Happy anniversary, George

A year ago today, I self-published my first story with help from Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. It was short. It wasn’t overly promoted except perhaps in these pages. It never went viral. My fantasy of appearing on late night TV has not been fulfilled. But it was an accomplishment nonetheless.

I’d estimate that a couple hundred of you read it. Frankly, I have not. Not since doing a final run through anyway before hitting click and committing it to the electronic world forever. I just can’t. And especially now, eight weeks into my writing class. I already suspect what my flaws were. I can be at peace with it all by thinking that someday, you all will call it my ‘early work’.

My full-length novel, which does not feature an appearance by George Clooney, is developing nicely. The Stanford online writing class has provided me good structure, feedback and a community of fellow writers. In two weeks, 5,000 words of my ending will be workshopped. While at the start of this class, I dreaded my workshop week, now I look forward to it.

I can’t say for sure how far along I’d be right now in writing my novel if I hadn’t taken the baby step of writing My Night with George Clooney. So on this, our anniversary, I think of George and apologize that he’s been folded up in a box since our return from Hawaii.

I promise to pull him out to celebrate the completion of No Working Title Yet.

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13 in ’13

First came 43 by 43, and now 13 in ’13. That is, I’ve set 13 goals that I intend to pursue in the year 2013. A few of these goals are a continuation of my 43 by 43 efforts. But there are some new ones already penetrating my psyche. And because I can think of no better way to hold myself accountable, I share them all with you. I expect badgering, welcome participation and hope for encouragement.

In no particular order:

1. Get spin certified. You know I love my Biker Barre. I’m not expecting to attain a level of awesomeness that will allow me to teach there. (That might have to be a 2014 goal.)  But every time I hear a song I  like, I imagine what I’d do along to it on a bike. In that regard, spinning is as close of a sport to cheerleading as I’ve managed to get in my adult life. Just harder and sweatier.

2. Learn a new wine region. I know my California wines, but it’s time to branch out. And  I know nothing about Italian wines. Bring on the Barolo, Amarone and Brunello.

3.  Host (at least) quarterly dinner parties. I love to cook, but I don’t do it enough for my friends. Just understand if you’re invited to a Chelsea feast, I’m going to cook Italian so I can practice the skills attained in the advanced pasta making class I’m taking from Hill’s Kitchen. And I’m going to multitask by serving Italian wine (see goal #2).

4. Save money for college. Or get the kids discovered. But I don’t feel like I’d make a good stage mom, so saving is probably easier (though not on my shoe budget).

5.& 6. Travel. I promised the kids I’d take them to Hawaii. And I want to go to Italy. To drink obscure Italian wines (see goal #2) of course. It’s listed here as two goals because it’s two trips.

7. Make iconic fashion purchase. I dream of Chanel. And Cartier. But I may have to set my sights lower. I’m sure I will agonize in this very forum over any potential purchase.

8. Open my heart to relationship opportunity. I’m a dating disaster. I tried Match for 24 hours before canceling the membership. I went on zero dates after six months of e-harmony. Set ups are few and far between. After my divorce, dating wasn’t a priority. However, I’m now at a point where I’d like to share my crazy, drama-prone life with another (hopefully calmer and less dramatic) person.

9. Sign new clients. I have this hot new job. It’s time to exceed my potential with some great new clients whom I can help navigate the tricky world that is the U.S. Congress.

10. Publish the sequel to My Night with George Clooney. This is the only goal that has a very specific deadline. Which would be by the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in late April. If you read my first story, you know why this date is significant.

11. Refinance my house. It’s time. That is all.

12. Finish home improvement projects. That means have a deck built, fix up the yard and install window boxes. Maybe build a wine cellar. Some things the Warriors can help me do. Some I will have to contract to have done. And maybe I can bribe my talented brother to come down to Maine for a week of intense help.

13. Live life to the fullest. I know this particular goal will be difficult to measure. But I will know it when I’m feeling it, and those who are close to me will call me on it when I’m not.

There you have it. 13 goals. 11 months left to achieve them. Wish me success.

the gift of Clooney

photo credit: Chris Meck Photography. cover design: Belmont, IncAre you panicking because you still haven’t found the perfect gift for your sister, girlfriend, mother, hair dresser, great aunt, cousin or co-worker?

Have you considered ordering someone My Night with George Clooney? Even though it is electronic in format, you can indeed follow these easy Amazon instructions to gift it. The recipient need not own a kindle; anyone with a handheld device can read it if they get the free kindle app. And since this is a short story – about 40 pages in length – it is totally manageable to read on a smaller device. I mean, if I were giving someone Anna Karenina, I might want to make sure they had a reading tablet of some sort. But this story is the perfect length to take you to and from work, get you through a long conference call or just entertain for an evening before going to sleep.

With Christmas just two days away, you are one click away from not having to weather the crowds (or weather the weather, if you live in the Plains states or New England) to finish up your shopping. You would be supporting an emerging young(ish) writer with your purchase, and sharing the gift of Clooney with your loved ones. In other words, you’d be giving in two ways.

And that is truly in the spirit of the holiday season.

 

43 by 43: moment of reckoning

In August, I set some goals. 43 to be exact. A few were big. A number were small. Many fell in the middle.

I did pretty well. I didn’t score 100%, but I came in over 75%. I was never a C student, but I will take it in this case.

Where did I do well? I mostly achieved all five of my big goals. I published My Night with George Clooney. I have unofficially soft launched Cloakroom Style. I roasted a duck. I took a trip to celebrate my birthday. And early next year, I’m taking the boys to NYC. (I’m getting credit for future plans since I only gave myself a four-month window to complete these goals.)

I also have been awesome at picking up the dry cleaning on time. I did all the medical check ups that had lagged. Thanks to Weekend Warriors, I was a home improvement goddess.

Where could I have done better? Well, I didn’t meet any of my three financial goals (stick to a budget, contribute to college accounts, re-fi house). I also failed to go on five dates, though I did go on one and I asked someone to go on one, so I’m giving myself credit for that. I didn’t post to the blog every three days as I aspired, but I did try to write more regularly.

I’m growing my hair long. I wear red lipstick at least once a week. I don’t talk to the boys in a mean voice (as often) when frustrated. Over winter break, we have a schedule to watch some of my favorite (non-R) movies, and I plan to make them breakfast in bed.

The list was random. The list was long. It’s not done, as some items require continued diligence, but it was an exercise worth taking. And now I can begin plotting out what I want to achieve next year. Aside from sticking to a budget, contributing to college accounts, refinancing the house and going on some dates, that is.

on Hawaii

IMG_2284I love Hawaii. I feel at home here. I’m not a beach bum by any stretch of the imagination, but I have enjoyed wearing nothing but a bathing suit since I’ve been here. I haven’t missed heels (did I just write that?) and I don’t mind so-called “island time” which would drive me nuts back in DC.

With the days of my vacation winding down, tonight I let myself be overtaken by emotion. After my friends went to sleep, I walked down to the beach by myself. And while three nights ago the moon lit up the sky, tonight it was nowhere to be seen. I sat in the sand, looked at the cloudy sky, listened to the waves crash, and I cried.

I cried for the remaining days (too few). I cried for the days away from my boys (too many). I cried for the fact that I have the wherewithal to be here (grateful). I cried tears of thanks to my friend Malia for providing the house we’ve called home on this trip (more gratitude). I cried for the uncertainty of when I can return to Hawaii. I cried for the challenges that await me at home. While Month of Chelsea was a resounding success, there is much to be settled still and in Scarlett O’Hara fashion, I’d rather think about it tomorrow.

I haven’t done any of the things I told myself I’d do here. I haven’t finished the sequel to My Night with George Clooney. I didn’t blog until tonight. I took two runs on the beach and a death-defying (maybe breathtaking is a better modifier) hike but other than that I haven’t worked out. I’ve read some books, but not at the speed I intended.

I relaxed. I ate. I drank. I slept like a baby.

I know the right thing is to make the most of my remaining days, so I will be counting each minute and making it count. And then I’ll be planning my return next year with the boys.

 

My Thanksgiving with George Clooney

Photo by chelseachronicl

Poor George. He flew all the way to California in cargo. I’m sure it isn’t how he’s used to traveling. So he was a little cranky this Thanksgiving in Northern California, where the weather was perfect and my sausage and apple stuffing was divine.

Dad thought he could out-gruff George, but that didn’t seem to go over well.

Photo by chelseachronicl

    So then we tried a softer approach. We opened a lovely chardonnay from Nickle and Nickle. I offered him a taste. But he declined.

    Photo by chelseachronicl
    Even by the end of the wine-fueled night, when it was time to take a photo with my brothers and our significant others, he didn’t crack a smile. He didn’t even hold me particularly close.
    Photo by chelseachronicl

    If George Clooney continues to act this way, he just might get left behind in Hawaii, whether My Night with George Clooney becomes a roaring success or not.

    I bought a white coat…

    Photo by chelseachronicl

    What was I thinking?

    I have coveted a winter white wool coat (say that five times really fast after a cocktail) since my friend Jackie had one in high school. But back in the day, living in New England with its slushy sidewalks and black tinted snowbanks, it never seemed like a practical purchase.  Who am I kidding? It isn’t practical now, given that I’m responsible for two messy little boys and three furry (shedding) cats. But the other night, after finally hitting the “publish” button on My Night with George Clooney, I was seduced by a J. Crew 25% off sale. I deserved a reward. So, I indulged.

    And it’s gorgeous.

    I already have all sorts of new rules. (Like I need more rules in my life.) No more drinking coffee in the car. No sitting down on the metro. No getting within reach of a glass of red wine. I’m sure more restrictions will come to me. I just hope I don’t realize them too late. But then again, making more frequent trips to the dry cleaner is a goal on my 43 by 43 list, so perhaps being the proud owner of this coat will provide extra incentive to fulfill that task.