Category Archives: Blessed are the Cheesemakers

Meh. And also blah. With a side of blech. (And way too much TMI)

I’ve been so, so good at staying dairy free. SO GOOD! And on those rare occasions when I’ve broken down and had a cheese item, I’ve doubled-up on the lactaid. The result? My stomach has been much more pleased with me the last few months.

Enter Saturday: I was out and about much of the day. I had a tattoo consult, and an eye doctor appointment, and other random stuff. I stopped for lunch at about one, and even though I texted the Beer Guy that I would cheerfully kill someone for a melted cheese food item, I had no intention of following through (with either the murder or the cheese).

Instead, I ordered a meat pasty. (I literally just typed “cheese pasty” and had to go delete. I am obsessed with cheese.) It was delicious. I felt a little off that evening, but attributed it to having skipped breakfast (mostly) and it being several hours since my 100% cheese-free lunch. The beer guy & I went out to eat, and I ordered my wrap sans dairy, but continued to feel not quite right.

The next morning (yesterday), I woke up and was miserable. I told the beer guy that I felt like I’d eaten cheese, but couldn’t figure out how that’d happened. After all, I’d been so careful. And then I looked up the menu for the place I’d gotten my pasty to prove how careful I was. Second listed ingredient on the menu item I ordered? FUCKING SWISS CHEESE. How I missed that when ordering is beyond me.

So yeah. Yesterday was a barrel of fun. It’s really depressing that cheese–the one food item to which I have devoted more time and energy (and money; I have a lot of cheese making apparati)–has betrayed me this way.

 

ANYWAY – finally my stomach ache went away, and I was all yay! AND THEN THERE WAS FURTHER BETRAYAL.

My left ovary tried to kill me. It was so evil that, after a vicodin, I decided it needed a name. I googled “evil name generator” and the first name on the list was Cat.

As you may or may not know, Cat is also the name of my PSM. Obviously, I texted her immediately to know I’d named my evil left ovary after her. (I’m not sure if she hasn’t responded because of the time difference or because she’s just backing away from our friendship slowly or because she hasn’t seen it yet.)

(I also texted her that I was planning on becoming a vicodin addict, which is probably no longer true as I had a really hard time falling asleep last night, but also couldn’t get out of bed to do anything else.)

So, long and extremely TMI story short – my body hates me and wants me to die. My left ovary is named Cat. Cheese is my best frenemy. I’m probably going to name my right ovary Xyla. The jury’s still out on what I’m going to name my uterus.

My goal for this week is to remain cheese free and be as active as Amy-ly possible, whilst also getting at least 12-15K words down. I need to finish this rewrite by the end of the month so The Ruby Blade can get to my editor in *gulp*   six weeks. That sounds like such a long time, but it really, really isn’t. (PS, if you would like to give me a great deal of money to stay home and write, I would appreciate it!)

Indian khanda sword…

Moving Day!

I have been in the process of moving my website from one place to another for a long time. I’ve been blogging at gazellesoncrack since 2006 (although I’ve owned amycissell.com for just as long). Today amycissell.com is live. There might be a few broken links or broken forms, so bear with me as I get through them, but overall, this should look just like home.

My ex-husband gave me the inspiration for gazellesoncrack and I fully embraced it. I am not graceful. (In fact, in college, there was a person who regularly just called me Grace.) This is not an untruth. For 11+ years, my entire online identity was wrapped around gazelleosncrack.

But in the past 11 years, I’ve become so much more–this space has become so much more. It started as a place to share my clumsiness and book reviews, became a place to share my clumsiness, book reviews, and shoe pr0n. Morphed into a place to discuss clumsiness, book reviews, shoes, and my health & weight loss journey. Then it skidded sideways into a pregnancy tracker and half-hearted mommy blog. All of this while doing my best to hide my real name from the internets.

And now-this is where we are.

There’s a lot less focus on the awkward (although that still exists), I never talk about shoes anymore (my interest in pretty shoes fell to the wayside about the time I had foot surgery), and my posts about my kid are getting fewer and further between as he gets older (and so much bigger, omg, he comes up to my chest now!).

It’s book reviews and writing and health (physical and mental).

I was doing a meditation this morning (seriously guys, if you haven’t read Rebekah Borucki’s You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life, get on that) and realized that the last two years have been nothing but attempts to breathe out the bad and breathe in the good.

I breathed out the job that I hated with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. The job that made me have panic attacks and high-level anxiety. The job that caused me to stress-eat and stress-starve (and may have fucked up my entire digestive system semi-permanently). The breath maybe wasn’t as controlled as I’d have preferred, but it’s gone, it’s out, and this is better.

I breathed out a marriage that had been weighing me down for longer than I care to admit. Letting go of a relationship that doesn’t buoy you is harder than it ought to be. Adding a kid to the mix certainly doesn’t make that process easier.

I breathed in new possibilities. I published a book (soon to be two). I’m taking control of that part of my life.

I breathed in a new job that, although not as exciting as it could be, still pays me with real money and affords me the time and energy to continue to work on my writing.

I breathed in a new relationship with a wonderful man who continually surprises me with how much he’s willing to give to me and my son, just because he loves us.

There are still things that I need to let go of and still things I need to pick up. I need to be bolder, more brazen, more confident. I need to be less anxious, less self-deprecating, less willing to put myself and my needs last. More movement, fewer excuses. More running, less sitting.

I started meditating – started being a person who meditates – when things were terribly, terribly bad earlier this year. I’d just turned 40 and was broke. Unemployed. So anxiety-riddled that I couldn’t tell where my brain was anymore. The one meditation I did over and over and over was (again, from the aforementioned book): “Your situation may look like a mess. That’s real. But you are not that mess.”

That got me through March. I started this job the end of April. I’m sleeping better. Eating better. And (and hopefully the beer guy will back me on this) being an all-around happier, more relaxed person.

I’m not saying that mediation got me a job and fixed my crazy, but there is evidence to show that mindfulness and mediation have a positive effect on anxiety (and a whole host of things!). And less anxious = all around better everything.

I’m still not meditating every day, but I’m definitely getting to “more often than not.”

Which brings me back to moving. Moving on. Moving up. This is one more letting go. Letting go of the gazelle that I so identify with “ten years ago Amy” and “Amy who was married to the architect” and “Amy who was too scared to really live.” (My spell check suggests I mean “Amy who was too sacred to really live…interesting…)

Now, instead of taking a name someone else gave me, we are here. At amycissell.com. (Yeah, I know that technically someone else gave me that damn name, too, but hey! It’s very me. 40 years of me, in fact.) I might never achieve the level of fearlessness I’d like, but I’m going to stop letting fear hold me back from what I want.

I will no longer be a dreamer of dreams. I will be a doer of things.

So welcome. Welcome to Amy Cissell Writes. The past is all here – I don’t want to start fresh because the lessons I’ve learned have been invaluable, but let’s move forward with fresh goals, shiny new intentions, and a courage that belies the fear.

 

Shenanigan Report-40th Birthday Edition

Saturday night was my birthday party. As per usual, I took almost zero photos. However, I did get pics of the important things: the pre-party shower wine, the Parmesan cheese I made, and the most epic cake in the history of cakes.

Bendy straw wine! Perfect for showering.

Seriously the best cheese I’ve ever made. It was perfect for snacking and now will be utilized as a grating cheese…I am super proud of myself.

Look at this magnificent cake that my friend Melissa made for me? How could it get any better than this?

I’ll show you how it can get better…

Seven-layer rainbow cake. Melissa is a goddess.

 

I had such a wonderful party and it was so good to have most of my favorite local people come out to celebrate turning forty.

We ended up not doing the piñata, because doing something like that inside sounded dangerous and outside it was pretty soggy and dark. Current plan is to destroy Trappist (the unicorn piñata did get a name at the party, and you can decide for yourself whether or not it refers to a star or a monastic order) sometime this summer. Although I might just keep him forever. (The beer guy might have something to say about that, I suppose.)

Trappist is hard at work earning his keep.

 

Now that I am 40 years and 3 days old, I’m feeling infused with wisdom. The main focus of that wisdom is that I need to make self-care a priority. I started my day with a fruit and spinach smoothie. I will go out for a walk/run in about an hour. I will eat lunch today and every day. I will get to bed at a reasonable time so I can get up and be productive at a reasonable time.

 

Last, but certainly not least – guess what tomorrow is??????????

RELEASE DAY!

That’s right – tomorrow you can get your grubby little hands on a copy of The Cardinal Gate. (You can also pre-order today, and the ebook will just appear in your Kindle app tomorrow like magic! The paperback is also now available for pre-order, but that doesn’t probably appear like magic in your home tomorrow. Probably.)

The Cardinal Gate is also available on Nook, iBook and Kobo.

Buy it, rate it highly, tell your friends, and – if you must – read it.

 

40 Before 40 – Final Progress Report

I will be forty in 23 days. TWENTY-THREE. DAYS.

There are days that I feel old, but most of the time I have trouble reconciling the number forty with how I feel.

The last thirteen months have been some of the hardest of my life. Between separation, divorce, job loss, and no job found…it’s been stressful to say the least.

I didn’t get through my list of 40. Some of that is due to financial constraints (I shot my wad on the big one – going to Iceland) and some is due to the inability to do things because of depression and anxiety.

You know what, though? I don’t care. There were some stretch goals on there. I’m not going to rehash everything I didn’t do, but I’m going to show you what I did do.

  1. Attend a live concert
  2. Climb a tree
  3. Go to the local nude beach
  4. Go to the opera
  5. Sing a new song at karaoke
  6. Take a barre class
  7. Take a cooking class
  8. Funky hair color
  9. Try hot yoga
  10. Volunteer
  11. Do a fun thing with Bean every day of his summer vacation
  12. Rosé in the garden in July
  13. Make a cheese that needs to age 10 months and eat it on my 40th birthday
  14. [Redacted]
  15. Become passable in Swedish (I’m still doing lessons!)
  16. Develop a habit of meditation
  17. Get back into my DIY habits –bread, stock, cheese, jam, etc.
  18. Perfect the homemade pie crust.
  19. Take a good photo
  20. Try 12 new cheeses
  21. Drink a bottle of expensive champagne
  22. Get a stamp in my passport
  23. Meet three ‘in the computer friends’ in real life. (Still waiting on my PSM)
  24. Publish my first book – this should happen this month or very soon after depending on how long it takes me to format stuff. (If anyone is interested in an ARC, let me know!)

So – twenty-four of forty things. That’s not a great success rate, but I’m really happy about how much I managed to do even when I was so anxious I could barely leave the house. I don’t plan on hitting any of the missing 16 items in the next 23 days. My primary goals for February are to get my book out and find a goddamn job. Oh – and to turn 40. Of course.

Don’t worry – I have a whole list of things I’m planning on accomplishing in the next year (although maybe not 41 things…). Stay tuned for all the ways I’m going to be awesome next year.

2016 – The Wrap-Up

I’m just going to pretend that this year is over. I really can’t take any  more 2016. The next couple of days are interstitial days – they belong to no year and nothing that you do on those days matters. This is a new rule I just made up, but I’m keeping it.

Fuck you, 2016!

This year was tough. My marriage ended. I moved into my own place. I got officially divorced. My job ended. I have been – as yet – unable to find a new job. A lot of celebrities I especially liked died. A celebrity  I don’t particularly like not only lived, but was elected president. Money is tight and anxiety and depression are high. My kidlet is stressed out. I’ve had persistent shoulder issues that have prevented me from doing as much as I’d like.

Lots of shit.

Lots.

(Sometimes, literally.  Motherhood is rewarding AF.)

Seriously. Fuck you.

But you know what? It wasn’t all bad, was it?

I’m in a fantastic relationship. I have a great kidlet (even if he is not only a four-and-a-half-year-old, but also the source of that literal shit I have to deal with from time to time). I really got some quality time with a lot of wonderful friends – and made some new wonderful friends, to boot!

Being four is serious business

There was a lot of good travel this year – I was in Vegas in April for the RT conference where I got to meet IRL my friend Elizabeth Hunter as well as make new writerly friends! In May, I went to Bend for the weekend with the Beer Guy. I was in Seattle a couple of times (July and November). In August, I was able to take the Bean to South Dakota to meet my grandmother (his great) for the first time (and not incidentally got to sing karaoke with my three bestest besties from the good ol’ college days!).

Me & my marshmallow goo proving that being 39 is also very serious business.

AND – I was able to go to Iceland. ALL BY MYSELF. Sometimes I remind myself that if I could do that (which required a lot of overcoming of my anxiety issues), I can do almost anything.

I waited patiently in Bifrost for a divine visit, but unfortunately, the gods overlooked me this year.

I got to meet some other personal goals as well. I’ve really reconnected with my domestic badassery – my garden wasn’t much to talk about this year, but I made jam, and just canned festive simple syrups, and made some pies, and started baking bread again. Also – cheese. I made a cheese. Soon, we will know if that cheese is delicious. CROSS YOUR FINGERS!

Parmesan!!!

I finished writing two books and a novella, completed edits on one book that’s currently in the last look-through by my editor on its path to publication.

I found out that I really, really enjoy being a writer, and if someone would actually pay me, I’d be okay doing this for a living. (What I need is some freelance editing/proofreading work to supplement my as-yet non-existent writing income. Apparently there’s no six-figure advance for self-publishing.)

SAY MY NAME, BITCHES!

I’ve worked through a lot of things this year and I hope that I’m coming out on the other side stronger than I went in. I lived on my own. I single-mommed. I’ve been unemployed. I’ve stopped procrastinating and started achieving my dreams. I’ve traveled internationally alone.

All of the things I thought would be the hardest have been the easiest. The only thing that makes this year still shite is that pesky lack of funding issue. (I am open to paid companion positions, all eligible sugar daddies reading my blog…I’m sure there are a ton of you out there. Call me.)

(Seriously. Call me.)

The emotional stuff has been hard, but I feel like I’ve been tempered this year.

A year ago, I declared that 2016 would be the year of me. When I wrote that, I had two very specific goals in mind. I wanted to end the year not married and not in the job in which I started the year. Both of those things have come to pass, albeit not exactly as I’d planned. (Maybe I should be a little more careful with what I put out in the universe.)

I don’t know everything that 2017 will bring. There are a few things of which I’m certain:

  1. I’ll (again) move houses, but this time into a more permanent situation (less than a month now!)
  2. I’ll start a new job
  3. I will publish two books
  4. I will turn 40 and there will be a unicorn piñata (the party is the day after my birthday – Saturday, 2/25 – you’re totally invited)
  5. I will do some travel, even if only a little bit
  6. My Bean will turn 5 (FIVE YEARS OLD!)
  7. I’ll have a great garden and do more canning (I’m out of salsa and it is a travesty)
  8. I’ll keep writing
  9. That crazy Bean will start kindergarten
  10. I’ll keep moving…yoga and walking are where it’s at right now, but I’d like to – just maybe – start running again
  11. I will drink delightful gin cocktails on the back patio in the summer with the people I love best
  12. I will laugh and love and live just a little bit more