Category Archives: Cubicle Whore

Moving Day!

I have been in the process of moving my website from one place to another for a long time. I’ve been blogging at gazellesoncrack since 2006 (although I’ve owned amycissell.com for just as long). Today amycissell.com is live. There might be a few broken links or broken forms, so bear with me as I get through them, but overall, this should look just like home.

My ex-husband gave me the inspiration for gazellesoncrack and I fully embraced it. I am not graceful. (In fact, in college, there was a person who regularly just called me Grace.) This is not an untruth. For 11+ years, my entire online identity was wrapped around gazelleosncrack.

But in the past 11 years, I’ve become so much more–this space has become so much more. It started as a place to share my clumsiness and book reviews, became a place to share my clumsiness, book reviews, and shoe pr0n. Morphed into a place to discuss clumsiness, book reviews, shoes, and my health & weight loss journey. Then it skidded sideways into a pregnancy tracker and half-hearted mommy blog. All of this while doing my best to hide my real name from the internets.

And now-this is where we are.

There’s a lot less focus on the awkward (although that still exists), I never talk about shoes anymore (my interest in pretty shoes fell to the wayside about the time I had foot surgery), and my posts about my kid are getting fewer and further between as he gets older (and so much bigger, omg, he comes up to my chest now!).

It’s book reviews and writing and health (physical and mental).

I was doing a meditation this morning (seriously guys, if you haven’t read Rebekah Borucki’s You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life, get on that) and realized that the last two years have been nothing but attempts to breathe out the bad and breathe in the good.

I breathed out the job that I hated with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. The job that made me have panic attacks and high-level anxiety. The job that caused me to stress-eat and stress-starve (and may have fucked up my entire digestive system semi-permanently). The breath maybe wasn’t as controlled as I’d have preferred, but it’s gone, it’s out, and this is better.

I breathed out a marriage that had been weighing me down for longer than I care to admit. Letting go of a relationship that doesn’t buoy you is harder than it ought to be. Adding a kid to the mix certainly doesn’t make that process easier.

I breathed in new possibilities. I published a book (soon to be two). I’m taking control of that part of my life.

I breathed in a new job that, although not as exciting as it could be, still pays me with real money and affords me the time and energy to continue to work on my writing.

I breathed in a new relationship with a wonderful man who continually surprises me with how much he’s willing to give to me and my son, just because he loves us.

There are still things that I need to let go of and still things I need to pick up. I need to be bolder, more brazen, more confident. I need to be less anxious, less self-deprecating, less willing to put myself and my needs last. More movement, fewer excuses. More running, less sitting.

I started meditating – started being a person who meditates – when things were terribly, terribly bad earlier this year. I’d just turned 40 and was broke. Unemployed. So anxiety-riddled that I couldn’t tell where my brain was anymore. The one meditation I did over and over and over was (again, from the aforementioned book): “Your situation may look like a mess. That’s real. But you are not that mess.”

That got me through March. I started this job the end of April. I’m sleeping better. Eating better. And (and hopefully the beer guy will back me on this) being an all-around happier, more relaxed person.

I’m not saying that mediation got me a job and fixed my crazy, but there is evidence to show that mindfulness and mediation have a positive effect on anxiety (and a whole host of things!). And less anxious = all around better everything.

I’m still not meditating every day, but I’m definitely getting to “more often than not.”

Which brings me back to moving. Moving on. Moving up. This is one more letting go. Letting go of the gazelle that I so identify with “ten years ago Amy” and “Amy who was married to the architect” and “Amy who was too scared to really live.” (My spell check suggests I mean “Amy who was too sacred to really live…interesting…)

Now, instead of taking a name someone else gave me, we are here. At amycissell.com. (Yeah, I know that technically someone else gave me that damn name, too, but hey! It’s very me. 40 years of me, in fact.) I might never achieve the level of fearlessness I’d like, but I’m going to stop letting fear hold me back from what I want.

I will no longer be a dreamer of dreams. I will be a doer of things.

So welcome. Welcome to Amy Cissell Writes. The past is all here – I don’t want to start fresh because the lessons I’ve learned have been invaluable, but let’s move forward with fresh goals, shiny new intentions, and a courage that belies the fear.

 

The daystar! It burns ussssssss!

Portland is well-known for being gray and rainy. It’s part of its charm. I’ve lived here for almost eleven years. It is not a surprise that the winter months are overcast and moist.

This year, though…this year was miserable. (Even the Weather Channel agreed. By 2/1, Portland was named the most winter-fatigued city.) Between the ridiculous snow and ice in December and January and the fact that it’s rained a lot (A LOT), most people I know who live here were getting ready for the shitty weather to be over.

(Aside…the caption in this photo. If Astoria had record-breaking prrcipitation, does that mean it was raining cats and dogs? hahaha ha ha. I slay me.) 

We’ve had a couple teaser days here & there. Days when the sun would shine and the temperatures would sneak into the 70s. Days when we could have “drinks on the patio” with the Bean.

 

After a day or two, though, the sky would again become overcast and the rain would fall. So when the forecast promised well over a week of sunny skies and warm weather, I was cautiously optimistic.

The temperatures got a little warmer each day last week and the sun peeked out for longer and longer. By the time the beer guy picked Bean up from school on Friday, we were definitely warm enough for drinks on the patio again.

Saturday was beautiful. Mid-70s. Sunny. Perfect weather for practicing bike riding skills on one’s brand-new bike.

He did great until he found out I was no longer holding on to the bike.

(We also spent a significant portion of time indoors in the morning, flipping Alvie’s bed from a regular bed to his big boy bed.)

Learning about bats while wearing his batman pajamas

Yesterday was the annual neighborhood street fair. Food vendors, live music, booths with many goods and services for sale. It was such a nice day! We ate in the sunshine and wandered the booths. BUT! It was crowded! Everyone in general vicinity was there taking advantage of the nice weather.

We ate some lunch, grabbed some iced coffee, got L’s face painted, and then headed out.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in our much less crowded back yard, sipping rosé (me), Radler (the beer guy), and water (Bean).

Today’s supposed to be in the 90s, and I’m almost glad that I’ll spend most of it in my windowless basement office, protected from the burning harshness of the daystar.

Almost. (I’d rather spend every nice day in the shady backyard, reading and sipping rosé, but alas! I’ve eaten too much avocado toast and purchased too many iPhones, and I am not independently wealthy.)

Three Things Thursday: Too tired for anything but .gifs (hard g, duh)

1. You guys. I am so tired today. I didn’t stay up late last night and I stayed in bed longer today. Just tired.

WHHHHYYYY am I so sleepy?

How I felt 30 minutes ago

Current status

 

2. I’m still struggling to find balance in my new routine. I want to fit in exercise, writing, editing, spending time with the beer guy and the Bean, and keeping the house in the kind of shape that I wouldn’t be embarrassed if someone randomly dropped by. So far I am succeeding in doing exactly zero of those things.

Desired state of balance

Acceptable state of balance (still a little wobbly)

Current situation

 

3. It’s all a little crazy-making. Surprisingly, though, not the crazy making of having all the time in the world to write, edit, keep house, exercise, and spend time with my loved ones. I have some mild anxiety about my book schedule, but it’s not as all-consuming as the anxiety over the winter months was. (Partially because of the sun and partially because of the paycheck.) But still…

Me: 85% of the time

Legit question

Do not try to make me feel better this way…maybe just send a martini and a time machine.

 

Thank you, Harry! (Although, I’m a Ravenclaw…)

Writerly Wednesday: ACK!

You guys! Having a real job and commuting for 2 hours/day is really cutting into my editing/writing time. And by really, I mean I haven’t done shit since I started my job. I’m slowly working on waking up earlier, but I’m still not achieving “getting out of bed” earlier. Last weekend, I had the Bean (and I was miserable most of Saturday). Plus, all the housework I used to do during my breaks has to fit into two short, weekend days.

This is absolutely how I spent my days before going back to work.

I literally have zero excuses for why I did nothing after the first week on the job, though. I guess I was busy…recovering from work?

Recovery drink – same whether or not I’m recovering from a foot-race or from the rat race.

I know it’ll take a while to get used to a new schedule. Getting to bed on time, getting up on time, and finding time to write in the mornings and evenings is key. It’s just hard to motivate myself to sit in front of a computer after a long day of sitting in front of computer. (Plus, I need to make breakfast and lunch for the next day-occasionally for two people, pick out clothes, make the coffee, and now I just want to sit on the damn couch and watch The Daily Show…)

Let’s not even begin to talk about exercise.

I know this is all possible, because I’ve done it before, and with great success. I used to get up every morning at five and write for an hour before showering and getting ready for my day. A couple days a week, I’d either run or swim instead of write. I’d run every weekend and once a week after work. I’d hit up yoga a couple times a month. And I was still churning out 60K words/month, plus working a full-time job, parenting, and commuting two hours/day.

I had so many sweaty selfies in 2015. I also wrote two books and edited another. And I worked a lot. This is achievable.

Admittedly my schedule is a bit different now. I only have my kid half the time and I have more of a social life than I had between 2013 and late 2015. Also, and this is weird, I actually enjoy spending time with the beer guy and don’t want to be on staggered sleep schedules to minimize interactions. #bizarre

I’ll get there. I have to. Because unless someone has a giant pot of money for me (CROMER- you had one job), I’m going to have to keep working for the foreseeable future. (Although if I could figure out a way to write on the bus without it being awkward and elbowy, that would be great. Why isn’t brain to computer technology in my hands…errr…head yet?)

So – there’s your update. Nothing is happening. I swear by the Morrigan that I will get this book out on time, though. I have big plans for Saturday, though. Big plans.

All of this sounds a little complainy, and that’s not how I’m intending it. You all just get to be the happy recipients of my brain-dump. It’s all about building new habits. Getting back to awesome. Reminding the world-and more importantly, myself-that I am a Fucking Valkyrie Ice Queen, and I can do it all. (Or at least a fairly decent percentage of it.)

Mayday! Mayday!

It’s the first day of May! It’s also the beginning of the second week of the jobby job! AND, I got edits back from editor extraordinaire last night, so I should have a fair amount of stuff to keep me busy.

I have some pretty big goals for this month. In a very particular order:

  1. Getting a handle on the new job. I want to end this month with a confidence level of over 50%. I think this is easily achievable. I just need to be able to dive in and do the work. (I’m replacing someone, so it’s a little awkward to dive in when she’s still here.)
  2. Finish edits on The Waning Moon and start getting it ready for publication. I’ve got a couple major areas to work on, and a month to do it, so I’m not too worried!
  3. Continue with rewrites of the (almost titled) third book in the Eleanor Morgan series. I’ve gone through once and now it’s time to add some material. Raj fans are going to enjoy this book, I think!
  4. Keep up the blogging schedule I’ve been on recently. I have book reviews scheduled for tomorrow, 5/16, and 5/30 (so if you have something you want me to review on the 9th or 23rd, now’s the time to shoot me a request!)
  5. Move more. Now that it’s more than 45 steps from my bedroom to my computer, my fitbit is looking a little less embarrassing. I’m going to hit a minimum of 8K steps/day every day this week and go running one time.
  6. Continue adjusting my sleep/wake schedule. I’d like to be back to a 4:45 am alarm on weekdays (so that I’m up, drinking coffee, and writing by 5).

All of these goals are achievable with a little bit of dedication on my part. It’s interesting: even with being tired from “getting up early” and “getting dressed” and “commuting to work,” I’m feeling more like myself than I’ve felt in…I don’t know how long. There’s just something magical about “earning money” and “color-coding my planner” and “adding quotation marks around random phrases” that makes me feel good.

My work days are still so empty! So much possibility here!