Experience for Life = Material for which to Write

20 05 2015

I promised myself that I would use my May break to write up a storm and I’ve discovered that this is nowhere near the truth. I’ve barely touched my writings. I wake up and throw myself into the day. My day is long and tiring, yet filled with awesome things. And by the end of the day I can do nothing but collapse in my bed and sleep till it’s time to rock and roll tomorrow.

My professors stress that writing is important but so is actually going out there and living life. You have to have material and experience to draw from to have truly deep and enriched writing. As a cliche example: how can you write a captivating piece about a sunset if you’ve never seen one?

So I refuse to be disappointed in myself. The work I am doing is awesome, and important, and I’m learning so many things. So far during May break I’ve met new friends, grown closer with old friends, have helped move a few people into their new living arrangements (my station wagon is like the wardrobe to Narnia, you can fit more into it than you can ever imagine), I’ve gone on a kick butt camping trip with my poetry family, and I’ve actually gotten to draw some.

So here’s a glimpse of some of what I’ve done this summer.

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Me and some of the poetry gang

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Torching some metal for a small pour

Torching some metal for a small pour

More metal working

More metal working

The final product, bronze doorknobs

The final product, bronze doorknobs

Well there you have it! until next time,

Cheers!

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Jilted Lover

11 05 2015

Jilted Lover, I’m quite certain that’s how my blog feels right about now. I’ve not made an update since my November trip to Beaufort (which went wonderfully by the way). So I should probably catch you up on the writerly things going on…

I have successfully finished my first year of graduate school and am passing with a 4.0 (all that writing/studying is why I’ve been so distant lately, sorry bloggers). It feels great to be back in school though I do admit it has completely taken over my life. In other news, I will be teaching English Composition 101 to my very own class of college freshmen next semester.

I have been writing like crazy: flash fiction, short fiction, lengthy memoir pieces, and of course, poetry. I have several pieces sent out to journals across the nation… still waiting to hear back from them though.

The newest editions of the Birmingham Poetry Review and PoemMemoirStory are out and available for your reading pleasure. These are two publications that I am on staff with. So you should go read those things considering how much time I and my colleagues spent on them. Wonderful publications.

Tonight I got to sit with several published writers and listen to their journey down the publishing path. It seems very complicated and daunting, but I’m up for the challenge. I guess I have to actually finish something first don’t I? I have been working on my illustrations and hope to have several more lino cuts done by the end of summer (actually I hope to have all of them done.) Here’s a peek at the most recent one I’ve finished.

hashimotoI still feel like I have forever to go. Just chewing through it one bit at a time.

oh and I did just get back from Monroeville (the literary capital of Alabama). Some pretty exciting things happened on that trip but that’s another blog posts. Don’t worry I promise I’ll post it soon! anyway, hope things are well in your world!

~Cheers for now!





Grad school doth be no joke

7 10 2014

Just kidding. So, I’m in graduate school now and it’s great. I’m a grad assistant so the college has basically decided to pay me to go to school. I think I’ve officially become a professional student. But we all knew that was gonna happen, right? By contract I had to give up all my other jobs, 3 or 4 of them. I think. I stopped counting a very long time ago. I actually don’t get out of bed before 8am now. WHO KNEW SLEEPING IN WAS A THING? And yes, 8am is sleeping in. I’ve also seen more of my family in the last 6 weeks than I have in the last 8 months and it is glorious. It’s amazing the things I now have time for. family, friends, sleeping, writing, HIKING, and thinking. I have certainly missed just being able to sit and ponder things.

I am now also a member of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators. But I may have told you that already. I don’t remember. Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting some of my picture book ideas peer reviewed and hopefully will find an agent for them. There are so many possibilities swimming around and I’m very excited about it all.

Anyway, just wanted to pop in and say hey. If any of you are working on something new, feel free to share in the comments box. I love making new friends and sharing ideas!

~Cheers





Spending Money to Make Money… Eventually, Hopefully

19 08 2014

Welp, I’m $100 (about 75 Euro for my international readers) lighter. I just forked out some dolla billz to become a part of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators or SCBWI for those who know. My professor has been urging me to join for quite some time and I just now managed to scrap together enough play money to join. Hopefully this will help launch me into my publishing career. I have a least a half dozen children’s books written and awaiting illustration (some I will illustrate myself and some I’m ok with other’s working on.) And at least another 2 dozen bouncing around in my head waiting to be written. My newest story involves Slue-foot Sue and it’s turning out to be quite quirky and awesome. Anyway, they gave me this spiffy little badge for spending my money. So here we go, it’s official.

Member badges

 

 





Fillin’ up your Belleh in the ‘Ham

4 08 2014

You have my new friend Ellen to thank for this post. Ellen comes into my work place on the regular and somehow we always wind up talking about the history of Birmingham and the cool things to do here. I actually started writing this article and discovered it was going to be entirely too long. So I’m going to have to break it up into sections. Today we’ll start with food (because food is always the most important.) It’s no secret that Birmingham has unbelievable food. I am such a big foodie it’s no wonder I’m not 500 lbs. Here are some of my favorites.

MELT: Melt started out as a food truck that had such a large following it built a brick and mortar. Located in Avondale, Melt is a whiz at slinging the all American grilled cheese. They put a new spin on this classic with locally sourced ingredients and gourmet flavor. I love Melt so much that I actually work here. Basically I showed up at the food truck so much that they came to know me by name and offered me a job. I agreed only on the terms that they pay me in cheese. My favorite menu item would have to be the Mac Melt (mac-n-cheese between texas toast) but my all time favorite is a special melt called the Honey Lavender (mounds of ham with monterey  cheese on sourdough, grilled with Alabama honey lavender butter.) The butter is so good I would lick every piece of toast that came through the line if they would let me (they don’t let me.) As if that wasn’t good enough they also have a killer desert known as the banana stand… trust me… there’s always money in the banana stand. Oh yeah and they have vegetarian and gluten free options out there for those that want it.

 

SLICE: If you’re looking for the best pizza in town… look no further than Slice. Some people debate that they like Post Office Pies  better, which is fine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even if it is wrong. I really can’t tell you what to eat at Slice because I never can decide myself. It takes me 20 minutes of pouring over the menu for me to come to a conclusion and then the waitress tells me the special and I wind up just getting that. Everything sounds delicious. Everything is delicious. Slice sources all of their ingredients as fresh and local as they possibly can and they have several local brews on tap. If I had to pick my favorite menu item it would probably be the “CRAWFISH MAC & CHEESE – Bacon, Jalapenos, Fresh Red Bell Peppers, 7 Cheese Blend” But you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

 

El Barrio is one of my favorite Mexican places [rivaled by the Cantina (best fish tacos in town) and theLittle Donkey (just plain good)]. If you’re looking for the best cheese dip, El Barrio is the place to go and while you’re at it get the Al Cabron tacos. You won’t be disappointed… unless you’re a meat hater…

The best place to grab a Sunday brunch imho is without a doubt is Five Bar. They only ever have 5 things on the menu at any given time. Don’t let that deter you though. It’s all delicious. I had the best chicken and waffles. I still dream about it at night. Everything is fresh and presentation is beautiful.

For slap-your-momma-good BBQ no one will debate that Saw’s is the best. I haven’t actually had their BBQ yet. I never can make it past the other delicious items on the menu like the fried green tomato BLT or their shrimp and grits.

Green Acres Cafe serves up the tastiest grease in town. They serve everything from pork to fish sandwiches to fried livers and wings. My favorite thing to order there is a Whiting Fillet sandwich (make sure to order the fillet and not whole so you avoid those pesky bones). You’ll get the tastiest fried fish you’ll ever have on two slices of good ol’ gummy white bread and if you order it all the way that comes with salt, pepper, mustard, ketchup and hot sauce. Be sure to order some fried green tomatoes on the side for the complete experience. To. Die. For.

And if your pocket book is hurting and you’re wanting the best hot dog of your life you just need to tool on down to Gus’ Hot Dogs. George and L.A. will take care of you. Everything on the menu is under 5 dollars  (be aware they only take cash) and is drop dead delicious. Gus’ is a family tradition. My grandfather use to work at Alabama Power right around the corner and would drop by for a special dog all the way, a Grapico and sweet heat chips. Two dogs, two chips and two grapicos will run you about 7 dollars, so treat a friend to lunch today.

 

Well that should be enough to get you started. There are still plenty of places I could tell you about but you need to start with these. Now go out and get some grub and support your local restaurant owners.

 

Cheers!





Dunt Dunt Dunt: another one bites the dust

28 03 2014

Praise the Lord and Hallelujah! I just got done with another drafting of Joshua Burnam and the Killer Cereal. Hopefully it’s one of my lasts. The story is coming dangerously close to completion. This week I will be asking some of my trusted Englishly peoples take a look at it and give me some feedback. The majority of plot holes have been filled during this last run though which was probably the biggest overhaul it’s seen yet. It’s taken over a year’s worth of primping and polishing to get it to it’s present state.  I have people constantly asking me how it’s coming and my answer is always the same, still revising.

I feel like I could revise myself into the ground sometimes, but it is a necessary part of the process. I often remind myself that the difference between a writer and a published writer is revision. Someone seeking publishing should spend about 25% of their time writing the story and 75% of the time revising it. And man alive, I use to hate revision. Revision, to me, use to mean that I hadn’t done things perfectly on the first go around (and who really want’s to be told that their writing is crap?) It use to mean that I could potentially cut a paragraph that was awesome and then it would be gone forever.

But as I have become more established in my writer’s ways I have come to realize that there is a certain freedom in revision. It is admitting that: yes, I didn’t get it right on the first try but I can come back to it. And that takes a lot of pressure off preforming such monumental undertakings. Additionally, it is super productive. Knowing that you can revise later on helps you to get what’s in your head out NOW. Sure, maybe it might not work well with the story as it is but you don’t risk losing that great idea because it’s not yet perfect. In food terms: First you gotta get the icing ON the cake before you can smooth it out.

 

Anyway, I just wanted to share the news with you peoples cause you’re awesome and continue to read these posts. Hope your March went well! here’s to a better April!

 

Cheers!





If my blog were a dog…

10 09 2013

If my blog were a dog I would be charged with neglect and have it taken away from me. I really am quite terrible at keeping up with any sort of consistent posting. And for that, readers, I am heartily sorry. It has been crazy around here as usual but I’m still doing much the same old same old… except for one thing…

since around May I have hardly lived at my own house. I have been dogsitting at other people’s homes for the entire summer. Granted you’ll notice my moniker is eclecticnomad (emphasis on nomad) and  while I love to roam around and live other people’s lives there is something to be said for sleeping in one’s own bed. I did have many adventures along the way. Just this past week alone has been super crazy. But I’ll get to that in a minute…

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Lazy butt Levi, so spoiled

So dogsitting… for those of you that don’t know,  I use to work at both an animal shelter and a vet’s office. As such, I have a lot of experience with animals of all kinds and this makes me an excellent candidate for taking care of people’s pets. Not only that, but I presently work at a country club. This gives me excellent exposure among clients who are on the “more privileged” end of the fiscal scale. With this comes a certain amount of special treatment they expect for their animals. A lot of my client’s children are grown and moved away from home. So their dogs are their furry babies. This results in self-proclaimed spoiled rotten pups (and I’m not one to judge, Levi my own Labra-dane is about as spoiled as they come.)

Everyone knows that pets tend to visually take after their owners (if you don’t believe me just Google it. You’ll be stunned by the results.) When I translate this to my own life, I’m ok with this. I mean come on… Levi is a gorgeous specimen. But  beyond this, much like children, pets’ personalities are largely determined by their owner’s training style. I can tell a lot about a person just from the way their animals behave. Sometimes you’ll get the unexplained abnormality. And when I say this I’m thinking chiefly of Bandit.

Bandit  is an otherwise sweet pitbull mix. We get along fairly well, except for the fact that he doesn’t like me taking showers. I have no idea why this dog has a problem with my personal hygiene but he flips every time I go to bathe. I first noticed his compulsion when I forgot to bring my clothes into the bathroom to change after my shower. Wrapping myself in a towel I opened the door to bandit waiting anxiously in the hall. This was odd but I paid him no mind and took a step forward. That set him off. He began to viciously bark at me.

Now I’m not the kind of person who fears a barking dog. Usually if you just let them be and ignore them they realize that you’re the master and in control and will settle down. So I went to go step past Bandit and imagine my surprise when he jumped up and tried to rip the towel from my body. Ever since then I cannot walk through a door way without him barking at me towel or not.

Or how about the dog I’m watching that’s actually a cat.

yup

I don’t understand it either. But the cat thinks she’s a dog. She eats from my plate, crouches down and hisses to “protect” me from the dog and sleeps with me all night long. It’s crazy.

The strangest thing I have encountered while dogsitting though came one fine July day….

I had finished with my “real job” for the day and it was about 3 in the afternoon. I was upstairs catching up with some summer reading when I heard a commotion coming from downstairs. I could have sworn I heard a voice and unless on of the three dogs had magically learned to speak there was someone in the house with me.

Sure enough as I rounded the corner to the living room, some elderly woman was standing in the middle of the kitchen.

“Um can I help you?” I asked slightly taken aback.

“Oh my goodness,” she whirled around. “Did I wake you up?” She seemed very concerned. I looked at my watch. It was three in the afternoon, long past sleep time.

“No, I was awake.” I replied, pausing for her to explain her presence.

“Well, I didn’t know you were here. I’m sorry. I’m Miss Betty from next door.” She waved over to the window where her house was visible on the other side of my car. Looking past her shoulder I noticed the back door open behind her. She would have had to have walked past my car to enter in through the house. How hard is it to put one and two together? By this time I was also wondering how she got into the house to begin with. Whenever I dogsit I always make sure to double check that I lock all the doors behind me. And the owners told me there was no hide-a-key. Maybe she had a set of her own?

“Ok…. well do you need something?” I still didn’t know why she was there.

“Well I looked under the fridge and cleaned that out, so that’s clean now. And then I looked under the stove and had to clean that too…. so my house is clean but I cannot find my keys.”

…..do what now? I thought to myself. There were a set of keys sitting on the counter that had been there since I started sitting two days ago. They were a spare set of house-we’re-standing-in keys. But if her set of keys to the house were sitting on the table, there was no hide-a-key and I had locked the doors (which I KNOW I did, there is no question in my mind about that one) there remains but one problem…

HOW DID SHE GET IN TO BEGIN WITH?!

She however offered no explanation, gathered up the keys and went about her merry way. To this day I have yet to figure it out. Someone has suggested that maybe she was already in the house when I had come home from work and maybe I had locked her in WITH me. But that thought disturbs me so much I prefer to just write her off as an otherworldly creature with the ability to walk through walls.

There is one more notable experience that I would like to share with y’all before I sign off. So I’ve already stated that I watch homes for people who are fairly wealthy. Well I recently had the chance to stay in what I like to call “the millionaire’s subdivision.” It’s a gated community filled with McMansions, perfectly manicured lawns and a sports car in ever garage. They take their commune so seriously that the community (not the police but the community, mind you) will write you a ticket for speeding or not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign…..  and then they’ll publish it in their community new’s letter naming names of who hasn’t been following the rules. Fortunately, I didn’t learn this from experience but was informed of it during my grand tour.

The house I was watching is massive. It has so many amenities that I decided to go around and count them. I had to restart my count three different times because I kept losing track of my tally. So this house had:

  • 5 bathrooms
  • 4 bedrooms
  • 11 sinks
  • 5 toilets
  • 4 showers
  • 14 tvs (even in the bathrooms)
  • 4 refrigerators
  • 2 microwaves
  • 12 closets
  • 2 dishwashers
  • 2 attic spaces
  • 2 offices
  • 2 kitchens
  • 2 two car garages
  • and one workshop space.

Wanna guess how many people live there? …..Two. To put in perspective how large this house is, the laundry room was 200sq.ft. which is the size of my bedroom. I am an avid cook and I went to go look for the olive oil so I could make myself some fajitas. You figure that would be an item one would keep near their stove. Well after thirty minutes I gave up my search. Three days later I found pantry #3 which held the olive oil and also all the lovely snacks and cereal I had been searching for. It’s a wonder I didn’t lose myself in that house. I certainly came close to it.

Anyway I hope you guys have had awesome summers. Fall has come to the ‘Ham and the air is tinged with Autumn smells. Hopefully you won’t have to wait as long for my next blog post. But I make no promises. Thanks for being awesome peoples!

Cheers!








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