Tami Parker Fantasy Author & Other Duties as Assigned

CategoryLife

Random Update + Gambling

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1) The past week and a half has seen me harboring a cold that (while not epic) is definitely not fun. We will not go into details, mmkay?

Since half my team caught something at the same exact time, we’re all kind of assuming it came from the team outing we had volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank. That, or the Jamaican buffet we ate at the same day for lunch.

Volunteering was rather a lot of fun when doing it with friends. We sorted meats.

Lots. And LOTS. Of meats.

As in, several pallets of ~10lb hams that didn’t sell for Thanksgiving. An alarming number of “chicken paws” packages (yes, it is what you think it is. No, I don’t know why it’s labeled paws when chickens have no such thing). One giant tub of “pork chitterlings”. Several boxes of exploded clams (voted “worst smell of the day” without any competition whatsoever).

Meat. Meats for days, you guys. (And some really gorgeous fish options as well. Most of the meat we sorted was really lovely, but that doesn’t make for a very entertaining anecdote).

2) I have the start of my story!

I have the first line. I have the first chapter. I even have the start of the second chapter.

We’re in good shape. I just need to not feel like exploded clams before I get started. (well, WANT. I want to not feel like exploded clams. One could easily argue that a kleenex box on my writing table would help with the physical symptoms, but the body exhaustion ain’t fun.)

3) Random brain noodle of the day.

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” is a popular country song that most of you are probably familiar with. Johnny fiddled his country little heart out and beat the devil in a bet of his soul against a golden fiddle.

Nice, right? Little guy sticking it to the big bad?

WRONG. I posit that this story would be encouraged by any half-wit devil on the receiving end of it. Sure, there’s a bit of an ego-jab, but how could that compare to the hundreds or thousands of people who listen to the song and think “hey, maybe -I- could win a bet against the devil”.

BOOM. Soul-harvesting statistics surely climbed as a result of this song.

And that? That is why I think maybe I should wait for my thoughts to settle into normal thinking patterns before I start writing.

Just sayin’.

Emergency Freezer Burrito Follow-Up

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I promised a follow up to my Emergency Freezer Burrito post, and you shall have it forthwith!

I’m a fan.

(temptation to hit the publish button rising. riiiisssiiiinngg….)

In all seriousness, I tried two sizes of tortillas. The larger “burrito” size, and the one-size smaller family-pack that I got from Costco. (Sorry I can’t give a more useful size description than that — costco’s website doesn’t list them and apparently tortillas come in a lot more sizes than I expected).

The “burrito” size was the recommended size and although I can see why (it was MUCH easier to roll a full burrito with the extra inch or so around the edges) the convenience of buying a crapton of inexpensive tortillas outweighs that in my mind.

Because I am incapable of creating a burrito with the recommended amount of stuffing, you guys. (more…)

Emergency Freezer Burrito – The EFB

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I think I’m going to try making some freezer burritos this weekend during my weekly leftover generation session.

Emergency Freezer Burritos (or EFBs, as they are affectionately called) are something one of my coworkers does regularly, and something that came up during a recap from this year’s THAT Conference attendees.

Looks like they’re good even as breakfast burritos, too!

And you know me, I do love food wrapped in a tortilla. So clean. So tidy.

The general idea is that you make a large batch of various fillings (beans, rice, eggs, meats or tofu, squash, peppers ….) and create a boatload of burritos all in one go. Wrap them in tinfoil, label them, and freeze them.

Then you can grab one from the freezer for lunches (microwave in a napkin to reheat) and have a variety of healthy, inexpensive homemade delights.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you’ve already tried these, hit me up in the comments with how it went for you or any tips and tricks!

Habitica Update

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So.

Turns out I am VERY susceptible to intangible rewards.

My last post was all about Habitica. This post is EVEN MORE ABOUT HABITICA.

Because I’m gonna be honest, folks. I feel more like myself than I have in a long time, and it’s because I found a reason to get off my arse and do more than just rewatch baking shows and read books.

(Not that there’s anything wrong with EITHER of those, but moderation, dear friends. Moderation.)

Now that I’ve been using Habitica for a while, I’ve found ways to use it that really work for me. YMMV. (more…)

Habitica – Habits, Gamified

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I’m trying something new.

This is a common theme for me. I become unhappy with some aspect (or aspects) of my life and I try something.

Sometimes it works, and it sticks around. Sometimes it only lasts for a little while. Sometimes it gets chucked right outside the flippin’ window the next time I look at it.

I like to think of it as Livin’ the Scrum Life — cycles of effort and work and experiments, followed by evaluation and change. Gotta love agile.

This week’s big experiment is a new app/website called Habitica.

You tell it what you want to get credit for doing.

You do the thing.

You tell Habitica that you did the thing.

That’s all pretty standard in the zillions of todo list apps out there. But here’s the difference.

Habitica rewards you. (more…)

An Oil Change

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So a few weekends ago I changed the oil in my car for the first time.

To some of you, this is a pretty boring topic, I realize. For me, however, it was the first time I’d ever even CONSIDERED doing it, and it was … interesting.

It’s all my mom’s fault, really. (more…)

Memories of Prissy, The Motherliest of All Shar-Pei

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Prissy the Shar-Pei

Growing up, the first dog I remember in our family was Prissy. A rescued Shar-Pei, she was one of the sweetest and gentlest dogs you could hope for.

I remember her wrinkled cinnamon-roll tail and her round manatee-like muzzle with equal fondness.

Mother

The most interesting thing about Prissy wasn’t her breed, however. It was how devotedly she approached the life calling of “Mother”.

She gave birth to exactly one litter of puppies while in our care. Apparently, that wasn’t remotely sufficient for her big heart.

If a puppy ever graced our backyard, her cinnamon-roll would spiral in the closest thing to a wag she could accomplish, and she would scootch under the old truck we had in the back and produce toys we didn’t even remember giving to her. Anything to please the young pup. Balls, frisbees, dirty rags that used to be stuffed animals … whatever she could find.

Bella’s Kittens

I had a cat named Bella who would routinely balloon with kittens. (No, we were not conscientious pet owners. I now know that unfixed outside pets are neither normal nor acceptable, but middle-of-nowhere Texas was not known for its forward-thinking)

Now, Bella would wait as long as possible before having her kittens. I swear, it seemed like their eyes were already open at least once when I first met a littler.

Additionally, she would suffer through the only the merest brush of motherhood. She grudgingly suckled her kittens until such time as they could be trusted to eat solid food, then soundly ignored them forever.

Prissy, on the other hand? ADORED these so-young castoff kittens. She took over their raising, which included suckling them from teats that long ago should have dried up after her own litter was gone.

Many times, you could look out the back window and see her lying in a patch of sunlight, a nearly-grown catling suckling happily at her belly.

Stray Kittens

One night, I was driving home with my mom when I thought I saw the glint of light off tiny eyes.

“I think I just saw some kitt–” I began.

“–NO YOU DIDN’T!” mom tried to convince me.

Alas for her, I was not convinced. We turned around and found ourselves the new owner of two teensyweensy kittenthings.

We took them home (one short-haired and black, the other long-haired and gray) and set them in a wheelbarrow so the rest of the backyard menagerie could get used to their scent.

Bella hopped up next to them, arched her back like she’d landed in water, gave me one VERY offended look, and proceeded to disown even the notion that the other kittens existed. She tolerated their presence in her domain, but did not stoop to share square footage with them. Ever. Their sin of existing simply could not be forgiven.

Prissy, on the other hand, circled the wheelbarrow like a mad thing, whining and begging to be given the kittens. When we finally gave in and let her mother them, I’ve never seen her more relieved or happy.

Poncho the Goat

Then there was Poncho.

Poncho was a goatling we bought at a flea market called First Monday probably hours after her birth. She was a frail, black and white darling of a kid, and we bottle-fed her for months.

Prissy adopted her instantly, which led to some very interesting moments where you could look out the back window and see Prissy, standing, allowing a baby goat to drink milk from her, and looking at least a little bemused about the whole thing. Kittens and puppies knew to drink laying down, of course, but whatever this weird tall dog needed, Prissy was going to offer. Even if the creature DID headbutt her in the belly in the middle of a meal.

How I Accidentally Became a Member of the NRA

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The National Rifle Association (Eddie Izzard voice)

So … I’m a member of the NRA, and it happened by accident.

A couple of years ago, I’m tooling around on Groupon. Just seeing deals in my area, that sort of thing. Shoes, manicures, haircuts … the normal shabazzle.

An offering caught my eye — a gun safety class at a crazy good discount.

I’m a writer, I says to myself. And I sometimes write stories with guns. Also, I am currently afraid of guns, and this is not a great situation to be in.

So I bought the class, thinking I’d get a little experience in safely handling a gun. You know. Nothing fancy. I just wanted to know more than “point that end away from you and pull the trigger” as far as guns were concerned. Get some experience actually shooting a gun so that when I wrote about it, it would be more authentic than just regurgitating things I’ve read in other books.

Right? Right. So this all sounds great.

The Class

We drive out to the gun range where the class was being held, and enter what I recall as feeling like a big nice garage. There are chairs and tables set up, an old tube tv on a rolling cart, and a long table filled with different types of guns up at the top.

Pretty close to what I expected.

The room fills up pretty quickly and I thinks to myself, “Self,” I says, “That is more people interested in basic gunmanship than I thought would be here.”

Turns out, I was right on both counts.

  1. The class was super full because laws in Wisconsin were changing so that you had to have a license if you wanted to carry a concealed weapon.
  2. This was not “basic gunmanship” (I’m assuming that’s the right term. Please don’t disabuse me of the notion if I’m wrong.). This was a “concealed carry” licensing class.

So the room was filled with people who knew more about guns than I do about horses, all of whom were forced to watch painfully contrived videos about the benefits and dangers of concealed carry.

AAAAAHHHHWWWKWAAAARRRD.

The Students

Two of us in the class stood out.

Me, because my still-ignorant self sat at the front of the room and so was one of the first people to introduce myself as “an author looking to know more about guns.” — when everyone else was like “Joe, and I’m here to get my license.”

Awareness of context clues, I do not have.

A fellow in the back who may NOT have been in some sort of mob/mafia situation … but who DID have two “bodyguards” and who ALSO happened to have a gold-plated pearl-handled something  of a gun that the man leading the class requested he display because it was so cool it needed to be shared. Also, I remember something being said about either a chain of massage parlors or dry cleaning companies.

I tried not to listen too closely. There are some things I’m happier not knowing.

The Lesson Plan

ANYWAY, so the class was almost entirely “watch this series of videos,” all of which showed various situations that were defused by the hero having a concealed gun handy. A woman followed into a bathroom. A guy attacked while his car was broken down on the side of the road.

There was also a lot of advertising for various gun-themed vacation/training packages? It’s been a few years, but I do remember feeling bemused at the amount of advertising in the class.

Right. So. The teacher clearly was torn between “oh god, this young lady in the front is clearly in the wrong class” and “everyone else is so bored and is only here to get licensed” so it was a very strange vibe.

I never did actually touch a gun.

On a practical note, I did learn that the teacher strongly recommended mace as a self-protection choice, which I appreciated. Laws about gun use and concealed carry are not straightforward, but peppering someone is far less likely to lead to jail time for a victim to may or may not be able to prove they were defending themselves.

Licensed to WHAT now?

Anyway, end of the class and we were told that we now had our licenses to carry a concealed weapon.

I realize I was slow on the uptake here, so you’ll have to forgive me, but it wasn’t until THAT INSTANT that I realized … I can carry a gun. Secretly. Hidden about my person.

AND I HAVE NEVER ACTUALLY FIRED ONE.

Additionally, I found out via the mail that I was now a card-carrying member of the NRA, to boot.

Um.

Politics about gun ownership aside, I think we can all agree that unless I get some serious training, -I- should not have a weapon. Concealed or not.

Me. Tami. No guns. Checkaroonie.

And yet.

Looming Future

Some day, I feel like someone is going to find out I’m a member of the NRA and that I have a concealed carry license, and I am going to have to answer some very serious questions.

I just … don’t know how to answer them without pointing to groupon and saying “oopsie.”

On Discouragement and “Hate Reading”

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The Unclimactic Climax

I unfollowed a blog the other day.

It was an excellent writer’s blog. Frequent updates of a very high quality, including a system to showcase old content that was still relevant but potentially new to many of the readers.

It was witty, entertaining, and it gave superb advice.

Unfortunately, I never once left it feeling fired up and excited to write.

I ALWAYS left it with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. A feeling of shame and worthlessness and hopelessness.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

It took me a very long time to realize what was happening because the blog itself is intended to help writers.

It must be me, I said to myself. His advice isn’t wrong. For example, I SHOULD write every day if I actually want to be a writer.

So I told myself the problem was with me rather than with his blog. That it was my failings as a writer that needed fixing. That I couldn’t turn away from the ugly truth just because I didn’t want to hear it. The very fact that I felt guilt when I read his advice was proof enough that I had something I knew I was doing wrong.

Right?

WRONG.

It’s Not Your Life, It’s Mine

So here’s the thing.

It doesn’t matter if he gave good advice.

He wasn’t giving good advice FOR ME.

I should have stopped following him months ago. Not only was I not his target audience, I was the opposite. I was the lazy wannabe writer he so often impaled on the sharpness of his wit.

I was reading because I thought it would make me a better writer but in truth all I was doing was hurting myself.

He didn’t lie or falsely advertise his blog.

HE TOLD ME HE WAS HOLDING A SPEAR. It’s hardly his fault I kept blindly running forward and stabbing myself with it.

His readership wants his message. Needs it. Theoretically, it is helping them hone their writing edge.

I Need Something Else

I want to spend my time on things that elevate me. Things that inspire me and make me feel good about writing. Things that make me think “hey, I could do that,” or “that’s a great idea, I should try that.”

I know that not all writing is rainbows and unicorns. I know that it’s often a slog. I know that selling a book is a combination of luck and skill that I can never guarantee.

I know, I know, I know.

So I don’t need to keep rubbing my face in it. It doesn’t help me any more than it does a dog or cat making a mess on the carpet.

I need positive reinforcement.

“Hate Reading”

I mention it to you because I realized what I was doing and I want you to stop and think about the social media YOU consume.

Granted, my example is writing related, but you’re not all writers here. You probably ARE all folks who wade in the complex, foggy miasma of the InterWebs.

Do you have blogs that you follow out of a sense of obligation or duty?

Do you have content you read that riles you up in a bad way, that angers or sickens or disgusts you on the regular?

Is it affecting your well-being throughout the day? Is it affecting your pleasure in activities you used to enjoy? Is your reaction to it affecting your friends or family?

Then my suggestion is … maybe stop hate reading.

Maybe stop reading things that make you feel hate.

Self-Defense

YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO PROTECT YOURSELF.

The world is out there and as an American citizen who Can See The Shit Happening, I know how easy it is to fall down several different kinds of awful, horrible, wells.

I know how easy it is to feel like you HAVE to read it. You HAVE to expose yourself to this awfulness because if you don’t, you’re just deliberately being ignorant.

Right?

Wrong.

Just because you aren’t deliberately diving into a river of sewage daily in order to Make Yourself A Better Person, that doesn’t mean you have to be ignorant of what’s happening and that you can’t or shouldn’t do the right thing.

Find Your Warriors

There are people out there who THRIVE on this. There are people for whom it isn’t hate reading. They are our warriors, our defenders, our champions. I salute them and I depend upon them.

I try to find those people and read what they share and listen to what they have to say, because I am trying to find a balance somewhere between burying my head in the sand and caring so much I shred the heart on my sleeve daily.

I pick my battles based on my energy levels and the things around me. I vote with my money. I vote with my vote. I don’t back down when “mild” racism or misogyny crop up in my life. (Well, I try. I’m not even close to perfect, but I am making an effort).

Honor those on the front line fighting the battles you cannot.

And Unfollow The Rest

Everyone has a different limit. For me, that particular writing blog was having the opposite effect on me – I associated writing with failure, which is just about the worst thing that could have happened to my productivity.

(Sorry, the blog was encroaching on politics there, so I’m wrapping it up. I’m not interested in preaching to a choir OR a lively round of sea-lioning from anyone looking to spark a debate.)

I just … I want everyone to drop any burdens they don’t need. If you can lighten your mental and emotional load, please consider doing it.

Tami Parker Fantasy Author & Other Duties as Assigned

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