501 posts in TALC! What would you like to see here in the future?

I noticed the other day – looking at a stat figure I don’t normally visit – that I’ve written 501 posts for this blog, and I’m thinking, how did this happen?! It’s an astonishing number, actually, when I think about it. But I published my first post toward the end of 2012, so TALC is almost five years old now. It just doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.

On this occasion for positive reflection, I’m also thinking ahead. This brings me to my question: what would you like to see more of in this space?

I’ll continue with what I’m already doing, of course. There are my recurring topics: writing/poetry, garage gym/fitness, kitty updates, Buddhism/spirituality, monthly favorites, non-review movie reviews, mental health/motivation, etc.

I’ll keep up my random, topical posts, too: thoughts on current/specific matters, life updates, personal/confessional-type posts, the occasional Q & A, frivolity and all manner of silliness. I’m happy to share the shenanigans.

I plan to write more about my adventures in minimalism as I (slowly) grow into that lifestyle.

Those of you who’ve been here for the last year or longer: you will likely not see further posts about the sensory deprivation tank (my weapon against claustrophobia) in the foreseeable future, as it’s been months since I’ve had time to carve out for that endeavor. Things are only getting busier! That tank has not seen the last of me, though. I just don’t know when I’ll be able to get over there again.

Whatever the case, it all amounts to a fair range of miscellany; I’m also game to consider writing about sundry other topics. Please let me know what you’d like to see, or see more of! If you have ideas or requests for me, I’ll try to oblige. I can’t promise that I’ll answer every question or cover every suggestion, but I’d love to hear them all, and I’ll do what I can.

And as always – I can’t say this enough! – thank you for reading here. You guys are the bee’s knees.

Bloggy maintenance.

Totally hypothetical question: What would you do if at 4:00am you heard a very loud, repetitive noise that sounded like someone attacking a car with a sledgehammer, but when you rush to the window, you see it’s a half-naked guy violently slamming his head repeatedly onto the trunk of the car parked across the street? Would you think flakka? Would you call 911 even if his buddy is there with him?

Just wondering.

The semester has begun. More than 51,000 students are enrolled at the university down the street. To my knowledge, flakka hasn’t yet been reported in AZ, but thousands of out-of-state students have arrived this month. You never know.

That aside, I’ve got some bloggity administrative updates for you today. Riveting, I know, but I’ve made some changes, and what’s the point in doing that if there’s no memo to go with it?

Mainly, the sidebar here got an overhaul. I uncluttered it by way of removing categories, consolidating other categories, and reducing my external link list by more than half. At the same time, I added a Facebook module for my writerly FB account. Even with that addition, the sidebar has been shortened and simplified. That was the goal.

So, on the right, from the top down, you have:

–Welcome pic of Yours Truly… same one that’s been there since 2014.

–A button to subscribe to TALC.

–A Facebook app connected to the FB account I created for writing-related posts, which can include goals, progress, and miscellany. Once or twice a week, I’ll go to one of my bookshelves, select a book at random, and pull out a quote that inspires me or gets me thinking in a different way. Hit the “Like” button to follow that Facebook page, if you’re so inclined.

 

Living room bookshelf, in disarray, as usual.

Living room bookshelf, in disarray, as usual.

 

–Instagram.

–Twitter.

–Garage Gym pic, below which I’ve put the module for my martial arts & fitness category. The pic is just there because I wanted it to accompany the category, but I can’t embed it into the module.

–Next: Pop culture. I consolidated two categories into one module. Opinion posts about movies and television are mostly my non-review reviews, and Reacher ramblings are my obsession-fueled posts about Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher novels.

–Next: What I’m digging right now, aka monthly favorites posts, wherein I share things I enjoyed in the month that just ended. Mostly, this consists of discoveries in the vegan processed food world. I am a fan of fresh, whole foods, but I’m also partial to processed crap, and that’s the stuff I usually like to share. I do read labels and look for the healthiest crap I can find. Also, I’ll list favorite T.V. series and movies from the month, if any. Occasionally, I’ll talk about cruelty-free products and other random things I’ve found.

–Next: Links… my list of links to cool people who have sites for their art, business, passion, etc. The list has been truncated by a lot, since most of what was there before was obsolete. Yeah, this clean-up needed to happen. The links list will be expanding soon; it’s a work in progress.

–Below that, a list of recent posts.

–Finally, the copyright blurb.

That’s all I’ve got today! Until Tuesday, then.

Writing Project: Not all who wander are lost. (+ note on fitness routine!)

Er… about that big writing project I started a few years ago. I dragged it off the back burner. Don’t get all excited – it’s embryonic; it doesn’t look like anything yet. Eventually, it will look like a novel. (I hope.)

I’ve put together a loose agenda that includes a loose daily word count goal and a loose deadline. Everything has to be loose, because everything, as Heraclitus said, is in flux. You can’t nail down that which is in flux, and I’m not even going to try.

In my experience, creativity and prioritizing cancel each other out. Maybe it’s better to say that creativity often sabotages prioritizing, and prioritizing sabotages creativity. In the last few weeks, I’ve found that setting myself up for that clash (by attempting to prioritize my creative writing projects) shorts my brain connections and I wind up going around the house like a droid opening the mail, of all things, and organizing my workout clothing drawers and emptying the dishwasher and making playlists on SoundCloud and so on.  You know. A rose by any other name is still procrastination.

So instead of fixed times, my agenda holds broad ranges of dedicated writing time, and I can shift between the project, poetry, and blog posts (which includes taking pics) as inspiration strikes me.

I’m setting my focus on that big project, though. I purchased a Scrivener license to help manage the ungainliness of it. I even did the full-length version of their interactive tutorial. If it sounds like I mean business this time, it’s because I do!

Nenette’s involvement is essential because I don’t have a choice in that matter.

 

All the water is Nenette's water.

All the water is Nenette’s water.

 

I’m happy to be in a position where I have to apply time-management strategies to solely creative projects. It’s a new challenge, and a very welcome one, at that.

Also, I’ve been thinking about dragging you along on my journey… any of you who may be interested, that is. Sharing the process with you may come with a side benefit of holding myself accountable for progress. I’ll see how things develop as I establish a rhythm!

Note on training:

In addition to my writing schedule, I’ve been hammering out a workout schedule supplemental to Body Combat three times a week. I’ve started a habit of beginning my days at the gym in order to re-create the daily walk I did when I was transporting myself to a job outside of the house. Getting to work used to involve 20 minutes of fasting cardio Monday-Friday, and my body loved it. Fasting cardio is somewhat controversial and not for everyone, but it works for me, so I’ve added that back into my life by going to the gym and walking on the treadmill (and doing a little on the stair-master) before breakfast every weekday morning.

ALSO-also! I’ve been taking 30-40 minutes out of my lunch hour to lift weights in the garage. New Year’s resolution strength-training finally underway, for real! I’ll still post martial arts/combat sports posts here since some of you enjoy those, but just to check in on that New Year’s resolution – the strength-training has been going well. It’s feeling really good to stick to that commitment.

200th Post! Le Deux Centième!

Well. Today marks a milestone for this blog, because today, exactly one month short of two years since my first post, I’m writing here for the 200th time!

 

Capture200

 

*throws confetti*

Of course, I got to feeling reflective as this milestone approached.

This blog began, in part, because I missed LiveJournal, which I’d more or less abandoned several years earlier. Facebook eventually replaced the social aspect of it, in a sense, but I wanted to journal again. Moreover, I was living in France, in limbo, not working, and I could feel my brain cells disintegrating while my writing muscles atrophied. I did write some poems. I also intermittently worked on a big writing project, but fiction really isn’t my forte… I missed writing creative non-fiction. And when I tentatively returned to writing in LiveJournal, it just didn’t feel the same. For me, the old LJ magic had left the room (but that had happened before I’d quit, which was why I’d quit). Something had to be done!

I went to create a WordPress account, and I was promptly reminded that I already had one. I’d just never used it. How convenient! I named it “That Asian-Looking Chick,” bought the domain and jumped in with the goal of posting two or three times per week. It’s been hella fun, and rewarding, and instructive. I never missed a week, but it wasn’t until March of this year that I fell into a twice-weekly schedule that stuck. By April, it’d evolved into a Tuesday/Friday thing, and eight months later, I’m still comfortable with that.

Surprisingly, getting settled in a regular posting schedule coincided with going back to work. In the same month, Callaghan and I established a consistent routine at the gym. It was interesting how once I was anchored at a job, other things like blogging and working out sort of fell into place. It was like a “structure begets more structure” kind of thing.

I typically just glance at my blog stats and search engine terms, since the superficial layer is right there before my eyes, but in honor of my 200th post, I took a more in-depth look. Some fun facts include:

–Since Netflix released the second season of Orange is the New Black in June, hundreds of views have resulted from searches for the Asian girl who plays a character in those episodes, as I’ve already mentioned. Yes, the OITNB Asian girl madness continues to rage on today! It’s been five months now. (I still wonder whether Kimiko Glenn has any idea of the scope of her popularity.)

–WordPress stats include visitors’ countries. I did a country count and found that, as of yesterday, people have read this blog from exactly 100 different countries. I’m ashamed to admit that a couple of the places on the list are countries that I hadn’t even realized were actual countries. This blog has opened my eyes to the world, and that is fabulous. (Also, if I needed any proof that English is a language spoken, or at least read, world-wide? I’ve got it.)

–You’re mostly a silent crowd on my posts, except for when I wrote about the casting in the film Jack Reacher.

–A few of you have commented with helpful tips in response to my posts, and your sharing has been wonderfully beneficial. For instance, thanks to your awesomeness, we’re hooked on The Following (T.V. series), and I found my favorite Korean facial sheet masks – the Epielle ones I’ve raved about several times – at Big Lots! For an amazing price!

 

Epielle sheet masks at Big Lots!

Epielle sheet masks at Big Lots!

 

–Because of the search terms, I also know that I’m far from the only one looking for that old (1970’s) Charleston Chew candy commercial, the one featuring King Louis. I trust that if anyone finds it, they’ll come back here and share it.

So, as I reflect back to the beginning, I wanted to thank you for reading and hanging out here with me over the last 200 posts/23 months, or however long you’ve been here. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea where all that time went!

Those of you who’ve been here the longest remember when I was an American ex-pat in France who had no clue that she’d move back to the States. You were here when I was an Arizona girl in Texas who had no clue that she’d move back to Arizona. You spent two birthdays with me, you share my “Little Things” (monthly favorites) joy with me, and you’re privy to my enthusiasm for pop culture and martial/fighting arts. You tolerate my kitty blather and pics (mostly Ronnie James, aka the Wrah-Wrah) and “NOT UNLIKE” comparisons. You read about Callaghan’s shenanigans, and you read my embarrassing stories. You follow my occasional cultural comparison observations. You hear me out when I feel the need to rant. You’ve been there during more personal moments, too, such as when my Mom set off on her journey to fight cancer (she’s doing really well, by the way)! And you laugh with me, which I love.

Some things I want to do here in the future? Well, I’d love to get more active as a blogger, reading more of other people’s blogs. I’d also like to mix it up more, spend more time writing about topics that matter to me profoundly. While my routine is fixed, time is actually a constraint (as it is, I’m usually up at around 5:00am to write here). I’d still like to find time to carve out for non-blog writing projects, as well – I currently have a prose piece in the works, and I’d love to pick up on the poeting – so we shall see what transpires over the next two years!

 

Monday lunch hour selfie (October 27, 2014)

Monday lunch hour selfie (October 27, 2014)

 

And who knows… I may yet divulge the story of My Most Embarrassing Moment.

Blog Design Change!

I took a critical look at my blog over the weekend and said to myself, “Self, your blog needs a design overhaul.” I clearly remember sitting in the Little House in the Rhône-Alpes in France back in the fall of 2012, selecting and setting up my first theme and writing my first post. Now it’s 18 months and 161 posts later, and I’m in a totally different place in more ways than one. My blog should reflect that, I thought.

I decided on a new theme, found a dusky photo of Tempe Town Lake I’d recently taken from half-way up “A” Mountain (representing our downtown Tempe neighborhood), and, early yesterday morning, asked Callaghan if he would be so kind as to lend his clicking finger to an impromptu photo-shoot, because what better way to start your day than to go outside and take a million pictures of your overly-detail-oriented partner? (I wanted Virgil’s cute cactus garden in the background!) I also updated content where updates were needed and just generally cleaned things up a bit. We threw it all together last night. It took less than an hour, but the minimal, streamlined result pleases me very much.

So that’s the main thing. The only other thing I wanted to tell you about today was… and this is random (with so much going on all over the place, this week already feels more random than usual, and it’s only Tuesday)…

You know you watch too many horror movies when you hear the low tinkling of a classic lullaby from a back corner of your apartment, and when you cautiously venture forth to investigate, the following dialogue takes place:

“Are you listening to a creepy lullaby?” I called to Callaghan, who was somewhere.

Or it’s the ghost of a child. This apartment complex is probably between 50-60 years old, so a lot could have happened.

“I’m watching sleeping puppies and kitties! Haha! I’m almost done, Baby.”

He was in the bathroom with his tablet, watching cute animal videos!

It was Brahms’ “Lullaby and Goodnight,” and actually, I did have an eerie experience involving that particular nursery rhyme when I was a teenage babysitter. But that’s a story for another time.

 

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