My family is quite supportive of my writing. My husband is one of my alpha readers, and his feedback has been invaluable over the years. My mother and grandmother both read my books once they’re published (which I try not to think about while I’m writing them), and one of my aunts is a fan too. I’m so grateful and fortunate to have their support!
A veterinary ophthalmologist.
I know. Specific, right? You see, my grandmother got a collie when I was a kid, and collies are prone to a variety of medical conditions, one of which is eye problems. It had never occurred to my adolescent mind that animals might have problems with their eyes the way humans did, and from that moment on… I wanted to be an eye doctor for animals.
I grew out of it, as kids usually do. By the time I hit high school, I wanted to be a music teacher. That didn’t pan out either, but I’m happy where I ended up.
I love storms. I can’t remember ever being afraid of them. My mother might be able to tell another tale, but she’s not here. I am.
So… I love storms. I’ve always loved storms. I took a meteorology class in college (during which I quietly fangirled about the professor being a local meteorologist I’d watched on TV for years), and one of my all-time favorite movies is Twister. (And in case you’re about to tell me what a shitty movie that is, save yourself some trouble because you’ll never change my mind!) I’d like to go storm chasing one day, so I can see a tornado in person.
From a distance. In broad daylight. Because I’m not suicidal.
But it turns out that storm touristing is actually rather pricey (several thousand dollars per person). I have a friend who has gone a few times, and she seems to think it’s worth it. I’d like to go with her, but I am more miserly. But maybe some day I’ll save up and go do it. Doing it with a tour group is probably more responsible than driving to Tornado Alley on my own. (Side note, that friend also wrote a great storm chaser romance.)
Anyway, nothing puts me to sleep faster than the sound of rain on the roof. I used to have a noise machine that would play rain and thunder sounds at night. At some point, it broke and I never got around to replacing it. These days, I wait for mother nature to make her presence known, but I greatly enjoy listening to a storm at night. Some of my most productive writing sessions have been during rain storms.
I do get nervous about severe weather, especially now that I have cats and live in a house where the only ground floor room with four internal walls is a tiny half bath. In a pinch, I think my husband and I could shelter in there, but the odds of getting all three cats in there with us are not great. I keep thinking I should get a weather radio, but haven’t pulled the trigger.
My father had a brush with a tornado a few years ago. It ripped right through the tiny town he lived in, knocking down power lines and disrupting phone (and cellular!) service. It took me days to get in touch with him afterward, and that was scary. A cinder block crashed through the roof of his apartment, and he had to vacate until the building could be repaired and inspected.
Fortunately, the closest I’ve ever come to a twister is one touching down a couple of miles from my house. That’s one of those things you don’t hear about until the next day and you’re like… holy crap, I am sooo lucky. But I’ve had hail pound dents into my car. (Like a good neighbor, State Farm was there.) My neighbor’s tree was struck by lightning last year.
Hopefully that’s not Mother Nature slowly zeroing in on me, because I just put a new roof on the house. Oh well. It’s under warranty.
Today is July 4th, which doesn’t mean much outside the USA but it’s kind of a big deal around here. It was always a big deal for me when I was a kid, too. I remember family barbecues and going to watch the fireworks with my parents & cousins every year. We’d put the tailgate down on Dad’s truck, and we’d all pile in the back and joke about whether or not A Mountain would get set on fire again that year. (It did, more often than not.)
No, not just “a mountain” but the peak known as “A Mountain” to the locals on account of the giant “A” on it. Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture:
I didn’t know until just now that this peak is actually named Sentinel Peak. A Mountain had always been enough for me. Believe it or not, it’s not the only peak with a giant A on it in Arizona, either. Tempe Butte, which sits pretty much right in the middle of Tempe, AZ has a big A on it too.
Arizona, I tell ya. There are interesting stories behind both of these peaks and how they came to have A’s on them, but I’ll leave that to you to discover. I didn’t actually set out to talk about the Mountains A, that’s just where I ended up. (That’s kind of how my fiction writing goes too, more often than not.)
I wanted to talk about the Fourth of July. Independence Day. The day dogs don’t know they should fear until it’s too late and the big scary booms are going off. I don’t get together for family barbecues anymore, because I don’t have any family locally. My husband and I usually grill something (today he’s smoking pork ribs, yum) and when I start hearing the fireworks going off I’ll wander down to the end of the driveway to watch—a benefit of living a mile away from our town’s “Liberty Fest” site: I don’t have to do crowds or nature to get my fireworks on.
Anyway, the 4th is usually just a day off work, a day of rest, video games, and Netflix bingeing. This year, the 4th is a chance to catch up on writing (or write blog posts, ahem) and live my dream of working for myself for a day. I guess that’s kind of a celebration of independence, now that I think about it. Sitting at my favorite coffee shop in the middle of the week, drinking “freedom chai” and writing my ass off is a holiday tradition I could get behind.
Maybe later I’ll do something patriotic. For now, I should probably get some of that writing done.
Is your daily commute killing you?
I don’t want to sound dramatic, but stress has been linked to all sorts of health problems, physical and mental. I recently came to the realization that a significant source of stress in my life is my daily commute.
For the last ten years or so, I’ve been spending roughly 2 hours per day, Monday through Friday, sitting in traffic. I’ve managed to turn an awful, boring, stressful activity into an opportunity for brainstorming and self-improvement (through podcasts on writing & publishing).
You know what? That daily drive is still stressful.
This week, I did something about it. No, I didn’t quit my job (yet). I started riding the bus. Austin has these great commuter buses that go to/from the ‘burbs. They’re more like riding a Greyhound than a city bus. It’s reasonably comfy and not as crowded as the train tends to get during rush hour.
Now I have an hour in the morning and afternoon to look forward to instead of dread. I can still listen to podcasts. I can still brainstorm. Heck, I could even write if I want to get ahead. I’ve taken these two hours of my life back, and said goodbye to all that stress.
I may not live significantly longer as a result of this small change, but I’m going to be a whole lot happier.
I challenge you to pick one thing that stresses you out and try to figure out a way to alleviate it.