books

Reading Fever

downloadI decided to take a few days off from the blog. I’m going through a fanatical reading phase where I go from one book to the next and it’s hard once you get going to break the cycle. I finally finished Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and while I loved it, I think some of it was lost because I was reading a few minutes here and there and didn’t have time to just take it in for longer stretches at a time. However, I didn’t want it to end and for days I kept wondering about what happened to the characters because it ended without resolution. Maybe she’ll bring them back for us someday. It’s so hard for me to review books because I don’t want to give anything away.

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travel

A Run Like No Other

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The train ride was a bit of a hassle if you don’t know Spanish, which we didn’t. The day before our trip from Barcelona to Pamplona, we took a trial run to the station, to see if we could navigate our way. July in Barcelona is hot and sticky and if you are twenty weeks pregnant, which I was, it is even more so. But the excitement carries you through because you are in Spain, about to embark on an adventure that has been months in the planning. The trek from the hotel to the station is interminable, but finally, you are there.

The signs on the walls and indeed above the station agents are unreadable and finding someone to translate or help is impossible. After hours of wandering the crowded station, full of hopeful travelers like ourselves, we complete our transaction and are on our way. We are out on the streets of Barcelona again, finding a different route to our hotel. How easy all this would be today with smartphones, digital maps, translating apps. But it’s 2006 and our fancy smartphone purchases are a year away.

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Life

NYC Take Two

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Over the weekend we made another quick trip to NYC. I could probably stay a week and still call it a quick trip, there’s always so much I want to do. A couple months ago a friend asked if we’d like to go with them and of course I didn’t hesitate. Our sons were in daycare together and although they parted ways after kindergarten we have kept in touch and get together with and without the boys several times a year.

There was nothing on the agenda for this trip and on the train ride down we bandied around some ideas. A show, the Met and one my bucket list items to skate at Rockefeller Center (the giant Christmas Tree that overlooks the rink was being hoisted on Saturday and the rink was closed). We made our way to our separate hotels which were a couple blocks apart and regrouped at noon to grab some lunch. It’s often hard to make decisions in a group on where to dine but pizza was agreed on and we quickly made our way to John’s Pizza in Time Square, a reliable place to grab a few slices if ever there was one. Their salads are pretty good too.

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Musings

Blogging from my phone

We are in an age where we can always be connected if we want. I don’t always want to but that’s a topic for another post. Over the past several days I’ve been traveling and have used my phone to create blog posts. For someone who prefers their desktop above all else, this has been pretty interesting. The best part might be using autofill to generate words since I only use one thumb to type. Maybe there should be a new typing class that helps us navigate the smaller keyboard. I see people frantically typing away with two thumbs all the time and I’m always impressed!

This morning I can’t get into my computer which I need to do my job. So reliant on computers are we that we freeze up when we can’t get access to them. But alas, I have my phone and decided to use the time to create my daily (um, multi-weekly?) post.

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Life

Hesitating over the publish button

Warning: this is a super long post. I’m sharing something I wrote for my writing class about a time when I was judged. I have this weird disease and I’m sick a lot. But if you were to look at me you’d think I was perfectly healthy. I reread the piece and made some edits but I’m not 100% happy with it. I almost think I should re-do it from scratch because I feel I’m leaving something out but then again I don’t think I will ever get it to what I want. These are just a few snippets of what it’s like.

“You look completely normal but you’re a freak.” I eyed the seventyish, red-faced doctor who just spoke those words to me. Who is this guy with the tufts of white hair escaping from his balding head, a white lab coat near to bursting against his portly girth and where did he leave his bedside manners? I didn’t respond other than to give him a look I’d honed over the years when people discovered my insides didn’t match my outsides. No one had called me a freak before, though. At least not to my face. I didn’t take much insult, having heard many variations of surprise like this before.

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Writing

Keep writing

We’re leaving for New York City in two hours so I thought I better write my post before we go, so here I am at 6 a.m. in bed with my laptop and a bit of a sore throat. There’s no time to be sick around here. I prefer my desktop computer for writing but I don’t want to get out of bed just yet – I’m feeling too cozy. I might pause for a second to get coffee.

OK, I’m back, coffee at my side. I’ve also prepared a cocktail of Alka-Seltzer Plus cold to tamp down whatever’s building in my system. No one wants to be tromping around NYC not feeling well and I hope it does the trick. Now I need my reader glasses to write this without straining the eyes. The joys of aging. Back again. I realize I don’t like this little laptop because it does some crazy stuff without my knowing how it does it. Suddenly the cursor will be in the middle of a word three lines up and I’m messing up the post. I feel like I’ve already put too much effort to write this in bed that I can’t give up on it.

So far I’ve written about nothing yet. Two hundred words of nothing. What topic do I want to tackle today? Let’s talk about writing tools. Several months ago I discovered an app called Grammarly , an app that, you guessed it, helps you correct your grammar as you write. I corrects spelling, punctuation and even rewords passages for you which you can either accept with a click or ignore. I usually ignore since this isn’t a foolproof app.

Every week I get an email with a recap of my grammar improvements for the week and I have just ignored them until last week. I spied the message preview and saw this:  You’ve set a new personal record in the vocabulary category! Whose interest wouldn’t be peaked by that? Of course I clicked.

It breaks down your writing in the categories of productivity (how many words you wrote), accuracy (how many alerts you were shown), vocabulary (how many unique words you used) and then it gives you the option to upgrade to check out the advanced mistakes you made. This is pretty cool. It also shows how you’re doing compared to other Grammarly users and there is my new record in the vocabulary category – I used 1,373 unique words and that’s 93% more unique words than other Grammarly users. Yay for me! It’s small victories like this that can keep you going!

Another tool I started using yesterday was an app (or a program?) called Scrivener. I decided to take a peek at the novel I started over the summer and this is a tool for writing in a format that will be ready for publishing when it’s complete. I copy and pasted my intro and started  summarizing the characters on note cards on a virtual bulletin board. That’s as far as I went. I’m currently doing a 30 day trial and here’s the cool thing about this trial period. Only the days you write and use the app count towards the trial. I had installed it a few weeks ago but yesterday was the first time I opened it and got going so I still have 29 days of use and they don’t have to be concurrent days.

i would describe myself as a bit of a neophyte when it comes to blogging. I decided to join a few blogging groups on Facebook but I’m finding it all a bit confusing. One of my goals for this month is to figure out how to do this better and increase visitors to my site. I figure by the end of the month I’ll have a better handle on it. Do you have any particular tools you use for writing or blogging?

Happy writing!

MC

Writing

I will write today

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A cup of coffee and a blank page. Must be Friday morning. Again, I didn’t post yesterday for the daily blog challenge for the month of November. Wednesday night’s post was written in bed at 10:00 p.m. after traveling home from Chicago and then catching up with the family.  Yesterday was catching up on work, a meeting that ran late and then rushing to get to the annual mother child dinner for Liam’s school. I was pretty exhausted and didn’t feel like socializing and being in a noisy environment with only one hearing aid didn’t help. The other one broke on Sunday afternoon just as I was to head to the conference.

We got through the night and on the ride home all I could think about was going directly to bed. As soon as we got home (it was after 9:30 at this point), Liam wanted to watch TV because there wasn’t school in the morning. I knew if I let him stay up while I went to bed, he’d be up very, very late so I argued with him for about 15 minutes before I finally used a little bribery to get him to bed. Again it was 10:00 before I got into bed and a blog post wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t even muster up fifteen minutes of reading time and was asleep when my head hit the pillow.

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Life

A Dream of Gymnastics turns to Dancing

After watching the 1976 Summer Olympics, I decided I wanted to be a gymnast. The only problem was there was nowhere to take lessons in our small town in upstate New York. I was nine years old and wanted to be just like Nadia Comaneci, the top gymnast from Romania who won most of the gold medals that year. In my imagination, I pictured myself on stage being handed a bouquet of flowers as someone placed the gold medal around my neck. I calculated the year would be 1984 when this happened.

I begged my mother to find somewhere I could take lessons and after asking around she found a place that taught acrobatics which wasn’t the same thing but at least it was something. My instructor was the only dance teacher in our small town. She taught tap, jazz, ballet, modern dance as well as acrobatics and was happy to add me to a group of girls my age to teach us moves and a routine we would display for our parents and friends at an end of the year recital.

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work

What does the web know about you?

I’m at a research conference in Chicago for the early part of this week. Because there were no rooms at the hotel Sunday night, my boss and I woke at the crack of dawn yesterday (honestly, dawn hadn’t even cracked yet) to board our early morning flight. You might think I’m weird but I love to fly. Not the aspects of boarding or deplaning, but the airtime where I can focus all my energy on a book without worrying I should be doing something else. I was especially excited because I’d been on hold for Celeste Ng’s, Little Fires Everywhere, at the library and I got an email on Sunday that it was ready for pick up.

Because our flight was so early, we arrived at the hotel at about 8 a.m. but luck was in our favor and they had a couple of rooms ready for us. We went our separate ways and agreed to meet for breakfast in an hour.

When I first step into my hotel room, I get a feeling that I’m getting away with something. A sense of elation that all the space in these four walls is mine for the next couple of days. I can hang up my clothes (using all the hangers), lay out my toiletries and makeup without worrying I’m not leaving enough room for my husband’s stuff. I’m a person who craves personal space and time to myself and a couple nights in a hotel is just the fix I need.

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Life

No Guests for Dinner

 

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I’m currently on an airplane on my way to Chicago without internet access and decided to use auto fill on my phone to create a prompt for today’s blog post. So without further ado, and from 35,000 feet, here is the sentence I’m starting with:

I hope that you can bring your family to the house and have dinner.

When I was in my twenties, I often imagined my future life where I would meet the man of my dreams, get married, have kids and live in a neighborhood like the one I grew up in. The neighbors would be like family and dinner parties would be a weekly thing. Sometime around my early thirties, the only part of my dream that was left was to meet a halfway decent guy and get married. I also started to think it would be OK to remain single so I got myself a cat which seemed to be a panacea to all the single ladies.

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