Dreamin’ Ain’t Just For Fools And Artists

I knew too much about life at a young age
Spent a lot of time dreaming about better days
Where money wasn’t an issue and life went on as usual
But when I voiced any of those dreams, laughter fell down upon me
Maybe they didn’t mean it, after all, they never could afford it
Because dreamin’ was for fools and artists
Neither one can pay the mortgage.
It took two more decades before I’d voice those dreams again
And this time, I had a softer place to land
Even though I couldn’t digest it, I tried again and got better at it
For those who believe, never want me to stop dreaming
It’s been tough to silence the critics, which mostly live in my attic
But I won’t let another two decades pass, listening to a bunch of asses

-Sj.


RamblinRandol is about finding yourself and learning to love yourself again. Life is real and raw, there’s no room for perfection here. If you’d like to join the Hot Mess Express tribe where we discuss the daily struggle and bring real life to light, come hang out in my new Facebook group, here

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Hello From The Other Side

Yes, in my Adele voice.

It’s been awhile.

Helllloooooo again WordPress I haven’t forgotten about you, but I will admit I have forgotten about how to enjoy the parts that make me me.

Sidebar: You ever watch a movie that makes you rethink the way you’ve been operating lately, or in  entirety? I watched one of those kind of movies tonight. Ugh — fine, it was The Intern.

Damn Robert De Niro playing a sweet old man. When did he change from an everyday mobster to a kind older gentleman? Maybe that’s the secret to old age, or movies. Anyways … 

I’ve been through a lot of change in the last three months, and I think inadvertently let the things that make me me, slip.

I haven’t read a good book in ages. I haven’t written about anything that wasn’t expected of me. I began to think I didn’t have a love for words, or communicating with the masses.

After finally moving into my own place (again) and diving deeper into my new (awesome) job, I watched The Intern and immediately felt like I’ve let myself slide.

Another curse to my being. I’m too hard on myself.

I’m tired and transition takes time.

You ever feel all the change that’s happened over time hit you in one moment and it knocks you on your own feet?

Or keep yourself so busy you forget to take a deep breath and remember what’s really important. 

It’s hard to remember life is short and you have to enjoy it.

 

So why am I feeling sappy?

Because of Ben (De Nero).

He’s a widower — married 42 years, was a business man for half his life and is trying to navigate retirement. He sees a flyer for a “senior internship” program and applies because he still wants to learn and despite his perceived loneliness, views life through an optimistic spread of light.

I know, it’s a movie. The point is about how it got my wheels turning.

I hope I can always remind myself I’m never too old to learn.

I’m never too tired to let my passion slip, and I’m never too discombobulated to remember I’m only human.

So, hello from the other side — learning life after landing a career.

Musicians don’t retire, they stop when there’s no more music in them – Louis Armstrong

I still have plenty of music left in me.

 

 

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part IX

My follow up interview was at 3:30 Monday afternoon, and I did as much cleaning, exercising and organizing to settle my nerves.

I was meeting the rest of the team at the Marconi Automotive Museum, and to not test the jinx rule, I wouldn’t allow myself to get too excited just yet, and it was hard to keep my emotions level.

But I kept my chant of why not me going in the back of my head.

True to form I showed up early, but not as early as the previous interview. I still had a case of the nerves, and I felt more anxious than I had the Friday before. Probably due to the fact I knew I could possibly get the answer I had been waiting for, for the past 10 weeks since graduation.

I was potentially going to become a productive member of society, and I could almost taste the sweet nectar of victory.

An hour later, after meeting the rest of the Marconi squad, I was pleased with how comfortable I felt during this interview, too. They all seemed like motivated, successful and fun women to work with, and I was hopeful I would be added to their team.

As the interview began to wrap up …..

I WAS OFFERED THE JOB. 

Say hello to the new marketing coordinator for the Marconi Automotive Museum!

It’s a wonderful thing when the universe works in your favor. As my FIL would say, “when it happens, because it doesn’t happen often, it’s like you understand everything completely. The path you took now makes all the sense in the world.”

And it’s true. I think the universe knew I didn’t want to live in Texas for another tornado season. It knew I wasn’t made to be a Texan for life and that California living could be the place for me. But due to my stubbornness it also knew I had to feel like I had given it my best shot before exploring other options seemed plausible.

Why not me. 

I will hopefully never serve another cup of coffee or Thanksgiving dinner as a waitress. I was able to make my phone call home and scream “you’re moving to California, I got the job!” And I was able to jump up and down with my in-laws (still too early to be nerdy with the Marconi squad) singing I got the job, I got the job!

I can’t wait to learn and grow as a communicator and begin this new chapter in life. A special thanks to my husband for pulling the trigger and shipping me to California, because he knew I needed the change and helping push. To my in-laws for housing me and loving me like their own, and to my parents, thank you for the constant support. I am who I am today because of you.

Life is good.

Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference 2015

This was my why not me moment.

Somewhere in March I received an email asking how much my words were worth. Intrigued, I actually read one of the zillions of emails sent by the university, daily. It was informing students about a nonfiction conference in Grapevine, Texas. You could submit work and if selected, attend workshops with editors, authors and professionals in the literary world.

These selections would also be in the running for cash prizes. As a broke, almost graduated, ever-since-I-was-young-wannabe-writer and student, I submitted a personal essay, why not me. And I was chosen for selection! I was floored, I finally threw out my insecurities and dove in head first and it paid off!

The conference was this past weekend. I don’t think I have the words to craft a proper gauge on how I felt. You know when Hagrid tells Harry, ur a wizard -arry, and Harry begins to understand he won’t have to spend all his time with the Dursleys? Or, when Harry rides his broom for the first time and finds out his father was also a decorated seeker? Or … well I could keep the Harry Potter metaphors going all night … you get it.

The conference was more than just a learning experience. I felt like a grew as a person who loves words and reading/writing stories. Here are a few of the speakers from the lectures I enjoyed the most:

1. Anne Fadiman speaking about her book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall DownHer keynote speech left me feeling full. She emerged herself into a unfamiliar world of Hmong refugees struggling with new life in California. “I believe in accidents, without them I never would’ve wrote my book.”

Happy accidents, this resonated with me. I need to embrace all the humps because those are what put me in the right places at the right time, like this literary conference. 

2.  Dan Barry and Kassie Bracken speaking about merging the two worlds of journalists and photographers. The importance of collaborating with professionals to tell a compelling story.

“Writing about people of poverty like victims is a mistake. It’s not fair to them as an individual.”

I think it’s easy to feel sorrow for those who aren’t as well off as an “average” human being. But it’s not just about their monthly income, it’s about the story and how people of poverty survive. 

3. The panel discussion with Caleb Hannan, S.I. Rosenbaum and Hanna Rosin. Hannan wrote an article about “Dr. V” and her magic putter. The outcome was tragic as the subject committed suicide during the interviews. His candid testimony led us to believe if you feel like something bad is going to happen, then you need to have an open discussion with your editor and vise-versa.

I personally believed he had balls to talks openly and honest about his mis-steps and answering the questions from his panel-mates. You can read the article here, and the letter from the editor here. And Rosenbaum’s after the fact article here.

4. George Getschow’s lecture about the importance of place in a narrative. “I’m always surprised to read an article that misses the importance of place.” Place is like a secondary character and it needs to be just as important as character development. These are the dimensions of place, as explained by Mr. Getschow:

  1. The History- Research it and find out what makes your place tick.
  2. Economy- How does the place survive. Is it an oil, ranching or low income?
  3. What do people wear? What do they eat? How do they communicate?
  4. Weather- It influences peoples mood for the day and how they dress. Using weather can reveal character.
  5. Gestures- How do people greet each other?
  6. Superstitions- paying attention to local legends or tales?
  7. Sights & Sounds

As I sat in a dimly lit lush ballroom with desserts on top of clean white soft linens, tempting guests to eat their cake before dinner, the winners for the top personal essays and reported narratives were announced. The top three in each category were awarded cash prizes, and the top ten would be published in the literary journal Ten Spurs.

There’s no better way to say this then, I WON! My name is called after the 8-minute mark in the video below and I get on stage after the 9-minute mark. A professor of mine called my name as I walked by to get on stage and I tackled her into a hug. “I didn’t know you submitted a piece! I’m so proud of you!”

There is no better feeling than hitting a home run. Now that I know how it feels I want to do it again, over and over again as many times possible. This was the perfect way to kick me off into the professional world and end my stay with the University of North Texas, Mayborn School of Journalism.

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It’s a cliche to say, “follow your dreams,” but it’s true. Many times I was red-inked, felt like a poor writer and told I’d never make any money as an author. My personal dialogue said the same thing. I finally told the voices the shut-it and jumped off the high dive.

It was a rough road. I felt exposed and unsure if I propelled my story with the correct words. I cried reliving certain slices of my life. In the end it all happened the way it was supposed to, why not me. 

This conference also added readings to my already to tall stack of books. This list is more for me so I won’t forget, but If you’re looking for something new to read, all the better!

The Mayborn Literary Convention

Recently I got an email from the University of North Texas about the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. Every year, unbeknownst to me this conference is held in Grapevine, Texas. There are multiple categories to be entered in, but the ones I’m interested in are ‘Mayborn Writing Contests.’

There are three subcategories in this section are: Reported Narrative, Personal Essay and Book Manuscript. Each requiring a separate application form and fee to enter your writing pieces into competition.

I got the email early in the morning, didn’t delete it, but didn’t think anything of it until later in the night. Why not enter? Why not me? That mindset is the one I need to keep, I’m about to be graduated and I’m looking for the stars, as cliché as it might sound, it’s where I need to be!

The application deadlines aren’t until June, so I have plenty of time, though I will not be waiting last-minute to complete this. I’m also sure I will be entering in two of the categories, personal essay and book manuscript. I’m so anxious, excited and nervous at the same time.

I don’t have high expectations in winning the grand prize, wish differs for each category, but I’m hopeful that I do write well enough to make an impression, which is all I want to accomplish, because who knows, this may rub elbows with the right people and get me headed in a hopeful direction.

Though, winning would be FREAKING awesome. I could be that person who gets lucky, who knows what will be will be, I’m just excited that something has me pushing for what I want and I have a grounded idea of what I want to write about! Always good news!

There are always going to be opportunities presented that you should consider. My own fear should not be holding me back! So here’s to good luck and going out on a limb. I encourage you to do the same! It’s scary but it’s pretty exhilarating!

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Pike’s Peak – Day Two

After yesterdays breakfast, I knew todays was going to be just as good. I almost couldn’t wait to get out of bed, almost.

Knowing we had to tire the dogs out before leaving them at the hotel, the Hubs found a disc golf coarse (golf with a frisbee) 25 minutes away. Every time we go somewhere new, we check out their disc golf courses. We were’t disappointed, the puppies were pooped.

There was a foot trail that circled the park and I decided to tire the pups out a little bit more. A quick run never hurt anybody, right? Wrong, we got lost, it didn’t circle the park and the Hubs had to come pick us up, miles into the country, oops.

I just love how much fresh water is running through Colorado. This was taken while we were getting lost (but didn't know that yet).
I just love how much fresh water is running through Colorado. This was taken while we were getting lost (but didn’t know that yet).
Bella enjoying some that fresh water.
Bella enjoying some that fresh water.

After we got back to the hotel, we checked out The Cog Railway Train Adventure and were disappointed to find you were required to schedule the ride 24 hours in advance. Matt really wanted to go on top of a mountain.

Plan B! We can drive up to Pikes Peak, even better! So we drove the 20 miles to get to the base of the mountain to begin our trek up, and man was that a long way down.

The views from the side of the mountain were anything but ordinary. Breathing in that fresh mountain air was rejuvenating, even with the altitude trying to take your breathe away.

We stopped to hike up some rocks before getting to the tops and this is where the picture below was taken.

Matt taking in that mountain air. It really is hard to take a bad photo when everything is so beautiful. This picture is one of my favorites though.
Matt taking in that mountain air. It really is hard to take a bad photo when everything is so beautiful. This picture is one of my favorites though.
I dared myself to get out of the car and near the edge. This picture is proof and so is my face. Mommy!
I dared myself to get out of the car and near the edge. This picture is proof and so is my face. Mommy!

I wouldn’t say I have a fear of heights, but rather a fear of falling. I’m pretty proud of myself for standing on the edge. My knees didn’t give out, hallelujah.

To the top of the summit is 14,115 feet above sea level. Fun Fact: The view from the summit inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write “America the Beautiful” in 1883.

Before you get to the summit, you travel up roads that are a little to close to the edge for my taste, guardrails only on the sharp turns. Due to ice and snow we couldn’t make it all the way to the top, but we got pretty close.

We made it to Boulder Park, 13,380 feet above sea level. We got out, trampled through feet of snow ( with improper clothing, I was wearing capri work out pants, yikes!) and hiked to the top of the boulders, trying to get as high in the clouds as possible.

I'm surprised I didn't trip, my kind of luck is funny like that.
I’m surprised I didn’t trip, my kind of luck is funny like that.
It is a long way down to the bottom, but the view is unbeatable.
It is a long way down to the bottom, but the view is unbeatable.
I think Matt was done with my obsessive picture taking, or he really is embracing #TheBeardLife.
I think Matt was done with my obsessive picture taking, or he really is embracing #TheBeardLife.
My, "I can't believe I'm climbing this, already up to high" face.
My, “I can’t believe I’m climbing this, already up to high” face.

As we drove back down the mountain, we stopped at the Crystal Reservoir and took the self-guided nature trail. The reservoir was frozen over and we got to read about the Big Foot sightings.

Yes, you read that right. Big Foot was spotted by a guest in Pikes Peak back in 2001. A sign was added to commemorate the sighting. You can read here about more tales of Big Foot and the Sea Monster in Mystic River.

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That's a big, foot!
That’s a big, foot!

We got back to the hotel, ate dinner and passed out before 10 p.m. and if you know me, that’s a feat all in itself. Goodnight!

My First Agency Tour

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Photo Cred: Awo Eni

Today PRSSA and myself got the unique chance to tour the Weber Shandwick office in downtown Dallas, inside the Comerica Bank Tower. The PR firm represents over 3,000 companies and have multiple offices in 80 countries, including the United States, London and Middle East. In regards to the work they do, they are a little more corporate and little more traditional.

After climbing to the 16th floor, we entered a lobby that had double glass doors on opposite sides, upon entering the bunch of us were shuffled into a magnificent conference room with a gorgeous view of downtown Dallas.

We got a run down of the afternoons schedule from Senior Vice President Tracy Donalson and then dove into specifics about the firm and its daily routines from Neil Nowlin, executive vice president and general manager of Weber and Shandwick. Lesson one, it’s never routine in their offices.

While listening to Mr. Nowlin talk, these are a few of the things we all took away from his speech:

  1. Take the initiative in all aspects of the job.
  2. Alway bring a positive attitude into work, a bad attitude is just as contagious as a good one.
  3. Be willing to do anything, don’t be that guy who walks in to an interview with stipulations and a chip on your shoulder. If they want you in a hotdog suit, waving at potential consumers, JUST DO IT.
  4. If you haven’t had a lot of experience thus far, think about what you can do. For example, can you take on a leader ship role in a club at school? Have you volunteered in your community or tried to work for a nonprofit? Is there a political campaign you can volunteer with?
  5. Practice your writing skills! The PR world needs strong writers, have you mastered the art of writing persuasively?
  6. NO RÉSUMÉ ERRORS!!!
  7. When submitting résumés make yours stand out, one guy sent his on top of a cake!

Then, we got to hear from staff who worked in the technology department, graphic design and videography department and most importantly, from the people who manage the interns they have quarterly each year, about six to seven in each batch. So if you are looking for something in the agency life, check out the opportunities here.

I also hear Senior Art Director Matthew Weir is always looking for a graphic design intern, and he hears The University of North Texas has one of the best programs around, so tell your friends.

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Gazing at the social media hub Photo Cred: Shannon Randol
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The Weber Shandwick break room. What a view! Photo Cred: Shannon Randol
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Another great view from their office windows. Photo Cred: Shannon Randol

Deaf Coffee Chat

It’s called a comfort zone for a reason, it’s nice and cozy and familiar. There are hardly any expectations or anything out of the ordinary. You don’t get your feet wet in anything new, and there isn’t a reason to fret about going there, it’s like home.

In Texas, colleges require students to take a language. After having to take Spanish for four years, I couldn’t redo the first two years, again. The University of North Texas offers American Sign Language, and I chose to take that instead.

Every third Saturday of the month, a group of people get together at a coffee shop, Zera’s. It’s a local hang out in Denton that makes a pretty good cup of joe, without the hefty price tag. It has couches, mismatched chairs and tables, with odds and ends hung up on the walls.

It is a dimly lit coffee-house, but an interesting one none the less. It felt like I as hanging out in a friends basement. The kind where all the old furniture gets thrown in to and forgotten. The walls are dark but it feels cozy. I guess you would say this place was ‘hipster central.’

Anyways, my ASL professor offers extra credit to any student who shows up, one point for every hour. Doesn’t seem worth it, but after missing a few key points last test, a couple extra points sounds pretty good, plus, who doesn’t like coffee?

As Saturday approached, I began to name everything under the sun as why I shouldn’t go, or why a couple extra points wasn’t really worth three to four hours of my time. It was nearing the time I would have to leave when my hubby bribed me into going. Promising me a surprise for going and that I needed to provide proof. The stipulation was that I had to stay at least for one hour.

I’ve grown to be so socially awkward my own husband has to bribe me into doing social things, woof.

As I pulled into the parking lot, the nasty knot in my stomach began to tighten and the want to drive home was greater than the want for extra credit. I circled the lot twice, not able to find a parking space. It must be the parking Gods telling me, “go home.” Before I could even finish the thought, the red truck I had passed twice was pulling out, dammit.

As I walked through its doors and checked out my surroundings, I had never wanted to run so badly. There were over 30-something people signing to each other, the only noises being those coming from the baristas making coffee.

I was definitely out of my element, I was in a place that I have never visited, and everybody was conversing in another language, somewhat foreign to me. It had been the first time I’d seen ASL outside of the classroom. The conversations were much quicker and weren’t repeated twice, the courtesy my ASL professor gives us.

After I ordered my coffee I wandered over to a corner filled with handmade goods. Something most local businesses do in Denton, and I pretended to look through the stuff that I probably never buy, to pass time. I had no idea what I was going to do after browsing.

Thankfully, I noticed a few girls from my morning class and went in their direction to see if they recognized me. Gratefully, they did. After we signed in to gain extra credit, we huddled near a fake wall Zera’s had put up, for a wedding reception. We listened to the wedding party speeches instead of mingling with other students, and other deaf people.

An hour was going to be painstakingly achieved at this rate. I felt like a creep watching other groups sign to each other, like I was eavesdropping on their conversations without hiding it. I was that creeper staring!

I was terrified to start any conversations with anyone who was deaf and wanted to ask me anything else besides, what is your name? My professor, Dori Reeves, probably sensed this because she came over asking us ‘what up.’ All I could do was shake my head. In a matter of an hour, I had forgotten everything I had learned in almost a year, insane.

She started to sign to me, I imagine to make me feel comfortable with my signing. Then, she tried to introduce me to a couple of guys, she asked them what the sign for ‘Mormon’ was and told me to introduce myself to them. I nervously shaped my fingers into letters to form my name and said ‘bye’ almost immediately after.

Before I knew it, a few other people, both deaf, started a conversation with me. I almost ran.

Two hours later I made a few friends I’d be happy to see next month. It was awesome. I came home telling the Hubs all about it. I did mention I messed up a few signs, when signing ‘it was nice to meet you,’ I accidentally signed ‘it was nice to date you.” Everybody had a good laugh and I did too.

I had a great time, stayed for over thee hours and can’t wait to go again. It’s nice to go out on a limb every once in a while. It was nice to use something I learned in real-time. We should all remember to step put of our boxes every once in a while.

If you’re reading from North Texas tonight, stay warm and safe. You guys can’t drive in snow or ice! ;]

My Morning Wearing Red

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Photo Cred: Google

This morning a few PRSSA members and me visited the offices of The American Red Cross North Texas Region in Dallas. Our host Regional Marketing Manager, Amy Yen and Communications Associate, Lisa Morgan, showed us around the impressive and irreplaceable organization. We were also rewarded with a shortened version of the regional communications programs.

Its mission is to, “Empower online social communities to execute our mission.” A lot of its disaster response is done through social media, and on any given day the organization is mentioned around 4,000 times each day, according to Yen.

During Super Storm Sandy, there were an estimated 2.5 million conversations occurring on social media between users, The Red Cross tagged 4,500 tweets to follow up on. Workers and volunteers tracked tweets by keywords, such as: lightening, tornado, ice, and storm. How were they able to do this?

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Photo Cred: Shannon Randol

The DigiDot is a humungous operating system sponsored by Dell and ran on Radian6. “A Hootsuite on steroids,” explained Yen.

The monstrous network is located on the second floor. Upon entering the room, you immediately notice the large projectors hung front and center. To the left there are four plasma screens, each monitor various media aspects around the country. There are only two DigiDots currently operating, one being in Dallas, the other in Washington D.C.

There are two reasons why The American Red Cross North Texas Region acquired the DigiDot, the first being DFW had a huge presence on social media, the second being North Texas is the most disaster prone area in the country, you name it we got it, now even earthquakes!

Though all the technology and high tech equipment is impressive, it’s the people behind the computer screens who are the real life changers. A majority of the workers at The Red Cross are volunteers, 97 percent, actually.

Volunteers are the bread and butter of this organization and The Red Cross is ever so thankful for those people. There are 75 volunteer positions offered and they are always searching to hire a few rad interns throughout the year. If you are interested in becoming a part of this nonprofit organization, check out their website here. You’ll be grateful you did. I could only hope I score its summer internship.

As we toured the rest of the building, we were able to see their emergency storage areas. The first being a medium sized room with black containers, each labeled with its materials. Items like snacks, flip-flops, t-shirts, stuffed animals for children, and their new pet comfort bags – thanks to their new partnership with Don’t Forget to Feed Me.

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Photo Cred: Awo

Up to six or seven times a day, police and firehouses call The Red Cross to notify them about families or people, who are in need of aid, circumstances ranging from house fires or flooding.

The next storage area was in a large warehouse. Where supplies were stored on pallets and carried in bulk sizes.

To conclude my experience, I leave you with a fun fact: President Obama sent his first official tweet from The Red Cross Twitter handle page, as he too was once a volunteer with The Red Cross. What a catch phrase, right?

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I’ve got the ‘Ities & the Itch

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The art of writing is a sacred being, its appeal is charming and the idea easy, the latter is never true. Writing isn’t easy and it never will be. If you write long enough you acquire a passion for words and new ways to express them, but it’s never an easy journey, though nothing worth while hardly ever is.

Any soul who enjoys the magic of writing remembers when they first got the itch to put pen to paper and create something creative. Any “great” remembers the craving to prefect a skill became apparent. A jolt of weightless energy that hits you hard, causing the lightbulb to brighten above your head. That’s what I want to do!

Personally, I was little, maybe six or seven, too little to actually be thinking about future plans, but I knew I enjoyed reading what I wrote and creating short stories were my fav.

I acquired an eccentric style of writing while in grammar school, and my mom thought it was adorable. I had a funny tendency to only write on the left-hand edges of my paper, the rest of the paper seemed tainted. I remember thinking, look how many pages I can write! Well, when you only use half the page …

My signature trademark was soon corrected by the first or second grade, whenever the teachers start to send you home with real homework. I’m sure it’s Pre-K now, the books are heavier and the snow they have to walk to school in is deeper.

Anyways, my itch started with writing fan fiction, I didn’t know that’s what it was called, but regardless, anybody remember the T.V. series Arthur? Yes, yes I did. I wrote my own stories for Arthur and his family and friends to wander through. I wrote some stories that were funny, others were sad. Mostly, I liked to write ones that had a good moral buried in it. Typical Shannon, I was seven going on 30. 

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My mom used to keep them in her dresser, the bottom right hand drawer. By the time I was in my teens the drawer resembled how stuffed and worn it was, papers were being pushed from the sides, the handle was hanging on by one screw and the drawer had long been knocked off its frame. It was the perfect setting for where my mom crammed us kids’ works of art.

The prized possessions were all slightly brown and had obviously seen better days. Every once in a while I wonder if my mom still has them shoved in that drawer, but the memory vanishes by the time one of us calls each other.

It took years of denying any worth to my writing before I told myself to shut the -efff up. I started my higher education with the thought I’d never leave education, I’d just become a teacher. I did my classroom visits and almost ran out the door, though working with kids was rewarding.

I think that when something sinks its teeth into you, it’s hard to deny the sting it leaves. Writing got its dirty paws around me long ago, and the sooner I realized it, the quicker I believed I did have a purpose. College really does seem to suck the life out of you sometimes. 

When did your passions sink their teeth into you? Was it a furry, ( what was Arthur? An Aardvark?) cartoon friend that sparked your enthusiasm!?

-Ramble Out