On the tenth day out…

Tracking preventatives
Grotesque underlying emails
Their rough surface makes entrance and exit easier

— the latest #spamcommentary.

I finished NaNoWriMo on November 20th. Unlike previous sorties, it wasn’t a strain: more like receiving a daily flu shot than suffering from a post-apocalyptic plague, pun fully intended.

[NaNoWriMo 2019 Winner]

I will give credit where credit is due to 4TheWords.  I signed up for it in 2016, and never activated my membership, for ReasonsIDon’tEvenRemember.  This time around through NaNoWriMo, I decided to give the app a legitimate try just to see if slaying monsters with words could help me think of creative writing as something I want to do as opposed to Yet One More Thing I Have To Get To And Ideally Through Before I Get Whatever Sleep I Can Manage.  I did enjoy Habitica in my early days using it (before it became Just Another Grind for me), and I figured that I might get the same sort of boost from 4TheWords.  It was a sound assumption:  the app did help, in a ticking timer sort of way that was more fun to keep pace with than any of the actual ticking timers that I use daily.

I didn’t get anywhere close to a first draft on the literary science fiction thing I was poking at, but I wrote enough of a skeleton to realize what critical body parts the novel is missing:  mainly, a compelling reason for the protagonist not to spend his next Wednesday afternoon trying to get run over by a self-driving bus.  Correction, a compelling reason to keep his author from wanting him to spend his next Wednesday afternoon trying to get run over by a self-driving bus.

Actually, I’m not sure that would be a terrible opening scene.  A reader could have so many questions, like …  why is this guy out running around in traffic trying to get run over?  Why is he so frustrated that it isn’t working?  How are the passengers reacting to all this?  Are they even noticing, or are they lost in their personal entertainment/communication/portable computing devices?  The downside to the scene would be that I’d have to come up with a character motivation more uhm, something than “I am doing this because my author has it out for me”.

Speaking of such things, work is still trying to eat my life, despite my occasional best efforts to coat myself in hot pepper sauce, metaphorically speaking. During my more awake moments I have been questioning if I am just wired to take on projects and roles that will keep me insanely busy because I have some pathological need to have someone else set my priorities, or at least give me a reasonably lucrative excuse to get out of doing laundry or deciding what I want to be when I grow up.

Not that work is stopping me from accomplishing stuff outside of work.  Ref: NaNoWriMo, mostly keeping up with the Duolingo French practice, parenting, unpacking, studying, decorating, and dealing with approximately a hundred different contractors while we were prepping the old house for sale.

And it is now freaking sold, so we can celebrate by, uh, buying a lawn tractor.  Also, furniture.  Curtains.  A composter.  Yay!

Twenty-One Days Out

So, 23,407 words later, I am no closer to knowing whether what I’m writing for NaNoWriMo is science fiction or literary fiction. But there is still something in there to write, and I am still able to find time to cram in little pieces of it every single day, so that’s something. Okay, I’ll admit that it is something miraculous, considering the hours that I have been working lately — but honestly, my spending more hours working than I should be is nothing new, so I won’t dwell on it.

I have not been spending enough hours studying. I need to get back into that habit before I look up and discover I have weeks’ worth of stuff to do at the last minute. The dedicated study hour between 8:00 – 9:00 each evening has been eroded by, oh, lots of things. Most often, it has been due to our starting dinner late (because of work), which means we eat dinner late, and kitchen clean up is late, and if there is a 9:00 PM deployment scheduled for work, I can forget about studying at all that night.

But I said I wouldn’t dwell on that.

I could try shifting my study time to the mornings before everyone in the household gets up. This, of course, would require me to get up at the same earlier hour every day, which I could easily manage if I went to bed every night by ten like I was doing so good with until a series of escalating events made it more likely that I go to bed by one than ten, and my tiny stupid brain remembered that one a.m. used to be my regular bedtime and was okay with that even when the rest of me very much Was Not.

I owe my advisor a return call. I should probably tell him that I’m fighting with this. It … alright, understand that I still find it weird to have an academic advisor that I feel I can talk to. I spent years taking classes at some institutions without interacting with any beyond getting a random person’s stamp on my course schedule.

Speaking of being up past my bedtime, it’s after midnight, and I can’t blame work at all for my being awake (I did work earlier today), so I’m going to bed.

Tomorrow is another chance to do better, right?

In the morning, I’ll probably read this post, shake my head, and tell myself that I at least succeeded in blogging twice in one month!

Twenty-Nine Days’ Sort

Clearly I need to do NaNoWriMo this year and get this sorted. Maybe whatever dogs we wind up getting will agree.

– Me, just last month.

We do not have any dogs yet, though we have met several in the past month, as we’ve been settling in here while trying to untangle ourselves from the other house.   If all things go well, we’ll be out before the end of this month. Considering that we spent three hours today at the old house trying to reconnect a dryer vent that had mysteriously come undone between our move and the time the buyer had it inspected … yeah, it’s been like that.

Fortunately, that should all be squared away tomorrow.  One positive outcome of this move is that we’ve begun to be more realistic about what we can accomplish ourselves in the time we have available.  We fought with the dryer vent for three hours.  We swore at it.  We lost blood to it.  We gave up and called in a professional.

Speaking of sorting things, yes, I did sign up for NaNoWriMo this year.  Thanks to work and school and all of the other things I do in and around work and school (e.g. parenting, laundry, gardening, sleep), I won’t have a lot of time for it, but  I think I can do some damage within those chunks of time, as long as I manage to keep them out of the same daily soup bowl as everything else.

Will I fight with this for thirty — er twenty-nine days?  Will I swear at it?  Will I lose blood to it, and eventually give up?

Maybe.    Or maybe not.

Let’s find out, shall we?

I’m tackling a completely new project, rather than trying to make sense out of any of my old ones.  I can’t make up my mind whether it is science fiction, or dog help us all, literary fiction, so I’ll just write until it sorts itself out.

Place and Perspective

Along the tumbleweed way
I met someone like me.
He drives, sometimes.
Other times, I do.
For now, our son sits in the back,
Eats raspberries,
And sings along with the radio. 

 Next year, we may all be from here,
And if not, then, well, maybe the year after. 

– excerpt from “I’m from everywhere, man…”, a mandatory  ‘introduce yourself to your fellow classmates in the form of a poem’ assignment, circa 2013ish.

Place and Privilege was the original title of this blog post, but it sounded too much like a  Jane Austen reboot.

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Disconnect and Recharge

I had an accidental vacation this weekend. Since the Monster’s cast is now off, he can swim again, so we drove down to the in-laws’ place on the 4th.

For the first time ever, I forgot to pack the charging cord for my laptop. The day of work I had planned for Friday, and the weekend of unplanned work I had anticipated (yes, really) suddenly turned into except-for-what-you-can-handle-via-cell-you-can-only-work-a-half-day-unless-you-spend-the-rest-of-the-day-driving-home.

I worked until the laptop ran out of juice. I did not drive home. I also canceled a meeting instead of trying to handle it via cell.

I admit I spent more time this weekend than I should have twitching instead of relaxing.  See, last summer when I had scheduled vacation, I wound up spending the first day of it on a marathon conference call and most of the first night doing research and sending emails related to that conference call.  On day two, after I had gotten dragged back into a call as soon as I had climbed into a swimming pool, I gave up and went home just as soon as I could hang up the phone and get out of the water.

Yes, I once did a conference call while standing in a swimming pool. It’s not one of my happiest moments, and certainly not one of my brightest, even if the phone did survive.

I got into the pool this weekend. Let me rephrase that.  I made myself get into the pool this weekend, despite feeling like if I tried to have fun, something would interrupt it.

It did help that I accidentally left my phone plugged into the charger inside my in-laws’ house, and maybe-not-as-accidentally let it have a vacation for the rest of the weekend, while I finished the book I started back in, uhm, March, and started another. I did not make any more dishcloths (though I have made a few more since I last mentioned them), but I did continue with my Duolingo refresher. I’m now on Day 39.

Day 39. I can’t believe it either.

What’s next?  Writing more frequent blog posts? Writing again in general?  Maybe just more dishcloths? Tous ces optimisme me donne le vertige.

Reading the Signs

You are not right.
Let’s discuss.

-latest #spamconcern

The anonymous bot script is correct: I am not right. My left ear has been ringing since the beginning of the school year. It’s not always at the same volume or frequency: at its best, it feels like I’m wearing half of a headset that’s tuned to a white noise station, and at its worst, it’s waves of cicada-song, which would be soothing if it didn’t sound like someone had digitized the sample badly.

I did a hearing test last week. The results pointed to nerve damage (everything’s structurally sound, and my right ear’s in great shape), and I’ve been set up with a MRI for the coming week to see if we can determine where the damage is located within the ear and get a better idea of what can be done about this, if anything.

Yes, I am spinning some, but just some. There’s too much else to do to get wound up over something I can’t do anything about (at least not yet).

The writing accountability experiment is in full swing. The workout accountability experiment continues. The first class of the winter session has started. And there’s work, which generally does let me sleep more these days.  Generally.

 

Preoccupation and Progress

Having all of the alternatives
And a sense of joyful preoccupation,
This coming year will be
A mischief-maker of strategies
To salvage you to improved discern.

-12.29.2017, #SpamFortuneCookie, which doesn’t sound good, and probably isn’t.

Happy Almost New Year. I settled on FocusWriter. It only took me a week of evaluating the pros and cons. This is progress.

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