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.

Continue reading

The November Premise

This is not a political blog post. As we’ve discussed:  I don’t do those, because I prefer having one-on-one conversations about such things.  Once again this year, our household is receiving heavy telephone and drop-by survey traffic.

This is probably not my fault.


The general premise of NaNoWriMo is “the world needs your novel”.

Yeeeeaaah.  I’m sure it doesn’t. Not that this certainty has stopped me from participating for several years, out of inertia or … something.1 Even when it has been crazy, I’ve carved out time to hit word counts, and inevitably hated myself because I dropped so many other things on the floor in order to do so, but it was okay!  I had an excuse!  It was November!  I could waste time writing a lot of crap (or telling myself I was editing a pile of crap by spackling a lot of new crap on top of it) and throw it all away on December 1st2 and nobody would think I was weird at all.  Nope, no weird here, no aberrant behavior, everything’s good, it’s all perfectly normal, lalalala.

It is November. It is crazy.

I don’t want an excuse to drop things on the floor.  I genuinely like the idea of having less panic and less self-loathing in my life, so yeah, going to avoid the whole dropping things in November thing.

If I write, I’ll write. If I don’t, that’s good too.3

Happy NaNoing. Be sure to take some time next Tuesday to go vote. Ideally, you have already figured out who is getting your vote, and you have reasons for choosing that candidate that don’t sound an awful lot like a parrot’s reciting the latest Facebooked horror story about the opposing candidate, but … you do you.

1The ‘something’ is likely perceived obligation.  I’m supposed to be writing, so ta-da, look, see, I’m writing something that I can share! Not that I do share it, but theoretically, I could.

2Or early February, because I can’t generally wrap my head around a new year until it’s the Lunar one.

3Admittedly, this philosophical insight was brought to you by this morning’s panicked freak out because it is November 4th, and I haven’t even bothered logging into the NaNoWriMo site, let alone started writing anything.  I went to the gym, and felt better afterwards. I’ll probably feel better still once I post this blog entry, or at least capable of making myself focus on my Statistics homework.

My Year of Bread and Air (and Stuck)

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

-Albert Einstein (likely misattributed).

I baked a lot of bread this year.  One or two loaves a week (three loaves a week on a few occasions), even the week of Mom’s funeral and the subsequent weeks of family-related and work travel.

I have been on planes this year more than I have any other year of my life — but there has still been bread in the house, each homemade loaf a little (and occasionally quite a bit1) different, even those weeks I’ve had all the ingredients I needed on hand and the last thing I wanted to do was experiment.

The bread did run out during a couple of those business trips, which inspired @bhoneydew to capture all the scrawled-on-butter-stained-printout hacks I’d made to the basic recipe I started with and bake a couple of loaves himself. Both of them came out differently than any of mine, and different from each other, even though he followed the same steps each time.

And … this is the paragraph where I was stuck for two weeks (I started writing this blog post on my birthday). It was a unique sort of stuck for me: until December 19th, it was a stare-at-a-page-and-no-words-come-out stuck as opposed to a write-ten-paragraphs-think-they’re-messed-up-and-delete-them-all-before-anyone-else-sees-them stuck. Though since this isn’t the first time this has happened this past year, I guess I should stop calling it ‘unique’. I should just call it ‘2016’s stuck’, and hope the year doesn’t forget it in the house when it heads out the door in a couple of weeks, especially if the door smacks it on the butt so hard that it falls down the front steps, because that should so happen.

My chirpy ambitiousness about being able to do NaNoWriMo and a massive work project and finish a networking class all in the same November timeframe? Yeah, that was me trying to flip off 2016 before it’d turned its back. I should know better, I really should, but I did get the two most important things on that list done, so there’s that. The bread still happened.

1The first time I used the “Proof/Warm” setting on our oven to proof a loaf, I didn’t notice that the temperature read “Hot” instead of “Brd”. This killed most of the yeast and made for a very dense brick o’ bread.

In The Weeds

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count [end of Day 6]: 13,101
Current Work Word Count [end of Day 6]: 13,144

Surprisingly, my despite being in the weeds of a massive work project and in the last two weeks of a networking class (I haven’t been keeping track of the words I’ve written for class), I’ve been keeping up with The Bone Sapling. The plot’s even coming together.

Something must be horribly wrong.

Horribly. Horribly. Wrong.

Things seemed to get easier when I gave up on the idea of having Thanksgiving. My work project’s due that week, and my class finishes that week … and Halloween didn’t turn out so bad after all (left a big bowl of candy on the porch and went to see an early movie with the Monster: the theatre was practically deserted, which was awesome!). So, maybe lowering expectations is going to get me through this without going insane.

My having removed the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone might also help.

On that note, I’ve already voted. 🙂

Be safe out there tomorrow.

Wash On Monday … Or Something

It’s a month(ish) later, on another Holiday Monday, and I’m doing laundry. Don’t even try to look surprised. At least the weekend wasn’t a frame-for-frame reshoot of Labor Day Weekend:  while I did go out of town for work last Monday through Wednesday, and I pulled a work-related all-nighter on Thursday, I didn’t do…

Okay, at least I didn’t do as much questioning of life choices this weekend, and I didn’t at all have to hide from people I care about so I wouldn’t have to fight the urge to scream at them. I even left the house for reasons other than going to the airport or a grocery store or to take the Monster somewhere.  Yes, really!  Despite the weekend rain, I succeeded in participating in the charity walk I signed up for all the way back in August, and as a nice bonus, was able to drag @bhoneydew and the Monster along with me.

Of course, we did have doughnuts after that.

It also was for a good cause.  Or something.

Random Notes:

  • In week three of the Networking class.  My first exam’s on Wednesday. Things are going about as well as I was expecting from a refresher-must-once-again-officially-prove-that-I-know-this-stuff course.
  • Dropped the systems biology Coursera course after getting into Week Two and realizing, yep, I need to spend some quality time with my old biochemistry textbooks before I can get back into this stuff. Quality time, yes, I can schedule that! I am already almost done with this year’s Goodreads Challenge, and I am so proud of myself that it’s ridiculous. Just don’t ask me how low I set this year’s bar, okay?
  • Signed up for NaNoWriMo again this year, because :masochism:. Or my armadillo life is getting to me and I want to feel like part of a community again without, you know, having to put on war paint or pants. The officially sited reason is that I do have a personal writing project I want to work on in addition to the stuff I get paid to write, and NaNo gives me a great excuse. Or something.
  • Speaking of pants, I’ve become mildly addicted to LuLaRoe leggings. If only they had pockets…






My Year of Bread and Water

Bread in Basket

The first round of January bread. Dead. Wrapped in plastic.

When the alarm sounds, all errors are recorded.
-Today’s #spamadvice (translated from Norwegian)

I admit I spent more time trying to figure out how to add social media links to my blog than I did writing this post.1 It’s not that made that information hard to find, it — alright, I’m still not certain that I should be adding social media links to my blog. Oh, sure, I’ve had links to my Twitter feed here for a while, and it’s not (yet) been anywhere close to a disaster, but do I really want to make it that easy for folks to find me?2

The previous paragraph was a roundabout way of mentioning that I finally signed up for Facebook and … SweetMotherOfCthulhu, I’m so happy I discovered that it has a mute button! Still alarmed that I feel the need to use it as much as I do3, but I’m delighted that I have that option.

Anyway … 2015 just happened, and 2016 is here. I sort of disappeared in the middle of November, so I’ll start with quick recaps before I natter about goals for this year then disappear for another six months4.

NaNoWriMo 2015
I hit 50K with Key of Tree on November 26th, and stopped recording my word counts after the 27th (50,466). The NaNo project’s now a shade over 60K, and, ah, it’s still mostly in outline form with blocks of dialogue scattered here and there. I estimate the first draft will be just over 100K when it’s done, assuming that I don’t just throw it in a box and bury it, maybe with a stake through it for extra reassurance. It started out as a paranormal thriller and turned into a historical family saga with barely any paranormal in it. Think, uhm, Gone with the Wind, just make it the modern era and swap in demonic possession and cultural shock caused by technological progress for the antebellum South and Sherman’s Army. Is your brain now threatening to leak out of your nose? Yeah, that’s how I feel when I think about it, which is why I’m considering the box-and-stake option.

Speaking of brain leaking out of the nose…

…since I’ve admitted this on Facebook already (but only to the peeps in Nova Nanites), I do have some other writing goals for 2016. Once I sort what to do with Key of Tree, I’m going to take a look at the dark epic fantasy duology (The Madness Gate and Singing Down Sepia) and see if they’re actually a trilogy-in-denial, or if they just need to be printed out and set on fire.

I might also try writing something short and maybe not as grim as my usual stuff. Maybe.

I would like to get at least one rejection this year. That would be awesome.

Finally, after the need to reschedule some courses, I’m on track for getting my database administrator’s certificate this spring. All I’ll need to do is complete a PL/SQL refresher, and yes, I have to complete it, because the PL/SQL course I took in California is over ten years old so it didn’t transfer. Have I completed my Oracle certs? No. Have I taken my PMP exam? No. Am I still sure I want to do those things? Also no, but I probably will anyway. What am I going to do after I finish the certification? I honestly have no idea yet. I keep poking at systems engineering, business analysis and data science programs, because I do a little of all of that for a living these days. Do they excite me? Eh … in the ‘new tools for the mental toolbox’ sense, sure. If I wanted to be excited about what I was studying, I’d go into bioscience.

Two projects are supposed to wrap at the end of January, and I’m ballparking the end of April for the third one I’m involved in. Of course, I ballparked the end of April 2015 for the two that are ending in January, and it turned out that I was needed until now, so, oops. This month is going to involve a fair amount of deepthink about lessons learned from the past year and change of freelancing, what I’ve enjoyed doing, what I don’t want to do again if I don’t have to5, and where I’d like to grow from here.

Speaking of growing, I’ve lost a little over fifty pounds this past year without doing anything crazy; I went back to eating three-meals-and-snacks as my nutritionist in PA prescribed, logging my food when I did, and moving around more than I had been6. The only things I’ve cut out are artificial sweeteners, which wound up eliminating soda by association (I haven’t drunk fully leaded soda on purpose in decades), and swapping the half-and-half in my morning coffee and the whole milk in my smoothies for almond milk.

My base goal with all of this is to see how healthy I can get just by being mindful. I’m not sweating setbacks, because so far I’ve been able to get back on track and get through them. When that stops working, well, it’ll be time to start doing more than the house cleaning/home improvement/gardening/cooking from scratch/parking a good distance from the store entrance workouts that I’ve been doing. The Monster goes to a great local gym, and I’m sure folks there wouldn’t mind making me forget how much I hated high school P.E.

Don’t laugh; cooking from scratch really has helped with all this! I’ve even started baking my own bread (that is, without using a bread machine). The effort involved in making it should guarantee I eat less of it!

1I’m still not done.’s Social Media Widget doesn’t appear to support Google+ or Goodreads (which surprised me) or multiple Twitter accounts (which didn’t), so there are some HTML shenanigans in my future.
2Because, uhm, Google might be hard to operate or something?
3Otherwise, I’d likely say something I wouldn’t regret in a way that I probably would.
4One of my goals for 2016 is to post something once a week, on Mondays if I can manage it.
5#1 on that list is ghostwriting.
6Yes, the eye doctor ordered computer diet has helped improve my physical activity levels. So has the FitBit.

Digging Toward Daylight

Monday, November 16 – 2,124 (30,032) words
Tuesday, November 17 – 1,471 (31,053) words
Wednesday, November 18 – 834 (31,887) words
Thursday, November 19 – zero (31,887) words
Friday, November 20 – zero (31,887) words

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s being consumed by work and Thanksgiving planning-and-shopping also meant that I got nothing but the bare essentials done holiday house prep wise. Since I didn’t have to leave the house over the weekend, I resolved to catch up on the NaNo project in 15 minute bursts between loads of laundry and skirmishes with dust bunnies.

Saturday, November 21 – 4,812 (36,699) words
Sunday, November 22 – 4,076 (40,775) words

Yeah, I think I might now be able to hit that 50K total before December 1st.  Will I finish the novel by then? Oh, good grief, no. I’m not sure it’ll even start looking like one until it hits 75K1, and that goal I won’t hit by the first of December.

1Assuming I don’t print it out and set it on fire before then, which is quite possible.