A Fear of Failure, A Fear of Success (hello blank page, my old frienemy)

There is a reason why they say that you must write everyday. But do you want to know a secret? It is not just because practice makes perfect, no, if only it were that easy. It is because time can make the tiniest hill feel like a mountain. When you hide from your words for so long, your tools become rusty and old. They do not flow as freely as they once did, your syllables squeak as they bend and pull along the line of their sentences. This tiny daily task becomes daunting and unwieldy. Suddenly you find yourself staring at this blank page, desperately needing a profound spark of genius to make it all feel worthwhile, to make it feel like you didn’t waste weeks of your life on nothing.

Stagnation; that is the fear. You are Sisyphus with your chosen art form- you push and you push every day, but if you slip- you must start back at the bottom with your damned rock. It is perhaps made even more difficult because you have seen the view from those higher peaks. You know what you are capable of creating, and you know how hard it will be to get back to those lofty places.

This is why the best advice any writer will ever give you is to simply write. Write everything, all day every day. Write out two lines on a sticky note at your desk between phone calls, pull out your journal when you get home, dictate a few sentences in the notes on your phone. But whatever you do, don’t stop. Don’t take a couple of days off- even if you only write for two minutes: do those two minutes, toss every brain cell you have at them.

Refining your craft and discovering your voice is a lot like working out. You may have the grand vision of your best seller in your mind, you may know all of the key plot points to hit along the way. But, just like a marathon, you can’t go out there and do your best work if you haven’t been training. You might finish, but it won’t have that spark you envisioned, the elements that makes it stand out above the rest. It will be missing an integral component: the true voice of the creator, unshackled and free.

It took me a year of daily writing (especially when I didn’t want to) to find my voice, to discover the flow of the syllables and the tempo of my paragraphs. It took only a fraction of that time to let the voice fade. I expect it will take me another year to get those muscles back in shape. But if you love it- then it’s worth it. I will push that boulder up the mountain once again; wiser because I’ve done this before, stronger because I know what I am capable of creating- and I was so damn proud of it.

So I sit here and I stare at the blank page that is refusing to back down. But instead of putting it away with a sigh and an “I’ll try again tomorrow when I have the energy,” I start writing. And it’s clunky, it’s hard, it’s unforgiving- it isn’t particularly good. But with each word a little rust chips away. Here’s the beautiful secret of a blank page: it won’t judge you for what you decorate it with, it will simply be pleased that you took the time to adorn it with a crown of your own making.

Invisible Girl in a Great Big World

There is something appealing about being a tourist in someone else’s city; the anonymity and freedom that comes with the large crowds of strangers jostling one another through busy intersections, giving yourself the freedom to act in ways you normally wouldn’t, take pictures of things that typically would never catch your attention, stare up into the edifices of buildings you are not intimately familiar with. I am a shameless tourist, hitting many of the bigger attractions as I wander through random streets, picking unknown restaurants based on their signs without reading a half dozen reviews online first (something that occasionally drives my fellow travelers nuts).

Naturally, I picked the worst time to take a trip; the first days of Camp Nano were in full swing. And where could I be found? Not at my desk , nor at the kitchen table, not with a pen in my hand or my nose hovering close to the screen of my laptop. Instead, you could spot me wandering through Seattle with my mom and sister for a long-overdue girl’s weekend. This wasn’t my first visit to the home of the Seahawks; no, it’s a jaunt I like to take about once a year. Considering I live only three hours away, I’d say it’s a pretty manageable destination. The thing that I love about it- it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been there, I can always find something new to discover, or old haunts to entertain me.

Now, I could spend this entire post talking about the myriad of adventures you could have in this little gem of a city. I could tell you about standing at the top of the Space Needle with a black sky as your backdrop, watching the city lights spring to life below you. I could describe the winding and weaving of the glass-blown art at the museum across the street. Or explain to you the importance of the caffeine-induced pilgrimage back to the original Starbucks (and let’s not forget about the magic of the French bakery down the street). I could tell you a story about the Farris wheel and how, when given the right lighting, it can leave you with the embers of a ghost story burning in your soul. (Okay, so I just really wanted an excuse to post this picture- it’s probably the best one I’ve ever taken.)


Or perhaps I could divulge some fun facts about the infamous Gum Wall (to which I am a contributing member). It’s the second germiest tourist attraction in the world. I could tell you that in the past 20 years, there have only been a few hours where it wasn’t adorned with the sticky stubstances. It took 30 hours to clean last year- but was quickly returned to its artistic glory with a sticky peace sign that had the Eiffel Tower in the center. 

Or perhaps I should tell you all about the history of the city as we trudge down into the hidden underbelly, embarking on one of the coveted Underground Tours (why yes, my friends, there truly is a city under the city). There are buildings, streets, and stories buried below your feet when you walk through the steep roadways, ready and willing to share just a few of their secrets if you will only listen.


Or perhaps I’ll simply let you know that the best Bloody Mary’s can be found at Sam’s Tavern, if you are willing to trek to the newer side of town (their burgers and waffle-cut sweet potato fries are to die for, and the employees were fantastic).

No, I will not tug a travel-writer hat onto my head and pretend to be an expert today, mainly because Seattle is so much more than a destination for me. It carries more weight than a location I’m simply hoping to check off of a list. This beautiful city always brings me back to the passions of story telling, and it’s for a rather simple reason. A city with a touch of history has a thousand stories buried inside, just waiting to be brought into the light. These old streets whisper to you if you know how to listen, they will show you a human truth if you open your eyes to genuinly see. There is a distinct beauty to a place that carries such a wealth of humanity and diversity within its streets. The artwork that adorned the buildings themselves beg you to release your creative energies out into the world. The people you encounter evoke feelings that can only be whittled away when writing them down on the page.

I always drive away with fresh ideas and a renewed sense of urgency. I drive away with story lines dancing through my mind as characters build themselves out of the elements I found on the streets. I always step away with a sense of purpose. The ability to become invisible in such large crowds is a gift for the writer who simply wishes to observe the world as it truly is, unencumbered by the self-conscious gazes of those who recognize your presence for what it is. Life is the ultimate inspiration, telling you tales if you care to hear them, and this time I listened; I truly listened. As a writer, there is nothing more excruciatingly fulfilling as a story evolving inside, begging to be told. We tell the stories of strangers, we whisper the secrets of cities, we dazzle with tales of the past, the present, and perhaps the future. Sometimes you just need to go somewhere you can be invisible to allow you to truly see.

Dreaming in Stories (unconscious me is one odd little duck)

Last night I dreamt that I was a witch who also happened to work in a science lab. We were studying some kind of small ancient tree; I was rocking the white lab coat and oversized glasses while serreptitiously casting spells on the unusual object to figure out why it was so different from other bark-entombed entities. As it turns out, I must not have been a very good witch, because I accidentally cast a spell on it so that anyone who touched it would also turn into a tree. And of course, I touched it. My co-workers found a woman-shaped tree laying mossy-face down in the lab the next morning clutching a notecard in its hand-er-branch with a simple warning scrawled on it: do not touch the tree. One of my co-workers, apparently understanding what had happened, then hid tree-me in a closet when the evil boss came to check on our progress. And that’s when I woke up to the cat yowling for food because I had been so insensitive as to allow his dish to get to the dreaded halfway point. I know, will the horrors never cease? Looks like I’ll be getting a visit from kitty-protective-services soon. 

You may be asking yourself what the point was to that odd recitation. I mean, who really cares about a strange dream where I turned myself into a tree? The answer: we all should. The creative process is one that has no rules or regulations, and the body has an innate sense of what we truly need; the process of storytelling has created bonds and built bridges since Homo sapiens first came into existence. Humanity itself was build on story-telling; you can find paintings on cave walls in France that tell tales about hunting, sharing their knowledge with distant ancenstors they could not have ever pictured. Stories were the building blocks of our societies, creating lasting bonds and sharing knowledge to help those that came after them. We told stories to explain the world, to understand why life was the way that it was, to understand ourselves a little better, to share hopes for an unknown future, to bond, to tear apart. We have told our tales over flickering campfires, drawn them on cave walls, scrawled them on papyrus, and infinitely more have been coded onto computer screens and sent out into virtual existence. Our venue of storytelling has changed, but the innate nature of it within our souls has not. The telling of tales is in our very DNA, it is the cornerstone of our continued existence.

The brain can do amazing things. It codes, catalogues, interprets, directs, and creates every single moment of our lives. If you stop to truly appreciate the beauty that is the mind, it is deeply moving on a fundamental level, though difficult to fully comprehend. Our brains keep track of our stories; the ones we live, the ones we see or hear, the ones we personally create. Even when we are too tired to tell our own stories, it sings us to sleep with one of its own. We live in stories, we always have. Even when we are not conscious enough to fully appreciate them (or notice that it is perhaps a bit odd that when you start turning into a tree you decide to scrawl a warning instead of- oh, I don’t know- maybe the counter-spell that will turn you back into a human?). But this right here is the art of a good writer- to make something fantastical seem perfectly plausible in the world that you have created. A witch scientist? Why not.

Many of my dreams are bizarre and disjointed. They make perfect sense when I am enmeshed in them, but once I regain the world of the conscious, I begin to realize the flaws. And yet, there is still usually a kernel of something special left behind. Some of my best ideas have come from my unconscious self (and these are just the ones I remember the next morning). They send my into a tizzy of creative efforts, my mind lingers on them as I get ready for my day, scrawling a few quick notes before I completely forget about the magic I had been immersed in. Some of these stories stick with me for days, weeks, even years. Others are as fleeting as the gentle flitting of a bird’s wing. 

They say that a person is most creative when they first wake up; right in that moment when you have your rational mind in control, but there is still a dusting of that unconscious magic about you. I don’t know if this true, I may try to find out this week if I can get myself up early enough. But it wouldn’t surprise me. The dream world can be a curious place; but it can bring out the best in any creator, no matter your medium. Your unconscious mind will make connections that the wakeful version of yourself might miss. It’s like a dear friend on the other side of the veil whispering secrets and answers to you. If you slow down long enough to listen, you just might find something worthwhile. And just for the record- yes, I may have to see what kind of trouble this witchy-scientist can get herself into. And how on earth will she ever get out of that tree?

She drowned in the moonlight and was strangled by her own bra (a tribute to the princess who taught me how cool it was to be a nerd)

I like to tell people that I was a nerd before nerdisms were cool. I had the glasses before they were ironically chic. I scaled my own mountain of books, I carried the love of fictional realities, a knowledge of Star Wars and astronomy. I adored history, I checked out so many books with each trip to the library I could barely see over the pile as I carried them to my mom’s car. I played with my microscope far more than an other little girl I knew (in fact, I was the only little girl I knew who owned one- stolen from my older brothers and jealously guarded lest they ask for its return. Lucky for me, their interests turned more to the automotive side rather than observable science). I even went so far as to do ‘math puzzles’ for fun (something I still find ironic because I grew into a woman who still cringes at the thought of even the simplest math without a calculator- I still subtly use my fingers to count out a tip at a restaurant). I knew I was a bit of an odd little duck, and yet, I always had a pressing desire to fit in. So I did what every self-conscious young girl does; I hid the pieces of myself I thought others wouldn’t understand. It can be a lonely existence when you closet away your deepest obsessions out of what amounts to simple insecurity as a child. I’ve always been odd, but it took me awkward year upon awkward year to embrace it as I discovered other like-minded indivdiauals who carried their passions like a badge of honor, an invitation to others who shared that love. 

Growing up and leaving high school, I met more diverse people than my small town had to offer. Suddenly I found people I could have interesting and different conversations with. One of the first things I found I could bond with my new ‘nerdy’ friends over was none other than the epitome of geek culture: Star Wars. I own every movie (with special features), though it’s been, admittedly, a long time since I have watched some of the originals. My friends carry their storm trooper tattoos on their arms with pride as we all tromp into comicon together. Star Wars was a jumping off point for me, a doorway into a world of acceptance that I deeply craved when I was growing up. Filled with intriguing characters and a rich storyline, it also brought new fodder to my always active imagination. And right there, in the center of it all was a young actress named Carrie Fisher. 

It is always a sad day when the heroes of our past prove to be mere mortals. Hearing of her death felt like a punch to the stomach this morning. When she had her heart attack on Friday, I was convinced that she would be okay. After all, she had spent her life being a fighter. Nothing was going to get her down. No, she was far too tough for this life, something so simple would not be the end of such a strong, charismatic woman. And yet, I could not run from the truth for long.

I’ve read some of her books in the past, in fact, I fell in love with the quirky attitude in ‘Wishful Drinking’ only a month ago and couldn’t stop talking about it. I listened to the audiobook and couldn’t get enough of the hilarious delivery and energy that she threw into her work. She was not just an actress; she was a fellow writer, an odd duck, a woman who was unafraid to share her experiences if it would assist someone else from following her troubled road. She spoke of difficult topics with a self-depreciating candor and vital humor that allowed room for more open conversations about topics that were sadly swept under the rug for far too long. She was who she was, a princess of the stars in more ways than one. And she never apologized for that. She owned who she was with a bravery that I am still learning to find within myself.

What hurts with her death is the feeling of camaraderie I felt towards a woman I have never met (well, apart from sneak peeks at a comicon, but that doesn’t count). She was undoubtedly an odd little ducky; and yet, that is exactly what drew me to her. Because I am an odd little duck too, a duckling that spent far too long trying to find her way. She inspired me to embrace who I am with humor and dignity, to smile at the people who don’t understand the type of person I am, without feeling like there is something inherently wrong with me. She taught me to have open conversations about difficult topics with people who have a new perspective to offer me. She taught me to have compassion for others as well as myself. I was, perhaps, more of a fan of her words, rather than her acting (though that was also inspiring); but it was her truth that she shared without apology that genuinely intrigued me. She embraced who she was and reminded me that is okay for me to do the same.


So tonight I send this tribute to a woman who I never knew, but who had an impact on me nonetheless. This is for the princess who showed us all the stars. This is for the woman who proudly proclaimed who she was to the world and never asked for forgiveness. This is for the woman who showed us the true power found in humor and honesty. This is for the actress who helped inspire a cult following; one who helped me find others who carried a freak flag that looked just like mine. This is for the woman who built cultural bridges that we all can cross if we are willing to open outselves to the passion of the experience. This is for the woman who reminds me of the little girl I was, secretly playing with microscopes and staring at the stars.


May you find the peace that you so deserved in life. May you find comfort in knowing that you have made a difference; we all mourn our mutual loss tonight, though for many different reasons. Thank you for the lessons you imparted, for the brave and open way you fought your most personal fight. Thank you for all that you gave the world, it is a better place because of your presence. Thank you for the laughter, for the insight, and most of all, for the courage to be completely true to oneself.

Too Much of a Good Thing (remembering who I have become)

Have you ever watched the movie ‘Matilda,’ you know, 90s classic that was a staple for me growing up. Oh how I always wanted to be like her; reading the entire library, able to move things with my mind and bubbling over with adorable charm. Yes, that was the dream- minus the horrors of Ms. Trunchbull. We could all do without that little gem in our lives.


As it turns out, lately I have been a lot more like Bruce Bogtrotter than Matilda. He was the infamous cholocate cake boy (who incidentally grew into a pretty handsome man, only proving my theory that cake is a the most amazing human invention and can fix anything in your life). 


Now- what do I mean when I say that I’ve been Bruce Bogtrotter? Well, remember how all he really wanted was some chocolate cake, and he just couldn’t resist so he stole a piece from the grinchy principal? His punishment after that sounded amazing: to eat an entire chocolate cake all on his own. Yes, it was a dream come true- until it wasn’t. As it turns out, too much of a good thing (even with something as glorious as chocolate), can still hurt you. The key has always been balance; something I am continually working on. After Nano ended I decided that I was going to give myself a little break, I reasoned that I had earned it- I hit my crazy big goal in November, and honestly, I was a bit tired. I craved the free time I never had, I desired that freedom the same way Bruce craved that cake. I simply couldn’t resist, though I knew the dangers of falling back into my old ways. So I opted to take time and relax, read my books, ease off of my writing projects and just give myself a bit of a break. Which was wonderful. Until it wasn’t.

All work and no play makes Katie a dull girl, and conversely, all play and no work makes Katie fall asleep far too early and lose her pizzazz. I loved the first week or so, well, actually, I still love it- it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to sit and read my books guilt-free without the constant nagging in the back of my mind on what I should be doing. So I read, and when I got burnt out on my current paperback, I started poking around online. A lot. And, as usual, the holiday season is a busy one for me- with ugly sweater parties, Christmas tree train rides, holiday plays, gingerbread houses,  a first attempt at a wine tasting, family frivolity and friendly festivities. But as it turns out, a lot of other things fell by the wayside as I spent more and more time indulging myself. This blog even- it started to fade into a late night afterthought, a tinge of guilt, but no real desire to sit down and work. One of my projects has been languishing, neglected and alone on my laptop. Even my laundry has been a mountain that has flooded over the top of its hamper, continually threatening to topple on the unsuspecting cat who only wants to play with the dangling sleeves of my sweaters.

And you know what happened? It stopped being fun. All of this extra time I had on my hands- it was a waste. I was standing still when I have spent the past year pushing so hard to inch forward, one toe at a time. It felt like I was losing all of the ground I had fought for. To suddenly find yourself languishing, and knowing it was all your own doing- it kind of sucks. It’s like sitting in the bathtub until the bubbles are gone and the water is cold, you’ve overstayed your welcome and the relaxation turns into anxiety. I found myself killing time that was once such a precious commodity to me- by mindlessly scrolling through the interwebs, checking my Facebook way more than I should, and even finding myself so bored at night that I was falling asleep early, kindle still propped on my lap. There was no stimulation, no motivation, no fire burning me up from the inside and sparking life into my soul. I had become dull and faded without my inspiration to guide me. I had become the girl I was once upon a time when I would dream without doing and wonder why my life wasn’t changing.

Much like the chocolate cake; when you eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it loses its appeal and pretty soon you find yourself craving an apple. You have to indulge yourself occasionally with a piece, but knowing it is a special treat makes it all the sweeter. That’s the balance I have to remember, I need to learn to teeter when I want to totter.

I don’t know who I am when I’m not writing, I lose my focus and start to feel like my very identity is slipping, I feel like a shadow of the myself. I have spent so much time this year working my tail feathers to the bare nubbins. And in spite of the dedication and laser focus it has required- it’s felt amazing knowing that I am doing something for myself, that I am taking steps towards a dream I have always had. So treading water- it doesn’t feel as good anymore. When I know what I am capable of, it hurts to do anything less. I feel like I’m wilting.

And so, here I am, frustrated with complacency and ready to strike back. It’s been fun, but I am sick of my holding pattern. So here we are my friends- Tipsy is back and ready to take a shot (I meant that in the dukes up, fight for myself kind of way- you know- hit me with your best shot; not shot of alcohol way, though technically that probably works too).

It’s time to come back to my new life, the one I fought so hard for. And now I can find comfort in knowing that I don’t think I am capable of slipping back into that girl I had once been- the one so full of unrealized dreams. Because I just tried, and though I did wilt for a time, I find myself blooming again. I can emphatically say: I am not that girl anymore. I am stronger than her, and damn it, I will keep on fighting for what I want. Because it’s the only thing that leaves me fulfilled and satisfied at the end of the day. Cheers, my friends, it feels good to be back. I’ve missed you. And perhaps I’ve missed me a bit too.

One Step in Front of the Other

A couple years ago my fiancé and I packed up the car and drove five hours to Leavenworth, WA during Oktoberfest. But we weren’t going for the beer, no, we were doing something much more reckless. The Oktoberfest Half Marathon! That is right- while college students were piling into beater cars and taking over the town for a weekend of boozy frolicking fun, we were pinning numbers to our tank tops and stretching nervous muscles in the freezing cold early hours of the day. This in itself wouldn’t have been a big problem- if I had taken my training seriously in the months prior to the final event. I stepped up to the starting line knowing that I was in way over my head. I don’t think I had run more than two miles straight without a break, and here I was expecting to push my body for 13.1 miles. Now, don’t get me wrong- a few weeks before the race I had decided it was important to know what I was getting myself into- my fiancé and I went for our ‘practice run’ one night. It took us hours winding through two towns to get in the full mileage. At one point I was running while dry heaving over the side of a bridge (that would be thanks to the pile of gummy bears I ate), but we did the full thing. So going into this event, I had an inkling of what to expect. And I knew it would involve a lot of pain.

The first few miles were fantastic, I felt like a superstar. There is something inspiring and invigorating when your feet are clipping in line with thousands of other people surrounding you, people who were just as crazy as you. We all went out there with something to prove, a goal to accomplish- and the excitement in those first few miles were palpable.

After a while though, even the buzzing thrill couldn’t keep my body motivated. The next miles were a collection of jogging bursts coupled with walking breaks. Intervals, they call them- and they seem to save my life every time. 

When we hit the halfwalf mark, we came across a woman dressed as a bar wench, in the full German gear- she was running with us while carrying a stein full of beer. Beer that she was actually drinking. College students in town for Oktoberfest were lining the streets and filling her stein for her as she went. And you know what really killed me? She was beating me. I like to tell myself that she was drunk enough not to feel the pain in her legs, but I know the truth; she was just better, stronger, and perhaps even a bit more prepared in spite of her inebriated state. Although I can’t help but be impressed; drunk me knows better than to go outside for a jog. Drunk me wants to sit in bed with hot french fries while singing old Backstreet Boys songs to my always-patient fiancé who simply wants me to brush my teeth and go to sleep (and upon his request, this is where you insert the lyrics from ‘You Don’t Own Me’- thank you First Wives Club for introducing this little gem into my bag of tricks. This is quickly followed by some Joan Jett ‘Bad Reputation’ in response. Oh yes, drunk me can be quite clever with her song choices. She also becomes a fiercely independent woman- until she can’t open the pickle jar.)

By the end we were exhausted, everything hurt, but we were almost there. When we got within sight of that finish line we started running, every muscle in our bodies screaming, our lungs ready to burst. When we hit the finish line we clasped our hands and raised them in the air in triump- until the race attendants pointed to ANOTHER line several feet (it felt like miles) away, saying that was the actual finish line and racers had been confused all day with the inexplicable first mark. I personally think they did it because they thought it was funny- it was the cruelest joke that has ever been played on me. So we shuffled forward, arms still raised painfully for what felt like another five miles- until we were able to joyfully cross the REAL finish line.

At the end were apples and treats, along with a winning tshirt and a medal. That first bite of my victory apple was the best thing I have ever tasted. Everything hurt, the journey had been a rough one and I had been horribly unprepared. But you know what? I did it. I fought through the pain, I pushed myself beyond anything I ever believed my body to be capable of. And I crossed that finish line. Both of them. Looking back, it isn’t the pain and the cold that comes to mind first- it’s the pride, the deep satisfaction in knowing that the chips were stacked against me and I still pushed myself to do it.

We went back to our hotel, took hot showers (oh how I deeply craved a tub in that moment), and then we joined the crazy college kids at the bar for a celebratory beer while proudly wearing our medals. It was an amazing day. And it doesn’t matter that I could barely stand for the rest of the week, or that stairs made me want to cry for my mommy. I still did it.

The thing that I’ve learned: this life isn’t that different from that race. Especially for us writers (and most certainly during Nano). We all are jumping into these dreams and adventures feet first, with nothing but hope that we will be successful. We don’t always know what to expect. We don’t know what struggles we will endure. Sometimes we are rockstars, zooming through the crowd. And sometimes it feels like that woman in leiderhosen has all of her shit figured out while you are bumbling around like a blind man. You lose your faith in your abilities, it seems like everyone else has the secret except for you. But you keep pushing and you keep fighting, even when every fiber in your body wants to give up and call for a ride home. We are fighters, we push through all of the odds. We are plagued with fatigue, with feeling ill-equipped, and occasionally with false finishes that hide the distance you still have left to travel. But you don’t give up. As a writer, I sit down in front of my laptop even when the words won’t come. I type out my blog on a tiny touch screen cell phone when a roadblock falls in my lap (yes, I am still raining curses on my laptop and it’s inability to miraculously fix whatever is wrong with it). We find a way, no matter what. Because it all that we know, because standibg still means defeat and we aren’t ready to throw in the towel yet. We owe it to ourselves, we deserve our success. We must believe it, even if we don’t feel we are ready for it.

I love jury duty (and why you should to)

I love jury duty. Now, let me qualify that statement by saying: I love jury duty when I am not the juror…or the bailiff. I work in the court systems, I have played a multitude of roles in this field for nearly a decade (I believe I am closing in on nine and a half years). One of the things that I love most about it: the people.

Everyone has a story, everyone has a reason to go from day to day, every one has biases and belief systems. Everyone is different. And the courtroom is a damn good place to hear some of these stories. One of the more recent cases I covered, a prospective juror flippantly mentioned in an off-hand way that she was shot during a robbery once. Now, that is not a story you can idly gloss over. She had been counting out her till when a man with a gun came charging in to the place where she worked- she gave him all that she had, but it wasn’t enough. He got mad and shot her in the shoulder. She told the whole story with a wry little chuckle and a knowing smile. There was also the man who crashed his private one-man plane into a river after trying to show off doing small areal stunts. Or the man who pulled out his own gun when a robber ran up and pulled open his car door in an attempted car-jacking. Then there was the woman who grabbed the red Pizza Hut sign off of the roof of a delivery truck and repeatedly hit an assailant with it when he tried to rob her friend. And who can forget the woman who managed to run over herself with her own car? Don’t worry- she is just fine, no lasting damage.

Every single person has a unique perspective in life. Every single individual has a story to tell, most of which are much stranger than any fiction you could possibly come up with. I love this aspect of my job because it is an open venue to hear these stories without the awkward daily social games we play with one another. As someone who tends to become rather anxious in new social situations, its rather refreshing to be able to skip the dance and go straight to the heart of the story.

So perhaps next time you get that summons in the mail, you wont let that first expletive-ridden thought control your outlook on the event. At the very least, you will probably be able to hear a few damn good stories while you wait. Inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places, if you are only willing to open yourself up to the possibilities.