Come Out and Play…

Ohh…it’s on now!

The signs and signals burning bright in the night sky for the past few days are moving closer. The chants and drum growing louder. I have defenses and they’ll hold. At least a while. Something of great power is chanting my name in the wilderness. It calls to me in moments of quiet and mocks those precious moments of solitude. For days, it has been calling me out to play…

…I shall oblige…

It is ON now!

How on is it? I went into my library last night and pulled three books that haven’t seen the light of day in years. These books are my army, my armor, my show of force. I am usually prone to approach these things with the wits that I have. But this time…? No matter if it’s to negotiate or battle, if I am to answer the call, I am arriving prepared.

The first: Writer’s Guide to Character Traits second edition by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D. Many years ago when I first started blogging, I somehow got it into my head that if it wasn’t in the stars for me to write the ‘Great American Novel’ I would write something close to it. So, I spent some cash that I didn’t have over the next few months and made weekend trips to my local Barnes & Noble. Since I needed to work on fleshing out my characters in my new story that never got off the ground, I thought that this would be a good place to start. This was the first in an almost monthly progression of book buying. In fact, it has been so long since I last cracked this open that I can’t pinpoint or highlight any section to convey that is any more important than an other. Suffice to say, flip open to any page, and you’re already on your way to building living, breathing, honest to goodness characters.

Second: 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias. To be honest, nothing really stuck out in this book. I do remember spending many a lunch break pouring through its pages. Quick glance: Every chapter offers a descriptive break down of every plot ever conceived with a checklist at the end of every one to aid you in your story.
Lastly: Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D. This is the one I have at arm’s length at all times. I’ve slept with it under my pillow on occasion. This book further explains every plot ever written as well as alternatives, it offers references from a number of current films, takes full advantage of graphs for those who need more of a visual reference to further explain a path of any particular story. I cannot endorse the book enough if you are starting out or if you’re a pro who gets stuck on occasion.

I am prone to ramble and I’m okay with that. I’m in no hurry to offer another Top 10 List into the blogosphere, and I have nothing tangible to sell. All I have is my words. Right now, my words are going to have to be put to better use.

Something happened to me last week. It was nothing life changing or detrimental to my existence. It was something rather mundane, I would imagine, to anyone else. To me though, it was rather significant, and instead of recounting what happened word for word and probably making up half of it for content sake, I decided to interpret it into fiction. I have no idea how it will turn out so I can’t promise anything. It’s still in its embryonic state, it’s still a zygote. I have another rant in me, maybe an other observance to make sure that my fingers are still nimble, but I need to stretch out beyond rambling about nothing for a little bit and put my Fiction Writer Hat for a little bit.

Back soon…

Photo Credit:
Light in the Woods

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To My Child: Please Don’t Be In A Hurry to Grow Up

“I’m going to marry Wiley tomorrow, Daddy!” My daughter’s voice proclaimed with the confidence of a Presidential hopeful from her car seat.
“Really?” I retort. ‛Wiley’ is my daughter’s way or pronouncing, ‛Riley’; a boy in her class that she has taken a shine to.
Flash back to the beginning of the school year last year. My little Ellaina had no problems acclimating herself to her environment. She made friends really quickly. Now, this is a pre-school, and kids don’t all start at the same time, they kind of come in when they’re ready. She started at the start of the school year, Riley came in with a fresh batch of kids a few months later. It is my job and duty as a father to scrutinize and vet any boy that dares to come near my daughter, but I have to say, and I hate saying it, I see nothing but a bright future for this lad.

Reilly is blonde haired, has eyes as big and blue as robin’s eggs, high cheeks, dimpled chin, an almost unnatural shyness and is completely smitten. With my daughter.
God.
Dammit.

Great. He even looks like him.

How my daughter became the brightest star in his sky is quite simple. Since he was the latecomer to an already established party, his first day started off being bullied. I mean, bullied inasmuch as 4 year olds can bully. My little Ellaina, was the only one…the ONLY one to step in between him and his aggressors, stick her finger in their faces and say, “Stop it. That is not the way we do things.” And just like that, it was as if it never happened. My little girl is Wonder Woman, and he’s Steve Trevor.

Oh.
Great.
It’s one thing if she said hi to him when no one else did, no, she had to go that extra mile and permanently mold his perceptions and to make him a puppy dog in her presence.
I.
Am.
Not.
Kidding.
A few months ago, we were shopping when suddenly Ellaina bolts upright in the shopping cart, looks in the direction of  meat counter and shouts out, “WILEY??!!” I honestly had no idea what she was going on about until the reply came back, “EWAINAH??!” and there in the middle of the meat department was a tiny fair haired, blue eyed child. Grinning from ear to ear. His hero is here. All is right with the world. The parents stopped and chat for a moment as parents often do, all the while, I was watching the stars dance in this young boys eyes, and his eyes never left her face.

It’s love. Pure and simple. I’ve seen that face before. I’ve made that face before.
Many times.

~***~
“So Lainey, tell your mom what you told me when I picked you up.” It was my day to have the car. Mother’s job and child’s school are in close proximity to each other so the story was still fresh.
“I’m going to marry Wiley tomorrow,” she stated again, her mother barely restraining her laughter.
“Now sweetie, I’m a little concerned about your future,” I said laying down the law as lightly as possible. “What are your living arrangements going to be? I mean, does Riley even have a job?” She giggled not knowing a word I was saying.
“Mommy, are you coming to my wedding tomorrow?”
Her mother joined in in the same vein, “Lainey, you can’t have a wedding tomorrow. I mean, you don’t even have a dress.”
“No,” she said, “but I do have a tu-tu!”
This is one of those moments that you’ll treasure forever as a parent. Not only am I beaming that she is a child of conviction; she will stand up for what she believes and stand up for those that need standing up for, but this is also a moment where we will make sure she sticks to those convictions…
…when shes actually ready to get married and is inevitably stumped as to what style gown she wants, I’ll just show her the above picture.

Picture Credit:
Sensation Comic

Does This Rant Make Me Look Fat?

You Have Been Warned…

Yesterday, I went on a tear. A fire was lit underneath me and I couldn’t stop writing. One right after another, little things that keep bombarding me from news outlets. I mean, forget that Kiev is probably going to go the way of Syria any time now. Forget that Pussy Riot was publicly flogged in the street by government thugs while the Putin administration scratches their collective noggin and wonders out loud why nobody likes them. Forget about this winter’s weather and how it made 1963 look like a passing shower. Forget about Elk River and how the company responsible for poisoning most of West Virginia with impunity suddenly went magically bankrupt when called out on it. Forget about all that. There is only so much yelling-at-the-tv type news that I can take before I make that turn into madness. Living in Florida, there’s only so much one can take. On this particular day, there were three things that pushed down that straw ever so gently on top of that camel.

This is the first….

Photo and Story from the Associated Press, published in the New York Post, 12/19/14

 A Utah mother, while shopping in a mall with her 18 year old…well…young man, became so enraged at a Pac Sun display of t shirts that showed scantily clad models, that she did what every other normal mother of an 18 year old young man would do… Went into the store and purchased every last t-shirt on display…about $600 worth in total.

Now, granted that this is Utah. This is a state where bikinis are…shall we say…out of style. This is a state of Ultra-Conservative Mormons who have a history of considering Rolling Stone, Cream, Tiger Beat…pornography (thank you Jello Biafra). This is a state where Victoria Secret is close to being outlawed, but Abercrombie & Fitch still have their half naked male models displayed all over their walls and nobody bats an eyelid. This is a state where gay marriage is considered icky, but a man marrying multiple wives at the same time is a-ok. Utah is what it is and a tiger can’t change it’s stripes overnight. All you can do is just shake your head. Still, I can’t help thinking back to 2003.

…Does anyone remember the whole “Freedom Fry” thing? Around the time when ‘Murica REALLY started losing its mind?

In 2003, President Bush officially declared War on Terror at a UN Security Council Meeting. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs (which only sounds sexier than it actually is) declared in no uncertain terms that France will not support an invasion of Iraq. Upon hearing this, a lot of people in this country got a little bit unamused. Fox News fanned the flames of xenophobia and dredged up centuries of distrust towards the French (because, y’know, that’s what they do) by shouting their oh-so unbiased reports on Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast and Freedom Kissing and Freedom Ticklers and on and on… but one item they “reported” on caught my attention.

After the rash of banishing of the word French from everything on American markets, “Sorry, French’s Mustard, I know your product is named after a person and not the country, but you are going to have to change your name to ‘Billy Bob’s Kick Ass Yeller Hot Dog Sauce.’ Because ‘Murica, that’s why!” After all that madness started getting old, there was a movement by some people to buy all the Champagne they could and dump it out in the streets (sorry I couldn’t find a link for this. This actually happened, but it looks like all information on it has been wiped from the internet…hmmm). I remember seeing images on the morning news of these well dressed wall street types buying cases of really expensive French wine and dumping it into the streets like they were shooting for the same effect the Boston Tea Party did a long time ago. All the while, these well-coifed morons we’re laughing in the style of “Muaahhahahaaa…We sure showed them Froggies! Hehhehehhhh…” What you couldn’t hear in the background was the entire country of France laughing at them. “Ha HA, américains stupides! La blague est sur vous! Vous deviez toujours acheter notre champagne pour le déverser dehors. Ainsi remercie de tout l’argent comptant. Vous êtes un crétin complet!” Loosely translated it says, “You do realize that you had to BUY the Champagne in the first place in order to dump it out, right? Oh well…YES! oohhhh…[shake fist] I guess you showed us, what with you giving us a whole bunch of money…in…protest…soooo….GOOD LUCK!”

It would be one thing if they brazenly did a smash and grab job in every liquor store in their zip code; breaking in in the middle of the night and taking everything with a French label, taking it all to the nose-bleed section of a Wal Mart parking lot, and then setting it on fire. THAT would have made more of a statement. But they didn’t do that. This mother of an 18 year old young man could have made more of a statement by chucking paint balloons at the window thereby covering up all the naughty bits so as not to offend the eyes of her impressionable, young, innocent 18 year old son. THAT would have made more of a statement. But she didn’t do that. She instead choose to spend close to $600 of her own money, boosting this franchise’s revenue, probably enabling them to receive a huge bonus check and a pat on the back by the CEO, bringing them that much closer to opening another store nearby, all because she was protesting the so-called “indecent imagery” printed on the t-shirts. You didn’t make a stand against the tyranny of indecency, you actively participated in Capitalism. Congratulations! Way to stick it to the man!

Look, I grew up in the Eighties, and this whole uptight, conservative housewife act is nothing new to me. And

AGGGHHH!!! MAKE IT STAHP!!!

while I agree that sometimes boundaries can be pushed a little too far on things like pseudo erotic imagery on a t shirt, or unfettered access to 4Chan, or The Tea Party agenda, Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus, Dance Moms, Real Housewives of…, TMZ, Birthers, Ted Cruz, Gangham Style, twerking, Hot Pockets, and the de-evloution of the English language in general, I also agree that shopping at the mall is gross. I however do not agree that shielding your 18 year old, [technically an] adult from images of boobies does anything for him. All it does is confirm that you still treat him like a toddler, and will probably make him not want to be seen with you. Ever. And honestly, did I mention that your son was 18? I don’t care if you live in Provo, Utah or Cairo, Egypt, if you feel that your 18 year old son is emotionally damaged from looking at something as innocuous as The Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated or, god forbid, certain sections of a JC Penny Catalog, then he’s probably gay. Deal with THAT little nugget of information, Mrs. Religious Nutjob.

Oh mah goodn…I mean AAGGHH!! MY EYES!!

The mother is quoted as saying,  “I hope my efforts will inspire others to speak up within their communities,” So does every other shop and franchise owner in every other mall in America, ma’am. So do they…

Picture Credits:
Rant Ahead
Tipper
Kate Upton

Too Much Noise (Warning: May Contain Top 5 List)

For the past two hours, I’ve been trying to conjure up a story about leaving home unprepared. Some sort of analogy that I like to lead off with when I go into observational mode in my blog. Nothing was working. Nothing fit and I was getting further away from what I originally wanted to write about.

It’s been well over a month since I had a 9 to 5. Since that time, things have been thrown into a sharper focus as far as not only what I want to do for a job, but what do I want to do with my life. I started out as a Creative; an actor, performer, a singer in a rock band. When that wasn’t paying the bills anymore, I moved on to something that did. And when that wasn’t doing it anymore, something else. And so on and so on and compromise and sell myself short and lose sight of what I did until I finally ended up here; a stone’s throw from 50, no richer than when I left school and a strong realization that I should have never stopped creating to begin with. The urge to blog, to write, to publish, to go back to being creative is now far greater than the urge to take that job that will probably be a poor career choice not only because this job you wanted me for had nothing to do with the last one I had, but because it was the first one that came along and I’d probably last a month anyway because you can’t see it in your heart to pay me enough to put gas in my tank in order to get to the job but that’s okay because the interview was going to be a waste of both of our times anyway because just like everything else in this town, I have no experience in what you need so it would probably be better if you hired a high-schooler or a retiree to fill your position rather than someone who you’d think would jump at the first thing that came to him even though it would be more of a liability RUNONSENTENCE!!! *GAAAASSSP*…..

What I’m trying to say is that because I’m not getting any younger and my skills don’t match what employers are looking for, I want to go freelance. I want to work for myself. I think that now is the time. Everyday I’m jumping onto forums and networking and communicating with like minded people and despite not starting off with a decent analogy, this is where I’d like to start…

~***~
Branding. I suppose it would be helpful if I knew how to brand myself, what to brand myself with and where to go to do that. But trying to navigate that is like trying to find a seat in a high school cafeteria when you’re new in town. It’s that feeling where you feel you have to be something, as if you somehow magically weren’t anything before. There’s a sense that you have to hurry up and decide which club you want to be active in, which clique looks better on you, who’s colors you want to carry.

I come from a different school. My Alma Mater is the one that observes, shares and engages. From the looks of things, it would appear that my education has not prepared me again for the real world. From what I gather, in order to make it as a freelance blogger, or anywhere for that matter, you have to hit people over the head to get them to buy something.

Presenting: The Top 5 Types of Bloggers!!1!
That’s right, a Top 5 List; the National Currency of Blogging! ‟Goodness Gracious,” your thinking to yourself. ‟When’s he gonna get to a list or something? I have a life to get to! I can’t wait around here and listen to this jibber-jabber and not be given a list to read! What is this world coming to?” Here’s my list of the top 5 bloggers on the internet. Yeah, I know its better if I lead off with a list so people won’t tune out halfway down your post, but you made it this far, and I’m going the long way around to make a point again. I would also like to point out that this list based solely on observances and not actual research, y’know, like most of the lists online…
Fabulous, Dahling…

   5. Fashion Blogger: This one has a pretty wide net. There are a handful of reviewers, but this one is primarily the domain of the person who creates. Fashion blogs are owned and maintained by craftspeople selling their own creations. From jewelry to t-shirts, haute couture to up-cycled blue jeans, from posts on Etsy to updating their own website, these people are content providers in more ways than one. They are their own business, entrepreneurial, and have a keen sense of what it takes to make a name and survive.
 

Uh-Oh, I think we lost him…

     4. Reviewer: Food, films, books, entertainment…too many choices these days and where would I be if I didn’t purchase something based on someone else’s scrutiny? Reviewers…are…somethingsomethingsomething…blippty bloppty bloop…phhththhththttthhhh sorry, I kind of
lost interest in the whole scheme of this thing halfway through #5. Yes, lists are handy. But sometimes, it’s almost as if some authors put their blog on autopilot when they list things; especially the Reviewer. These guys tend to regurgitate the same material over and over again, because it’s cheap, easy, you don’t have to put much effort into it and search engines will love them for it. Think I’m being too harsh? Ever StumbleUpon a FilmSchoolReject blog one too many times? I rest my case.

Don’t leave me hangin’, dude. You’re coming back soon, right?

    3. Cooking: Yes, I’m continuing this theme even though I abandoned it. Because…y’know…lists! By god…we shall have lists! My frustration started last week when I wanted to monetize my blog just a little bit more. I am anything, if not ambitious and so I started research on how to take full advantage of Adsense. Months ago, I formatted my blog the way they suggested to take full advantage of ad placement. That part has been taken care of. Now, I started looking for ways to monetize further (because, making a whopping ¢.09 in a month just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore). Adsense now has a function where bloggers can actively solicit businesses directly for use of your ad space. You can go to a company, hopefully a company that is related to what you blog about, and say, “Hey, I can put your product on my page for x amount of time for x amount of dollars, what do you say?” And if all goes well? TAH-DAH! Instant revenue stream! Which is awesome, except for the fact that this blog, MY blog, lacks a theme and direction. I’m a nuanced Slacker, I’m not selling the latest and greatest iPhone app. Nor am I making one. I observe and share; it’s mostly things that bounce around in my head too much and I need to let them out, see them for what they really are and deal with them accordingly. I don’t think there is a thriving market for catharsis. Perhaps if I went in an other direction…?

Dude! What the hell is wrong with you? Seriously!

     2. Business/Technical: I used to be a devout follower of Odd Todd. Not only was he laugh out loud hilarious, but the back story of how he came to be and prosper is the genesis to why my attitude is the way it is: Things not going your way? Try something new, take a risk and who knows, you may end up surprising yourself. In the early days of his website, his sponsors would include start-up companies who shared his philosophy; mom-and-pop websites selling their inventions complete with glowing endorsements from the Odd one himself. I always thought that was brilliant. In my quest to further monetize my blog, I thought maybe I could do the same thing. I could go to websites of start-up companies and get them to advertise on my blog. But then it all came back to that whole… no focus/no mon-ay thing. So then I started looking into trying to wrangle my blog into something cohesive, something that has a point. Maybe I should blog about something that I have no concept of, like computer hardware or haute couture. Something to grab the attention of all the major search engines. Maybe something practical like: 10 Easy Steps to Removing Ketchup Stains from a Dashboard of ’67 Karmann Ghia. Maybe I should abandon who I am and just blog to make money. Right? This is the noise that I’ve been running into for weeks. The only way that you are going to be a successful blogger is if you become one of those…

aaaand we’re back…

   1. Bloggers Who Like To Make Lists: Actually, there are two different camps on this. One saying that lists are the way to go, the other saying that they are complete waste of time. Too much noise. I like to write. I like to write a lot. As of right now, I am for sale if anyone needs articles written or something. Research isn’t an issue, I actually like doing it. Perhaps one day when I grow up, I’ll be writing about SEO and UGC and sound really professional as I fake my way through it.
 

Apologies for my candor. Too many things that happened this morning that I allowed to get under my skin and I haven’t stopped writing since. Fortunately, I gleaned some inspiration from it and I’ll be acting on it soon. 

Please feel free to share your experiences and advice. All feedback is appreciated.

…back soon…

Photo Credits:

Volume Button
Fashion Victim
Hipster Critic
Perfect Couple Grazing
Board Room Meeting
Top Ten

Wishing You All a Wonderful Valentine’s Day, Before the Medication Kicks In.

via Longmire

I’m sick.

For the past couple of days, I’ve been laid up in bed, drooling and sweating out whatever demons possessed me a couple of nights ago, losing my taste for food and drink, incapable of willing my rickety old tree of a body to function as anything else but something that pees a lot and generally being useless.

I hate this.

I hate this because even though the room spins and a debilitating chill that no one else feels but me cuts me down halfway to my computer, even though I somehow manage to prop up my head without inducing the urge to vomit, even though I catch up on all the lovely postings that other people (other non-sick people) post, there is still that one charming motivational blogger that loves to share his wisdom:

…Ya big SISSY!

And oh, how the voices in my head taunt me, “Awww, what? Hemingway, Huxley and Voltaire managed to squeeze something out on their death bed! You get the sniffles and everything shuts down? GET ON YOUR FEET!” Chicken soup, a steady diet of Coricidin and water and a hot shower later…and I’ve managed to whittle it down to a the type of headache normally reserved for drinking heavily the night before.
I’m sick.
Semi-conscious in bed with NPR in the background. The story this hour is the business of Romance Novels and how it became a multimillion dollar industry. Ideas creep slowly into my sickly, little mind. Ideas that are quickly distorted when I check my declining number of hits and the realization that I haven’t written anything in days. (Incidentally, as of this post I will have posted more in three months than all of 2009 when I first started. Nothing big. Nothing to brag about. Just wanted to take a moment and enjoy the view from this summit before I move on to the next one.) Ideas that finally prompt me out of bed and in front of a keyboard muttering to myself, “Multimillion dollar industry, huh? An industry that’s built itself on formulaic trash? Hmmm….maybe I should grab some of that action!” So, without further ado…adoo? Aduu? Adieu? Goodbye? Without further delay and a strong desire to see my spellchecker freak the hell out, here’s my crack at my new, hot romance novella. I have to write this quick before the medication kicks in.

I’m just a small town girl trying to make it in the big city. I somehow managed to land a lucrative position at a high end publishing firm with my hayseed education but things are going well. I just wish I can meet that Mr. Right, you know the one? The one that I’ve built up all my unreal expectations around because that’s what the people at Mattel and Disney told me that’s what I should hold out for. I mean, I don’t bend my feminist ideals for any bungling , well meaning oaf. I need a warrior with rock hard abs, a chiseled chin, not much going on upstairs, but a whole lot going on downstairs. Someone who is sexy, and sensitive, and dresses well…and who isn’t gay.

My boss, Mr. Rapey Von Bodiceripper, says I have what it takes to make it in the world of publishing. That was before he turned me into a vampire and we set out on our sex-filled romp around the world to exterminate zombies. Life in the big city sure is complicated sometimes. But, that’s okay because this book will sell millions of copies and spawn a movie franchise that will last for years…

…it’s a work in progress…

…I’m still sick…

Son of a Gypsy

Time has passed. I know that.

A lifetime, as it were.

When I left town years ago, I didn’t look back. Just another band-aid ripped away.
Suck it up.
                   Don’t say good bye.
                                                         It’s only all of your old friends.
                                                                                                              Just like old times….

I’ve made my home here. Amongst strangers.
New neighbors in a new town.
It’s pleasant.
                          It’s quiet.
                                                   No one knows me,
           and I like that.

Coming to terms with a future tense.
My past will find me soon enough.
For now, I’m hidden.
                                   Given full permission…
                                                                          …to start over.

I want to tell all the people I know
That I made it, that I’m fine.
I go to where I know I would find them.
                                                                 And I realize…

              …I know none of these faces.

photo credit: Here

A Tiny Rememberance of Tiny Things Forgotten

For years now, my Friday Night habit has been to make Sausage & Peppers; a rustic Italian dish that (like most Italian dishes) vary in ingredients and presentation depending on who you ask and where they come from. Any particular dish will mean different things to different people. For example, when somebody says “let’s order a pizza,” do you automatically think Neapolitan or Deep Dish? Sicilian or Greek Style? White Sauce? Red Sauce? I could go on all night, but you get my drift.

My particular dish wasn’t passed down from my Nona to my mom and then to me. No, my Sausage & Peppers evolved from many years of subtle modifications and was born out of necessity. It started many years ago in my vegetarian/bachelor years. Not much to speak of in the fridge and not too many ways to manipulate it into something edible. I had tortellini in my freezer, a can of diced tomatoes for some reason and a growling stomach that needed to be filled. I guess it was one of those nights where I had to call up every last experience of working under the tutelage of every chef, line and short order cook, in kitchens small and large, and got to it…

Put a pot of water on to boil. In the meantime, gather salt, pepper, dried oregano and basil, red pepper flake, chopped garlic and olive oil. There’s a bottle of cheap Chablis in the fridge that got left behind, get that out. Open up a can of diced tomatoes, empty half into a food processor or chopper and save the rest for later. Chop the tomatoes in some of the liquid that came with the can in your processor until it turns into a chunky, not thin, sauce. Set aside.

Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Add olive oil. If you can swish around your pan and the oil moves like water, drop the chopped garlic in the pan. Saute being careful to not burn it (remove from heat for a moment). Add salt first, that will aid in sweating the garlic and reduce your chance of burning it. Grind in pepper, add dried herbs, return to heat, then add your tomato sauce. While that is reducing, throw your frozen tortellini into the boiling water. They are done in three minutes so don’t walk away. Stir occasionally. When they float to the surface, drain your pasta, set aside and add wine to the sauce. Allow the alcohol to burn off for about a minute then add your tortellini. Stir and serve.

This was the dish that stuck with me. I made it up. It’s my signature. The above recipe was first made over 12 years ago exactly how I stated it. Since that time, I have changed the tortellini to penne, changed the cheap Chablis to a cheap Pinot Grigio and added mozzarella, fresh herbs when they’re available, a ladle full of boiling pasta water and most importantly, sausage and peppers. But since that time where I was hungry and I had to use my wits, to now where it’s a Friday night staple, I have never written this down. Until now. I never needed to, I’ve been cooking this for so long that it’s pretty much one, fluid movement in the kitchen; it’s less like cooking and more like dancing. Everything starts at the right time, the kitchen’s cleaned before one noodle hits the plate and everything’s timed to the point of utmost efficiency where everything is served together. Sure, there are nights where I’m half way through making the sauce and I forgot to put the pasta on, things get forgotten. It doesn’t matter, because I know what I’m doing. Trying to explain how I make this to someone else takes a little bit of finesse because I never had to before. Full disclosure: I had to go back and edit this at least three times because I left out key ingredients and a step or two. Things get forgotten.

~***~
…EEK! Yo! Slappy! Take it down a notch!

At the end of last week, I decided it was time to change my header. It’s a little…y’know…harsh. Sure, it was bold and dynamic and dramatic and it looked soooo out of place on my blog. I was trying to make a strong first impression. I made it last year around the time where I first started getting into Photoshop. I had no idea what I was doing (I know, right?), but I was–and am–willing to learn. It’s time for a fresh coat of paint. It’s also quite important that I don’t forget how to work in this medium. 

Then as now, I am reliant on free tutorials to guide me through things. While I’m still nowhere near an expert or Guru level, I’m finding myself saying, “…wait, that doesn’t make sense. Why don’t I do it this way instead…” more often then I have been. I’m feeling my way through it.

So, here it is. Here’s my finished project. It took a while, but not as long as it did the first time around. Granted, I have a lot more time on my hands, but lesson learned from the last time. I cannot be completely
100% reliant on every tutorial I read because they are written by people who have done this for a while. I find this in bloggers who publish recipes, and I suspect a certain percentage of content providers who do the “how to” stuff for a living. They know what they’re doing, you don’t. Trying to bridge that gap takes a little bit of finesse because, I presume, they’ve never had to before. Just like this posting in my attempt to explain something that I’ve been doing for a while, I have to be mindful that I don’t skip steps, lest I sound like a lunatic. Things get forgotten.

I felt marginally more comfortable and confident this time around. The abundance of time helped, but I have gained more experience and I’m able to think things through more clearly. This new attitude is handy, especially when an author of any given tutorial inexplicably guides you by the hand into a brick wall, face first. Look, I understand that in order to accomplish any of these projects in Photoshop or Illustrator, one must already have some sort of rudimentary understanding of the tools you’d be using. I get that; In order to at least get your foot in the door in some kitchens, you would probably need to master some knife skills first. But there is something to be said about offering just a smidgen of explanation: Where is this tool located? You just blew past a few important steps between step 1 and step 2, how did you get there? Just like forgetting to put the water on to boil, you can’t skip a few steps and expect everyone who reads your recipe get to the same dish you did. Otherwise, what’s the point?

…Problem, Noob?

I know. Serves me right. What do I want for free, amiryte? More experience. That’s all I need. Experience and determination. Soon, I’ll be at the point of writing down my own tutorials and forgetting to pu…

Photo Credits:

Garlic and Tomatoes
For the project itself, Here, Here, Here and especially Here…

Sited Tutorials:

Post Card Tutorial
Another Postcard Tutorial
Texture Tutorial