Shari Creates

So, it’s been quite a while since I blogged here. My best intentions fall fast by the wayside. I have been doing a lot on twitter (@sharimickle) and on tumbler ( so I guess I’ve become more of a microblogger at the moment.

I am now living in Phoenix, Arizona. It is an amazing town, and people keep swearing that the intense heat is going to back off in another month or so. We’ve rented an absolutely amazing house, and move in starting September 15th. We have a pool, a hot tub, everyone gets their own bedroom, the girls get a gaming loft, Bob gets an office, and I get a library. Plus, there is an amazing kitchen. Mom and Tallie both started new jobs this week, but I am still searching.
I completely lost track of the books that I’ve read with the cross country move and all that. I am reading a lot from the library, which is nice since I don’t have to like everything I try. Currently, Mom and I are reading Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone detective novels; I am reading the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events and Tori Carrington’s Sophie Metropolis novels.
I have not met anyone around my age out here, and have not met very many people yet. Still, that will change once I’m working. Plus, I am looking to take some classes, like ceramics, cake decorating, bellydance, and welding. I’ve even been writing some, so I’m not completely wasting all of my time while unemployed 🙂

Also, I am a Pottermore Beta tester, so I’ve been spending a lot of time there. Pottermore is J.K. Rowling’s thank you to her fans, an interactive Harry Potter world website, with games and bonus materials.


So, I am failing to blog about each book I read on tumblr, but at least I am still keeping track.  I am midway through about five books currently, which are not reflected in the count. I have started reading some ebooks, and there are things I like about the format.  Mind you, I am in no way ready to give up my paper books, nor buy and expensive single use gadget that I then have to pay a substantial amount to add books to, but I don’t hate reading ebooks on my phone.

I’ve finished approximately 11526 pages and a total of 38 books, not including partially read books or digital shorts. I may go two or three days without reading, and then finish two or three books in one day. There are times when I feel like I don’t get enough time to read, and that will just get worse as the weather gets nicer.

Still, it’s good for me to have to interact with the physical world sometimes, I’m sure. I’ve voluntarily traded in some of my book time to spend time at the gym with a couple of friends, and to start learning to speak Italian.  It’s almost time to start my garden, and I’m going to rip the carpet off my staircase and replace it with tile and wood. I have plans to build a headboard, and would really love to build a window seat with more bookcases.  Of course, that’s partially because I have run out of shelf space for all of my books, but also because I have wanted a window seat for as long as I can remember.

After several months of idling, my novels in progress are starting to occupy my thoughts again, too.  Really, I have a lot that seems to be improving, and it seems a small price that I cannot spend quite as much time reading or playing on the internet…  Still, that’s what the rainy days will be for, right?

I made it to 50.042 words on November 30th, and became a NaNoWriMo winner once again!  And then threw myself into all the projects that I needed to get done in time for Christmas.  Now, I’m working on catching up all the photo projects I am behind on – especially the wedding I have yet to finish processing!  Also, I started a tumblr blog to track all of the books I read this year, and anything else that catches the fancy of my muse.  Check it out, if you’re interested:  Filling the Well.

It’s the night before NaNo, and here in my house

I sit at my keyboard and click with my mouse

Sucked into youtube watching videos there

Which I’m sure is the best way I could ever prepare

The ideas are fighting for space in my mind

But they all parody songs, and are not plot-entwined

I have yet to write the end on last year’s book

All the prework I’ve done hasn’t gotten a second look

In the next thirty days, I’ll write more than in the last year

If I can just stop watching the vlogbrothers and make my muse reappear

It’s now 10:36 and she’s meandered outside of my head

I hope she returns and kicks out the editor instead

I’ve finished my spreadsheet and I’ve bought lots of candy

I’ve thought about plot and character modus operandi

My NaNo profile’s updated and the forums are exploding

But still I’m filled with dread and forboding

I want to go upload my photos from Halloween

Oh yes, procrastinators, I am your queen

And now, it’s almost time – I have to finish this now

And jump into the madness and hope for some wow

One thousand six hundred sixty seven words a day

It’s time for Lani’s chant – I AM A GREAT WRITER! YAY!

(My apologies to Clement Clark Moore…)

Also, if you follow the spreadsheet link, you will find my customized version of a spreadsheet that was created by Erik Benson, DK Wilson, and Jesso.  If you’ve ever wished that a random writing inspiration quote would appear every time you open your tracking spreadsheet, and that there was a way to track what location you write best at, as well as candy-like button navigation and multiple colorful graphs, you are in luck! (If you are using Office 2003, mostly)  Check out the screenshot below 🙂

I’ve come to the tentative conclusion that the best of the internet is the community.  This is not an original concept; Jenny Crusie and Lucy March have both written about it, and I’m sure others have as well.  However, the hardest thing for me about internet community is that when I don’t feel like I am a me worth knowing, I tend to draw away.  Mind you, this is not just an internet phenomenon; nor is it limited to my perception of myself.  See, this is the “Year of the Punching Bag”, in which several different people have decided to let me know exactly, in excruciating detail, all of the ways I am a failure in their perception of me (as an aside, I CANNOT WAIT for this year, and this trend, to be over.)  Entire weeks have passed with my primary thought being a quote from the Bridget Jones movie – …”you seem to go out of your way to try to make me feel like a complete idiot everytime I see you – and you really needn’t bother….I already feel like an idiot most of the time, anyway…”  It would be terribly comforting to have a Mark Darcy assure me that in spite of all that, he quite likes me just as I am.  Mind you, I do have some fabulous and kind people who say things similar to that to me; especially the Betties, who are in all ways utterly marvelous.  Especially Betty Fokker, who summed up family conflicts beautifully in the “Motherhood and the Poo Metaphor” post.
Okay, this turned way into more of a journal entry than a blog, and I am already deeply conflicted about being this “poor poor pitiful me” in public.  Meep, meep, meep.
Anyway, what brought all this to mind this time is my discovery of the Green brothers vlog and the Nerd Fighters.  How cool!  I want to be a nerd fighter, and write a verse of a song about my amazing nerd power!  Why, I could write about – letting everyone down and fucking everything up horribly, in fact, I could write an ode to the things that have turned to shit after I touched them.  Wait, I lost my happy thought again, and crashed to the ground.  But it’s a wonderful community, and I am delighted with the Evil Baby Orphanage.
As usual, I looked for quotes that spoke to me about this whole conundrum.  Here’s what I found:
It hurts to let go. Sometimes it seems the harder you try to hold on to something or someone the more it wants to get away.  You feel like some kind of criminal for having felt, for having wanted.
For having wanted to be wanted. It confuses you, because you think that your feelings were wrong and it makes you feel so small because it’s so hard to keep it inside when you let it out and it doesn’t come back.
You’re left so alone that you can’t explain. Damn, there’s nothing like that, is there? I’ve been there and you have too. You’re nodding your head. – Henry Rollins (via hahahalizz)

If somebody is investing time, resources, and energy into convincing you of your own worthlessness, that same somebody has revealed to you that they have a lot to lose if you don’t believe them. They’re protecting their own loss of power. Which means they perceive you as somebody who can take that power away. If somebody is putting in the work to knock you down, it’s because they’ve got something to fear about you if you’re standing up.
“Fear” and “power” are big words that make it sound like there’s going to be a Rocky battle. But it’s not like that, usually. The thing you could take away from another person if you live with worth and happiness could be something you have no interest in, something that’s entirely in their own minds. There is something about my refusal to feel bad and back away that is frightening. Not to everybody – there’s a whole world that could care less – but the people who make an investment in silencing me have done so because they have made a cost-benefit analysis. Whatever it takes out of them to silence me is going to be less than what I will take from  them if I don’t shut up.
“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good
news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” — Anne Lamott
“And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to
get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.”  — Anne Lamott

Single Dad Laughing did a whole post that made me cry, A Disease Called Perfection.  You know, that brings me back to Lucy March, and her incredible blog opening herself up and letting honesty spill out, even when it hurts.  I am so in awe of this; and yet, I seem to lack the fundamental courage to do likewise.

So, it’s after 5:30 am and I am still awake.  One of my favorite songs is about one of my least favorite things, which is insomnia.  That song is “Who Needs Sleep?” by the BareNaked Ladies, and a video of an acoustic version is on YouTube here.  Seriously, this song could be my family anthem.

I’m getting ready for NaNoWriMo already, because there are a few more things I would like for my progress tracking spreadsheet to do.  Not that I haven’t already added a crazy amount of bells and whistles; it’s just that I want a few more.  Yes, I am nerding out, and I still find all kinds of things that I have no idea how to do in Excel.  I am slowly working through John Walkenbach’s Excel 2003 Bible; which is very well written.  Also, a digital copy of the book is included, which is brilliant!  My current plan is to take a random quote from my quotes worksheet and have it appear on the main summary sheet.  I’d like it to be different every time I open the workbook.  Which I what I got out of bed to work on, since I’m nowhere near falling asleep.

Also, I’d really like to finish the current work in progress before November, so I can let the new story take complete possession of my brain.  I have over 104,000 words, and finally caught a glimpse of the big climactic scene.

Okay, I had the best of intentions to do this post earlier, but life keeps happening, you know?

All in all, Gabby and I really enjoyed our trip to Cincinnati, and are definitely planning on going back. We rated everything in smileys, because they were easiest to scribble on the address notes.  So, X( was non-existent; 😦  / 😦 😦 / 😦 😦 😦 was disappointing, lame, and/or a waste of time;  😐 was not impressive or just okay;  🙂 / 🙂 🙂 / 🙂 🙂 🙂 were varying assessments of good, great, and excellent.

The hotel was the Blue Ash Crown Plaza, which we rated 😐 – the room was average, the neighbors were noisy, the bedding was white with a few noticeable spots that didn’t get bleached out.  Blue Ash itself was 🙂 :), they had some very nice features, and some lovely flowers and landscaping.

Izzy’s Deli on Smiley Ave – 🙂 – for more specific comments, see the Day One post.

Torrid at the Tri-County Mall was 🙂 🙂 🙂 – I forgot to mention that the two women working there were terrific, both friendly and helpful.  Seriously, I cannot say enough good things about our experience there!

Nail Perfection at the Tri-County Mall was 😐 – It was both Gabby and my first time with the manicure, and my first pedicure, and I am not inclined to do it again.  I hear that the cuticle removal process is always painful, but have been fighting hangnails ever since.  This may even end up being a 😦 , but  I did not want to take out a dislike for the process overall on the specific location (if that makes sense…)

The Melting Pot was 🙂  – We agreed that since it was a long dinner, it would make a good first date place, giving you plenty of time to talk while cooking each part of dinner.  We definitely want to try fondue again.

On the second day, we discovered that our GPS did not work well in downtown Cincinnati, which made finding the places we were looking for a real challenge.  Also, there was a Cincinnati Reds game, so traffic was a mess.  The GPS also had been set to love highways, and would take us quite far out of the way to use them.

We had a late breakfast at First Watch on Montgomery Road, which was 🙂 🙂 – the food was really good, the servers were friendly, and they were right next door to a Half Price Books, which was a total plus for the two of us.  I had a combo with scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, and truly fabulous, fried-to-perfection bacon.  Gabby had a turkey burger that was both moist and flavorful, so we were both happy with First Watch. We need one in Lafayette, as a matter of fact.  Half Price Books was, of course, a delight.

Sheer Necessities Lingerie was our next stop, and it was 😦 / 😐 – they did have some variety in the sizes, as advertised, but  the alternative section was a disappointment – very few shoes, none that we saw in larger sizes (I’m an 11, so was looking forward to finding some sexy shoes for bigger feet); the wigs we saw were mostly on mannequins.

Our plan was to go to Graeter’s for ice cream on our way downtown, but the one we went past was in a sketchy neighborhood, so we decided to wait and find a different one.

We went to Tower Place Mall – 😦 😦 – looking for Midnight Muse – X( – and had to pay $10 to park for what turned out to be 30 minutes.  The Tower Place Mall was architecturally beautiful, but very bare.  There was an art deco court area, which was truly lovely, but there were no stores that we were interested in.  Partially, this was my fault – I knew there was a chance the Midnight Muse would have closed, despite having an accessible website too, but I figured that there would be other stores in a downtown mall that we would be interested in.  I remember a martini bar, a TJ Maxx, a Victoria’s Secret, and a few miscellaneous small businesses; but mostly, it was empty.

Back at the car, we decided ice cream was necessary, so we found an address in a Downtown Cincinnati map we had picked up at the Mall – but between the GPS, the traffic, and whatever else, we could not find the Graeter’s store.  Okay, time to rethink.  The GPS suggested another Graeter’s across the river in Newport, Kentucky.  We drove there – and there was bare dirt, a closed Kroger gas station, and construction on a Target store. Hmmm… well, while we were in that area, we checked out Hofbräuhaus (a German brew house we were planning on having dinner at) and the Funny Bone (a comedy club we were planning on going to.)  Okay, both look good and were easy to find, but now we are on a quest for ice cream.  There was a Graeter’s near the Tri-County Mall, and we had discussed going to Dave & Buster’s too, so we headed back to that part of town – with a stop at a gas station.  Unfortunately, the gas nozzle did not kick off when the tank was full, and sprayed gas on my shoes! Not much spilled, just a few ounces, and I reported the nozzle problem to the gas station attendants, but we had to crack the windows due to the reek of gasoline.

Finally, we arrived at Grater’s Ice Cream on  Princeton-Glendale Road.  Jennifer Crusie has said it is the best ice cream in the world, and we decided it was well worth all the hassle to get there and finally have some – 🙂 🙂 🙂 !  The two people working the counter were competing to give us samples of the flavors they considered the best, and all of them were very good.  Also, since it was my birthday, I got a free scoop, which was a delightful surprise.  The ice cream was rich, and smooth, and creamy, and just thoroughly wonderful.

We ran across the street to a Big Lots (which was huge) and got me a replacement pair of shoes – yes, I am now the proud (?) owner of a third pair of Crocs.  They were cheap, and they fit – plus, they are red with big fake jewels on the side, so I will be very glamorous in my garden now.

I had never heard of Dave & Buster’s, but Gabby had heard it was a grown up version of Chuckie Cheese, so we went there next.  The food reviews were negative across the board, but we were there for the games, and had a great time – as well as almost making ‘Commisioner’ on the Police Trainer game. We gave it 🙂 🙂 and would totally go again – and this time, we WILL beat that game, lol.

We had somewhat lost track of time by this point, and it was around seven pm – so we drove back to Newport to go to the German restaurant.  The parking attendant told us that the wait was so long, they were no longer promising that the people arriving would be able to have dinner, so we thanked him and left.

The Mongomery Inn was rated the best overall restaurant on the Best of Cincinnati website, so we went to the one on Montgomery Road, which was near our hotel.  Our waitress was a funky, sassy woman who was a pleasure to interact with, and took great care of us.  Gabby got a rib and chicken combo with macaroni and cheese; I ordered a combo plate (ribs, brisket, and pulled pork) with onion straws.  They also served a wonderful sourdough bread, and when the food arrived it was in huge servings!  The ribs were perfect, fall off the bone tender, and the sauce was a great balance of smoky, sweet, and tangy.  The chicken was excellent, and the pulled pork was very tasty.  My brisket was thin sliced – almost like bacon – and then slightly fried.  I had never had brisket done that way, and it was very good, also.  We could have fed at least three more people off the two plates we ordered, and it was very sad that the hotel did not have a microwave and fridge so we could take home the remainder.  My birthday dessert was a marvelous shortbread strawberry shortcake, with Graeter’s vanilla ice cream. Overall, 🙂 🙂 even though I spent all night feeling like I was pregnant with a meat baby…

Sunday morning, we checked out of the hotel and headed back to First Watch – but the wait was about 90 minutes.  We ended up at Frisch’s Big Boy, where they had a breakfast buffet.  The food was 🙂 but the waiter was 😐 – he never refilled our drinks, despite having to walk past us multiple times, and we were unable to catch his attention.  Still, we had a good breakfast, and took pictures with the Big Boy statue; then we got in the car to head home.

On the drive home, we realized that not once had either of us been disappointed that we were in Cincinnati instead of at RWA Nationals in Florida.  So, the trip was an overall success, a great way to spend a long weekend and celebrate my 37th birthday, and I look forward to future trips with Gabby, who is a terrific friend and wonderful road trip partner!  And maybe next year we will get to go to Nationals.


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