18 September, 2018

How Hard is it to Have a Hobby?

I seem to have misplaced my hobbies. 
Or rather, they have gradually left me, as neglected friends will do. Maybe they're off partying with my missing goals.

I used to have easily defined hobbies, starting with reading. That was my number one hobby for decades. I've been diligently courting that hobby and it has been returning to me during this year. (Thank you GoodReads for helping me track my reading diligently.)

Music, another persistent hobby. 

When I moved to the Delaware shore in October of 19-ahem, by December I had purchased a second-hand piano to help me while away the hours, living at a beach-y, resort-y area during the dead winter season. I'm not a great piano player, but I started learning when I was 5, so I can play complicated classical pieces full of mistakes... for my own fun. Anyway, it was a great purchase and stayed with me all of my 12 years in Delaware. For the last 6 years, in apartments in Indianapolis, Beijing, and now in a house in Vietnam, I continue to tell myself I will get an electronic piano (easier for transportation), but that has yet to happen.

I would sing along in the car on every drive to and from work, to and from the store, anytime I was alone in the car. Now I walk everywhere, and I only occasionally sing in the shower. 

The Theatre. Hobby and avocation.

For 20 years, I was in about 2 plays a year, plus helping out with other plays in other ways backstage. TWENTY YEARS. Then I moved to Indianapolis, and got a job that meant working late some days, and it would have been mean to commit to a play when I couldn't guarantee to make the rehearsals. 

In China, my theatre bug was somewhat mollified by doing children's drama camps. I really enjoyed working on scripts for those, but the camps themselves were... well, the Chinese idea of live theatre is different from the western idea.

With no music and no theatre, I suddenly realized yesterday that my hobbies are now...

Brace yourselves ...

Planning and Tracking.

I've always enjoyed planning things - trips, meetings, packing, cleaning, everything there is to ever do can be planned. I'm a great planner. (It's genetic. When we asked my mom to use their house for our wedding, she immediately grabbed a pen and started making a list of things to buy and things to do in the house. Any time any guest ever comes, she does this.)

For decades I kept track of my activities in a Franklin Planner. Until I moved overseas and had less to track. Now I still use a planner, but also my smart phone - so many apps! So many things to track! I have my fitness tracker, a habit tracker, GoodReads for books, and a private notepad that I use to track my own lists of things, PLUS my paper planner.

So now I get to quietly slide into some kind of Type A Psycho who plans the heck out of every day and every activity, and then tracks it to death online. Old age is gonna be FUN!

How have your habits changed over time? Have they? Does "planning" even count as a hobby?

15 September, 2018

Catching Up

It's been a rough week. I did that flash fiction in the hopes it would reignite the fire under my creative juices. (ew. That sounds grosser than I intended.) It didn't.

I feel I need to put a disclaimer on all those flash fiction entries I do, but that's not the way it's done. I think my first one was good, but they went downhill from there. That's what I get for writing when I'm uninspired. You can't force creativity!

Unfortunately, when I don't need a boost of creativity, that means I'm actually writing, doing things, posting more on my blog, making progress in my WIP (work in progress) so I don't even think to do a flash fiction. Hm. 

Anyway, I'm still here, and I'm reading many of your blogs, but I often can't even think of words to comment, so I don't. Sorry about that. It'll get better. I hope.

11 September, 2018

The Greatest American Parade Every Year

Sunday Photo Fiction time! (Check it out HERE)
It's Tuesday for me, which means it's probably Monday for most of you, so I'm not as late to the game as my last one. You know the drill. Fiction under 200 words, inspired by the selected photo.

Photo credit: C.E. Ayr


“Here come the bagpipes!” This was Kitty’s favorite part of any parade. But to be here, on New Years Day!


Her friends were talking amongst themselves. They didn’t get it.

Her eyes lit up as the “American Sons of Scotland” neared, playing a highland tune she vaguely recognized. So many bagpipes! The sheer quantity of pipers was impressive, in addition to the power of the music she was smiling and humming to. Heaven.


She knew there would be more later, too. The annual Tournament of Roses parade always had several groups playing bagpipes. State Trooper units from around the country, a military group, smaller bagpipe bands from communities around the US that just wanted the honor to play in this event.


As the “Sons of Scotland” passed, she turned back to her friends. “That was amazing,” Kitty gushed.


“Dude. You look like you just fell in love.” Despite his name, Scotty would never understand.


“Not just,” she explained. “Years ago.” Why did she always get defensive about her heritage? She sat sullenly watching her friends. She should have come alone. She shed a silent tear for Uncle Mike, who first introduced her to the beauty of her highland home.


word count: 199

07 September, 2018

How Do We Get Stuff? It Begins

We went up to Da Nang yesterday, to return my friend's bike. The one who had an accident near us the other day? Her bike stayed here when she returned home. So we rode this limping "hog" 18 miles to her place.

She is getting ready to move again, so this trip had 2 purposes:
  1. return her bike
  2. pick up some of the things she's getting rid of


She had told me about some of the things she was getting rid of - coffee maker, floor lamp - and added that we could go through her kitchen stuff too because she didn't think she'd take much of that with her. 

We got there and she started pointing out different things she didn't have any use for. A rice cooker/ pressure cooker/ slow cooker that Brett pounced on. It had apparently belonged to her ex-fiance, who is no longer in the country. A small teapot left behind by a friend who'd stayed with her for over a month. That got my attention. I miss my tea.

It got me thinking about how many things we accidentally (or not) inherit from others who've been in our lives: family, roommates, neighbors. Unless you got married immediately upon leaving your parents' home, in which case you started adulthood with a full shiny set of all new stuff you had registered for at Target, you probably started adulthood with a bunch of secondhand stuff from your parents' basement, thrift stores, and curb-side rejects. 

We got rid of everything but essential items before moving overseas. As of yesterday, we now have an appliance I got from a friend who got it from an ex-fiance who bought it new. I now have a tea-infusing teapot that came from a friend who got it from a friend who... brought it with her? bought it here? I don't know. When we move again, these are probably things we will pass on to another individual.

In the meantime, we have apparently reached the point in our overseas life when we are again accumulating STUFF. Hopefully, I will continue to be choosy and not just get STUFF that has no lasting value or use for me. I've appreciated the simple life we've had without so much STUFF.

I once saw a movie where the inanimate object was the protagonist. I think it was called "The Red Violin". I want to say the movie starts in the middle of the story, but during the course of 2 hours we find out how it was created, who it goes to in which culture and which century. An intriguing premise. 

And now I'm left wondering about the lives of my inanimate objects. Do you have any inanimate objects with colorful histories? How would we even know? Thrift stores don't exactly provide letters of possession.

05 September, 2018

A Final HodgePodge

It's HODGEPODGE time! Joyce over at "From This Side of the Pond" has elected to make this her last Hodgepodge link-up. I'm sorry to see it go, but life happens. More power to her! If you want to join in, it's a nice, quick little bloghop, just 6 questions. Click the link under the image.
 
Join HERE.

 Let's see what thoughts are provoked today...


1. What has been the highlight of your summer so far?
I'd say moving to Vietnam, but that's just ALL of my summer. To choose a single highlight? Maybe seeing the spectacle that is the Dragon Bridge. Maybe watching the International Fireworks Festival. Maybe finding a house. 

... Probably the fireworks. That was several fun, casual gatherings on the rooftop terrace of our building in Da Nang. We weren't close to the action, but enjoyed good company. And I LOVE fireworks.


2. What do you wish you'd done more of this summer? Less of?
More? Cooking, exercise, healthy stuff. But those are easy casualties of relocating. It's been a pretty good summer. I have no regrets.
Less? The only thing that comes to mind is "playing games on my phone" but even that is on the downturn. Again, no real regrets.

3. Something you're looking forward to on your September calendar?
There is nothing on the calendar except Brett's birthday. Mandarin class twice a week, and Brett's birthday. Each week, I had marked a room I wanted to focus on, but since we are waiting to buy more furniture until his next paycheck, that schedule will be stretched beyond September. 

I am definitely looking forward to celebrating Brett's birthday, although it falls during the week, so we will probably wait to do something until the weekend. And we might not do much. He's not a fan of a big to-do.


4. Best/favorite book you've read this summer?
A crazy little read by Morgana Best called "Miss Spelled". It's a bit girly, a bit mystery, a bit witchy (that's not really a secret) and such a quick, easy, light read, I would happily download her entire repertoire. However, right now I'm on a reading frenzy delving into a variety of genres as I begin my own writing journey. I will definitely come back to her.

Want to know my WORST book read this summer? Ugh. I'm still in it. "Midnight" by Dean Koontz. He's a bestseller, so I can learn something from him surely, and what I'm learning is to CUT THE DESCRIPTIONS! Holy crap, what a mess. I was at the 50% mark before I had any interest at all. But, you know, I'm learning about writing, so I read. 

(I'm ALWAYS interested in book recommendations, fyi. Please comment.)

5. Share something positive, encouraging, or uplifting here.
I'm terrible at linking videos, so...
If you love music, please look up "Postmodern Jukebox" on YouTube. I think I'm a late joiner to their trend, but these guys are awesome. (uplifting)

A story from life, then. (positive/encouraging)
Today, a friend was in an accident while passing my town (that's a blog for later), so she came to our place to assess damage and go to a pharmacy. As we were walking back from the pharmacy - where, first of all, the pharmacist sat her down and personally wrapped her ankle in the Ace bandage she had bought - as we walked/limped home, a woman on a motor-scooter pulled up alongside us and pointed to the back of her seat, saying something in Vietnamese. 
She had seen my friend limping, with a bandaged ankle, hanging on my arm, and gave her a ride down the street to my house (which was within sight, but maybe 80 yards away). People are good at heart. People in Vietnam are AMAZING. Such a simple thing to do for a stranger!

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I make little comments here and there about starting writing. In my Vietnamese class last month, we were learning about basic small talk, including the question "What do you do?" (what is your job?)

I'm not teaching. My personal business is not up and running yet. I sort of do audio recording sometimes, but the guy couldn't teach me how to say "audio recording", so I told him I'm a writer. That is my profession now. I'm not published yet, but that is my daily task that I intend to bring some sort of income at some point. I am a writer. There it is. Bold, declarative statement. I own it.

Question to you: If you are participating in this link-up, let me know in a comment, so I can visit. If you are not, how would you sum up your summer? And as always, got a book or author to recommend?

01 September, 2018

Catching up with August in September

I think I forgot to pack my goals when we moved. 
That's my joke these days.

The thing about moving is it breaks up your routine. You can move across town, across a state, across the country, or to a different country. Each move is different but they all have one thing in common.

Whether you move yourself in 18 trips with your Ford Escort, move yourself in 3 trips with a rental van or truck, hire a local moving company to pack and move all your stuff, donate everything to charity and start afresh in the new location, one thing is universal: 

All of your routines are disrupted.

Vacation disrupts routines as well, but you can return to the same routines when you return. Your coffee-maker sits in the same spot on the counter when you get home. Your gym is still the same number of minutes away. All your toiletries hang out on the same ledge in the shower.

No matter where you move to, everything you own needs a new home. You need to find new things to do at different times of the day. You no longer purchase your groceries at the same place, maybe. You have to adjust your commute time.

Right now, I can't wrap my head around any day in advance. Clean something, eat something, write something, read something. That's about as precise as my goals get these days. So let me use this as a monthly wrap up. 
IN AUGUST...

The House: 
I'm still trying to unpack more things, but until we purchase another piece of furniture, that's hard to do. A shelving unit will allow me to move all the books and decor items out of the wardrobes where they take up space, letting me put more clothes in there. A dresser will let us get clothes into their permanent homes. A vanity will let me move my makeup from the downstairs coffee table to a more discreet home in the bedroom.

Any one of those three items will give me a leg up on getting the suitcases out of the bedroom and into the 3rd-floor storage area. Good news is, we plan to be here a long time so we can take our time. This goal is plodding along slowly.

Fitness: 
I had fitness goals once. Even in Da Nang, most days I'd try to ensure I met a step goal. I now have the joy of doing yoga on the south balcony as the sun rises. Today I pushed myself to a longer workout and was dripping by the end. From basic yoga. So exercise is slipping, but not dead yet. Isa-Lee Wolf at Bit2Read talked about starting Daily Burn, so I checked them out on YouTube. That is a possible evening workout for me, while Brett teaches. This goal is aired out daily, if only for me to poke at it and check for breathing. I have high hopes of rejuvenating it during September.

Cooking:
We looked for a house with a decent kitchen so we could start cooking again. We have the kitchen, why not cook? I figured that one out: I do not like haggling, and buying food to cook means haggling. Plus I don't know what I'm buying. So... that goal is rather crumpled in a corner, probably crying for having been neglected for so long.

Work:
My goal of starting a business? Well, I got the logo, etc., but after looking into the legal fees to license and actually start a business here, that goal has been neatly tucked into a drawer. I get it out and look at it every now and then and brush off its snappy, tailored suit, but it can chill until we have the kind of disposable income for me to lay out $5,000 in legal fees. Ouch.

I am still doing audio recording for a friend in Beijing. So that counts as work.

Creating:
Writing is the only goal that I still work on. I'm doing pretty well with that. Hopefully, I'll start actually getting published sometime in the next year. Or something. Actually, my former boss in Beijing worked for a Chinese publisher. She has agreed to read it - or part of it - and see if it would translate for a Chinese audience. This goal is alive and well and shows great possibility. That's the great thing about creativity, isn't it? There is always "great possibility"!

How are you doing? I know in the US it's Labor Day weekend, so enjoy your cookouts. Here in Vietnam, September 2 is National Day - the day they declared independence from France, I believe - so I might end up partying, too! 

For me, I hope to catch up in September. What about you?
 

22 August, 2018

Sunday Photo Fiction on Thursday

I tried this once, but I keep forgetting to check back. It's time for another  Sunday Photo Fiction! Yes, I'm aware it's Thursday, but I've been unpacking since Saturday.

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a story of less than 200 words, based on a photo prompt. To join the fun...
Click on this link 


This week's photo inspiration comes from Anurag Bakhshi.



“Am I pretty? I think I need to be pretty? What’s pretty?”

“Hello! We say, ‘hello’.” Lily was going to have to teach the friend she made.

“Hello? Hello!”

“I made you and just gave you life. Do you want a name?”

“Yes, please. A pretty one, please. Am I pretty?”

“Pretty enough for me. I will call you ‘Meili’. That means ‘beautiful’.”

“Oh, thank you! Can we play together?”

“Well, sort of, but you can’t go anywhere. You have to stay here and keep birds out of the flowers.”

The fabric head tilted forward ever-so-slightly. “Oh. Flowers are pretty. I like pretty.” Meili’s head returned upright. “I wish I could see them better.”

“Maybe my daddy can fix your neck, so you can bend more.”

Just then, Lily’s mama called from inside. “Lily! Come inside! It’s time for lunch and you have to do your daily reading!”

“Oops! Bye!” as she started to run to the door, her new friend shouted, “Wait! My neck!”

“Yes, yes. Later. Bye!”

Meili was still calling after her, “My neck! Flowers! Pretty! Pretty flowers! Help!” Lily didn’t see the tear that escaped her painted eye, until it had already left a stain. 

Words: 199