Happy Birthday to Me

20180323_184556

March 23rd was my birthday. As an adult and a parent, it’s not like I expect a lot of streamers, balloons, presents, or even free time to use the bathroom uninterrupted. I’m just mentioning it to explain why there is a picture of dessert at the top of this post.

Birthdays=cake. Right?

Right.

My side job involves monkey-typewriter skills to produce content for those annoying webpages you go to when you search for party ideas and find you’ve landed on a collection of pictures stolen from actual artistes but leechingly getting the ad revenue for them. I’d say it pays the bills, but it’s more like funding peanut butter on a tortilla for all three meals at college.

What? Oh, yes: CAKE.

I found this Chocolate Easter Egg Nest Cake while researching ideas for Easter Desserts for Some Purpose That Will Rank High in Search Engines. It looked fancy. It looked tasty. Above all, the directions looked doable.

Maybe I just wanted to make that edible nest thing.

Point is, I bought (most of) the ingredients. I harvested that instant coffee. I mixed the flour and cocoa and yoghurt into chocolate cake. And, who helped me? Not those lazy children. Not that husband-who-works-a-steady-job-so-I-can-afford-something-called-“yoghurt”-as-opposed-to-“yogurt.”

Actually, my oldest son did help me. We (mostly) followed the recipe, substituting for the fact that NO STORES around our little suburb had Woolworth’s Gold Greek Yoghurt nor Woolworths Gold Hand Finished Chocolate and Hazelnut Meringue.

I’m no professional baker, but I’ve made my share of cakes. From scratch. And, not just “scratching” open a cake mix box. Although we followed the directions, the cake turned out like a round brick. The Sahara Desert has a moister surface than it did.

20180323_184551

Still, I whipped my own meringue, filled the darn thing, drizzled hodgepodge ganache over the top, and perched that cute, actually-inedible nest up top. Jellybean birds flew through the window and laid their little clutch inside it and the birthday cake was ready to serve.

I suppose I hoped the filling and topping might soften up the cake slabs. I optimistically hoped the cheap brand of instant coffee we found at Whale-Mart would not make it taste like overpowered, cheap instant coffee. I also get a bit pigheaded when I start a project (I like to call it “tenacity”).

I even forged ahead when we had to pickax a few holes in the top in order to place some candles.

But the chocolate rock stayed solid, its meringue/cream/sugar innards gooshed out when we attempted excavation, and the darling chocolate and vermicelli nest chewed and digested much like actual twigs.

We all tried some. You know, after singing about birthdays and happiness.

“I like the jellybeans,” my second-oldest said. “Can I have more?”

“Cake?” I asked.

“Jellybeans,” he and two brothers answered.

“Sure,” I sighed.

Determinedly, I sliced myself another piece. I dolloped the escaped filling atop the bits of pumice I removed. “Welp,” I told my husband, swallowing broken brick and teeth, “Maybe next time I’ll not bake it as long.”

The sweet man adopted his encouraging face. “I’m proud of you for trying it.”

“Can we have more jellybeans?” Asked the dog, the cat, and the rat.

20180323_184530

Writing Drudgery, also known as A Job

I write for a content blog, something I had never done before this year.

When I began considering that I could be a writer, I had different ideas regarding that job’s requirements. I pictured book-conjurings, writing sessions, and pleasure.

I also behaved more jealously about the words I managed to type onto a screen. They were unique, mine, precious, and copyrighted. No one else could have these ideas, and no one should steal them!

Whatever I finally offered for reading would be gasped at, astounded over, praised profusely.

I basically pictured publishers saying, Why, Chelsea! This is amazing! Here is your advance check of $3M. No, we don’t expect you to work really hard to produce this book idea, since we know you have children and like to spend your free time playing games in your Steam Library. Ten years ought to be good.

Meanwhile, fans would pour in, complimenting me. Everywhere I went, people would stop and ask if I’d pose for a picture with them. Famous writers would hang out with me -no- beg me to come over for fireside discussions of literary devices.

This is really starting to sound like a trope daydream, so why would I actually feel this way? Oh, right -probably because many people have this fantasy.

Back to content writing: I took The Job because I was tricked.

A friend told me her daughter worked for a company and they were looking for writers. I was told I would write about 500 words each article about crafting, that I wouldn’t be making the crafts, and that I would only need to worry about the writing.

It involved MONEY for writing. Just so you know, writing doesn’t get you the advance check and the fame and such if you’re not putting yourself out there more than I’m obviously willing to do right now.

The reason I say I was tricked is that I actually have to do more than type words. I don’t have to make the crafts, that’s true. And, by the way, not making things is a great idea for someone like me -someone who had to make a Pinterest account in order to do this job.

I sure get sidetracked a lot, which is something that’s come up in trying to fulfill my contract and get paid.

*Ahem* I have a content-writing job. I write for a blog that steals other people’s images (with proper attribution), and lists them all under one user-loving title. Oh, I know you’ve seen them. The article is usually named “10 Eggcellent Easter Hunts.” Actually, that one would be too clever. Most are “10+ Holiday Crafts to Make with Kids.”

The trick part is that I have to spend nearly an hour tracking down these pictures, ensuring I give proper attribution. So many sites like the one I write for are cheating, simply linking back to Pinterest or not bothering to give credit at all. I can only take one image from an article, so I can’t simply steal all ten pictures from Suzy Stitcher’s Easter Egg Hunt (as cute as it might be).

I’ve noticed addictive patterns related to this job:

1. Not being able to quit.
I’m getting writing practice, being paid, it’s super-flexible, and can’t I possibly buckle down and write five articles a week? C’mon, Chelsea, you baby. Woman up.

2. Relapse in similar settings.
In conversation with other women, I find myself actually interested in their descriptions of a craft they tried or a decoration technique they applied to their entryway. Horrified, I hear my mouth say, “I just wrote about that! Did you know you can find those birchwood wreaths at Target?”
I may as well hand them an affiliate link.

3. No control.
Whenever I have a few moments, I feel overwhelming guilt to get something done on The Job. It should take precedence, right? Must. write. boring. blog.
I have also found myself, inexplicably, walking into Hobby Lobby to peruse their latest glitter-painted yard refuse.

4. Medicating myself.
You’ll find out at some point, but I do not drink alcohol or coffee. Instead, you’ll discover a slew of candy wrappers discarded artistically round my still-warm headphones. Those, plus my exhausted upper half, are spread across a dirty computer desk at midnight.
I need deadlines and sugar for inspiration, and almost always resort to both to get the dreaded task done.

5. Desire without pleasure.
This is my NUMBER ONE problem. Typing heckling comments about birch sticks stuffed in a vase (a real thing) is not difficult. Writing five articles a week, on my own timetable, is probably the easiest job outside of door-greeter at Wal-mart.
In fact, I don’t even have to get dressed in a blue vest (and, hopefully, pants). I just have to be able to use my fingers to press buttons in a readable fashion.
So WHAT IS MY PROBLEM? Am I just a whiner?

I meant to write this post as a sort of exposé of blog-stealing blogs, and instead find myself stretched out on the proverbial psychiatric couch of the internet. No, dear internet, it was not my childhood. It’s my core disappointment in not tackling anything that takes longer than a mile’s worth of effort.

I don’t like writing for The Job. With that time, I could feasibly write my own stuff. I could write more on here, write my halfway-finished book.

Shel Silverstein, brilliant man, wrote a poem about two generals:

Said General Clay to General Gore,
‘Oh must we fight this silly war?
To kill and die is such a bore.’
‘I quite agree,’ said General Gore.
Said General Gore to General Clay,
‘We could go to the beach today
And have some ice cream on the way.’
‘A grand idea,’ said General Clay.
Said General Gore to General Clay,
‘But what if the sea is closed today?
And what if the sand’s been blown away?’
‘A dreadful thought,’ said General Clay.
Said General Gore to General Clay,
‘I’ve always feared the ocean’s spray,
And we may drown!’ ‘It’s true, we may.
It chills my blood,’ said General Clay.
Said General Clay to General Gore,
‘My bathing suit is slightly tore.
We’d better go on with our war.’
‘I quite agree,’ said General Gore.
Then General Clay charged General Gore
As bullets flew and cannons roared.
And now, alas! there is no more
Of General Clay or General Gore.

From Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein

We, creatures of habit, keep doing what we always have.

I know that I would not spend my paid-blogging time doing any such fanciful thing as completing my book. I would, most likely, decide that was a great time to start Breath of the Wild over and see how quickly I can get into the castle and beat Ganon.

It involves swimming.

Anyway, I’ve got some Pinterest to search. Apparently, Christmas is over and now I’ve got to write an article about romantic Valentine’s Day ideas.