Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Friday: Good Times

Well, I've been working on some things the past few weeks that have me feeling pretty good. About a month ago I started writing down notes on a story idea I've had percolating for most of this year. I've written the first paragraph; mostly, though, I've made notes on characters and done quite a bit of world-building. Since it's a fantasy/sci-fi idea, I'll need to establish some parameters of the time/place my characters are living in. And you know what? I think I'm doing good so far.

For the past two weeks, though, I've been keeping most of my attention on writing a short story for a Writer's Digest competition. This is the first short story I've written and only the second real writing contest of any kind I've entered. The entry fee is nice and cheap (only five bucks), so I figured I couldn't not enter.

This story is another one that's been in my brain, but this time I've been thinking about it for years. Finally getting these ideas down feel really good. Like maybe I'm having a creative breakthrough and pushing aside my fears a bit.

Well, that's enough about me! Let's show you some awesome internet things!

1) Photojojo has a great tutorial on shooting double exposure pictures, even for those of you using digital.

2) Lifehacker has a plan to help you get to the root of your rampant procrastination.

3) Brain Pickings introduces us to The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman. It's a book about how trying so hard to think positive all the time might actually be harming our chances of being happy. My cynical self is very eager to read this one. You will be too, especially after watching the book trailer.

4) If you love movies and want a deep read on movies about African Americans, you have to check out this Indiewire post about "race traitors." There's a lot of interesting stuff in there.

5) OK, I know I said I wasn't going to write more about me today, but I finally have confirmation that I'm not the only one who spends most of every summer heat wave angry! (And when I say "summer heat wave" I actually mean any day above 75 degrees in the summer.)

Now, I hope you've all enjoyed New Music Week because it's coming to a close. Here's some new newness for your Friday afternoon!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Today Is Light Duty

Wow, I am low on inspiration today. I probably needed more sleep and a much stronger caffeinated beverage this morning. But, that doesn't mean I lack for new sounds. New Music Week continues!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Have Done This Work Thing All Wrong

Annie Jump Cannon

I had a bad dream that scared me awake yesterday morning. I was still working at my old job, the one I spent almost 10 years at doing things I didn't care about at all. One day, the Big Boss' daughter comes in with him. She's a little girl of around nine or so. He introduces me and she seems nice, then they head back to his office with her bounding down the hall all the way.

The next part of the dream is a bit fuzzy, but as I remember it, I start a vacation the next day and am gone for about a week. Normal vacation time. When I get back in to work everyone's asking me about my time off and I see a new face. We're introduced and when she walks away I ask someone about her. What do they say? Oh, her? She's Big Boss' daughter, remember? She works here now.

The woman is clearly mid-twenties. Meaning, 15 years have passed with me doing the same job I hate and I hadn't even noticed.

I cannot fully describe the cold dread that woke me up Tuesday morning. I was sick to my stomach, sweaty and something else...Suddenly aware, maybe? After my initial shock I didn't think about the dream any more. Until this morning when I had a work-related flash of insight:

When I left my job four years and six months ago, I wasn't stepping out on faith. I was being stupid.

There's a saying about faith without works being dead. I hadn't done any of the work to be able to leave my job and have things turn out alright. But it didn't occur to me at the time. When they made me the offer, all I could think about was being free. Of course, I likely would have been fired had I not taken the deal, but I didn't think about that either. The idea of being happy with some job somewhere was all I could see.

And yet, now that I know this, and truly feel in my bones that I made a huge mistake, there's nothing I can do about it. Now, I feel more fear about the future than I do on an average day. I feel dumber, even less prepared to live and thrive in the real world. More useless. Less able to cope with my failings.

And I don't (really, really don't) know what to do about it.

Ahh, fuck. I need some music to pep me up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday Tipday: How To Do Nothing

As someone who is riddled with fears, wild hopes and anxieties, it is frequently important to sit the fuck down, shut the fuck up and do nothing. And I'm not talking about turning off the TV so you can start the latest bestseller. God, no. I'm literally talking about doing nothing.

About twice a month I sit in the bathroom with fresh air blowing across my face and stare out the window. (What do you mean, am I using the bathroom? A-Rude question; B-Sometimes, yes; C-What does it matter?) All I care about is having a little time to clear my mind of worries and responsibilities.

That's all that should matter to you, too. Here's how to make it happen.

How To Do Nothing

1) This is not a chore. Don't immediately add Do Nothing to the already long list of crap you have to take care of. Planning for it will make it seem like a duty instead of a sanity-saving measure.

2) Stop where you are. This isn't about marathon length quiet time; the goal is to fit it into your daily activities. I don't make special trips to the bathroom for this, I just linger a bit longer than necessary on occasion. So, if you finish loading the dryer, stop for a minute or two, listen to the hum and do nothing. I promise, it will feel nice.

3) Find what you like. If you're having trouble carving out 60 seconds for this, you're probably trying too hard to "do it right". Think of something you enjoy looking at and use that as your focus for nothingness. Ripples blowing across a lake? Fine. Running horses? Great. Naked people? That'll do the trick. Commit that image to your imagination if it's not naturally occurring around you. Then, use it as a starting point.

4) Meditate if you dare. Years ago when I was living in my first apartment after moving out of my mom's place, I tried in earnest to meditate. I'd lay on special mats and light special candles and listen to special music. Nothing much ever came of it. Then, one night with my windows open and sounds of the street pouring in, I decided to sit in a lawn chair in my living room in the dark and try again.

I don't know exactly what happened, but I had some sort of semi-transcendent moment that scared the shit out of me and made me stay away from meditation for over a decade. My point? Find what works for you. All the prep work I put in clearly stopped me from having a real experience. If you need more than a minute on the toilet, take it.

5) Relax, already. To really clear you mind, don't try to clear your mind. That will only litter your brain with all kinds of useless rumblings that will be even harder to get out. Let your mind wander. The thoughts will come and go, and in between them you'll have little spells of calm blankness. You will finally be doing nothing, and you'll like it.

Now, let's dive into New Music Week!

What's you favorite way to do nothing?

Monday, July 09, 2012

Music Monday: New Music Week!

So, it's Monday again. We got some relief in St. Louis courtesy of a good, old fashioned rainy night yesterday. We hadn't had any major rain for about three weeks, so it had been dry and super hot.

HUBS and I also spent two and a half hours at the most extensive community pool I've ever been to. They had two giant water slides, a large outdoor pool, an indoor water slide, an indoor wave pool, a kiddie pool with bubbles and hot tub. HUBS has been talking about going to this particular pool for at least two years and I've never wanted to go.

Why, you ask? Because I hate being in public with no pants on. Because I can't swim. Because I dislike seeing bodies that are better or worse than mine. Because I dislike getting my hair wet or my eyeglasses wet. Because I don't like getting splashed in the face...I could go on, but won't. Despite my distaste for getting any part of my body wet while not bathing, I am a huge wet blanket at the pool (The beach is another story. I like beaches as long as I have some shade.)

But I went. For HUBS. And after about an hour I got a locker key, put my bag away, watched HUBS on the water slides and waded into the wave pool. After getting a 20 minute pounding, we went off the the hot tub and relaxed with the water jets. I don't need to go through this every weekend, but I'd be willing to go again at some point.

Now, we all know Monday is for music here on citygirl, but I've decided to do something different this week. Along with my usual Monday post, I'm also going to feature two new (to me, anyway) songs each day through Friday. Yay, right? Discovering new bands/artists is one of the things I love most in this world, and I especially love turning other people on to good music.

So, let's get started!

To tell me what new music you're loving lately, leave a comment below and maybe some of your favorites will show up on New Music Week!


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