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#AmWriting

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

It is so good to have a few moments to write.

Even better: hours.

I have hours. I’m away from the house. Cannot hear the dirty dishes in the sink nor the clothes to be folded calling my name. I have nothing but my laptop and am choosing to ignore my phone and social media.

BLISS.

If you are also a writer, you know what I mean.

And by writer, I don’t mean famous, or published, or even, “manuscript completed and rejected fiftyish times.”

Do keys tapping in a satisfying click-tick rhythm make your anxiety melt?

Words fascinate and enthrall you?

Sentences with perfect balance give you deep satisfaction?

Alliteration, onomatopoeia and entire-paragraphs-sans-adverbs bring you joy?

That’s what I mean.

Writer.

Hans Splinter

Photo by Hans Splinter

 

 

What I Learned at WordCamp Part 3

Continued from Part 2

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Photo Credit: John Uit

The third thing I learned at WordCamp 2015: I’m a closet Vegan.

My first exposure to being vegan occurred over twenty years ago. While working at a summer camp, I noticed one of my charges had dry, cracked lips, so bought her a Chapstick at the camp store. (Vegan readers…wait for it…)

When her mom arrived for pickup, she took one look at her daughter’s healing mouth and turned to me. “Did you give her something to put on her lips?”

I smiled and handed her the lip balm. “Yes, Ma’am; don’t worry—I bought her a new tube.”

She. Went. Postal.

Shocked beyond words, I stood mute as she blasted me for not calling her first. A naive eighteen, it never occurred to me that she’d be anything but happy her kid’s lips were no longer bleeding.

“We’re Vegan. This is against our beliefs. Bees made the wax.”

I didn’t know what she meant.

Vegan…like Spock on Star Trek? No…wait. That’s Vulcan.

Searched mental files…nope, nothing.

After she relaxed a bit, I asked her to tell me more about it. To me, a committed omnivore, the vegan way sounded a little crazy.

Two decades later, I still consider eating a TRYathlon.

If it’s edible, it’s fair game. New food? I’m in. (This is why I gained 15 lbs during a month in Trinidad.)

Lovers of all things fuzzy, close your eyes for this next sentence: in Peru, I checked out a local delicacy—guinea pig ravioli.

I say this not to induce death threats from PETA but to prove that I will, in fact, taste almost anything once. Chocolate covered ants are high on my “try it” list.

If you told my camp-counselor-self that I’d someday adore vegetarian or vegan dishes, I might have laughed. It’s true, though. This try-all-foods-at-least-once attitude has led me to love meatless meals.

Attending WordCamp US brought me to a life-altering culinary discovery.

At lunch on Friday (FYI, the food was FABULOUS), I spooned a couple different Philly-cheesesteak-style meats onto my plate without checking the tags.

One of them was the most tender, fall-apart-in-your-mouth beef I’ve ever had.

I raved about it to my friend Ruth, who laughed.

That meat…wasn’t.

Apparently there’s this thing I’d never heard about. Seitan. Ruth, attempting to assist me in pronunciation, explained that it sort of sounds like “satan.”

Me: “So. Somebody chopped the devil into little bits and it tastes like heaven. Who knew?” 

Ruth: Eye roll. (All my friends have this same weird tic. So strange.)

Per Google:

sei·tan
ˈsāˌtan
noun: seitan
  1. a high-protein vegetarian food made from cooked wheat gluten.
Origin
origin uncertain: perhaps from Japanese shokubutsusei tanpaku ‘vegetable protein.’

I understand “cooked wheat gluten” and “vegetable protein” don’t sound enticing—or, for that matter, even palatable. But trust me on this one. Go back and look at that picture above. Yep, seitan. It’s mouth-watering.

Friday evening, I had seitan prepared to taste like chicken. MMMM. At Saturday’s lunch, seitan barbecue. SO good.

I ate a LOT of seitan, skipping “real” meat for the rest of the weekend. Having had…occasional issues…with new foods, I had concerns about potential…repercussions. I’m happy to report that all systems remained in proper working order.

Unless you’re allergic to wheat/gluten, you’ve gotta try it.

Researching my new obsession, I’ve found several recipes to make seitan at home. I haven’t attempted yet (mostly because my kitchen has been upside-down for the last month, but that’s a post for another day). Although you can buy it prepared, DIY sounds more fun.

Check out the Post Punk Kitchen for an apparently foolproof recipe. Isa has a number of other vegan recipes that look incredibly yummy.

For many reasons, I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to attend WordCamp US 2015 (and if you’re interested in attending next year, click here for a 2016 ticket. Trust me; the food alone is worth the price).

Finding a unique new fare might not be a major motivating factor for you, but it’s just one of many great reasons to attend.

I mean, where else can you cut the devil into tiny little pieces and chow down?

Wait. Did you just roll your eyes?

You should totally get that tic checked.

Annnnnnd…we’re back. (What I learned at WordCamp, Part 2)

Here’s the #2 thing I learned at WordCamp.

Continued from this post.
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Crowd at State of the Word address. Photo credit: Casey Alexander, Creative Commons License

It’s okay to “just be a blogger.”

Which is why this blog is now BACK AT WORDPRESS.COM.

I do not have to learn code.

No need to be a developer.

Although learning about SEO is fun and I like it, I don’t even have to do that.

My Thursday train arrived with an hour to spare. Ruth (see earlier post) convinced me to join the volunteer party instead of disappearing to my hotel.

Thank goodness.

I met Dennis. In addition to being an event speaker and all-around good guy, he’s also a Happiness Engineer.

And he spoke those eight little words I’d been dying to hear.

“There’s nothing wrong with ‘just’ being a blogger.” 

Ever since the last WordCamp (around 98% of attendees were technical, not writers), I really, really REALLY tried to follow their advice. “Get a domain and self-host.”

I got a domain. (This, actually, IS a good idea.)

Joined BlueHost to have a self-hosted blog. (At least for this gal…not so much.)

Although I’m truly interested in SEO, I just want to write. Gaining a clearer understanding of search and meta and how things work isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t want to do that every day.

I’m no quitter. Not usually. But today, I called to cancel my BlueHost account.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Get your own domain. It’s your brand. I still own caseyalexanderblog.com for a year, but from here on out, you’ll be seeing hypervigilant.org as the new brand. If you’ve been around a while, you know why. If you’re new, I’ll explain sometime soon.
  2. Don’t self-host unless you enjoy the work. Self-hosting is only fun if you want to handle everything yourself. If, like me, you just want to write, you don’t need that.
  3. Get your domain through WordPress.com (no, they’re not paying me to say this). You get to keep all the cool features I lost when I went to BlueHost. There were no “reblog” or “follow” buttons. No community of readers and bloggers. I had ZERO new followers on the new blog. WordPress is where it’s at. (Yes, that’s bad grammar. Hush.)
  4. Reach out to a Happiness Engineer. Check the forums and help pages first, but if your issue isn’t resolved, check with a Happiness Engineer. Making people happy is what they do. No kidding.

So…if you’re new, welcome!  I’m Casey, occasionally called hypervigilant. I like to write. I’m a blogger.

Thank you, Dennis, for saving my love of blogging.

Also, big thanks to Dean, Praveen, Zandy, Nicola and last but CERTAINLY not least, Naoko, some of the best Happiness Engineers in the Land. In the world, for that matter. You guys rock.

Click here for #3…

Free Cheesesteak!

How about a free cheesesteak?

In Philadelphia, PA. From me.

Just sign up for WordCamp US, then let me know you did in the comments; I’ll choose someone at random and buy you a cheesesteak. In fact, I’ll let one of the kids pick a name out of a hat or something, just to be fair.

If you don’t eat meat, we can go for coffee. If you don’t drink coffee, well ARE YOU EVEN HUMAN? Oh, sorry, I mean…we’ll figure out something. Pigeon tipping, maybe.

Haddon Musings  has already signed up! Don’t miss out.

WordCamp US will be phenomenal, and here’s why.

WordCamp US Logo

HTTPS://DRIBBBLE.COM/SHOTS/2364774-WORDCAMP-US-LOGO

10 Reasons You Won’t Want to Miss WordCamp US

  1. Super-cool sessions. You don’t have to be a developer or coder to benefit from WordCamp US. Sarah Blackstock  wrote an excellent piece about the best options for bloggers and writers here. If you’re still waffling about whether to take your small business to WordPress, check this out. If you are a coder, designer or developer, you can find more information here on the main page.
  2. Amazing people. Have you noticed? Everyone with WordPress connections is just, well, SUPER! I’m not kidding. I haven’t met ONE person I don’t like. Granted, I’m sort of an extrovert and I like people in general. But in a group this large, there’s usually at least one individual with whom I would not enjoy sharing a cheesesteak. Not in this crowd. Come network, learn and make great friends.
  3. Happiness Bar. According to people in the know (Ingrid and Liam), the volunteers sharing their technical expertise are “fabulous” and “stacked deep with loads and loads of WP knowledge.” Having recent experience with Happiness Engineers, I agree. Questions about being the master of your domain? Plugin won’t plug in? App making you unhAPPy? (See what I did there? Genius, I know.) The Happiness Bar is your new happy place.
  4. Philly Cheesesteak. Steak. Cheese. Philly. Need I say more? Well, okay. Here are even more reasons for foodies to flock to WordCamp. Chinese, Italian, coffeehouse, seafood, Mediterranean, vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, like—seriously—anything your hungry heart desires. Oh, and let’s not forget the pretzels!
  5. After Party. I mean, seriously. Who hates a party? Well, okay, a couple of my friends are not fond of parties. Or people, for that matter…but for the rest of us crazy kids, check out Alx Block’s take on our upcoming fun.
  6. Swag. No, not sweeping fabric drapes or stolen goods. We are neither interior decorators nor pirates. Most of us aren’t, anyway. WordPress swag rocks. Who can resist Wapuu?
  7. CHOCOLATE. Several places wait to amaze you, but Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar is UN-BEE-LIEVE-ABLE. I’m pretty sure those chocolatiers use magic. And maybe Oompa-Loompas.
  8. Be famous. I’ll be one of the volunteers behind a camera. Say “cheese” (or “coffee,” or “whiskey,” or whatever makes you smile)…you never know when one of my photos will go viral! Hey, it could happen.
  9. You could win a cheesesteak.
  10. And BONUS, you can find out what happens when I ask Hubby what he’d like for Christmas this year and he answers, “A redhead.”

People are arriving from across the ocean and down the block. Don’t miss your opportunity to join the networking, learning and celebration.

If you absolutely can’t make it, here’s an option to join the fun from the comfort of your own space. You can even get an official t-shirt.

See you next week!

WCUS-Site-Badge-Volunteer

Camp NaNoWriMo

Who’s with me?? 🙂

Don’t forget to pack your flashlight and toilet paper*.

*Not for the outhouse. I plan on TP-ing at least 5 other cabins. You know you wanna do it, too.

P.S., I didn’t write the below–it’s the email they sent me, so you can sign up, too!

 

Camp NaNoWriMo Logo

This July, grab your gear, kick your inner-editor to the curb, and venture out into the wilds of your imagination. It’s time to track down your wandering muse.

Whether you’re a seasoned Camper here to take on another challenge, or a tentative first-timer looking for a place to pitch your tent, Camp NaNoWriMo is the perfect chance to see what you’re capable of when you have the time and space to create. Ready to go? Sign in right now (you can use your NaNoWriMo username and password!).

 

If you’re worried the trail has gone cold, here are a few reasons to seek out your writing project with Camp this July:

Tracking the muse is always safer in a group.

Camp NaNoWriMo offers 12-person online writing groups, which we call cabins. Meet other writers by being sorted into a cabin based on your age, genre, or goals.

 

Already have a cadre of fellow explorers? We’ve introduced private cabins.

Lure your muse with writing projects of any stripe (or spots).

Camp NaNoWriMo is open to all writing projects. Whether you’re editing a draft or tackling a script, poetry, or novel, Camp NaNoWriMo is the place to seek out those wily words. (We hear rhyming words are best lured with Sweethearts.)

Follow your muse at your own pace.

Camp NaNoWriMo lets you set your own word-count goal, from 10,000 words up to a million. Discover your creative habitat at a pace that works for you: sensing when the winds change, when night falls, and which watering holes your inspiration tends to frequent.

Step into your creative wilds with Camp NaNoWriMo this July. Find your muse. Sign up today.

NaNoWriMo is a year-round challenge to face that blank page and find the words that belong on it. Your story is out there. Let’s find it together.

 

Rebecca Stern

Director of Programs

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