"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crunch Time

I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted! My apologies to anyone out there who's been missing my pointless diatribes.
It's been a crazy week. As you already know, the hubby and I went to the festival of trees on Sunday, and then on Monday I had coffee with the Wizard (the former Writer in Residence, Alice Kuipers). That was really, really nice. I don't know what it is about that woman but she gets me revved up in a way no one else can. It's positively magical, hence my nickname for her, the Wizard of Oz.
The rest of the week has been a whirlwind of writing, working and stressing.
Including today, I have just four days left to complete my novel for NaNoWriMo. I'm exceptionally far behind, currently sitting at just over 32,500 words. Which means I have just under 17,500 words to write in these four days. Hmmm. Yikes. But God knows I did not sign up for this month of writing frenzy to quit four days before the end. And I'll tell you what else. I did not sign up to lose. I signed up to win, and I intend to. Which of course means I should be fairly frightening looking by the end. So friends and family can look forward to that.
And there we have it. You're caught up with my week. I hope you'll all cross your fingers for me that I come out of this successful, alive and still somehow manage to get my HerStory stuff turned in on time as well. (So, miracles people. Pray for miracles). I don't know if I'll have time to post before November 30th, so in case I don't - I'll see you on the other side.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Festival of Trees

Tonight my husband and I went to the Festival of Trees. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a charity event where trees are decorated and donated to be sold. You can purchase tickets to go and look at all the beautiful trees and generally just get into the Christmas spirit. My husband and I go every year, to get ideas, enjoy the magic and whimsy and get our Christmas spirit on. I love it, it just wouldn't be the Christmas season without it. For me, it's the kick off event, to be followed by baking, looking at Christmas lights, drinking hot chocolate and wrapping presents. These are the activities I really enjoy now that I'm married, as the actual big day itself no longer holds much appeal.
You see, my mother is the Christmas queen. Every Christmas day she is the embodiment of Christmas spirit. Being at her house is like waking up in some kind of magical universe full of delicious food, charming music and all the people you love most. Unfortunately, the one downside to getting married is the need to compromise when it comes to the holidays. My husband and I, in an effort to please everyone, have split up both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so each side gets a share of both. So, in an effort to be fair, I miss half of the day at my mom's house, and it really just isn't the same. It's stressful and hurried, and I hate missing even a small chunk of the festivities. The result? I've begun to dread Christmas and the aching loss I feel every time I have to leave my mom's house early or arrive late. Not that I don't enjoy my husband's family, but it's just not the same.
In an effort to save my Christmas spirit and keep me from turning into a total humbug every year, I try to embrace all the pre-Christmas fun. Christmas itself may be a stressful dud, but I can still enjoy everything that's good about the season, before it's over and all that's left is months and months of dreary unrelenting winter. And so, without further ado, I give you a few highlights from our trip to the festival of trees. (Spoiler alert: the real winners of the festival were actually the gingerbread houses! Also, there are a lot of pictures.) If you're still planning to go, by all means do not scroll down.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Hate Logic

I suppose I'll begin by apologizing for how long it's been since I last posted. A lot's been going on and frankly, I didn't want to post until I knew for sure what we were going to do about Damage, the Great Dane we met on Saturday. I really wish this was an enthusiastic but slightly anxious post announcing the newest member of our family, but it's not.
Saturday night my husband and I drove out to meet our potential new family member. It went well enough, Damage was sweet, gentle and skinny as hell. He wasn't as good on a leash as his caretaker had previously led us to believe, but overall he was a lovely dog. As we drove home I couldn't deny the tight ball of stress in my gut. We talked the whole drive (well, I talked the whole drive), outlining the pros and cons. Damage was supposedly bad with small dogs (although from my what I'd seen, he had a remarkably gentle spirit), and my sister had a beagle. There would be certain costs in adopting him, we'd have to buy a crate, a prong collar, new leash, collar, food dishes and the added cost of feeding him; not to mention the fact that we'd like to get him fixed. Would Maddie feel jealous? Would there be less love for her than before? My husband was also concerned at the idea that the dog park wouldn't be an option for him. And then there was the clincher. My husband currently works fifty hour weeks. I couldn't walk two Great Danes by myself. How could we possibly walk them every day without someone there to help me?
And so, that sealed it. Despite the fact that he's a wonderful dog, and we like him very much, the logical choice was to say no. That doesn't mean it hurts any less, or that I feel any less horrible. But dogs need love, good nutrition, discipline, patience and exercise. We couldn't provide one of those. I hate thinking of him sitting alone in that kennel, waiting for a forever home to find him and love him, especially when ours would otherwise make such a good fit. And so, I've been too depressed to write until now. I've lagged on all fronts, NaNoWriMo, HerStory, and posting. I haven't called his caretaker yet, I don't want to make our 'No' official. But some things must be done. As much as I hate to do them.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Big Life Decisions

First an update on my NaNoWriMo progress. So far, I remain on target and I'm very proud of that. I don't know if I'll meet today's target, though. I feel as though my brain needs a break from all of this creativity. I'm tired of my twisted, go nowhere story, but I think that's the point of all this. Learn to carry on. If you don't like the story, change it. In the words of Erin Morgenstern, "when in doubt, just add ninjas." Why not? If the story is boring, or feels like it's going nowhere, throw a wrench in it. Throw an obstacle at your characters, give them a ridiculous nervous tick, do whatever you need to make your story more exciting and enjoyable to write. The purpose of NaNoWriMo is not to come up with a pullitzer winning novel. The point is to teach yourself to write every day, to challenge yourself and free yourself to be as creative as possible. Maybe my brain doesn't need a break from creativity, maybe it needs another dose of it!
Unfortunately, this is not my only problem. As any of my loyal readers know (and I love you by the way), I consistently have a ridiculous amount of problems. I blame my ability to make the worst decisions possible. Whatever the wrong decision is, that's the one I choose. Now, I've done a few things right. I married a wonderful man. I bought a house when there was a lull in the market and now at today's prices I would never have been able to afford a house. At the same time, my husband and I were not financially ready to buy a house when we did. And we certainly shouldn't have gone on vacation. And we really shouldn't have bought a dog a few months before we went on that vacation. And I really shouldn't have signed up for a $1000 massage course for right after that vacation. Oops.
Now, the fact that our dog ended up eating a rag, getting deathly ill and accumulating $3000 in vet bills is just bad luck. And the fact that this happened when it was too late to back out and get a refund on the class was just unfortunate timing. But I never should have signed up for the class when we had so much going on. And we shouldn't have rung up such a huge bill while on vacation when we had just bought a house and a dog.
We are still recovering from a long line of bad financial decisions. We're doing really great and we're making progress, but climbing out of the hole you've dug is a whole lot harder than digging it.
So, here's my problem. I have a very happy home. A home that's content and full of love. And there's a dog that needs a home. A beautiful six year old Great Dane, a boy. Would taking on another dog be another of my terrible life decisions? Can we afford another dog? Do we have enough room? Do we have enough room in our hearts? And if we didn't take him and he got destroyed, could I forgive myself? I don't know. And I've been tormented for days.
Tomorrow, my husband and I are going to meet him. I don't know if we're meant to be his new home, or if we're meant to help find him his new home. I don't know if he's the right fit for our family. I'm trying to proceed with caution. The plan is to meet him, sleep on it, talk it over and then, if it feels right, let him meet our dog, Maddie. If that goes well then we'll sleep on it, talk it over and maybe see him again, take him and Maddie for a walk. I want to take it slow. I can't afford to let another stupid decision break the decidedly hard-earned peace in our home. Ugh. I hate life decisions.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Devil Loves Hairspray

Yesterday was what I like to call a 'semi-special' day at work. It was gala night in the cosmetics department, meaning that the store stayed open late, our counters were decorated, food was served and we glammed it up in cocktail dresses for the evening.
I'd like to say that people poured in and spent a ton of cash, but unfortunately we didn't even match what we pulled in last year. So, I wouldn't call it a rip-roaring success.
For this special evening, the hair salon would be offering five minute touch ups. In order to showcase their work and entice customers to give it a go, they decided they do updos for everyone that worked in the cosmetics department. We had no idea this would be happening until the day of, when our manager started ordering us over to the hair salon.
The first girl came back with a matronly french twist backcombed into beehive size proportions. Not bad. Not great of course, but not bad. The second girl did not fare so well. She came back looking like a who from whoville in Dr. Seuss. Atop her head stood a tower of hair going up like a ski slope. She could have decorated it like a Christmas tree. Needless to say, she did not take my suggestion that she actually do so with the seriousness I'd hoped. (I can still picture what it would have looked like, all done up with twinkling lights...)
Naturally, when it came time for my own face off with the hair dresser, I was fairly certain I too would end up a walking debacle of towering hair design. But, putting on a brave face, I hopped resolutely into the chair. I knew, as with most cases in working retail, resistance was futile.
The man who did my hair was probably in his mid-late forties, was balding on top and wearing glasses. You would have thought he'd be sweet and gentle. After all, the only customers they ever have are fragile old ladies. But no, he wasn't. He didn't speak a word to me when I hopped up into the chair, not one word. He turned my chair and started raking through my hair with his fingers, pulling through whatever small tangles there were with cold efficiency. He jabbed at my head with his fingers whenever he wanted me to turn, look down or look up. I would have appreciated it if he'd simply asked me to move my head, but apparently this would waste precious seconds. He backcombed the bejeezus out of my hair, ruthless and vicious with his little metal comb as I cringed at the amount of damage he was doing to my already fragile hair. Not to mention it hurt like hell. He went at me with so much hairspray I was coughing for twenty minutes after. I had to make sure I stayed away from open flames, I was pretty sure I'd ignite like a pile of dry leaves. Every step of the way the can of hairspray was unloaded on my head as though it was the sealant that would keep the damn from breaking. My hair was as sticky and dry as brittle wood, and afterward I had to wash the back of my neck in order to move my head, he'd sprayed so much hairspray I was literally glued into position.
The end result? Nowhere near as bad as girl number two. Instead of a sculpted hair tower, I looked more as though I had a giant bow on the top of my head, akin to the kind of updo you see at graduations and weddings. I was definitely too done up for a gala evening at work, but so was everyone else so I'd take it. It almost looked as though the massive bouquet of curls was trying to eat the rest of my head.
Getting it out when I finally got home was a real pain in the butt, or more accurately - head. After rooting around my head for the millionth bobby pin, I was stuck trying to brush out the obsessively hair sprayed, backcombed mess. It felt as though I was trying to tear the hair from my head. And I did. My dress, the couch, all were covered in hair. It was like I had a golden retriever roll all over me. It took a half an hour to comb it all out, and even still, the next day it still reeks of hair spray.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Did It!

I know the title of this post was a dead give away but I don't care. I did it! Not only am I where I should be for word count for NaNoWriMo, I'm 150 words ahead! HAH! Take that world! When I put my mind to something I cannot fail! Not only that, I did as much work on my HerStory Calendar profiles as was allowable (one of my subjects refuses to get back to me so I'll have to pick a new candidate), and I even managed to fit in some extra work on a few other projects as well as some social time. Go Superwoman! Which in this case, is me.
I realize of course that I'm being an obnoxious braggart, but I think I've earned it. In two days, I've written 9,000 words among all my other chores and responsibilities. Go me! (See? I can't stop!) The only bad news is that I must return to work tomorrow. Ick. I'm not looking forward to it. It's going to be a late evening. But at least I can go to work without the burden of an overabundant word count weighing on me. If I want to stay on track, all I need to do tomorrow is right 1,517 words. That should be doable. At least we'll see. Let's keep our fingers crossed that I can stay on track!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The End of Week One

All right. I've reached the end of week one and I'm pretty far behind. And by pretty far behind I mean insanely far behind. I currently have 2792 words and I'm supposed to be at 8335. But am I giving up? No sir! I have the next two days off, which means locking myself inside and having a good old fashioned write in. Although unfortunately it won't all be on my book. I have a looming deadline for HerStory Calendar, so I'm going to finish it once and for all. The rest of the time will be dedicated to book writing.
Keep in mind, I use the term 'book' loosely. It's more stream of consciousness nonsense vaguely resembling a plot. But I'm definitely enjoying going along for the ride. I have no idea where this story is going. I'm just waiting to find out. It's a fun method. Did you know that author extraordinaire James Lee Burke has the same approach? He never thinks further than two scenes ahead. According to him, if he knew the ending when he started the reader would too. Interesting, no?
It's been a crazy week, what with everything going on in my writing universe and the unfortunate circumstances of my day job, I'm exhausted. But I have a lot to do, and there's nothing more satisfying than finishing your To Do List. When I have my HerStory Calendar stuff done I know I'm going to breathe a lot easier. I could probably use the weekend off, but 48 hours of sleep just can't match the restorative powers of getting something done. Keep your fingers crossed that I end the weekend with a self satisfied I Did It! post instead of a despair and self loathing I Failed!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo Day 2

Well, it's the end of day two and I have 1519 words. I was technically supposed to be at 3334, but I'm still feeling pretty good. So far, I'm having a blast and thank God cause today was one of the worst days I've ever had at work to date.
I won't get into it, as it's unprofessional and immature (I know, when has that stopped me before?) but I'll sum it up in one word - soul crushing. Okay, that was two words, but cut me some slack. I'm tired and had a bad day. The highlight of which was my ten minute long conversation with a homeless man who claimed to be an artist and told me he invented a building that was hung from wires - you know, so an earthquake couldn't damage it. And I'm not exaggerating when I say this was the highlight. He was actually nice to me, which I appreciated.
You know those scenes in movies and TV shows, when the main character goes into a store and is ignored by the salesperson who's talking on the phone, clearly to a friend or boyfriend? I realize they're portraying the salesperson as the villain, behaving unprofessionally and rude, but I got to say. I'm always on their side. It's probably from years of customer service, but those people are my heroes. All day, every day, people in customer service are ground under the boot heels of customers, managers and fellow employees. When I watch scenes like that, all I can think is - "Yeah! How do you like it? It's not nice when people treat you like they're more important than you, is it?"
Clearly I'm blathering on - okay, complaining - and I'm not even really sure I have a point. All I know is, people suck. And there are people out there who've realized this fact. They're called hermits. And they too are my heroes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I've decided (one hour ago to be precise) to accept the challenge of NaNoWriMo. And just in time too! (It takes place in Novemeber). NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, and in this challenge you write a novel in one month. It is of course, by no means done. It will still need extensive editing and so forth, but it's a great exercise to get you writing every day and challenge yourself to just let go and let the writing flow! (That's right. I rhymed. Deal with it.)
Of course, I will keep you apprised of my progress. And since I have a number of other deadlines to accomplish this month, I'm sure you'll also be forced to listen to me moan and complain about how I'm a complete idiot for attempting this, how I'll never get everything done, that I'm tired, stressed and etc. So, please enjoy! HAH. If I suffer, we all suffer.
The funny thing is how I found out about it. I'd never heard of it until about an hour and twenty minutes ago, when I was reading the blog of Allison Winn Scotch. She answered a question about it and curious, I googled it. Before I knew head from tales I was signing up, going through the forum, RSVPing for events and getting down to business. That's right, I've already cracked out 458 words. Off to a smashing good start I think! I believe the goal for week one is 1667 words, so we'll see how I do. Frankly I'm just super excited to see what I come up with! Wish me luck!