Sunday, November 27, 2016

Ten Plus Four

Earlier this month Nathan and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and fourteenth year together. (We got married on our ten year anniversary because we like round numbers.) 

It was a strange time for celebrations. The election had just imploded and we both had to work. Still, we wanted to do something to commemorate our relationship, so we went out to lunch and ate a vat of chips and salsa. Later, we drank wine and watched the final installment of The Hunger Games, which seemed appropriate considering the state of the world. Nathan also wrote me a very sweet message on Facebook, which was lovely, especially since he doesn't like being the center of attention or showing emotions in public, while I love both those things. Sometimes true romance requires sacrifice. 

I'm not a very good gift-giver, though I am getting better, and we've always been hit or miss with anniversary gifts. For inspiration I like to check out those lists of traditional gifts, and we've gotten some good ideas from them - the first wedding anniversary was paper, which was easy (books!) and the second was cotton (clothes!). We skipped the third, which was leather, but I had high hopes for this year. As it turns out the traditional gift for the fourth anniversary is fruit or flowers. Neither of these particularly interested us - I buy myself flowers every week, and we eat a lot of fruit already.

We turned instead to the list of modern gift ideas, where we discovered that the fourth anniversary is a great time to buy electrical appliances. This interested us very much. When we moved into our current home we inherited a dryer that was pretty much the worst. It took two hours to dry a load and made a horrible screeching sound the whole time so that you had to lock yourself in the bedroom while it was running. We decided to treat ourselves to a new-to-us dryer as a joint anniversary gift, and it's pretty much the best thing ever. So quiet, so soothing, so effective. I'm not sure why electrical appliances were relegated to year four (maybe that's when any electrical appliances you received as wedding gifts start to fall apart?) but I'm glad it happened when it did.

Also, I've just realized I wrote a lot of paragraphs about gifts and none about, you know, marriage. And so, to bring it all together, a metaphor: marriage is like a dryer. You don't always appreciate it until it begins to fall apart and the loud, screeching sounds drive you crazy. While there are alternatives, dryers are pretty great, all things considered. It's worth it to fix and mend, to improve and and maintain, in order to keep them running smoothly. Because when your dryer works, it's quiet and steady and certain and warm, and it makes life easier and far more enjoyable. I'm very luck that I get to share my dryer, and my marriage, with Nathan. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Published in Necessary Fiction!

In all my sadness over the election results, I nearly forgot to share some good news with y'all. My short story, "The Arborist," was published in the wonderful literary journal Necessary Fiction, and you can read it online right now. 

I'm really glad this piece found a good home, because I've always had a soft spot for it. (Is it weird to have soft spots for your own writing? Don't answer that.) I consider this one of my "Long Island stories," as it takes place in the same universe I've been writing about for a number of years, and it's one of my rare forays into second person POV, which is fun and different. It's also a story I've read at numerous readings, here in Wilmington and at the Vermont Studio Center back in April. I'm so glad it's finally in print and that I can share it here! 

And because I always like to include stats alongside publication announcements (because bragging, while fun, isn't helpful to anyone but me) I started drafting this piece in December 2014. I revised it roughly six times between then and this past September, mostly after each round of rejections.

Speaking of rejections, it was turned down a total of 11 times, and three of those rejections were personal and/or encouraging. While being rejected isn't a great feeling, I'm grateful for all the journals and magazines who said "No, thanks." They forced me to keep working at this piece, editing and revising and figuring out what wasn't working and then trying to fix those things. By the time it was finally accepted, it was much stronger than my original version, and I'm so glad it ended up at Necessary Fiction. They publish great stuff and were kind, supportive, and easy to work with. I recommend submitting there if you think your work might be a good fit! 

Thanks again to Necessary Fiction, and thanks to you for reading this far! If you want to read more of my work, check out my professional website - it's much more up-to-date than this blog.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I'm With Us

By Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

On Tuesday night, we went to an election party. We were ready to celebrate - the refrigerator was stocked with champagne, pizzas were delivered, many people brought their children to see what we were certain would be a historic moment. There may or may not have been a piƱata of a certain presidential candidate's head, filled with leftover Halloween candy and airplane bottles of liquor. We were happy. We were hopeful. We were ready. 

As the night wore on, however, the crowd began to thin. Our boisterous mood turned quiet, our conversations stunned silent. Those who stayed sat in chairs, staring at the television and their phones, searching for an alternate story, the one with the ending we all deserved. Nathan and I finally left around midnight, and it felt like the world had been turned into a pumpkin - party over. When I went to bed, I was still hopeful. When I woke at 3:30AM and checked my phone, I finally accepted that it was over. I lay in bed for over an hour, staring at the ceiling, numb. 

On Friday morning, I woke up and could barely walk. This has happened before. It starts in my pelvis, with my sacroiliac joint, and radiates out through my hips and lower back. Most of the time I keep the pain at bay with yoga, but sometimes it flares up unexpectedly, making it difficult to walk and impossible to sit upright. The sitting thing is particularly inconvenient, since my job depends upon my ability to be at my desk. I went to work anyway but only lasted 45 minutes before I had to leave and go straight to a chiropractor. It was my first time at this particular practice and ended up being a consultation, mostly - questions rather than relief. "Have you experienced any unusual stress this week?" the doctor asked, glancing up from his clipboard. "Just the election," I said. He laughed as if I were joking. 

I spent the rest of that day at home, on my back, trying to ignore the pain radiating through my lower body. I only go to the chiropractor when I'm really desperate - deep down, I'm skeptical of their beliefs, the almost religious way they believe that our emotional and physical selves are so closely linked - but as I lay there, I started to believe. My emotional state - sadness, frustration, confusion, disbelief, fear, disappointment, heartbreak - had become my physical one. On Wednesday morning, when the election results had crystallized, I felt as if I'd been knocked down. On Friday morning, I couldn't stand up. It's hard to believe this was purely coincidence. 

I've spent a lot of time since Tuesday thinking about what I can do, and I keep returning to my community here in North Carolina. We were considered a swing state, and while Trump won the top of the ticket, we did manage to elect a new Democratic governor. North Carolina is a complicated place with a dark history and - I believe - a bright future. I want to be a part of the brightness. I'm going to spend a few weeks researching and reaching out to local organizations, seeing where my skills and talents could be put to the best use. I'm talking to other people in my community who are also feeling rage and sadness and disappointment, who refuse to accept this election as an ending. In her beautiful concession speech, Hillary Clinton said "This loss hurts. But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives."

Next week, when Roy Cooper is officially our governor (they're still counting the final ballots but I am, still and always, hopeful) we'll drink the champagne we never uncorked. After a weekend of rest, my body will realign itself and the pain will recede. I will get up and I will fight, now and for the rest of my life. 

This isn't an ending. It's a beginning, and I'm ready to work. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

I'm With Her

It's been a long and dark election, hasn't it? If you've been reading this blog for more than five minutes, you probably know I'm a Clinton supporter. What you might not know, however, is a fact that some will find unbelievable, given the current political climate. Are you ready? Here it is: 

I like Hillary Clinton. 

Shocking, I know. Especially during an election when everyone is talking about how terrible both the candidates are, how they're voting against Trump rather than for Clinton, how "Clinton isn't perfect, but..." Maybe it's because I'm friends with a lot of Bernie supporters for whom Clinton is their second choice. Maybe it's because I live in a sexist society that makes the idea of a woman in power uncomfortable for so many people, even the liberal ones. ("I can't put my finger on it, there's just something about her, I can't don't trust her.") Maybe there are legitimate reasons to feel uneasy about Clinton, just as there are about every single person who has ever and will ever run for that office. (It's not an easy job, you know.) I understand these things. I know where people are coming from. I get it. And yet. 

I like Hillary Clinton. 

I admire her long record of public service. I think she's incredibly smart and cunning. I like that she's able to work with people on both sides of the aisle. If you're going to lead a divisive country, you have to be able to compromise, to find workable solutions, to give and to take. This isn't a liability in a president - it's a strength. 

And speaking of strength, Hillary Clinton has it in spades. As a woman, I admire how she's put up with so much shit. Her whole life has been an exercise is rising above sexism and humiliation and ignorant people - powerful and otherwise - who want to bring her down. Michelle Obama said, "When they go low, we go high," and no one has had to go higher than Hillary Clinton. Anyone who can withstand that caliber of abuse and hatred and not only ignore it but still get the work done absolutely has the fortitude to be president of the United States. 

I believe she'll be a good president. She's progressive, she'll continue the work Obama has done, she'll have the supporters of Sanders and other progressives at her heels, and she'll do the best she can to improve the lives of the middle class - families, women, children. She's experienced. She's compassionate. She's intelligent. She knows how to rock a pantsuit. 

I like Hillary Clinton, and I'm proud to cast my vote for her. 

Further reading: 
and My Default Person, by my dear friend Katie Jones, who led me to the previous article and who sparked many of the thoughts in this post. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Back on Track

Thanks to my job I've had the opportunity to join Without Limits, a personal coaching and training group. I got a training plan that culminates in a 50K relay race in January - we formed a team at work, and we'll each run 10 miles total. My real training goal, however, is the Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon, which I run every year in March. It was the race where I earned my PR in 2015 (1:56:28) and it would be nice to beat that time in 2017. Thanks to Without Limits, I might be able to! 

Besides my training plan (which, like all training plans, I am following very loosely) I also get to attend track workouts. Right now I go once a week; in November I'll start going twice a week. It's a good thing they're easing me into these workouts because OH MY GOD THEY ARE SO HARD. Growing up, I wasn't a jock. I didn't run track or play volleyball or do anything even remotely physical. Most of my time was spent in a chair, reading a book. Sometimes I went to yoga. I didn't really get into fitness until I moved to Nacogdoches and joined roller derby (RIP), and then started running on my own, and then ran a lot on my own, and then moved to North Carolina and discovered kettlebell, and that's pretty much my athletic history. 

Lately, though, I've not been very athletic. As I'm sure you all know, it's hard to work out regularly when you work a full time job. My mornings are spoken for, as that is my sacred writing time. If I want to do anything social or, I don't know, see my husband before bed, then my scheduled evening workout is the first thing to go. When I started going to track workouts a few weeks ago, I was exercising inconsistently and not really pushing myself - we're talking bare minimum. I needed to be shocked back into shape, and oh, I am. 

For most people, the workouts are probably pretty standard. We run around the track, covering different distances (400 meters, 600 meters, 800 meters) in whatever amount of time the coach has decided we are capable of. I always think I am NOT capable of those speeds. Often I want to throw up halfway through the workout; sometimes I see stars, especially as I cross the finish line. But I do the distances, and I hit the goals. (It helps that the coach is there, calling out your time as you stumble by, helping you stay on track.) 

What I love best about the workouts is the feeling, at the beginning, that there's no way I will be able to do it, and then the realization, at the end, that I did. All this time I've been making excuses, telling myself I'm slowing down because I'm getting older, because of my job, because my priorities have changed. In reality I just needed someone on the sidelines, reminding me that I'm capable of more. 

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Currently: Hurricane Matthew Edition

I'm home today, hunkering down for yet another hurricane. In Nacogdoches, we were visited by Rita and Ike, while in Wilmington we've danced with Irene and a few tropical storms. Matthew isn't anything new, except that now Nathan is on the swiftwater rescue team, which means he has to work the storm and I have to weather it on my own. 

So far the electricity hasn't gone out, which means I have a pot of hot coffee, a steady Twitter stream (perfect to follow the outrage over Trump's latest meltdown), and the ability to make progress on a few different projects. If/when we do lose power, I have four bottles of wine and two brand new library books. Hurricane prep at its finest. 

Since I finally have some free time and haven't blogged in a while (how does that keep happening?) I figured I'd break the ice with my usual I'm-totally-going-to-blog-more-often-so-let's-real-quick-catch-up post. Here's what I've been up to these last few weeks: 

Watching: Everything! Peak TV is no joke. In recent weeks, I tore through The Mindy Project (including the season five premiere, which hit Hulu on Tuesday). We're halfway through season 6 of The Walking Dead, which is really fun and scary, despite the nightmares. I still love Jane the Virgin (season 2 is on Netflix, in case you didn't know). And we watched the Amanda Knox documentary on Netflix, which was a fascinating look at a case I only half followed as it unfolded. Oh, and we're also watching Quantico, which is awful but in a really good way.

Reading: Thanks to all my television watching, I haven't been reading as much as I like. I've also been a bit inundated with some extra projects (freelance and creative) which is eating up my reading-for-pleasure time. That said, recent reads include Homegoing (one of the best books I've read this year - required reading for the whole wide world), The Nest (in which rich white people struggle with not being as rich as they'd like - it was okay), and Leave Me (great premise - I have a thing for mothers who run away - but the execution was a bit shallow and predictable). 

Writing: More like revising. I'm making good headway on the fourth draft of New Novel. Lots of big changes, moving things around, and painfully cutting thousands of words. I keep making promises to myself about when I'll be done with this draft, and I think I've finally learned that there's no point; this book keeps its own schedule. On the bright side, I mostly like what I'm writing and every time I work on it, I feel like it gets a tiny bit better. Right now the hardest part is maintaining momentum, especially when I overwhelm myself with other obligations. (Guilty as charged.) 

Eating: A few weeks ago I went to the very best bachelorette party for my friend Lucy. It took place in her parents' South Carolina retirement community, and was basically a big sleepover - perfect. When I arrived, I told Lucy that I had started eating cheese again, and she was so happy she hugged me. Which is a longwinded way of saying, yes, I am eating cheese again! It started in Vermont and hasn't really stopped. I'm not eating a ton of it, and not every day, and I still get scared that something terrible will happen if I eat too much, but overall it's been a nice addition to my diet. I'm sure you were all waiting with bated breath for this very important news.

Budgeting: We're still going strong with YNAB and the few minutes I spent with the app each day have made a huge difference in how we think about and deal with our money. We're planning ahead. We're (mostly) sticking to our goals. And we paid off one of our credit cards, which is amazing and wonderful and such a great feeling. Full disclosure: the balance was around $5,000 in May when I started using YNAB. The reason we were able to find an extra $5,000 to send to it is due to planning, budgeting, and extra income from my freelance gigs. Still, if I wasn't budgeting and staring at that balance and thinking about our goals every day, I'm sure that freelance money would have gone to something else (as it has in the past). So I definitely consider this a YNAB win. We have one more credit card balance to pay off and I'm hoping we can do that by the end of the year. Fingers crossed! And sign up for YNAB now! 

Planning: There are a lot of fun things coming up in the next few months. A big wedding/MFA reunion at the end of the month, a shower for Baby B, a trip to Rhode Island, a Thanksgiving feast, a trip to New York for Christmas, a few races (more about that in my next post), and all the usual things that take up my days and nights and weekends. Which means I'll have plenty to write about, and no excuses to let this space lie fallow. 

More soon. In the meantime, if you're in the path of Hurricane Matthew, stay safe! And if you're a US Citizen, dear god, please make sure you're registered to vote. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"She Tells a Story" at Cameron Art Museum

Way back in July, I had the opportunity to take part in a super cool exhibit at Wilmington's Cameron Art Museum. The name of the exhibit is "She Tells a Story," and here is how the museum describes it: 
She tells a story celebrates the work of fifty-two visual artists from CAM’s permanent collection and connects the forms of visual and literary arts. Exploring the catalytic relationship between visual imagery and text, CAM invited fourteen Wilmington-area writers to compose new work inspired by these selections. This juxtaposition of visual with word illuminates how artists communicate their experiences, perspectives and world views through their chosen medium. 
This exhibition recognizes these creators by the quality of their work. However, their gender and societal mores within the time they lived shaped their identity as artists, their work and the interpretation of it. By acknowledging and questioning these effects, this exhibition hopes to highlight the many contributions, past and present, of women in the visual and literary arts. 
Writers participating in this exhibition include: Anna Lena Phillips Bell; Karen E. Bender; Wendy Brenner; May-lee Chai; Cara Cilano; Amrita Das; Nina de Gramont; Dina Greenberg; Celia Rivenbark; Gwenyfar Rohler; Emily Louise Smith; Bertha Boynkin Todd; Kelly Rae Williams; and Margo Williams. On July 28, 2016 four additional writers added their work to the exhibition: Hannah dela cruz Abrams; Christine Hennessey; Kathleen Jones and Isabelle Shepherd.

I attended the original opening and reading of this exhibit, drank a bunch of wine, and told the organizers how much I desperately wanted to be included. I'm pretty sure that's why they asked me to take part in round two, and I'm forever grateful to them, and to the wine. Especially because I wrote a short piece of flash fiction inspired by a felt sculpture of a frog mid-dissection (apparently this is what speaks to me), titled it "Anatomy Lesson," and got to read it to a lovely crowd one sweltering July night (see above photo). Since then, my piece has been displayed in the museum, alongside it's inspiration, where it will remain until the exhibit comes down on September 18th. 

If you have the time and inclination, I recommend seeing the exhibit while you still can. Both the art and writing are wonderful, and seeing the ways writers speak to one another through their work is fascinating. A thousand thanks to Cameron Art Museum for letting me bully my way into the exhibit - it really was an honor. 

Friday, September 02, 2016

The Zero Waste Kitchen

Last weekend Nathan and I went to a composting class called "From Garbage to Garden." It was run by the Coastal Composting Council, and it was held at the local dump - or, as they put it, "in the shadow of the landfill," to help us better understand the necessity of composting. At first I thought this phrasing was a bit over the top, but I have to admit - that landfill was very tall and staring at it for three hours on a Saturday morning was very disturbing. Well played, Coastal Composting Council. Well played. 

When Nathan first suggested we go to this class, I didn't think it was necessary. We're pretty savvy when it comes to composting - anything we don't throw to the chickens goes into a big pile in the backyard. We've got a worm factory in our guest room, which Nathan diligently tends. I try my hardest to plan our meals in such a way that we use everything before it goes bad. Some stuff ends up in the trash, but overall I'm happy that we create very little waste, especially compared to the average American.

Still, there's always more to learn. Nathan relishes the chance to discuss composting with anyone who will listen, and the event advertised "light refreshments," which sealed the deal for me. Off to the composting class we went. 

And I have to say - I really enjoyed myself, despite the robust breeze that wafted from the landfill. We both learned a few new things, and even though we don't throw out that much food, we're far from calling our kitchen zero waste. Because of course that phrase - "zero waste kitchen" - was mentioned, and of course I latched on to it immediately. I like a goal, especially when it's a catchy one. It helps that the goal of using up everything in our kitchen (either by eating it, giving it to the chickens or the worms, or composting) dovetails nicely with my recent personal finance obsession. Waste not, want not. We're on it. 

The event ended with a raffle, and right before they pulled the winning ticket I turned to Nathan and said, "I'm going to win this." Sometimes I just know when I'm going to win a raffle, and I'm usually right. This time, I was the lucky recipient of my very own spinning compost bin. (It was that or a worm hotel, and since we already have a great worm set up I went with the bin.) 

We put it in our backyard, just off the deck, so we can easily toss kitchen scraps into it each time we cook. In a few months, those scraps will transform into black gold, and I can't wait to put it to work in our garden.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

This is 34

Another year, another birthday. I still love getting older, so I don't mind celebrating - especially since I get to be the center of attention. This year I was very mature and shared my birthday with a friend, who was also born on August 9th. Even though it fell on a Tuesday, we rounded up a group of ten, had drinks at a fancy wine bar, dinner at a fancy restaurant, and then played Cards Against Humanity at our favorite dive bar. (We can only be fancy for so long.) Then, over the weekend, we threw a backyard bash complete with build-your-own tacos and a cornhole tournament. It was lovely and one of the best birthday weeks yet, and I started my 34th year feeling quite loved and quite spoiled. 

But now birthday week is over and life is back to normal, which is a different kind of nice. It also means I finally have time to write my annual time capsule. For the last few years, I've written these "This is XX" posts near my birthday, in an attempt to capture life as it is in this moment. Here is number 34. 

Thirty-four is still working the same job, except now I find the 8-5 grind - dare I say it? - freeing rather than smothering. (The new promotion helps.) I like routine, find comfort in patterns, am productive when I'm at work, and - more importantly - am productive when I'm home. Some days are better than others, and there are plenty of moments when wish I were still on campus, or a full time novelist that doesn't have to worry about bills or heath insurance. For the most part, however, I like what I do and I'm grateful for the career I've stumbled into. 

Thirty-four is an unhealthy obsession with politics. I hate so much about this election - the divisiveness, the hateful rhetoric, the 24-hour-news cycle. Even Twitter stresses me out! It should come as no surprise that I'm pro-Hillary and deeply, deeply against Donald Trump. I'm experiencing anxiety for the first time in my life, and I'm so afraid of what a Trump presidency would look like, especially for anyone who isn't a wealthy white dude. Below all that angst, however, I'm optimistic. I think Hillary Clinton will be our next president, and that makes me happy. She's flawed, but all politicians are. The difference is that her promises give me hope, while his fill me with fear. This year, as in all others, I'm voting for hope. 

Thirty-four is writing, still. Getting up early most days to fit in an hour before work, making slow progress on a new novel while the old one sits in a drawer, rejected for now and nursing its wounds. Thirty-four is thinking about Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, a corny book I couldn't help but love, and realizing that I'm a writer because I write. This is great news, especially since it's the only aspect of the creative process I can control.

Thirty-four is a newfound passion for personal finance, which is how I know I'm definitely thirty-four. It's taking control of my money through budgeting apps (I love you, YNAB!), getting close to paying off our credit card debt, watching our savings account grow, and thanking Obama, sincerely, for Income Based Repayment, which is the only reason I'm not crippled by my student loan debt. Thirty-four is wanting to control my money, my spending, my income, to live below my means and feel satisfied with what I have. 

Thirty-four is marriage, finding comfort in and feeling at home with another person. It's independence within that institution, thanks to the fact that Nathan works nights and I work days. It's supporting one another's careers and dreams, and fighting about stupid things, and realizing that I will never get bored of this person because we are both constantly changing and growing and learning, even after fourteen years together. Thirty-four is understanding that no one is perfect, and that as long as we stay true to our shared values (which are unique to our relationship) we can get through anything.

Thirty-four  is friendships, and the way they ebb and flow. It's watching people I love create new life, and welcoming tiny humans into our world, our circle, our hearts. It's still - always, always - missing the people who live so far away. (Texas! Washington! Oregon! New York! Rhode Island! Michigan! A roaming trailer! The list goes on!) It's learning to love and accept people, despite our flaws and differences, and learning from one another however and whenever we can. It's quiet nights on someone's porch, and raucous nights at the brewery, and visits that are always too short. 

Thirty-four is settling into my body, which is an ongoing process. It's sometimes choosing mental health over physical health - IE, skipping the gym in favor of a glass of wine and a good book. It's noticing I have a few new curves, and not hating them. It's accepting that there's only so much time in a day. Thirty-four is looking forward to the fall, when the air will be cooler and my runs will be longer. It's 17 years of vegetarianism, which is officially half my whole life. It's knowing what's good for me and doing that about 3/4 of the time, which feels like a good balance.

Thirty-four is corn and wheat tortillas from Trader Joe's, The Mindy Project and Jane the Virgin, a summer so hot I can hardly stand it, encouraging rejections from literary magazines, and no longer living life by the cadence of semesters. It's mason jar salads, a garden that won't grow, IPAs, my library card, and fresh flowers every week. It's the YMCA, going out on the boat, book club, and freelance gigs on the side. Thirty-four is good, and I can't wait to see what else it has in store . 

This was 31
This was 32
This was 33

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Management Material

Every post about my day job must include a picture of Peggy Olson. 

Way back in March, I meant to write a post about what I'd learned in the year since returning to an office job. That post, like so many others, didn't happen. (But, like so many others, it still might! Don't lose hope!) In the meantime my work-anniversary passed, quietly and without fanfare.

I don't write about my day job very often. No one really likes to talk about work when they're with friends. A job, after all, is a necessary evil. It takes up 40 whole hours every week, and by the time you're finished paying your dues you want to focus on something else - books, beers, the beach. If you have a problem and need advice, or had a success and want to celebrate, then yes - talk, share, vent. If you had a regular day where everything was fine and nothing out of the ordinary happened, let's talk instead about Stranger Things and our latest book club pick. It's only fair. 

That said, it seemed time to write a little update about my job - mostly because I got a promotion! (Hence my choice of that Peggy picture for this post.) A few weeks ago, one of my favorite coworkers was offered a new job out in California (she'd been telecommuting after moving with her military husband). Our marketing department is small (three people, including me) and she was really talented, so the hole she left was substantial - so substantial, in fact, that I was invited to step into it. 

(I maybe didn't phrase that right. Forgive me - my blogging skills are rusty.) 

I'm now the Digital Marketing Manager. I got a raise, and new business cards, and updated my LinkedIn profile, which are all weird corporate things that secretly bring me a strange sort of joy.

You see, I'm a person who hasn't spent much time thinking about her career. I was never really interested in "leaning in," and I never wanted a corner office in a tall building. I didn't dream of becoming President of the United States (though I am super excited to vote for Hillz in November) and I would rather cut off my arm than be the CEO of anything. 

This isn't because I'm lazy or lack vision. It's just that my day job has always been a means to an end, a way to support the work that I am passionate about - my writing. As you probably know, fiction doesn't pay the bills, and life is a constant balance of trying to carve out enough time to make art and still afford groceries and rent. When it comes to leaning in, writing is the direction toward which I point myself. 

However! I happen to like my day job. I think digital marketing is fun and interesting. It's a different kind of storytelling, combining writing, technology, and psychology in ways I find fascinating. The work is challenging without wearing me down or zapping my energy. If I have to have a day job, and I do, then this one is pretty perfect. 

Which is why I'm excited for my promotion, for the chance to dig deeper into my field and add management skills to resume. To make a little more money and contribute to my company in a larger way. To look toward the future of marketing and try my best to not just keep up, but anticipate where it will go next. And, of course, to leave it all at the office so I can focus on what really matters in my off time - writing, writing, writing.

It's a good balance, one I'm grateful to strike.