A Roundup of Favorite Things

I’ve decided that on Mondays, I’m going to post one of my favorite things here. It may be writing related (and probably will be, because I have an office supply addiction), it may be a quote from a book that I’m reading and love, it may be a book that I inhaled and want to share an opinion on, or it may be something entirely random.

Because this will be a new feature, I’m going to start off with several favorite things.

The Seven Year Pen.
I bought my first two Seven Year Pens at the Strand in New York City–my best guess is that I bought them in 2012, and used them in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. By the time I left for Hawai’i, I’d purchased a third, and I have 5 of them now. I used two of them in grad school (about 10 years of ink–I finished the second pens’ initial ink cartridge while in Hawai’i), and loved them (I have since refilled them both and keep a supply of replacement ink cartridges on hand). Basically, if you’re a writer, these won’t last for seven years, but even if you have to replace the ink cartridges, which cost about $2 each, twice a year, it’s still much more environmentally friendly than endless disposable pens. And it feels very writerly to have a refillable pen. Also, these pens are adorable! But if one happens to get lost, you won’t want to cry for a year, because they’re very affordable (as long as you don’t lose them too often).

These Anglican Prayer Beads I made (small plug, but I truly adore these and will be sad when they find a home)
I love labyrinths and spirals, so when I was able to buy a bunch of spiral beads and labyrinth medals, I knew that I’d be making quite a few prayer beads with these elements. I made 5 sets of spiral and labyrinth prayer beads with mixed finish beads (gold, bronze, silver–you can see them here) that I absolutely loved, and one day I was looking through the beads at Michaels and found a card of the same beads, except they were all silver. I decided to make a set with the all silver beads, and I fully expected them to be kind of boring, but I found that they might be my favorite set of prayer beads currently in the shop. They have a serenity that the other sets don’t have because they are monochromatic.

Diamond Candles.
I have six of their candles. I first found out about them when I was in graduate school, and I’m still buying them because I love them so much! We burn candles in our house almost every day, but the smoke from traditional candles sometimes bothers me, so I went looking for non-toxic and environmentally friendly candles. I stumbled upon Diamond Candles and bought one thinking that it would be a terrible candle–because why else have the gimmick of the ring inside?–and was delighted to have been proven wrong! My favorite scent is Enchanted Forest, and my most recent purchase is Black Raspberry Vanilla, which makes me hungry!

Celestial Love by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Especially this section:

“There need no vows to bind
Whom not each other seek but find.
They give and take no pledge or oath,
Nature is the bond of both.”

All of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (and also the movie, which I’ve seen many times), which I’ve already talked about, but just know that it is still one of my favorite things.

If I Stay and Where She Went, by Gayle Forman, because they made me cry and I still think often of them, even though it’s been about a month since I finished them.

Recent Things

When I was taking a workshop in Novel during my MFA, my professor said that I use the word “thing” too frequently. It wasn’t just the word ‘thing’, it was ‘anything’, ‘everything’, ‘something’…

I say thing instead of shit and I call everything shit.

Anyway, in the last few months, I have launched an Etsy shop, had my room flood, had to throw out more than half of my belongings and furniture, dealt with unexplained and worsening symptoms, written a few memoir sections, and written my first fiction chapter in almost a year. It’s been quite busy!

I have really poured myself into my Etsy shop, and it has been a wonderfully creative time. I am so proud of the products I am offering for sale, and I can’t tell you, after this past year, how wonderful the opportunity of creating and of being creative without pressure has been. This is an opportunity that I have cherished and am cherishing. It makes me feel like I am still a person who has something to contribute to the world, and it allows me to feel productive during the many days when I am simply too sick to write.

Making prayer beads is something that I have done for myself (and sometimes as gifts) for about five years now. I am perpetually marveling at how no experience is ever wasted; a sentiment we heard frequently in the anti-thing class. It’s true. I hope that you will check out my shop, and follow it on social media. I hope that you will share it with your friends. I hope that it will be a blessing to you. I hope that one day soon, my writing will be, too.

Living While We’re Alive

I’m slowly taking steps towards rejoining the world of the living. It’s kind of wonderful.

Financially, me being sick now is the worst thing that could have happened. In terms of stress, it’s also the worst thing that could have happened this year.

But, last night, my church held a benefit concert to raise money to pay for my continued treatments. Our best friends/adopted family members, Jo-Mari and Bradley, our Choir Director and Organist, put together a wonderful concert of American composers for Flag Day, and the concert was incredible. We are so completely blessed to have had such wonderful people surrounding us with their love and prayers during these last terrible months, and last night reinforced that.

We are feeling so incredibly grateful. We are feeling so loved. We are feeling like we can get through this.

It’s living while we’re alive that’s important. And right now, we’re alive. Let’s live.

Life as it’s been lately.

It’s been so long since I’ve been on here! If I thought any of you were still reading, I’d apologize. C’est la vie.

Anyway, I blogged about being in Hawaii at a tumblr I set up specifically for that (anjelicablogshawaii.tumblr.com), but I’ve been back in New York since the week before Christmas. At first, It was just a Christmas visit/going to the doctors for a tune up, but it ended up being four months (so far) of intense intravenous treatment for lupus and inflammation–I was on leukemia watch for three months–and dealing with constant and agonizing pain, which nothing has taken the edge off of.

In the real thick of it, I wasn’t really able to write. Actually, on the whole, this year has been the least productive writing year I’ve had in a while. In Hawaii, there was so much going on that writing was difficult for me, and then being sick and exhausted and in pain all the time for the last month or so that I was there, and then being in New York with all of the above plus doctors visits and cold shock, my life hasn’t been conducive to writing much. But I am writing again. My memoir about living with chronic illness is close to done. I’ve written some essay-like things about chronic illness, as well. I’ve read John Green’s The Fault in our Stars ten times, and have listened to it as an audio book three times. I’ve read some other books as well, but I haven’t been able to “get over” TFioS.

I finally went to PF Chang’s, and I entirely understand why every celiac who has ever gone has become obsessed. It’s so good. I’ve eaten A LOT of Chipotle. I’ve seen friends. I’ve tried to act like a person in her twenties while I’ve waited to see what the new normal is… For now, life’s another transition and another life change.

My goal for this blog moving forward! I’ve been inspired by the community of writers I’ve met through my MFA and through The Children’s Book Hub, and so I’d like to move into a place where there’s a regular schedule of content on this blog. I had a schedule figured out, but I think I want to tweak it a bit more. But my goal is to have posts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturday or Sunday (and maybe both in the future). Each day will have a theme (I have a couple of friends who participate in Perfect Picture Book Fridays–Susannah has a great list of PBs for reference–and I think it’s sweet, so I’m hoping to incorporate regular book reviews into this blog: they just won’t be picture books.)

And of course, I will be screaming from the top of this blog when my memoir is finished, and I’m sure there’ll be lots of spam, for which I will now issue a blanket apology. I apologize for any and all spamming both now and in future, as well as any alarm or distress that might be caused by my shrieking to the sun and the moon about having finished writing my memoir.

See you soon!

A

Hawaii, And Other Happenings

Three weeks ago, I left New York on a very large plane.  After a very long plane ride, I started my new life.  I’m in Hawaii living and working for a year.  I’m learning a lot, and also discovering new or forgotten things every day.

Hawaii is different from New York.  My life here is different from New York.  I’m not a student anymore.  The rules for real life are different than the rules that apply when you’re still technically a kid in that you’re not supporting yourself because you’re in graduate school beyond full-time.

I have myself, my voice, and that’s it.  And I can’t help but think that things would have been easier all along if I’d just known to ignore all of the other voices.

The Let Down

There’s a strange phenomenon going around in my head these days. One that feels so rare, it’s easy to forget that it exists. My forms will be signed and finished soon. I’ve had my graduation ceremony. I’ve even had my party. Oh, no, wait. I haven’t had that yet, because of The Let Down. The Let Down happens when everything is finished, and all the deadlines have passed, and you don’t have more deadlines imminently, or ever again. Not school deadlines, anyway. It’s sinking in, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t in a funk, or that I’ve been easy to live with on this pseudo-permanent-school’s-out-forever vacation.

I thought that I’d feel more prepared to face the world, and I just don’t, and I have plans. I don’t first have to go out and find a job and figure out how to support myself: I have a fantastic internship lined up. But nothing feels right. I’m too fussy, I don’t care, I don’t have an opinion, the whole world can fuck off and leave me alone, the whole world should just let me run things… Like I said, I’m driving my mother crazy.

The Let Down is what happens when the marathon is over, and the smoke has cleared, and you realize that, deep down, you’re not happy and fulfilled and suddenly, you don’t belong in any one place, or in any one category, and that all that shit you thought you had figured out, you really don’t have anything figured out.

Alter Egos

I think for a lot of writers, the characters they write become alter egos.  I don’t think that that’s been true for me, though many (but not all) of my characters have a lot of significant details in common with me.

This past week, I’ve been digging into family history, and into our beliefs. I’ve been doing a lot of reading of old textbooks and I appear to have sprouted an alter ego!(!!!!!!!!!) It started with me unnecessarily hashtagging things I’d thought were funny (#chirokidtellsyouhowtoadjust, for instance). But I think I like having Chiro Kid around, so she might stay.

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