Monthly Archives: November 2015

30 Day Writing Challenge, Day 17

Before I begin, I’d like to take a second to acknowledge that I’m taking more than 30 days to complete this challenge. It occurred to me that I have no real deadlines on my blog (save the deadlines for things that pay the bills, if you ask me), and that undue pressure sometimes keeps me from finishing projects.  That said…

17. A quote you try to live by.

Ooh, an easy one. I heard this one when I was in college, and it stuck so much that even though I thought that part of life was well behind me, I chose to immortalize in on my blog and my Twitter profile many years later.

“We’re here for a good time– not for a long time.” -Arnold the Juggler

Chris Arnold is a knifethrower and juggler who has been working the Renaissance Faire circut for 30 years (most of them with his son). I have no idea if he came up with the words of wisdom above or if he got them off a fortune cookie or radio personality or whatever. I heard him say it, and I want to live it. Keeps me from taking myself too seriously in life as well as online (something that happens way too often these days).

I was 19 and was selling popcorn out of baskets at the New York Renaissance Faire, making decent money on the weekends while studying to be an English teacher. Now I’ve ended my teaching career and have gone back to the NYRF for two seasons now, instead selling wooden swords and shields. Arnold never left. It’s not the kind of life everyone would want, but it’s the one that has worked for him. I think that’s something worth emulating.

Here’s to knowing what’s important.


30 Day Writing Challenge, Day 16

16. Bullet your entire day

  • Wake up… anywhere between 6:45 and 8am (my husband lets me sleep in. Maybe he shouldn’t.)
  • Make or buy coffee and breakfast (I usually just make my own, because I’m the only coffee drinker in the house.)
  • Watch the Today Show (I’ll be honest: I watch it for entertainment and not news. They’re nice and all, but if I want to learn something about my world, I’ll find BBC World News America.)
  • Attempt work-related things (take a cruise line class, make a couple dummy quotes for cruises, check if payments are due, answer soccer club emails, update information for the soccer club, search for freelance editing/proofreading jobs, and putz around on Facebook and Twitter– like everyone else at work.)
  • Let Buttercup watch her daily allotment of TV (Educational/PBS-type stuff.)
  • Naptime for Buttercup: chores for me. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming. I also watch some daytime talk shows, but they’re recorded so I can skip anything I don’t want to see– takes 2 hours of TV down to about 45 mins.
  • Get Pint Size Genius and Toughie from the bus and started on their snack and homework. Probably do some other chores I didn’t get to before–but today I’m blogging. At some point Buttercup wakes up from her nap.
  • Make and eat dinner: my kids aren’t very into meat right now. That’s okay; Thanksgiving is next week and they’ll be all over that turkey.
  • Take someone to soccer practice…sometimes 2 someones.
  • (Personal training– this one’s new, and only 2x/week. And that’s plenty.)
  • Get home around the same time as the Hubs.
  • Usher dirty/sweaty kids to shower, and then all kids to vitamin taking, teeth brushing, and pajama wearing.
  • Other chore I didn’t get to earlier while kids are sent to bed in age order from youngest to oldest (except Buttercup: thanks to the 3-hour nap she takes, she goes to bed the same time as Regulator).
  • Watch the TV shows I share with the Hubs.
  • Go to bed to do it all over again.

Here’s to routine.

30 Day Writing Challenge, Day 15

15. Three pet peeves

I try not to let things bother me. Really, I do.
But sometimes, it proves so damn difficult…

1. When my mother “helps” me around the house… now, hear me out on this. I am well aware that a lot of people wish they had my problem, and I absolutely believe that my mother is trying to help but…. gah! If she puts away my dishes, but they’re all in the wrong place to the point where I have to do it all over again, is it really “putting them away”? If she’s “cleaning up” by shoving everything into boxes and bags and I can’t find anything, how is that helping? If she throws away things that I need without asking me if I need them… well, you get the idea.

2. Poor grammar. Slang is okay. Colloquialisms are fine. But consistently showing that you have not taken advantage of the language arts that have been provided you by your compulsory education is just totally uncalled for, and makes me upset. Someone taught you how to write properly: don’t insult them by ignoring your instruction.

3. Micro-misogyny. This one is kind of heavy, but it’s really important. I never experienced it until recently, so it’s really strange now. If I send out a message in my capacity as a person in some sort of authority, no one else needs to follow up on that message. Especially someone who is not a part of the organization and has, you know, a penis. It’s 2015: it just doesn’t have to happen anymore.

Here’s to keeping your worries few and your blessings many.

30 Day Writing Challenge, day 14

14. Your life in 7 years

Hmph. Has to be better than now, right?

Honestly, now doesn’t suck all that much. Better than 7 years ago.

I had 3 little boys, one of whom was having behavioral problems in school, I  was getting increasingly frustrated in my job, the Hubs had just started going back to school for his job, and we’d put ourselves into serious debt because we needed a car that fit everyone.

Now, the 3 boys are bigger and all are doing well, I left that job (and 2 others since), the Hubs is a licensed professional thanks to his education and well-compensated for his position.

And the car is paid off. And now totally full (because it seats 6).

So…7 years from now? My books will be published, the kids will be going to soccer academies, the Hubs will be in charge of 2 store locations, possibly even part-owner, and we’ll be living comfortably.

Go big or go home, right?

It’s good to put this stuff out to the universe. It helps me with my decision making, to do what I have to do to get where I want to be.

Here’s to continuing onward and upward.

30 Day Writing Challenge, Day 13

13. Your commute to and from work/school/etc.

HA! I was hoping you would ask me that!

I’m working on a full transition from SAHM (Stay-at-home Mom) to WFHM (Work-from-home Mom). My commute is all of about 30 seconds: the time it takes for me to get to my computer. There, I blog in hopes of getting more feedback (so if you’re reading this– PLEASE leave a comment!), I tweak my novel (although I usually set up my tablet and Bluetooth keyboard), I take online classes on different cruise lines and other travel options, contact clients and make payments on their behalf, and figure out ways to promote my business. The only exception to my “commuting” is when I drive to my tutoring appointments, which aren’t very far at all.

My kids take the bus to school, so I don’t have a school commute. That may change if we move to a different part of town (but I can’t imagine not living in the town we’re in– it’s the perfect little suburb).

My biggest commuting issue is taking the boys to soccer-related stuff. Someone has practice every day of the week. Games can be an hour away, and sometimes simultaneous and in opposite directions from home. Training (especially the indoor kind) often places an emphasis on timeliness, something my 3-year-old definitely does not understand. So it’s not easy… but I know it’s worthwhile.

Here’s to my current chauffeur status. May it all prove worthwhile.

PS: Speaking of commutes and soccer, here’s me having a little chat on commuting with Eric Wynalda (he spared his family a 3am wakeup call by staying in the hotel from which he broadcasts analysis for Bundesliga matches). Talk about friends in high places!

30 Day Writing Challenge, day 12

12. Two words/phrases that make you laugh.


Confession time: occasionally, I have the sense of humor of a teenage boy.

I know this because every time I see Wil Wheaton tweet out the statement, “[CITY] I AM IN YOU,” I giggle outright. He does it all the time, and yet my reaction is always the same. Is it meant to be ridiculously funny? Probably not, but it is to me.


I also get a case of the giggles when I hear sportscasters refer to something as a “come from behind win.”


Here’s to the little things that just get you going.

30 Day Writing Challenge, day 11

11. Your current relationship; if single, discuss that too.

Married. 12 years.

What? I talk about the Hubs all the time: so much so that “the Hubs” shows up on my predictive text bank more easily than “predictive text.”

I’m not getting sappy and romantic about it. I choose not to. He knows how I feel.

30 Day Writing Challenge, day 10

10. A fruit you dislike and why

First, I’m going to take a second to appreciate that the prompt uses the word ‘dislike’ and not ‘hate.’ Those words are not interchangeable. Hate war; hate poverty; hate oppression: don’t hate people or things. That being said…

Fruit, generally speaking, is totally fine with me. I prefer fruit over vegetables when trying to make healthier choices. Bananas are probably my favorite. Smoothies for days, I tell ya!

Occasionally, however, I find fruit… disappointing. The dry orange, the sour grape, the bruised mango, or the mealy peach. Almost feels like a punishment for making a healthy choice. Twinkies and Doritos are bad for you, but at least they are consistent in their badness.

I think, when I am forced to consider the fruit I actually dislike, I have to say pineapple. I can almost always grab an apple or a pear, but fresh pineapple is a chore. I could go for the pre-cut stuff, but I’m more likely to opt for the canned varieties. And when it comes to the occasional disappointment, fresh pineapple carries the greatest risk. I’ve taken bites that are a mouthful of fibrous nothingness.

However… I recently discovered ground cherries. They look like tiny yellow tomatillos with their papery hulls and taste like pineapple. I need to look for those again–they were so yum.

Here’s to making better food choices.

30 Day Writing Challenge, day 9

9. Your feelings on ageism

I’m not a big fan of anyone being treated unfairly. And I don’t get why people have such a problem with people who are older. We should be congratulating them: the alternative is unthinkable!

What I am a big fan of is the TV series “The Golden Girls.” I can quote that show up and down. I’ll watch re-runs just about any time they’re on (did so tonight, in fact). Back during my freshman year of college, a classmate really put himself out there by quoting the show in reference to our class discussion. Hopefully he was relieved to see that the vast majority of the class completely understood his point.

I have one grandparent left: my paternal grandfather, a former dairy farmer and cheesemaker in Ecuador. He’s in his 90s and lives with one of his 12 kids. In Ecuador. He came up for my wedding. 12 years ago.
The Hubs has both his grandmothers still living. One lives with my in-laws; the other is still in her own home with the help of a 24-hour home health aide. My kids see them quite often.

Here’s to the older generation: may we always value them.

30 Day Writing Challenge, Day 8

8. A book you love and one you didn’t

I tell people all the time that I was the “world’s worst English major.” When you see those lists of the 100 books every adult should read go around Facebook, I routinely check off fewer than 20 of them. I was the kid who didn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. Catcher in the Rye and Slaughterhouse Five were extra credit assignments. I was even so bad about reading that I called my best friend to talk to him about The Handmaid’s Tale 3 months after we were supposed to read it for class. Did you know it was actually that good?!?!

I was a little more dilligent as a teacher. Some of our reading selections were fantastic, from The Kite Runner to The Color of Water, to Water for Elephants and In Cold Blood. But then there was Frankenstein and Ethan Frome. Blech.

Oddly enough, I had the opportunity to make a reference to Orwell’s 1984 on Twitter today. The guy I was talking to hasn’t read the book, and while I didn’t recommend it (because I hate it), I must have said enough about it to convince him that it was worth the read. And it is worthwhile. But I still hate it.

So…. book I love….book… I … l o v e . . .

Right now, I’d have to say Unattached Male by Anne Harding Woodworth. To be fair, it’s the first book I read just for myself in a long time. And it’s a poetry novella, so the fact that I’m currently on my 5th read-through makes me sound all educated and stuff when it’s quite easy to let the words roll through you. I had to wait about a month for it to arrive from Salzburg (yes– that Salzburg), but it was definitely worth the wait. Every single poem reminded me of college coursework fodder but referenced things that were so specific and relevant. I needed Google for something on every page. It was an opportunity to expand my horizons beyond suburbia and the hum-drum routines of life. I’m all about getting more from her catalog (36 years old and still with a Christmas list).

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Classic wordsmithing. Always current. Woodworth is my continuing education course. <a href=””>#ThankYou</a&gt; <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; Sylvana Cymballine (@WhiteZinWench) <a href=”″>November 3, 2015</a></blockquote>

As for a book I hate… hmph. Anything by Dickens or Hemingway (although I really have been thinking of giving Papa another try). Most dystopian novels (Brave New World or the aforementioned 1984) get on my nerves– I can’t believe the human spirit gets crushed so completely at any point so that a totalitarian government can overtake the world. I want to demand more of the human spirit. I guess that’s why the book I hate most is Lord of the Flies. I mean– what an awful concept! Nasty brutish kids on an island, and is any part of it a surprise? Popular kids are gonna be popular; ostracized kids will be ostracized. It made me angry every time I had to read it. So there you have it: the best and worst books. For me. Right now.

But I have to say, this mom makes a pretty good case against Goodnight Moon. Here’s to the wordsmiths: may their words live on whether we like them or not.