How come I don’t feel like a winner?

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What the heck do I do with myself now?

Crap, I’m going to have to start ANOTHER novel, aren’t I?

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Thoughts on being grateful

photo (12)Thanksgiving is an American tradition I’ve grown pretty fond of. Ever since I moved here God knows how many years ago, I’ve had the good fortune of sharing this holiday with wonderful people I’ve had in my life throughout the years.

This year was no exception, but unlike other years I started the day with a special, two-hour yoga class at my new (cheater cheater!) studio.

I’m going to preface all this by saying that I’d been making big strides with the book writing all of last week, but when I got close to the 47,000 word mark, I started to feel a little stuck.

The heroine, Mallory (the twit – although she gets kinda ballsy in the end, so I may have to stop calling her that), is essentially trying to move on from one (non)relationship and to truly open herself up to having feelings for someone else. She gets herself dragged, while digging her heels in slightly, deeper than she would like into a relationship with Mark – the guy you all met in Hong Kong.

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My Post Featured on Tiny Buddha!

My son D, his second day on this planet.

My son D, his second day on this planet.

I haven’t fully told the story here because I wanted to wait until this article came out, but I had a fairly touch-and-go situation when my son was born in London six years ago. The experience was one of the turning points in my struggle against anxiety, so a few months ago, I wrote it up and sent it to Tiny Buddha, one of my favorite sites on the web.

Today, the story of my son’s birth was published there, and I’d love to invite you guys to read it here.

Something in the Water

This post from when I started my blog felt particularly relevant today.

I hope you enjoy.

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243241_10150657594560437_718464_o The Great Escape of 2011. Dubrovnik, Croatia.

I have a real escapist streak in me. When I’m stressed or when things aren’t going my way, my initial instinct is to retreat. It’s been a blessing and a curse of sorts, since professionally it makes for someone who’s not afraid of – but rather seeks out – change. Personally, however, it was easy to escape from one place to the next when I was single and childless. Having a husband and a six year old son, neither one of whom shares my affinity for wandering the world untethered by earthly possessions, puts a damper on my ability to sell our house and everything in it and go set up a yoga studio on the banks of Lake Como.

I’m not sure how I discovered that the water has an uncanny ability to calm my thoughts and focus my mind on the here and now…

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From Hong Kong, With Love

View from the W Hong Kong in Kowloon

View from the W Hong Kong in Kowloon

Our first full day in Hong Kong was a Sunday, and despite the incandescent sun shining outside, Charlie and I couldn’t force ourselves out of bed until noon. The jet lag and general fatigue from the seemingly endless trip had wiped us out five minutes after we shut the curtains and cut off the view – my brother in the sofabed in the living room and me on the bed.

I had brought all my running gear and was itching to give the treadmill a try, knowing the gym would have an even more awe-inspiring view than the one I was experiencing in our room.

In the daylight, Hong Kong Bay seemed to take on a turquoise tint. A group of fluffy white clouds drifted over the city ahead, as if they’d been put there just for me.

I realized then the gym could wait, threw open the door to my bedroom, and jumped onto my brother’s sofa bed, giving him a firm kick in the butt when I landed.

“We’re in Hong Kong, doofus,” I said loudly. “It’s noon, and we’re missing out on the Dim Sum.”

“Oh my God, fuck the Dim Sum,” he countered from under a pillow. “I drugged myself on the plane last night, and I don’t think it’s wearing off any time soon.”

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Nanowrimo: The Home Stretch

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The Home Stretch

It’s the final week of Nanowrimo, and I’ve suddenly found enough steam to catch up to the recommended daily pace for the challenge.

I’ve written just over 38,000 words (38,149, to be exact), and the big 4-0 (000) is looming just within my reach. My son just took his bath and is putting on his PJ’s, and if I can get him to simmer down for a little over an hour I may just try to get there tonight.

After having written all that, hammering out the 10,000 additional words it will take to “win” at Nanowrimo feels like a piece of cake.

I’m not sure what’s brought on this sudden burst of energy, but I found that writing scenes out of order has helped break the monotony of going from one big “reveal” to another. I hope this doesn’t bite me in the butt, but I’m leaving the ‘boring’ parts aside for now, and pushing forward with those substantial moments I’ve planned out neatly in my mind. Continue reading

I speak German with a Spanish accent

OK so I don’t speak that much German anymore, but I wanted to use the title to make a point.

It’s been a weekend of thinking about my roots, and I realized I haven’t revealed too much about my background on here.

Managua. Judging by my size, probably sometime toward the end of 1977.

Managua. Judging by my size, probably sometime toward the end of 1977.

I’ve probably mentioned in passing that I’m from Nicaragua. I was born there, raised, and lived there for most of my life (save for a short stint in the Washington, DC area when I was in elementary school) until I came to the United States for college at the age of 18.

I moved around a lot after that. California, DC again, Nicaragua, Spain, then London. Then back to DC where we’ve stayed put for the last five years.

You probably wouldn’t know by looking at me – or by hearing me speak – that I’m not American. The fact of the matter is, I didn’t even get my green card until 2012. Up until then, I was living here on work and study visas. I have fair skin, light eyes, and a fairly pronounced American accent when I speak English.

I’ve been thinking randomly about Nicaragua all weekend. On Friday, my husband and I went to a concert – a Nicaraguan folk singer was in the area, and another Nicaraguan couple invited us to go (oh yes, my husband is also from Nicaragua).

Most of the time, I don’t really miss Nicaragua. I miss my family and the few friends I have left there, but I’ve gotten really settled in my life here and for the most part have become pretty Americanized. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by family here – two cousins, their wives and their children – and when we want a dose of family togetherness we make plans with them and hang out. Our kids are roughly the same ages, my cousins (both male) and their wives are awesome people, we share a lot of the same interests, and I really enjoy spending time with them.

So anyway, I miss my parents and my brothers, and wish my son D had more exposure to his grandparents, aunts and uncles on both sides of the family. But, you know, for the most part when I’m here, I’m HERE. And I’m happy. I’ve made this my home.

I don’t know how to explain it, but when I’m here I don’t go around touting or seeking out my Nicaraguan-ness. I almost forget it’s there sometimes.

Nicaraguan beer. A symbol of Nicaraguan-ness.

Nicaraguan beer. A symbol of Nicaraguan-ness.

Except on Friday during this concert, it was clear to me it’s very much still there. Listening to this man’s songs – many of them revolutionary songs from the seventies and eighties – brought tears to my eyes. I’m not very political and I don’t really care about the lyrics or the message behind the songs. I only care that they are SO Nicaraguan. They reminded me of everything about my childhood, from standing in line at the supermarket to get toilet paper like we did in the eighties, to climbing up the coconut trees in my back yard to pick the ripest fruit, crack the nuts open with a machete (borrowed from our gardener), and drink the water straight from the source.

In fact, I was leaving yoga today (fourth class of the week, by the way. This new studio is really motivating me to keep at it) and at the studio I saw they were selling a brand of coconut water. I looked at the price and just had to laugh. I could get better stuff for free from my parents’ back yard.

But anyway, I digress (as I am apt to do on occasion). The point of the story is that somehow, buried deep in there, my Nicaraguan-ness is always there, even if I don’t take it out to show too often.

It’s a little bit like my German. I took a full year of German during my MBA, and while I don’t speak that much of it anymore, any time I do I’m reminded that despite my full blown assimilation to this country, despite my heavy American accent, my colloquialisms and my American lifestyle reside much closer to the surface than my Nicaraguan roots.

I speak German with a heavy Spanish accent. Not an English accent, a Spanish one.

When I least expect it, when I’m least in control, my roots start to show.

And I’m proud of it.

If You Blink: An excerpt from my Nanowrimo novel

It’s funny how the paradox of busy works.

When I don’t go to yoga or do anything fun, I don’t have anything to tell you guys about. When I’m going to yoga four times a week (like I have been) and doing other fun things (like participating in National Novel Writing Month), I don’t have much time to write – except for the roughly 2000 words a day I have to get in to complete my Nanowrimo novel by November 30th.

So, like my friend at 1874 (who was my inspiration for participating in the Nanowrimo challenge), I’m combining my two writing activities today.

You’ll find below an excerpt of my trashy romance novel, If You Blink (Working Title). The Prologue is probably one of the better chapters, so I was a little less embarrassed about sharing that one….

Wellp, I don’t want to give it too much of a wind up, so here you …. enjoy!

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Prologue

It’s funny how some people just suddenly pop into your life out of nowhere, completely changing your perspective. Altering your existence. Even without meaning to.

You’re humming along as usual, with one day looking very much like the last, and without so much as a moment’s notice you collide with someone else (like balls on a billiard table), and your life changes direction entirely – whether you like it or not.

I suppose it’s like that with a lot of things, but for me it had to do with a person. Intercepting my path on the billiard table.

Removed from the place and time it almost feels trite for me to recount the story. It was nothing extraordinary, after all in the grand scheme of things. But meeting Andrew set in motion a chain of events that shaped who I am – trite or not.

It started on a Sunday, as I prepared to deliver a presentation to my entire department at work the following morning. A rock had settled into the pit of my stomach.

It wasn’t the public speaking, per se, that was giving me the Sunday night willies. I had been in the same job at one of the biggest banks in the world – with growing degrees of responsibility – for the past four years. And while I was well-respected among my peers and considered a high performer by my managers, I was beginning to feel stuck.

No, not stuck. More like… stagnant. And more than a little jaded.

Everything we were doing. All the people I saw. All the things we said. It felt like rehash of a hundred different conversations we’d already had in a not so distant past.

The things people cared about. What they considered “important”. I just wasn’t there. I wasn’t on the same page with them and the act of pretending to care created a lot of tension for me while in the office.

It was a struggle to NOT roll my eyes on a regular basis.

This presentation was no different. It was about being more agile in responding to customer needs. I’d filled it with recommendations for improving cross-functional collaboration, getting a better understanding of what customers were telling us and reallocating resources more quickly to give customers what they want.

Except I knew as long as our Managing Director was spineless and obsessed with keeping up appearances, we weren’t going to get any closer to being agile or getting customers what they needed.

Our problem weren’t our policies or processes – it was politics and people.

And to add insult to injury, I really didn’t care.

With a sigh I hit save and looked at the time. Only eight o’clock – still a few hours left to order Chinese, get in a romantic comedy and go to bed with the TV on – like every other Sunday since New Year’s.

I didn’t realize as I fell asleep to the sounds of New York that I was the ball on the billiard table, just about to get knocked off course.