The Life and Times of Yosemite Dan

“So, how’s life in Yosemite National Park?”

I’m glad you asked, unspecified italicized voice*. It’s been… something else.

Yosemite - Adventure Usual

*(Or didn’t I name that voice, at one point? I wouldn’t put it past me.)

The Job:

I’ve been about a month working in the Majestic Yosemite Hotel as a dishwasher – ahem, make that as a Majestic Steward, according to my manager.

Yosemite - Majestic Steward

Running rinsed flatware, glassware, utensils, and more through the pair of heavy-duty machines. Working with the team to keep the kitchen’s dishes in some semblance of order for the chefs and servers. Walking the line between mind- and body-numbing repetition and cracking the puzzles of how to make everything fit on the shelves – like a living video game that dries out your hands and tweaks out your shoulder.

Two weeks into it, aforesaid manager sat me down to say that he was very much impressed with me and wished to groom me into his managerial position. Color me both flattered and terrified! Of course I strive to shine in whatever role I’m given, and due recognition for my efforts is always appreciated. But… a manager? At the Majestic? Whether I’m psychologically competent to handle the responsibility aside, I’ve never planned to stay in Yosemite long-term. By the end of the year (at the latest), I want a place in Fresno with the BFF.

This I told my manager, largely anticipating that would be that. But, “Oh, Fresno?” he says. “The company has a branch in Fresno. Let me make a phone call…” And he totally calls over there to see what kind of position might be available for me within a year’s time.

If that’s not a sign to go ahead and accept the position of his protégée, what in the world is?

The Cast:

I wasn’t long on the job before I started thinking this would all make for quite the book.

Yosemite - Outlaws AU

Not that I’m big on memoirs (unless you count the upcoming Inspired, which I halfway do), but something in the rom-com vein would suit. …minus any romance, at this point, since none of my coworkers have yet to make a move on my heart. That’s just as well. Amusing as these characters may be to read or write, they’re hardly Deshipley love interest material. I mean, just get a load of these guys – all, for the sake of identity-protection, to be called Jo[e]*.

*(As life would have it, Joe is the actual name of one of my coworkers. Which? I’m not about to tell.)

Mansplainer Joe = Here to make sure that I know he knows what I should know. Because I guess my quick competence is only visible to actual bosses, not just bossy people.

Dead Inside Joe = Going through the motions without any memory of why he once cared, if ever he did. Should probably get a different job before there’s nothing left of him to save.

Muttering Joe = What’s that he’s saying? Nobody knows, and I suppose it doesn’t matter, given that he’s 9 times out of 10 talking to himself. Freezes with overwhelm when the servers pile the unwashed dishes too high at the sink. Will be taking his break now whether there’s anyone to relieve him or not

Super Joe = This elderly man doesn’t speak English (I think he’s some kind of Eastern European?), but he can pull and stow dishes like nobody’s business. “He’s a superhero,” Dead Inside Joe says candidly. “Whenever he’s here, I feel safe.” Clearly, the Majestic Steward that Gotham needs right now.

Sociopathic Witch Priest Joe = …Or so he claims. There’s no telling how much of his manic chatter is true, and how much is him just trying to keep himself entertained. Can verifiably wash and load dishes at the speed magic, if and when he can be bothered to work at all. Loves my high-level use of English. Thinks we should plot a murder together.

Boy Band Joe = Looks like an early Nick Carter. Proudly calls himself the weirdest person here. (Which, wow, have you not met Sociopathic Witch Priest Joe?) Can barely keep it in his hairnet. Low-key resents the manager acting like this is a job to be taken seriously.

“It” Girl Jo = Or is Boy Band Joe the only one hollering for her attention all night? Whatever the case, I’ll totally buy her as the queen bee of the dish pit, proving that you don’t have to look like (or be) a Mean Girl to read as popular. Knows her job and gets it done. Caught me proofreading “Inspired” and showed an interest. Obviously one of the smart ones.

And those are just some of the folks I encounter day-to-day, to say nothing of the rest of the kitchen’s colorful crew. Come at me, Netflix; let’s collab on the next hit original series.

The Perks:

One free meal (often big enough to split into two), plus random tidbits to be had throughout the day. I’m saving like whoa on groceries!

Yosemite - Yum

Yosemite - Fruit

Yosemite - Veggies

Steady money via a job I don’t hate. I began to doubt I’d live to see the day.

Yosemite itself. Sure, I spend most of the winter’s limited daylight hours laboring indoors, but nature’s glory is never far, and is miraculously healing. My head and heart, praise God, are feeling healthier than they have since before the trauma at Germany’s end – and that goes for some of my characters, too.

– Seriously, my characters love it here. The trees and rivers and mountains fill them with joy. And since they’re inside of me, the benefits are partly mine to share.

– When I’ve got two days off to rub together, the BFF is just a few hours away by bus and train. Our reunions are always sweet, and keep us going strong until we’re back together for real.

The Takeaway:

For now – and for once – I’m fairly sure I’m where I’m supposed to be. Certainly, I’m feeling well taken care of. And whether this experience ever makes its way into a book or onscreen, I know it to be well worth living.

Yosemite - Nature

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*Music Intensifies* (CONCERTO Release Spotlight)

Officially, I’m not blogging during the month of December! But low key, I’m posting today to spotlight the latest release from Xchyler Publishing, because I do occasionally roll like that – like that time I had a review stop on the blog tour of “Forte” by JD Spero. Well, guess what?

Forte_Banner

New young adult urban fantasy – CONCERTO – “the spellbinding sequel to FORTE by award-winning author JD Spero”, released this week!

First, the blurb:

Samantha McGovern sacrificed her magic to save her home town. Finally, after more than two years, stirrings within her whisper of a reawakening. However, nothing can offset the misery of parting with her boyfriend. How can she keep Jason when he’s moved on to college life, but she’s still trapped in high school for another year?

In Boston, Sami’s new friends help her rediscover her power, and, reunited with an old crush, he now seems into her. Sami struggles to ignore the intoxicating charms of Miles Eichen, but with Jason’s increasing distance, it feels like a losing battle.

When her strange visions begin to come true, Sami discovers a new purpose to her magic—magic stronger than she could ever imagine. Millions of lives are in danger, and only she has the power to foil a great evil. However, it will take a different kind of magic to repair the rift between her and Jason.

Next, the cover:

Concerto by JD Spero, full spread cover

Chick-a-plao! Does that look like hot stuff, or what?

And now, a word about our author:

JD Spero

Johannah Davies (JD) Spero was born near a pristine lake in the Adirondacks and has lived in various cities such as St. Petersburg (Russia), Indianapolis, Dallas, and Boston. She has pursued her love of narrative through degrees in English, Russian, and teaching—and has worked as an actress, a yoga instructor, a web design entrepreneur, freelance writer, and a high school English teacher. She lives in the Northeast with her husband and three young sons.

www.jdspero.com

If “Concerto” looks like a read you want in on, then make like a cool kid and get yourself a copy – or, if you’re behind the game, you can first catch up with Book 1. Congrats on your new book baby, JD Spero! And Ever On Wordians, I’ll be back in January. *peaces out*

The Year of Winging It

I’m a gal who likes to have plans on plans on plans for things as far in advance as possible.

You would not know that, based on my behavior this past year.

I. How much wood would a wood fan work if a woodwork job would work?

At year’s start, I was working a data entry job that, under a change-up in management, had grown increasingly miserable. I wanted to run, but I didn’t know where to – until, on a whim, I said, “Why not try carpentry?”

Since, y’know, I liked wood, and I heard carpenters make good money, plus it’d be skills I could take with me anywhere, meaning I wouldn’t have to feel tied down to the Chicago area.

…Once I’d completed my 4-year apprenticeship, anyway.

So began the months-long process of getting into the pre-apprenticeship program.

II. Trippin’ down the road

In the meantime, early summer found my sister and me on a road trip to—

Me: “Where you wanna go?”

Sister: “I dunno.”

Me: “Pittsburgh? I hear Pittsburgh’s nice.”

Sister: “Ok.”

Sure, there was minimal planning before we set forth. We booked our hotel rooms in advance, and mapped out a budget of roughly how much we expected to spend. But otherwise, the whole venture was explore-as-you-go. And by and large, the results were good, including walks along water, art shows and animals sanctuaries, an impromptu viewing of “Wonder Woman”, and more.

Road Trip Triptych

III. Wish granted

Not long afterward:

Me: *is depressed*

Mom: All right, none of that. I’m sending you to see “Aladdin”.

Me: !!!

And I mean, you can’t always make your brain less sad by saturating it with a dazzling onstage performance of your childhood heart’s first love. But it sure worked wonders this time!

Aladdin Onstage Triptych

IV. Will Scarlet dies smiling

Then came carpentry school and Temporary Apartment and – the year’s highlight – a visit from BFF Tirzah Duncan! Her coming was very much planned. More spontaneous was our attendance at the Wizard World comic con.

Me [scrolling on Facebook]: “Oh, hey, it’s gonna be in Chicago the weekend you arrive.”

Will Scarlet: “Wait – JOHN BARROWMAN’S going to be there?!?!?!”

Tirzah: “Ohmygosh, can we—?”

Me: “ORDERING! PHOTO OP! TICKETS! NOW!”

Will: *weeping*

John Barrowman Photo Op 2

Honestly, the Barrowman thing was an entire blog post unto itself.

V. Lightning Strikes Twice

Weeks later, I’ve dropped out of carpentry and am questioning absolutely everything about my life. But then—

Me [scrolling on Tumblr]: “Wait – MAGGIE STIEFVATER has a book tour stop in Chicago in two days?!?!?!”

Will and Tirzah: “Babe, you should totally—”

Me: “ORDERING! SIGNING LINE! TICKET! NOW!”

Maggie Stiefvater and Me

This, too, was an entire blog post unto itself.

VI. Living the dream?

Back at my parents’ house, prepping for my split-decision move to California. I knew I needed to land a paying job, so I started filling out online apps for everything from clerical gigs to warehouse work. Not that I really wanted to do any of that.

Hypothetical voice: “So what do you want to do, Danielle?”

Me: “I don’t know! Why can’t somebody just pay me to run away to the woods?!”

Yosemite National Park: “So hey, that dishwashing job in our super fancy hotel you applied for? It’s yours.”

Me: “…”

VII. What comes next:

I have no idea. There’s a month left in 2017 – the year Will Scarlet laughingly (and rightfully) dubbed my Year of Winging It. Anything could happen, particularly if my unpredictable pattern holds going into 2018 and beyond.

It’s a terrifying prospect. And yet… *looks back on it all* …just maybe it’s the life I’m meant to live.

For now.

Fortnight of Fright: Flash Fiction From Danielle E. Shipley & Tirzah Duncan

Books Take You Places

FoF2014Hi, friends! Today we have Danielle E. Shipley, author of the Wilderhark Tales novellas and the novel Inspired (see her other features on my blog here and here). Also contributing is Tirzah Duncan, writer of novels, short stories and poetry. They are here to share some truly awesome flash fiction to help us celebrate Fortnight of Fright this year. I have always been a fan of Danielle’s work and after reading this post I am sure that you will want to read more from her and Ms. Duncan for sure. Take a gander below and don’t forget to head over to Amy Brittany’s blogs to see who they have featured today! Don’t forget, we are hosting wonderful bloggers & authors for two whole weeks with recipes, book recommendations and a lot more awesome!

Once upon an October years ago, there transpired what might only be described as a supernatural occurrence:…

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Open Journal: October Thoughts

Somewhere, in an alternate universe, Danielle is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged, unionized carpenter apprentice.

But here in our world, that does not hold true.

I wanted to drop the pre-apprenticeship program Day 4. My parents said it was too soon.

Fair enough.

Skip ahead to the beginning of Week 4. I still wanted to drop the program. My parents still said it was too soon.

This did not feel anything like fair enough.

I muscled through to the end of Week 5, then said goodbye to this career experiment before it could morph into a 4-year commitment and – *shaky breath* – dropped out of carpentry school.

Me. Danielle E. Shipley. A quitter failure disappointment dropout. It barely computes.

But the fact is, I gave it my best while I was there. And I learned things, and managed to improve in skill and strength over those few weeks’ course. And it still just wasn’t for me.

What is for me? I have no idea. Maybe I’ll find out in California, once I’ve moved there after Thanksgiving.

Yes, that’s the new plan.

Transitions. That was the theme, about a month ago, at the Fall Paint Night held by my sister’s associates, Ascension Performing Arts. In honor of autumn, season of change, we turned our canvases into trees.

APA Fall Paint Night

I chose at the start to take my piece in a golden direction – my muse whispering that change could be a golden opportunity. I wasn’t sure how far I believed him. I’m still not. But I painted as if I’d taken the words to heart.

APA Fall Paint Night, Golden Opportunity

Speaking of Ascension Performing Arts: They’re holding their Fall Benefit showcase this Friday. I attended the event a couple years back, and it was a grand night of good art – both visual and performative. This year’s theme is “Be the Light”. And this year’s roster of fine artists on display during their gallery hour includes – oh, hello – Danielle E. Shipley. Given my imminent move, it will likely be my last in-person authorial event in the Chicago area for some while. Let’s make it the best one yet. (Ticket info here)

Also on the horizon, November – better known to much of the writing community as National Novel Writing Month. Somewhere, in an alternate universe, Danielle will have made herself sign up, with or without any driving inspiration.

Not here.

Maybe I’ll challenge myself to a reading month. I’ve got way too many ebooks sitting neglected on my Kindle app. But my writer self isn’t in a place to create for joy right now, which is what I’d want NaNo to be. So I’ll dedicate what energy I’ve got to other things.

My first European adventure is behind me. My tentative carpentry aspirations are finished. My life goal of publishing all three Outlaws of Avalon novels before my death has been met. (My depression brain suggests that I could go ahead and die now, but I’ll try to keep on living.)

Now it’s into a new unknown – my back to the home of my youth, my face to the west, where dwell two of my dearest non-imaginary friends. I am full certain that this will be weird and scary and full of angst, because that’s how life is everywhere. I’m (trying to be) hopeful that it’s where I’m supposed to be. …At least until the season of change cycles back around for me again.

One Small Step for Woman, One Giant Leap Toward Adulthood

TGW Song, Will - CopyWhaddup, beautiful people! Will Scarlet, here. Because Danielle promised she’d finally post about what’s going on in her life, but for some reason, she doesn’t like talking about herself. Which, wow, makes absolutely no sense to me, because talking about myself is like 80% of what I do. No worries, though! ‘Cause she’ll always have me to do the talking for her. ^_^

So! Here’s what’s new, Part 1: Danielle’s gonna be a carpenter.

That is, she is currently, as this post goes live, getting ready for the second day of her first week (out of 9) of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters pre-apprenticeship program.

Holy moly, hold the phone, since when is author Danielle E. Shipley interested in carpentry?! Well might you ask. (And I mean, you might have asked. I didn’t actually hear anyone asking, but some of you are bound to be curious, right?)

It all started when Danielle was at some other job, and she’s like, man, I need to be making money, but can it be through doing something that doesn’t suck the soul right out of me? So she decided to try carpentry, since it involves two things she already knows she likes: Creating things, and wood. Plus, she’d get to feel like Little John or a Pontipee brother, which I guess is a plus?

How does one become a carpenter? In many steps over much time, that’s how. Like, to the point that trying to remember everything we did to get here is kinda fuzzy, but I’ll throw out what I can remember.

– Go down to the nearest union carpentry training center and ask, “Hi, I’d like to be an apprentice. Please to tell me how?”

– Obtain a letter from your district that’s basically like “Hey, I officially recognize this person’s interest in entering this program”, to be placed in the pool of hopefuls. (You gotta ask first. And provide personal information. And hope Santa didn’t notice what a punk you’ve been all year.)

– Take a math proficiency test. Reading proficiency, too, but they don’t cover that in the test prep session a week before the exam. They do yell at you not to bring cell phones in the school building, though. I guess some staff member got murdered by a cell phone, once. #NeverAgain

– Get notified while on a road trip with your sister to Pittsburgh that you passed the test! (The road trip part may actually not be mandatory, but Danielle is just that thorough.)

– The notification will basically read, “Congratulations, you haven’t failed YET. Now you have until X date to get a note from a doctor that clears you as physically fit to be a carpenter, OR YOU’RE OUT.” Letter writers are never quite as sunny of disposition as they were before watching an associate get cell phone murdered.

– A doctor’s appointment, which you’d think would involve, I dunno, some running or lifting or other evidence you’re not a weakling, but no, all Danielle had to do was bend down, touch her toes, and promise she wasn’t entirely suicidal. Okay then!

– Search hither and yon for hardcore work boots made for little lady feet. (The suffragettes died for this.)

– “Congratulations, you haven’t failed YET. Now show up on X date to pee in a cup and prove you’re not on drugs, OR YOU’RE OUT.”

– “Congratulations, you’re not on drugs! See you at orientation!”

– We actually had no idea after passing the math test exactly when she’d be scheduled to start the program. All the tributes who haven’t yet died a horrible death get put in a lottery based on their test’s date, and your name’s up when it’s up. Could be weeks, could be months… For Danielle, it was actually pretty quick. Took the test… back in May, I think? And started the program yesterday. And if she makes it through the 9 weeks, then the 4 years of actual (paid!) apprenticeship will begin, and she’ll be on her way to becoming a fully competent journeyman! Her mother and I will be so proud.

What’s new, Part 2: Danielle’s got her own apartment!

Temporary Apartment

Temporary Apartment, she calls it, since it’s just for the duration of the 9-week program. After that, she’ll find another place*, because the main idea is to not have a hellish commute between where she lives and where she works.

IT’S SUPER EXCITING, because after all her adventuring in Europe, her parents’ house just wasn’t doing it for her anymore. She needed a proper Dani Space. And now she’s got one. Way to fake adulthood, girl!

 

*Full disclosure, it’ll be mostly her mom finding the other place, just like it was mostly Mom who found this one, and Dad’s name on the lease. Like I said: Faking adulthood. She’s getting there, though. X)

Don’t Be There, Don’t Be Square

Coming next week: An update several months in the making on the corner my non-authorial life has turned.

Coming not long after that: Sneak peeks and whatever fun content I can think up to tie into my October release, Outlaws of Avalon 3.

Today: Remember my allusion in my Printers Row recap post to the lack of cooperation I got with Square? Here (finally) is the full story.

Just Say No to Square

I attempted to get Square set up on my phone, but it kept saying that it couldn’t “verify my identity”. Over and again I tried, over a handful of days – careful to ensure the information I input was accurate; switching out e-mail and addresses and phone numbers, on the off chance that one might prove more accessible to their system than another. No avail. And looking through their support options yielded nothing more helpful than troubleshooters telling me to make sure all my information was correct. …um, thanks. Been there, done that.

By this time, I was pretty much sure this wasn’t going to work out for me, so I reached out in a couple of Facebook groups I’m in, asking whether anyone could recommend an alternative portable credit card reader. Frustratingly, half the responses I got were people saying that Square worked just fine for them.

Cool. Great. But I JUST SAID it’s not working for me, so… what else ya got? (Funny how they all got quiet when I asked specifically what I should do if Square refused to verity my identity. <_<)

Aaaaaanyway… Eventually, I moved to my laptop for a more concentrated support search. I still didn’t find anything helpful, but did receive an e-mail from Square fretting over the “suspicious activity” that was me trying to get in from another of my devices. The e-mail came with a link to click if I needed help, and BOY, DID I, so click I did, which took me to a page that was all, “Thanks for reporting suspicious activity!”

Wait. No. That’s not what I need help with. X( But hey, there’s a comment box where I can provide them with more information. Time to set the record straight. I wrote:

I did not intend to report the sign in as suspicious. The activity in question was in fact my own, from a computer instead of my cell phone — the phone being what I’ve been using to try (for days) to create an account, without success. No matter how many times I input my information, Square insists it cannot verify my identity. When I saw the “Need help? Let us know” in your email, I’d hoped that clicking it would direct me to someone able to help me get verified/approved so I can use the app without further trouble. Please advise.

Square Support shortly replied:

Hey Danielle,

Thanks for reaching out.

I know this is disappointing, and I wish there was something I could do. Your last application to accept cards with Square was not approved, and I can’t offer any additional chances to apply. Because Square offers a limited number of application attempts, this decision is final.

I wish you and your business the best of luck going forward, and I’m sincerely sorry for the frustrating experience.

Okay. Fine. I was past being mad. At this point, I just wanted some answers. So I wrote back:

So be it. However, for the sake of enlightenment:

1) Can you explain why my attempts were unsuccessful? I would like to have more to answer anyone asking about my Square experience than, “I dunno, it just didn’t work. Cannot recommend.”

2) What exactly is the limit? (I wasn’t keeping count; 7 tries? More? Fewer?) And is it a limited number of attempts per applicant, or per email address, or…?

Their reply:

Hey Danielle,

Thanks for your email. I’m really sorry we can’t give you another chance to apply, but there’s nothing else we can do to change this decision.

To protect your privacy and security, we don’t have access to the information you entered during the application process, so I cannot provide a more specific reason for why your application wasn’t approved.

I understand this situation is frustrating, and I wish I could be more helpful. I recommend speaking with other companies that offer similar services, like your bank or other mobile payment providers.

All the best, etc.

TL;DR, “We’re not interested enough in your business to even tell you why we won’t accept it. Bye, Felicia.”

Which brings to me to my new-and-improved response, should anyone ask about my Square experience: “I dunno, it just didn’t work, and the customer service was terrible. Cannot recommend.”

So heeey – if anyone reading this can recommend an alternative portable credit card reader, do please speak up in the comments! I’d love to have a better option in hand for next time.