I want to be as good a writer as my former self

I have not written anything decent in a long time.

Aside from this blog (which I don’t update nearly as much as I say I’m going to or know I should) and the few scattered poems I’ve scribbled down on scraps of paper here and there recently, I haven’t actually sat down and given anything my all in quite some time. And I know I have no one to blame but myself. I could sit here and make a million and one excuses as to why I’m not putting writing at the top of my list of priorities; I work too much, I’m too tired when I get home, I just want to relax and do nothing and there isn’t much time for anything else, the list could go on, but none of them would be good enough to warrant neglecting the thing that is supposed to be the thing I want someone to pay me to do one day. Which leads me to think, if it isn’t important enough to carve time out of my day for, maybe it isn’t what I really want to do…

Oh my god, I take that back. I could never actually mean that. That was a terrible prank I just played on myself.

But for real, how do you motivate yourself to do the thing you love to do when you don’t feel like doing anything at all? I have been asking myself this question for years.

In my younger days (I swear, I’m an old person already who goes to bed by 10 p.m. every night, even on the weekends; I can only imagine what it will be like when I’m actually old, and probably going to bed by 7, which makes me sympathize with old people who do that because, shit, I never realized it before but that will probably be me. But that’s a story for another time so, moving on), I could get into patterns of writing, where I would work really hard on projects for weeks, sometimes months at a time, churning out semi-awesome work in a (somewhat) timely manner and feeling pretty damn good about myself. I look back on that writing, those works of genius, with pride and jealousy. I want to be that good again, but I’m not sure how.

Part of the problem (warning: I’m about to make an excuse) is that all of that fabulous creative writing I was doing was happening while I was in college, either working part-time or not working at all. Now, as someone who works roughly 50 hours a week (with children no less, who, despite how much I love them, can be quite taxing at times) my brain is fried and my body is ready for bed by the time I get home, and all I really want to do is lay on the couch and zone out for a few minutes before I have to do it all over again.

Maybe my problem isn’t lack of time, because there are 24 usable hours in every day (and I could probably spend less time at the beach on the weekends and get shit done), but I can’t seem to find the creativity and zest for writing I once had. Whenever I sit down and do actually try and write something, either mediocrity comes to the surface or nothing comes at all.

Okay, so writer’s block. That must be it.

I do feel okay blaming this all on a prolonged stint of writer’s block.

But then how do you overcome writer’s block? Shit, I’m back to square one.

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7 things to do and see in New Orleans (according to me, which makes it true)

So naturally I did not write while I was in New Orleans, but hey, I was busy having a blast so who has time for things like blogging when they’re having fun? I absolutely loved the city, and had a great time sightseeing with my favorite person. Although I won’t be back anytime soon, I would definitely love to go back again in my lifetime just to spend a little more time in such a cool place. Among all the greatness, here are a few things we did that I highly recommend to anyone visiting this historic (albeit falling down around you) city.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Never did figure out why all the graves were above ground.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Never did figure out why all the graves were above ground.

Check out the cemeteries. The notable ones are the St. Louis Cemeteries, of which there are several, but of which I’m sure people really only go to No. 1 (we went to No. 2 as well and it was deserted, clearly no one cares). We went on our own and just wandered the plots (which were surprisingly unorganized), and whenever we’d happen upon a tour group, we just sort of hung out near the back and caught whatever history lesson the guide was giving. It might be cheating, not paying for a tour, but I recommend it. Spend your money elsewhere, and just jump in on a group whenever you come upon them, they won’t even notice (and are probably used to it anyway).

Eat a lot of good food. Jambalaya, gumbo, etouffee, po’ boys, the list of delicious food is endless. I highly recommend Jacques-Imo’s and Joey K’s.

Ride the streetcar. Talk about a time warp. That thing looks like it’s from the 50s, and probably is. It’s loud and usually crowded but it’s a fun way to travel around the city besides walking. It also feels like a piece of history, so you kind of have to, at least once.

My future home (the crappy one in the middle).

My future home (the crappy one in the middle).

Walk the French Quarter. This is obvious but worth naming anyway. Known mostly for its quaint, old homes and drunken adventures on Bourbon Street, there’s much more to do in this bustling neighborhood than just that. Wander the streets during the day and take in the scenery. You’ll encounter the traditional Nawlins architecture the city is known for, as well as one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants. If you follow the streets down to the river, you can also take in a great view of the Mississippi and the city together. At night, as well as during the day, you’ll find an array of street performers and craft fairs to delight everyone’s tastes. And of course, with the city’s lax open container laws, you can get drunk and wander the streets with your beverages. Perfect for toting a 64 ounce fishbowl. Man, I miss that thing.

Book an airboat/swamp tour. If you’re at all interested in seeing how most people live and thrive, take a ride through the swamps. The airboats are a loud, but fun way to get out on the water and learn about “swamp people culture.” We booked with  Jean Lafitte Tours and were not disappointed. I was hoping to see alligators, but since it’s winter, they were hibernating. Our guide did let us hold a baby gator he brought along, though, so I was satisfied.

Drive through the 9th Ward. It’s definitely still rundown, but it is the best way to get a glimpse of what happened to the city during Katrina. Although it’s certainly eerie seeing the abandoned houses with the rescue codes still spray painted on the outsides, almost as if it just happened days ago. Don’t expect to feel happy traveling through, but I do recommend it to anyone passionate about the area’s history, as well as anyone interested in gaining an understanding of what the people there endured.

I wouldn't have minded owning slaves here. Just kidding. I'm from the North.

I wouldn’t have minded owning slaves here. Just kidding. I’m from the North.

Visit Oak Alley Plantation. While it is an hour’s drive outside of NOLA, this plantation is definitely worth the trip out. With beautiful grounds and main house, and absolutely stunning oak trees lining the entrance, you’ll feel like you just stepped back into pre-Civil War times (although sans slavery, that would just be weird now). There are also several other plantations nearby, so if you need more of a plantation fix, there are many others to tour as well.

With all this New Orleans talk, I miss it already. I’m going to go cry into a pillow now and long for the days when I could aimlessly walk the streets of the French Quarter with my fishbowl, without a care in the world. Excuse me.

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A tiny bit of victory against my shopaholic self

I’m a recovering shopaholic, and if we attended meetings (which we might) and earned chips (again, it could happen) like you do in AA, I would have earned my first real chip today.

I tend to spend money I don’t have, on things I can’t afford, namely designer handbags (see: Kate Spade, my one true vice). It started in college as an insatiable need to keep up with my rich peers. Having attended a private (and by private I mean expensive and snobby) university, I was probably one of maybe twenty people in my graduating class who didn’t come from wealth. After leaving my small, sheltered hometown (where I don’t think I even knew household names like Chanel & Dior let alone Michael Kors or Tori Burch), I entered Satan’s playground, otherwise known as Tampa, Florida. Surrounded by snooty classmates and their material things, I felt like I had to have expensive brands to fit in, so I started buying shit I couldn’t really afford but didn’t really feel badly about buying because what the hell else was I supposed to spend my money on as a college kid with no bills to speak of? After a year or so, I finally realized how dumb and “fiscally irresponsible” I was being, so I toned it back a bit. My spending didn’t really stop, it just sort of shrank in dollar amount. In reality, though, I was probably still spending almost the exact same amount, but because I wasn’t just spending it all on one high ticket item, and instead on several cheaper things, somehow I justified it.

Over the years, I tried to be better with my money, but more than ever I was bored and unsatisfied with my life, so to fill the void, I bought crap I didn’t need. I guess I figured if I surrounded myself with enough material things, I wouldn’t crave things that actually matter in life. Which I’ve finally figured out doesn’t actually work, and instead just stressed me out more because, oh hey, I can’t afford the shit I’m surrounding myself with in first place. Amateur move.

$40 bag for the win!

$40 bag for the win!

Finally, at 25, I think I’ve finally gotten to a place where I can distinguish between want and need, and I can make the adult choice about what I’m going to spend my money on and what I’m not, and how to tell myself no sometimes. Like when the PERFECT $200 Kate Spade handbag jumps out at me from the shelf at TJMaxx and I put it back, instead opting for the $40 Steve Madden to replace my current tote that sadly, is falling apart. Now I know some of you may argue that the win would have been if I had purchased NO handbags, and instead had saved my money and not bought useless crap, but you would be wrong and I would punch you in the face, so you should just shut your mouth. Baby steps, here, people.

In all seriousness though, especially in this season of giving, it’s important to remember that what matters most in life are not things at all, but people and the memories you create with them. I’m about to go create some awesome memories in a place I’ve never been with the man I love more than even Felix the cat (and that’s saying a lot, because I love that stupid fur ball, even if she does shit on my floors). I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving tomorrow- lucky me, I get my turkey dinner a day early! Nom nom.

Ok, for real, bye.

Maybe I’ll actually do some real-time writing and report live from New Orleans as cool shit happens? To be continued…

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How to get past “not wanting” to write (if only I knew)

There’s nothing worse than being afraid of the thing you live to do, the thing you exist for. Writing may not (yet) be how I make my living, but it always has, and probably always will, be who I am, an integral part of my existence. I couldn’t ever see myself not being a writer, unless someone paid me never to write again, and even that would probably never happen (c’mon, I’m not that easily bought. I hope).

But writing means sitting down with my thoughts, and that is pretty terrifying. I have several projects going at the moment (ADD at its finest), and while working on them (and one day completing them) is something I want to do, it’s also something I don’t want to do. Because writing means dredging up the past, and reliving the bad parts is just not something I’m eager to do. I know it’s a part of healing and letting go (and it’s definitely a necessary part of my writing process) but bringing up memories of the things you’ve done and had done to you, and the people you used to know isn’t always easy or fun.

I often wonder what would happen to me if I didn’t write. Would my thoughts just back up into my brain until they explode? Would I go on living my life exactly as I have all along, unchanged? I’m constantly in a battle with myself over what to do: to write or not to write. Obviously the answer is to write, so I guess the better question is to ask: how do I go about doing it in a way that isn’t going to completely destroy me? How do I write about the things that used to tear me apart inside without letting it tear me apart inside now? How do you keep the old you from seeping back in and taking over the new, much less stressed, much less anxious, much less neurotic you?

I’m hoping I find the answers to my questions. Because to not write is to not be who I really am. To not write is to deny myself the satisfaction of doing what I know and love. To not write is to deprive you, my devoted readers, of my hilarious and sarcastically-delivered stories of randomness and idiocy. And let’s face it, that would just be criminal.

Now it’s off to tackle the thing I love and hate more than anything in this world: writing.

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To Write Is

To write is

to shut myself off from the world

No distractions to ease my mind

to quiet the noise inside my

head

just my blaring thoughts deafening the

silence, the

dull sound of

pen on paper.

To write is

to welcome the demons

that live in my soul,

an open invitation to dredge up the

past.

They are free to run rampant,

to bring back the

worry, the

anxiety, the

shame, the

Guilt.

To write is

to be alone with my thoughts.

And that scares me to death.

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