Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pulling the Plug

I've noticed over the years that while I really love TV, I don't watch it nearly as often as other people seem to. There are a few shows that I simply can't miss, but it's usually because I'm recapping it and not so much because it's just that crucial. In fact, I've had entire seasons of my favorite shows pass me by. Last year, for example, I barely watched True Blood or Burn Notice, so I had to catch up before I started my recaps and roundtables for this season.

Because of this, I have seriously considered getting rid of cable. It's incredible how expensive it is, especially living in NYC where so many other expenses add up just as quickly. With Hulu and various network websites offering this content for free, it does seem a bit of a waste. Not to mention that I don't spend much time at home anyway, so I'm always missing the shows when they air. Thank goodness for DVR... which, by the way, makes it even pricier.

I know other people who don't even have televisions, and they seem okay.

Well, except when they have to come over to my place to take advantage of my cable and DVR. Those are the only moments when I realize how great it is to have it, the moments when it becomes more about spending time together watching something we love rather than simply watching something for the sake of watching it. In fact, my weekly date night with a friend is planned around what shows she needs to catch up on. We cook a yummy dinner, break out a couple of bottles of wine, and sit in front of the tube to enjoy.

As you can see, this is something I go back and forth with quite a bit. It's possible that I'll get fed up one day and just do it already. But probably not while I'm still writing recaps all over or hosting weekly dinner dates.

Do you own a TV? Have you taken the plunge and gotten rid of cable?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Old School

I caught a bunch of articles over the weekend (here's one) about the controversy at Nettleton Middle School, in Mississippi--a public school where some Jim Crow-era segregation rules still remain on the books and active. Specifically, the school has issued written guidelines outlining which student government positions students of different races can run for. President: Whites only. Secretary/Reporter: Blacks only. (Oh, you're of mixed race? Sorry. Try again in high school...)

To be fair, I should say these rules remained active, up until this past week, when the national media caught on to the story. School officials say the rule was kept in place to ensure diverse representation on the student council. Okaaaaay.... But to set up a hierarchy where white students are always on top runs counter to the very ideas of integration and inclusion. It baffles me that any group of educators in this day and age--the day and age of our first black president, after all--would think that any form of segregation is a good way to promote diversity.

It also saddens me that I'm not surprised to learn of these situations. I know there are still schools where there's a black prom and a white one. I know that drama teachers in the south may be told not to cast interracial couples in student plays for fear of community reprisal. I know that in the nighttime corners of such places the Klan still rallies, spewing hate from underneath their hoods.

I want to give the school district the benefit of the doubt, but to do so makes me wonder about all the mistakes we make in trying to overcome prejudice. How many more will we uncover as time goes on? On the other hand, I'm suspicious of a group that--practically overnight--reverses a policy decision they claim to have believed in, just because a lot of people suddenly took notice. Did they really not know what they were doing?

What else can we do, collectively, to bring these situations to public attention, so that they can be corrected?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Forum: TV Faves

In the next few weeks, the fall t.v. season will begin. This spring, we had the series finales for LOST, 24, Law & Order, Ugly Betty and several other cancellations. Some of these shows became part of the cultural landscape - even if you didn't watch them, you probably heard the buzz at some point.

If you watched any of these shows, how did you feel about their endings? If you didn't watch, what are some other shows you stuck through until the end? The Sopranos? Battlestar Galactica? Friends? What have your favorites been?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Vision Board Is the Anchor to My Ship

CHICKS ROCK! is happy to welcome Vicki as a guest blogger this week.

Vicki Salemi is the author of Big Career in the Big City and The ABC’s of College Life, sassy freelance writer covering careers and lifestyle topics, dynamic public speaker, and die-hard Yankees fan!

When I attended TWM’s Visioning Workshop in March, I knew I was going to create a vibrant board but what I didn’t know at the time was how much power it would ultimately yield.

You know how life has a funny way of working, when you dive deep into your subconscious to find out what’s truly going on? Through Kristina’s guidance and innovative exercises, my board became a reflection of my goals and desires with my writing career (my second book, Big Career in the Big City, was published this spring), health and fitness goals (who knew I’d find broccoli so sexy?), personal goals, and the strong women I view as role models.

Well, five months have passed and I’ve already had three major A-HA moments, so intense that I literally stare at my vision board on my bedroom wall more than once a day (there are so many colorful, friendly images on it) to see what juicy happenings will leap off my wall and into my life! It's a refreshing way to begin the day as well as end it. (Another take-away was reminding myself that not everything fit onto the board. There were additional images in my pile that simply didn't fit, there's only so much room – symbolic for not being part of my goals and priorities.)

For my entertainment reporting, my critic’s quote for Sex and the City 2 appeared in print ads across the country, The New York Times, and television ads. Exciting! It wasn’t until I saw it on tv with Sarah Jessica Parker and my quote, “Fun and Fabulous” right beneath her feet did it hit me. SJP takes front and center on my vision board and the very same word graces her feet in the magazine cut-out with purple font: FABULOUS.

The next entertainment gig involved interviewing the Oscar-winning director for an HBO film featuring Ron Galella, pioneer paparazzi most known for his photos of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Take one simple guess who is standing next to SJP on my board. That’s right: Jackie O.

And last but not least, I didn’t know it back in March when it was a figment of my imagination but I know it now: I’m going on a work-related trip to Sicily, my heritage, in September! And yes, there is a small map in the left-hand corner featuring Sicily. Get this -- all of the destinations for my trip are included in that tiny map. The map represents the itinerary that I didn’t even plan!

I’m at the point where I don’t think it’s a coincidence, nor do I think it’s freaky (though I was freaked out at first). Now, I expect amazing things that continue to occur and reflect images on that board. Suffice it to say, my vision board comes to life in ways I couldn’t even imagine! I expect the magic to keep on comin' as I remain open to the possibilities. Paging Dr. McDreamy...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Happens Next?

With the month of August coming to a close, the reality that summer is coming to an end and that the year will be ending sooner than we know it has hit me. What else do I have to get done before 2010 comes to a close? Can I get another trip in before New Year’s Eve? What professional and personal goals do I have left to accomplish?

I have been back and forth about moving abroad to teach English again if my professional plans in the United States don’t work out this year, and it is looking like it is going to happen. I find myself in an interesting spot because I accepted one of the first positions I applied for overseas and went for it without much hesitation, but now I feel a little more cautious then I used to. I am still determined to make a decision in the next few months about where I will end up…all before the end of 2010. I think it has to do with me breaking the cycle of making safe decisions that will not challenge me enough and leave me in limbo.

At the same time, I actually have contentment in my daily life. I don’t believe in despair. I have goals I want to accomplish and I am willing to do the work to make them happen, but I am generally not a “glass half empty” person. I smile and even laugh at things every day, because I know that each day is a gift. It is good to be alive, and to sometimes not know what will happen next. I think this uncertainty makes life interesting.

Do you like not knowing what is going to happen next, or is it just too frustrating?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Style Funk or Funky Style?

For the past several weeks, I’ve really wanted a change in my appearance. I’ve been bored and have considered a drastic haircut, a dye job, a new wardrobe, even a second piercing on my ears. All because I’m in a bit of a funk as far as my own style goes.

I’ve never been one of those people who focus a lot on appearance. It’s not that I think people who do are shallow or anything like that; I just don’t have the energy to devote to it. Now that I’m more interested in thinking about what my style should be like or what type of makeup looks best on me, I’ve hit another roadblock: money. It seems that haircuts, clothing, shoes, accessories, etc. would all eat through my bank account very quickly if I actually started exploring this new style creativity.

Now I have a new plan. I’m going to start by getting up a bit earlier to play around with makeup more. I’m going to play dress-up at home to mix and match the few clothing items I own to figure out what works best, and applying the makeup I already own to see how it comes together.

I’ve also been having tons of fun with nail polish. Nail polish is cheap, and comes in more colors than one person could ever need (yet, it’s not nearly enough, it seems, as I keep buying them). There’s something I love about nail polish – it’s a pain in the butt to paint them and then wait around for an hour so they dry correctly, but the pop of color when I look down as I type or chop vegetables or whatever other daily activity just brightens up my day.

I probably won’t have the time, money, or energy to try all of the style tweaks I have in mind, but I think I have enough to keep me going for a while.

What’s your beauty and style routine? How do you break out of a funk?

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Heroines

I've been noticing a trend going on in television lately--new shows starring strong female characters in seemingly "tough" businesses. Several shows fit the bill this season: Nikita (CW) stars Maggie Q as a former assassin turned rogue, Piper Perabo is a new CIA agent on Covert Affairs (USA), and Rizzoli & Isles (TNT) features a female Boston P.D. detective and coroner duo. This trend only builds on existing shows like In Plain Sight (USA) where Mary McCormack's a U.S. Marshall or The Closer (TNT), starring Kyra Sedgwick as a Deputy Chief of the LAPD.

And it's not just law enforcement-style tough girls landing on the scene--Julianna Margulies plays a rockin' defense attorney on The Good Wife, one who overcomes sexism and scandal to hold her own in the courtroom. Edie Falco's Nurse Jackie (SHO) and Jada Pinkett Smith's HawthoRNe (TNT) show us familiar hospital settings from a new angle. I enjoy seeing more realistic portrayals of women in the workplace--playing politics behind the scenes and grappling with the roles of parent and professional

So what I wonder is, will the trend continue? Perhaps more importantly, in the long run, will these characters prove themselves to be women worthy of our attention? For me that means female characters who are sexy, but respected for more than their sex appeal; smart, but constantly challenged and empowered to demonstrate it; tough enough to take on the bad guys singlehandedly, but clever enough to call for back-up just in case. In other words: chicks who rock!

Have you found such women in television, film and media? Where?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Forum: Checked In or Out?

From "beach bum" to "lazy summer days," the summer is known as the time for rest and relaxation. Between Summer Fridays and friends ditching work to head to the beach, it's hard to stay focused.

Do you stay engaged at work during the summer or do you make time to unwind? How do you keep your creativity and productivity flowing when everyone else has checked out?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We Want to Hear From You

It's been a while since we featured a guest blog post, and we're dying to hear from you!

How did you spend your summer? What do you have planned for the fall? How are your New Year's resolutions going? Have you had a significant life event that you're still dealing with?

We want to know all about the challenges, set-backs, and fulfilling moments you've had. Take some time to reflect on your year (or your life, really) and share it with us. You can read our past guest posts for some inspiration, or simply sit down and start writing your story. Be sure to check out our guest blogging guidelines if you're not sure what we're looking for.

We can't wait to read your posts!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Too Good To Be True

Have you ever been told you won something, but then found out there was a catch? Maybe more than one? I was recently informed that I won a cruise to the Bahamas after filling out an entry form at an amusement park last month; I wanted the first prize, which was $50,000. I was excited for a second, and then I was told that I had to go to the cruise ship company's office and listen to a presentation for one hour and I was required to have a particular annual salary per year, but I did not have to buy anything from them to qualify for the cruise. It sounded fishy to me, and since I did not meet the second requirement, I decided to pass. Even though I am cynical about these promotional scams, I am still taken in at times.

My mother plays the lottery whenever she gets the chance, and while I understand why she does it, I doubt we will ever answer the door to discover a group of well-dressed people with a cameraman, lots of balloons, and an over sized check for millions of dollars. Part of me dreads that scenario, because I know what would follow: estranged relatives and long-lost friends emerging from the shadows to kiss up to us for obvious reasons and becoming paranoid of anyone who tries to get close. I have seen people become more isolated and distrustful of others around them when more money comes into their lives. I would like to think that I could handle a fortune without succumbing to the pressures and fears of possessing it, but it is easy to say when it has not happened. I guess if something is too good to be true, it often is, especially when it comes to contests, lotteries, and other money schemes that can often blind us from reality.

Do you agree with my thoughts on these “too good to be true” situations? If you suddenly won the lottery, do you think you could handle the pressure and maintain your millions?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Circle of (Former) Friends

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been spending a lot of time with friends lately, both new and old. It’s a pain to keep my schedule organized, my bank account isn’t too happy, and sometimes it’s almost like a second job to stay on top of all of my commitments, but the reward is great! I get to learn more about interesting people, and share the things I enjoy with others.

One thing that surprised me is how much I enjoyed spending time with people I hadn’t seen in years. Oftentimes, hanging out with somebody you were friends with in high school or junior high can be a bit… awkward. Everything’s fine during the general catch-up period – so what do you do, where did you go to college, are you in a relationship? And you can smooth out some silent moments by reminiscing –you’ll never guess who I saw a while back, remember that awful math teacher, whatever happened to that kid you liked?

But it’s what happens when you no longer have those questions that makes or breaks the encounter. Luckily for me, catching up with old friends reminded me of how cool these people were and made me realize how cool they still are. It was as if no time had passed and we were just picking up the conversations we were having a few weeks ago, not several years ago. Sure, there was still the catch-up, but we were able to laugh, learn new things about each other, and assess how much we had and hadn’t changed without it getting weird.

It’s a testament to how good of a time we had that future plans are already in the works. A party here, a yoga class there – I can’t wait to spend more time with them and make them a part of my life again.

Have you ever tried to reconnect with old friends? Did you regret it or were you pleasantly surprised?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Take One for the Team

For the past seven years, I've played in a Sunday afternoon church softball league. Okay, "played" is a bit of a stretch. I go to the games and now I'm one my church's team managers, but my role typically involves cheering from the bench and keeping score in our fancy little stats book. I'm very happy with this division of labor (read: other people doing all the work, and me sharing in the glory). Still, I come dressed up to play, just in case I'm needed.

This weekend, I got called up off the bench for the first time in a while. I'm okay on the field, but not particulary skilled, and I tend toward skittish when the ball's headed for me. But I went out, did my best, and what was strange was, it actually felt good

My performance? Less than ideal. I failed to stop a ball rolling right toward me in center field. I let another outfielder run up to catch a ball that was rightfully mine (I chickened out from calling it). I ran off third base at the wrong time and slid into home in an awkward, spectaularly failed attempt to pass the catcher. I got nothing but an out and a bloody knee to show for it. I walked off the field dusty and bruised, straight into the high-five-ready hands of my teammates. Who, instead of making me feel bad about it, celebrated my all-out attempt to score.

The reason I shy away from playing isn't because I'm so bad (usually) but because I hate the feeling of letting the team down. At the same time, I never mind when other people drop catches, or make bad plays, or run and slide at the wrong time. So why should I be so hard on myself? Everyone makes mistakes on the ballfield. Even the toughest guys on the team drop the easy catch occasionally, or swing all out into thin air (a strike), or try for a foolish run and get tagged out.

Maybe looking beyond the softball field, there's a life lesson in this for me, too. Even if the hit I have to offer isn't the best, there's a satisfaction in stepping up to the plate. There's always some level of risk when you put yourself in the game. No guts, no glory.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Forum: Summers Past

The summer is a great time to spend with family - kids are out of school and parents might take extended vacations. Some of these things become traditions in the family.

What summer memories do you have from your childhood? Did you go camping, fishing, or traveling with your family?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Link Love for 8/12

We can never have too many link love round-ups over here, so it's time for another one. Check out what we've been reading on the web.

Girl w/Pen opens up about body issues and the pressure we have to hide certain parts of ourselves.

Global Sisters takes on the ever-important topic of violence against women, drawn from the inspiring story of Aisha.

In Good Company considers what it's like to be content with what you have rather than always looking forward.

Lindsay Pollak points out what everyone can learn about success from Joan Rivers.

One Writeous Chick shares how she went from teaching balance to teaching passion.

What have you been reading and writing online?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Complexities of Travel

I am very interested in seeing Eat, Pray, Love when it opens in theaters this week. I am not a fan of any of the actors in the film, but I do enjoy the story: self-discovery, second chances, and fulfillment realized during a journey. I always find that I acknowledge aspects of personality when I have quality travel time. Many people think of travel as an escape, which it is, but I also feel that travel takes us out of our comfort zone and presents challenges that could never be faced at home.

Travel also makes travelers realize how much the same and different we all are. I am always surprised at the familiarity I feel when talking to people from other cultures about their lives, even though we may literally live on other sides of the world. As a native of New Jersey, I am often asked about what I think about a certain popular reality show with “Jersey” in the title, and I laugh because I have nothing in common with any of the people portrayed on the show. Yet having conversations about customs and societal expectations with my Indonesian friends always felt the opposite of foreign to me. I am always struck at how unpredictable my travel experiences have been, and I appreciate the feeling. I just think that travel is essential for personal growth; I know better than anyone that it is very expensive to keep up the habit, but I think putting aside a little money whenever possible for a trip to a new place at least once a year is totally worth it.

What are your thoughts on travel?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Search for Quiet Time

This past weekend, my guy and our roommate went away for the weekend on a guy’s trip with a friend. One of my close friends – with whom I spend most of my time with, especially on weekends – was also out of town. This meant that for the first time in at least several months and possibly a year, I was home alone. And it was glorious.

Before I realized I’d be home alone, I had some goals for the weekend. There were several things I needed to write, some books I needed to finish and review, and I wanted to clean the apartment up a bit. This is the same weekend agenda I’ve had for weeks now, and it never gets done because there’s always something else coming up. Now that I was alone, I was able to read all of my books, clean the apartment up a bit, and write most of what I needed to write. There’s still a lot I need to do, but I got much more done than I have in long time.

But even more than having a productive weekend, I had a wonderfully uneventful one. It’s easy to get caught up in who wants to go where and what they want to do next; there’s never any real quiet time. I realized this weekend that I really miss that quiet time. I miss spending the day curled up on the couch with a good book in my hand and nobody around. And while I did miss my friends and there were some events I would have liked to make it to, I was so content with my weekend once it was over, that I’d do it the same way again.

I’m not going to stop going out or hanging out with friends, but I am going to try to take advantage of the quiet moments. Maybe I’ll head outside and read by the river, or go for more morning runs alone, but however I do it, it needs to get done.

Do you like spending time by yourself? Do you think you get enough quiet time?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sounds of Me

After several years of saying I was going to do it, this week I finally started a playlist in my iTunes that I’m calling the soundtrack of my life. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like, except cheesier.

I’m collecting songs from old records my parents used to play, which remind me of childhood. Songs that make me feel like I’m still sitting on the yellow bus on my way to middle school. Songs that I listened to on my very first Walkman (yeah, baby), and the ones that remind me of church camp. Summer vacation. First kisses. Old friends. The cheesy songs we cried over at high school graduation, and one from the first CD I ever owned. Songs from the playlists my brother loaded on my iPod when he gave it to me, which I listened to for six months before I loaded in songs of my own. That kind of thing. My goal is to boil it down to about one or two songs per year of life, and I think it’s going to end up quite interesting. To me, and no one else.

I don’t know what the purpose of gathering these songs really is, except that it’s a fulfillment of a concept I’ve had in my mind for a while. I also don’t know why certain songs, out of the many tunes I’ve heard and enjoyed in my life, stand out in my mind and have the power to carry me back in time so viscerally.

What I do know is, over the years I have changed as much as music technology itself has. I can see in this special history of myself a certain evolution in my thoughts and emotions and the things that stir both. The process is both exciting and self-reflective, and much less of a waste of time than I expected!

What songs—new and old, errr, classic—speak to you, or tell the story of your life?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Forum: Beach Reads

Summer is in full swing, and there have been plenty of beautiful weekends to lounge at the beach. We're the ultimate bookworms here at CHICKS ROCK! so, of course, instead of asking about your favorite swimsuits, we want to know what you've been reading.

What have your favorite beach reads been this summer? Are there any books you've been looking forward to reading before the end of the summer?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Time to Reconnect With Yourself

It's about that time again... Time to reconnect with yourself and get in touch with how to get what you really want. That's right, it's another Visioning Workshop! Take a break from the heat and focus on yourself.

VISIONING WORKSHOP: Using Your Creativity and Intuition to Gain Clarity, Find Focus and Manifest Your Dreams
Saturday, September 11th, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Feeling a little confused with all that's going on with your career and the economy? Not sure what to do next with your life? Maybe your just a bit unsatisfied overall but can't exactly pinpoint what it is...

Our Visioning Workshop can help you sort it all out!

Come to our popular and powerful semi-annual workshop for a creative, transformative afternoon where you will make a collage to manifest your heart's desire - and you may be surprised as to what that turns out to be.

It's not unusual for participants to start new businesses, relationships, families or career paths as quickly as weeks or months after the workshop. If you are looking for both answers and results to help figure out where you are right now in your life and where you want to go next, this could be thing exact thing you need to push you forward and take you there.

COST: $75 for TWM Members; $120 for Non-Members
LOCATION: TRS Professional Suites, 44 East 32nd St, 11th Floor

RSVP on Facebook or by emailing sally@thewomensmosaic.org


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Making Sense of Violence

I am bewildered and saddened when I hear news reports about horrific acts of violence, particularly when the perpetrators know their victims. I always wonder what possesses someone to attack and even kill another human being, no matter how angry he or she might be. When I heard about the latest workplace shooting that killed nine and wounded two people in Connecticut, I thought about my life. Sure, I have known quite a few people that were cruel and mean to me, but none of them made so angry that I wanted to physically hurt them, or end their lives. I just never want to see them again, and this world is big enough so that can happen.

Journalists are already reporting about the possible motives behind the crime, which include racial bias, harassment, and being fired, with the latter being the catalyst for the tragic murder/suicide. There are obviously many more reasons that are far too complex for the media to cover, but it is obvious that the man felt so desperate to make his point that he used violence towards himself and the people he worked with. Was it the prospect of being unemployed in this economy, the rage of being harassed because of race, the fragility of his self-esteem as a human being, or all of the above that caused him to snap? Most of us can agree that the severity of violence was not justified. Even if some or all of the people who were killed and injured by the gunman were/are racist jerks, they did not deserve what they got. My seventh grade teacher was one the most disagreeable bigots I have ever met in my life, but ending her life in a blaze of gunfire? No way!

We cannot operate under the assumption that something like this will never happen to us or anyone we know. I believe that being more civil to one another, following our instincts, and taking action when needed are all important preventative measures, especially in schools and work environments.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Resolution Check-In

A few weeks ago, Pauline updated us on her summer resolutions. It reminded me that I hadn’t updated you all on my own resolutions in a few months.

If you recall, I decided to take a new approach this year: instead of making one resolution for the whole year that I forget about and fail on, I decided to make quarterly goals. Every three months, I pick a new part of my life to focus on and make a mini-resolution. First, I zeroed in on health and fitness, and then I tried setting up travel plans but went back to health and fitness after a downward spiral back to where I was.

I did okay bringing the focus back to my health goals – I had spurts of near-obsessive gym activity and I’ve been eating much better in general. But I also had some long breaks from the gym and one too many birthday celebrations in the past month set me back again.

I also made a summer goal of spending more time with friends. I’m happy to say I'm completely winning on that front! I’ve spent time with friends I haven’t seen in ages, I have a weekly date with one of my good friends, and those birthday celebrations that messed up my fitness goals did give me a chance to meet cool people.

In the next few days, I’m starting a new workout routine. It also turns out that a few opportunities to travel are starting to line up. I love how things are coming together even when I put them on the backburner for a while!

I’m still not sure what my final resolution will be for the year, but I still have a couple of months to decide. Any ideas?

Monday, August 2, 2010

As Resilient as Glass

I visited a glassworks in Louisville, Kentucky, earlier this summer, where you could sit and peer through a huge picture window into the active glassblowing studio. I sat for over an hour and watched an artist and his assistants sweat over a single vase, thrusting the glob of red-hot, molten glass in and out of the flames, pinching and turning and shaping and blowing it just so with each extraction. Fascinating.

In the time I watched, the artist drew the vase in and out of the fire once every minute or two, working it, studying it, and finally he held it up for a long inspection. I thought he was finished, he had paused so long, but then he shook his head and slammed it back in, allowing it to lose its shape entirely. He drew out the pulpy mass and started over, scrapping an hour's work, at least. Not angry, just matter-of-fact. You could see it in the set of his shoulders. Not bad, but I can do better.

The heat must have been unbearable. I felt pain for him, as he destroyed his work and started again, but his attitude about it gave me inspiration and hope. Because things don't always go as we plan, the first time. And if you don't give up, there are better things on the horizon. It's as true in life as it is in art, whether it be glassblowing or writing, which is my own stock-in-trade.

Attached to the studio there was a shop and museum of handblown glassware and glass art. I fell in love with about a dozen amazing works of art. In the end, I wasn't able to afford anything in the whole shop, apart from the trinkets at the checkout. I bought a small disk of pale blond-colored glass, swirled with strands of copper and gold, etched with the words SCRIBE DEEP.

It's small--about the size of a half dollar, only thicker, like a Nilla wafer--but it's quickly becoming a favorite touchstone for me in my writing life. A reminder that it isn't enough to go through the motions, but that I have to dig to find what's important. And, that it's okay sometimes to scrap a project and start it over, when I know I can do better. It's not the same as giving up, when the raw material (or, in my case, the idea) is still alive in the flames, ready to be drawn out and made into something beautiful.

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