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Out With the Old…

Yesterday, I finally got rid of my old computer.  It was sitting in my office, off in a corner getting dusty, when I realized it had to go.  I hadn’t used it in 4 years.  When I moved to my current place, I just dismantled it and never set it back up again.  Even in 2008, the computer was really old (10 yrs!).  I finally bit the bullet and bought a new machine.

But, I still held on to the old one.  I thought one day I might suddenly remember there was a file or something that I forgot to transfer.  But the only thing that was really important (my novel) was transferred to a flash drive before I moved.

And now it looks like I might move again.  So I have been paring down all of my things.  All my books that I have been saving for years that I will never read again, clothes that don’t fit, and old electronics that needed to be recycled, had to go.  I love decluttering, but man, I hang on to a lot of crap!  I found and old copy of Sweet Valley Twins in one of my book boxes.  I hadn’t read one of those in at least 20 years!  It has been exhausting, but I am at the point now where I see real progress.  Sometimes I think I just cart the same boxes from place to place and never open them.  Hopefully my next place, I can really settle in and unpack.

I still remember buying that old computer.  I worked in a HR office in Virginia Beach, VA for a summer for a whopping six dollars and hour.  I saved all summer and two weeks before I was about to go back to school for my senior year of college, I walked into Circuit City (Remember that store?) and bought my first PC.  I was so nervous driving home with it in the back seat, I went well below the speed limit.

I wrote my college final papers on that computer.  I composed a short story, Mr. Fear, that would set the tone for all of my future work.  My short lived life as a columnist about women in pro-wrestling (not kidding!), found its voice in that keyboard.  And of course I wrote my novel, my first as an adult, between February 2002 and June 2003 (Just the first draft.  Subsequent drafts took another year.).  So many important memories in my career were on that machine.  I wasn’t sad to see it go.  The work was important, not the machine.  The memories were good and they are enough.



It’s been almost a year since I’ve written.  I have neglected my blogging duties.  Not that many have noticed.  I am keenly aware that my traffic is a virtual zero.  Really, I’ve just been writing this for myself.  Originally, I was keeping this as a place to display my writing.  My family and friends were always asking to read some of my fiction, so I created this place to display it.

But I still haven’t put anything up.  I am a perfectionist, but I also think that I have been afraid.  Afraid to put myself out here.  My fiction is very much a part of myself and I haven’t had to will to share.

But since the last time I wrote, a few things have changed…

First, I mentioned last year that I wanted to go to graduate school.  Well lo and behold, I actually was admitted as a provisional student into the Master’s degree program at John’s Hopkins University.  I hadn’t been in a classroom in 12 years (I got my BA in 1999!).  It was fun and I loved every minute of it.  I hope to continue my studies (provisional means I need to be formally admitted before I can take anymore classes).  But school does keep you busy.  I had to get used to doing homework again! LOL!

It was also a change to have complete strangers read my fiction.  I was intimidated by some of my classmates.  Some had been published and seemed more accomplished than me.  But by the end of the semester, I had gotten over most of this fear.  Somewhere in the last few years, I forgot how much I loved the creation of a new story.  I forgot what it felt like to finish a new story.  In short, I think I managed to grab a hold of some of my old ambition again.

Second, I took up a new hobby/business venture.  Sometime in June, I had a serious anxiety attack.  It was brought on by my worries of money.  It just seemed like there was never enough.  I tend to read a few personal finance blogs and I realized that no matter where I cut, there came a point were I needed to earn more money.  So I decided to resell books on Amazon.  So far I have barely made anything, but it let me focus my energies away from my tiny bank account.  And my personal library is significantly diminished.  It felt good to get rid of the clutter.  I loved some of those books, but I was holding on to them for the wrong reasons.  I was never going to read them again, so why not pass them on to others to read and love?

This little venture also stirred me to become a serious collector.  I was in my local Friends of the Library store when I came across a copy of Margaret Atwood’s Alias GraceSigned.  It was priced at six dollars!  I snatched it up and never looked back. (FYI, Margaret Atwood is my favorite author.)  I got the collecting bug, and I think it is a permanent condition.  For now I will only prowl thrift store and used book stores.  High end bookstores are not in the budget yet.

And finally, just a month ago my company experienced layoffs.  We are a small publishing company, so anyone leaving is noticeable.  For now, my job is safe…but I had to take a pay cut. It is not permanent (the pay cut), but no one can say when things will go back to normal.  I am, obviously, worried.  Hearing the company is in trouble is never fun to experience.  I am so glad I saved last year. I have a solid emergency fund, started my retirement savings, and have a good amount for grad school (so no loans).  Getting by on less is something I am used to, so I just reworked my budget for this year.

So that is all the latest news.  Cross fingers for 2012.  I think it is going to be an adventurous year.  And my birthday is on Thursday!  So wish me a happy B-Day!