Sunday, November 27, 2011

I bought a juicer.

Oh man.

What did I get myself into? After watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, we've invested in a Cuisinart juicer. I've been slowly getting into it the last three days, and even though I'm not exclusively juicing, I'm incredibly cranky.

America, what have you done to us? Or... what have I done to myself?

I'm a food addict.

Not just any food, either. All of the foods that aren't good for me. The fast foods, the processed foods, the easy foods. I've been doing a great job cooking at home and making sure that I know what's going in my body, but when I'm at work or when I'm snacking... forget about it.

A dialogue from yesterday while driving in the car:

George (my fiance): ... if we just list the things on Craigslist, we can put that money towards a new bedroom set.

Me: Yep.

George: We'll clean the house, and you can take pictures.

Me: Oooh! In-N-Out. They have hamburgers. And fries.

George: ...

Me: ...

George: You know. The funny thing about you juicing is that you want to eat things you would never normally want.

Me: ... Mashed potatoes. Yams. We have leftovers from Thanksgiving.

George: ...

Me: Uh. I mean. Yeah! You're right! Isn't it weird. It's like I'm suffering from withdrawals or something.

It happened like that for the rest of the day. Even if I had the juice in hand or if I was munching on the veggies, I couldn't help but think how amazing something greasy and fatty would taste. It drove me crazy. The amazing thing is that I LOVE fruits and vegetables, but just the thought of not letting myself touch something from a package or a fast food restaurant... dfjkhdsfhksjh.

I don't know how seriously I'm taking this juicing thing. I'm not going to do 60 days of juice only--I'm not ready for that kind of commitment--but maybe 5 days is good. We'll see how I feel in a few days.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

How do you choose what to post about?

If I had a donut for every time I open up this blog post page and start and then close it, the entire office at work would either love or hate me for dumping plates of them in the kitchen.

When I started the blog, I don't even know what I was thinking. I think I just wanted to use it to connect with other writers and build friendships. I never thought I had much to say on any subject, and if I was writing, it was either for support tickets (for my job), my journal at deviantART, or my book.

After all of that, what is there left to say?

I want to write about writing, but so many people write about writing. What could I possibly say that hasn't been said before?

I want to write about my life, but why? Why not use my private journal for that?

It would be great to start using this journal to talk about something meaningful, but I guess if I have to try this hard, I need to reevaluate it's purpose.

How do you choose what to post about? Are there things you won't blog about?

<3 Love you all!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Two months.

I've been writing so much lately, but I can't seem to stop.

When I got sick, it seemed like everything froze and being stuck in bed with nothing to distract me made me want to write faster.

It's been good.

It's been difficult as well.

Two months since my father passed. I hate saying 'passed.' Two months since he died. Kicked the bucket.

Some days I forget entirely but still have that lingering uncertainty as though something just isn't right.

And some days, everything makes me cry.

I want to believe I was my father's biggest supporter. I want to believe that I still cared for him, cooked for him, believed in him even though I received treatment I didn't deserve.

I'm not angry or bitter.

I just feel like in those movies. It's true. You do ask yourself, "What if things had been different?" Or "What if I had done more?"

And my result is always the same. He would still be who he was. A stubborn man who didn't want anyone's help even though his actions screamed for it.

I want to write here more often, but I'm afraid it won't be about writing. Or maybe it will be. I don't know.

How can life be so happy and so... dismantling at the same time?

I am humble, life. And I will continue to be grateful for everything I'm given, and I will continue to give. I will be optimistic. I will enjoy my life even when some days don't seem worth getting out of bed for.

That's the lesson, right? Live my life.

I am humble, life.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Writing and publishing dreams--what's yours?

I tried to write this blog earlier, but I got caught up in an early online meeting and then had to pack up for work. The thought sat in my browser all day. Finally.

My mornings include waking up early, trying to squeeze out some words before work, and reading author/agent/editor blogs. I forgot how nice it is to have a routine and completely immerse myself in writing/publishing news.

I read this blog by Rachelle Gardner, and even though I don't know much, I've learned a lot in the three years I've been doing this whole sitting and reading thing. Publishing is serious business, and it's really easy to get caught up in the beginning stages. Maybe people have a hard time looking past writing because they are afraid they might never make it.

While it is important, it got me springing off tangents and finally wondering what my dream actually is. And as I sat here wondering about my dreams, I wondered about yours.

I want to be able to wake up early and walk outside. Smell forest, nature, pine, water. I want to have a cup of coffee, and I want to sit at my designated writing table. That might double as a kitchen table. Or a dining table. Or a patio table. I want to close my eyes and take in the moment. Breathe. Relax. And write. And know that, for at least the present, writing is my goal. Storytelling is my goal.

Publishing is wonderful. I want my books in print. I want millions of readers. I want all of that. But I also want that one moment of peace.

What are your writing dreams? What are your publishing dreams?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

So much writing.

This is good. All of this writing I'm doing.

I think.

Since my father passed, I've gone into writing overload. I don't know if it's healthy for me to be writing so much, but I think if I'm eating enough and sleeping enough...

Ah, well. Gonna keep writing and see what happens.

How are your stories coming along?


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish (for my dad)

(x-posted to my deviantART journal which it was originally written for.)

So you're expecting another Steve Jobs remembrance journal? Kind of.

I've been needing to write this journal for a while. In fact, it's been burrowed inside of me for some time. Every time I looked at my userpage and the happy llama I helped create, I just didn't want to wreck it all and stop pretending that it's all alright.

When Steve Jobs announced that he was resigning from Apple, August 24th or 25th, I was inundated with journals and tweets and comments from co-workers passing by. I didn't know much about him other than his accomplishments, and I finally took a moment to watch the Stanford Commencement speech that was going viral again. The message at the end was clear, Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish. And stay happy. And stay fearless. It meant a lot to me at the time because there is so much life I want to live, so many projects I want to work on, so many words I want to write. It meant a lot because, like so many, I had gone through a lot in the last few years. Homelessness, hungry--you guys know better than anyone, really. I was humbled by life, and I had decided to try and be fearless.

His commencement speech reminded me, two years later, that I still needed to be fearless. I couldn't settle for okay, and I had to make each day count.

I had been living on this high for a while. The high of feeling fresh and new again. Ready to tackle it all. I spread the message--STAY HUNGRY! STAY FOOLISH! to anyone who would listen. I tried to re-inspire my loved ones to seize the day.

A week later, after a particularly amazing day, I received a phone call at eleven o'clock in the evening. It was a strange phone call--and it was one that told me two things: my dad moved to Arizona (from California) without telling me, and my dad was in the hospital--really sick. It's hard to not launch into the feelings and emotions again... there's so much to be said... but after an hour, George and I hopped into a car, picked up my mom and my younger brother, and beelined for Arizona.

I thought so many things. Why didn't he tell me he was in Arizona? Why did his new wife only tell me now that he was this ill? Is he tricking me? He's tried to get sympathy before...

... and I thought of all the rotten things I could to keep myself from thinking what I already knew. What I already felt.

This is so hard--so hang out for a second.

Okay. Breathing.

We arrived early in the morning. It was already so, so hot. Ninety degrees at five in the morning.

I... I can't explain fully what I saw. I can see it vividly, but the words are too hard to write (the thoughts too hard to think.) A shell of a man... on a hospital bed. I don't even... Ah.

Not my father. The man lying there wasn't my father. Not the strong, proud, stubborn, angry man that I had known. Or the one who sought to find the good in people and lift them up--the one who was so hard on himself as he was on those around him.

A body. A body strapped to the bed because he was going through alcohol withdrawals. A body. Just a yellow-skinned, bleeding body.

I've spent a lot of time in hospitals. I mean, a lot of time. If I tally up the hours I've spent, it has to be a cumulative total of a couple of months. None of what I saw prepared me for it.

It looked like the worst. It was the worst. His liver failed, and his organs were bleeding... he couldn't breathe--his lungs were failing. He gasped for air, this frail man who wasn't my father. I felt ashamed in those moments to know exactly what the cause of my father's death would be years before it even happened.

We left him hours and hours later. We hadn't showered. We hadn't slept. Even at the bleakest moment, he was getting better. It was silly to believe, looking back, but when we left his breathing was steady. He was calm, he wasn't shaking or jarring. His ammonia level was dropping. It would've been a huge battle to win, but things were promising. That's what they said.

Two hours later, we received a phone call from his wife saying he didn't have long. Breathing...

To save myself from feeling everything, I'll only say that I watched his last strained breaths before he died.

That night was the worst. I couldn't sleep with the lights off. I wasn't afraid of the dark. I wasn't afraid that he died, but everything that happened that day in all it's gruesome detail made me lose my mind. It was on a loop. Over and over again.

I left for California the next day. Everything was numb. Everything I saw, no matter how small or how fucking stupid, reminded me of him. It's funny how you forget all of the horrible things and only remember the good things. You know why that is? Because it doesn't matter anymore. All of the hurts from when he was alive? They just don't matter. My father was an alcoholic, and we got to enjoy the benefits of it.

Now? He's just gone. He's the memories that we choose to remember, the words we choose to keep him.

My father was a troubled man with a troubled past (much like we all have), but he couldn't face his demons, disappointments, or despairs. Underneath all of that? Underneath that anger, underneath the alcohol? A brilliant man who could touch anything and turn it to gold. He knew the secret before it was The Secret. He understood the value of helping people by pushing them to their limits--making them test themselves and achieve things that no one could dare to dream of.

And he held me to that too.

Stay fucking hungry, stay fucking foolish--that's how he would've said it.

The theme of living, even in death, ESPECIALLY in death, continued to resonate with me through the days after. Through his funeral. And still now, through the death of Steve Jobs, whose words were the catalyst to a deepening epiphany that I'm still living in.

You don't have to know or love or cry for Steve Jobs to appreciate the message he said... many have said it before him, many will say it after.

Keep living. Be fearless. Find your happiness. You just have to. Otherwise, what's the point?

There is still a lot I have to get through. It's fresh, and it keeps happening. My first birthday without him passed, and his first birthday without us is ahead. I'm not trying to get spiritual about any of this. I wrote this for me first, and for all of you wonderful friends second--it's been simmering inside of me for so long, and now the water is boiling.

And you know what? It's all okay.

Seriously. It is.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Finding happiness. (one moment at a time)

My birthday was yesterday, and as awesome as it is to be twenty-seven (right, yeah right), it was a difficult day.

It's been a month since my father passed away, and having my birthday happen right after things became less sharp and pointy made feelings and sadness I hadn't felt resurface.

I'm not saying it's been easy, but it's been easy to dive into work, and for that, I'm grateful. The downside is that I rarely have time to myself, and things have just been piling up until I just breakdown. Physically, emotionally.

Even though it's hard to say "My father is dea--", well, I still can't say it.

Even though it's hard, I'm not unhappy. I'm happy with my life, with everything in it and the direction I'm going in. Sometimes, though, I should have more patience.

I'm trying to slow down, even though it hurts, and let myself experience everything. The happy bits and the sad parts. All of that.

It really is just one moment at a time.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Every EFFING time.

Every time I say that I'm going to be on here, something else happens. So I'm here to say I won't be here at all (lie) in fact! I intend to stay as far away from this blog as possible (lie).

Sadly, I haven't been up to par with my writing goodness, mostly because of the following:

1. - My job. I love it, I spend 8 hours a day there.
2. - My other job. I love narwhals.

3. Well.

This one isn't as happy.

My father passed less than a month ago.

It's still an open wound, and I'm sure I'll have a lot to say about the subject when things are less sore. I guess the only thing worth saying now is: Be fearless. Live your fucking life.

I'll be back again soon (hopefully not a lie).

I just wanted to see how you guys are doing. <3

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What keeps you reading?

I'm in the midst of writing my second book, and I keep getting caught up in one thing or another, and before I know it my will to write is at its wit's end.

That's when I pick up a book and just read.

I read a wide variety of books, though I read more YA and Fantasy, and I can't help but think, "What keeps me reading this awesome book?"

What keeps you reading?


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why I've been gone & Fancy yourself!

Hi everyone!

It's so good to write a blog post after I've been neglectful for sometime. Unfortunately, I don't know when I'll be able to post again with my schedule, but I'll be making an effort to check up when I can.

On a good note, the reason I've been gone: I finally opened my new store, The Fancy Narwhal.

The store has a small amount of products right now, but I'm still working on growing the store slowly. :)

Take a peek at it, and if something catches your fancy (hurr), pick something up!

The Fancy Narwhal

It's been challenging trying to juggle so many projects, but I'm really excited, tired, and ready for more adventures!

<3 Love to you all; See you soon :D

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Where do you write?

In an attempt to find a comfortable place to write, I lugged my laptop to the bedroom, to the couch, and finally to this little nook pictured above. When I moved into this apartment, I saw this space and knew I wanted to do something different with it. I wanted it to be cozy and comfortable with just the right lighting and just the right chairs.

I really wanted a place I could sit down and feel like I was in my own world where I could just write all of my thoughts and be surrounded by the books I love.

You know how many times I've used it?

Two times.

One was today.

I'm sitting here now in an attempt to get used to this, but it really comes down to convenience. It's easier for me to write on the couch with the TV on, or at the dining room table, but I'm trying to create a habit now that will last for a long time.

I want to put my butt into this chair and BOOM my mind goes, "Hey, time to write!"

It's been asked many times, and will continue to be asked many times over, but where do you write? Where do you think? Do you have a routine?

Maybe you need a special chair or a special drink, or maybe you just need to be outside with fresh air.

Spill the beans!



Yes, the title sums it up.

Life is taking me for a spin (instead of the other way around), but it's so much good I can't complain.

It's been tough balancing everything with this blog. I spend so much time on deviantART that I rarely have time to do much else. I think it's a matter of carving out time on the weekends to make sure I check in here. I've missed so many great posts, and the thought of reaching back a couple months and trying to catch up makes my eye twitch. I'm going to be making a greater effort to blog here, even though I'm sure there are many other writers out there sharing their journeys... and they are much more interesting and helpful than I am.

Since I've been gone, what have you all been up to? If you link me to a blog post you've posted recently, or one that's important to you, I'll drop by :)


PS. I still have to announce my giveaway winners! Stay tuned for that in the next journal. Yeah. I know. That was a long time ago :D

Monday, May 16, 2011


          <3 Lovely blogfriends!

The Group 9 Crusaders present to you the Choose Your Own Adventure bloghop! Enjoy your adventure, and be careful to make the right choices ;D

PS. Follow the links, and you may end up back here to read my entry

Wait, do you mean to read this first? If you haven't started the adventure, start here: Click me to start

If you are already on your quest:

You've chosen: Smack it! Whack the Yeti!:

           Ha! Pet it! You’ve seen enough man-eating animal documentaries to know better than to touch it. It’s all a ploy. Those sweet round eyes and moist nose. Just a ploy before he’s sure to sink his teeth into you.
           The fear sets in again, and you do it. You swing the rock down, aiming for the beast’s head.
           Unfortunately, you’ve never really been an athlete, so your whack does little more than your bare hand slapping it would’ve. Actually, that might have been more effective.
           The rock slips from your hand and falls to the floor, and you’re frozen. The beast’s eyes stare at you, and you wonder whether it’s confused, amused, or just hungry.          
           “Ahhhh!” You scream loudly and flail your arms in a moment of panic, and the rush of adrenaline urges you to act erratically.  Your arm shoots out, and in a wild grabbing motion, your fingers close on the fur of the Yeti. You tug and tug, and yet no hair is freed. It’s as though the hair is bolted to its body.
           One last panicked tug frees a clump of hair, and the previously docile Yeti yowls in such a way that you almost drop it. You ball your hand into a fist and back up as quickly as you can, knowing you’re going to trip over a rock, or something, and it will all be over.
           The Yeti’s yowling subsides by the time you’re a fair distance away, and you turn around to break into a full run.  You stuff the hair into your pocket, and your legs gallop out of the cave and back to the wonderful outside world.
           The cold air smacks you in the face, and your elation grabs you momentarily. You have the samples. You have the samples!
           You almost skip on the way through the forests and through the trees, still cautiously tossing awkward glances over your shoulder. You feel like maybe the Yeti is still watching you, but since you didn’t hear it come after you, as the moments pass you feel more comfortable.
           After a few minutes, you slow to an easy jog, enjoying the crisp air, and then you turn your head to the left to see the beautiful horizon through the trees.
           When you started, you didn’t realize how high you had climbed to find this mysterious cave, and as your heartbeat slows, you take deeper and more satisfying breaths.
           The clouds tickle the horizon as they pass, and you relish the moment of having the samples of Yeti fur in your possession. No doubt there would be skin particles, and you didn’t even get a scratch. A photograph might have been nice, but now that you have the samples, everyone will know they exist and seek them out for further samples and investigation.
           You take one last breath of air, shaking still from the adrenaline, before turning away from the horizon.
           Before you can react, the Yeti is charging towards you, and the moment of happiness you had is caught between confusion and fear. It’s too late to react. The Yeti leaps through the air and lands on your chest sending you both over the cliff in freefall flight.
          You cling to it's fur, and the Yeti clings to you, and for a moment you share a moment of panic together. The air freezes your skin, and you enjoy the moment of falling free before your ultimate and untimely end.
          Instead crashing to your demise, your fall is only seconds and you tumble down the side of what you thought was a steep cliff only to find that it's a snow covered twiggy slope.
          You both tumble with each other, rolling down the hill. Something's broken, you're sure, but hitting the ground never felt so good. Your heart thumps in your chest as you roll to a stop in the dirty, melting snow.
          The Yeti lies beside you and turns to face you. You groan and cover your face with your hands. You're giving up. It can eat you. Not that you'd be able to move quickly anyway.
          When you move your hands from your face, the Yeti is no longer beside you, but standing over you.
          He lifts a rock, a bigger rock than the one you used to try and knock him out, and swings it down towards your face.

The End.

Maybe you made the wrong choice:

Go back: Stop and take a picture                               
Go Back: Hightail it out of there
Start over

Monday, April 18, 2011

How have you been?

Well, I've been out of commission for a little while, huh?

How have you all been? What's new? What's exciting? What's happened in your life in the last month?


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An apology

Hi everyone!

I know this isn't much, but I wanted to offer an apology to you all. Yes, each and every one of you who has followed my blog. Whether it's from the crusade or from something else.

When I joined in to the crusade, I had a game plan in my head. Blogs I would comment on, blogs I would post, people I would say hi to and so much more.

The plan slowly fell apart as things started happening around me, most notably (and recently) a car accident on Friday and my grandmother passing away on Sunday.

So here I am. With a giant 'I'm so sorry' and a promise to you all.

I didn't join the crusade group thinking this was a short, quick sort of thing. I joined because I wanted to make writing friends who I would be able to support and exchange thoughts and ideas with for a very long time. Regardless of my start, I promise I'm in this for the long haul--way after the crusade is over--because I have really yet to begin this great journey.

Thanks guys and gals. You're all awesome <3

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oh dear.

I may regret this, but I laughed so hard when I saw it, I had to share it.

My co-worker and awesome friend Chris likes to take photos with her phone when I am unaware. Usually, I become aware and hide behind my hands or my computer monitor.

She has an absurd number of photos with my hand in the way. (I have an absurd number of photos of her with a phone in front of her face.)

With the iPhone app, Muybridgizer, she captured this wonderful gif of me waving a Medieval Times flag and looking ridiculously happy.

You may laugh if you wish. Enjoy:


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Distractions & a Game!

Welcome to Saturday! I'm a little late, since it's around 2:30pm here, but I have been trying to catch up with all of the stuff that accumulated while I was in Vegas.

Work is crazy--going back to work for three days after a long weekend is hard, and I'm glad to have this weekend to center myself and get back to it. Do any of you have deviantART accounts? If you do, link me to them, I'd love to check them out. :)

Distractions punch me in the face. Even if I don't have anything to do, I'm still ridiculously distracted. I started going through my blog comments, ended up at the crusaders page, hung out on a few blogs... and then I baked coconut macaroons, toasted bagels, and whipped up some tuna salad.

I also burned my hand because I am an idiot. I grabbed a hot pan from the oven. It was lovely. I'm trying to type gently.

ANYWAY, distractions!

Let's play a game!

The internet is a world of distractions, and I can waste a day away clicking from one thing to the next. I also have the unfortunate habit of opening a bunch of windows/tabs at once, and I get lost in my own browser.

If you have multiple tabs open:
What are they? (you don't have to be super specific)

If you have one window open:
What are the last three websites you've visited? (again, you don't have to be super specific.)

Do you have any weird browsing habits or a routine you follow?

Let's go!


5 Firefox Tabs open:

1st tab:
2nd tab: The blog entry window
3rd tab: The list of crusaders
4th tab:
5th tab: When do eggs really expire?

It's usually a lot worse, but you get the idea. ;D


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Just a quick post to say hello to everyone!

I've been in Las Vegas, so I'm pretty behind on this Crusader business. HELLO TO YOU ALL AND I WILL BE VISITING YOUR PAGES SOON!

If you have time, leave a comment and let me know what your favorite book is!


See you all around!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Giveaway: Travel

I have a lot of fun over at my deviantART account (username: ArtisticAunJuli), and I have been doing a giveaway once a month!

x-posted from my dA account:

Giveaway Two: Travel

I don't have my passport. I have never had a passport.

But I really want to travel.

It's been on my list to get a passport for sometime, and I think this will be the year I'll get it. I want to travel to so many places, see so many things. Growing up, I moved a lot. The change of scenery, at the time, scared the shit out of me, and I was always upset when I had to leave the friends I had just made. Now that I'm older, the itchy feeling of needing to escape and go somewhere new nags at me.

The feeling was quelled in 2008 and 2009 when I moved to Phoenix (AZ), San Antonio, Houston (TX), Corona, Buena Park, and Riverside, California.

Yeah, I didn't want to move after that…

But the want to wander is still there, and I'm lucky that California offers so many different landscapes all within a driving distance and reasonable price range. Eventually, I'll get my passport, and hopefully we'll save enough money to go somewhere and experience things I've only read about.

This giveaway post is much shorter, but I really have to write my book D: (and I don't think saying over and over and over that I want to travel in different ways is going to be very interesting.)

For this giveaway

1. Simply leave a comment and tell me where you've been and where you're going! Don't worry if you haven't been anywhere, tell me about the landscapes local to you. What's interesting in your village, town, city, country? What do you long to see? What do you need to see before you kick the bucket?

2. You'll be automatically entered into the drawing by leaving a comment answering the prompt.

3. That's it. Really.

The prizes
One winner will have the option to pick their prize package:

Package A: A travel guidebook to the country of their choice & 15$ Amazon Gift Card

Package B: A 25$ Amazon Gift Card

Package C: 2000 points! (This is a deviantART prize option!)

Giveaway Closes on March 5th, 11:55pm Pacific Time

Winners will be announced on March 13th

Giveaway Three will be announced on March 13th

Giveaway One Winners and stuff:

<3 Juli

P.S. deviantART users are entering there, and bloggers can enter here. One entry per user, and the entrants from both sites will be combined, though there may be more than one prize given out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Writing to finish and writing to write.

With my book in the capable hands of two lovely friends, I'm beginning to understand some of the differences between writing to finish a book and writing to just write a damn good book.

When I started Curio, the fourth time, it was to finish the book. I have had so many false starts and so many half-books, and it made me wonder if I would ever finish anything. I stuck to a strict diet of outlining my scenes, and eventually, through toiling and running a word marathon, I finished.

And you can see, when you read it, exactly what I did. You can tell that through my rushing, the pacing is awkward, that parts needed to be thought on more, and some of my characters don't have time to develop that delicious bond we, as readers, crave. The connection.

Dreamers has been different. I'm writing slowly, deliberately, and the words are meaningful. I can only see a few steps ahead of me--I haven't written out scene outlines in their entirety--but it's just enough to know where I'm going. I have room to grow, to manipulate the story, and put the puzzle pieces together the right way the first time around.

I'm about 8,000 words into Dreamers, and although I know that it's just a tiny piece to the huge puzzle, it's a start. A pretty encouraging one.

I'm not greedy. I'll take encouraging.

(edit) I'm going to jump into the Writers' Platform-building crusade! Check it out here: CRUSADEEE! I found this through my newest writer friend, Devin!


Happy (or productive) writing!


I haven't felt this excited about writing or about my life since I was a teenager dreaming my life away.

Got a long way to go, so let's do this.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Somehow. Sometimes. Some way.

I was going to write about writing, instead, I decided to write about living.

Sometimes, when it's late, sometimes when I let him doze off, I watch him sleep. I stop what I'm doing, I stop pretending that everything is fine and just watch.

I watch the way he breathes, I watch his face, his eyelashes. I look and I wonder how we make it. I wonder how even with all of the hope and miracles we've had, how sometimes it's like we're holding onto a thread.

This quiet contemplation only happens when he's asleep. When I see him in his most fragile state.

That is when I lose my mind, and I just can't help but cry. And I beat myself up for not working harder. Or not doing this. Or not doing that. Like I have control of his illness. Like if I could JUST do this, or if I had just done that.

The hardest part is surrendering. Surrendering to the fact that I'm doing all that I can, my very best, that we are doing are very best.

Somehow, though, knowing this doesn't make it feel any better. And then I mop myself up, and push through another couple of days, weeks, months.

We've made it this far. Nothing will stop in our way. That's the only thing I know, that's as far as I can see.

And I'm okay with that for now.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Giveaway: Food Memories!

Giveaway 1: Food Memories

**Each giveaway will be preceded by a story of some sort, so if you want to get straight to the giveaway prizes and rules, scroll to the bottom!**

I’ve been cooking and baking a lot, and I just started reading Julie and Julia, so I wanted to do a food related post!

If you walk into my house, you may be met with a stack of Belgian waffles covered in fruit and syrup or a plate of warm cinnamon cookies with soft apples and buttercream frosting.

This was not the case two years ago. Even a year and a half ago.

George and I used to live what I call the ‘car business’ lifestyle. There are two important things to know about being a car salesman or living with one, and neither of them has anything to do with cars.

The first thing is that the schedules are shit. Yeah, yeah. The schedule might say 8am to 3pm, but what it really means is that you’re going to stay until you’ve met your goal, or you ain’t gonna eat that month.

Or you aren’t going to have a job.

There are also delightful ‘bell’ schedules, which means you wake up, get there with the early birds, and leave with the night owls. You could be there from 8am to… oh, I don’t know, 2am?

This means that planning a dinner doesn’t happen.

The second thing to know about this car business lifestyle is that you eat whenever you see the opportunity, and you have to eat fast. Ya gonna sit there and enjoy a leisurely lunch of creamy pasta with a light salad and breadsticks with dipping sauce while another guy is taking your up*?

Nope. You’re gonna run and grab a fistful of burger and shove it into your mouth while you’re running to grab that lady eyeing the tricked out Escalade.

I worked in the car business, and my father spent his entire life working in it, so I was used to him not coming home on time for dinner, and George’s schedule—though annoying—wasn’t really strange to me.

If you’re adding this all up, go ahead and throw in the part where I didn’t know how to cook. Yeah, I couldn’t boil water.

Okay, everyone, if you’ve solved the equation, the answer should be: For years, George and Juli lived on a diet of fast food and frozen food. Usually McDonalds, it was closest, and those great frozen bagged pastas that you can dump in a skillet frozen and cook for ten minutes to be proud that something came out of the pan and not the microwave.

The last year has been amazing in a way that is really small. I’ve had the time and resource and reason to learn how to cook. To cook well. And bake. And bake. And bake. And stop to smell the delights. And sigh with content. And bake.
I’m always touched by how personal food can be, how much joy it can bring, how it can bring people together.

The ‘car business’ lifestyle meant George and I didn’t get to cook together, eat together really. It was scarfing down premade foods and regretting it afterwards.
Not knowing how to cook or bake meant that I couldn’t bring delicious homemade cookies to my mom’s house to share with her. To show her that I do remember how much time and love she spent with every dish she made.

When I was young, very young, I came home from school, and my mom was home early from work. She made a plate of cookies and sat them on the table for me when I walked through the door.

I said, “Mommy, I wish you could be home all the time so you can bake me cookies.”
My mom quit her job the next day, and she continued to stay home and bake and cook meals that would bring our family close together—food and meals we still laugh about.

I am so grateful I have the time to learn and people to share my creations with. It is such a simple way to connect with others, and it is a very gratifying thing to stand in the kitchen and watch the chicken sizzle in a pan with vegetables and balsamic vinegar or smell the lemon from lemon and raspberry bars and know that you put just enough lemon zest and lemon juice.

It’s just a good way to end the day. Everyday.

Giveaway Rules

- Reply to this journal with a comment answering the prompt/question.
- You can enter once here, and enter once on my dA Journal for a total of two chances to win. There is a BONUS entry chance for deviantART users as well.
- Winner will be drawn out of a hat by someone who isn’t me. Maybe my cats will pick the winner. An honorary smaller prize will be given to someone who really hits me with their reply.

Prizes for the FOOD MEMORIES giveway

I wanted to allow for a lot of options, so there are three different prize packs you can chose from if you win.

Prize Pack A: A copy of Julie & Julia (the book), a set of measuring cups and spoons, and an additional kitchen/cooking/baking related surprise.

Prize Pack B: A copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 –or- a copy of the Pillsbury Cookbook (a cookbook that my mom swore by!), a set of measuring cups and spoons, and an additional kitchen/cooking/baking related surprise.

(for deviantART members!) Prize Pack C: 1600 deviantART Points!

The Giveaway Prompt

Comment here with the food that you cannot live without. Tell us about your first experience with it, your most recent experience, what it means to you, why it is your favorite!

There are no restrictions, no word limits. Just share. It is a random drawing, but I will be picking out a food story to feature on my blog from someone and giving them a small prize also, so if you want to post something lengthy or emotional, go for it!

Remember, you can enter twice, once here, and also in my dA Journal

Deadline: January 31, 2011, 11:55pm PST

Winners will be announced on February 12, 2011

Good luck!
<3 Juli

PS. If you want to share links to this giveaway in your journals, blogs, twitter feeds, I wouldn’t mind at all ;D

*’Ups’ are people walking up onto the dealership car lot, and if there isn’t a rotation list of who gets to go next, it’s who can get to them fastest.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Where I really mix things up.

My new project, currently just called Dreamers, is a challenge. A huge challenge. A challenge like I've never encountered. (Okay, well. Finishing my first book was a huge challenge...)

It is so different from my first novel, I don't even really know what the hell I'm doing. When I think I know what the hell I'm doing, nope, I screw it up and realize I still don't know. It is so frustrating.

And it's fantastic. Absolutely, undeniably fantastic.

I've changed the perspective and the tense to something I've never really worked with before. Taking a risk, even when it is so frightening, makes me feel alive.

I'm pretty thrilled with this book. I want to believe it's fresh and exciting, but I won't kid myself. I know, though, it's a good story, and I'll just start with that.

The rest will come later.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Old Year, The New Year

I wanted to write a reflection of 2010, but I don't know if a full recollection is possible. I am overwhelmed just thinking about it--in a very good way.

2010 was the year that I was able to stand up on two feet and finally look over the mountains that 2008 and 2009 built up before me. Somehow, I was able to grow taller and taller until I was able to walk over them and see I was, indeed, going in the right direction.

It was a year of learning, a year of undoing bad habits, and a year of being happy for what I had.

And I am still happy and grateful for all that I have.

I keep telling people, "I'm so excited for the new year, but really, I'm just hoping it's a continuation of 2010." And that's how I feel. I want to continue to grow and learn and love in the same direction as I have for the past year.

Notable events:

-January 7, 2010 - I began working for deviantART

-July 7, 2010 - George and I moved into our apartment in Hollywood. The first place we had ever moved into on our own. The last place we had paid for by ourselves was a wonderful little place called the 'Coral Motel.' Otherwise known as 'harsh reality.'

-November 1, 2010 - Started writing what is now called Curio or Curios.

-December 12, 2010 - Finished writing Curio. I have written so much over the years, but I've never, ever completed a novel before. Monumental.

2010 brought a year of recovery for George for his health issues, and while it was the most difficult thing to deal with for the entire year, the end of the year showed us that the time and effort would pay off. He's getting better now, and I can only imagine how much better it will be in 2011.

2010 was a year of discovering new friendships and building better and stronger relationships with my family.

2010 was a year of learning how to make pancakes, use a George Foreman grill, and boast that I never, ever had to resort to cooking a frozen food. (We lived on frozen burritos and meals for a few years.)

I know that I can't fully sum up 2010 with all of the feeling and emotion I have for it, but at least a small glimpse will show how lucky I was and how lucky I still am.

So what now, 2011? Are you ready? I sure am.

2011, ya got big shoes to fill.