Feeling Accomplished

As y’all may or may not know, I’m a big fan of day-planners and to-do lists.  This week, my to-do list was jammed packed of so many things that I needed to get done.  Including but not limited to: Adopt parakeets, go to the bank, mail books, take kitty to vet, finish short story, pick the new Cemetery Tours cover designs, and go grocery shopping.

I am proud to say that I managed to check off most items on my list this week!  Some items will never fully be complete, such as: keep reading, clean out stuff that I don’t use/need anymore, become better at marketing, etc…  But as for the urgent stuff, the stuff that I needed to get done this week, well, I’m feeling fairly accomplished.

After two months of thinking to myself, “I’m never going to think of a story that can fit into 3000 words in time to enter it into this contest…”  And yet, last week, inspiration struck.  Last night, I submitted  my short story, 2300 words, to the Texas Authors Short Story Contest.  I have no idea of the story is anywhere near good enough, mostly because I’m such a novelist.  I’m not all that great at short stories.  I’m too wordy and I love character development more than just about anything.  I’m really happy with my story though.  I’m not sure it will win anything or if it will even make it into the Texas Shorts anthology, but if it does, awesome and if not, I’ll share the story here on my blog!

Speaking of short stories, I’m going to try to get the next Boy Band story out next week so stay tuned. 😉

I also found out yesterday that the North Texas Book Festival is going to be participating in North Texas Giving Day in Denton.  I got to attend my first Festival this past April (https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/north-texas-book-festival/) and I loved it so much!  It was one of my very favorite events to date.  So on September 17, I volunteered to help represent them, talk about the festival, and try to get donations to support literacy and libraries in North Texas!  I’m so excited!  Then the next days, September 18 and 19 are Indievengeance Day and then the next weekend, I have TWO events with the Colony Library!  September and October are both going to be CRAZY busy but it will be awesome!  I can’t wait!

As for After Death, I’m going to get working on adding it to GoodReads, but mostly, I need to focus on getting it all revised and ready for publication in October!  That and I need to start really getting ready for the next Boy Band book as well!

Okay, so I will always have a heck of a lot of stuff that I need to get done.  But you know what?  I’m okay with that.

Happy Friday, y’all!

CT BTW AD

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Cemetery Tours Redesign

Alright, folks.  I’ve mentioned before here that I’ve been considering re-designing the Cemetery Tours book covers.  As y’all know, I absolutely love the designs created by my talented friend, Ben Durham.

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However, the images on these covers are stock images.  They are not ones that I own.  Yes, I paid for the right to use them, but eventually, I would have to repay.  I also couldn’t use the design for any sort of promotional products other than the covers themselves.  I love these covers, but I believe I have the talent, experience, and resources available to design book covers using only my material.  No stock covers.  Everything about the books would be 100% mine.

That being said, if you really like the old cover designs and you really want a “first edition” copy with the original covers, order them now, because beginning October 6, only the new designs will be available.

http://www.amazon.com/Jacqueline-E.-Smith/e/B00F7BPXX6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

As for the designs themselves, I don’t really have a lot of experience when it comes to book covers.  I did design the cover to Boy Band, but I wanted to make sure that the new covers for Cemetery Tours were as high quality as the originals.

I started out with something simple.

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But clearly, I still had work to do.

The next designs were a bit more colorful.

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But to me, they still looked too sloppy.  I liked the colors in the second one, but somehow, it didn’t look professional.  It looked like something I designed in photoshop class.

Eager to experiment with the color scheme, I continued on to the third design idea.

CT2 copy unnamedBTW

For a little while, I thought these might be the final cover designs.  I liked them so much that I even designed a cover for the third book, After Death, to be released October 6.

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Alas, after a few weeks, I realized there was still something to be desired about them.  They were too “busy” as one of my Twitter friends noticed.

I decided to give it one last shot.  These are the designs.  I’m certain.

Available October 6, 2015:

CT BTW

And the cover design for the newest book in the Cemetery Tours series!

AD

Let me know what you think!

Oh!  And a friendly reminder that you can still enter to #BecomeACharacter in the next installment in the Boy Band series!

https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/becomeacharacter/

Healing and Love and Parakeets

Hi, friends!

Well.  It’s happened!  I finally have my parakeets!  My sister, best friend, and I woke up bright and early to venture over to the pet store.  I picked out two males: a turquoise and a white.  They’re beautiful, spunky, and full of personality.  Petrie, the turquoise one, is more assertive and I think he wants to fight me, but he’s actually quite cute.  Budgie, the white one is a little shy, but he is SO sweet.  I hope they like their new home.  I think they’re still getting used to the environment, but Petrie has felt comfortable enough to preen and to eat some of the apple I gave them, so I think we’re off to a pretty good start!

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These last three images are pictures that my friend, Kathleen Farmer, took.  The metal cage at the bottom has since been removed since it was hard for the parakeets to walk.

Adopting parakeets hasn’t been my only adventure this week!  Yesterday, my sister and I drove up to Denison to visit our friend, Terri.  Terri is a Reiki Master and she invited us to one of her Healing Circles that she leads.  I haven’t had much experience with meditation, Reiki, or any of the spiritual arts, and my sister and I were both eager and curious to try something new.

The session was beautiful.  I even ran into a few of my friends there, James and Claudette Peercy!  The circle is designed to heal your body and your mind and your spirit.  I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, or what I thought I would get out of it, so I simply went in with an open mind and tried my best to let my spirit guide me.

I’ve told you all about my struggles with anxiety and mild obsessive compulsive disorder.  What I haven’t really shared with you are my self-doubt and self-esteem struggles.  Mostly because this is a professional blog and, to be honest, I am very confident in myself as a writer and as a professional.  I’ve never struggled to feel confident as a student or in my job.  But as far as my personal life goes?  My sense of self-worth is very low.

I don’t really want to go too far into it, but basically, through this healing circle, I realized that my brain chemistry is not who I am.  It was a wonderful experience and I just love spending time with my friend, Terri.  She is truly the most magical person I know.

You can keep up with her on her blog here: http://www.healingtouchreiki7.com/blog

In other news, I think i’ve finally settled on a design for the new Cemetery Tours covers!  I’m really excited to share them with y’all!  I’ll probably do that sometime this week as well!

For now, I’m going to go play with my birds and work on a new short story.  Later, gators!

Inside Out

Last week, my sister and I went to see the latest Disney/Pixar production, Inside Out.  If, by some chance, you haven’t heard of it, it’s a delightful and colorful animated feature about five of our basic emotions: Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear.  At first, I wasn’t sure what I would think of it, but as I heard more and more people talk about the great discussions and lines of communication, particularly about mental illness, that it opened up, I found myself eager to see it.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Inside Out teaches the valuable lesson that while you always want your loved ones, and yourself, to be happy, it’s okay, and even healthy, to feel sadness.  You should never keep your emotions pent up inside you.  You need all of them.

My favorite element of Inside Out, however, were the Islands of Personality.  For example, Riley, the girl in whose head the whole movie is centered, has a Hockey Island, a Friendship Island, a Family Island, etc…  As my sister and I drove home from the theater that night, we got to thinking about what our own Islands of Personality might be.

Of course, there are the obvious ones like Family and Friends.  And Pets!  I know I have a Pet Island in there somewhere.  My life revolves far too much around loving my cat and hoping for parakeets not to have a Pet Island.  Family is obviously the most important of the Islands.  I’d do anything for my parents and my sister and I know they’d do anything for me.  That goes for my friends as well.

I definitely have a Book Island.  This Island includes books that I’ve read, books that I’ve written, and books that I have yet to write.  Let’s face it, a good deal of my life is dedicated to reading and writing books.  And I love it.  I love it so, so, so much.

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There’s also most certainly a Photography Island.  Besides writing, photography is my other great love.  As any of my friends will tell you, I am addicted to all forms of photography, from professional to Instagram.  I love capturing moments and I love sharing the world as seen through the lens.

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Right next door to Photography Island is Exploration, Nature, and Adventure Island.  These Islands, like the others, are fairly self-explanatory.  I love being outside and exploring and traveling and experiencing new things and seeing new places.  I live for moments spent hiking beneath the trees, stargazing, and swimming in the ocean.  I would love to be known as a NYT Bestselling Author, but I would also love to be known as an explorer and adventurer.

Finally, there’s Fantasy Island.  I’m a daydreamer.  I think about the future far more than I dwell on the past (which is saying something, because I have been known to be a dweller).  Fantasy Island is also home to Mystery City, which includes a fascination with things that can’t be explained.  I love the idea that we don’t have everything figured out yet.  I love that we, as a human race, still have things that we have yet to learn and discover.  I love the idea of being curious and being thrilled and being absolutely blown away by things that we can’t even begin to fathom.

I’m sure there are others too, but I think those are my most dominant personality Islands.  What are yours?

Lots of Things

For a while now, I have operated under the assumption that life will eventually calm down and I’ll fall back into a routine (even though my personality type does not do well with routine at all).  I think I may have been wrong about that.  I feel like I have more to do now and in the next couple of weeks than I did before I left for California!

* Books to send out for reviews.

* Paperwork for Indievengeance Day 2015.

* Remember to check work email.

* Mail books.

* Order refill on Midnight’s prescription.

* Eat healthier.

* WRITE. WRITE WRITE WRITE. This is kind of a given, but After Death is coming out WAY sooner than I think it is!

* Four book covers to design!

So yeah.  Busy, busy, busy bee, as always.  I’m also seriously considering (in fact, I’m about 97.5% certain that I will be) adopting a couple of parakeets.  I’m super excited!  I would love to adopt another kitten or maybe even a puppy, but there is no way Midnight would ever let me.  She’s too spoiled.  She likes being an only child.  But I think she might be okay with birds.  Of course, I won’t be testing this theory as I don’t want to put my birds in any kind of danger.  However, she’s too lazy to chase bugs.  Literally everything is beneath her.  I don’t think she has many hunter instincts left.

One more thing before I go: I realized I haven’t shared my sunflower pictures with y’all yet! I had a beautiful batch this year.  I just wish they had lasted longer (stupid squirrels).  Thankfully, I still have my milkweed!

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Life in Slow Motion: A Guest Post by Katherine Smith

This past Friday, July 17, was the eight-year anniversary of my sister’s spinal implant surgery.  In 2007, she underwent an operation to fix her very advanced, very aggressive case of scoliosis.  Although she’ll never admit it, I actually think she’s a better writer than I am.  That’s why I asked her if she wanted to write a guest post for my blog about her experience and everything she learned from it. 

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People always say that life moves too fast. I remember when I first started high school, my mom stated that the years would fly and, before I knew it, I would be a senior. I remember going on trips, and having people tell me to soak it all in and to make each experience fit into a pocket in the back of my mind. I remember running around in my backyard, the Texas humidity making my hair cling to my face as I ran after fireflies with my palms open to the night sky. These are the fleeting, beautiful, moments in life that we try and run after, hands always reaching for the heavens.

I remember all of this, and yet the day that still sticks out most in my mind was a day in April of 2007.  This seemingly harmless day started a phase in my life that I was not ever warned about. No one took my hands and sat me down, looking dead into my eyes as truths of the world spilled out. There was no warning sign for this day, or a lecture or a phrase that could comfort and ease my heart.

This was the day when my life in slow motion began.

Life in slow motion is a difficult, and indefinable, thing for some people. It is a span of days, or weeks, or months, that seem to be headed in a direction that has no clear destination. It can be a time of waiting – of being stagnant and wanting something wonderful in life to happen. It can be a time of heartbreak – of healing and hope that can be found around a corner that you just haven’t gotten around.

Or, in my case, it can be a time of fear.

After going shopping with my family, my mom had noticed that there was a slight hunch to my back. I remember looking in the dressing room mirror at Macy’s, and realizing that one of my shoulders rose closer to my ear than the other, and how my hips didn’t sit right above my legs. I felt that fear creep into my chest, and for a brief moment I was plagued by a collection of thoughts and worries: What if I was injured? What if I looked like this the rest of my life? What if it got worse? What was wrong with me?

I had been checked for scoliosis before, but after a recommendation from my pediatrician to get x-rays, it became clear that this condition was not something I was going to put in the back of my mind. In fact, it made a home in all of my thoughts, and throughout my entire body. During gym class at school I found myself getting progressively more and more out of breath, and I found myself on more than one occasion with my head against the wall, trying to control the air going out of my lungs as my friends ran past me with ease. Standing for long periods of time became a nightmare, and when I would walk to band class with my French horn case, I felt the weight of my world shooting all up and down my back. This was no way of living; amongst all of the worries that ran through my head, this was the only fact.

On a day in April, I went to Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and was officially diagnosed with an aggressive case of scoliosis. The only “cure” for this condition was not exercises, or even a brace, but spinal implant surgery. My curvature, which was around 79 degrees, would only be getting worse as time went on and I grew. My doctor looked me in the eyes and told me that if I did not have this surgery, it could take up to twenty years off of my life.

Scoliosis is perhaps one of the most common conditions that people have, specifically in young girls who are developing and going through puberty. Some cases of scoliosis relate to other medical problems or birth conditions, while others (like mine) are idiopathic. In layman’s terms, that meant that the doctors had no idea why my body decided to grow like that – it just did. As a twelve-year-old girl, I found that diagnosis to be extremely frustrating; I already had the self image issues that many young people suffer from, but to have it confirmed by doctors on that day? The fact that my body was deforming “just because” was proof that the universe was conspiring against me.

The whole summer (during which my life was in that same slow motion) seemed to drag, and I found going to sleep each night became more and more difficult as the date of my surgery in July seventeenth inched closer and closer. I’ll never forget the night before my surgery, I had an anxiety attack so horribly in the shower that I gave myself a nosebleed. I had to be medicated that night because of my own fear.

I’ll leave out all of the details of my surgery (mostly because I’m afraid I might make some scientific inaccuracy), but it was, by the doctor’s standard, a success. I was in the hospital for around a week, and then I had around a month long recovery period at home. I needed help anywhere around my house if I wanted to sit down, lay down, or stand up, and walking was a task in itself. As a twelve year old girl longing for the independence that comes with almost being a teenager, having to rely on everyone humiliated me.

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I wish I could say I learned to appreciate my surgery experience during my actual operation and recovery, but nope. There were nights I would be so frustrated because I couldn’t move, and the pain in my back was so strong it kept me awake. Sometimes I would be completely envious of all of my friends who were enjoying their summer, and were able to swim and ride their bike with ease. What made it even worse was my own anger with myself, and how I felt fearful still of the healing process. Even though my body was healing and regaining strength, I wanted it to speed up. I was afraid I would never feel like my “old self” again.

But who was my “old self”? I’ll tell you who she was. Someone who was ashamed of her body and who was constantly in pain. Someone who lived her days in fear, and who thought she would never be better, or beautiful, or healthy. Definitely someone who never thought she would undergo a surgery and come out victorious. But, in the end, I had to thank my “old self” for all that she had done for me. I can look back on all of my “old selves” that have been angry and fearful and ugly and beautiful and happy because they have taught me who to be the person that is typing this right now. I can look back and see a difference in myself, and to learn from that.

I am reminded of the words of the Serenity Prayer by scholar Reinhold Niebuhr, which is a prayer I hold near and dear to my heart:  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 

What does it mean to truly know the difference though? By looking back on my surgery, I think it’s in knowing that you have to be somewhere before you can get somewhere else. Whether you are in a slow motion life, or a fast moving life, you will always wind up a different person – full of wisdom, and a story. The scars and heartbreak and lessons that we carry and bear are the inspirations for another day, and we should accept these gifts as wonderful paradoxes:

It’s okay to have times when we are weak, because in the end we learn to be strong.

It’s okay to not have all the answers, because from the unknown comes questions, and imagination, and adventure.

It’s okay to be absolutely terrified, because then we learn how to believe in hope.

And I truly hope that I, and you, whoever is reading this, will continue to not only know the difference – but to be it.

#AmWriting

Hi, friends!

This will be a rather short post as I’ve got a pretty busy day ahead of me.  I’m driving out to my friend and fellow author Paula Walker Baker’s farm to consult her on the cover design for her new novella, The Conservative Congregant (read more about her and her books here: https://paulawalkerbaker.wordpress.com)!  Then my sister and I are going to the movies.  Then, of course, I’ve still got a boatload of writing to do, especially on After Death AKA Cemetery Tours 3.  It’s taken a bit of a turn that I did not expect and while that is always welcome, I now have NO idea what’s going to happen!  That’s kind of the way I like it though.

Due to overwhelming demand for a sequel (it’s coming, I promise!), I’ve also decided to write a few Boy Band short stories that will hopefully make up for the way I ended the first book.  These stories will all be set before the events in Boy Band take place, so there will be NO spoilers for the book.  They’re just for fun.  There isn’t really a plot.  They’re very short.  Just glimpses into moments in their lives.  It’s kind of like fanfiction for my own book.  This first story is called Senior Year.  Enjoy!

PS: I didn’t hire my professional editors for this one, so if you spot a typo, I apologize!

Senior Year

What Happens in San Diego Part 2

Part 2 of our San Diego Adventures recap begins the morning of July 9, 2015.  By that point, my sister had mostly recovered from her bout with food poisoning and was anxious to get to Qualcomm Stadium for the reason we’d come to San Diego in the first place: seeing One Direction in concert.  The parking lot opened at noon and we decided to get there as soon as possible to get a good parking spot.  I’d never driven to a concert before.  In the past, friends and I had always taken public transportation or had a parent drop us off.  This was a whole new adventure for me.

Still, we were awake so early that we decided we had a bit of time to explore the area before our stake out in the Qualcomm parking lot.  We decided to head to La Jolla Beach.

It was AMAZING.  I got to hang out with wild sea lions in their natural habitat.  We also saw pelicans and baby seagulls.

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Yes, I took a LOT of pictures.  And that’s not even all of them.  Although I do have to tell you, right before we left, I decided to take a few last pictures of this one particularly photogenic sea lion.  As I was shooting (with my telephoto lens), this beautiful sea lion throws up a whole fish.  Just projectile vomits all over the place.  The seagulls were very happy.  I was not.  There’d already been more than enough regurgitation for one trip.

Anyway, aside from puking sea lions, La Jolla Beach itself is just absolutely gorgeous.

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We also met a local artist named Paul Strahm.  He was a delightful person, and very happy to meet two young people involved in the arts. I bought one of his paintings of La Jolla.  You can check out his website here: http://www.paulstrahmpaintings.com/Home.html

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Finally – and I know this is what you’ve all been waiting for – THE ONE DIRECTION CONCERT!

My sister and I arrived at Qualcomm right at noon.  Good thing too, because there was already a line of cars waiting to get in and find a parking spot.  After parking and snacking on what may or may not actually pass for a lunch, we got out, walked around the stadium, and visited the merchandise table.

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I guess could tell you about the seven hours spent loitering around the parking lot, but honestly, they’re weren’t that interesting.  I’ll just skip to the concert itself.

Long story short, the One Direction boys put on a quality show.  The crowd was electrifying and enthusiastic.  These fans go out of their way to show their love for their boys.  And I think those guys have earned it.  They work hard and their songs are great.  I’ll tell you this as well: Seeing 1D in concert provided a lot of inspiration for the next Boy Band novel!  I even know what the title will be now!

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After the concert ended, my sister and I ended up sitting an additional hour and thirty minutes in that godforsaken parking lot while everyone tried to get out.  I really don’t want to talk about that.

Fast forward to Friday morning, our last day in San Diego.  This was a day of mixed blessings.  First, we headed back to Balboa Park to visit the San Diego Art Museum.  They had a Coney Island exhibit going on, which my sister and I both really wanted to see.

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What’s really neat is that in Boy Band, the guys in the band shoot a music video at Coney Island.  Needless to say, I was incredibly eager to see the display.

As it turned out, however, the exhibit was only open to members of the museum.  It would be open to the public beginning the next day, but my sister and I were flying out in 8 short hours.  It just so happened that a very nice lady and her friend overheard our dilemma and let us into the exhibit as her guests.  I couldn’t believe it.  She was so incredibly sweet.  I know it made both KJ’s and my day.

After we visited the museum, we ate lunch and drove around a bit.  Unfortunately, I accidentally left my cherished camera at the cafe where we ate, so we had to drive twenty minutes back to University and Park to reclaim it.  There was no way I was leaving California without it!  I had pictures of blue whales on that camera! Not to mention, that camera has been everywhere with me.  It’s practically family.

After the camera debacle, my sister and I decided to head back to the airport, you know, quit while we were ahead.  That almost worked out.  We returned the car without a hitch and made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  Of course, while in line to check our bags, I discovered that my piddly little bank account had been hacked.  Someone got ahold of my card number and used it to buy $500 worth of movie tickets.  I’m sure I don’t need to explain this to y’all, but I’m an independent author.  I am poor.  As if the airport wasn’t stressful enough, I also had to deal with some loser hacking into my bank account.  I’m not going to lie to you. I cried a little.

Thankfully, everything is being taken care of.  I have a new card and the bank WILL reimburse me everything that I lost.

Our San Diego adventure finally ended with a delayed flight and a minor battle with air-travel panic.  I don’t like flying.  In fact, I kind of hate it.  I’d much rather be on the ground.  Or on a boat.  I really love boats.  But flying?  Nope.  Planes are too tiny and too crowded and turbulence?  No.  I don’t even want to talk about it.  My airplane anxiety is the one character trait that I passed on to both my female protagonists, Kate and Mel.  I didn’t mean to.  It was a total coincidence.  But it’s just my natural reaction to flying.  I get panicked, so my characters get panicked.  It’s the one thing all three of us have in common.

San Diego, it was (mostly) fun, but I’m happy to be home.  I’m a Texas girl at heart.  Give me open roads and open skies any time.  Though I do miss the ocean.  And that baby blue slug bug.

Oh, and one more thing…

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The Kind of September also went to California!  They loved it.

What Happens in San Diego Part 1

Well friends, I am back from California.  This trip was… interesting… to say the very least.  Don’t get me wrong.  For the most part, it was amazing.  I saw a blue whale, I hung out with sea lions, got to visit some amazing museums, and saw One Direction in concert (for the record, they put on a great show).  But there were a few bumps in the road as well.

Why don’t I just start at the beginning?  I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible.

The first incident occurred in Dallas, before I’d even made it through security. I accidentally left a bottle of my favorite lotion in my backpack and it had to be thrown away.  I was slightly distraught as Bath and Body Works doesn’t make that particular lotion anymore, but I told myself that in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a big deal and that California was still going to be great.

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Things quickly turned around once we hit California.  For one thing, I got to pick my own rental car and it was the easiest decision I’ve ever made in my life.

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A baby blue slug bug. Is there any way I WASN’T going to pick this car?!

After cruising around for a bit in our sweet ride, my sister and I headed to the beach which was way too crowded, and then to the marina for our afternoon whale watching adventure.  I love being out on the water.  It’s exhilarating and uplifting and so absolutely freeing.  And knowing that we were going to see whales made it even better.

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For the record, I have about a zillion other pictures.  I’m trying to share the best here, but I’ll probably add more to my Tumblr and my Pinterest board. Anyway, seeing Dudley the Blue Whale was one of the most amazing moments of my life.  I’ve always loved marine life, whales in particular, and although it’s always been a dream of mine to see whales in the wild, I never imagined I’d get to see a blue whale!  The largest animal to ever exist.  It was so incredible.  Such a dream come true.  I’ll never forget that boat ride.

After the whale watch, my sister and I were starving.  Since we were by the ocean, naturally, we wanted some seafood.  For some reason, however, we had a very hard time finding a seafood restaurant.  Odd, since we were in California, but whatever.  We finally found a Joe’s Crab Shack and helped ourselves to calamari, shrimp, fried fish, french fries, and hushpuppies.

That was the beginning of the second incident.

Fast forward a few uneventful hours to 3 AM that morning.  I’m dreaming about a house party and I’m waiting for this really cute guy to arrive when all of a sudden, I hear coughing.  I hear gagging.  More coughing.  A few agonizing moments later, the toilet flushes.  Knowing exactly what was going on, I called my sister’s name.  She appears a few minutes later, white as a sheet with dark circles under her eyes.

“Don’t panic…” she begins.  “But I just got sick.”

Food poisoning.  In a hotel room.  At 3 AM.

Now as you may or may not know, I have this annoying little phobia.  Of vomit.  Not just of me vomiting, but of others vomiting around me.  Perhaps it was my anti-anxiety medication or sleep-deprivation or maybe my big-sister instincts just kicked in, because I wasn’t panicked at all.  Instead, I threw on my sweatshirt and trekked down to the lobby in my PJs, retainers, and bed-head to retrieve tea and tummy medicine.  After commiserating with the night watchman, I headed back up to the hotel room.  I made my sister tea, but she was still really sick.

Not sick enough, however, to pass up an opportunity for a food poisoning selfie (yes, I do have her permission to share it here).

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Unaware that she’d taken that picture, I actually took a selfie myself to send to our mom.  It’s probably only fair that I share it here as well.

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That’s my sunburned, sleep-deprived, 3 AM, dealing with food poisoning face.  It’s not a happy face.

Two hours later, she was finally feeling a little better, so we went back to sleep.  We slept for a good while (which is just what she needed) before she decided she felt well enough to venture out for a smoothie.  We didn’t want to force anything, but we also knew she needed to stay hydrated and needed to at least try to get a little bit of nutrition in her.

As we were exiting the hotel, we passed by the manager, who happens to bear a striking resemblance to Chris Pratt.  We both exchanged a look and an inner dialogue that went something along the lines of, “Hi, hotel manager Chris Pratt.  Sorry I vomited in your hotel last night.  Call me.”

Thankfully, by the time we reached the smoothie place, KJ had gotten almost all her color back and she was able to laugh and joke about what had happened.  She did very well with the smoothie.

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Afterward, we decided to take a chance and head to Balboa park.  We visited the Museum of Natural History and saw the Mayan exhibit.  Again, it was incredible (though, to me, Dudley the Blue Whale was still the best).

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Afterward, we met a young lady named Jamilah.  She’s made it her mission in life to revive the art of Polaroid Photography.  She takes pictures for free but accepts donations for her art.  She’s so cool and sweet and I love her dedication to old school photography.  You can follow her on Instagram: @strangeframe_

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(Yes, I was carrying Boy Band around Balboa park.  Don’t judge).

After we met Jamilah, we decided to head back to our hotel.  KJ wanted to rest and I didn’t blame her in the least.  While she took a nap, I went down to the hotel pool, sat in the hot tub (it is WAY too cold in San Diego for real pool swimming), and read one of the most amazing books ever, Defending Jacob by William Landay.  I love to read and I love books, but this one really has stayed with me, even days after I finished reading it.  It’s gripping and captivating and heartbreaking and disturbing.  I loved it so much.  Highly recommended.

Thus concludes Part 1 of the San Diego Adventures.  Tune in next time (or perhaps even later on today) for Part 2, featuring Sea Lions, One Direction, and A Bank Account Theft.