31 August 2010

New Title!!

So I lied.

I was going to use my name, my pen name, for the title of this blog. Something simple, easy to recognize. Then it hit me. Literally. While cooking dumplings last night.

I never get titles when I need them. When I'm staring at the screen, willing them to appear, seriously considering goat sacrifice to conjure a title that will make people swoon, critics tear their garments and fellow writers lament, "Oh why didn't I think of it first?"

It's not that amazing, but I rather like it.

Starting tomorrow (squeak!), keep a look out in your blog roll for Culinary Vagabonding. If you say it in a deep, dramatic, 1940's radio personality voice it sounds really cool ;) Add reverb at your discretion.


27 August 2010

Travel Plans

Blogging is a journey. We usually start out slow, sharing vacation photos, screaming into the void. Then we meet people (like-minded and otherwise) who open our eyes, tempt us into deeper waters. We express ourselves differently, experiment, play dress up. Over time, our blogs can resemble maps of epic road trips: zagging and zigging along, state to state, up hills, along coasts.

Writing is virtually the same. You get the sudden itch that can only be soothed by putting pen to page. Stories come, issues confronted and little by glorious little, your unique voice emerges, old army jacket comfortable. If you're lucky, you set out to write a mystery and end up with one. Most of us, I'd wager, dabble in several genres, try them on, toss them back in the trunk.

This blog has been my dress-up chest, a place to discover, uncover. Every six months I've run off down rabbit trails, desperate to capture a voice I was hearing. Things grew stale, stiff, and I grew bored with words.

This summer has been rough. I found out I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which, thankfully, enlightened me to why I can't seem to focus, lack energy and feel most days like I'm going mad. It's put my life into a different focus. Balance has become key, one I'd previously lost. My job takes all my energy and can't be pared down just yet. I have realized that if I'm going to drag myself out of this symptomatic chaos, I've got to rediscover the reasons I started writing in the first place.

The burning desire to communicate, enlighten and learn.
To discover new places and new things and pass them along.

Worlds becoming words.

Through a happy series of circumstances (and one truly remarkable book), I re-realized a few of my first love, predominately travel, food and culture. I've always wanted to travel, experience new cultures and report back my discoveries. I've been blessed to travel some but not as much as my younger self predicted. I've yet to walk a mile of the Great Wall, see the sunrise over the sphinx or sipped Turkish coffee in Istanbul. Those are still goals, ones I'm working towards. A joyful re-discovery and an agony of realization.


I remember the beginning: Worlds becoming words.

For the next year, I am taking on a rather ambitious, self imposed task of world travel via cultural culinary discovery, riding the magic carpets of Internet, library and local area jaunts. My route of choice? Across Asia to Europe What started out as a journey across the Silk Road turned into a trek from China to the British Isles and into Ireland.

I don't have the financial ability to physically sabbatical abroad just yet, but I do have an insatiable curiosity, an itch to learn, a proximity to a culturally diverse city and a gas stove begging for regular use. I'm not yet able to write a first hand experience of trekking over the Italian Alps, but I can research, communicate and re-create local dishes in my humble loft kitchen. I can shop at ethnic markets and discover culture through food and report it all back here. To you.

If you're game.

I know. Culinary travel and cultural vagabonding are a far cry from young adult fantasy. But these are my roots, the echoing, bold declaration of an eight year old's proclamation "I will one day write for National Geographic". It's absurd, a bit mad and completely liberating.

Won't you join me?

When: September 01
Where: Here! The blog name will change to my pen name: J. Stanton Chandler (same as the blog site address)
First Stop: China. The sidebar will keep you up to date on the "trip"
What to Expect: Missteps, large learning curves and possible road rage
Why: Why not?

24 August 2010

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: It's not all in our heads

After you recover from the shock of two posts in a week from me, head over to my Facebook page and read this article I typed up about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. If you (or anyone you know) has CFS, thinks you may have it, or are just curious, please feel free to contact me or pass my contact info along. I don't know everything about it; I'm just learning myself. But if there's one thing I'm learning, what people with this issue need most is understanding.


23 August 2010

Quick and Random Update

( a lovely little teaser, don't you think?)
August is ending yet the dog days of summer are still upon us. I'm longing for September and the promise of cooler evenings and the whisper of changing leaves.

Speaking of change, there will be a lot of changes going on here. I hope you'll come by this Friday for the announcement! Teaser, I know, but I'm still trying to find the best way to communicate what my new "project" is going to be. A project that includes the complete re-imagining of this blog (as well as a couple of other surprises :).

So, if you see anything pop up on your blog roll that looks like it's from me, but looks rather odd and different, don't panic! I'm rearranging the furniture, giving the house a new coat of paint and taking down the paintings in order to hang a few new finds.

I hope you have all had a pleasant return to the school year and are preparing for a delicious autumn season. I've missed you all, reading your blogs and commenting. My summer has been a haze of stressful work and CFS battles. However, with cooling temperatures on the horizon, and the promise of this new project, I'm looking forward to diving back into blogging and get reacquainted with you all.

Until Friday

02 August 2010

into the great wide open

Know what I love about blogging? It can be anything you want it to be. Your blog can change with you. Feeling blue? There's a background for that. Want to write about East Indian flora? There's clip art for that too. Amazing.

I love how most of you have blogs that are set. I know what to expect when I visit. It's like going home. Even if you write something completely unexpected it's, well, it's expected! Even if the background changes and the font goes from blue to bronze, I know it's you and I thank you.

I fear my blog hasn't been much of a constant lately. More like a spiraling abyss of jumbled adjectives and attempts to explain away those blunders with mountains of apologies that do not (I fear) make for enjoyable bloggy reading). I blame many factors, none of which I'll bore you with here. That being said, there has been one constant: the search for authenticity.

As writers, we strive for voice, for style, for that "something" that makes our words our own. That snazzy little turn of phrase that gives our readers the satisfaction that this article, this post, this book does, indeed, come from our fingers. From the tangled web of pronouns and gerunds our light shines on paper and screen for our readers, old and new. And they KNOW it's ours, even without a byline.

Authenticity. Real. The age old question, "Who am I?" I had no idea when I started blogging it would turn into a soul searching expedition requiring crampons and pickaxes. It seems my head lamp has run out of batteries but I do have a few candle stubs around here somewhere....

Thankfully, the end of the tunnel is in sight. If this place starts looking like a caved in cavern, I apologize. It's just because I'm digging my way out into the light. Ever since this chronic illness decided to move into the spare room, I've been doing a lot of rearranging. It's backbreaking and exhausting. I have no intention of letting this illness get the best of me, but I will say this: good comes sometimes from the darkest of situations.

I'm looking forward to getting this blog in order, my writing, my life. There are changes coming, some more immediate than others, and I can't wait to share them with you, right here. I'm leaving for good, just long enough to do a little more tweaking, a bit more remodeling. The paint and curtains are all wrong and I'm going to rework the decor...again.

Thank you for your patience. I know this summer has been busy for everyone. I hope things are slowing down for you all, that the heat isn't taking too much out of you, and that fall will come soon, softly, with much needed relief.

I haven't been around much, but I wanted to let you know I'm planning to return in September. Every year, I hit a snag around August that is only cured by that chill in the air that says fall is near at hand.

Take care of yourselves and if you see anything weird around here in the next few weeks, don't be alarmed. It's just me, clearing out the rubble.

~ Jen