Life Update: A Huge New Chapter!

Well, friends, it’s been a while since I posted here, and I do apologize for that. If you’re following me on any other social media platforms you’ll know the gist of what’s been going on, and if not, I hope this will catch you up on the deets.

On November 4th, 2017, Drew and I packed up a UHaul van with all of our earthly belongings and hitched his old car Betty to a tow dolly on the back, and we left Chicago. Drew had lived there seven years, and I had been there eleven years, but it was high time for a brand new adventure. So off we went, and two days later we arrived in Orlando, Florida. We moved into our new place, began to buy new furniture (we had none with us) and started to settle in to a brand new city where neither of us had ever lived before.

Drew is working at his old job still – they’re letting him work remotely from a different office of the company. I have been working on some audiobooks for award-winning author Candace J. Thomas and also been preparing for upcoming opportunities here. We’re both auditioning and chasing dreams, and treading water till the next thing happens.

As far as creative pursuits go, Drew and I have spent the last seven or eight months taking a break from Disney Odyssey. We intend to get back to it soon, since we have so many still in the bank from the last round of viewings. But we’ve been very busy with Warda, our real creative brainchild.

Warda is a little bit Game of Thrones, a little bit Downton Abbey, with a dash of Agatha Christie thrown in. It’s luxurious and glamourous on the surface with heartfelt conflict and sociopolitical commentary underneath. It’s been a THRILLING experience to share it with the world for the first time – in May we started doing live streams of a roleplaying game set in the world of Warda (using the FATE system rules) on the One Shot Podcast Network’s channel on Twitch. We stopped doing those live streams in October right before we moved (for obvious reason) BUT the second big thing that came out of this venture is the podcast! You can check it all out here or here, or on your chosen podcasting platform. Even if you don’t know anything about tabletop RPGs, it’s a fantastic story, with great performances by all of our players and Drew as our primary GM (I drop in occasionally myself). Give it a try!

Despite the fact that we moved at the beginning of the month, I made sure to participate in this year’s National Novel Writing Month. This year’s theme and challenge I gave myself were unique: I wrote down short titles or phrases relating to Warda, one prompt for each day of November, and a few extra just in case. I challenged myself to respond to a new, randomly selected prompt every day, writing at LEAST the minimum of 1667 words (the projected daily minimum to ‘win’ NaNoWriMo). I told myself that I could write as much as I wanted, but I needed to have the minimum on each day’s prompt. This was an awesome plan! I gave myself weird and delightful and interesting prompts and I had FUN writing on each of them as the days trucked along. However, sometime in the middle of the month I found myself picking up each day with the previous day’s prompt, wanting to write more and ‘finish’ the scene, only to have the current day’s prompt yet to write. And sometimes I didn’t get to the current day’s prompt. But I didn’t count this against myself, since I was having fun and not censoring myself. I have several prompt yet to do, despite the month ending tonight (and despite the fact that I’ve passed 50k words!) so I intend to keep writing a bit every day and building those muscles up again to where they once were. I have, as you may know, been having some issues with ‘writer’s block’ and ‘impostor syndrome’ and other such hurdles, and I’m determined to shake it all off – FOR GOOD – and press on in my writing experiences and career. I’m looking forward to meeting some Orlando area writers soon – there appear to be several community groups I can join up with to meet fellow writers, take workshops, and support/be supported. I’ve never had a writing group or community before, not really, so I’m not sure what it will be like, but I’m happy to try it all out and meet some new friends!

The other magical thing that happened recently is small, talkative, and extremely cuddly. Yes, that’s right – we got a cat! Well, the cat got us. Found us. Whatever. On October 1st (with only a month left before we were supposed to move) we found a cat in Chicago. We took her inside for the night, then took her and had her microchip scanned the next day. We spent the next fourteen days frantically reaching out to the owners through the microchip company, but despite multiple voicemails and emails, they never contacted us or the chip company again. After ten days in Illinois, that’s animal abandonment, so we unexpectedly (but very, very happily) welcomed Queen Felicia to the family.

 

She hated the truck ride down to Florida but once we got here she was fine. She has filled our days with love, strange chirps, purrs, and nuzzles, and we love her more than we ever thought possible. She found us, and we’re so, so glad she did.

We are both missing our friends back in Chicago, but we’re eager for this new chapter to really settle into a rhythm. So many opportunities await, so many possibilities. We’re happy we made it here safely and we’re happy to get a chance at things we’ve always dreamed of.

Here’s to big leaps, and big dreams ahead!

~Aly

 

Life Goals (Great and Small) For 2016

A Non-Comprehensive List

I understand I’m well over two months late for New Year’s Resolutions but WHAT CAN I SAY I like goals and lists so here we go!

In 2016 I will be attempting to…

  • Stay active with exercise and other activity – yoga, stretching, body weight exercises at home, and dance (ballet, ideally). Even though I have never consistently studied dance, it has popped up at different parts of my life, and every time it does I am healthier, happier, and more relaxed because I have that physical outlet. I get a little taste of that in running or in yoga, but nothing beats moving your body to music. Somehow, I aim to make time to do this a bit more regularly than I currently am – which is to say, even if I can do it at ALL that’ll be a win. I will openly confess that my current fitness icon is Daisy Ridley. Holy CRAP. 
  • Develop healthy eating habits – low sugar, balanced diet, stay within my daily calorie goals, etc. In the last year I have already begun to change my old ways – I am more conscious of what I choose to eat and how much I have, and I eat better on a daily basis than I did a year or two years ago. Cutting back on soda and sweets has helped immensely, and I’m learning to broaden my taste horizons as well. Since the Fella and I got together, I’ve really come to love spicy foods, whereas my 10-year-old self would have wept like Hecuba in The Trojan Women if you’d have made her eat red curry. NOT ANYMORE! I’ll try anything unless it has suckers, a face, or a beating pulse.
  • Learn Japanese! Haha, yeah, I know, like I’m not busy enough. And it’s not like there’s three alphabets to learn. I’ve been talking about learning for years, but it’s always been too daunting… but I recently downloaded some apps and did some digging online… and I made the leap. I’m doing it. A little every day makes a big difference. The Fella is joining me in this endeavor – did you know he was born in Japan? I love language and learning about other culture through language, so this is actually fueling me like a moon rocket right now. I am energized and excited and — well, I aim to keep that going as long as I can! できます!
  • Create and produce the Three New Projects I’ve mentioned on my Patreon and social medias. Yes, friends, if somehow you’ve missed the updates, I have three new projects in the works for 2016. Production has already begun on all three, and they will be ongoing throughout the year. These projects are as follows:
    • A comedic spacey adventure podcast called “Tiny Space Hat Pirates.” TSHP will be released sometime in 2016 or early 2017 – there will be ten episodes and a full cast of voice actors as well as (fingers crossed!) sound effects and exquisite musical introduction and interludes. Pew pew pew!
    • A satirical faux public radio spotlight on the All Orc and Goblin Community Theatre Project, called “DND20 Public Radio Presents.” We’ve already recorded the first episode and I’m in the process of editing it. This is a much more pared-down type of pod-fiction, and is primarily improvised by excellent and outstanding humans that I know in person. It will also (probably) be ten episodes long (for starters) and will be released (I imagine) sometime in the summer of 2016.
    • A serial fiction tale transcribed from gameplay sessions of a Fate-based RPG I’ve built from scratch (with the Fella’s help), in a world called Warda. The players are preparing for our first game (Game Zero) where we will join forces to discuss the world, the characters they’ve come up with, and how these things all link in together in wondrous and unexpected ways. I will record the game sessions and then transcribe and fictionalize them for you all in readable formats! How exciting! NEW FICTION!
    • Bear in mind that for all three of the New Projects (and any new projects that appear along the way), being a Patreon patron will get you early access and wonderful sneak peeks, not to mention voting powers when applicable! Do consider joining the party. Click here for more information!
  • Write my next novel. I cannot tell you how badly I want to delve back into the rhythms of writing, re-writing, and crafting a new full-length story. I’ve had ideas blip through my radar in the last year since On The Isle of Sound and Wonder was released, but for the most part, those blips were just blips. Now that I’ve been digging the trenches for the foundations of Warda (WORLDBUILDING IS ACTUALLY REALLY HARD) I am becoming more and more excited to discover the stories and people and things that live and exist within it. I have a running list of character notions, story ideas, and scene images. I’m armed, and I plan on using that ammo… I want to get the RPG/serial fiction bit going first, but rest assured I’m raring to go on a full-length feature fantasy. *adjusts collar of natty jacket* *slips into fancy gloves* *adds a jaunty Edwardian chapeau*
  • Travel somewhere new! This is a classic resolution/yearly goal for me. I love to travel, and I love to go new places. I think it’s a grand way to progress. So each year I strive to visit a new town/state/country (if possible). In 2014, I visited Utah for the first time. Last year, I visited South Dakota and Wyoming for the first time. (It is a westerly-moving theme thusfar, is it not?) This year, I’m not sure where that location will be, but I intend to visit somewhere that I’ve never been before – ideally with the Fella at my side. He’s got a fearsome hankering to return to his childhood home in Okinawa, and I’d love to see Japan for myself. We’ll see how finances work out on that front, but we may have to settle for something a bit more local that’s still a new frontier.

 

My list for 2016 is pretty ambitious. Attempting to learn a new language, travel to new places, write/create/produce content in fiction and audio format, keep up the Disney Odyssey and other blog content, not to mention the day job and other ‘real life’ obligations from month to month… But I am satisfied with my list. I am satisfied with my ambition, my desire to grow and learn and explore. I am excited to tackle my own challenges, and face the various challenges that are yet unknown. 2015 was an insane roller coaster of good things and bad things, including a lot of radical social and personal changes – including but not limited to being engaged and subsequently married to the Fella. There is so much change still in the air, and so many possibilities. I intend to continue to chase that potential all the way through the year.

Who’s with me? 😀

Escaping Quicksand (poem)

Some see the city as spires of glass,

towering steel and steady, noble iron –

Historical and thriving, teeming with life as any coral reef

of stone and brick.

I see the shimmering glamour of it all

but feel its pull, a magnet misleading:

the city is quicksand to suck at my feet

pulling, squeezing, holding back –

Get on the train to go to work

Sit at the desk, answer the phone

Get on the train, go home from work

Try to relax, try to have fun

Try to make time

Time

Time

Get on the train to go to work…

The rhythm lulls me down, dumbs the senses;

Not soothing but defeating in a low, dull roar

Consuming slow like pits of sand with teeth that don’t chew – only swallow.

But if we try to become lighter than air

If we ourselves inflate with hollow light and fierce-burning hopes

If we move quickly, leaping from art to art as cats nimbly traversing ledge after ledge

Gathering speed and lighting the lamps with creator’s spark and wonder,

Then we can not only survive the sand

But surpass it entirely.

We then run along the tops of train cars

And soar between skyscrapers

Dancing out of reach

While our bodies sit patiently and wait to make use of our time.

Stretch a little farther every day

Lighter and quicker by the hour

And we can astonish ourselves into creatorship and artistichood

Bounding beyond the gray and metal trappings of our cages

To live

And live brighter –

Brighter by the minute.

 

 


This is the first poem I’ve published on the blog, and my first ‘real’ poem I’ve written in about four years. My Patreon patrons saw it first a week or two ago, after I wrote it on a morning break at the ol’ day job. These are thoughts that rattle around on a daily basis, and although they aren’t wholly healing they are somewhat of a comfort. The faster we move, the more likely we are to survive. Melodramatic? Sure. But anyone who’s got an inch of creativity in them that is stifled by their mundane daily slog knows what it’s like. I hope it keeps getting brighter. No one was born to live with that much gray.