Rachael Goes on Vacation

IMG_1610Yes, you read that correctly.  In all my years updating my blog for posterity’s sake, I’ve never mentioned a vacation, and that’s because there hasn’t been one, in like 16 years.

And yes, you read that correctly as well.

With the new-ish job (that one I’ve been in for a little over a year now), I learned I got vacation pay.  What?!  I haven’t had that in ages, and it wasn’t even a thought it was available to me.  Side note, if I ever really paid attention to my paychecks, I would’ve seen the accumulated vacation time.  Second side note, I don’t consider little weekend or even week-long getaways to visit family or friends “vacation”.  Sometimes, that’s more work than work.  And remember last year, when The Sis and I went to LA to visit our family, and my new car got broken into and all our stuff was stolen…yeah, good times.

So I decided to spend some of the savings I had been hoarding like Smaug and treat myself to an actual getaway.

The Sis and I talked about where we’d like to go, what we’d like to do and see, and initially, our plans led us to Disney World in Florida.  But goodness is that an expensive trip.  And it sounded like too much work.  All that walking and being around people.  No.  I wanted peace and quiet and solitude and lethargy.

After a recommendation to look into Costco Travel we found what we were looking for…

Hello, Hawaii!  It’s been a while.

Yes, that is a lot of sunsets.  We watched it every night.  It was entrancing.  Because of the way we were situated on the island, we never saw a sunrise, although because of the time change, I was up with it almost every morning.  That was weird.  It also gave me an opportunity to watch a lot of random television.  I’m finally finishing The Office.

It was hot and humid most days, so we pretty much just floated in the ocean or the pool, had pina coladas for breakfast and mai tais for lunch.  We ate very little, because of the heat, so that saved on cost. 😉

We discovered at a neighboring hotel during an off-property excursion that we were actually staying at the same hotel we had stayed at 27 years before on a family vacation.  With my memory, and the fact that The Sis was only 4 then, it was understandable that we didn’t remember it.  In my defense, at least partially, the hotel had changed names.

So, a few things to note as a reminder to myself in the years to come – our rental car was an upgraded version of my current car (made it easy to drive), I wanted to bring home that itty bitty, teeny weeny gecko that visited our balcony, birds flocked to us as if we were Snow White, we saw endangered green sea turtles (there was a reserved spot on the beach for them to rest), a large manta ray, 16th century petroglyphs (the last photo above), and finally it was on this trip that an attempt to eat fish, because, hello, we’re in Hawaii, finally made me turn a corner from a sometime pescatarian to a full on vegetarian because that fish did not like me.

It was a nice getaway, long overdue and not long enough.  Nearly the moment we returned, I was thrown back into work, full force, and the vacation quickly became a distant memory.  So I guess the only way to get another “fix” is to plan another one, and not let so much time pass before we explore another amazing piece of this big world.

Aloha!

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That Time I Chose to Become Rachael C Marek

RCM4yrsIt was a little over four years ago when The Sis and I had a conversation.

We were living in Los Angeles, and I had been struggling for nearly a year to find a job.  No exaggeration, I sent out over 250 resumés and only received three responses in return.

I was miserable.  And while writing should’ve given me some solace, I was too concerned about finding paying work, so every time I was on the computer, I felt guilty if I wasn’t doing that.

I barely wrote a word that year.  One of the main reasons for moving to LA – for me to become a professional writer – and I was failing, spectacularly.

It was then The Sis and I had “the talk”.

She was making good money at her job, and she had already been supporting us, so instead of continuing on in such a futile manner, the definition of insanity, I should change tactics and do what I was meant to – write.

It took a little time to become accustomed to the idea that I was being given free reign to follow my dreams, but I realized that I probably wouldn’t have another opportunity like that again, and so Rachael C Marek was born.

I wanted to create a pseudonym, but I still wanted it to be me.  My name really is Rachael (Hi!), and the C is the beginning of one of my middle names, but the Marek, well, that’s thanks to a character I identified with in a book.  It seemed appropriate.

The above reminder popped up last week and it gave me reason to pause.  Had it really been four years since that pivotal moment?!  It made me wonder what I had accomplished in all that time.  I have some writing to show for it.  I still have big dreams.  I still have stories to rewrite, even more to tell…and although I may still be some distance from fulfilling my goal of being a professional writer, I’m in a better place overall and I think that a big part of that started when The Sis encouraged me to become Rachael C Marek.

She deserves a BIG Thank You for years of support of every variety.

And then there’s all of you.  You’ve been welcoming and encouraging, and although I’ve never met you, and maybe never will, we’ve been a part of each other’s journeys, the ups and the downs, and such a community is important to the lowly/lonely writer, so thanks.

xx, Rach

And Then There Went March

Happy-AnniversaryMarch marked the one year anniversary of a turning point in my life.  I had been struggling for some time before then.  I had been unemployed for ever so long, and a move to help us get back on our feet didn’t really garner us any reward.

Until March.

A former coworker recommended me for a job.  From how she talked about it, it was a good one.  And it was.  I was able to buy a car, start putting away for a savings, pay off some debt, and stop worrying about every penny (although, too long worrying about every penny has made me a bit of a miser).

And then I got promoted.

The money wasn’t as good (because any time you move from getting tips to not you’re going to feel it), but it created a path to doing something else, something more.  And I like it.  And I’m good at it.

My boss has become a friend, the work, while generally remaining the same from day to day, varies during events, and I’m meeting people in an industry I always thought would be fun to be a part of.  They’re kind and thoughtful – like on my birthday.  They bought me a cake and gathered around to sing.  Some of them even took me out to dinner and began planning a road trip to help me get my writing career on track.  See, thoughtful.

That’s the work-financial side of life.  The creative side finished the next chapter in the Dragon Age fan fiction series.  What started off as a simple Writing Prompt exercise has grown into 123,000+ words about a girl’s journey to save the world (while falling in love, of course).

The strange thing about fan fiction, for me anyway, is that because the characters aren’t mine, I just sort of write.  It’s freeing and uncomplicated, and that freedom led to a chapter of 41K words that I didn’t outline or plan.  I just wrote it, with very little forethought or editing, and it’s my most well received work on AO3.  And, it’s non-canonical.  So while yes, the characters aren’t mine (except for the protagonist), the story is and that’s a huge boost to my writing ego.

In my own work, I agonize over every word, so there are some days I may only write a page, and that’s a screenplay page – there’s a whole lotta white on those pages.

So March turned out to be pretty good.  I’m in a better place overall and that’s encouraging for the year ahead.

I hope you all are well and still reaching for your goals!

xx, Rach

The Not-So-Impending Birthday Blues

DW10Birthdaycard

My birthday is in three days.

((wince))

Ever since my 30th birthday, back in two-thousand and something or other, I’ve had a sort of distant, disinterested relationship with the celebration of my birth.  Honestly, there are a few people who chose to ruin the day versus letting it pass and ruining the following day, so after a few slights, I stopped looking forward to them.

They haven’t all been bad though.

And the last year, despite some rough spots, was pretty good overall, and even though the number associated with this year’s birthday is a strange number to admit to (like, I can’t really be this old, right?!), I’ve realized a few things that really only come with age.

  1. I don’t care if everyone likes me.
    • It used to bother me if I learned there was someone who didn’t like me.  Why? Because I’m a sweet princess, and what’s not to like? 😉  Then it was my goal to make them like me. That was then.  This is now.  There’s a woman at work, who thankfully, I don’t see very often.  She likes to be nice to my face and then talk a whole lotta nonsense behind my back.  And I’m not her only target.  She’s about 50, and I find this kind of behavior juvenile.  I say good morning when I see her, half the time she ignores me.  Fine.  Whatever.  I’m not going to stop being nice because she’s clearly petty and jealous.  Before I would have gone out of my way to win her favor, and now, I’ve realized some people just don’t deserve that kind of attention.  It’s a waste of my time, which is precious the older I get, and the refreshing thing is, it really doesn’t bother me.  What an odd thing to discover.
  2. I’m comfortable in my own skin.
    • While I feel I have a few pounds to shave off – I mean, almost everyone I know feels this way – I’m comfortable with who I am.  I’m 6′ tall, and I’m currently about 170 lbs.  Even when I was working out last year fairly consistently, the scale didn’t change.  Of course the distribution did, but I realized, like my age, it’s just a number.  I’ll never get back to my high school volleyball playing days, and I’ve accepted that.  Am I still holding on to that one pair of pants I’m striving to fit back into?  Uh, yeah.  Everyone woman I know has that pair, but I think we’re all hanging on to them out of some twisted sense of nostalgia.
  3. I let my geek flag fly.
    • I don’t think I was ever embarrassed to admit the nerdy or geeky things I liked as a kid (kids are fairly shameless, after all), but as with the natural progression from child to teen, the desire to fit in with the people whose opinions wouldn’t matter the moment we took that first step in the graduation processional seemed rather important in those early days.  Then geek became cool, a sort of badge of honor, and joining a fandom became an open door to making the kind of friends who not only understand you, but are the kind of friends you make for life.  Star Wars aside, saying you play video games or want to cosplay will draw out the kind of people you want to know.  Well, that is, if that’s your cup of tea.  I proudly admit to writing fan fiction and getting a geek tattoo with The Sis, and because I’m comfortable in my own skin and I don’t care what people think, I’m not embarrassed to admit to much anymore.
  4. I’m happy on my own.
    • I always thought, and intended, to get married and have a family.  It’s what you’re “supposed” to do.  But I was never fond of the whole dating thing.  And the older I got, the less inclined I was to follow in such a tradition.  Then, when I was about thirty, the man I was dating at the time, yes, one in the same who ruined my birthday, and I had a pregnancy scare.  As the title of my blog suggests, I have a terrible memory, but I remember that moment clearly, as if it happened last week. 😉  It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.  I was turned
      off to the whole relationship idea for years after; he was not a nice human being.  And then I got to a point where I had built a life I enjoyed, and knew it would take a special kind of person for me to want to mHiddles Bdayake room for them, and as of this post, I have yet to meet such a one.  (Except you, Hiddles.  I’d give up…hmm…well, we’ll have to talk about it. ;P)  Besides, two of my beloved icons, Elizabeth I and Jane Austen, never married.  Everyone still wants to set me up, but it’s nice that the stigma of the “spinster” has gone out the window and people accept me for the happy single I am.

So what does all this rambling mean?

Getting older has its benefits, and it’s a gift not afforded to everyone.

So, I’m not not looking forward to my birthday this year, in fact, I think I’ll do my best to embrace it.  There’s a lot to look forward to because I have BIG plans this year!

Ramble over.

xx, Rach

p.s. Thanks for being along for the journey!

The Passing of Another Year

goodbyeGoodbye, 2017.

You were among my favorites of the past decade, and although I will be sad to see you go, I’m looking forward to what the new you will bring.  Each new year is like a new Doctor (from Doctor Who) – same old thing under a new coat of paint.

I didn’t accomplish all the goals I set for myself (I didn’t even come close with some of them), but that just means I’ll have to reevaluate them for the new year.  As I’ve mentioned a time or two before, I don’t care for resolutions.  I’ve set a number of goals throughout the year and made more headway because I believe you can make changes, reach for your dreams, and achieve anything you want any time of the year.

The mark of a new year only makes the goal setting easier as a jumping off point.

I like to start a new year doing something I enjoy as a way of marking the occasion in positive manner.  I have to work tonight, but it’s my plan to come home and write, even if just for a little while.

You may laugh, seeing that my blog has been so ignored these past few months, but I have been writing, I swear.  Cullen&WardenClick here to see how my Dragon Age obsession is working its magic. 😉  This is a non-canonical story that I didn’t even plot out and it’s currently sitting at 31k words.  Seriously.  And what’s worse (or not) is that I’m probably only about half way done.  ((giggles wildly))  It’s all this picture’s fault, by the way. –>

I had planned on doing a “looking back” post, but Facebook is great at reminding us of where we were a year or seven ago, and a new year is about looking forward.  It’s nice to be reminded of our victories and our defeats as they can compel us to strive for better, for more, and we shouldn’t forget them, but we shouldn’t linger on them either.  Unlike the Doctor, we can’t go back in time and change events, and really, all those little things, good and bad, make us who we are with our own unique perspective.

I try to be positive here, and although my Quote Mondays have been rather sparse, most of them are about chasing your dreams, making each day count, blah blah blah, etc.. but I mean each and every one. 😉 Each new day is an opportunity, and a new year offers us a bigger canvas.  So make big goals, the kind that would make you laugh were you to accomplish them.  Make little ones that will help you get closer to that big one.

Just keep dreaming!  Keep reaching!

So, hello, 2018!
Hello

I hope you’re a good one!

Happy New Year, my friends!

Have fun and be safe and see you next year!

xx, Rach

A Ramble, Because Sometimes It’s What We Need To Do

Here we are again, another silent month has passed by.

About a month ago I went on my first vacation since…honestly, I can’t remember when.  I should be able to remember a vacation, even with my faulty memory, so clearly it’s been too long.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t so much a vacation as an excuse to visit our old stomping grounds and eat.  Our family just happens to live there as well. 😉

Metallica

The whole reason, initially, for the trip was the Avenged Sevenfold and Metallica concert. Trying to squeeze too much in before leaving town caused us to be late, and an hour and a half to park caused us to miss Avenged all together.  How utterly disappointing.  The Sis had never seen Metallica, so at least there was that.

There was lots of sleeping, eating, laughing, and general relaxation.  All much needed.

Then there was Disneyland.  Oh, my happy place.  The first year The Sis and I arrived in Los Angeles we got passes and utilized them to the fullest.  I’d say, without exaggeration, we visited the parks or just Downtown Disney once a week, every week, for the whole year.  After we rescued our furkids, Disneyland became a distant memory.  Five years.  That’s a long time to go without.

Highlights of the day:

1) Getting massively soaked on the Grizzly River Run water ride and having to walk around for hours with clingy jeans.  Ew.

2) Shaking after riding the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride, which used to be the Tower of Terror.  I knew what I was getting into, and yet, I rode it again.  It’s sort of a blur because I was screaming like a loon and clenching onto whatever was in reach for dear life, i.e. my brother’s pant leg.

3) Having cocktails like grown-ups in Disneyland because it always makes me feel like I’m misbehaving.

4) Running into Thor and having him admonish me for “wearing the wrong tunic”.  I’m a Cap girl. 😉

5) Watching my brother’s girlfriend dance along side one of the hotrods from Cars only to be told to stop.  Ha!

6) Waiting for an unreasonable amount of time to meet Captain America because the cast members were excited to learn I have a Cap shield as part of my geek tattoo and encouraged me to take a picture.  He was adorable and stayed in character which allowed me to live out a minor fantasy. 😉 I met Steve Rogers!!

Non-highlight of the whole trip…having my car broken into and our bags stolen.  When I

went out to the car in the morning to load up more stuff, I stared at the window in doe-eyed wonder.  It didn’t register what had happened for like 12.7 seconds. Yes, thankfully it was only material things, but unfortunately, many of those items were irreplaceable.  Andthe kicker, of course my insurance didn’t cover anything, even the windows.  It left me depressed for about aweek.  I don’t spend a lot of money on myself, and so the things I lost had taken years to accumulate, and in an instant it was all gone*, including my new prescription glasses that I bought without insurance.  Slight upon slight.  (*This was before Harvey, you know, to give you some perspective.)

When we returned home, we had the annual crazy adventure known as Gishwhes. Unfortunately, our state of mind did not allow us to dig in and accomplish as much as we normally do.  With the knowledge that this may be the last hunt ever, we were disappointed that we couldn’t contribute more.

But…

On a positive note, upon returning to work I was offered a promotion.  I’m now an assistant manager at a job I like.  And because my new friends/coworkers felt so bad about what happened, they took up a small collection to help offset some of the cost to replace those stolen goods.  I cried.

So that was the first two weeks of August, the other two…huh.  What have I been doing?!  I’ve been working weird shifts, I’ve been cooking more, and there’s been lots of Game of Thrones, but two more weeks have passed in a blur.  I guess time flies whether you’re having fun or not. 😉

As for my writing, I’ve barely written a word.  I’m trying to find balance on this new path, and find a new story to be passionate about – something that drives me to “want” to sit at my computer after staring at one at work during the day.  Yes, I know, I’m supposed to show up with or without my muse, but right now I’m not even sure what story to tell.  It sort of sounds bad to say this out loud, but I kind of want to write some new fan fiction.  Any writing is good writing, right?

I hope you’ve all been well!  I’ve missed you!

Quote Monday

So I happened upon my insights page and compared what I’ve done this year (so far) to the three years prior and the results are dismal. The first year I really took to blogging, I posted 164.  The next year, which saw a great increase of interaction with the outside world, I posted only 112.  Then last year, I posted 118.  Can you imagine with my lulls of inactivity where I might be sitting this year?

21.

Yep.  21 posts (now 22) in seven months.  ((sigh))  Wow.

If those are the results of my blogging, I don’t even want to know what that might mean for my writing.

I set goals for myself at the beginning of the year (last year had proven productive, for the most part), and I wanted to keep that enthusiasm going.  I’m now reevaluating those goals as I’m certain I’m going to fall short at the rate I’m crawling.

How did this happen?!

I may need to reevaluate a few other things as well.  I saw this quote and decided it may be the best way to get motivated again.

NotAPriority

What are your motivational/goal achieving tricks?

What To Do In The In-Between Time

IdeaLightBulb(jeffbullassite)Draft after draft.  Rewrite after rewrite.  Sometimes it feels like all we’re doing is writing in circles.

When you need a break from your beloved, it’s hard to decide what to do in that downtime.  I know I’m usually at a loss.  I try to find a new story idea, or consider rewriting one of my other screenplays, but sometimes you just need to do different work for the same story.

Bang2Write is a great resource for writers, and if you aren’t subscribing to Lucy V Hay’s site, as a screenwriter I would recommend it.  I have found loads of truly useful information, like the following – 7 Useful Things You Can Do Between Drafts.

Using my sci-fi pilot, The Demeter as an example, I’ll go through the steps and show you what I’m thinking about in my own downtime.

  1. Compare/Contrast to “Like” stories – Like the Doctor of Doctor Who, I want my human protagonist to not hold any immediate prejudice because of what an alien might look like (although easier said than done. We humans scare easily.).  The video game Mass Effect inspired the idea behind the human/alien interactions and romance options.  It’s unlike shows such as Firefly because not all the characters are human and not all stories are about human problems.  Star Wars and Star Trek are obvious go-tos, but other than the military connection, which won’t be overly used until season 2, I want to stay away from any ideas influenced by either.
  2. Think it Over – The pilot needs to foreshadow more of the ideas I have for the first season.  In addition to a different opening scene, I need to show the “shady” nature of the ship’s captain so the viewer is unsure for some time whether or not he can be trusted.  Early feedback suggested I integrate an image of where the show “might” go aka Battlestar Galactica always showed Earth as the final destination.  Where do I want the show to go?
  3. Work on Craft – Feedback also recommended I adjust the pacing.  Determine the best course to improve this.
  4. Make Contacts – Besides social media…think outside the box on making contact with those in the industry – Meetups, retreats (within reason), writer’s groups?
  5. Feedback – Build relationships of give and take.  Giving feedback will help my writing as well.  Get back on Zoetrope.
  6. Submission Strategy – I’m already using a calendar to keep track of contest deadlines, but could be better arranged for the whole year.  FilmFreeway is a good resource to use more fully.  Get more than one script ready for submission.
  7. Nothing.  Relax…for a minute. 😉

I hope you find this information as useful as I did.  Happy Writing!

What Happens in Vegas Gets Blogged

Ladies night out.

In Vegas this is not an unusual occurrence.  There were at least 4 brides-to-be among the crowd.  But for me, well, that’s another story.  This is how it all began…

A young lady at work asks, “What are you doing Thursday night?”

I answer sort of skeptically because generally, I’m a flake, “This Thursday?  Nothing?  Why?”

“Wanna see some half naked men?”

I blink.  “Uh, yeah.”

Thunder

The ladies in our events department were given free tickets to the Thunder from Down Under.  For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it’s like Chippendales, with accents.  Well-muscled men dance and flex and pretty much tease the crowd into a frenzy of handsy, screaming, lose your inhibitions (mostly) women.

It’s a good time.

We ended up at what now seems like a strategically placed table, and for some reason The Sis and I ended up at the front of it.  In the line of fire, so to speak.  So it really should come as no surprise, but totally did, that for the first “grab a woman and drag her up on stage” moment, I was chosen.

Uh oh.

The seasoned dancer, “Alexander” was a big and burly guy with a full man beard, and was thankfully as tall as I was.  (You’ll understand why this is important later.)  Many of the other guys were quite slight in comparison.  He spun me around and made gestures that made the women squeal.  It was all a blur except for one thought, “Heels, don’t fail me now!”

He tells me to “relax”.

All right.  I know I’m at a show that induces women to forget themselves, and asks them to check their reserve at the door, but at this point, I had only had one drink.  And I’m half English.  This is about as relaxed as you, Alexander, are gonna get.

He sits me in a swivel chair and continues to dance, thrust, and gesture.  I’m like a deer in the headlights, not quite sure what to do.  I try to find my friends beyond the blinding light, and I can see hints of them waving their arms and screaming in encouragement.

I decide to ham it up.

I’m uncomfortable, and am one of those girls who would rather make conversation than feel them up.  This is their job.  Yes, they’re gorgeous, and sexy, and have accents, but do I really want to slide my hands up and down their sweaty flesh in front of a bunch of strangers?!  Well, when I put it that way…

No!

He tells me to relax, again.

I kind of what to yell at him that I am.

Another blur of seconds pass, and he tells me to hold on tight.  Ah, crap.  He’s going to attempt to pick me up.  And he does.  (At 6 feet tall, this is a huge bonus as pretty much everyone I know is unable to do this.  I swoon a little inside.)  I think I had my eyes squeezed tight out of fear, and clung onto him like a baby monkey, so it came as a surprise when he laid me down upon the stage.

More dancing happens.  All I can hear are the women screaming.  I’m sort of shell shocked.

He flips me over onto my stomach and I pose.  The ladies laugh.  After a few more moves, it’s over.  My heels are still a burden as he helps me up and embraces me in a sweaty hug and kisses my cheek.  I think I thanked him.  For what I’m not sure.  The memories?

He helps me navigate the stairs, because I’m both unnerved and embarrassed, and I fall back into my seat desperate for my drink.

My friends love the whole thing.  Later in the ladies room, I hear some of the women talking about me.  One of them tells me I should’ve taken more advantage of Alexander.  I kind of laugh it off, but I’m reassured by the fact that none of the other women taken up on stage did any groping either.

Maybe it’s that thing of having the spotlight on you when you haven’t sought it out.  You’re not prepared, you’re unsure.

Overall, it was a memorable evening.  There was a lot of laughter and I bonded with some of the ladies I work with.  The next day it was THE topic of discussion.  They had told everyone.  Even the GM had a few jokes for me.

So, you might be wondering what this has to do with anything I normally talk about here…well, the dancer sort of looked like a Dragon Age character, or two. 😉  He’s the third from the left, but I’m intrigued by the Chris Evans look-a-like who was sadly absent that evening.  Also, as the name of my blog suggests, I have a terrible memory, so what happens not only in Vegas, but anywhere really, goes viral, as a reminder. 😉

Quote of the Week

PassionIgnore the working out aspect of this quote (unless you’re also into that) and think on what the words mean.  Where do you spend this kind of energy?

Is it on your writing (or other form of art)?

I know I don’t always put such passion into my work, as any artist knows, not all days encourage such intensity of emotion, but most days, we should have it.

As a “yet to be professional” screenwriter, I’m passionate about everything I write because they are the stories I want to tell.  It’s my hope, in time, I will have the opportunity to feel this same intensity on a professional level.  Because if we’re not passionate about our art, then why are we doing it?

It’s a thankless path for the most part, well, at least until we “make it”.  It’s hard and it’s lonely and nobody cares about our struggles – their concern is for the final result, so we have to have passion.

I spoke with a fellow writer once who wanted to give up.  They hadn’t had any success and just didn’t feel the drive to continue.  My advice was to take a break and see if they missed it.  Like a relationship, which is pretty much what it is, a little perspective via distance can help a great deal.  Hopefully, a little time away will reignite the fire, but if not, they won’t waste any more precious time on something that doesn’t spark such emotion.

Because I believe that this is something we all want to find – something that drives us, something that we’re willing to give up sleep for, and let our minds wander off to…

So tell me.  What are you passionate about write now? 😉