----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: August 2007

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Friday, August 24, 2007

You Get What You Pay For

Wednesday night was the first night of my novel writing class at Saddleback College. Let's just say it's not what I had hoped for.

Our instructor seems like a very nice man, but I have some qualms about taking a novel writing course from someone who hasn't written a published novel. I don't know for a fact that he hasn't written a novel, but a search of Amazon.com and Google turns up no books by his name. Besides, don't you think you would mention your published works when introducing yourself to the class? He didn't. He did mention some creative writing contests he had won, though.

The other thing is that the instructor is a high-school dropout. He eventually got his GED, of course, and then he got his BA and MFA from Long Beach State. And he's been teaching at Saddleback ever since. He is also a postman. Well, that's not strictly true. he retired from the post office last week.

There are a wide range of students in the class, many of whom have never written anything before. I personally find it difficult to be in classes where people at so many different levels of ability are mixed together. I just don't know how the instructor is going to be able to teach beginning writing and advanced writing at the same time.

Finally, this is an ongoing class. You can take it several times for credit to continue to work on your writing. Some people in the class have been there for two or three semesters already, so a few of them brought in writing samples for the rest of us to critique and discuss at the next class. Based on what I've read so far, if I continue to take this class, I will be forced to read a lot of bad writing. Bad writing frustrates me. I don't know if I want to invite that frustration into my life. (I would post samples of the writing quality here, but I think that would just be too mean.)

So, here are the pros of staying in the class:

1. I would have external deadlines that would force me to write and turn in pages.
2. I would receive critiques of my work.

Here are the cons:

1. I don't feel like I would be learning a lot about the craft of writing.
2. I'm not sure how good the instructor will be.
3. I will have to read a lot of bad writing.

Is it worth it? I don't know. I would really rather take the Chick Lit online course, but that costs $475. Since I've taken a seminar from that instructor, though, I know that the quality of the course would be much higher. We'll see...after all, you do get what you pay for.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Frickin' Homeowners' Association

Since Greg and I have been married, we have lived in two separate condo complexes. Both times, we have run afoul of the homeowners' association. Clearly, we have issues with authority. But also, HOAs are totally lame.

In the first instance, we were reprimanded for installing satellite dishes on the fence that enclosed our back patio. The fence, according to the HOA, was community property. We took that one all the way to the FCC, but we lost. So, we built a stand just inside the fenceline and installed our satellite dishes on that. It looked exactly the same from the outside, but the dishes were no longer touching the HOA's precious "community property."

We're in a similar situation now. There is a wrought-iron railing that encloses the yard behind our condo. We're the only unit that has so much outdoor space. All the other units have little bitsy balconies or patios, but because of the way the complex was designed, we have this extra space that juts out over the carports below. Our landlord built us a little patio, and we have our barbecue and patio set out there. Occasionally, meter readers come back there because that's where the electricity meters are, but we're the only ones who really use the space. So, we bought some of that reed fencing and lined the inside of the wrought-iron fence with it so that we'd have a little more privacy. We also wanted to screen our view of the parking lot.

The screening has been up for more than a month now. Today, our landlord called and told us that the HOA says we have to take it down because it violates HOA rules. I don't know exactly what rules those are. The rules that say the HOA gets to control everything, I guess. Or maybe the rules against making anything in the condo complex a little prettier. You would think that the HOA would be more concerned with the people who dump sofas, chairs, car parts, and bookshelves into our Dumpsters out back, causing them to overflow with trash, or the people who throw their soda bottles into the pool, but no. Apparently, our reed fence is the big, pressing issue. I don't understand why other tenants get to put trellising up on their balconies for their bouganvillas and whatnot. Maybe trellising is allowed, but reeds are not.

This is why I will never buy a condo. And I'd really rather not live in any type of community that is governed by an HOA. In my experience, the people on the HOA board are nothing but small-minded bureaucrats whose only pleasure in life comes from strict adherence to the HOA rules. I can't wait until Greg and I can afford a place of our own. Unfortunately, that won't be any time in the near future.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Why I Don't Subscribe to the OC Register

There are many reasons why I don't subscribe to the OC Register, chief among them the fact that I am not a Republican. But mainly, it irks me when newspapers decide to start blogs and then don't do any quality control on them at all. "Lindsey" recently posted an item about how the trendy retail store H&M has opened locations in Orange County. Not only is there a glaring misspelling (havn't), she also does not even get the basic facts correct. She writes that, "[b]efore this summer the only places you could find an H & M were New York and L.A." That is not true at all. There are H&M stores in San Francisco, Walnut Creek, Emeryville, Pasadena, and Arcadia, and those are just a few of the California locations. There are also H&M stores in Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, and Rhode Island, among other states. I knew about the H&M stores in San Francisco, as I have shopped there, and I found the rest of the information right on the H&M Web site.

If you are going to run blogs as part of your newspaper's Web site, the blogs, and their authors, should at least adhere to some minimum standard of accuracy. Otherwise, I think it reflects poorly on the whole newspaper. And yes, all newspapers make mistakes, blogs are supposed to be a fun way to reach out to readers, etc., etc. But that's no excuse for posting things that are just plain wrong!

Monday, August 06, 2007

My Night of Meats

August 4 is a glorious day--the day I was born. August 3 ranks pretty high, too, since it is the day Mr. Pink was born. This year, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of my 21st birthday in high style. We visited a Brazilian churrascaria and feasted on many meat-related delicacies.

Dinner started off with a trip to the salad bar, which seemed virtuous enough. But the irresistible cheesy bread rolls on our table hinted at the debauchery to come. I don't even like cheese, and I couldn't get enough of these little dough balls.

Once we'd finished our salads, it was on to the main event--the meat. We flipped our little tokens to green to indicate that we were ready for the meat, and soon, servers were stopping by our table every few minutes with new delectable morsels. We had parmesan-crusted pork loin, regular pork loin, bacon-wrapped chicken, bacon-wrapped filet mignon, regular filet mignon, salmon, skirt steak, and sirloin steak. Mr. Pink also partook of some lamb, but I passed on that, and we both gave the chicken hearts a wide berth. Everything was perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked. We topped it all off with some birthday flan.

Dinner ended about two hours after we sat down, and we were well and thoroughly stuffed. I was still full the next morning. In fact, I didn't eat again until about 1:30 the next day. It was a memorable night.

The nicest part about my birthday is getting phone calls, emails, and cards from my friends and family. It reminds me how many great people I have in my life. Honestly, turning 31 was harder for me than turning 30 was. Now I am actually in my 30s, as opposed to just being 30. But I got carded buying a bottle of wine at the grocery store this evening, so the years must not be weighing too heavily upon my face.

So, it's on to a new year in my life. I'm going to do everything I can to make it a good one!