Friday, December 4, 2009

Things I Have Done in November: A List

I will have you know that I have already put three whole holiday gifts in the mail, which is very organized, don't you think?

I also completed a novel for National Novel Writing Month while tackling a high-stress, all-consuming editing project.

Additionally, I watched many episodes of Big Love. There's just something about immersing yourselves in the trials and tribulations of a polygamist family that's a good antidote to stress.

I taught a day-long blogging workshop at Richard Hugo House, one of my favorite places in all the world. It was a good class but it made me I realize I prefer longer classes where I get to know my students. (Speaking of which I have one coming up in January, so check my web site for more info!)

This week, for the first time, I also met the high-school students that I'll be co-leading to Morocco this summer. That really energized me after being cooped up in my condo for a month with my gassy but adorable pug (posing above with his special commemorative pillow) editing until I was cross-eyed, and indulging in too much polygamist soap opera. They seem like an amazing and accomplished group of kids and I think I will learn so much by being involved with them, and with this project.

And last but not least on this *spine-tingling* list, I went on the first ski of the season at our old favorite haunt, the Cabin Creek Sno-Park.

We had the exhilarating little ups and downs mostly to ourselves since no one else was out there on the day after Thanksgiving. It was very satisfying when Dave wiped out trying to pass me on a hill; I only wish we had a video if it.

In the good old days, we always skied there with our dear friends Eric and Valerie, who recently sailed off to the southern hempishere on their boat (along with their intrepid cat, Miette).

Sailing all the way from Seattle to La Paz, Mexico, they've braved huge swells, storms, broken sails, and whales that actually attacked a boat in their regatta on the way from San Diego to Baja! You can read about their adventures here.

Meanwhile I'm trying to be patient until my own next big adventure...and trying to remember that LIFE ITSELF is an adventure even if it's feeling dull because I haven't been to a foreign country in FOUR WHOLE MONTHS.

Ahem. Have I convinced you yet?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy National Novel Writing Month!

Darlings! I hope you had a fabulous Halloween!

I an on Day 2 of National Novel Writing Month and keeping up the pace so far. It will be tricky as the month wears on and I start a new job. But I'll take that as it comes!

If I can write a novel on the beach in Mexico, like I did during 2007 Nanowrimo, I can do anything. (Because believe me, it's not easy to write in a lounge chair in the tropical sun with a Corona in your hand. It's much easier in a cafe in rainy Seattle when you're hopped up on caffeine and surrounded by depressed, pasty people).

I'm writing a brand new story that I can't tell you about quite yet but have tender hopes for. Meanwhile I have various personal and travel essays in the hopper which I hope you will see someday soon. Once someone realizes what a GENIUS I am and publishes them.

This is one of those periods, folks, where I just try to keep the faith. Yes, it feels like forever since I was last published. Yes, I endure horrible fits of jealousy over writer friends who seem more prolific (and profitable) than I. I question my career path all the time. Yet every single day (almost) I write. And I beat down the stupid voices that tell me I'm a loser and ask me why I bother and tell me to just give it up already and take a job where I might actually get a paycheck.

So! To all you writers out there who might be despairing: fine. Go ahead and despair. For a little while. Then start over again tomorrow with a strong cup of coffee. And tell the voices to shut the eff up while you get to work, even if its only for 10 minutes. Or just keep working anyway even if they DON'T shut up.

Because, believe me, they will haunty at you for as long as you let them. And look at it this way: at least you're not being forced to wear a male stripper costume like my justifiably angry pug Snuffy up there.

Or - and here's a novel idea - take one of my upcoming classes! Then we'll laugh and suffer together.

Happy November.



Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall Foliage and Circus Dreams

Hello from underemployment land!

Things are getting a little kah-razy around here what with the lack of regular employment lo these last many months. This economy, however, is forcing me to open my eyes wide to all kinds of possibilities, that, in my laziness, I hadn't considered before.

Why in the old days, I could shoot off a mediocre resume into cyberspace and I'd have a high-paying job instantly. Usually with my fleshy old sugar daddy, Geeksoft.

Nowadays even Daddy Geeksoft doesn't want me! So for the first time in years I've really been looking around at what's out there (Food services worker with the Ringling Brothers Circus! Language instruction coordinator with the FBI!) and thinking about what I might actually do for a living (until my book *bursts* onto the bestseller list or I finally crank out another one, which I'm working on, don't worry, it's just taking a while OKAY?!!).

And you know, it's kind of refreshing to see the wide world of jobs out there! And to imagine myself doing something other than that mind-numbing work I've done for the last ten years to support myself. Even if all the ones that appeal to me are abysmally low-paying. But, like I always say: "Do What You Love and The Money Will Drain out of Your Bank Account."

I've also been - gasp - actually working on my resume for the first time in years. I mean, of course I revise it all the time, but I haven't really WORKED on it for a long-ass time, if you know what I mean. Because I haven't had to! It's been so easy up til now.

And though it practically killed me at first (I wouldn't have survived the process if it weren't for a gargantuan maple bar from Top Pot Doughnuts), the revisions have actually made me see MYSELF as a better employment prospect.

Why did you know I received an AWARD from from my creativity and initiative during those brief months that I was incarcerated there? Yes I did, thank you very much and I forgotten about that until I put it in my snazzy new resume!

(I am also getting much help from a career coach, who I highly recommend if you are in the market).

Anyway, enough job-related drivel. I got some classes coming up, yo, that you might be interested in. Check them out here!

I've also been getting out and about in the mountains and spent a gorgeous two days up in the Cascades FREEZING MY A*S off a week ago. The foliage was splendiferous, the views were poetic (see photo above), and the temperatures dropped to FIFTEEN DEGREES during the night.

I was prepared with a warm sleeping bag but still had to put on every layer I had with me when I went to sleep (at 7:45 p.m.), including:

  • long underwear bottoms
  • down pants
  • two long underwear tops
  • fleece shirt
  • down jacket
  • gloves
  • two pairs of wool socks
  • wool hat UNDERNEATH a fleece balaclava that was cinched around my entire face (nose included)
  • chemical heat packs on my hands and chest
I'm probably forgetting something but you get the picture. With all that I was STILL kinda cold. Not to mention I pitched my tent at such an angle that my head was pointed seriously downhill most of the night, which, along with the cold, made for many disturbing dreams.

At least when you're battling the elements you're not thinking about your stupid resume, your credit card balance, and whether or not it's a good idea to run off with the circus (as a food service worker).


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Self-Pitying Rant du Jour

Grr. Only with the help of a very strong latte on (top of two cups of strong drip coffee) have I been able to dig up my usual optimism today.

Let's just say there has been more than the usual amount of rejection lately, what with getting FIRED from my last band and getting SHUT DOWN by ye olde Geeksoft for a job for which I was way overqualified and only sort of wanted anyway, and by the way paid utter CRAP.

(P.S. Yes, that's my pug Snuffy. When you work at home, you take a lot of pictures of your pug wearing glasses.)

Oh, and the band? Let's call them "The Old White Guys" cause that's what they are - especially now without the younger, perkier additions of me, Dave, and the drummer, who also got fired because we "couldn't put music first in our lives." Seriously, everyone in that band is like 60+ and playing tired old classic rock covers. I AM MEANT FOR BETTER THINGS!!

So it's true, I was stretched way too thin and not putting any time into the music, even though I wanted to. Thus my rock star career is currently on hiatus as I do a little soul searching but never mind. I SHALL RISE AGAIN. SO EFF YOU OLD WHITE GUYS AND GEEKSOFT. JUST YOU WAIT.

There. I feel so much better. With another five lattes, I might feel even better.

SAY. You'll indulge me for a minute if I point you to an article about me and my book from 2006, when I was briefly FAMOUS. I just discovered in my so-called "files" the hard copy of an article from King County Journal that is no longer available online, and was thrilled to see myself not only a giant photo of myself on the cover of a pullout section of the but also to see a giant photo of myself on top of Mt. Rainier on the inside. Yay, me! Those were the days.

And, to top it all off (no pun intended), it was much bigger than the photo of Hannah Montana, who was the subject of the next article. Ha ha ha hahhahah. EFF YOU HANNAH MONTANA.

I just scanned this sucker and put it on my web site so that we can relive 2006 in all its glory! Enjoy! (But be warned. It's a PDF. You'll read it anyway. WON'T you?)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting Religion in the Goat Rocks Wilderness

Ugh. I have just moved. That's right, moved. Back to the condo in Queen Anne from whence I came.

I won't bore you with the details of why we moved out of our lovely Greenlake rental back to the condo I own, which is a great size for one person (and one small dog). We'll just have to see if Dave and I can apply the living-together skills we learned in the two-bedroom house with the huge-ass basement to the 650-square foot one bedroom condo with one tiny storage locker.

Luckily, nothing was thrown during this move. (See the previous blog entry for details on last year's throwing incident). Or not really, anyway. Late last week I did throw an ear of corn. And while it wasn't directly move-related I think it the fit of pique in which I threw it (oh the shame!) was related to stress brought on by the move.

Anyway, moving on. (Get it? MOVING on?) Last weekend, because of course, I had no PACKING to do or anything, I took a backpacking trip to the Goat Rocks Wilderness area south of Mount Rainier. And Oh! My! It was a high-altitude world filled with wildflower-washed meadows.

I've posted a few of my (amateurish) pictures here for your enjoyment. Let's just say that going to the mountains is never a mistake, even if you're up to your eyeballs in stressful sh*t to do. Especially this little corner of the Cascades. Unless, of course, you make get lost, die of hypothermia, or fall off a cliff.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Return from Vacation Alive - Check!

I am back from a week of paddling in the Canadian wild! Tan, rested, raring to go. We kayaked for five days in 80-degree weather: lounging on white sand beaches, paddling protected aqua waters, drinking red wine from our beachfront campsites while watching the sun go down.

Oh, there was mouse poop and banana slugs and snakes, but compared to last summer's Alaskan grizzlies, they didn't disturb me at all. Starfish and sea lions were our main animal companions on this sun-dazzled journey in the Broken Group Islands off west Vancouver Island.

We did, however, have on exciting wildlife encounter. Here's a snippet from an article I'm writing about it; you'll just have to wait until it gets published to read it all! (And if you haven't ready my article about last year's Alaska paddle, you can download it in PDF format here).

I’d just put down my book and pulled my sleeping bag around me when a loud noise broke the silence of our coastal campsite. Crash! Snort!Indeterminate rustlings!

“What the--?” Dave sat up straight. He peered out into the night through the door of our tent but his headlamp didn’t make a dent in the blackness. My mind groped at possibilities. My heart launched into a rock and roll beat. Deer? Wolf? Escaped prisoner in a murderous rage? Bear?

Now it's back to the grind (granted my "grind" is rather slow these days) but also to the dreaded MOVE. Yes Dave and I are moving back to my condo in Queen Anne for long, boring reasons I shall not go into.

Just pray for us, that's all I can say. Hope that there is not a repeat of our dramatic meltdown of the last year's move, which involved me topless and sobbing in a heat wave throwing bottles of household cleaner at Dave. (Although if there is a repeat this year, we really hope to catch it on video).

xo, Rebecca

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Summer Sun Has Made Me Loopy

Greetings Earthlings!

I have been most busy being underemployed and enjoying Seattle's precious summer months in our beautiful Olympics and Cascade Mountains where I enjoy taking bad photos of wildlfowers and wandering knife-edged ridges.

Oh yes, sometimes summer bothers the h*ll out of me with all its demanding sunshine but lately I LIKE it. Maybe because Dave's mom has a house on Lake Washington and I get to lounge on the grassy beach watching the yachts go by, pretending like I'm rich and famous even though I'm a downwardly mobile professional, albeit one with a cleaning lady.

Or maybe it's because I'm currently not lonely and therefore not in one of my melancholy states of mind which is not to say I'm MENTALLY WELL-ADUSTED because then what kind of writer would I be? (Underneath that dorky "Seattle Sombrero" lies a tortured mind. I swear it.) But moving on...

Coming right up on Monday night at 5:30 p.m. is my long-awaited class at the Seattle Public Library called "Blogging for Beginners."

If you never saw me play the part of Helena in a "Midsummer Night's Dream" (sixth grade); if you didn't catch my small but pivotal role as the Russian duchess in "You Can't Take It With You" (eighth grade) if you failed to wintess my small but pivotal role as Amaryllis in "The Music Man" (senior year of high school) or God forbid failed to see any one of my million piano recitals when I was a kid or my rock debut at the Crossroads Mall or my on my SMASHINGLY SUCCESSFUL west coast book tour (all except for Bellingham, where no one laughed, and San Franciso where hardly anyone showed up, and - oh never mind), NOW IS YOUR CHANCE!

Or maybe you'd rather go have a pomegranate mojito at El Chupacabra on Greenwood. Cause if you did I would *totally* understand.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Monday

Hello hello from work-at-home-never-leave-the-house-don't-talk-to-anyone-but-the-dog-land.

Things are peachy keen here! I'm getting supremely buffed by doing the workouts in Kathy Kaehler's Celebrity Workouts: How to Get a Hollywood Body in Just 30 Minutes a Day, which also does not require me to leave the house! OK, maybe "supremely buffed" is an exaggeration. "Slightly worked" might be more apt or "a teeny-tiny bit of defintion which I'm probably imagining" is more likely.

You can be the judge when I don my swimsuit for the Greenlake Open Water Swim next weekend! Oh hell. Maybe I'll do the Greenlake Open Water Swim. You know I have a fear of giant squid, even in freshwater lakes. No wait, that's Li'l Sis! Ha ha. She still manages to be a much better swimmer than than me, even though I beat her in that one impromptu swim race in Hawaii (not that I still gloat about that 10 years later). There are other things to be afraid of in Greenlake, like children's pee and goose poop. So we shall see.

It would actually require me to leave the house and "interface" with other people so I don't know if that will work. I have everything I need at home, like tofu, coffee, an Internet connection, and several Canon cameras circa 1980 that I can't bring myself to get rid of. Plus, of course, Yogi "Classic India Spice" tea. C'mon, buy some! I'll get like two cents if you do!

Just kidding. I get out a lot. I even went to a birthday party and band practice; led a hike at Mt. Rainier National Park, and went to a Mexican restaurant this weekend, where I drank a ridiculously huge margarita. (See, there I am at left in the mountains, fooling an unsuspecting member of the Mountaineers into thinking I am capable of reading a map, etc..)

On this gray Monday, however, it's back to the grind. Just me and the dog doing our celebrity workouts, drinking Classic India Spice tea, and simultaneously being annoyed and fascinated by stupid Twitter. Oh yeah - looking for a job too! (In case the unemployment office asks.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Walk in the Woods

Phew! I've been out of the blogosphere for a while, having spent last week taking a bunch of 7th graders into the wilderness. Yes, I know, very Lord of the Flies.

But in fact these kids were all sweet, well-adjusted, kind, friendly, and helpful to each other. There was nary an awkward teen among the bunch. No exclusionary cliques or power-mongering "popular" people out to destroy the "nerds." Oh, sure, they were fond of throwing rocks the size of coconuts and dancing around with their pocket knives in hand, and they often spilled dinner on the ground when cooking it (then threw it back into the pot, because after all, we had to eat).

Yet overall I was quite impressed with their group dynamics. They all go to a very small private middle school in Seattle, and I tell you, their seeming well-adjustedness was enough to make me want to send my future (hypothetical) kids to private school after being a lifelong, die-hard believer in public schools.

Anyway. It's all part of my plan to move into lower- and lower-paying work, which is going quite nicely, thank you very much.

"This is so much better than school!" yelled one kid as he plunged into the icy, sparkling Skokomish River on a 90-degree day after hiking for five hours. Insert the phrase "sitting in a windowless office doing work that makes me despise myself even though it pays a lot (though not as much as it used to)" for "school" and you have my sentiments exactly.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Great Finnish Adventure, Part II

...Continued from last week

All right, I know you're wondering whether I made it out of the Turku Archipelago alive. But guess what? I did!! So, without further delay, the second installment.

Day 4, continued. When I arrive in the town of Turku I meet my second couchsurfing host, tall blonde Thomas, who kindly greets me at the train station. Next I venture into the center of Turku proper, where the only truly touristy thing I do is go to the grand 13th-century Turku Cathedral. Then I wander around the Turku Public Library, initially looking for Internet access but getting drawn in by how sparkling and hip the library is. Eventually I end up at the Turku Art Museum high on a hill, a stunning old building with a big photograph of a naked woman outside it advertising the latest exhibit (see photo below). I drink a glass of Hungarian wine in the hushed and relaxing museum cafe. (At left above: Turku public library)

The rest of the day speeds by; I meet with friendly Dafna from Saaritours who helps me plan my bike trip and arranges everything for me. Thomas and I eat dinner at a funky, delicious restaurant called Kerttu; I shop for supplies for my bike trip (1. bread 2. cheese 3. chocolate); then walk back to Thomas's place with a blister that's grown to half the size of my foot (thank God I'll be mostly biking, not walking, the next few days).

Day 5. At last I am on my rented bicyclette! I pedal out of Turku on a super-duper bike path that makes me feel as if I never want to bike in the U.S. again. I am doing part of what's known as the "Archipelago Ring Route," which takes you over several of the 20,000-some islands in the Turku Archipelago via a combination of bridges and ferries. Unfortunately it's early season so many of the ferries aren't running yet. Instead of doing a loop as cyclists normally do, I am doing an out and back route. But hey, it beats sitting at home in Seattle where it's undoubtedly raining. (Um, it's raining here too on this particular day but never mind that).

My first destination is the island of Nauvo, some 45 or so kilometers away. At first the scenery is dull and urban with a few too many cars. But when I take the ferry from the island of Pargas to the island of Nauvo, suddenly I am out in the country, surrounded by the placid Baltic sea and empty(ish) roads.

The ferry is nothing like the monstrosities we have here in Washington state that holds hundreds of cars and passengers. No, this bright yellow raft-like vehicle carries only about three cars and me. We scurry across the water in about 10 minutes. I'm glad it's sunny by this time because there's no place to go inside. Everyone stays in their cars and I stand by my bike. (At right, the ferry from a distance).

Because I fail to consult my map I end up riding almost 10 kilometers too far when I am already exhausted. Luckily a road sign confuses me and I take out the map to puzzle over it. I realize I've gone too far and missed the turnoff for my guesthouse. But just exactly where is it? (The map I have is somewhat less than stellar. Combine that with my less than stellar navigation skills and I have no idea where the h*ll I am.) Thank God for cell phones. In Finland, they actually work everywhere because that's all anyone uses.

A few calls and everything is cleared up. I backtrack, turn off the main road and find myself pedaling along incredibly tranquil roads. Leafy. Sun-dappled. With calm bays and red cottages around every corner. Finally I reach my lodging in a "town" called Gyttja. If you can call a few houses, one guesthouse, and a jetty a "town." (At left, the Gyttja guesthouse.)

To be continued! (I know, the tension is unbearable, isn't it?)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fun Times in Finland

I know you're all *dying* to know just exactly what happened in Finland. You haven't been able to eat or sleep wondering what the hell did she actually do there? How did she survive? Was it dark all the time? And how much cheese did she really eat?

You know, like in the old days when you were on the edge of your seat waiting to hear about my next date with The Doctor or Silent But Deadly Boy or (pick a random silly nickname here). Only now you want to hear the blow-by-blow about my travels through a far-flung country you know nothing about. Well here you have the first half of my ABSOLUTELY AMAZING ADVENTURE (TM). Stay tuned for the rest.

Day 1. Arrive in Helsinki to sunny skies. Utilize amazing, easy-to-use transportation system to whisk myself to the city; meet my couchsurfing host #1, Hilkka, who lives in an apartment just outside the city center.Together we have "evening tea:" that is, bread, meat, and lots of cheese. The sun stays out til 10:30.

Day 2. After a breakfast of dark, delicious Finnish bread, meat, and lots of cheese, meet up with my long-lost friend GalPal #1 and family in Helsinki in crisp, clear weather. We stroll the "Esplanadi," where the outdoor cafes are full and summer is in the air. Jet lag hits full force around 3 in the afternoon. Too bad there's still eight more hours of daylight.

Day 3. Fueled by a breakfast of bread, meat, and lots of cheese, do more sightseeing
in sunny Helsinki, including dining at the outdoor market (with the Baltic sea a few feet away), strolling around the "Kauppatori" (fish market), and visiting the quiet neighborhood of Katajanokka Island, the centerpiece of which is an elaborate Russian orthodox church that sits like a giant ocher confection on a hill overlooking the city.

Day 4. A morning meal of bread, meat, and lots of cheese propel me to the train station where I say goodbye to Hilkka and board a train for Turku, the oldest town in Finland. I am very impressed by the high-tech, spacious bathrooms on the train, so unlike the small stinky stalls one finds on Amtrak. As the rather bland scenery speeds by, I am mentally preparing my four day solo bike trek through the wild and wooly "Turku archipelago" with its thousands of islands.

  • Will I be able to navigate all by myself or will I end up living on some remote Finnish island because I get so irrevocably lost I can't make it back?

  • Will there be food to eat besides Baltic herring and (of course) cheese? Will it be as horrible as American food is in out-of-the-way places?

  • What if I get chased by a moose?

Tune in next time to find out about high adventure in the Turku archipelago!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Welcome Home to Me!

When would a person such as moi have 1)gotten up 2)walked the dog 3)drank an overly large Peet's coffee, and 4)scribbled pages of caffeinated notes for various articles, all by 9 a.m.?

Or, even better, already have gone to a Nordstrom Rack sale and spent $150 on clothing by 10 a.m.?

When one is jet-lagged of course! Never mind the crankiness that befalls me when I have to return to daily life after a trip. Even the shortest getaway brings on this malaise, so you can imagine what it's like returning from Europe and facing my jobless future in an exhausted state.

Like I said, never mind. We'll let my poor boyfriend bear the brunt of that. I'll just say for now that my trip was full of sun and adventure and bad coffee (but at least there was a lot of it.)

I "couchsurfed" with strangers who were warm and generous; biked across Finnish countryside so tranquil that it was, at times creepy; and ate far, far too much cheese.

I left determined to come back with a career "strategy" but came back only with high cholesterol, More later, when I am coherent. For now, these few pictures can tell the tale.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sandal Season!

Last week I got my first pedicure in ages and just in time -- it's sandal season! Well, almost. Just because we are having a few sunny days here in Seattle doesn't mean that it's not going back to rainy cold nastiness. It undoubtedly will.

But I did actually take my sandals out of "winter storage" for the first time to show off my sparkly pink toes to the world. They were previously hideous due to a variety of deformities and broken toenails caused by ski boots and God knows what else. I could never quite achieve Inner Peace in Yoga class because I was always looking enviously at everyone else's toenails, hoping they weren't looking at mine.

In other news, I am sort-of-frantically preparing for my upcoming trip to Finland. I now have total of three couches to sleep, on due to my active membership in the generous Hilkka, Caizu, and Thomas. Why I've gotten so into it that Dave and I are even offering ourselves up as hosts now! (As long as our guests don't mind a lot of dog hair and few screaming fights with household cleaning products flying through the air.* )

And back to sandals...I have not yet decided whether to bring a pair to Finland with me, where the weather is promising to be 50 degrees and sort-of-actually-sunny. If I do, should I bring my "dressy" sandals so as to show off aforementioned sparkly pink toes, or my "sport" sandals to bring with my on my mini bike tour through the Aland Islands?

It will be one of those tough, last-minute calls. I am especially fond of the new Tevas I bought last year, the Karnali Wraptors (which they claim shows off your pedicure but most decidedly do not!) As usual I bought quickly with no previous research, for my trip to Alaska.

Had I actually been researching, I might have watched this video about Keen sandals from my pal Webtogs, who have a series of helpful videos about outdoor gear on YouTube. Since I will shortly be in the market for new hiking boots, I'm hoping they'll have a video about that soon. I imagine they will since they offer a lot of walking boots on their site.

So, back to vacation. If I don't chat with you again before my departure on April 24, perhaps we will speak again from the frozen north (even more frozen than Seattle).

[*OK, household products only flew through the air once, when we were in the midst of moving, when one can totally justify having a mini-nervous breakdown.]

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hail hail the IRS!

At least I am making an honest living these days. Except I am not actually making a living but never mind that for now.

This week I am working my a*s off (writing, teaching) and earning every one of the few pennies that I make. Whereas whenever I go to work for - well, you know who, I have so many names for the giant, bloated behmoth to the east - I am rolling in dough while hardly having to lift a finger.

I can't decide which I like better. Or worse. Or whatever. I do know I'm grateful to have work - any work! - and I like feeling honest rather than like some corporate slug.

Yet, would it not be for ye olde IRS refunding me a bunch of moola this month (Thank God for deductions! That kayak - yeah, a business expense! Trip to Alaska - deduct) I would not have enough to pay my bills in April nor for my upcoming trip to *Finland* where I will be crashing on the couches of friendly Finlandians via the rather impressive site

Anyway, I really don't have time to talk to you right now so goodbye.

Rebecca (currently clad in dog-haired covered fleece, a stocking cap, and Tevas, thoroughly grateful that the paparazzi is not stalking her anymore because God, she looks awful)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


This weekend I was not exactly at my sparkling best. For one, I was *supposed* to go backcountry skiing on Saturday. Then I bailed because of "winter storm warnings," etc. And because when I woke up in the middle of the night, rain was falling in Biblical proportions.

These are perfectly good excuses not to go outdoors. But I know myself better than that. I know that if I do not get out in the mountains at least once a week that my outlook on life gets extremely grim.

I secretly hoped everyone else would cancel. That weather would turn them around. That they would arrive at their destination and be so miserable that they gave up in despair.

But this was not the case. They all had fun! While I, on the other hand, stayed home and got increasingly agitated, getting everyone else (dog, boyfriend) increasingly agitated along with me so that a massive fight broke out by 8 p.m.

So I made a choice. The next day I blew off all other responsibilities and went skiing. The weather wasn’t much better. It was snowing the whole time. All the slopes were a big slab waiting to avalanche so we just skied along a road. But, Glory Halleleleujah, I got my exercise and my dose of UV rays and a few mountain views and I was golden.

I stayed toasty dry in my jaunty blue Marmot Oracle jacket (pictured above). I am one of the least gear-savvy outdoor freaks around but I do know this: if your jacket doesn't keep you dry, you're doomed.

This video from British company Webtogs actually taught me a lot about rain shells that I didn't know -- for example, that all these years I've been buying "membrane" jackets as opposed to "coated" jackets - and that Gore-tex is a type of membrane. The cute outdoorsy British dude mentions Berghaus jackets (a Euro brand) as an example of a good membrane jacket but I'll stick with my Marmot, thanks very much!

And I’ll be sure to get out it in next weekend, or else.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Viva la Cheap Wine and Poetry

Last night was the first time I ever appeared at--and went to--Richard Hugo House's Cheap Wine and Poetry series (brainchild of brilliant Brian McGuigan) and all I have to say is this:

Get there early next time!

The place was packed. Not a seat was to be had by 7:05 p.m., five minutes after it was supposed to start. I have never seen Hugo House so full of people having a good time. Thanks mostly to the recession-busting $1 glasses of wine and free admission.

Sure, we readers were talented too. And funny! I knew from the moment wisecracking Nicole Hardy stepped on the stage that I could not afford to be any less than endearingly hilarious.

So I read two selections from "BreakupBabe" that got lots of laughs from the cheap-wine-lubricated crowed, and selections from two earlier novels called "We Shall Never Part" and "A Life to Love."

Never heard of them? That's because I wrote them in sixth grade--during which time I actually produced three novels in the space of a single school year. (The third, "Roxana's World" was simply too depressing to read from, since the protagonist's mother dies and the girl is shipped off to an orphanage and then an insane asylum, where she dies a raving lunatic. Yeah. I was all melodramatic like that back then.)

Those went over well, especially the "A Life to Love," which is about a girl who gets in a horrible horseback riding accident in which she gets bucked off a wild filly and then bitten by a swarm of rattlesnakes. She thinks she will never walk, much less ride again, but she survives, recovers, and her parents even buy her her favorite horse, "Huggy Bear." Here is the ending:

"Lanna and Huggy both lived to a ripe old age, spending their lives together in blessed happiness. A love between a girl and a horse."

For some reason everyone in that novel has these 50-style names like "Lanna," "Ray," and "Audrey." Whereas the other sixth-grade novels are very gothic and British in tone, with sadistic middle-aged spinsters with names like "Miss Nebbins" who torture the (always-twelve-year-old-female) parentless protagonists in various ways.

I had a great time all around, despite the cheap wine hangover this morning. And for once I dressed up, which was good for my self-image. (Of course the dress was bought in a thrift shop years ago for about five bucks. But it still works!) Not so long ago I was always mincing around town in cute slinky outfits. But these days my uniform is dog-haired covered pajamas, or, for variety, a dog-haired covered black turtleneck with baggy green corduroys.

Last night, wandering around Capitol Hill in my pointy-toed boots, peeking into Victrola, where I spent so much of time (and so did the protagonist of my novel) I felt almost like, well, Breakup Babe. In a good way.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kindergarteners Rock

It is hard to maintain one's blahness when 20 kindgergartners rush you and hug you, exclaiming, "Miss Rebecca, I've missed you!" "Miss Rebecca, I love you!"

Which is what happens to me about once a month when I read stories to a kindgergarten class in Seattle through Page Ahead.

No matter how glum I feel, no matter how bad my hair looks, no matter how dog-hair-covered and dilapidated my clothes (if I may take the liberty of using that word to describe clothes, and I will, because I'm a Writer with a capital "W") their unconditional love makes me feel better. Briefly.

Until I go back home, where no phone messages are waiting to tell me I have a job. Where no emails offering employment fill my inbox. Where, it's true, my dog greets me with great enthusiasm but mainly because he thinks he's going to get dinner even though it's only 2 p.m.

But enough whining. There are people a lot worse off than me. It's just hard not to feel down when there's nary a prospect of employment in sight and your meager savings are poised to dwindle rapidly while the debt incurred from LAST YEARS' stint of unemployment is about to go up, up, up.

Which makes it a perfect time to go to Europe, dontchya think? Especially if you bought a nonrefundable ticket back in December! So off I shall go at the end of April to Helsinki, where GalPal #1 has been having babies and braving eternal darkness.

In the spirit of adventure and saving money, I just signed up on and have already found one potential couch to sleep on. Back in my Geeksoft days, when I could barely keep track of all the money rolling in, I would have never deigned to sleep on the couch of a stranger. I would have stayed in some fancy, sterile hotel, getting older and more fossilized by the minute. But now...well...I like to think that my (relative) poverty is making me more adventurous.

That's looking on the bright side, n'est-ce pas? Meanwhile if anyone has any recommendations for where to go or what to do in Finland in early spring, do tell! (Photo above courtesy of The Rating System).

Oh! And speaking of travel, my friend Dave Fox, travel writer and tour guide extraordinaire, is teaching an intensive class on travel journaling that looks like a lot of fun and is a great deal to boot. So those of you in Seattle, check it out.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen!

Those of you who've read my book know how I railed against the slovenly citizens of Seattle who regularly go out for a night on the town attired in their finest fleece. Witness this passage from BreakupBabe (a fairly witty one if I do say so myself). It takes place in a restaurant lit by green glass lamps (thus the mention of "sea green pools").

"There were several couples of the early middle-aged Seattle variety swimming in the sea green pools. One couple looked nearly identical with their metal-framed glasses, gray-streaked dark hair, and matching REI fleece jackets. If there was one thing that disturbed me about Seattle, it was that fleece was the uniform of choice. Fleece at fancy restaurants. Fleece at the theater. Fleece at the opera! It was a citywide illness, REI the ever-breeding host! I myself owned at least six fleece jackets and tops in different colors, styles, and weights (as well as a pair of fleece pants), but I had the sense to know they were for outdoor activities and outdoor activities only.

Well, people, guess what? Now, not only am I a person of the "early middle-aged variety" (ok, lets say, early, EARLY) - minus the gray streaks because I dye my hair, naturellement - but I often wear a fleece jacket when I go out now. Not only that, it's a black fleece entirely covered in white dog hair.

Hell, just the other day, I went to the pool attired in a down jacket, capri-length Yoga pants, Tevas, and wool socks.

I've deteriorated, I tell you. And you know, the one time I wore a cute, sexy dress all winter, I got chocolate all over the front of it the first time I wore it. So maybe it's for the best I stick to the dog-hair-covered fleece. It goes very well with the dog-hair all over the upholstery of my car, which is liberally interspersed with a layer of crumbs and unidentified sticky substances.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

BreakupBabe's Book Pick: Twilight

OK so I am three years behind the curve or whatever but I loved Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)!Perhaps even more so because I had a horrible cold when I read it and so wanted to do nothing more than lie down and get lost in another world (even though that other world happens to be the unglamorous town of Forks, Washington, where I have spent my own rainy days and nights, although who knew it was the ideal place for vampires?).

I consumed the first volume in less than 24 hours and the second in just a little more than that. Having recently been immersed in Donald Maas' Writing the Breakout Novel and seeing him speak on the same topic, I could totally understand why this novel hit it big.

The heroine is unswervingly strong and decisive even when what she's doing is stupid (i.e. falling in love with a vampire). She's very self aware and self-deprecating but also larger-than-life -- braver and more self-sacrificing than we could ever be. A bit sickeningly self-sacrificing but never mind that. (Maas calls forgiveness and self-sacrifice the ultimate traits for the protagonist of a breakout novel).

Also, the stakes are high -- another thing that Donald Maas harps on as being crucial for the breakout novel. Bella, the protagonist, risks her life every second that she's with the guy she loves. (Breakup Babe could relate to that, only she was just risking her self-esteem--not her life--with every Hot But Innappropriate Guy that she dated.)

It's plain old good storytelling and it's only mildly annoying that Stephenie Meyer just up and started writing this thing one day out of the blue with no years of slaving away over unpublished manuscripts, writing classes, etc - and the reason it's only mildly annoying is that she seems so damn nice that you just can't dislike her.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wanna Buy Some Stuff?

I have discovered a great way to ride out the recession AND clean out my basement: sell all my crap on Craigslist! It's absolutely brilliant. I don't know why I didn't think of it before. Maybe because there wasn't a recession and I wasn't unemployed and I used to be the kind of person to hold onto stuff I haven't used in 25 years but no longer!

Here's a list of stuff I've recently sold and plan to sell:

  • An overpriced nightstand I bought with my icky ex-boyfriend who had tons of money and in fact I think he paid for it and guess what, I made the $85 profit!
  • A bike trailer I haven't used in nine years
  • Pots that haven't seen a plant in them since the new millenium
  • The flute that last saw tongue action in the 80s
  • My "classic" Canon cameras

    Etc etc.

    Of course it would help if I could actually find my flute but I'm sure it's down there somewhere with all the letters from the 80s that I'll probably never read again and my journals from 7th grade that I'm keeping because they'll definitely be worth tons of money someday. Unless I get REALLY broke in which case I'll try to sell them to unsuspecting sucker as collectible literary memorabilia, haha.

  • Monday, February 23, 2009

    Crazed Fan Harasses Jane Smiley Lookalike

    I totally forgot to mention a fun story from the San Francisco Writer’s Conference…and that would be how I kissed up to Jane Smiley, heaping praise on her like a lovesick fan, only to find out that…

    She wasn’t Jane Smiley.

    No, she was someone who looked very much like Jane Smiley – tall, blonde, willowy, with an infectious smile -- minus about 10 years and the gigantic glasses that Smiley is always sporting in her author photos. (Photo courtesy of the Seattle Times)

    But who was I to know? The other conference volunteers that I was having coffee with at the time told me she was Jane Smiley. Since she had been a keynote speaker at the conference earlier that day, I assumed they had seen her speak and knew what they were talking about.

    We were hanging out in the Peet’s Coffee in Grace Cathedral, on the top of Nob Hill when I made my sycophantic overture to the Ms Smiley lookalike.

    (And yes there’s a Peet’s Coffee in Grace Cathedral, only it’s under the cathedral, next to the gift shop, so it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. At least it's not a Starbucks.)

    My companions had just assured me that it was Ms. Smiley herself who was ordering coffee and so I marched right up to her and started telling her how much I wished I had seen her speech earlier that morning; how good and “inspiring” I heard it was; working my way up to how I loved her novels A Thousand Acres: A Novel and Horse Heaven
    and how one day I hoped to be as brilliant (and maybe as rich) as her, when she gave me a blank look.

    “What speech?” she said. She had been smiling and nodding at me up til then and I was thinking gee, Jane Smiley is so nice. “Do you mean…my pitch to the agents?” The tall blonde woman looked confused. At which point I realized it wasn’t Jane Smiley at all but a conference attendee who had been pitching her heart out to agents all morning, hoping, just like me to be a brilliant, best-selling novelist like Jane Smiley one day.

    Then I told her about the confusion and we had a good laugh.

    I still wish I had heard Jane Smiley's speech, however!

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Fun Facts from the San Francisco Writer's Conference and More...

    Greetings all from me and Snuffy! Hope your February is looking springlike like it is here in Seattle, WA, where the bitter cold and snows have momentarily receded.

    I was just down in the Bay Area volunteering for the San Francisco Writer’s Conference, and wouldn’t you know, the weather was worse there than it is here. Which was fine because mostly I was indoors for the conference and then suffering from a horrible cold so had little use for the outdoors anyway.

    I learned a lot of interesting things and met some great people at this conference, as well as getting a few of my burning questions answered. Here are some fun and not-so-fun facts I picked up:

    • Only about 50% of books are actually sold in bookstores today; the rest are sold through alternative channels

    • Most fiction manuscripts submitted to agents are boring and predictable because they don’t have enough FAILURE in them

    • Your “numbers” (that is, how many copies you’ve sold) stick to you like “toilet paper on your shoe”

    My favorite speaker was agent Donald Maas; his wife Lisa Rector kindly gave me some advice as did agent Kimberly Cameron. I also met the author of the book Surviving Five Daughters, who was charming and fun, and refers to his daughters in conversation as D1, D2, D3, etc.

    I did think there was an overemphasis on the business side of writing and publishing, and would have liked to see more talks devoted to good old-fashioned craft. That’s why I liked Maas’s talk – even though he was talking through one of the chapters in his excellent book Writing the Breakout Novel - and the material was familiar to me already. I liked his talk because it actually made me focus on my story instead of stressing about my "web presence" or how I can get my "numbers" up before I'm entirely wrapped in toilet paper.

    His theory about breaking out as an author is that it’s not about how big your publicity budget is that makes your book a bestseller, but word-of-mouth generated by readers--and that you get that word-of-mouth by writing a book with larger-than-life characters going through conflict where the stakes are very high and where unexpected twists ensue.

    Sounds easy, right? Especially when you read his book and he lays it all out for you. Then you try to actually start constructing a high-stakes plot with larger-than-life characters. And it's so effing hard! It’s like my piano lessons when I listen to my teacher play all kinds of cool honky-tonk riffs than even shows me exactly how to do them and I go home inspired and excited. But when I try to do them myself they don’t come out right at all and I feel even clumsier and more unskilled than before, especially when the more I practice, the worse I seem to do them.

    But if I have faith (or even if I don’t) and I persist even just 15 minutes a day I eventually get better. And that’s how it is with writing too. If you’re feeling discouraged, just trick yourself into writing 15 minutes a day. Because the hardest part is sitting down at your computer. Once you actually start, you’ll want to write much longer than 15 minutes. And once you get in the habit of sitting down every day to do it, it gets harder not to do it than to do it.

    Anyway. I digress.

    In BreakupBabe news, for those of you Seattleites who would like to support your local businesses, you can find a copy of my novel at Balderdash Books in Greenwood! And soon at Lemon Meringue Boutique, also in Greenwood.

    You’ll also be able to see me read at Cheap Wine and Poetry at Richard Hugo House on March 26. And no I’m not actually reading poetry! I *hope* to read something from the new novel! You know the one that’s full of colorful characters that you can’t stop reading and won’t be able to stop talking about – once it, er, finally gets written.

    Finally, the moment you've all been waiting for. You can read my Alaska Airlines article about paddling in Glacier Bay here (warning: this is a PDF file). Remind me to tell you the real story behind this trip sometime -- you know, about how we got stranded, almost drowned, feared for our lives 80% of the time, etc etc. Plus, don't miss an update about my upcoming blogging class!

    (Wait - I forgot one little thing. Recently I met someone who had downloaded my book onto a Kindle. It was a very cool thing to see; the Kindle was super-sleek, felt good in my hands, and the text was easy to read. And that's all I have to say about that. Except that I would love to have a Kindle and maybe one day I will actually be able to afford one.)

    Sunday, January 25, 2009

    How to become a writer when you grow up

    Greetings Earthlings! I hope you have finally recovered from holiday bloat and that 2009 is speeding along smoothly. Soon we will all be another year older and deeper in debt but for now, enjoy!

    My busy January is in full swing. Coming up next week the second class of my six-week Hugo House class and a panel discusion at Hugo House on Friday January 29 (see the details here!).

    I'll also be appearing at a career fair in Seattle's lovely south end. Wherein I'll be standing in a booth dispensing advice to children who come by and ask what it's like to be a writer.

    Child: How can I become a writer when I grow up?

    Me: First you must undergo years of post-college angst as support yourself in a variety of humiliating jobs. Then you waste a lot of money on graduate school. Next you finally start to write but face much rejection. Then you get horribly dumped by a cheating weenie, which propels you 1)to go on antidepressants, and 2) to start a blog and then write that novel you've always dreamed of. Get an expensive author photo taken; go on an expensive book tour; sleep with a a lot of inappropriate men. Revel in the oh-so-brief spotlight, then and lapse back into obscurity while you struggle to do it all over again. More questions?

    It appears too, that the boyfriend and I might have found a new band to play with. It's too soon to say for sure whether this could be a long-term relationship but we "jammed" yesterday in a garage in Woodinville and were enthusiastically invited to join the band and pursue the rock star life on the Puget Sound festival circuit -- i.e. Taste of Tacoma, Bite of Seattle, Flavor of Federal Way, Tang of Tukwila, etc.

    In other news...I have officially launched the blog consulting arm of Rebecca Agiewich Incorporated-o-Rama this week. (Well all except for putting the "offical" information about it on my "official" web site which shall officially happen soon.). If you have friends in the non-profit or small business world who need to get on the ball and leverage the power of blogging -- send them my way!

    And if you missed my appearance on BlogTalk Radio a couple weeks ago, DON'T DESPAIR. You can still check out the archives and hear my awesome advice on how to get over a breakup (hint: it involves lots of sex) and what my top five breakup songs are.


    Tuesday, January 6, 2009

    Many opportunities to hear me blab in January

    Happy 2009! There I am at left toasting you with the glass of water I had on New Year's Eve. Yes it's water and no I'm not drunk even though I sort of look like it. It's a long story. Anyway.

    January is a big month, peeps! I have no less than *five* public appearances coming up. That's a lot of dough going into the coffers for moi!

    Oh wait. No it's not. Because I'm not getting paid for any of them except the class I'm teaching (which you should definitely take and which I'll tell you more about later).

    Right, right. I forgot. I don't like to do things for money. I much prefer spiritual enrichment than cold, hard cash which is why my wardrobe has gotten so f*cking crappy lately and I can't afford that trip to Mexico this winter. But never mind about that. Who needs Mexico when you glow with Inner Light?

    Public appearances are fun! You'll want to note all of these in your calendar. Well, except the *book club* I'll be talking to and the *career fair* at which I'll be convincing impressionable children how glamorous (not) it is to be a writer. So that makes three for your keep track of:

    Sat., Jan 10, 6 pm PST
    No matter where you live, be sure to log on and tune in for this BlogTalk Radio interview! Witty host Greg (who gets extra points for referring to me as a "renowned" author) hosts "Breaking Glass," a weekly music show. Writes Greg: "The theme of this week's show is "break-ups" and the music and discussion matter will center around breaking up (and maybe even getting back together). To this end, we have renowned author Rebecca Agiewich (The Breakup Babe) joining us in studio so check it out and call in with questions about breaking up!" *Bonus* You'll also get to hear my (recently disbanded) band Hank and the Milkmashers play!

    Wednesdays, Jan 22 thru Feb 25, 5-6 p.m.
    My class "Turn down the volume, pump up the word count" starts at Seattle's Richard Hugo House (read more about it here). The great breaking news about this class is that bestselling Seattle writer Garth Stein has just agreed to talk to the class February 4! And if you haven't read his latest novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain,you are in for the best, most heartrending, and beautiful read of your life.

    Thursday, Jan 29, 7 pm
    Online Publishing, Blogging and Marketing for Writers
    "Hugo House's InPrint Series presents a panel discussion with writers, bloggers and editors, including Rebecca Agiewich and Eileen Gunn, who have made the Internet work for them. $7/$5 for Hugo House members. Cabaret. Thursday, January 29th, 2009, 7:00 PM

    All right, that's enough publicizing for now. Oh wait -- if you're flying Alaska Airlines in February, be sure to look for my article about kayaking in Glacier Bay!

    OK that's really enough. Here's to your holiday recovery!