back to the grind.

After 90 days that included major surgery, recovery from that surgery, author visits, writing, lots of Netflix and DVD bingeing, travel, a writing workshop, visits to family, signing with an agent!!, losing my sweet Helena, and freelance work, tomorrow I head back to Humana. The DayJob™ is back.

I have mixed feelings! On the one hand, it’ll be nice to make money again, and after what happened the past couple of weeks in/on Amazon, Anderson’s Bookshop, Target, Whole Foods, Sephora, The Disney Store, Memebox, Planner Chick Designs—you get the idea—this is a good thing. I have a few credit cards to pay off, I want to start saving big time again, and also buy fun stuff.

I’ll once again have some structure to my day, which I’m both sad and happy about. It’s a good thing to have structure, right? But also, I’ll have structure, and accountability, and expectations, and sometimes that is scary. It shouldn’t be. I’ve been doing this a long time. I know I’m sad about losing the ability to keep my own hours. My body naturally wakes up between 1030am-12noon, and I tend to stay up until 3 or 4am. That’s just how I work best, and going to bed early tonight for a 745am alarm is going to feel weird. I have some melatonin to help with that!

I plan to continue working from home the majority of the time, which will help. Except my kitty cat has turned the living room into his giant litter box. We took him to the vet, and since he is so old, we opted not to do the biopsy. Instead, I’ve switched his food. I want to get him on all prescription food, but I need to get a MedCard since the vet is always out of the stuff. In the meantime, I have him on single ingredient food–the expensive stuff from Petsmart. Money is no object when it comes to my remaining kitties. I couldn’t stand a loss so soon after Helena. Maybe I’m overcompensating, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

My brain is all over the place, apparently. Sorry, but not really. I will have to spend mornings cleaning up after Fi before I can begin working. I have puppy pads everywhere to help with the clean up. He’s old—nearly 18—so I can’t be too mad at him.

I’m finishing up the revisions for my agent (!!! This is still very thrilling to me !!!). I have a write-in this weekend at Rena’s place (YAY I get to see Rena!), so I plan to really buckle down and knock it all out. I told my agent I’d have my revisions to her by 4/17. So I have time… but this weekend I’ll be in a place to really focus. I’m excited!

But for now, I’m going to spend my last night of “freedom” eating fish and chips, watching the OC on DVD, and reading. I’m going to take a long bath, do a face mask, and get everything laid out tonight so I won’t be a mess in the morning. I’m so glad tomorrow is Friday, which means I have a weekend to look forward to right away!

Wish me luck!!

current & random.

I last did this survey in January 2005. Read on to learn more than you ever cared to know about me. 😀

(Funnily enough, some of the answers haven’t changed in 12 years, others are so so so different)

[ Current Clothes ] “I Stand With Standing Rock” tee-shirt
[ Current Mood ] tired and a bit overwhelmed
[ Current Music ] n/a – Watching The OC
[ Current Taste ] BBQ Fritos
[ Current Make-up ] none
[ Current Hair ] topknot
[ Current Annoyance ] nothing
[ Current Smell ] moisturizer
[ Current thing I Ought To be Doing] working, probably
[ Current Desktop Picture ] pretty, shiny, and pink
[ Current Favorite Band ] not a band, but I love Sia, Halsey, Tove Lo
[ Current Book You’re Reading] a bunch of different ones at the same time
[ Current CD In CD Player] CD player! Heehee! Told you this was old!
[ Current DVD In Player] The OC
[ Current Color Of Toenails ] rose gold
[ Current Refreshment ] Vitamin Water
[ Current Worry ] that I won’t nail my revisions, therefore letting my agent down

~~~~~~
BASICS
Name: Ronni
Sex: Female
Birthday: 12.20
Height: 5’1″
Hair Color: Golden
Eye Color: Hazel
Eye Color Of Choice: I like my eyes. Sometimes I wish they were greener, but hazel is pretty nonetheless.
Writing Hand: Right

BODY ILLS AND SKILLS
Nervous Habits: I do that leg shake thingy… and I play with my ear when I’m nervous and/or need to relax
Do You Bite Your Nails? When I’m very stressed or upset
Are You Double Jointed? No
Can You Roll Your Tongue? Yes
Can You Blow Spit Bubbles? Yes
Can You Cross Your Eyes? Yes

CLOTHES
On the average, how much money do you carry in your purse/wallet?: None of your business!
What jewelry do you wear 24/7?: Tiffany necklace, wedding ring
Favorite Piece of Clothing: Probably my grey hoodie

FOOD
Do you wind your spaghetti or cut it? Wind, for sure
Have you ever eaten Spam? Yup.
How often do you brush your teeth? Twice a day

HYGIENE
How often do you shower/bathe? Every other day, unless I’m going out
How long does your shower last?: Probably 10-15 minutes.
Hair drying method: Depends. Hair dryer if I want to straighten my hair, air dry if I want my curls to fly
Have you ever colored/highlighted your hair? Yes
What colors has your hair been? I highlighted it. It looked good but destroyed it. My hair took a long time to recover, so I’m never doing that again.
Do you paint your nails? I get my toes done sometimes

MANNERS
Do you swear?: Hell yes
Do you ever spit? Ew no, gross

FAVORITES
Actor: Theo James, Jordan Rodrigues
Actress: Shailene Woodley
Food: Spaghetti
Month: December
Day: Friday night
Cartoon: n/a
Shoe Brand: Sanuk, Doc Marten, Ugg
Subject in school: Dance/gymnastics
Color: Pink, purple
Person to talk to online: Rena
Sport: Gymnastics
Body part on/in you: Eyes
Body part on the opposite sex: Hair, eyes, lips
TV show: Jane the Virgin, Dance Academy
Movie: too many to name
Holiday: Christmas
Magazine: Teen Vogue
Vacationing Spot: Disney World
Thing To Do In The Summer: Enjoy the warm, eat ice cream, hang with Aidan
Thing To Do In The Winter: Write, buy and wear cute hats, scarves, and gloves. Celebrate Christmas, shop the clearance racks.
Perfume: Arboretum
TV Station: n/a

IN AND AROUND
The CD Player: n/a
Person you talk most on the phone with: n/a
Ever taken a cab? Yes
Do you regularly check yourself out in store windows and mirrors? Of course
What color is your bedroom? Light brown
Do you use an alarm clock? Nope, I use my phone or iPad
Name one thing you are obsessed with: Korean skincare
Window seat or aisle?: Aisle. My tiny bladder demands as such
What’s your sleeping position? All over
Even in hot weather do you use a blanket? I always sleep under a comforter and/or blanket.
Do you snore? Adam says I do. I don’t believe him
Do you sleepwalk? No
Do you talk in your sleep? No
Do you sleep with a stuffed animal? Yes :)
How about with the light on? I often fall asleep with the light on
Do you fall asleep with the TV or radio on? No

angel kitty.

Beautiful Helena

I lost my precious Helena Tuesday, March 14, 2017. I was out of town, so Adam found her. He said she was acting drunk the night before, and she was gone the next morning. The vet thinks it was as a stroke.

Helena came to live with us July 12, 2008. She was a special case. She’d come from a hoarder’s house, had dental issues, and obvious psychological issues. She’d been returned to PAWS, a no-kill shelter, numerous times.

But her first night, she and Crookshanks bumped noses and got along right away. She also trusted and loved Aidan from the first moment she set eyes on him. It took her a minute to warm up to me, and then to Adam.

Pretty Helena

Helena was a naughty kitty. There is no way around it. She peed everywhere, she bit people, she was always on the counter or stove. She would use the litter box only if we were watching. And sometimes she wouldn’t even go then. We’d considered taking her back, but we just could not. I simply refused to give up on her.

Once she realized we weren’t going to take her back, she relaxed and warmed up to us big time. When I came out of my bedroom, she’d run to to me and rear up on her hind lets so she could get pet. She howled when she was ready for her canned food, or simply a head rub. She followed me into the bathroom almost every time I had to go, and she’d lie on the floor and roll around meowing until I rubbed her belly. She loved cat treats and she loved eating.

She also loved us. She’d cuddle with me every chance she got. She wasn’t a lap kitty, but she loved to lie behind my head when I was working. She’d roll down my back when I leaned forward. Or, she sat next to me, purring like a purring thing that purrs. I got the long blinks from her, and she licked me a lot, which meant she thought I was part of her family. She trusted me, and that’s a big deal for a cat.

Beautiful Helena

She was also so beautiful. Female orange cats are very rare. So she was special in more than one way. I did love her, idiosyncrasies and all. And I miss her every day.

I hope where ever she is, there is a lot of canned food, cat treats, and pets for her.

RIP my second sweet angel kitty.

Now I have two.

breakthrough.

Untitled

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.

Ten years ago, my novel, ONLY YOURS, got rejected by its last publisher.
I was drowning in debt and financial troubles.
I was a single mom, living in an apartment with the weirdest neighbors ever, and working in a job that was… hard. (The work was great, the co-workers were great, but the culture was challenging.)
My boyfriend (now poor husband) at the time was long distance.

My writing well was draining. I tried, and only produced crap. Well, there are a few good parts here and there, but for the most part? Nothing. No novels, not even short stories or poems. Just snippets and false starts and oh God, it was hopeless.

So I gave up on publishing.

That was ten years ago.

After I moved to Chicago, I decided to focus on “real” things. Things that made me money. It was hard at first. The job market in Chicago is tough. But somehow I found my way and now there are times I have to turn work away because I get so much. This is a blessing.

I worked in advertising agencies. Long, demanding hours. Six day workweeks. Plus freelance! I was making so much money but I was sick and unhealthy and stressed. I started getting grey hairs!

Lily Pads & Yellow Flower
 

I trained to be a yoga teacher. And while I will *never, ever* regret that year—really one of my happiest, most intense, and most amazing—I decided I didn’t want to teach yoga.

I was an extra in a movie, and decided I wanted to be an actress. That journey was one of the hardest things, and I don’t mean the trying to get famous or even book jobs part. I mean the research, the studying, the self-exploration, the creativity it takes to embody a whole new person and make that person real and whole and true. I liked acting, but friends, I just didn’t love it enough for the amount of hustle it entails. So I was content to work as an extra for a season, and hang out in the background, eating junk food and hanging out with my friends who were extras.

That last experience yanked me back to my writing roots. I’d been writing crap on and off this whole time, but often abandoned stories about five thousand words in. Then work got too demanding and I couldn’t write if I wanted to. But being on set? It’s like being IN a story. And I guess the combination of background work and acting classes woke up my creative mind. I also went back to my roots. I love writing love stories. The day I woke up and said “I’ll just write a love story,” things clicked. And the words began to flow.

I finished my first novel since 2006. It was a hot mess. It still needs work. But I did it. I DID THAT.

I started writing it without the intent of pursuing publication. I was rusty. I was out of the loop so I didn’t have critique partners or a writing community to guide me through. This story was meant to be fun. But then it kept growing and developing into something more. Something that someone else might want to read. So I changed my goal. And started working harder. I found critique partners. I began studying the craft again. I wrote and revised and wrote and revised… and there is STILL work to be done.

But it feels like home.

I often lament about the publishing journey. It’s hard, and the constant NOs and rejections and “go back and try agains” can really do a number on one’s self esteem and dreams. I tried to quit writing again last summer after a heartbreaking rejection. I moved all my documents to the recycle bin. I muted all my writing friends on twitter and facebook. And I grieved. and I can’t think of a time when I felt more WRONG in my life. I’m a writer. I have to write. So I decided, I can write, but I’m done with publishing. My manuscript was with agents and I was seriously considering pulling them off submission, and settling into my “real” life of freelance and contract editing, cleaning up cat poop and vomit, and trying to figure out where to put all my stuff. I have a lot of stuff.

But something kept giving me hope. My writing friends pulled me out and pushed me. They put things in perspective for me. They told me to send my work to them if I felt like deleting it again. (I did have to do that, quite a few times.) Those conversations often blew up into encouragement. And so I lived to fight another day.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

I had a few more close calls earlier this year. Not quitting writing, just publishing. But remember, I still had those manuscripts out with agents. Something told me *not* to pull them off submission. Instead, I focused on my recovery and brainstorming TWO new books (which is wild, because I was scared I had nothing else in me), watching Netflix, sleeping all the sleeps, and catching up on reading.

I’m glad I didn’t pull them. I’m glad I didn’t quit. I’m glad I saw a McDonald’s commercial with a little girl who reminded me so much of little me (with better hair), and a brown father. I’d NEVER seen that before. Ever, ever, ever. That commercial touched me so much and reminded me how much representation matters. I’m glad I kept going, and that I *will* keep going.

Because friends, I’m now repped by Caitie Flum of the Liza Dawson Associates, and I could not feel more excited to be working with her! I’m so thrilled that she gets me and my book, she is a fierce fighter, and looks out for her clients. I’m eager to see where this journey will take us.

I still have a long way to go to realize that NYT best-seller dream. A lot more work, a lot more angst. But now I have an advocate, someone who believes in me, even when I might not believe in myself. (That happens a lot in this industry.) In the meantime, I’m so happy to be part of #teamcaitie!

edging back to normal.

Sunshine girl!! #selfie #nofilter #lilrongal Happy Friday! 😊☀️

Hello all!

Just felt like making an update because that’s what you do, right?

I’m heading to the tail end of my recovery from surgery. I can still remember those first few weeks, when sneezing and coughing was torture, when I had to be so careful getting out of bed and walking, and when I had to take my narcotics and ibuprofen every 6 hours to keep the pain at bay.

These days, my sleeping schedule is still a hot mess. I’m slipping back into freelance work, but maintaining boundaries when it comes to that. I still spend a lot of time watching Netflix and YouTube, but that’s OK for now. Right?

Some stuff’s happened since I last posted. My emotions have stabilized; I’m no longer on the brink of tears for whatever reason (likely hormones). I’m still having the hot flashes though. That’s interesting, let me tell you. As I said, I’ve started doing some freelance work again. I’ve started going out. Not often. I go to my therapy appointment every week, and sometimes I go to get food or something. I had my first trip to Target early this week and it was fun! I found an entire aisle of face masks and I was like 😍!

Adam got into a car accident. He wasn’t at fault, but the other driver was unlicensed, uninsured, and he ran. The blue Prius was totalled. So now we have an orange Prius named BB-8. It’s cute. While at the dealership, I sat in an Alfa Romeo. Beautiful machine, but super uncomfortable to get in and out of for a shorty like me. Now the Fiat convertible was NICE. Super impractical, but I loved it.

I didn’t get it.

Obviously.

I had a write in with some of my ChiYA friends, and then Rena and I spent the rest of the day hanging out. I’m afraid I kept her up way too late, but she said it was worth it. I also went to Stephanie Garber’s book signing event at Anderson’s Bookshop and got to have lunch with bookish people beforehand. It was a nice, writing and book filled weekend, and I even got some words down! 👍🏼

The week after, I attended a bookish people reception at Becky Anderson’s (of Anderson Bookshps) home. I love going to those things. I love chatting with authors and booksellers and publishing professionals. I learn so much, and I often get to see old friends as well.

We had some unseasonably warm days, but winter is back full force. I suspect we’ll see some blizzards in April or something like that to make up for high 60s and low 70s in February.

Netflixing all the time. I’ve restarted Dance Academy twice! Now I am skipping to my favorite episodes. I started playing LEGO Harry Potter again. I’ve fallen behind on my reading because I keep rereading Harry Potter books. When I’m feeling funny about my own writing but really want to read, I dive in JK Rowling’s world because I know I’ll never come close to that.

I tried a marble black cherry gelato at Frost Gelato and now I’m craving it all the time. Too bad it’s so far away from where I live! I guess I’ll just have it again when I’m in Naperville next. It’s SOOO good. The perfect amount of sweet and cool and a touch of savory. It’s delicious.

I had lunch with my Humana boss and she seems excited for me to come back in April. The food was great, too. Berlitz contacted me about some work coming in at the end of March and lasting through May. I can see the road ahead and it’s a busy one, but I’m trying to focus only on the present and my recovery.

Honestly, this recovery and down time was VERY much needed. I’m excited to get the all-clears from my doctor so I can start yoga again, and barre and/or dance down the road. I haven’t had a bath in ages and I miss sitting and relaxing in the warm water. A too long shower still makes me feel faint these days. I’m eager for a spa day with a massage and a facial. I’m excited to travel to the writing workshop next month and I want to be clear so I can sit in the hot tubs!

But I’m also enjoying all the resting and relaxing. I mean honestly, the best time to be down from major surgery is during winter, right? Because it’s not like I’m going to many places anyway. I hope I’ll be up to a Disney World trip later this year (and I KNOW I still owe you pictures from my 2016 trip!), but I’ve also been so many times, and I take longer trips now, so I know I can take it easy and not push myself like I’ve done in the past.

I have mixed feelings about returning to real life though. Because that means cleaning the apartment. And putting away my laundry from several weeks ago. And going out more and being responsible and adulting and I don’t want to think about that yet!!!

But it’s coming. So I must be ready.

So yay, a boring life update. I know you love those. I just wanted you all to know I’m doing OK. And better every day.

Now if only the cats would USE THE LITTER BOXES instead of pooping anywhere and everywhere….. 😩

Till next time!

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