Drips and Drabs

I’ve completely pooped out on NaNoWriMo this year. I participated a couple of years ago for a serious writing push for The Byways (previously named Through the Holes), and it worked! I mean, I didn’t make 50,000 words but I was writing every day and I completed about 20,000 words, then, two months later I finished my first draft. (Four drafts to follow but worth it!) So I absolutely believe in and love the incentive NaNoWriMo can give you. I figured this year I’d use it again to jumpstart my second novel.

The problem was I wasn’t sure what my second novel was. Or rather, WHICH novel was my second. I have two tussling it out in my brain: one, funny and outrageous and short-ish (perfect for a month jumpstart), and the other, longer and compelling and niggling at me but without the details worked out yet. I started the funny one and then lost my funny. I switched to the other and wrote in drips and drabs. I toyed with switching back. I googled stuff about llamas. I stared at the keyboard. It was basically the writer’s version of doodling during a test.

But! I did finish writing my query letter, synopsis, and author bio for The Byways this month so… YAY!!! ‘Cause that shit was tough, yo. And I was a fricking marketing writer.

So yeah, poop out. It’s funny, though, I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. In fact, I’m pretty happy with the way the month turned out. In esoteric circles they say that winter is the time for dreaming. It’s a time for going inward and preparing for the growth and action of spring, just like nature does. Now, knowing me, I can’t guarantee that I’ll stop working the entire winter, but sometimes it’s fine to step back and plan, rather than do.

Especially when you’re just farting around anyway.


Life Preserver Please

I'm on the third big revision of my book and I'm at that point where I feel like I'm slogging against the current. And by current, I mean me. I am the fricking current. I know what I want the book to be, it's alive in my head, and (except for some details here and there) I know what the finished product will be. It's probably 90% there.

I'm just having a hard time digging in consistently. There are parts I'm still very excited about, and there are parts I'm just really tired of staring at. 

Here's the thing... there are a million major and minor revisions happening while you're just trying to get a first draft of your story complete.  Then it's finished and oh, the dancing and exultation! THEN you go through the entire thing and do a revision of all the crap that bugs you. You get feedback. Then you do another revision fixing the things that don't make sense to everyone else. And fixing all the glaring rookie novelist mistakes. More feedback. And then you take out all your word crutches and repetitions. Etc. 

Then you do another revision putting in all the really truly important stuff in your head that you pushed aside while you were just trying to get the plot/grammar/timelines down.

Then you really hope you didn't forget anything. And then you paddle frantically against the tidepool swirling around your head.

Dun dun DAH! Will our intrepid swimmer make it?!

Sigh. I sure hope so.


Winged Cotillion

My house is full of moths. I think there's a moth portal in here somewhere. (That's like a fairy portal, but for moths. But I don't know what those look like so I can't find it. It probably looks like something innocuous like a shimmer in the air or a cheerios box.) There are all sorts of moths, big ones and little ones, feathered and delicate and dusty. They pop up out of nowhere in every room in the house. Sometimes they smack me in the face, because they are nearsighted and need new glasses (obviously). And sometimes they eat my clothes. (Not cool.) And the cats don't eat them. Which is strange because I've seen the cats eat pretty much anything. I figure the cats feel bad for them because the moths are probably really chill and good conversationalists and they're always getting compared to butterflies and they probably don't get asked to dance as often at parties and THAT'S gotta get old so maybe the cats are cutting them a break or something. 

So I suppose I can cut them a break, too.

Go to the optometrist.


Go

So I've been working on my novel. I know, right!? Finally! And this is where I start blogging again so I can blather about nonsensical shit for fifteen minutes or so while my brain reboots. I am about 30,000 words in, or about a third way through the plot. I'm not exactly sure because I'm halfway between a pantster and a plotter.  (Those are writing terms. Impressive huh? It's like I know what I'm doing!) Like I've got most of the story living in my head, where it's been living for about five years and I tend to write when a certain scene or dialog just grabs me.  That's the pantster part, aka by the seat of your pants.  But I'm too anal retentive in real life to not go over accurate details (thank you google) and perfect timelines (a plotter specialty) and stare at hastily drawn maps, write out notes, etc. etc.  So the bottom line is... I write slowly.  I'm trying to get faster.  I'm trying to write every day.  I'm trying to separate writing time and editing time. I'm doing all that shit. 

Oh, but did I mention how we had a water leak and now we're renovating much of the bottom floor of our house? No?  Yeah, there's that.  Oh, and a whole bunch of other stuff happened because it's been like two years since I've really maintained this blog. Anywho, moving on.

But... I think the biggest news that has happened in the last two years is that the fricking voices in my head are now MANAGED!  Meditation has made such a difference.  Any breaks or journeys or to be continues it took to get to this point in my life and this state of being have been totally worth it.

Fricking hippie.            

Love always,

               - wg  


There have been the most wonderful metaphors popping up in music lately. Just lovely turns of phrases. And it's not always obvious, you have to listen closely and they come up in unexpected places. But I love when a sad idea or theme is rendered beautiful through its medium. You can take the broken and remake it in those moments. It doesn't change the actions or tragedy behind it but it both elevates and grounds the sorrow so that it is breathable.


I never understand why people don't set zombies on fire. I mean, you got a whole mess of them trapped somewhere, fairly nonflammable, and people try to pick them off one by one. Roast them! They can only keep moving if they have connective tissue left. Of course, I also don't understand why zombies seem more well-preserved than the average corpse. There is a standard decomposition rate after all, and these things are exposed to the elements. A body can go from freshly dead to a skeleton in the space of a year if left out in the open. I figure the first few years of a zombie apocalypse should be hell but then there should be improvement. Like an arc on a graph, there's the initial upswing of mass zombie infection and then eventually a decline as all those zombies fall apart. Hello, science? But I also wonder why, when survivors are raiding old stores for food and supplies, why no one picks up some ammonia and bleach. You could make hydrochloric acid bombs! Lob them at corpses from afar. Or pick up some lye. Start dissolving those pesky zombies right out of existence. I mean, really people, use your head.

And now I've probably been tagged by the government because I looked up "how to dissolve people with acid".


And then bugs flew at my face

Lately insects of varied flying ability have been swooping into my face for unknown reasons.  They have done so with forceful persistence and periodic consistency.  This is not an affliction I've been burdened with in the past.  Like,  you know that brother of a friend of your cousin's who everyone says attracts mosquitoes like a zapper so you can never invite him camping.  I cannot for the life of me think why my face is suddenly so appealing to bugs.  I've gotten hit in the cheek, the forehead, my neck, several times!  I've narrowly avoided swatting them down my shirt.  Because who wants a moth in their bra?  (You know that's going to smear.)  No one else in my family seems to be experiencing the love dives of gnats besides me.  It's utterly baffling.  And kind of creepy.  I have been taking a meditation class for the last few months and the only thing I can think of is that my chakras are now so blazing bright that I am like a beacon in the dark for small winged creatures. 

So just in case you were wondering what the downside to enlightenment is... it's learn to keep your mouth closed or you might inhale a moth.                     - wg


"Ignore the bells and pings. You are not Pavlov nor his dogs."

I wrote this as a note to myself. I forget for what exactly, clearly I was irritated, probably something distracting me from the task at hand.  But now I feel this should be emblazoned on a t-shirt and/or needs to be the mantra of my life.  Sadly, my first thought was to put it on facebook or twitter, it is so utterly twitterable, and I wanted to remember it and share it and nod sagely at it, but that is just feeding the chimes.  Then it occurred to me that I could put it up specifically and with intention on where the bell tolls... except I really don't hold truck with the younger gen's notion of doing things, big and small, "ironically".

Call me old-fashioned but I think we should stumble ignorantly and spectacularly into our irony, the way it was meant to be. Flames shooting from our tresses, ashes on our shoulders.   

Now give me a treat.


Control Alt Delete

Massive writer's block.  Just stymied.  Or I've got too much floating in my brain and I can't organize it.  But I did decide to shut off my syndication feed.  I'd rather throw my words out into the black emptiness and see if they coagulate into something more defined.  Let the remnants of gravity and cosmic attraction mass elements together.  Besides there are too many audiences in the public eye with the potential to be offended. I.e. I don't feel like I can talk about what I want to talk about. And I haven't felt that way for a long time.  

(Except to those who I know will come find me. You know who you are.) 

I have been told that I keep myself busy, so busy that I avoid the things I really need to do.  And I do do that sometimes.  But that is not always the reason.  Sometimes I'm just stumbling around looking for the path.

A writer once told me that the way she got through her first novel was to take felt tip pen markers and write on big sheets of paper, which she hung all over her walls.  That is the only way she could get started.  If I could start with something that visceral I would.  I suppose that is why I flounder around doing other creative tasks; a hope for a trigger point, for flow.  I constantly feel writing in my gut.  But it keeps getting stopped up, clogged in my throat before it gets to or out of my head.

At least that's what it feels like.  Here you go darkness.


Reading Makes a Good Life

We installed a Little Free Library in our front yard!  I fell in love with this program when I heard about it.  I asked for the library for my birthday.  I guess we could have built our own; there are some crazy cool libraries out there. But I just don't trust my rainproofing skills.  Plus, it's so pretty!

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I distributed flyers around the neighborhood and only had one person look at me like I was crazy.  But not for the library, just for handing out flyers.  I mean, we do get a lot of flyers in our neighborhood so I kind of get it.  But I'm not all THAT suspicious looking!  (Although, I'm not a professional flyer hander-outer so perhaps I was breaking flyer etiquette somehow. Apologies, good neighbors.)

Anywho, we've already had a few visitors and some donations!  The kid's books are very popular.  Must get more.  (Or make Chance clean through his bookshelf.  He'll love that!)       - wg


This blog is not dead...

It's only been sleeping.  It's not like I didn't have anything to talk about, but I was sort of really tired of all I had to talk about.  You know?  But that's OK, it's time to wake up now.

We have been doing a major overhaul on our yard.  The problem with our yard is that our house is a hundred years old and the backyard has been ladscaped to death.  Literally.  There are spots where nothing would grow anymore.  I figured at some point treated wood had wreaked havoc with the soil.  And the last time previous owners had landscaped they had rendered everthing in shades of grey and brown and sort of woodland-like but reallly just kind of dead looking.  It was like a zombie forest back there, minus the moaning.  We also had either a ton of shade or the withering glare of too much sun.  So let me introduce you to our new artificial lawn!  (the crowd roars)

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I'm horrible about before and after pictures but I'm GREAT at right in the middle pictures!  This is our new wonderful lawn, and behind it is a patch of nothing-will-grow dirt, and our ugly cement pad.  Why am I so excited about plastic grass?  Because IT IS AWESOME!  So much nicer than the roll out hurt-your-butt-when-you-sat-on-it turf carpet that I remember fed-up grown ups used in the 80s.  And you know, this is California and we're in a drought again.  And ALSO, most importantly, this...

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That patch was previously covered with flagstone.  No child could lie there and play with Legos.  Seeing Chance on the lawn was worth the purchase right there!  We also had the cement pad stained and it looks a million times better.  To the point of, people keep asking us when we put in the concrete!  (Le sigh, it's been there. It was just blaaaaaand.)

See the offending flagstone, accesory to ants. My dad is happy to take that off my hands, btw.

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We've also been working on a million small projects while the garderners are transforming the space into a wonderland.  Keen wants an outdoor kitchen so he painted an old picnic table and added sheet metal on top to created a prep table. 

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I've been painting a metal table set and a bunch of other outdoor items.  And because it's me it's totally bright colored.

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We're not done with everything yet, but we're getting there.  To be continued!

            - the weirdgirl


The voices in my head really stress me out

I do this thing when I'm sick where I sit on the couch and plague myself with guilt.  I look at what needs to be cleaned, I look at all the emails I should answer, I think about my To Do list, I think about what's critical and what's not critical, I think about my overall life goals and I just berate myself for not having the energy to get up and do any of it.  It's like a tenfold mid-life crisis every time I'm sick.  I could be feverish and dizzy and it doesn't matter. I could be pathetically tied to the toilet.  I tell myself that if I was truly driven, that if I really wanted to get somewhere, that if I was adhering to the habits of highly successful people (I don't remember how many habits there are because I didn't read the book... ALSO on my To Do list!) then I would be working even when I'm sick! I would be pushing through. Because that's what the successful people do. I'm not doing aything else while I'm stuck at home so why am I NOT writing the great American novel?!  I mean how sick am I really?  Not that sick!  Stop messing around, you slacker!

Then after days of that going through my head, one morning I'll wake up and start doing dishes or answering emails and it's not even a question of when I'm going to poop out because I have energy and I just get to work.  Clear-headed, motivated, and (relatively) guilt-free. (It's never totally gone, you know.)  And that's about the time I realize, "Yes, I WAS sick."  I wouldn't have been quite so depressed and tired otherwise. I probably WOULD have had some energy to do something. Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on myself.  But then how would I motivate myself when I do have energy?  And there the voices go again.

So my real problem is... figuring out when to listen to the voices and when to tell them to just shut the hell up. 

I can't be the only one who does this, right?


And then a girder jumped up and bit my car!

Actually it was a piece of rebar. It was sticking out of one of those cement blocks you find at the end of parking spaces. I don't even know what they're called. Bumpers? Pylons?

Whatever. It ripped off my bumper. 

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The culprit.

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I didn't do anything to that piece of rebar either! I don't even KNOW that piece of rebar OR its pylon buddy! It just attacked for no reason. My guess is it has some unresolved anger issues about not being part of a skyscraper or something.

Jerk.


In other news, the diet is going well...

The morning routine. I shuffle to the bathroom, relieve myself, turn on the water for the shower to heat up, and then stare bleary-eyed at the scale as I inch it around the floor to find the perfect "weighing spot" (i.e. the one that shows me the answer I want to see).  Once the water begins to steam I ditch the scale and hop into the shower.

Scant moments later (OK, 20 minutes if I'm lucky) I emerge from the shower refreshed and much more awake. I jump back on the scale. 

"Huh," I say, inching it around again, "That's a mathematical conundrum."

POOF!

"Einstein! What are you doing here?!" I exclaim.

"I heard "mathematical conundrum" and assumed someone needed help with the secret workings of the universe," said a white-haired man in a tweed sweater. "If you have questions just ask me."

"Oh," I say, feeling a bit silly, "Well, I don't know about secret workings of the universe..."

"Go on, ask anything," urged Einstein.

"You know I feel awful dragging you away from Heaven... or wherever..."

"No, no, I like to get away every now and again. Go ahead, tell me your conundrum."

"OK, if you're sure," I say, "Well, I was wondering why when I weigh myself before my shower I'm always one weight, and then when I weigh myself again after my shower I'm always one pound lighter than I was before. On the same day and even with variations and everything!  I'm always lighter after my shower than before.  Now I don't remember much from Algebra II but that doesn't seem like it should happen, right?" 

"Oh, that's an easy one but still quite a fascinating subject you've stumbled on to.  You see, when you first step on to the scale you've just woken up, you are groggy, limbs dragging, and in essence you are closer to earth. But!" Einstein pointed one finger in the air, in emphasis, "As you take your shower, get dressed, cleaned up, what have you, you start to plan out the details of the day. And so it goes with these details come little bits of anxiety, some little tensions, new ideas, old worries, etc... even for good plans this happens, it is the nature of planning. And as we know all things are energy, and these little bits buoy you up, they straigthen the spine, so to speak, until they lift the whole body and by the time you are out of the shower you have a spring in your step! So my dear," said Einstein with a smile, "it is not so much that you are one pound lighter, but rather that you are floating one pound up in the air!"

"Really?" I say, "That's amazing!"

"Yes, it's quite interesting. In fact, I've been studying the phenomena a bit in Heaven. I'm still in the early stages of research mind you."

"So how do I float ten pounds off the ground?"

"Oh, I think that would require planning something of a very complicated degree."

"Hmm," I mumur, "like doing taxes?" 

"Ah!" exclaims Einstein, "Strangely enough, taxes have the opposite effect. They weigh you down terribly, upwards of 50 pounds!"

I brighten, "How about a bank heist? That would take a lot of planning!"

"Hmm, that just might do it," Einstein stroked his chin. "Tell you what, you try it and I'll check back in with you. But please keep an accurate and consistent weight log! I'll add it to my studies."

"It's a deal," I say, "Hey Einstein, thanks for coming to help. It might not be the secrets to the universe, but I'm glad to know how it works."

"Of course, my dear," said Einstein as he starts to fade away in a misty glow, "Oh, one last thing..."

"Yes?"

"Even though you are floating one pound off the ground, your pants are still going to fit the same."

"DAMNIT!"


Time to get back on the horse

Not that I can think of a damn thing to say at the moment but that's always the way of it. In the middle of the night I will be SO eloquent, omg. I am brills at 2:00am!  After midnight my high school career aptitude test can SUCK IT!  (I know it still cares because it tried to friend me on Facebook.  Give it up, career aptitude, you're not getting any validation from me.)

Actually, I don't even remember what my test results were. I just remember they were so far off base I immediately chucked 'em and stomped my disaffected butt out of the "career center". Do they still have career centers in high school anymore?  Or are they all "take your SATs or you are a huge failure centers" nowadays? SATs... yet another thing I chose to eschew in high school.  Like I need your stinking vocabulary words.

Ahem.

It's funny, I find I'm in my 40s and I still feel fits of rebellion.  I guess some of us just have the aptitude for that.


Over the Top

I have the best conversations with random strangers in stores. I was just chatting with this woman in Target about how our kids turn into spoiled rotten terrors when we take them to Disneyland. She said her friend took her kid to Spain and the kid was perfectly behaved. The kid was on a grown-up chosen vacation (I.e. just like in the old days when we kids didn't get a choice) and acted appropriately. But when we take our kids on the vacations of THEIR dreams they totally revert to brats.

Then the woman said, "And I know it's because I grew up poor and so I'm spoiling them!"

And I went, "ME TOO! And thank you for saying that because everyone in California pretends they come from money!"

Which was totally a thought I didn't realize I had until it burst out of my mouth.

But I DO think there's been a trend, especially in the last decade or so, for people to act like they're more glamorous than they really are. In the middle of a recession. In what was once, not so long ago, farmland. For instance, our local mall was recently renovated. It was really nice before and it had good stores, a mix of upscale and midscale, but still had a Forever 21, you know what I mean? But NOW... it has mood lighting and (faux I'm sure) marble-top tables in the foodie food court. I asked one of the sales girls in a store why they remodeled (because again, it was still nice before) and she said, "Oh, you know, our clientele expects a certain standard." I was in Old Navy, on our way to McDonald's in the foodie food court. I'm your clientele lady.

And I couldn't help it, I rolled my eyes.


The Thread Count is In

A couple of years ago when Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion came out I quickly downloaded the book to my kindle and tore through it.  Partly because I hadn't heard the phrase "fast fashion" previously and I was curious about all things fashion, but also because I HAD noticed the quality of clothing available was going down. There were a lot more options to shop but the t-shirts, and fabric weights in general, were getting thinner. Now I will admit, when some of the newer stores came on the scene I was pretty happy with them. I like to shop and suddenly there were stores like Forever 21 that had a lot of variety to choose from and some cute retro-inspired styles that I wasn't seeing in other places.  But that was also back when a "layering tee" - a t-shirt so thin you have to wear another tee or tank underneath it - was it's own category and you could still also buy a regular weight t-shirt on the next shelf over.      

Now EVERYTHING is as thin as a layering tee!  At some point the demand for quick turnaround "fast fashion" became more important than the quality of that fashion. And honestly I'm not sold on the "fashion" part of that either because I'm seeing an awful lot of basics sold in stores, with nothing special to recommend them. Not to mention how the whole industry has changed and what it's doing to the environment.  I'm really at a point where I'd rather pay more money for good quality, interesting styled clothes that will last, than another cheap tee that will have holes in it in a few months.

Of course I started ranting and raving about these trends and most of my friends looked at me like I was speaking gibberish.  So I'd like to share this lovely video that encapsulates the major concepts of fast fashion and its impact all in under two minutes. 

 

Created by OnlineMBA.com

And if anyone out there has some good sources for good high thread count clothing, please let me know. 

             - the weirdgirl