“Has Leah Got a New Web Address?” said No One Ever Because Who Cares?

When you’re a writer, the simple act of announcing that your blog address has changed becomes an unwieldy task. It’s not enough to quickly state the news – news that nobody, not even your mother, is likely to be interested in. Instead, you must devise something clever, self-deprecating perhaps, and entirely encompassing of you as a person, not to mention your sensibilities as a writer. And you’re to do all of this because writing a post about having a new blog address is just the kind of meta-blogging thing you’re supposed to do. It’s a matter of personal branding, dangit.

Well, everybody, I have tortured myself trying to devise something that fits all of those criteria, and also how to make vague yet well-intentioned statements (lies!) about trying to post more in the future, and the only thing I can do to capture my excitement about this fresh new address and look is:

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Excited crab dance. Yeah! It’s not quite the crab dance I love from Gmail, but it will have to do. So welcome, everyone, to my new blog and my new look. More updates on the writing life, comics on silly things and enraged letters to the editor soon! (Hopefully! Maybe! We’ll see how much time I have and whether or not I can think of anything worthy of posting! Yeah!)

Notes from a Cross-Country Travel Disaster

A few years ago, when my brother graduated from high school, I began what had become my regular trek across the country from Seattle to Ithaca, dressed arrogantly in nothing more than a t-shirt, flip flips and capris.

Then came Chicago O’Hare and tornadoes. What could possibly go wrong?

In this travel horror story, Notes from a Cross-Country Travel Disaster, up on my new favorite site, Fathom, I recount what it’s like to be a travel zombie, imparting a few key tips like, “Use your waterproof backpack cover as a blanket when the air conditioning on the train is too cold” and “ALWAYS BRING SOCKS IN YOUR CARRYON.”

Watch as your intrepid protagonist overcomes obstacles, tries to keep her cool with airline representatives, and learns a little something about what it means to love.

Just kidding about that last part. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

The Real Pirates of Game of Thrones

Yes, yes, I know there was a lot of drama over the Event-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named on GOT last week, but the real drama is over the pirating of the series. Which, if you weren’t aware, seems to be an international past-time.

I break down the ins and outs, good and bad, peg-leg and not so peglike over at the awesome website, HBOWatch. Check out, “Game of Thrones: Is Pirating Helping or Hurting” and lemme know what you think (and whether or not YOU pirate, you cheeky streamer you).

To the Bright Blue Skies And Away

Continuing the roommate sagas, I’ve just had a piece published in Halfway Down the Stairs that approaches the drama from another angle. That’s right folks, To the Bright Blue Skies And Away isn’t funny, but my hope is that it delves into the complexities of female friendships. This was a story I tried to write for years in about 9 different manifestations, until finally I read Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, and suddenly, I had a model of a sentence that could move deftly between inner and relational turmoil. So, Jhumpa Lahiri, this abusive/toxic roommate relationship story is for you, as well as for anybody who has survived graduate school.

This story means a lot to me, and I hope it will mean a lot to you, too. You can find it here.

Rebellion is a Dish Rack

In 2006, I moved back to London, having studied and worked abroad there the year prior. As the very first place where I had awakened from my academic stupor to a greater world, I worshipped the city and just knew I was going to have the time of my life.

And then I met a man we’ll call “Rajiv.” At once a landlord and the bane of my existence, Rajiv was a neat freak extraordinaire. I couldn’t move without him clearing his throat or tsking or saying, “Yes, Leah, about that dish rack. Really, you should not leave dishes there. You can drain them over the dish rack and then wipe the dish manually, but the dish rack is not for dishes.”

For many months, I put up with the situation, trying my best to please, until one day, I had enough. I decided to take my power back, to embrace rebellion, to be free. I decided use that dish rack.

The story is hosted at one of my favorite sites (used it all the time when traveling), StudyAbroad.com. Check out “When Your Roommate Sucks, Rebellion Lies in the Kitchen” and perhaps add a few rebel stories of your own.

Get Yo’ Debate On, Austin Style @theAustinot

The other day, for one of my many freelance writing gigs, I wrote in an article that businesses should post regularly to their blogs in order to develop the most devoted following. Posting two days in a row and then not for another month or so simply won’t do.

But, after all, I am a writer, and that means I’m great at recommending things in articles and not taking my own advice.

Which is to say, for my second post in two days, I’d like to say, hey! Do you know about the awesome Austin blog, the Austinot? Well you SHOULD because, it’s packed full of delicious info on everything there is to do in Austin, quirky and otherwise. I had the pleasure of meeting the blog owners at a local event here in Austin, and wrote a story on the awesome Austin event, Dionysium, which you should all check out tomorrow if you’re in town and up for some verbal fireworks.

So, without further adieu, I bid you check out the article HERE, explore the Austinot far and wide and get yo’ debate on!

Yeah! You Twine That Algae!

Most of the time, the story of how a story is made is boring. The Great Story Birthing often takes one of the two following forms:

  1. The Hollywood Version: I, THE GENIUS, shout EUREKA! while I’m in the middle of a shower, abandon the tub for my study and a pad of paper, and, shower still running, pen an entire story in one sitting.
  2. The More Often Version: I, THE GENIUS, shout EUREKA! while I’m in the middle of my shower, abandon the tub for my study and a pad of paper, remember that I most often write on a laptop, eagerly tap out five brilliant lines, go eat a slice of an entire box of pizza, forget about the story, return to it a week later, try again, hate myself for not being a better writer, eat an entire box of pizza, and repeat this cycle for several years until something finally manages to reach a somewhat conclusive ending, oftentimes because my house is at that point flooded and I have other things to take care of.

Sometimes, though, a story is something you carry with you throughout your life — something that grows as you grow, both personally and as a writer who goes from thinking ALL SENTENCES ARE COOL to knowing the precise rhythm and feel that make her heart sing.

And that, friends, is the story of the story I’ve just had published on InfectiveInk.com, And How the Algae Twines!

The first time I wrote this story, I was a sophomore in college, staring out my dorm window at the shifting snow drifts howling across the campus quad, thinking of another time when the world was also made of snow and I could feel my first real relationship reaching its zenith and beginning its long, slow descent into the frozen ground. The result: a creative short essay, and the feeling that I wasn’t done.

The second time I wrote this story, I was mored on the shores of a criticism-ridden grad school workshop, trying to be a better writer than I felt I could be. Somehow, I stumbled upon this old essay, languishing in an ancient Word file, and found myself horrified at my use of language, yet intrigued by the thoughts, images and emotions that lay behind it. I returned to my keyboard, and tried to remember what it was to feel. The result: a thirty page behemoth, with ten pages of striking imagery, ten pages of a writer reaching for a moral, and ten pages of a 24-year-old woman, demanding her true experiences find an outlet. And a workshop with an excess of praise and an excess of criticism that would change my writing forever.

The third time I wrote this story, I had been torn down to my core. There were no safe places left — not for me, not for my work. Everything I did was wrong. There was no warm hearth upon which I could nestle. After so many years of fighting for independence, I was on my own and barely able to breathe. Left with the few words that meant something to me. The few words that wouldn’t leave me alone.

It’s been three years since the third time. Three years, and this story has won awards, and finally found publication. The joy of finally seeing this story in print…well, I can’t quite put that into words. Nor can I promise I won’t write this story a fourth time, as I navigate the shriveled climes of my very non-snowy setting. But I can say that the story of this story — this story that began nine years ago and continues on — is one I will carry with me, wherever I go. This story has not left me.

You can read And How the Algae Twines at InfectiveInk.com.

Are you a yuppie? Throw a dinner party!

In more important news (than the recent election), I’m glad to see my favorite yuppie couple is throwing a dinner party exclusively to show off their new purchases. It’s about time!

Or, in other words, I’ve had an Onion-esque piece satirizing yuppie behavior published the wonderful online publication, Defenestration. Check it out HERE. Huzzah!

Who’s a good little spooky DIY maven? You are! Yes you are!

As you probably all have guessed by now, I wasn’t the kind of little girl that liked doilies and gluing little sparkly things on to other little sparkly things. In fact, I distinctly recall strategically distracting party goers at my childhood best friend’s birthday party with a little stand up comedy routine, just to avoid participating in the upcoming crafting activity.

That’s me in the back, mid-routine. I had just flown in, and boy, were my wings tired!

But, alas, my distractions were more jealousy than anything else. I’ve always admired DIY practitioners, and often wished I were one of them.

Enter Krysten Brown, a designer friend of mine here in Austin. When I was asked to write an article on last minute Halloween DIY decorations, she stepped up to the plate, guiding me through a series of spooktacular Halloween designs until we had just about the coolest DIY house the undead world has ever seen. Afterwards I sat down with my laptop, pulled a mic to my mouth and did a little routine.

Check out the results at the article below, and DIY your own home in the most spooktacular of ways.

Last Minute DIY Guide to Halloween Decorations…of Awesomeness.

Can’t Finish What I Started

I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I’m a master of beginnings. As in, my MFA really stands for, “Master of First Attempts.” But middles? Ends? Yeah, not so much. Let’s just say if my hard drive is a vast desert, story beginnings bounce like tumbleweeds over the horizon. And there I am, dragging my parched, sunburned body along the sand, just trying to capture one of them — any of them — in my maniacal story web. How’s that for dramatic imagery?

Rather than attempting to give this post an end here, I’ll toss you over to Write By Night, who have been kind enough to publish my musings on the subject of beginnings that have no end. Here’s the article. Voila! Go forth! Complete something for once!