Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goals for 2010

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I used to, and they used to consist of the usual promises to eat better, work out more, get better organized, live more in the present, blah blah blah…

And then, of course, by mid January or at the latest February, half of those are forgotten, the rest lost in the daily activity of life.

New Year’s Resolutions are sort of a running joke, anyway, aren’t they? Everyone makes them, just so they can break them it seems. And why wait until January 1st (well, technically 2nd, because nobody starts on the first because it’s a holiday, right?) to make changes in your life? What’s wrong with December 21st? Or July 15th? October 10th?

It just all seems so silly to me.

And yet, there is something inspiring and refreshing about the start of a New Year that makes you want to take control of your life, and make things happen. It’s true, silly or not, January 1st holds a certain significance for new beginnings.

So, I decided that I would take advantage of this feeling, but not fall victim to the uselessness of resolutions.

Instead, I make plans, I have GOALS for the coming year.

It’s so much more productive for me to focus on actions I plan to take, instead of a “vague” idea of what I will and will not do.

That said, here are some of my “GOALS” for 2010:

1. Finish that novel – Yep, this is a lofty one, but I have all year to work on it. In winning “NaNoWriMo”, I accomplished 75% of this novel. This leaves me a full year to write the remaining 25% and focus on the editing process. Winning “NaNoWriMo” also provided me with a free “printing” of my manuscript, and I have until June to use that, so, this gives me a deadline of June to have a “working” manuscript done, so I can then focus on how in the world I’m finally going to get my work published. I can do this. I will do this. The goal is not so much to get it published as it is to make this novel a daily part of my life.

2. Stay healthy – that’s it. No crazy “lose this much” or “go to the gym this many times per week” scheme that is sure to fail. Just stay on the path I set for myself two years ago, and continue the daily exercise of focusing on being healthy. There is weight to be lost, and then maintained, and there is a goal for being at the gym regularly, but these are things I already focus on, and not some big resolution. The goal is simply to continue on my path.

3. Put God ahead of everything – if I’ve learned anything in the last few years, it is that without God in my life, things always make less sense. And yet, for some reason, I let the rest of my life overshadow this one most important relationship. I’m getting better at it, and I just hope to continue on this faith journey with my priorities straight.

4. De-clutter – and by that I mean EVERYTHING. My closets, my drawers, my computer files, my Twitter and FaceBook accounts, my toxic friendships, my calendar, my mind. Good grief there is too much STUFF everywhere. I need to simplify.

And finally:

5. Fall In Love. What? It can happen. If I put it on the list, then I’m putting out there in the universe. So, there you have it.

What are your goals and plans for 2010?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Avatar - Movie Review

I kept this review very basic and spoiler free. Read on!

I first saw a preview for Avatar a few months ago, and thought it looked interesting. I remember thinking "yep, I'll want to see that". But then, when the movie was released, and all the insanity around it broke out, I lost a bit of interest. I couldn't understand what all the hype was all about. I wanted to see it, but it wasn't a "must see", by any means.

But, the other night, my cousins and I decided to go check it out, and figured that since we were going anyway, we might as well watch it in 3D, right?

So, dorky 3D glasses on our faces, we settled down for a very long movie. I'll admit, the first 10 minutes or so were oddly uncomfortable. Getting used to the 3D was awkward and there was a certain amount of "motion sickness" to it all. But soon enough, the 3D seemed natural, and I was able to just enjoy the beauty of the images on the screen.

And beautiful they were. This movie was absolutely beautiful. Breathtakingly so. I will be incredibly surprised if it doesn't get nominated and win for every category having to do with set, costuming, etc.

The 3D just simply added to the beauty, and fit perfectly with the fact that the movie was taking place in a world that was so unlike our own, filled with magical plants and gorgeous surprises around every corner.

I'll make this clear, there is no other way to watch this movie but in 3D. Don't bother to watch it otherwise.

As far as the story line itself goes, it was also a beautiful story, filled with awe, wonder, sadness, rage, fantasy, and every other emotion you can think of. In order to avoid posting spoilers, I'm going to skip any summary of the plot, and let you watch it for yourself. I will, however say that this movie served to show both the beautiful soul as well as the ugly nature of humanity. I was both touched and angered while watching this movie. Reminded of how the human race is so quick to destroy anything different and beautiful. But also how amongst us there are always those who will sacrifice everything to save that very thing.

The cast was fantastic. Sam Worthington as Jake Sully captured both the human and the avatar perfectly. Giovanni Ribisi was a pleasant surprise for me (i'm a big fan of his) as Parker Selfridge, the rich benefactor of the entire project. He always seems to play these conflicted characters, and is always so great at this. Zoe Saldana was beautiful as Neytiri.

The movie is almost three hours long, and yet, I found myself wanting more when it was over.

I don't have much more to say because I don't think my words can't do justice to this film. Honestly, if you are even remotely a fan of fantasy, go see it. If you love beautiful images, go see it. If you are a romantic, go see it. If you like watching movies that make you think and examine the world around you, go see it. If you like explosions and battles, go see it.

I'm going to easily say this is my favorite movie of 2009. How's that for a review? Just...go see it. In 3D. ;-)

Monday, November 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo - DONE

I did it. Wait, let me say that again... I. Did. It. Did what? Completed NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Wrote 50,000 words in 30 days! Actually, it was 50,592 words in more like (less like?) 20 days or so. Because there were at the very least 10 days when I wrote not ONE WORD. And today? I wrote over 8,000 of them in order to finish on time.

But, the important part? I did it!!!!

And even more important? I wrote good stuff. Really good stuff. This novel, which has been rolling around in my head, on paper, on disk drives, etc., for the last decade plus, has finally taken shape.

At the start of this month, I decided that instead of starting yet another novel that would never be finished, I was going back to my original "work in progress" to try to breath new life into. I was in love with my two main characters, but decided the story itself just wasn't working for me. So, I scrapped the entire thing and started from scratch with everything but the main characters...them I kept.

And the most amazing thing happened, it took about 35,000 words, and suddenly, the new story began to take shape, to have direction, to make perfect sense. Suddenly, it was all there in front of me.

Now, at 50,592 words, I know exactly where my characters are taking me. I probably have another 20,000 words or so before I'm done, and then, it'll be time to go back and edit, tweak, add some stuff...really make it work.

I am excited to keep working on it and see where I end up.

But, pssst...I DID IT!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Karina from the Block

Once in a while something will trigger not so much a memory as a feeling of the girl I used to be. It is in those moments that I look at my present life and wonder what the people who knew me then would think if they could see me now.

In all honesty, my present path is not necessarily unexpected. I’ve always been driven, hard working, determined to succeed. I’ve always been independent, serious, and strong. I’ve always been a person of faith, with a giving loving heart.

So, perhaps, the woman I am is in fact a natural byproduct of the girl I used to be. Deep down, where it matters most, I am who I’ve always been.

It is the on the surface, the outside me, that has changed so much. It was a gradual change, so subtle in fact, that I barely even noticed it as it happened.

But now and again, something will remind me of that other me, and a smile will form at the corner of my lips. Even more than wondering what my friends then would think of me now…I smile at the thought of what those who know me now, would think of the girl I used to be.

The few friends I have now who knew me then will know exactly what I speak of.

Let me explain in the quickest way I know how. Listening to the radio the other day, this song came on, I think it’s called “Sexy Chick” by David Guetta and the lyrics say something along the lines of “I’m trying to find the words to describe this girl, without being disrespectful”.

As I listen to that song, a song that is not exactly a musical masterpiece, a song that is about a hot girl in a club and all the ways her body moves that make this guy want to get to know her better, I laugh. Because this song? Has nothing at all to do with the woman I am today. And yet, something about that song pulls me in each and every time I hear it. There is a ring of nostalgia attached to this song, because once upon a time, I was that girl.

Once upon a time, when my friends and I spent every weekend at dance clubs, shaking our booties, flirting with men very much like the guy singing this song…that was the world I lived in.

Hell, I dated, fell in love, and had my heart broken by that guy. More than once. I was not your typical girl from the suburbs, crossing that line into the other side of the tracks for an adrenaline rush. I fit in that world, it was where I belonged more than anywhere else at that particular time in my life.

And yet, today, that world seems so distant to me. So foreign. In no way can I merge that version of me with this version of me and make sense of it all.

But, the truth is, the girl I used to be still lives inside me. Underneath the more suburban me is that club girl, and she still thoroughly enjoys reminders of her hip-hop life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

This One's Got Bite

What is it about Vampires? Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, which, by the way, might be a perfectly dank enough place to find yourself a vampire or two, there are a few Vampire themed events going on in pop culture at the moment.

The most obvious and anticipated one, is, of course, the release of New Moon, movie number 2 in the Twilight Series, which comes out today...or to be exact, last night, at midnight.... Just in case you are in any way doubtful about the SERIOUSNESS of this event, I encourage you to turn on your television, point your web browser to...oh any website with any news on it, or go ahead, check Twitter and it's Trending Topics. See, I told you!

But, I digress. Let’s get back to the Vampires.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have been infatuated with all things vamp since I picked up my first copy of The Vampire Lestat WAY back in my teens. I read through Ann Rice’s Vampire Chronicles with such voracity that I actually had to stop reading them at one point, such were the nightmares they were bringing out at night.

From the dark world Rice wrote about, I moved onto lighter fare, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With incredibly well written wit and sarcasm, this show, and later, it’s spin-off Angel, would supply me with all the vampires I needed for nearly a decade. The tortured Angel, the evil and yet so delectable Spike, true vamps who would burst into flames in sunlight, and couldn’t enter sacred ground. And of course, the “not completely human” girl, tortured in love with the vamp she can’t have, and the one she knows better than to get involved with.

After Buffy, truth be told, vampire lore lost its appeal to me for a while. There were the occasional movie, television show, or book, but it seemed pop culture had taken a break from worshiping the fanged ones.

And then, suddenly, out of the blue, they raised from their graves again, to completely saturate the market. Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, suddenly the vamps were back with a vengeance. At first, I resisted. I’d moved on, I’d left my vampire crushes behind. Angel was now solving crimes in an FBI suit and tie, Buffy was having babies and making really bad movies, Willow was friends with Barney, Spike was nowhere to be found, and I had left that world behind.

But like the supernatural power of persuasion these mythical beings are known to possess…I couldn’t stay away. Even as I made fun of his sparkly skin, and her dark gloomy emo attitude, I was pulled into Edward and Bella’s world. For the first time since having met my first vampire, however, I found myself siding with the other species. Yes folks, I am indeed on Team Jacob, even after book 4. I blame it not so much on Edward’s dark and gloomy as I do on Bella’s. I like the Bella Jacob brings out a whole lot more, so that wins him points. But regardless of my quips, I admit it, I’ve been sucked into the Twilight world, and I too will be going to see New Moon…just not this weekend. Before all the Twilight diehards go on the attack, let me clarify, I thoroughly enjoyed the books. They were fun reads. But I never found myself falling completely in love with any of the characters, and then, as if I wasn’t enough on the fence with Edward, the casting directors go and pick Rob Pattinson to portray him in the movies. He just didn’t fit for me, and ruined any chance I had of creating a more likeable imaginary character in my head. (I am now ducking to avoid all the objects being thrown at me). But, Twilight was enjoyable enough to suck me back into my love affair with Vampires.

Then there was True Blood. Where Twilight is chaste and innocent, True Blood is borderline um…well no, it actually crosses the line. Often. Still, the formula appears here as well. With the dark and tortured Vamp Bill Compton. The “not quite human” girl Sookie. The meaner, nearly evil Vamp Eric. And all the other creatures of the night we only hope not to ever dream about. But True Blood is not for the faint of heart. And yet, I love it. It is dark, and twisty, and just so plain wrong. And so, so good.

And then, more recently, I decided to give The Vampire Diaries a looksy. All I’d heard about the show was that it involved a (so far as we know it) human girl, and two vamps. Brothers. One, tortured and brooding, one dark and twisty. I’d also heard the talk of how it carried similarities to Twilight, but was in fact, based on books that were written well before Twilight was even dreamt up. That alone led me to investigate. And, I have to tell you, I’m hooked.

What Twilight lacks (both in the books and the movies) is a sense of humor about itself. As much as I’ve been sucked into that world, I’ve always felt something was lacking, and Vampire Diaries reminded me what it was. A little darker (albeit much lighter fare than True Blood), a little sexier (Stefan far out-sexys Edward, sorry girls), and Damon brought back the much beloved “Spike” for me. Dark, evil, twisted and…funny. In a “I’m making fun of you, of myself, of this very genre, but you just don’t see it” sort of way. I think this show has great potential, and am intrigued to see where it is taken.

And here I am…again completely smitten with those dark mysterious creatures of the night. What is it about Vampires anyway?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Retail Therapy?

If shopping were an Olympic sport, and bargain hunting a specialty, I would proudly stand on that podium, gold medal around my neck, bouquet of flowers in my hand, in the red, white, and blue designer jogging suit, singing along with our National Anthem.

I can shop like the best of them, and there isn’t a bargain I can’t sniff out.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been known for my fashion savvy, but along with that comes the knowledge that my extensive wardrobe has cost me less than probably one third of most people’s much smaller one.

I am a recreational shopper. Taking real pleasure in spending an entire
afternoon bouncing from store to store, sorting through racks and racks of clothing and shoes, walking away with bags of bargains.

I am a determined shopper. When I have my mind set on a particular
purchase, there is no stopping me from attaining my goal.

I am an educated shopper. If I want an item of expense, I’ve researched all alternatives, scoured all websites, found any lower priced options, and
clipped any coupons available.

I am an impulse shopper. But only if that impulse buy is on sale.

I very rarely pay full price for any item.

And I am, indeed, an emotional shopper.

When all else is stressing me out, when life isn’t going according to plan, when my emotions are getting the best of me…I shop. And most of the time, I instantly feel better.

But I am also reasonably responsible with my expenses, so I know when to stop. I know when too much is too much, and when I need to leave the
item behind and walk away empty handed.

In fact, more often than not, I will walk through a store holding on to those few items that grab my attention, only to put them back one by one before I ever make it to the register. Sometimes, the mere act of thinking I’m going to buy something is sufficient to give me that “shopper’s high”.

Yes, I am a shopaholic, but I am in full control of my addiction. My priorities
are in order. Bills first, pleasure shopping only if and when there is money left over.

And even then, I sometimes test myself, just to prove I have a handle on this habit of mine.

Such as this week when I decided that I was putting myself on a shopping fast. I’m not entirely sure how long this fast is supposed to last, I haven’t decided an endpoint, though, Thanksgiving feels right to me.

Those who know me are surely laughing at this point, because you all know this can’t possibly last very long…but it doesn’t really have to. I don’t NEED to curb my shopping. I just felt I should. For now. Just…because.

I like challenging myself.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NaNoWriMo - Half-Way There

This weekend marked the Half-way point for NaNoWriMo. At this point, if you haven’t already quit, you’ve probably threatened to do so at least a handful of times. I know I have. I’ve threatened to not only quit, but delete my entire manuscript and forget it ever existed.

Never mind this is a story that I’ve been carrying in my brain for the better part of the last 10 years. There is no “deleting” this story, it has haunted me, creeping up in the most unexpected ways, at the most inappropriate times. My two main characters are like old friends who live far away, but stop by for a visit every few years.

I miss them when they are not here, but when they are here, they tend to overstay their welcome, and drive me crazy.

But I love them dearly, and would never even dream of telling them to leave before they are ready to go. And when they do decide they’ve had enough…I miss them immediately after they’ve gone.

Their story, however, has evolved over the years. And as I tackle this new version of it with NaNoWriMo I find myself completely unsure of where it is going, and what they are trying to tell me.

One thing is for certain however, they are still completely and utterly in love with each other, and I am in turn, still madly and deeply in love with them and the driving force behind this story I must tell.

And that is all I know. I cannot tell you what genre my book will end up being, for I do not know. True, it is a love story, but it is something else as well, and they are just know, at the half way point, beginning to let me in on their secret.

So, you ask me, what is your book about exactly, and I laugh. Don’t ask me, ask them…but don’t expect an answer, for they will only tell you when they are good and ready.

And I? I’ll just keep writing away, reaching for the 50 thousand words, and beyond, and hoping they’ll trust me enough somewhere along the journey to clue me in to the destination.

And then, I’ll tell you all their secrets, I promise.

Friday, November 13, 2009

For the Sake of Brevity

Brevity is the soul of wit – Shakespeare

I have never been accused of being a woman of few words. Stop laughing, I know I talk (and/or write) A LOT.

Shut up! I can’t help it; I’m a lover of words, and therefore, take real pleasure in putting as many of them out there into the universe as I can.

Nowhere is this truer than here, on this blog. Once I get started writing a post, it seems to take on a life of its own and go on for days.

Trouble is, I find I have very little time to invest in writing my typically lengthy posts of late, and so I end up not writing much of anything instead.

Then, I go weeks without a blog post. And I miss blogging. I miss interacting with my readers, sharing of myself with all of you, telling you all the little things that inspire or intrigue me on a daily (or even weekly) basis.

I have an internal discussion with myself almost daily about whether or not it is time to hang up this here blogger’s cap and give it all up.

But then I have an anxiety attack and realize I could never do that. I’m just not a quitter.

So, I’m going to try a new experiment. Shorter blog posts. I’m not making any promises; after all…I hardly ever know when to shut up. But I’m going to attempt it, and see where that gets me.

What do you think?

We’ll start here. In fact…we’ll stop here for today.

Blessed is the man (blogger) who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. - George Eliot

Friday, November 06, 2009

Here we NaNoWriMo Again...

For those unfamiliar with it, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, also known as November, also known as a bunch of crazy people sign up to write 50,000 words in one month and then pull their hair out of their head trying to make their daily and weekly word counts, but if it all goes well, at the end of it, they have a novel. Or the beginning of a novel. Or something like that.


So, NaNoWriMo.

It’s a pretty lofty goal for just about anyone. 50,000 words in a month average out to a little over 1600 words per day. That may not sound like a lot, but look at it this way, this post? 560words. Yeah…1,600 words is a lot. Especially because writing a novel requires a story, characters, and it requires you to be able to keep that story going…writer’s block has a tendency to set in when you’re facing a deadline. At least it does for me. Add to that the fact that I work a 9-5 job, and have about 18 million other commitments coming up for the month of November and…well, yes, I’m absolutely insane for signing up for NaNoWriMo.

And yet, the challenge adds to it an element of urgency which forces me to focus and actually sit down and write daily. I’ve done it for at least two years now, completing the 50,000 word goal last year for the first time.

Truth be told, the novel I began last year has sat pretty much untouched since December 1st, but I have high aspirations of returning to it one day.

In the meantime, this year, I decided to bend the rules a WEEE little bit and pick up my eternal work in progress. The novel I began writing well over a decade ago and have yet to finish. Technically, this is a no-no for NaNo, as you are supposed to start from scratch. However, I believe the true spirit of NaNo is to get writers to WRITE, and the rest of the rules are more like “suggestions” for me.

Also, I really love the characters in that novel, and they have been begging me to finish their story for ages. I feel now is the time to do so. And, in all fairness to the rest of the NaNoWriMo participants, it is “almost” as if I’m writing a brand new novel, because, you see…besides the fact that I love my two main characters, and have previously rewritten the prologue to the novel…I’ve scrapped pretty much the entirety of the remainder of it. I decided that as much as I love the character, I hated the existing story. In the last decade of so, I have grown, I have changed, and so have they.

They have matured, they have formed new attitudes and created new lives for themselves, and the old story line just wasn’t working anymore. So I tossed it.

I can’t even tell you where this one is going, because I haven’t the slightest idea. I just know that my two characters, who I have loved and known for over a decade now, have a story to tell, and I am merely the medium. I’ll type the words, but they’ll be guiding them.

I can’t wait to see what they have to show me.

So off we go then...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Who's That Girl?

I have always prided myself on not being “that girl”. You know the one. The girl who’s sole purpose in life is to find “the one”. No matter where she is, or what she is doing, she’s on the lookout for Mr. Right.

The success or failure of any night out on the town depends solely on whether she met a guy, and if there are no available single men present, then the evening is a bust.

I have never been that girl.

When I am out, with friends, by myself, or among my family, I am out for the purpose of enjoying myself. I go about my business, sometimes completely oblivious to the number of eligible (or otherwise) men in the room.

I’m not on the prowl, never have really been, and if a man happened to approach me, that was simply considered a nice bonus to the evening. Unless he happened to be creepy, in which case, it just added humor to the situation.

And yet, lately, I have to admit that I’m seeing more of “that girl” in me. Still not solely focused on “the hunt”, but more aware of my surroundings. It appears the “single man” radar has been turned on, and I’ll be damned if I know how to shut this thing off.

Perhaps that annoying little biological clock which I swore I wasn’t programmed with has indeed awakened in me. Maybe seeing 35 right around the corner has kick started some sort of timer. Maybe it has nothing to do with that, and everything to do with my new found confidence in this new, slimmer body of mine. I’m once again feeling flirtier, and therefore more hyper aware of potential flirtees?

Whatever the case, I find that I’m more focused on the opposite sex, on “potential talent” as my friend Traveler calls it.

When I head out now, be it to the grocery store or a night out with the girls, I’m paying attention.

And the thing that really gets to me is, I’m also aware of my disappointment when, at the end of any such outing, I come up empty. No “talent” to speak of, no potential “Mr. Right” anywhere in sight.

Even more disappointing are those rare occasions when I meet someone with all the right potential only to discover he’s wearing a ring. (I met one such gentleman this weekend in the midst of my travel disaster Thursday, and he was simply adorable, charming, flirtatious and…married).

And there’s that…I’ve never been one to notice wedding rings before. EVER. And now? One of the first things I look at.

When did I become that girl? And how do I make her go away? Cause I’m pretty sure I don’t like her invading my body. She’s not welcome and she's kind of annoying.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

VIsit the White Mountains With Me

Last month I took a weekend trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire with my family. You can read all about that little nostalgic getaway in this post. What that earlier post didn't contain, however, were any of the pictures I took while up there. The sights at the top of those mountains are so breathtaking that words can't really describe them. So, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

This last one is of the mountain where the famous "Old Man of The Mountain" used to be, before it collapsed in 2003. Sort of a bittersweet shot:

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Realize

I stole this from Melissa last week, because I thought it was a great way to share a little bit more about "who I am" to my new readers, and have a little fun in the process with ALL of you...I invite you to join in and do your own. (Note: Melissa's list (click on the link) has a few more questions than my own...I took a few out because...well...because I didn't like them. lol)

1. I've come to realize that my what it is, and women pay thousands of dollars for what I was given naturally by God, so I might as well make peace with it.

2. I've come to realize that my job...does not define me, but it sure helps when I enjoy what I do for a living.

3. I've come to realize that when i'm driving alone...I play music WAY too loud.

4. I've come to realize I admit my weaknesses in order to become stronger.

5. I've come to realize I have fear of looking foolish, I embrace my silliness.

6. I've come to realize that I hate it when...I hurt someone unintentionally.

7. I've come to realize that if I'm drunk...I'm probably falling asleep, I know...boring.

8. I've come to realize that necessary, but should not be the driving force behind anything you do.

9. I've come to realize that certain people...are not meant to be a part of your life.

10. I've come to realize that I'll always...try harder.

11. I've come to realize that my sibling(s)...has grown up to be a pretty decent young man.

12 I've come to realize that my my best friend, but then, I've always known that.

13. I've come to realize that my the sweetest, kindest, most patient and laid back man I know.

14. I've come to realize that tomorrow...we get a chance to do it all over again.

15. I've come to realize that I really want every day to the utmost.

16. I've come to realize that somewhere someone...needs a hug.

17 I've come to realize that life...really is short, don't waste it.

18. I've come to realize that this weekend...was a great one to recharge my batteries.

19. I've come to realize that the best music to listen to when I'm old school stuff that makes me giggle.

20. I've come to realize that my friends...are amazing.

21. I've come to realize that this year...I have traveled A LOT.

22. I've come to realize that my ex(s)...taught me a lot about myself, but I'm glad they're my "exes". ;-)

23. I've come to realize that maybe I should...stop procrastinating so much.

24. I've come to realize that I love...everything about life.

25. I've come to realize that I don't understand...a lot about human nature.

26. I've come to realize my past...has made me who I am today.

27. I've come to realize that I'm totally terrified...of the idea of "nothingness".

28. I've come to realize that my a blessing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Re-Run Wednesday - 200 things (well...50)

As I stated last week, on Wednesdays I'm going to be revisiting some of my old posts, so I figured what better place to start than the 200 things about me series I did in 2007? I'll start with the first 50...with some edits and commentary (because I can never just do a "copy/paste" post...come on folks, you know me...I'm a talker.

So I give you - 200 things about me: - The first 50

1. I was born in Africa

2. Specifically, I was born in Luanda, capital city of Angola a country on the western coast of Africa.

3. Angola was a Portuguese colony at the time, and my parents both moved there as youngsters, met and were married there, and had me.

4. That last one wasn't really about me, but it was about my history so it counts.

5. I left Africa when I was 8 months old, for Portugal

6. I lived in Portugal until I was almost, but not quite, 10 years old.

7. While I lived in Portugal, we moved 9 times.

8. I have wonderful memories of my childhood in Portugal, and even though money was tight, I only remember ever being happy and thinking we had it all.

9. My brother was born when I was 9 years old and became the love of my young life.

10. To this day my brother and I have a bond like few siblings I know. I don't think we've ever had a "real" fight, and I love that even now, at 23 he still comes to me for advice and support. (he's 25 now, but the rest is true).

11. I'm really proud of the man my brother is finally growing up to be. (yep, more and more each day)

12. I left Portugal for the U.S. the day before my 10th birthday.

13. I became a U.S. citizen at the age of 17 (I think) because my parents took the citizenship test while my brother and I were still minors so we'd become citizens automatically.

14. I have now lived in this country about three times as long as I lived in Portugal.

15. I consider myself to be an American in every way that matters.

16. I think this country is flawed in many ways, and wish we'd do a better job of being Americans.

17. That said, I'm proud to be an American, love the freedoms and opportunities that this country has afforded me, and don't plan on ever living anywhere else.

18. However, I do have fantasies of retiring to some tropical beach somewhere in Mexico or Jamaica, and won't completely rule out that possibility.

19. Since moving to the U.S. I've moved 5 times, the first four within the same city, the last time to the next town over, about 5 minutes from my parents' house.

20. I live about 45 miles north of Boston.

21. I went to college in Boston, at Suffolk University.

22. Suffolk was a commuter school at the time, so I never had a "campus" college experience.

23. I don't have a problem with that.

24. My time at college was what "they" say high school should be. "The best four years of your life"...or something like that.

25. College was really an eye opening experience for me, I learned a lot about myself, about life, about others.

26. While in college, I went to school full time, worked full time, and still managed to have time for a pretty darn active social life.

27. I also managed to keep a GPA above a 3.5 the entire time I did the above.

28. My major in college was Communication and Journalism because I wanted to be a reporter or just any kind of writer when I "grew up".

29. I had a minor panic attack my junior year in college when I realized I'd never get a paying job doing the above, and I had way too much debt to risk it, so I added a paralegal minor when most other students were taking the "rocks for jocks" sorts of classes.

30. Suffolk is NOT a sports school, our most celebrated sport at the time was soccer, but the only one we all partipated in attending was intramural basketball. Which was HUGE and I loved going to see.

31. Therefore, I never experienced the "college" sports phenom that seems so widespread in this country.

32. So, most of our extracurricular activities involved more cerebral or artistic pursuits.

33. On that note, I joined the Forensics team my junior year in college. (Yep, along with adding a minor and working full time).

34. No, Forensics doesn't actually have anything to do with dead bodies and CSI investigations. It's just a fancy word for the Speech and Debate Teams

35. I was actually pretty good at this Speech stuff, and won several awards in my short time on the team.

36. With the Forensics team I was able to travel to several schools in the New England and New York area for competitions, and also to a national competition in Flagstaff, Arizona.

37. That trip to Arizona is pretty much when the travel bug bit me long and hard, and hasn't let go yet.

38. One of the speeches I delivered was an informative speech on Pez (yes, the candy). Go ahead, ask me anything about it's history, I can tell you.

39. From the time I was young my dad would tell me that I should become either a lawyer or a politician because of how much I loved to debate.

40. At one point I had aspirations of going to law school and becoming a hot shot Boston lawyer, litigating major cases like you see them do on Law and Order type shows.

41. I knew, however, that it's not exactly like that in the real world, so decided to work in a law firm as a paralegal for a while after college, to decide if that was in fact the world for me.

42. It is now 10 years later, I'm at my fourth law firm, and still working as a paralegal. Obviously, I decided against law school. (except now I don't work in the legal field at all anymore - I'm an executive assistant to the president of a credit union).

43. I'm extremely confident in that if I had chosen to go to law school, I would have done well and would be, in fact, working at some Boston firm, making good money.

44. But I'm even more confident that I made the right choice when I decided that I just didn't want the school debt to enter a career that would practically require me to give up any personal life I have in order to be successful. (AMEN, AMEN, AMEN)

45. I think it is extremely tough for a female to be taken seriously in several different professions, and law is one of those professions, and therefore, women have to work twice as hard as men, in order to be seen as the "bitches" they need to be to be taken seriously. I didn't want to deal with that crap.

46. Most lawyers I know, male or female, hate their jobs.(still true)

47. I won't tell you that being a paralegal was or is my dream job, but I actually enjoy what I do, and aside from my gripes here at The Firm, I like my job. (I wasn't exactly "lying" here, but I think I was in serious denial...I hated that freakin' job. My current job, however? I LOVE).

48. I especially like the fact that when I leave at the end of the day, I leave my job behind me. I don't take work home, I don't have to think about it until the next morning, and I can focus on the rest of my life. (I still love that and it is actually true of this job).

49. While at one point I thought I would be a "career driven" person, I've realized that my motivation to work has changed as I have gotten older. I'm now driven by the desire to have a good, happy, comfortable life. I work to live, I don't live to work. (yep)

50. I don't have a problem with that.

Okay, I'll leave it at that for today, but maybe next Wednesday we'll do the next 50...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Let's Talk ABout Shoes

Oh much do I love shoes. That's not a question. If you know me even a little bit, then you know that a good pair of shoes can pretty much make my day.

Well, except maybe THOSE shoes...YIKES. No thanks.

But seriously, women are so lucky when it comes to shoes. Men get like 3 styles of shoes, we? We get hundreds. Styles, colors, sizes, heels, flats, boots,'s enough to make a woman go crazy.

And this woman? Yours truly? I have a serious shoe addiction. SERIOUS. As in...I own upwards of 80 pairs of shoes. I can't tell you exactly how many I own because it's been a while since I sat and counted them all. Last time I did count I was up around 79 pairs, but I have since bought new shoes, and I have since donated some old pairs. I've lost count once again.

But, really, who's paying attention to such trivial details? A woman? Can.Never.Have.Enough.Shoes.


That being said, imagine my delight when I discovered "Shoedazzle".

What is Shoedazzle you ask? know those "Wine of the Month" clubs? How about a "Shoe of the Month" club? Sounds like the perfect invention to me. (and for the record, not that it matters, but I am NOT being paid to advertise this site, I just LOVE IT and want to share my find).

Shoedazzle is great though in that it it really a very easy "no obligation" club. I'll let you check out the website for better details, but in a nutshell, here's how it works: You sign up, you fill out a "Style profile", you pay $39 a month, you get a pair of shoes per month. However, if you don't want to participate any particular month, you "Skip" the month, and pay nothing. You also are given, based on your answers to the style profile, 5 choices at the beginning of each month, and pick your shoes from those choices. Not happy with those? (as I wasn't with my first 5 choices), tell them why (I didn't want any open toed shoes with winter just around the corner) and the "style experts" will send you 5 more choices.

Easy enough? So, of course, I signed up. And here is the first pair of shoes I chose:

They arrived yestertoday, and I LOVE THEM.

I will definitely be keeping them. By the way, if I was unhappy with them, I could exchange them for free, or return them for a minimal "restocking" fee.

Another note, I did a little research, and these particular shoes retail at other websites for well over $55. I got a deal.

I will not be getting new shoes every month, because...well, because I still plan on shoe shopping in other stores as well, and I have to behave myself...right? Right...yeah, that's it. But I will keep you all posted on my choices as they come in.

Moving on, since we're talking about shoes, can we talk about these:

Mojito Shoe


Yep, that's a prototype for a real shoe. Click on the link above the picture for more information.

Or, what about these?

Nail Heels

Or these?

High Chair Shoes

OH, "weird shoes" abound on the internet...just a quick google search for that phrase will bring you hundreds more...try it...or check out this link.

Whewh...all this talk about shoes is making me dizzy...I need to sit down...I think I'll

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Old is New Again

The thing about blogging is that it can take over your life. No seriously, if you are a blogger, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It becomes this thing you simply MUST do, and if you miss a day, you feel like somehow you’re letting people down…even if you’re not entirely sure anyone is even reading your blog.

But it is also a great creative outlet, an amazing way to connect with others and really something I am so grateful to have discovered.

When I first started blogging, I had the ability to blog at work and spend endless hours browsing, visiting and commenting on other blogs. Okay, maybe “ability” isn’t exactly the right word, but I was so overworked and overstressed at my old job that I felt I had EARNED the right to goof off for a few hours each day online.

At that time, I was blogging daily, I had three different blogs, all current and constantly updated. I was also very active in the blog world, with a wide circle of “friends” whose blogs I visited regularly.

That all changed, however, when I started this new job. Here at this company, internet security is high, and internet usage is monitored pretty closely. Although I’m pretty sure in my position I could get away with spending a bit of time on-line, I took this as an opportunity to break a bit of my internet habit, and stop visiting during work hours.

With that, however, my blog suffered immensely. As you have probably already noticed, I can go days (okay, fine weeks) without posting anything. It’s taken me a while to find my blogging rhythm again. In the meantime, I’m pretty sure I’ve lost most of my readers (who can blame them?). I’ve also found it nearly impossible to maintain my visits to other blogs, only stopping by occasionally here and there.

Lately, however, I seem to be hitting my stride again. I’m still not posting daily, but to be honest, I don’t know that I intend to again. Every few days works well for me, and I can focus on quality versus quantity.

With the advent of Twitter, I’ve also gained a few new readers to this blog who are pretty unfamiliar with the “old” way this blog used to run.

While I miss the old days here at Candid Karina, I’m pretty excited about the new life I’m planning on bringing to the blog. In a way, I feel as if I’m starting all over. A bit of a rebirth, if you will.

Yet, as I begin to plan for the future of Candid Karina, I find myself thinking about some of my old posts. If I’m starting all over, then there are stories I have to tell again, re-introductions to be made, tales you, my new readers simply must hear.

However, I don’t want to rely solely on my old material here. I mean, how lame would that be? If you really wanted to re-read all my old posts, you could just look through my archives, right? (not to toot my own horn, but you totally should, I used to write some really witty stuff back in the day, haha)

So, here’s what I’m going to do…I’m going to start a new feature called ReRun Wednesday. Once a week (maybe, if I can stick to a schedule and all that) I’m going to re-post an old entry of mine. Some of my favorites. This way, even my regular readers (the two or three that have stuck it out with me) can enjoy some of my “greatest hits” once again. Or, they can ignore them completely once again…whichever they prefer. ;-)

What do you think, are you up for some reruns? We’ll start next week. Come back tomorrow though…I’ve got a treat for you ALL ABOUT SHOES.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Karina's Closet - Take a Peak

In case you’ve missed it (as if that were a possibility), I’m a little bit of a fashion nut. I can’t help it, when it comes to all things fashion, I am SUCH a girl. I love shoes, beauty products, accessories, and oh yes, of course, clothing.

But more than any of those things, I love a bargain. I’m loathe to pay full price for anything.

This causes me to be quite creative with my wardrobe, but it also, in my opinion, helps me to have the varied and unique style I’ve created for myself.

It has also led me to discover beauty products, designers, and other things that the average person might not come across. When you’re digging for bargains, you are going to find treasures, you just need to know how to search.

Of course, now and again this also leads me to trying out products that are less than ideal, but hey, you learn from your mistakes, and I’d rather make a $3 mistake over a $30 dollar one, don’t you agree?

Anyway, because I hold fashion and beauty so near and dear to me, I’ve decided to open up my closet now and again and share with you some of my treasures, secrets, finds, and tips.

This is just for fun, I’m in no way an “expert” so take what I say with a grain of salt. Although, if anyone out there can call themselves a “shopping expert”, I believe I’ve earned that right. Ask anyone who knows me, they’ll agree.

So, to kick things off, this week I’m going to share with you a beauty product find, and a “fall fashion” personal tip.

My product of the week:

While browsing the shelves at The Christmas Tree Shop of all places this weekend, I came across my new favorite hair product. You should know that my hair is the bane of my existence. It is straight, but frizzy, it is SUPER thin and flat. I learned years ago that my hair holds NO style for any period longer than 10 minutes, unless an entire can of aquanet (do they even make that stuff anymore?) is used. Luckily for me, long, straight, flat hair is in currently. Unluckily for me, even when straightened, my hair has a tendency to frizz all over the place. I have tried various “anti-frizz” and shine sprays, but as an added bonus, my hair is also incredibly oily, so most styling products only serve to exarcebate the problem, and do nothing for the frizz.

But I’ve started using Frizz-Ease Straight Fixation Smoothing Creme, and I LOVE IT (and no, they are not paying me to say this). My hair is now shiny, the frizz is gone, and it does not feel like there is any product in my hair. It does not turn my hair oily, and in fact, my hair even feels silkier and softer. It also looks more vibrant, brighter somehow. I’m a big fan. My friend WEST Virginia also tried out the product last weekend, and she too is a big fan. So there you have it.

Finally, before I wrap this post up, I leave you with my little “fall” fashion tip for the week. COLOR. The weather is turning colder, winter is right around the corner, and we’re all getting ready to hunker down for the shorter days, longer nights portion of the year. For some strange reason, it is exactly at this time, when we need it most, that most people put away their colorful wardrobe. Out come the browns and the tans, the blacks and the greys. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a fan of neutrals as the next girl, but take a note from the leaves on the trees, now is NOT the time to put away color. Fight the desire to go all “glum” and somber, and break out some bright colors.

I’m a big fan of mixing the above mentioned neutrals with a punch of unexpected colors. A bright yellow sweater, a red belt, a purple scarf, pink shoes. Be daring, be bold, be noticed.
(my shoes today, for example)

If nothing else, it’ll make you smile when you catch your reflection in a mirror. If the sun won’t come out, bring it with you in your wardrobe.

Fashion is supposed to be fun, don’t be afraid to take chances, that’s the whole point.