The Astromaid Chronicles

Slow Travel, Creative Living, and Speculation

Category: On Writing (page 1 of 2)

13 Things That Will Make You [Verb] [Adverb]!

While things are blossoming with newness and regenerating from zero during spring, I thought it might be fitting to bring us back to basics. You know, strip things down to their most fundamental core.

So…Behold: Buzzfeed-Inspired Mad Libs! Now you too can have your very own generic article commenting on some fleeting aspect of human society or pop culture!

Fill in the blanks as you see fit at your next group meeting, friend party, bar gathering, and more.

13 Things You Should (Expect)/(Know)/(Forget) When [Verb] With [Noun or Adjective]:

1. Don’t expect any [noun] from [proper noun or celebrity].

2. Don’t forget that being [adjective] doesn’t [verb].

3. DO know that a [noun] will [verb] them for [quantity of time].

4. Make sure your [noun] is properly restrained before [verb].

5.  And because of this, you [verb] what you [verb]!

6. Don’t forget that being [verb] often produces [noun]. This can be a sticky situation!

7. You never [verb] for [livestock example]. This would be [adjective], and exemplary of too much [emotion].

8.  But remember, [-ing verb] always produce the best [culinary dish]. So [verb] away!

9. Don’t ever [verb] when you should [verb] instead.

10. But do [verb] when the [plural noun] are in [country].

11. When someone [verb]’s you, just remember to [verb] and [verb]. That’s the only way.

12. But if they [verb]? Feel free to express your [adjective] side. You matter too, [proper noun]!

13. Most of all, expect to have a [length of time] [noun] with them. After all, that’s what we’re all after.

Don’t forget to share your results! And if it comes out really nicely, hell….try submitting it to Buzz Feed!

Times of Transition

I have a confession: I am a blogaholic.

I began blogging in 2006 when I moved to Mexico for a semester abroad. The intentions were twofold: it served as a natural extension for my writing and creativity, while also serving as a helpful tool for assuring my family members I was still alive.

That blog was written under the nickname Mexishan. Then, when I went to Guatemala to live in 2009, I started a new blog: this time, with the name MayaShan. (See the trend?)

And then, in 2012, when I moved to South America?

You guessed it–SOUTHAMERISHAN.

While my wittiness apparently knows no bounds, a new identity has cropped up in recent times, that of the Astromaid.

I began the Chronicles in 2013 with the intention of giving myself another outlet. I felt that my South AmeriShan blog was too restrictive, too related to travel, and I had all sorts of things that I needed to say that didn’t fall under the categories of Slow Travel, Argentina/Chile, Backpacking and so forth.

I felt I needed another forum to state my words in their raw and unadulterated form. A place where I could talk about that traumatizing facial I got in Nashville, or the weird things that happen when you fall in love. Hence, the Astromaid came slithering and writhing into existence.

Since the Chronicles came around, I also started a briefly-lived blog, The Gaucho and the Gringa, dedicated to international relationships. That blog is put on hold for the time being, since I literally cannot decipher why I thought it was a good idea to have multiple active blogs.

So now, in March of 2015, I have decided to officially consolidate South Amerishan and the Chronicles into one. This is also a metaphorical consolidation of identities, I suppose — a way for me to unite parts of my life that I previously thought were disparate, or perhaps felt that they should be disparate. I am the Astromaid as much as I am the traveling South AmeriShan — and now, for heaven’s sake, for my sake, for my family’s sake, I am going to put all of my damn writing in one spot.

Here we have it — The Astromaid Chronicles, now featuring all of the writing of the Former (and well, Still-Current, I guess) SouthAmeriShan.

Expect to see all of my travel-related writing here, as well as the occasional non-travel-related posts about whatevertheheckIwannatalkabout.

I hope you’ll all continue to float alongside me in outer space.

Tips For Living With A Writer: Don’t Mention The Sweatpants

One of the most important tenets for writers is the BIC policy – the BUTT IN CHAIR policy. The only way writers can write is by putting their asses in the chair and doing it.

Makes sense, right?

Well, BIC is hard to accomplish. It might seem a given that writers have a predisposition for writing, but really, if you’re any sort of regular writer (i.e. like me, or most of the writers I know), a lot of time is spent AVOIDING writing, POSTPONING it, or otherwise THINKING about it but not actually DOING IT.

SIT DOWN AND WRITE...you WRITER!

SIT DOWN AND WRITE…you WRITER!

At some point in their careers writers will get over this, or at least find a happy medium between actually writing and rewarding themselves (like with chocolate, or alcohol, or entering contests). But until they find that happy medium, or the precise freelance job that strikes enough fear into their heart to motivate them, the problem remains: how to accomplish BIC?

BIC is HARD. As writers, our first and foremost task is avoiding temptation. And I mean, of ANY sort. As a writer, I am daily tempted by the following urges: to sweep and mop all the floors, to wash every dish on the property, to make elaborate meals that I don’t really need to eat NOW but like, I might want to eat TOMORROW or could possibly freeze for NEXT WEEK, to run all sorts of errands I’ve been putting off for an indeterminate amount of time, to actually work more on my day job even though I’ve already put in the required hours for the day… and the list goes on.

The point is that procrastination takes an odd turn when writing is involved. For whatever reason, writers are a strange breed, wired to avoid the one task they WANT to do. So it makes sense (to us…let’s be real, I’m rationalizing here) that the threshold must be as low as possible in terms of ‘Things to Do’ prior to writing. Given our proclivity to inventing to-do lists just to avoid writing, we must have everything taken care of in advance. No speck of dirt, exciting mix of fresh ingredients, or misplaced towels in the kitchen to distract us.

So, the less physical preparation prior to writing, the better.

And this often means completely foregoing or otherwise neglecting personal hygiene, and/or frequent changes of clothing. Hell, sometimes clothing is entirely OPTIONAL. Because in order to get BIC, we have already overcome the incredible, insurmountable task of sitting down in front of the computer, not to mention having resisted the urge to polish the shower. You think we have time to put on clothes, or otherwise change out of them?

So this means that as a non-writer member of the living space/family/generally established commune, it is of the utmost importance that you do not comment on the sweatpants, the unkempt hair, or the slight odor of armpit that may or maybe not have been lingering for nigh on a week.

That often means wearing the same pair of sweatpants for a week in a row because come on, we’re fucking writing over here! Do you expect us to get dressed just because society does?!?!

After all that housework we’ve done just to avoid writing, or the vast quantity of meals we’ve prepared that we might as well just throw away because NOBODY NEEDS TO EAT THEM, or the attention to toilet bowl cleanliness that just goes unnoticed in this place? No. No commentary on the sweats is needed. It might look like we’re doing nothing in the house, but really it’s a battle of wills, a battle of cleanliness, a battle of procrastination the likes of which most professions have never even seen before.

So, to all of the people who have the misfortune of living with a writer, and otherwise sharing space with a writer for a period of time between one month to several years…please, don’t mention the sweatpants.

In fact, don’t mention the wine, either.

Because the wine is another important factor to BIC.

And if you mention it or try to take it away (along with the sweatpants), things will get ugly.

Tips For Living With A Writer: Speak Only When Spoken To

If you’re a writer, or you grew up with a writer, or have the (mis)fortune of dating/living with/being married to a writer, this article might ring a few bells.

But if there’s anybody else out there who has unexpectedly found themselves sharing tight quarters with a writer and this is your first time, read carefully.

Clearly, our reputation precedes us. [Photo Credit: K.B. Owens, WANA Commons]

Clearly, our reputation precedes us. [Photo Credit: K.B. Owens, WANA Commons]

We writers are strange people. We spend long periods of time strapped to our computers and desks, staring blankly into space, and sometimes we even snap at you when you interrupt us when we were apparently ‘doing nothing’.

I want to help bridge the gap between writers and non-writers, at least for peaceful cohabitation purposes.  As a writer myself, and one who travels extensively and therefore is constantly being uprooted from the ‘safe space’ of home, I have a lot of tips that I’ve picked up through the years.

TIP NUMBER ONE: SPEAK ONLY WHEN SPOKEN TO

I’m not proud of this double standard. Unfortunately, this is one of the most commonly-occurring phenomena in my day-to-day life as a writer. On the off chance that I’ve exposed myself to the elements, whether it be writing in a public space or simply keeping my bedroom door ajar, it tends to be an indicator to people that I’m available for conversation, commentary, or generally Listening To Whatever Just Popped Into Their Heads.

Not everyone has had to share space with a writer, and therefore, they don’t know. It seems like a self-evident rule (to writers) that when a writer is in front of her computer, you assume she’s working, even though she may be finishing a 30 minute stint on facebook because she got sidetracked researching sebaceous cysts for a scene in her novel. It doesn’t matter. Peering at her screen to assess for yourself whether or not she’s ‘writing’ is not a fair assumption either, because sometimes writing involves 30 minute stints on facebook (legitimately: for marketing purposes and fan interaction; less legitimately: seeing what friends did last weekend) and getting lost in the annals of Wikipedia.

Knowing all of this as a writer, I still sometimes  get lulled into a false sense of security. I might have just completed a particularly gripping scene where my hero flees the scene in an impressive spray of desert dust; or maybe I just wrote the last line and now I’m set to start revsions. Either way, energy is high, I haven’t been interrupted, I need to share this.

So I think it’s safe to engage with those around me while on the job. My goal is always a quip, a remark, a comment in passing – something to acknowledge that excitement within, or the accomplishment, or the surprise that my main character just said that. Not trying to go deeper or evolve into an hour long gabathon over coffee.

But once I open my mouth to engage on whatever level with those around me who don’t know, no matter how trivial the topic is, the Conversational Door has been opened. And that door doesn’t close. In fact, I think that door is revolving and makes a soft whishing noise as it keeps going past the same point over and over again. Any external attempt to engage, if not initiated by my mouth or my brain, is always a distraction. Period. Friends and family may think, Well, she just talked to me 30 seconds ago, clearly I can bring up this new irrelevant topic since she’s not working.

Wrong.

Stop it.

Because those thirty seconds that went by between my remark and your next thought were ample breeding ground for me to get re-absorbed in Whatever The Hell I Was Doing Before.

Do this enough times, and writers start to get really agitated. And depending on the level of people skills (sometimes low for writers!), it can result in a deeply awkward/uncomfortable/hilarious-a-few-years-later type situation.

This is not fair, and I don’t publish this proudly.

But it is real, and I’m sorry. All of us writers are sorry.

And we all thank you for putting up with us.

More tips for living with a writer to come soon!

P.S. And for the record, my partner has learned. He interacts gladly when I initiate, and will only interrupt me for pressing issues, like “Hey, grab me another roll of TP” or “Do you want a glass of wine now?”

How I Lost Three Hours of My Life to Lifestyle Blogs

My last post made mention of an attempt to take my blog a bit more seriously. Now that it’s been pushed through the birth canal and has spent nearly a year piddling around, exercising motor skills and learning to say “Astromaid Chronicles”, it’s time that it takes a new and important step.

That of defining itself.

We all know the thorn patch that is ‘labels’. But sometimes blogs need to define themselves. So people know what the fuck they’re about.

As for me, I have no idea. I took a perfunctory stroll throughout the ample world of Blogging Resources. Amongst all the information about audience reach, followers, growth and more, it prompted me to take a stab at defining my blog.

You know, like, what category does it fit into? What the hell is it doing on the internet?

What Am I Doing Here

Ruling out all of the obvious mismatches, like Fitness, Food, and Babies, I was able to whittle my blog down to two potential categories.

‘Lifestyle’ and ‘Other’.

Though I was tempted to just pick ‘Other’ and be done with it, we all know what sort of unintended repercussions choosing ‘Other’ can have. It might relegate my blog to obscurity (well, it’s already there, so nevermind). It might be paired up with fan blogs about The Big Bang Theory. Who knows.

So I had to google “Lifestyle Blogs”. At first glance I thought, “Yeah! Lifestyle! I talk about life, and working, and dreadlocks sometimes, and my take on life, sorta.”

But then I saw what a real lifestyle blog is like. I checked out some of the most popular lifestyle blogs on Bloglovin. Some examples are The Londoner, The Freckled Fox, and I Wore Yoga Pants to Work. Just to name a few.

Lifestyle Blog Selection provided by katehash.com

Lifestyle Blog Selection provided by katehash.com

These are are excellently designed, beautifully made, artfully written blogs.

And none of them look like The Astromaid Chronicles would be a natural companion.

Those are the well-dressed girls at school, the ones who never wear the same shirt twice. My blog? It just showed up in leggings for the 80th day in a row and doesn’t care.

Some of the lifestyle blogs I’ve seen feel like a glorified catalog of daily life. And that’s really cool. I love clicking through photographic proof of Regular Joe’s incredibly organized and well-lit existence. (Editor’s Note: Why are all lifestyle bloggers technically models? Is that a requirement?) It doesn’t necessarily resonate with my lifestyle, but I like looking at their lifestyle. For a minute. Until I can’t stand it anymore.

That said, I suppose ‘lifestyle blogs’ is an umbrella term. A really freaking big umbrella term. Because though I’m not posting step-by-step photos of my wardrobe choice for a trip to Starbucks, nor am I reviewing items or talking about amazing parties in Venice, the content on my blog definitely qualifies as within the realm of a lifestyle.

Namely, mine.

Trust me, you’ll never see a post of me reviewing name brand hats (my dreads wouldn’t fit in them, anyway), or showcasing the latest changes to my living room (I live out of my backpack, so I sometimes don’t even have a living room). Nor will you see professional photos of my snacks, because, damn, I’m hungry, who’s got time to take a picture of it?

So, in conclusion, fuck it. I don’t know. I guess this is a lifestyle blog. Because I’m writing about what I want, which sometimes has to do with lifestyles in general, and that, at least, is a bit more specific than ‘Other’.

If anyone has a better idea, please let me know.

I’m Being Serious, You Guys

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Astromaid Chronicles spent a lot of time in gestation, if you will. The idea began as a very urgent and irritating thought somewhere around May of 2013. By the end of that year, I decided I’d try my hand at writing blog posts about whatever. I mean, I’ve been blogging since 2006, but this blog was the first one I had dedicated to anything that wasn’t strictly travel related.

All the blogs I’ve started prior to this one have been mostly as attempt to convince my family that I wasn’t kidnapped or slowly dying abroad as I embarked on various trips around the world. And as I found more unrelated ideas vying for space in my travel blogs, I realized I needed an outlet all its own for the frequent commentaries on adulthood, self-employment, writing adventures, and travel in a broader sense (not just the day-to-day stuff).

So that’s how the Astromaid convinced me to give her the final push out the ol’ canal.

And now, it’s time to let her spread her wings. Or rather, flop her mermaid tail? I’m not sure. Either way, I want to bring a wider audience to yonder Astromaid, and I’d love if my readers could support me by following my on Bloglovin. Just click the link at the top of this post, and you’ll be on your way.

Thanks for reading, as always!

Local Blogger Satisfied With Three ‘Likes’

Local blogger and writer Shannon Bradford stated Thursday that she is totally fine with the three likes her recent blog content provoked.

“Hey, man,” she stated, distracted in front of her laptop in the local coffee shop, “That’s three more people than zero, so.”

She claimed to be working on something that was sure to “garner five likes, at least.”

Tight lipped about this project, she gave a moody shrug and sipped at the coffee beverage.

“I’m not saying everyone is going to like it, but I know it will generate a solid five fans. Minimum.”

Local patrons were asked about Ms. Bradford’s blog and only one had heard of the Astromaid Chronicles.

Ironworker and father of three, Jeremy Solder, provided this statement: “There was some bullshit about facials once, right? Perfect timing too, because the old lady had just asked for a gift card to get one of those bad boys and I said, Hell no, check out this blog! Saved me $90.”

When informed about this reader feedback, Ms. Bradford seemed pleased.

“That’s why I write,” she said. “Some people are able to affect revolutions and history. And others just affect aesthetic treatment choices.”

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