Thursday, November 28, 2013

happy thanksgiving & hanukkah

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, I hope you have a beautiful day filled with food, football, and family. Most of all, give thanks.

A very Happy Thanksgiving holiday to you and yours. And for my friends who celebrate, a very Happy Hanukkah to you. I hope your holiday is filled with wonder! Now it's time for me to take the pies out of the oven. Happy Holidays!!

image by American Greetings

Thursday, November 21, 2013

on thanksgiving and a trip back to california...

Can you believe that one week from today it'll be Thanksgiving? That's insane! Where has this year gone? I hardly remember it, actually, except for a few notable things here and there. I feel like I should write about all the things I'm thankful for, but I'm not really in that sort of mood. Maybe I will be again before Thanksgiving actually get's here, but I highly doubt it. I think my "five things..." post (the one below this one) will have to do this year.

Then again, maybe by this time next week I'll be thankful that my mom's surgery went well and that she's okay. I really hope so, but from what she's said everything sounds like it's going to be alright. Oh! I don't think I've really mentioned this before, have I? On Monday the 25th, my mom's having a pretty major surgery to have some not so pleasant parts removed before they become a much bigger nuisance than they already are. I'm really nervous for her, actually.

Okay, so, for Thanksgiving day, Matt and I are just staying home and eating too much food together. Mainly because my in-laws are going to my step-sister-in-law's house for the holiday and because it's only a few days before I leave for California. I'm making a pretty big turkey (I've never made turkey before, yikes!) so that he has plenty of left-over food to eat while I'm out of town. I'm flying out to spend some time with my mom after her surgery and to help her while my sister has finals and my dad has to work. I'll only be there one week (December 2 - 9) and then I'm coming home to spend Christmas with Matt and my babies. He won't be able to come with me again this time because of work and graduate school obligations. I can hardly believe I leave a week from Monday!

Though I'm nervous to fly (as usual), I'm less nervous than I was last time. Also, I still have two Xanax my doctor reluctantly prescribed for me in July when I flew out. So, that should be fine. No worries there. We're still working out how I'll get to the airport because Matt has to work, but he's planning to try to trade some days with someone on another shift so that he can bring me. Otherwise, he's going to have to take a day off, which we can't really swing right now both because money's tight and because he doesn't have space attendance-wise (they're only allowed to miss a certain % of their total work hours before it becomes a problem).

Alright, there's some other stuff I don't really want to talk about right now, so I'm going to go do something else. I'll probably talk about the aforementioned thing later, when it's more worked out and certain... or maybe not. Oh and I met my first weight loss goal! I'm down 15 lbs just in time to gain it back on Thanksgiving. Awesome. ;)

Monday, November 18, 2013

five good things...

I feel like hell today. I slept pretty well last night, I had a good breakfast, but emotionally, I'm really low. The fact that I have pretty much zero reason to feel low is only making it worse--it always does. But then, depression works that way, doesn't it. It makes us feel ugly and numb, then tears us down when we feel ugly and numb.

Maybe making a list of all of the reasons I shouldn't feel like this will make me feel better? Lists are the answer to the universe's problems, after all. Right? Right. Ugh, positive self-talk always makes me feel stupid.

Okay, so...

1) Last night I got quite a lot of writing done. I wrote about 2,750 words. After those words, I'm now only about 8,000 words behind schedule to finish NaNoWriMo.

2) This picture of this guy...

Chewbi loves playing dress up (eh, hem... yeah).

3) I've lost 14 lbs since I started working toward losing some weight about two months ago. That's one pound shy of my first goal. When I lose 15 lbs, as a reward, I'm going to get myself RunKeeper Elite.

4) I have a really smart, supportive husband. Really, really smart and supportive. He works hard to remind me that I can get my writing done and he cheers me on when I meet my goals.

5) I get to go back to work in January. Thank god! I am absolutely lost without something meaningful and productive to do. Since I love my job, it's great that I have the opportunity to go back to work after Christmas.

I just took a whole lot of nastiness out of that list. Almost all of the things was twice as long and included the negative things. Like the fact that I hate like a garbage bin last night (1,600 calories in one meal, yikes!). But, I think I needed to see the list exactly the way it is, with only the positive stuff. Sadly, a list of good things going on has done nothing to make me feel better. I think I'll go clean something or get some writing done. If I hand out here much longer I may decide to make a list of bad things. I can think of a lot more than five bad things.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

my song: lorde's "glory and gore"

Right now, with the things going on in my life, this is my song. I listen to it over and over. In the car, in the house. I'm not a little bit obsessed with it because it makes me feel strong and energized. It makes me feel powerful and, right now, I really need that.

It's funny how significant it's become to me, particularly since I wouldn't have ever found it had Matt not bought Lorde's "Pure Heroine" album while we were in Wal-Mart one afternoon. We're both fans of her song "Royals," so it was a good fit for us and we occasionally still buy disks for groups we really like (like Mumford and Sons, for example). Now, I have to go listen to my song and get some writing done. Good night.

Friday, November 15, 2013

the nanoflop...

Well, I certainly didn't rage. That's for sure. I didn't even saunter. I sort of just flopped. I got, like, 500 words written at Writing Group (which sometimes is much more like Chatting Group) and when I came home I promptly ignored it. Because, well, 500 words is nowhere near enough to get out of the rut I had gotten myself into. Not even close. I had this great bit of action, my heroine stomped off into a storm, and then... what? I have no idea. Or, had no idea. I'm mostly past it now, I think.

Then, I continued to let it rot. Until tonight, when I told Matt that I was 10,000(ish) words behind with NaNoWriMo, which is way more than the 3,375 words I was behind when last I wrote. One is nearly insurmountable. He encouraged me to get back on the pony and go. He said I could do it, that I wasn't so far behind that I couldn't make up the difference. That all I had to worry about tonight was writing 2,100 words. Then, tomorrow, the same and so on. All of that, but not before asking me "aren't you the woman who wrote more than 10,000 words in one day during your first NaNoWriMo?" Frankly, I couldn't believe he remembered that. I sort of accused him of reading that on my blog. Silly me, he doesn't bother with my blog. He actually pulled that from his mind somewhere. Astonishing.

So, I got my 2, 100 words (well, 2,118 actually) for tonight and tomorrow I'll worry about doing the like, until I've done that every day for the remaining 15 days of NaNoWriMo. That's all there is to it... I hope.

But, I've also decided that I'd like to finish the first draft of this manuscript before I go back to work. That means I have from now until January 13th to get this sucker done. Though I have my doubts, I'm trying to tell myself that it not only can it be done, but that I will do it. That's almost exactly two months. Oh man, put that way it sounds like much less time to work with, especially since I've been working at it for a few months and I'm still only less than halfway done. But, if I can manage to finish NaNoWriMo, I can definitely get the first draft done. I'm hopeful.

And yes, I know it's not on the topic, but did you catch that? I'm definitely going back to work in January! I am absolutely thrilled. I've really missed teaching, which is something I thought I would never say. It's surprisingly true, though. I'm only concerned that when it comes time to go back to work, writing will fall by the wayside again. I'm just going to have to work at it. As it is, I have three classes which will put me at work every week day (one class on MWF and two on TR).

So, now, with all that in mind, I'm hoping to avoid another nanoflop like the one I've had this week. Because, frankly, NaNoWriMo week two can bite me. I'm still here, still plugging along. So, take that!

Monday, November 11, 2013

nanowrimo week two: advice from dylan thomas...

Matt's favorite poem is Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night by Dylan Thomas. It's a poem which advises that one (Thomas's narrator's father, presumably) should fight to the very end with everything we have. He says to, "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

So why am I telling you this?

Because it's NaNoWriMo and I'm being overly dramatic. That's why. Because right now, that advice is what I need to keep myself from throwing urgent forward progress out the window in favor of slow and steady wins the race. Because as of the end of tonight, I'll be about 3,375 words behind.

I went from being two days ahead, to being three days behind. That's what happens. I sabotage myself, but 3,375 words isn't insurmountable. It's a small thing, really. Not even too much to write in one day, except that by tomorrow I'll be 5,041 words behind and that is too much to write in one day. That's definitely not going to happen, but NaNoWriMo's trackers says that I can still finish if I write 1,752 words every day for the rest of the month. That's manageable, only 85 words a day more than the 1,667 they recommend you write every day in order to finish it.

Let's be realistic though, that's not how I work. I won't write every day this month, NaNoWriMo or not. I won't do it. I've already proven that in having skipped something like 4 of the 11 days this month so far. That's not good odds. I figure I can still get it done, if I work at it, and if I consistently write between 2,500 and 3,000 words on the days I do find the motivation. I think I can do that. I mean, the first year I did this and won (the only year I've won--2004) I had one day left and 10,000 or so words to go. I put my heart into it and got it finished. I can do that again, hopefully I won't have to, especially since I'm going for something less than tragic and Visions my 2004 NaNoWriMo novel is just that, tragic.

But here's the thing. Even though I'm trying to "rage" and all that, I'm kind of stuck. I'm sitting at a crossroads and several different things can happen. I just don't know which of them it'll be. So, in classic procrastination style, I'm avoiding it. I'm avoiding Gabriel and Helena, and Jane, and Contessa. I don't know what I want to happen next, which means nothing is happening next. Nada. I'm stuck. I know a few things need to happen in order to push the thing forward, but I don't know how they will happen.

Hopefully, I can get past this tomorrow. Tomorrow is writing group and I'm going to stop avoiding my imaginary friends and get some writing done. Tomorrow I'm going to "rage," I hope. I think once I'm past this little lost place, things will start flowing again. I just have to get my proverbial wheels out of the mud, which I'm hoping to do tomorrow. Hoping being the operative. Wish me luck or whatever, I'm probably going to need it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

nanowrimo week one...

A quick note to my MS...

Can you please settle on a plot, rather than some plots. It would have been nice if it had been the plot I devised for you, rather than those bits of plots that seem to be cropping up along the way. And yes, yes, I know, those bits of plot are probably more interesting that what I had initially planned, but you're making my synopsis look like a liar! I also know that we'll eventually get to some of the stuff I had planned, but really, this would go much more smoothly if you'd get on board with the plan. Okay? Okay!

And that about sums up my NaNoWriMo so far. Hell, that sums up my entire novel so far, not just the NaNoWriMo parts!  I have too much plot. Way, way too much. I need to decide on one and roll with it, which means at the end I'll have to cut out some rather sizable sections, do some reorganizing, and fill in some blanks. I'm okay with that, as long as things keep rolling right along. And, I suppose having too much plot is a good problem to have. It means I have something to use later, when I write the next book (which I think will be about Gabriel's sister, but I'm trying not to get ahead of myself).

I had one day this week where I wrote practically nothing, a mere 407 words. I had a day this week when I wrote nothing, a whole whopping zero words. But, on days when I'm productive (five out of seven ain't bad!), I've managed to write well over the required 1,667 words per day to finish and thank goodness, because if I didn't, I would already be behind the curve. Thankfully, I'm not. My average per day is something like 1,975 words. Which makes me feel pretty awesome, actually.

I keep hoping this will be a habit I can make during this month and keep writing at a fairly decent pace when the month is over. Not going to hold my breath, especially since I'm hoping to go back to work in January (fingers crossed), but this is pretty important to me. It may look like a huge mess, in fact, much more of a mess than any MS I've previously worked on, but it's my mess and I'm absolutely in love with it. Now if I can just find the time and drive to work on it regularly when it's not NaNoWriMo, I might get this thing written and re-written/edited some day. ~.^

Monday, November 4, 2013

making coffee...

You're about to learn something totally arbitrary about me. Ready? Okay, here it is: I absolutely, positively hate making coffee. Hate it. If I never made another freaking pot of coffee again, it would be too soon. That, though, is about the farthest thing from reality imaginable. In reality, I make at least one pot of coffee a day and sometimes two or three.

But here's the issue: I don't drink much coffee. I don't drink it. I think I've had one cup of coffee in the last six months. I hate the way it tastes without a hiding the nasty flavor behind tablespoons of sugar and flavored creamers. I like a little coffee with my cream, as they say--and I will eat up some flavored creamers, mmmm, empty calories. But I'm still stuck making the damn coffee and it's starting to make me resent the coffee drinker in my life who's too lazy to make his own.

And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, it's just a pot of coffee. A little water and some grounds. That may be what it is to you, but to me it's an expensive, annoying, headache. To me it's a new coffee pot every 6-8 months because our water's so hard it destroy's coffee pots. To me, it's bean grinders and $8-$15 pouches of coffee that'll make five pots. To me it's having to make a huge water mess all over the place (and myself) because they've never made a carafe that could pour water evenly. To me it's huge coffee grounds messes because when he does make his own coffee he often misses the trashcan with the used grounds--do you have any idea how hard it is to sweep up coffee grounds? To me it's the constant, "honey, could you do me a favor?" in that whiny voice that says one thing but means, "I know this is going to piss you off, but could you go in the kitchen and make me coffee, even though you don't drink it, because I can't be bothered."

So yes, I'm ranting about making coffee because one of these days I'm going to throw the stupid coffee pot at his head. You know, the 12-cup coffee pot, becasue lord knows his 64 oz. coffee tankard can't hold the product of a one-cup coffee maker. Have I mentioned that I've been trying to get a Keurig (for my occasional coffee, tea, and ciders) for the last two years, and STILL don't have one, but we've bought something like three or four 12-cup coffee pots in the same amount of time? Yeah. Not awesome.

Now I have to stop bitching and go into the kitchen to see if the coffee is done so I can put it in his cup, with ice of course because heaven forbid he should drink it hot and save me a few steps, so that Matt has coffee while he does his homework. I cannot wait for coffee to go extinct (yeah, arabica, it's going extinct--unfortunately not until I'm dead).

Saturday, November 2, 2013

nanowrimo: so far...

Today is the second day of NaNoWriMo and so far, I'm rocking' it!! I'm tracking my progress on my sidebar, separate from my Novel in Progress (sort of). Since I was working on this novel before November, I'm tracking my total progress using the gray tracking bar. The pink tracking bar shows how much of that has been written this month... does that make sense? I guess the only person that really has to get it is me, though, right? Right!

So, yesterday I got out more than 3,400 words, which was awesome. For whatever reason, likely because I haven't worked on this novel every day, I'm struggling a little bit. I'm second guessing myself, wondering if I'm telling to much, hoping it makes sense and that the plot is unfolding in a way that makes sense, isn't too slow or boring, etc. But, I also have an issue where when I know what will happen I worry that it's too transparent. I worry too much, something I'm trying to let go.

Today, I worked on and off, but wrote more than 2,500 words. Not quite as well as yesterday, but still pretty good. I'm well ahead of where they suggest being for day two, so I'm happy with it. Still struggling a little bit, but I'm also having fun with it and I figure whatever I mess up can be fixed in editing, later, because that's what editing is for.

I'm hoping to stay on track and write every day, but at this rate I'll be done well before November is over. Not a bad thing at all. Maybe I can reach for 75,000 original words in November or something like that. That will more than finish my novel, if I can ever stop being so wordy and get to the point. I see a LOT of stuff being cut out later. As is, this draft is going to go on forever!! ;)

Friday, November 1, 2013

on the halloween holiday...

I had a sort of strange and miserable Halloween holiday yesterday. I woke up feeling like the world was spinning and climbing out of bed only made it worse. But, yesterday was Melanie's birthday and we were supposed to walk (we walk Tues, Thurs, Sat & Sun), so I got up and had breakfast thinking a shower and food would help. Nope. I could barely walk straight without falling over, I definitely couldn't drive, so we postponed our walk for today and I went back to bed where I spent the whole morning and part of the afternoon. The second time I woke up wasn't any better than the first and I spent the rest of the day feeling horrible.

But what made it strange was that even though it was Halloween, and even though we did end up going out to get Subway around 7:30 p.m., I never saw a single person dressed up for the holiday. I suppose I was in the wrong places, I'd almost definitely have seen someone in costume had I gone to, say, Wal-Mart. Still, it's the first Halloween I've had in years where it felt like any other day of the year--a side-effect of being without children. We don't get trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood and never have. In the 9+ years we've been living here we've never had a knock on the door on Halloween. No munchkins begging for candy. No inappropriately trick-or-treating teens. Nothing.

And I noticed something when we were out getting food that was a little bit unsettling. All of the neighborhoods we drove through, ours included, were remarkably dark. No kids in costume walking up and down the street, no house lights on. Again, nothing. Matt drove particularly slow to avoid potentially hitting kids that might be in the road, but there weren't any. It actually made me a little bit sad to see the empty streets. I told Matt that back home, last I knew, kids still went door-to-door trick-or-treating. My folks still buy candy to hand out. While here it's a tradition that's morphing into a short community event, rather than something kids venture out in packs to celebrate with their neighbors.

Here, instead of kids going from house to house, our community does a safe trick-or-treat event in the town square. While I love the idea that I live in a town that has a town square, and the idea that our community cares enough about it's kids to host this sort of events where all the businesses in the square hand out candy, this is the sort of safe community where door-to-door trick-or-treating might still be safe. We don't live in a city, we live in a small college town. Most people don't even lock their doors, yet many aren't willing to share this holiday with their neighbors the way they once did. And, I remember that several times when I was a kid our mall hosted an event where the businesses gave kids candy. But for us it wasn't something we did instead of door-to-door trick or treating (at least not most of the time). It was something we did in addition to our usual festivities.

I suppose, though, that it's been a long time since I've really celebrated the holiday at all. Which, in all honesty, makes me a little bit sad. As a kid, Halloween was a big deal for us and while I know it's a pretty big deal for most kids, it was an especially big deal for us. Since mom had a daycare in our home that was constantly filled to capacity, we had a huge Halloween party every year. It became so popular that kids that we're even actively enrolled, along with their parents, showed up to celebrate with us. There was candy, apple bobbing in it's various forms, a pinata, tons of food. Everyone dressed up and there was Halloween music, like "Monster Mash." It was huge fun.

In the years since then, Halloween at my parent's house has turned into something smaller and more intimate. Mom hasn't run a daycare in years, but since I have a little sister who loves Halloween--a love of the holiday I really think mom installed in her--Halloween rarely, if ever, goes by uncelebrated. They have friends over, make a huge pot of chili and cornbread (a tradition since I was a kid), and hand out candy to kids. Candi still dresses up and she's 24 years old now. Case in point, check out these amazing Halloween treats Candi made for this year's Halloween get together:

Crazy, right? That girls has mad talent. They were having some family friends, my aunt, and my cousin and her little girl over for the holiday.

So, for me not to celebrate Halloween is particularly strange, but has become a sort of thing with us. Matt doesn't much care about the holiday and I don't have friends who celebrate it beyond the fact that it's my best friend's birthday. No costume parties, no handing out candy to kids... I just have no reason to celebrate. Even when I was working at the university--a job I'm hoping to return to in January--I don't remember seeing many students dressed up for Halloween. Some did, of course, but not as many as you might think would. Maybe they wait until after class to dress up for their parties and bar-hopping? I don't really know. And, you know, every year I think about getting a pumpkin to carve. When it comes time, though, I never do it. I walk past them in Wal-Mart, but never pick one up, even though I really want to carve one and put it out on the steps.

Maybe next year I'll make a more concerted effort to celebrate the holiday. Then again, maybe not. Maybe it's just something I'm going to have to let go since I don't have kids. What I know is that I miss the days when Halloween was something to look forward to, rather than the holiday that made me say "Ugh," while trying to resist the urge to put 2,000,000,000,000,000 bags of Halloween candy in my buggy at Wal-Mart. ^.^

So how did you spend your Halloween? I hope it was less depressing than mine turned out to be.

Credit: I stole that picture from Candi's Facebook page.