convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #12

don’t talk to strangers. here’s why i’m breaking that rule.

shocker of all things shocking, i find myself at porter square books. i hand over my book and the girl, who is set to ring me up, says “i know you’re part of our customer care program and i should know your name, but…”

me: *spells last name* *searches through purse for wallet* *looks up at the extended silence to find girl staring expectantly at me* “oh, you need my first name? is there more than one mumford in there?”

her: “there actually is.”

me: “wow.” *ponders all other mumfords she knows. the amazing mumford. mumford and sons. my immediate family members. my extended family members; none live nearby* “i’m abigail.”

her: “ah, found it. the first one.”

me: “i usually am. it’s nice until you’re the first one in everyone’s phone book and they butt dial you.”

her: “that would be annoying.”

me: “i like to tell myself i’m really popular.”

her: *smiles* *hands over receipt.*

i leave the store happy with my purchase and with my status as an almost regular, but wondering who’s out there sharing my last name. perhaps they have a first name that would trump mine thus putting them at the top of everyone’s pocket dialing lists? i must make friends with them immediately.


weekend of learning

a quintessential fall weekend:

*learning (in the form of a digital publishing seminar hosted by IPNE) — CHECK

*driving around NH to see the fall foliage — CHECK

*visiting a local farm — CHECK

lessons learned from said fall weekend:

(1) i can still manage to get lost even when i have a GPS, ALL the google maps at hand (thank you, adriana), and three different navigators. (i really wish my superhero powers were something more useful like flying or shooting fire out of my eyes.)

(2) we tried to combat my superhero powers by using different navigators. gina, front seat = we started chatting and forgot to pay attention to the signs. we had to pull a few U turns. adriana, back seat/front seat = she counted the number of blocks left until the turn. very efficient. justin, back seat = he told me the amount of time until the next turn. worked more often than not.

(3) there are sauces called MOTHER SAUCES. (no, there aren’t any daughter or son sauces. i asked.) these are the five basic (french) sauces from which every other (french) sauce is made. they are: tomato, bechamel, hollandaise, espagnole and veloute. (ok, i had to look up the last two.) (sorry, justin. i swear, i was paying attention. once i stopped giggling at the idea of mother sauces.)

(4) goats can climb up really thin ramps that lead up to a tree house. (it’s as weird to watch it happen as it is for you to read about it.)

(5) pumpkins! (i didn’t really learn anything about them, but it’s the only picture i took and look at the pretty.)

(6) cider donuts are scrumptious. (i know! and there’s no chocolate in them either.)

(7) landing in cambridge at the same time the red line goes off the rails AND the head of the charles races are done for the day AND all the cabs have gone missing is SHEER MADNESS, especially if you’re then trying to leave. (fights for cabs will ensue. justin will win.)

(8) william defoe in THE BOOKDOCK SAINTS is ridiculous. you all have to watch that movie just for him.

(9) having a plan is necessary, but when things don’t go according to it, laughing your way through it helps.

(10) taking the scenic route is worth the extra miles.

what did YOU learn this past weekend?


habit forming

as i stood there, gravity forcing me to the side, and the guy next to me politely and discreetly offering his shoulder for balance, i couldn’t help but think, “how’d i becoming one of those unbalanced, newbie T riders?”

the truth of the matter is i don’t ride the T much anymore. i live and work on the same side of the river thus removing my need for daily subway rides and turning me into an uneasy rider. i can’t seem to remember when to bend my knees, when to lean against the curve vs. when to lean into it, all of which used to be second nature. back in the day, i could listen to my ipod and read a book and still remain solidly in place, but now because of disuse my T riding habits have gotten rusty.

which left me thinking about my writing habits… previously, i was only writing when the mood struck, not when the word count needed to be up, but since i’m now in the “disaster draft” stage of writing (as coined by bria quinlan), i need to be writing as often as i can.

i’m working hard to develop habits that resemble a professional.

even though i have been writing more regularly, it’s important to remember that just because i’m setting up these habits now, it doesn’t excuse me from hard work. even if it’s only 400 words a night, it’s reinforcing that pattern of sitting my butt in the chair and writing. i’d rather my joints get rusty from sitting too long than my words from non-use.

another way to make sure habits take hold is accountability.

one way is to have write-ins with friends. another way is to announce my goals on twitter because the twitterati always and randomly show up to support and challenge me. it’s that whole team mentality. it’s easier for me to get something done if i know there’s a deadline, but self-imposed deadlines (which are all i have right now) only work so well.

the solution is that i’m training myself to be more open about my actions so that the proper people (or improper if the case may be) can offer support and guidance and cheerleading.

and i’ll continue to hope that when life (or the T) takes an unexpected turn and my good habits take a nose dive, there will be a shoulder to lean on (thanks, random guy on the T) or someone to calm the panic (thanks, bria) or the saying “old habits die hard” comes true.

how do you feel about habits — are there any that can be unlearned? re-learned? do you have any you wish you didn’t? any you wish you did?

book club

BOOK HUNGRY: sweet as sin

who says you have to be crowded into the living room, kitchen, and/or dining room to hold a book club? we are ladies of the 21st century. we don’t need no stinkin’ couches. so pull up a blog and join in the conversation.

the members of the BOOK HUNGRY are (alphabetically): patty blount, kelly breakey, karla nellenbach, vanessa noble, alyson peterson, cynthia reese, elizabeth ryann, and myself. here’s the deal. we pick a book to read. we discuss via email. we post a review on our individual blogs on the same day (3rd thursday of the month). we link to each other. done. i know, genius. click on each one of their names (above) and it’ll take you to their review. browse. enjoy.

this month’s BOOK HUNGRY selection is: 

SWEET AS SIN by Inez Kelley

what it’s about from amazon: John Murphy is tormented by nightmares. A bestselling young-adult author, he writes the ultimate fantasy: stories where good always triumphs. He knows better. His past has shown him the worst in people—and in himself. When he moves next door to the sexy, vibrant Livvy—a woman completely unlike his usual one-night stands—he’s driven to explore every curve of her delicious body. Pastry chef Livvy knows that giving in to the temptation that is John Murphy won’t lead to anything permanent, but she deserves a passionate summer fling. John discovers she’s as sweet as the confections she bakes while Livvy slowly unravels his secrets. But what will happen when she uncovers them all?

my opinion: when reading this book, i couldn’t help but think of the show “dexter” and how the men both dexter and john murphy become are largely dependent upon traumatic events in their childhood. john is one of the most raw and vivid characters i’ve ever read, but (for me) dexter more successfully portrays a sympathetic hero.

as it was, i didn’t like john murphy. in the beginning (and middle), he was too mean and too intense and too much. i didn’t believe that livvy could go from a superficial love affair to unconditional love so quickly in the midst of all those monsters. she did, fine, but then the downward spiral leading up to the ending was long and traumatic and suddenly, poof, in five pages, happily ever after. uh, what? because the rest of the book was relatively slow paced and wordy, i expected the ending to follow a similar suit. it did not. i wish it had because this contained some of the most interesting details and necessary facts to explain why john is the way he is. i wanted more of that. not less. and because i didn’t spend the entire book in love with john’s character, i needed more time to forgive his actions, whereas livvy jumped back into his arms after one “i’m sorry.”

i didn’t buy it.

it’s a weird thing, this book. overall, the things i liked about it didn’t outweigh the things i didn’t like, however, john murphy is one memorable character. i won’t soon forget him, but i’m also happy not to revisit with him because i like my books with a side of something a little less dark.

in related news, patty, kelly, karla and i had a conference call with inez and it was fascinating. i once read an article about stephenie meyer and how her agent (or was it her editor?) had never seen someone talk about their characters so vividly. it was as if they really were alive. i felt like this with inez. she wrote the book over four years ago and yet she was pulling out trivia and facts and tidbits that i barely remembered and i just finished the book on sunday. impressive.

for once, our group was divided into those that loved it and those that didn’t, so definitely go check out the other gals’ reviews.


convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #11

i’m conversing with strangers. here are the details why.

i know they’ve been making some changes to my local grocery store, but so far, it’d just been to the aisles on the edges: the produce, the meats, and my favorite, the breads.

after a few weekends away, i am finally in town long enough to warrant a trip to stock up on supplies and yet, when i walk in, i might as well be in a store in another state. EVERYTHING has been switched around (the candy is next to the fruit, the soda is next to the crackers, the paper towels are near the chips, i mean, huh?) and so the fastest thing i can do is walk up and down each aisle taking note of what is now where.

after an unplanned extra amount of exercise, i’m finally ready to check out.

me: there are a lot of changes around here.

lady at the register (LATR): i know. more room.

me: was a building next door bought or are you just reorganizing the space?

LATR: *rolls eyes* reorganizing.

me: have there been a lot of confused customers?

LATR: *nods*

me: well, it’ll look great once it’s finished.

LATR: it can’t be soon enough. *hands me my receipt* have a good evening.

me: thanks, you too.

and off i walk down the sidewalks, crosswalks, and streets of my neighborhood that i thankfully still recognize.