wait for more. This post is far too long already, and I should probably do some homework now.

First Guest Blogger: Amanda on Greyhounds

The first guest blogger is…..drum roll please…..Amanda from Cusp of Normal! Amanda aka Mermanda is probably one of the first members of 20Something Bloggers who I started to read, and even now years later, she keeps me coming back. I’m truly honored to have her be my first guest on Reinventing Erin. Enjoy and go over to her site to visit when you’re done reading 🙂

The lovely Erin has asked me to write about a moment of realization that I have experienced. I could write about the day that I realized the worst heartbreak of my life made me a stronger person. I could write about the day that I realized that, yes, it really is possible to eat too much sushi in one sitting. I could write about the day that I realized I am the kind of person who cries at cat food commercials… and the kind of person who should never again stray from capable hands of my hairstylist. But instead, I want to tell you about the day that I realized that I am destined for a life full of lean, long-legged, pointy-snouted, tattooed creatures known as greyhounds.

Andrew and I were not yet engaged, but in the midst of our first year of cohabitation. At that time of my life, my biggest concern was that I would never fully realize my dream of being a contestant on “Deal or No Deal.” But that is a story for another time.

One afternoon, Andrew and I went shopping in Shadyside, a fancy-pants neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Like most visits to Shadyside, we were probably there to feed my addiction for crazy eyeliner (urban decay, fyi), or to pick up an ahhh-mayyy-zing burnt almond tortefrom the famous Prantl’s Bakery. (Non-Pittsburgh dwellers, you can and SHOULD order one of these magic desserts online.)

At some point during our afternoon in Shadyside, we stumbled upon odd, yet gracefully beautiful, creatures. The animals were there for an adoption event for one of Pittsburgh’s many greyhound rescue groups. I had never seen a greyhound before, but I was enchanted. The dogs are quite tall, with their heads at about the height of my hips. I took a knee to be face-to-face with the gentle greyhound before me.  Eye-to-eye, the greyhound could not have been more at ease. And just like that, he rested his delicate chin on my shoulder. It was at that moment that I melted into a puddle of goo. Cleanup on aisle 12!

It was at that precise moment that I was certain that there would be many greyhounds in my future. Andrew was equally smitten. We  began researching them and were so excited to learn that greyhounds make great pets. Because they have hair rather than fur, they don’t have that typical “dog” smell and need bathed only about twice a year. (Hair vs. fur also makes them a great choice for people with allergies!) Greyhounds also hardly shed, so a little brushing once a month is all the grooming that they require. They also are one of the most quiet breeds, they hardly ever bark. (This makes them a poor choice if a watch dog is what you are after.) Despite the common misconception that greyhounds require lots of daily physical activity, these dogs will endear themselves to your couch faster than you can say “couch potato.” Just one or two short walks a day keeps them happy and healthy. Greyhounds are also one of the healthiest breeds thanks to their diverse breeding. (I can research my greyhound’s lineage back to the 1800s.) And I have already mentioned how extremely calm and gentle greyhounds are. They can be great with kids, and some even like the company of cats.

It wasn’t long before I was applying to adopt through Pittsburgh’s Going Home Greyhounds.(Highly recommended for any Pittsburghers looking to adopt!)


Luke with his new family on the day of his adoption

Three weeks after we bought our house in 2009,  Luke joined our family. And while we may not be able to add to the pack right away, I know he is the first of many amazing rescued retired racing greyhounds in our life. (For more about life with Luke, visit my blog, cuspofnormal.com.)

Oh, and did I mention that April is National Adopt-a-Greyhound Month? Meet Cal.

polar bear plunge 2011

I thought y’all deserved to see a few pictures from my first ever Polar Bear Plunge. Will I do it again next year…probably! Can’t believe I didn’t hate it like I thought I would. Instead I actually enjoyed it (kind of).

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Proof that I did the FU MFA Polar bear Plunge:

Ender’s Island- January 1, 2011!

trends

So I finally got my MacBook Pro on Tuesday night. I’m a little in love with the PhotoBooth app, which I remember blogging about already. Since I posted a picture the first night I had it, and then 4 more gorgeous shots last night, it would probably be a good idea to continue the trend. Just because.

Now, I’ve been stressing about writing. I’m going on vacation next weekend, and besides travel time, I’d really like to relax as much as possible- to stress less about school for a long weekend (because we all know I will stress while I am there; I just want to not stress as much). I only got a little over 1200 words written tonight. I’m aiming for at least 2000 a night to catch up to my NaNoWriMo goal of 50, 000 words. So I need to buckle down.

There fun pictures will give you a little behind the scenes of what a writer– well just this writer– looks like mid-sentence.

nothing novel

Earlier today I mentioned that I usually have striking thoughts at “12:24am” of possible blog posts, writing ideas, etc.

Well, its 12:33am and as much as I was hoping some magical thoughts would appear, they’ve appeared to allude me this evening. Did I mention though that I finally received my MacBook Pro in the mail tonight? The jury is still out on how I feel about this new computer. Part of me is so excited, and I just can’t hide it, but then the other part of me feels like I’m Sleeping Beauty waiting for that damn kiss already! But, I’ve tried to play a little tonight, and I am head over heels in love with the PhotoBooth application. I might look like a hot mess, but I swear this will majorly help me with my 101 in 1001 project. I thought I’d share with you one of this evenings masterpieces:

There is one more thing I want to address. Someone found my blog the other day by searching for “Fairfield MFA”….yikes! I wish I were actually writing more posts, because I kind of feel like a bad representation of the student body. Regardless though, if that person ever comes back to read me again… WELCOME, and feel free to ask me anything you want to know about Fairfield and the MFA program. I am finishing up my first semester in the program, and in all honesty, I am head over heels completely in love with the school. I had a ridiculously hard time trying to decide which offer I should take for MFA programs, and after the decision was made, it was impossible for me to look back. It seems like every day that program surprises me with wonderful, exciting, new opportunities, etc. Also, the staff (and students) are simply jaw dropping superb. So send me an email or leave me a comment, and we can chat more.

Just don’t judge the program by my cliches or bad grammar or lack of capitalization. Yeah, that’s not a good idea 😉