Monday Musings: Experiences and Ethiopian Cuisine

Courtesy of FirmBee @
Courtesy of FirmBee @

Now that I’ve got my blog up and running again, I’m starting to see that I post a lot about writing.

A lot.

While that’s a good thing, since it keeps me disciplined, there’s also a downside.  By focusing on writing so much, I feel like I’m neglecting to show you, dear readers, who I am as a human being.  And, yes, as a human being, I love to talk about writing.  But the last thing I want for you to think is that I’m some cold, unfeeling robot obsessed with writing all the time.  I mean, the subtitle of this blog is “The Life and Words of a Novelist.”  I feel like I’m fulfilling the “words” part, but not the “life” part.

So, in order to counteract that, I’m creating a new post type along with a revamped blogging schedule.  I will bring you the same content I have these past few weeks (flash fiction, reviews, and craft tips, so far), but I want to share myself with you as well.

And in today’s post, I’m going to talk about what I’m doing in addition to writing these days: trying new things and applying for jobs.

Fears and Apprehensions

After being accepted to two MFA programs that I couldn’t afford, I reasoned that I should beef up my application for the next round of MFA applications by getting some money and experience via a job.

That was back in March, almost seven months ago.  And while not much has changed externally, I believe I have changed internally quite a bit over the year that I’ve been out of college.

Since finishing The Indie Author Power Pack, I’ve become both excited and scared about the possibility of becoming a full-time writer.  On the one hand, the possibility of doing what I love full-time without having to flip burgers, work in a cubicle, or be at a “real job” seemed more possible than ever.  But on the other hand, it scared me because it felt more tangible and close.  It meant that once I started, my life would change forever.  I’d have to start paying taxes.  I’d have to start living on my own and making a name for myself.

And it also means that in the hard months of trying to make my dream being a full-time writer come true, I’m going to have to get a “real job” regardless.

And having that job means that writing might get pushed to the wayside.

And that’s a scary thing.

But you know what’s even scarier?

That I keep thinking about writing when I haven’t done any living.

And you know what’s ironic and hypocritical about that?

My high school yearbook quote!

Needing to Live

I’m not kidding.

For my high school yearbook, I chose the following quote by Henry David Thoreau:

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

How? How did my high school self know what I needed to hear this moment? How did I, the self that I am, become so separate from the self that I was? I wish I had a time machine so she could give me advice.

She was predicting the future — her hopes and dreams, and was keenly aware of the difference between writing and living.

Which is exactly what I have come to recognize.

I wouldn’t be getting a job because I need more money.  More money certainly wouldn’t hurt, but I’m not in need of it in order to pay off my loans or anything like that. Thanks to the hard work of my parents, I graduated college with my Bachelors in English not only early, but also debt-free.  It wrecks me to know some people that can’t say that, and knowing that makes me eternally grateful to my parents for everything else they have ever done for me.

But to re-iterate, money is not what I am after.  Being in debt is not the driving force for me to get a job.  Rather than being in a financial hole, I am on the ground, looking at everyone else that seems to be soaring through the sky.

And if I want to become a better writer and a better person, I need to fly.

I need to live.

I need to take the first step and leap toward every new experience I possibly can.

Ethiopian Cuisine

Just this Saturday, I had Ethiopian cuisine for the first time with a friend of mine.  We split two dishes — a combination of slowly-roasted lamb, tender chicken, and assorted vegetables prepared in a variety of ways.  Lentils dancing with spicy-sweet sauce, split peas conversing with green peppers, sweet carrots mixed with green beans, salty-marinated collard greens — All of it arrived on an impressive platter that nearly took up the table we sat at.

But the best part of the experience was how we went about eating it.

On a separate plate came injera, strips of tan-colored, slightly-sour, sponge-like flatbread. Instead of digging in with typical western utensils like a fork and knife, I had to eat it with my hands using the bread.  I unraveled the strip, tore off a piece that could fit between my fingers, and — while holding the bread in my fingers — grabbed whatever I could from the platter.  Once between the bread, I ate and enjoyed.

And by having Ethiopian cuisine for the first time, not only did I try something new and become a more knowledgeable, cultured person.

I got ideas for my novel. I made new connections that would help me become a better writer.

I’ll become a more knowledgeable, rounded human being that gets inspired to write if I get even more experience.

The JET Program

I’m currently in the middle of applying to the JET Program to become an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT).  It’s a competitive, almost year-long application process, but if I succeed, it will be worth it.  Instead of studying abroad for three months, I’ll live in Japan for a year, teaching English alongside educators in Japan. I’ll improve my English skills, Japanese skills, teaching skills, communication skills, teamwork skills, and everything in between.

But in the meantime, while the applications all get sorted and I’m waiting for their reply, I hope to be living and experiencing as much as possible.  Even in the realm of blogging.

And I hope that wherever you are in life, you’ll take this journey with me in your own way.


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