Week 28: A New Visitor

Hey everyone!  I hope you all are having a nice July so far.  This week my something new was one I wish could be repeated more frequently.  This week my brother was in town and he stayed with me for a few days.  My brother lives on the other side of the country, and while this isn’t his first trip out west, it is the first time he’s been able to stay with me.  Normally he stays with our mom because she has both a bed for him to sleep in and he’s able to use her car a lot of the time.  So normally when he comes to visit, I only get to see him briefly on weekends.  However, I now have an actual bed in my guest room as opposed to an uncomfortable blow-up bed (exciting, I know!)  I still don’t have a car he can really borrow, but this time we were able to make things work for the three days he stayed with me.  He had work to do in the city where I work, so he hitched a ride with me to work and was able to get his stuff done while I went to work.  Then, the managers at work were kind enough to let him in as a guest so he could hang out with me at work getting his own work done until my shift was over.  It really was a great situation.

Of course, I would have loved to be able to hang out with him more outside of work so we could actually talk, do something fun, and enjoy our time together, but this was better than nothing.  We got to hang out at my house, he introduced me to the BBC show Top Gear, which was pretty funny despite the fact that I really don’t care about cars.  We also got to talk on the drive to and from work, and he went on a little trip down memory lane with the playlist I listen to while driving.  I honestly didn’t realize how old most of the songs are (90s – early 2000s), although I probably should have considering boyfriend usually commandeers the music controls when we’re driving together…

Anyway, I’m always thrilled when I get to spend time with my brother and this was no exception.  I hope he’s able to come to visit again sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, I’m visiting his side of the country as I write this, and will be returning the favor by staying at his place for a few days, which is also something new for the both of us.  Can’t wait to tell you all about it next week!

Week 27: New Task, Familiar Block

Hey everyone!  I hope you all are doing well.  As I mentioned last week, this week my something new was to draw some illustrations for the story I wrote last week.  Now, I didn’t expect to create master works of art immediately.  I figured I’d sit down, sketch out some ideas, then refine and edit them from there.  Basically, I figured it would follow the same process as writing and editing the story.  However, what I found was that every time I sat down to draw, I basically faced the illustrator’s version of writer’s block.

One would think, or at least I thought, that since I already had the story written, and had images in my head, sketching them would be relatively easy.  Nope.  Not the case.  I did make some sketches, and I still have the images in my head, but when I try to translate those images to actual drawings, I stumble.  Suddenly, the image in my head becomes fuzzy and in some cases, evaporates completely as I try to draw it.  It’s almost like when I was writing, I had a very far away view of what was going on, then when I tried to draw it up close, I realized there was a lot I couldn’t see.

That’s not to say it’s all bad.  Like I said, I did draw, and much like I often find with writing, the more I forced myself to draw, the more I was able to see my vision.  I also got some new ideas that were not part of my original vision as I was fiddling around with my drawings.  Not to mention ideas I hope to use in future alphabet stories.  For example: H and I are very friendly and very close neighbors, X feels a little left out since he doesn’t get to start many words, and J and K are best friends and quite the pranksters (for my fellow Harry Potter fans, think along the lines of Fred and George Weasley).  I haven’t started writing any new alphabet stories yet, but the ideas are swirling, which is always encouraging.

Hopefully next week I will have some more progress, as well as another something new to report.  See ya!

Week 26: A New Routine

Hey everyone!  Happy July!  I hope you all are doing well and trying new things.  My something new was semi-successful this week.  Since I was so excited about the writing space I created for myself last week, I decided that this week I was going to create a new routine for myself so I would be more likely to use the space every day.  My workday doesn’t start until the afternoon, so my plan was to set my alarm, wake up, get ready, write for an hour, then still have a little time to relax before I had to leave for work.  It was a perfect plan, I wouldn’t have to go to bed really early, I would still get eight hours of sleep.  No problem, right?  Eh… maybe, maybe not.

I did actually stick to that routine for two days.  But for the rest of the week I was unable to stick to my desired wake up time.  I thought it would be easier after day 1 because I was so tired all day from waking up early that I figured I’d have no trouble getting to sleep a little earlier than normal.  Yet that just didn’t happen.  Does anyone else notice that sometimes regardless of when you woke up or how exhausted you feel all day, when it finally comes time to go to sleep your brain suddenly wakes up and flat out refuses to cooperate?  So, that was part of this issue, another part was that this week I seemed to have trouble sleeping in general.  I woke up every 2-3 hours every night, and I have no idea why.  Finally, I ended up having to stay late at work 3 out of 5 days.  It was a pain in the butt, but that’s what happens when you are dealing with live TV; things don’t always go according to plan.   As a result, I didn’t always get an hour of writing in before work, but I did write every day, and made my hour writing goal 4 out of 7 days.

Clearly there is room for improvement, but the daily writing did result in an unexpected achievement.  On Wednesday, I had an idea for a children’s book inspired by my friend’s daughters (the friend and kids I wrote about in Week 22).  That is what I set out to write for the remainder of the week, and I am happy to report that I have completed the first draft.  The finished story bears very little resemblance to the initial idea I had in my head, but that is beside the point.  I don’t want to give it all away, but my elevator pitch for the story is:

The letters of the alphabet are preparing to sing their song to the kids at school, but Z is missing.

Next week my goal is to edit the story and draw some illustrations for it.  Wish me luck!

Week 25: A New Writing Space

Wow!  Finally caught up with myself again!  I am very excited about that, and will do my absolute best to ensure that it never happens again.  Next week’s something new is an effort to help prevent something like this from ever happening again.  But more on that next week after I’ve actually tried it.

This week my something new is a small one designed to help provide me with an area of focus.  Now, I am not one who believes that a writer is required to have a dedicated writing space.  I believe if you want one great, if you don’t, also great.  Personally, when I am in the mood and have an idea, I can write anywhere, especially since I downloaded the Word app to my phone, I really have no excuse (except a dead phone battery and no paper and pens/pencil of course).  However, I still find myself not writing all too frequently, even when I have to time to.  I’ll sit on the couch or lay in bed with my computer/ phone/ notebook in front of me and proceed to not write.  Why, I don’t know, but it’s frustrating.

This past week the drive to get up to date with this blog was my motivation for daily writing.  Now that I’ve caught up, I want to continue writing daily, but I know myself, and without a deadline, I will fall into my old habit of putting it off and never writing, if I am not careful.  Therefore, what I decided to do this week was create a dedicated writing space for myself.  It’s nothing fancy.  I just cleared a space on one side of my dining room table (which is never actually used for dining), put my laptop down and decided whenever I sit there, the only thing I can do is write.  If I am working on a story and need to do some research, I can go on the internet for a couple minutes, but only to do research, no Facebook, no Instagram, no texting, no mindless web-surfing, I’m not even letting myself listen to music when I am in this space.

The hope is that by dedicating myself a writing space, I will program my mind to be in writing mode whenever I sit there.  The goal of course being more productive writing sessions resulting in completed stories.  Ideally, once my brain is programmed to write daily, the ideas and inspiration will flow more frequently throughout the entire day since my mind will be more open to them from my work in this space.  Then I will write more even when I’m not in my writing spot.  I might be getting a little ahead of myself there, but my dream is still to be a published, full-time author.  I know right now I am a long way from that, but every little step counts, and this my latest step.

Week 24: Haircuts and Baseball

Hey everyone!  I hope you all are doing well, trying new things and doing well. This week my something new was a simple one, and technically something I’ve done before, yet still something that makes me anxious whenever the time comes to do it.  This week my something new was a new haircut, and in this case, not just a trim, but a little change in style as well.

I knew I needed a haircut, I have for quite some time, yet I kept putting it off because I’m always nervous I’m going to go, get it cut, and for whatever reason hate it afterwards, then be forced to live with it until my hair finally grows back.  There are many reasons I might hate my new hairstyle, maybe there was a communication breakdown and either I didn’t explain what I wanted properly, or the stylist misunderstood.  Maybe it’s cut perfectly, but I discover that I absolutely hate what I thought I wanted, or maybe my hair just refuses to stay a styled, so it looks great when I leave the salon that day, but then I can never get it to look that way again.  See?  Tons of thins could go wrong, and as a result, I usually end up putting off a new haircut much longer than I should, resulting in dry hair with split ends.  Not a good look either.

So, this week, I finally went to the salon and got it done.  There was a minor communication mix-up, but thankfully it had nothing to do with my hair cut or style.  The stylist executed those perfectly.  The issue was I wanted the regular shampoo, cut and dry, but she thought I just asked for the cut and dry.  I’m new to this salon, so at first I thought it just worked differently.  But by the end, when my hair had been cut and partially dried, I asked “aren’t we going to wash it?” and the misunderstanding was resolved.  I am happy to report that so far, I love my new haircut.  Yay!

I also mentioned baseball in the title of this post, and in this case, it wasn’t the activity that was new, it was just the players I was watching.  Baseball is my favorite sport, and the Yankees are my favorite team.  However, they are on the other side of the country, so since I moved, the Angels became my number two team and the Dodgers round out the top three.  This week it just so happened that the Yankees were in town to play the Angels, so I got to go to the games.  So much fun.  Normally when I go to Angels Stadium, I am wearing some form of Angels gear, either a hat or a shirt, and I bring my rally monkey with me just in case.  But that all changes when the Yankees are in town.  When they come, I’m wearing my Mariano Rivera hat, a Yankee shirt, I bring my Yankee jacket, and the rally monkey stays at home.

Sadly, the Yankees lost two out of three games, but I finally got to see some of the new players in person, and it has me excited for the future.  The most exciting to the fans was definitely Aaron Judge.  Many fans stood up every time he came to bat, which I understand when it’s the 8th or 9th inning and the game is on the line, but in the earlier innings I think it adds unnecessary pressure to him, and more importantly, annoys those of us who are vertically challenged because then we can’t see.  So, to the fans who stand up every time Judge steps up to the plate, unless his hit is going to tie or win us the game, sit your butt down!

On a more amusing note, there were many people dressed in judge costumes, with the black robes and white wigs.  I thought it was hilarious, and a fun way for fans to show their love and support of the rookie.  My mom however thought that adults dressing up like that was ridiculous, and something that should be left to kids and teenagers.  I tried to make a point that it was just people having fun, but she wasn’t buying it.  Just to add some perspective, I wear my mini mouse ears when I go to a Disney theme park and would be totally willing to dress up like a wizard with my friends if we were going to the Wizarding World or Harry Potter.  Maybe it’s a generational thing, who knows.  Anyway, despite the two losses, I had a great time.  I’m looking forward to going back next month to see the Angels play the Red Sox with my rally monkey in tow!

Week 23: Playing Catch-up & Making Lists

This week my something new was focusing on going back in time and catching up with my blog posts.  Clearly I wasn’t entirely successful since I wasn’t caught up by the end of the week.  However, it did help me get back into a semi-regular writing routine, which I have since improved on.

One other thing I tried was creating a daily to-do list in an effort to help me prioritize how I spend my time. Some days I got everything on my list done, some days I didn’t.  By the end of the week I realized that not everything I need to do can fit on a daily list because they simply take more time.  I don’t know about you, but I know I go through productive spurts where for a few days I’ll be in a ‘get stuff done’ mode, but then it tapers off and I start getting lazy again.  I want to try to combat that so I can be more consistently productive and so I don’t end up kicking myself at the end of the day for wasting time.  That’s not to say I want to be busy all the time, but I don’t want to feel like I’m not doing anything valuable with my time either.

I’m still figuring out the most effective way for me to prioritize my time and keep myself in check, but one thing I do know for myself is that I love the feeling of crossing something off my list.  It helps me feel more productive, confident, and eager to keep going and get something else done, so I’m definitely going to keep working at it until I find what works best for me.

Week 21: A New Language

This week’s something new was inspired by a conversation with one of my co-workers.  We were talking about languages, and in particular how we would like to learn Spanish.  I mentioned that I studies French in high school, and while it was fun, I have since forgotten most of it and it isn’t serving me very well in Southern California. He told me he had studied German in school, and now he couldn’t remember why.

We had a little laugh and then he showed me an app called Duolingo that he was using to help learn Spanish when he had a few minutes of free time throughout the day. (It can also work for many other languages).  He told me how it worked, and since it was free, I decided to try it.  I downloaded it, set my goal for a meager 10 minutes per day, and got started.

It was pretty easy to figure out how things worked once I got started, although I know I didn’t catch on to some of the rules right away.  I understand different words are used when the subject is a boy, a girl, or plural, but in practice I wasn’t always using the right words.  Once I realized why I kept getting some answers wrong, I didn’t feel like I was guessing quite as much.

Some of the lessons are easy, the app gives you pictures with the Spanish term underneath and asks you to identify it, such as, ‘what is the word for apple in Spanish?’  Now did I get that answer right the first time because I knew that manzana is apple?  No, but I know what an apple looks like, so I got it right, (yay!)

In short, I feel like I’m learning basic words, and slowly beginning to understand how to properly construct sentences, at least in writing.  I can mimic a sentence once I hear the app say it, but I doubt I’m able to say them on my own just yet.  As of now I don’t feel any closer to understanding what people are saying when they speak Spanish, at least aside from words like hola and gracias, but like anything I know it takes time, so I’ll keep trying and we’ll see what happens.  Later!

Week 20: A New Alarm

Hello everyone!  This week’s entry goes to show I’m playing catch-up in many areas of my life at the moment.  This week was the first time I tried using my oven since I moved back into my home.  I’ve already asserted in previous entries that I am no cook, in fact, unless I am baking a cake or making fudge I find cooking to be rather stressful.  But that’s just me.  Still, this week I wanted to make myself some simple baked chicken breast for lunch.  It’s simple enough, throw the chicken in the pan, toss some spices over it, stick it in the oven, and hour later you have a meal.  It’s something I’ve done dozens of times.

But this time it wasn’t so simple.  I completed all the steps, except 7 minutes after I stuck it in the oven, my kitchen is filled with smoke and the alarm is going off.  Even though there was no fire, I definitely had a moment of panic when I thought the sprinklers were going to go off and I would be forced out of my home for another four months.  Thankfully that didn’t happen, I turned the oven off and unfortunately had to lose the chicken.  But the smoke went away and the alarms stopped, so in the grand scheme of things all is fine.

Except that now I’m afraid to use my oven.  I don’t know where the smoke came from because that’s never happened to me before.  My only thought is that drywall dust from when they were cutting my walls open could have gotten inside and caused it, but how to I get rid of that?  Unfortunately my oven is not self-cleaning, so now I have to go get some oven cleaner and see if that helps.  I’ll do it, and I’ll try again (with something small) but I’m still a little nervous that it’s going to result in a kitchen full of smoke again.  Until then I will continue eating lots of sandwiches I guess…

Week 19: Windy

This week I encountered something new that was entirely unplanned.  This week my something new was navigating the highways of Southern California with the wind blowing so hard that I was afraid my car would either be blown over, be blown into the highway divider, or be blown into the car next to me.  It really was stressful because since the wind blows in gusts, the cars on the road would move around so much we all looked drunk.  It was very scary, especially when there was a car next to me, I would get mad at it and either speed up or slow down just to get away from it.

There were two nights in particular where the wind was rather frightening on the drive home.  The first night I was so focused on just staying in my lane that I missed the exit to get home!  That resulted in spending more time driving in crazy winds, which was not fun.  Thankfully, I didn’t miss my exit the second night because there was no way I was going to let that happen twice in a row.  I’m not a fan of driving to begin with, but driving while feeling like my car is going to blow away is definitely not my idea of a good time, thank you very much.

Week 18: A New Challenge

This weeks something new came as a surprise at work.  There was one day where there was an unexpectedly large number of sick calls and there were not enough people in each department to cover the necessary positions.  I was called upon to cover a position in another department.  I have trained in the is position before, and I am very familiar with the programs used because I use them in my regular position, just not for the same purposes.  The hard part was that I haven’t covered this position once in over two years and I had to do it during a live show.

The reason I stopped training in this position oh so long ago is because some of the duties involved require listening to several people at once while working very fast to get something on air during a live show.  The working fast I can handle, I might need practice to get the speed down, but I’m often told I do things very quickly in my regular position.  The problem was the listening to several people at once.  Some of the people are in the same room, others are talking to you over headset, but they are not just talking to you, they are talking to lots of people, so you have to be able to do your work while also listening for when you are the one receiving instructions.  This is a big challenge for someone who is hard of hearing.  I can’t speak for everyone, but one of the results of my hearing loss is that I have learned to naturally tune out noise, especially when I am focused on something.  In this case that meant I was inadvertently tuning out some of the people who were talking to me when I was focused on the task at hand, which resulted in some challenges and the mutual decision that this was not the right position for me.

However, on this particular day, I was really the only one able to cover the position so I stepped up to the challenge.  Thankfully, by the time I stepped in, the portion of the job where the operator had to listen while working quickly was finished, so I mainly had to listen and occasionally push a button.  It doesn’t sound like much, but my heart rate always goes up when I’m in a live TV environment.  Thankfully, despite my racing pulse, I did the job flawlessly.  My boss even went out of his way to thank me for stepping up and tell me I did a fantastic job.  Feedback like that is always appreciated, and once the show was over and I was able to take a deep breath, I felt very proud of myself for stepping up even though I wasn’t 100% confident. I was also happy I remembered what needed to be done, and relieved that I didn’t miss any instructions.

It felt good to prove to myself that I could get the job done, and also made me feel that perhaps now with my new hearing aids, as I retrain my brain how to listen and work at the same time, I might be able to step up and do that position again with greater success.  I know it won’t happen immediately, but people have noticed differences in my hearing, and now that it’s not such a struggle to hear, maybe I can work on not tuning out so much…