Real Talk: New Year, New Resolutions

It’s 2016. When did that happen?

As we all know, a new year means New Year’s Resolutions. Everyone resolves to lose weight and go to the gym… and they stick with it until mid-February. Then the gym crowd empties out again (and I can have my treadmill back, dammit), and the resolution falls by the wayside.

I don’t normally do resolutions. For one, I can’t really stick with them. But this year, I thought I’d make a list of things I want to do in 2016. Goals for myself, of a sort. Some of these are serious, some are more lighthearted. Because it’s about balance, y’all.

You can call them resolutions if you like. For me, they’re more like life improvements instead of resolutions.

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No, there’s no reason for this hedgehog. I just thought it was cute.

1. Become more involved in my church.

Over the course of 2015, I started attending Capitol Hill Baptist Church in D.C. I’d been once, a few years ago for the Easter service, but I hadn’t been back because, well, I was lazy. I didn’t have a car, and Sunday bus service is less than reliable.

In April, I brought my car to D.C. And there went my excuse. I’ve been attending regularly as I can with work travel, but I would like become more involved. First, I plan on joining this year. I’d like to do a small group Bible study, maybe volunteer. I think that that would be good for my growth, as a Christian, and the church is so warm and welcoming.

2. Stop worrying about what my friends are doing on social media.

That sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Let me explain.

I suffer from a syndrome, best diagnosed in the title of Mindy Kaling’s first book — Is everyone hanging out without me? I have this paranoia that while I’m sitting at home in my pajamas and reading a book, all my friends are out having oh-so-much fun together. Without me.

So what do I do? I check Facebook. And Instagram. And Snapchat. And that just reinforces the feeling of isolation — which is funny, isn’t it? We’re so connected via the internet, yet it can make a person feel as lonely as ever. It’s not good for your mental health to worry about such stupid things like that.

But that’s the thing about platforms like Instagram, isn’t it? We present our ‘perfect’ life. One where we’re having so much fun, enjoying adventure, drinks, and other beautiful people. We don’t see the other side, which, if we’re being honest, probably encompasses more of reality than the curated side.

I think it can be best summed up by a friend. She recently moved back to D.C. after a year or so pretty far away. We were talking about her new job and why she’d moved back, and the question was posed, “You looked so happy where you were living. All your posts were of the fun things you did. Why would you want to leave?”

And her response? “Yeah, but I didn’t post about all the nights I sat at home, drinking an entire bottle of wine by myself.”

So in 2016, I’m quitting that. I’m going to do my best (and it’ll probably take effort) to not worry about everyone else. Sure, they’re having fun — but they’re also just like me: on the couch alone some nights.

3. Go home more often

I have a car. Tennessee is only an 8 hour drive away. There’s no reason for me not to suck it up and take a weekend and go see my family. I love spending time at home — why don’t I do it more often?

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My last road trip home

4. Spend money on experiences, not things

That sounds like the most basic, white girl thing ever, doesn’t it? I’ve seen this on several Thought Catalog pieces, but it’s something I’d really like to try. Because yeah, a new Kate Spade purse is nice — but a last minute road trip to the Outer Banks with some friends is way more meaningful.

I’m a travelbug. Always have been, always will be. That’s a requirement to date me — must have passport. If I can snag a super cheap airfare somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, why not go? I’m single and childless, with a great job that encourages me to actually use — not hoard — my vacation days. Why not go?

BRB, just adding to my AirBNB wishlist.

5. Play more golf

I used to hate golf. Hate hate hated it. But then I started playing and fell in love. I’ve got a nice set of clubs and a car. There’s no reason not to play a round every few weekends or so (when the weather gets back above freezing, obviously). I can channel my inner Robin Williams (NSFW video, obviously).

6. Music. Must have more music

I’ve been in D.C. for 6 1/2 years. How is it that I’ve still never been to the Kennedy Center? Home to the National Symphony Orchestra, the DC Opera, and venue that plays host to some of the most esteemed musicians in the world. But I’ve only heard the NSO play once — discounting seeing them on TV for the Fourth of July.

So, a goal this year is to make it to all of them: the ballet, the opera, the symphony. And that doesn’t even count in all the great live music venues in D.C. It’s something I haven’t really taken advantage of here yet, and I intend to change that.

7. Remember to take time for myself

These days, it feels like everyone puts a priority on being busy. The most common excuse for why someone can’t do something is, “Oh, I’m busy.”

Without getting into the cult of ‘busy,’ I do think burnout is very real. Especially in a city like D.C, where you work hard and are then generally expected to play hard. It’s hard to remember that it’s perfectly acceptable to turn down plans simply because you want to go to bed at 8:30. (And yes, I realize this sounds contrary to Life Improvement #1, but I’m channeling my inner Dowager Countess here).

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8. Show gratitude

Nothing is perfect. In fact, I think there’s no such thing. But for everything that is ‘wrong,’ there is so much that is amazing in my life. I’m very blessed with a healthy family, a roof over my head, a steady income, and my own health. I have amazing friends who love me, and who I love in return. There’s so much to be grateful for. Instead of focusing on the negative so much, I want to focus on the positives.

9. Lose weight

Come on, you knew that one was coming. 😉

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Celebrating 50 years!

It’s no secret that I’m a proud rural girl. I grew up in an agricultural family, was invovled in agricultural activities, and I currently work to promote animal agriculture in Washington D.C.

But I’m also the daughter of small business owners. And that’s what I want to talk about today.

Our family business

My family owns East Tennessee Livestock Center in Sweetwater, Tennessee. For those unfamiliar with livestock auction markets, we serve as intermediaries between buyers and sellers. To put it in economic terms (or as economic as I get, which isn’t very), we offer a competitive marketplace for sellers to get the highest price possible for their commodities — in this case, live animals. Specifically cattle, though we have a few goats and sheep pass through each week. I also remember seeing a buffalo and an emu come through, but those are few and far between.

The market was founded in 1962 by my grandfather, Joseph Houston, and his four business partners. Over time, he bought out his partners until our family was the sole owners of ETLC. My grandmother worked in the front office, and by the time my Daddy joined the market after college, the business was 100-percent family owned.

Granddaddy Joe -- founder of East Tennessee Livestock Center

Today, my Daddy is the head of the business with my mother working as his business partner and office manager. And on Wednesday, East Tennessee Livestock Center will celebrate 50 years as the Southeast’s strongest and most innovative livestock auction market.

Yes, I know that sounds hyperbolic, and I know that I’m just the teensiest bit biased. But it’s really true. We were the first market in Tennesee to:

• Hold graded feeder calf sales

• Hold graded Holstein steer sales (a much-needed niche in a strong dairy part of the country)

• Hold video sales of cattle lots

In addition, we were the first livestock auction market east of the Mississippi River to hold electronic ID sales.

It hasn’t been easy. In 1987, my grandmother was shot and killed in an armed robbery attempt. We lost my grandfather — founder of our business — last year. And anyone working in agriculture knows how live prices fluctuate depending on market conditions. After the lone case of BSE was found in 2003, prices dropped and suffered for quite a while. Up until the whole snafu with LFTB earlier this year, prices were wonderfully high.

But despite personal tragedy, market setbacks, and competitors moving in and trying to woo away our customers through whatever means necessary, East Tennessee Livestock is still the most trusted livestock auction market in Tennessee.

Having moved away to the big city, I think I’ve developed a new appreciation for the work my parents do. As a child, no one really appreciates their parents — a sad notion, yes, but I think it’s true. You take them for granted. And I’ve definitely taken mine for granted. But living in Washington has reemphasized my rural (and, dare I say, Southern) sensibilities. While there are a lot of things I like about life in the city (Thai food, public transportation, walkability), it’s just not the same as home.

The Houston family

But on the same side of things, it’s amazing to relearn how little experience the average urbanite has with agriculture. All I could really do was blink in shock when someone told me that all farmers tortured their animals — an outright lie if I’ve ever heard one.

While my parents will say that the amount of actual work I ever did at the market was very small, I think I gained a lot more out of my upbringing than mere work experience. Our family business is just that — ours. I’m very protective of it, of my parents, and our way of life.

So if you’re anywhere in southeast Tennessee on Wednesday, stop by and say hello. There’ll be a big anniversary celebration at the market, complete with a luncheon on the grounds and door prizes. I’m pretty sad I won’t be able to attend, but I’ll be there in spirit. There are a lot more that I could say about it, but I’ll just say this:

To my wonderful parents, thank you. You have no idea how much I admire and love you both. Congratulations on 50 years, and here’s to the next 50 being just as groundbreaking and wonderful!

Christmas Traditions

It’s so hard to believe it, but Christmas is one week a way.  2012 is two.  Where has this year gone?

As the holiday inches closer and closer, there are certain Christmas traditions that I absolutely must do.  My house here in D.C. is illuminated with colorful lights, the trees at my Tennessee home are up and decorated, and I’ve been rocking out to Christmas music on Pandora since the day after Thanksgiving.

"Dad, you taught me everything I know about exterior illumination."

Another one of my holiday traditions is making Christmas cookies.  So yesterday, my friend Will came over (I wish I had a picture of his awesome sweater — the lights on the back lit up! — but I don’t) and we had a day full of fun holiday activities.  Using my great-grandmother’s recipe, we baked and decorated sugar cookies (just like I used to do with Aunt Cindy when I was little).  They might not look amazing, but they taste great!

That's talent right there, y'all.

And of course, since this was Will and me, we had to watch that quintessential of holiday movies:

Christmas Vacation.

Oh, don’t act like you don’t love that movie (Mom, I’m looking at you).  In our family, it’s tradition to first watch the movie on the evening after Thanksgiving, while we’re all still gathered in North Carolina.  Armed with shrimp cocktail and homemade Chex Mix, we gather around the little TV at Granny’s and start it up.  My Daddy is usually laughing before the opening title sequence — yeah, we kinda love that movie.

I love that I have family members who I can call up and say something like, “Do you hear that?  It’s a funny squeaky sound.”

And they know how to properly respond.

What are some of your family’s holiday traditions?

Responding to misinformation

So, Food Day came, and Food Day went.  The earth didn’t stop rotating on its axis, no great Vegan Agenda was unveiled, and the majority of Americans didn’t even notice.  And you know, that’s fine with me.

Many of y’all don’t know this, but when I noticed that the Food Policy class at Ole Miss was hosting a Food Day event, I wrote a letter to the editor which expressed my concerns about such an event being held under CSPI’s umbrella.  Readers of this blog know my concerns with CSPI’s Food Day, but if you’re new to the party, you can catch up here.

Here is the letter I wrote to The Daily Mississippian, which was posted on their website on October 20th (bits in red are particularly important points):

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to Zach Mitchell’s recent piece about the Food Day event hosted by the Trent Lott Leadership Institute and the Office of Sustainability. I was disheartened to see that Mr. Mitchell’s article contained no background on the truth about Food Day, and that none of the Food Policy students seemed to realize the motives behind the event.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has declared October 24 to be Food Day. It is being promoted as a way for consumers to get together to talk about the ‘problems’ in our food system. Famous names that have been attached to Food Day include Michael Pollan — author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma — and Morgan Spurlock — creator and director of the film Super-Size Me.

I would encourage the students of the Lott Institute’s Food Policy class to do their own research.  Supporting local farmers is an excellent notion, and one I wholeheartedly support.  However, I do not support CSPI’s Food Day. I grew up on a beef cattle operation, and CSPI’s biggest supporters seek to put my family — and the rest of animal agriculture — out of business.

While I applaud the dialogue between students, university professors and local farmers, I am upset that such a conversation is being held under CSPI’s Food Day umbrella. The creators of Food Day seek to move the American diet towards an entirely plant-based one, eliminating animal agriculture — Mississippi’s No. 1 industry. Food Day’s board of directors includes Pollan, who was quoted as saying, “Eat food, not too much. Mostly plants,” and the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States Wayne Pacelle (whose HSUS employees have stated that their goals include the abolition of all animal agriculture).

CSPI, through a series of misinformation and scare tactics, would have consumers believe that farm animals are abused, pumped full of hormones, and raised on “factory farms.” The truth is, 98 percent of American farms are small, family-owned operations, and the majority of farmers and ranchers are dedicated to ensuring the welfare of the animals they care for. Calling a large farming operation a “factory farm” on the basis of size alone is simply wrong.

For farmers, “food day” is every day. Students interested in learning more about agriculture and the vital role it plays in our country’s economy should visit www.realfarmersrealfood.com. Join with our nation’s farmers and ranchers in celebrating their every day life — the production of food the we all rely on.

Sincerely,

Virginia

Class of 2009

Animal Agriculture Alliance

On Halloween, two Public Policy students were kind enough to respond to my letter.  While I welcome dialogue and the chance to discuss my position, the points made by their retort as misinformed– as was the event that they were protecting.  Instead of posting their letter in its entirety, I’m going to address their concerns point by point.

To the Editor:

We are writing in response to the letter from Virginia Houston that was published in last Thursday’s DM. We would like to clarify a few issues that were brought up by Virginia, as well as defend our actions and intentions regarding Food Day.

She claims that animal agriculture is Mississippi’s No. 1 industry. This is not entirely true. Agriculture as a whole is Mississippi’s No. 1 industry, not just animal agriculture. Forestry and the production of soybeans, corn, cotton, rice, hay, horticulture, sweet potatoes, wheat and peanuts are also responsible for placing agriculture in the top spot.

Here, I will admit my own typing mistake.  Agriculture in its entireity is the top industry in Mississippi.  However, I was not entirely wrong.  Would you like to know what Mississippi’s number one agricultural commodity is?

Chickens (both broilers and eggs).

She claims that the creators of Food Day promote an entirely plant-based diet. This, too, is not true. Food Day’s goals include:

-Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods

-Support sustainable farm & limit subsidies to big agribusiness

-Expand access to food and alleviate hunger

-Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms

-Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids

-Support fair conditions for food and farm workers

None of these six goals promote vegetarianism in any way. Furthermore, the Food Day logo has a chicken on it! We highly doubt that an organization promoting a meat-free diet would use a chicken on their primary advertisement.

First of all, putting a chicken in their logo is another clever way to mask their true purpose.  But you still don’t believe that CSPI is pushing a plant-based diet?  Well, don’t take my word for it!  Let’s hear it from Jeff Cronin, CSPI spokesman:

“We’re not a vegan organization, but we do want to nudge people in a more vegetarian direction, absolutely,” Cronin says.

You can find that audio interview with Mr. Cronin at Brownfield Ag News.  While CSPI isn’t a vegan organization, pushing consumers towards a vegetarian diet does not help livestock producers.

In regards to CSPI, they are one of many organizations that made Food Day possible. While their individual agenda may differ from the goals of the whole group, CSPI has played a role in making food day possible.

According to their website, CSPI advocates the following in regards to animal agriculture:

“Reforming factoring farms to protect animals and the environment. Farming of animals can and should be done without cruelty, and without degrading the quality of life in rural America.”

Ah, factory farms.  It’s such a catch all, isn’t it?  You know, I have yet to find an organization that can actually define the term.  Which is strange, considering that reforming such operations is one of Food Day’s six principles.  And you know, I’m glad that they mentioned the other organizations sponsoring Food Day.  If you go to CSPI’s Food Day website and click on their fourth principle (which adddreses reforming factory farms), it shows a list of informative sources should consumers want to know more about the issue.  And who’s on that list?

  • Compassion in World Farming
  • Environmental Working Group
  • The Humane Society of the United States
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
  • Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production
An august group, to be sure… if you’re an animal rights activist.  It’s safe to say that real farmers and ranchers know the truth about these groups.  For more, you can check out the watchdog blog Humane Watch.
But here’s where things get fun really interesting.

Additionally, Virginia expresses her wish for the student’s in the Lott Institute’s Food Policy class to do their own research. We have, actually, and, interestingly enough, our research reveals that many of her claims are incorrect. Take, for instance, her statement that, “CSPI, through a series of misinformation and scare tactics, would have consumers believe that farm animals are abused, pumped full of hormones, and raised on ‘factory farms.’” Our research shows that corporate agriculture has dominated the food system over the past few years. In the case of beef packing alone, only five companies control an astonishing 79 percent of the market. Upon conducting our research it is MORE than evident that most meats found in the supermarkets are indeed a product of a factory farm.

Virginia’s claim that 98 percent of American farms are small, family-owned operations is also not entirely true. These farms are almost always contracted out by large corporations, an operation known as contract growing. This process indentures small, independent farmers to grow livestock for a corporation.

Again, I’m looking for that definition of a “factory farm.”  Did this research come from Eating Animals?  The Omnivore’s Dilemma?  While there are meatpacking companies that do a large portion of business, there are still thousands of small family farms.  And you want to know the quickest way to offend them?

Call them a “contract grower.”

Additionally, I have to point out that they’ve incorrectly said that I was in the wrong.  That statistic quoted which says 98% of farms are family owned is indeed true, information provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out in black and white from the USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Most farms are incorporated for tax purposes.  That’s it.

And finally, they conclude with this:

Finally, we cannot help but feel that Virginia wrote this letter with the sole purpose of boosting her own agenda. According to her LinkedIn profile, Virginia currently works in communications at the Animal Agricultural Alliance.

Had Virginia been here and participated in UM’s first annual Food Day, she would have seen that the last thing we were doing was trying to promote a meat-free diet, and eliminate animal agriculture. Actually, she could have met one of the many farmers who take pride in the animal products they produce.

Sincerely,

[Names redacted]

Food Policy Students

I really want to be sarcastic here, make a quip about the lengths they went through to check out my LinkedIn profile.  And I could, since that research was entirely unnecessary; as you see in my letter above, I signed off with my place of employment.  However, I do take umbrage in being accused of solely pushing my agenda.

That’s the thing with Food Day.  There are agendas everywhere.  And my biggest issue is that CSPI’s version of Food Day only included niche producers, and they made practically no mention of livestock producers.  I don’t need to come to Ole Miss and meet the producers they brought in to understand how much pride farmers take in their work.  While I’m sure they’re fine, upstanding people, and I would like the opportunity to talk with them one day, I’m the proud daughter of a fourth-generation farm family.  I grew up in beef production, and I know firsthand the pride that producers take when showcasing their animals.  My only “agenda” is promoting all aspects of American farmers and ranchers, and I never accused the Ole Miss Food Policy class of trying to do that.

CSPI, on the other hand, is a different animal entirely.

Like I said, I welcome dialogue!  And honestly, I wish that Ole Miss had offered a food policy class when I was an undergraduate.  I would have been all over that!  If you have questions or comments that you’d rather not leave in the comment area on this post, feel free to shoot me a note at SouthernSensibilityBlog@gmail.com.

And remember, for American farmers and ranchers, every day is food day!  

(This should go without saying, but please note that all opinions presented on this blog are my own opinions and are not reflective of other parties.  This is just the way *I* feel.)

Celebrating American agriculture

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has declared this coming Monday—October 24th—to be Food Day. According to their website, Food Day seeks to “bring together all Americans to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.”  Sounds great, right?

Not so fast!

Food Day is not a celebration of all agriculture. Rather, it is a stealth attack on the vulnerabilities of American consumers.  CSPI would have you believe that farm animals are abused by their owners, pumped full of hormones and raised on “factory farms.”  In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Farmers care about their animals

Farmers and ranchers involved in animal agriculture are stewards of the land.  The welfare of their animals is of utmost importance to them, and it is in their best interests that their livestock are treated humanely.  This not only guarantees them a healthier, higher-quality animal, it also provides a greater return on their investment and produces a wholesome food product.

American agriculture is something to be proud of.  Modern production methods allow 2% of the population to feed 100%!  So when did attacking farmers and ranchers become en vogue?

Here’s some food for thought:

  • In 1960, a U.S. farmer fed 26 people.  In 2011, a U.S. farmer will feed 155 people.
  • American ranchers provide 25% of the world’s beef… with just 10% of the world’s cattle!
  • There are 2.1 million farms in the U.S., and 98% of those are family owned.

Show some love for farmers (Photo courtesy of Animal Ag Alliance)

Furthermore, CSPI has aligned itself with some folks who would like nothing more than to see animal agriculture done away with.  Michael Pollan, well-known advocate and author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, sits on the Board of Directors as does CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.  Pacelle’s employees have stated before that one of their goals at HSUS is the elimination of all animal agriculture.  Pollan has been quoted as saying, “Eat food, not too much.  Mostly plants.”

You know, Mr. Pollan, that doesn’t sit too well with this farm girl.

It’s truly disheartening that CSPI is not taking this opportunity to talk about all areas of agriculture.  Instead, they’re pumping out misinformation and scare tactics in order to drive consumers away from the food products that farmers and ranchers have worked so hard to produce.

However, there is someone out there speaking for all aspects of agriculture.

Real Farmers Real Food is a campaign launched by the Animal Agriculture Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to helping consumers better understand the role farmers and ranchers play in providing a safe, abundant food supply to a hungry world.  The underlining core of the message is simple, and it’s one I truly believe in.

For farmers, food day is every day.

Partnered with Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan, Real Farmers Real Food is an excellent tool for consumers who want to know the truth about modern agriculture production.  Agriculture shouldn’t be a dirty word.  It’s a tiring occupation that demands hard work and perseverance, and sometimes it can be a cruel mistress.  But American farmers and ranchers have dedicated their lives to feeding the world.  Watch Teresa’s message below, and then visit www.realfarmersrealfood.com to learn more.

Because not everyone farms, but everyone has to eat.

The most wonderful time of the year

I am a really, really terrible blogger.

I shouldn’t be.  I have the WordPress app on my iPhone . I could blog from the Metro if I wanted to– but I think I’m too much of a nitpicky grammar nerd to ever try and do that.  Predictive text, my foot.

I say it every time, but I’m going to endeavor to be a better blogger.  I average one blog post a month (excluding April… we’re just going to blame the grad school professor from you-know-where for that lapse), which is lame.  So, my new goal is to blog at least once a week.  It might be about something, it might be about nothing– probably the latter– but at least I’ll be blogging.

Ooooh, fun tidbit to share:  two weeks ago, I placed 2nd in The Pioneer Woman’s Titanic quiz.   Won a $150 gift card to Amazon and everything!  See, Mom?  All those years of watching Titanic over and over and over again finally paid off!  😀

Beautiful, beautiful gourds

I love fall.  Did you know that?

It’s my favorite season.  I mean, don’t get me wrong: I love summer.  Who doesn’t?  How can you not love a season where tank tops, flip flops, and frozen adult beverages consumed on patios are en vogue?  Summer reminds me of being a kid; of traveling across the south and playing softball every weekend, showing cattle during the hottest week of July, and family vacations at Sandestin.  But summer also is one thing:  hot. Hot.  HOT.

And humid.  Farewell, sleek and controlled curls.  I hardly knew thee.

But fall.  Oh, fall.  (Or autumn, if you’re too European to say fall).  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

This sums it all up

True, my Ole Miss Rebels are on a highway to hell.  Tennessee isn’t doing much better. But I love football, and I’ll still watch (if only so I can cheer against Mississippi State and Florida).  And no, I really can’t see the stars from my humble city dwelling, but I’m sure they’ll still be there when I go home for Thanksgiving.  But I have PUMPKIN!

And if you’re like me and love pumpkin (Kristen, I’m looking at you!), then you’ll enjoy this:  An Open Letter to Pumpkin Flavored Seasonal Treats (via McSweeney’s).

What’s your favorite thing about fall?  😀

No more homework, no more tests…

Finishing grad school has meant several things for me.

 

For one, I’m not shackled to my laptop anymore.  We’re still in a relationship and all, but if we had a Facebook status, it’d be “It’s complicated.”  I mean, I still love him (yes, my laptop not only has a gender, but a name as well.  Let’s move on), but we’re seeing other people.  At least, I am.

 

My wonderful parents (two of the four people who read my blog at all) gifted me with a NOOK Color for my birthday last month.  Best. Gift. Ever.

 

It’s been two weeks since my birthday, and I’ve read seven books.  For fun.  This is precisely why my parents didn’t give one to me while I was in grad school.

 

Because I probably would have failed, and that would be a lot of money wasted on an unfinished master’s.

 

Anyhoo.  Moving on.

 

(Speaking of electronics, I’m on the fritz with my iPod.  It won’t turn on, it won’t recognize that it’s plugged up to either the wall or the computer, and I just don’t know what to do.  I feel naked without my earbuds and music on my commute, y’all.  Suggestions?)

 

My poor little iPod, submerged in rice

Finishing grad school also means I have more time for me.  I can go to a late dinner or stay out on the weekends, and I don’t feel like I have to rush home to type whatever paper I’ve put off until the last minute… again.

 

Wait, you mean you don’t do that?  Fine, don’t admit it.

 

But I know your secret.

 

I don’t feel guilty about watching an entire season of Game of Thrones over the course of two days.  And now, I can finally read the books… because I have time!

 

With this time, I’ve also decided to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years.

 

NaNoWriMo.

 

National Novel Writing Month (NaNo for short) is a month long challenge that takes place during November.  The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel (which, according to the site, is approximately 175 pages) by 11:59 p.m. on November 30th.  I’ve had a few plot bunnies bouncing around my head for a while, so now it’s time to see if they’re worth anything when I commit them to type.

 

When the madness begins, I’ll put the little widget up that tracks my progress so y’all (all five of you) can cheer me on (or tell me how crazy I am, one or the other).

 

Is it November yet?  J