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Tag Archives: eternal overachiever
Look — sad tulips. I have these two plus one more with ragged green leaves that look like they narrowly escaped a garbage disposal. I have the world’s longest list of projects and problems to solve that I will tackle as soon as I finish these books. (So, starting in summer of 2019.) “Improve bulb situation” is on the list.
I never got an apple tree either but I have a huge hole in my backyard. I impulsively bought a fistful of seed packets because that always works out well. After my great tomato success of last summer (scroll down past the dog) I bought four (4!) tomato plants online including a cherry tomato that is supposed to be VERY PROLIFIC.
Place your bets here by which date I will be complaining about cherry tomatoes.
Now look at the sad rhodie. It’s shown signs of giving up on us for several years. Then we had his bush companion removed and he’s never been the same. Now we will be one of those sad houses with nothing planted out front. Except for the fig tree. As soon as Percy sprouts leaves there will be more photos.
I might be back on track with the book. Every time I say that I get thrown off again so I’m not going to elaborate. It looks like the word count thing I was using died so I’m trying a new one. I’m still writing out of order but this is close:
44290 / 75000
I’m not going to lie. There are daffodils out there but I don’t have time to get out the camera and take photos so these are from last year.
On Monday I came home from work and opened the refrigerator and the bracket that holds all the condiments in the refrigerator door popped off and condiments went flying.
I was not in the mood to deal with that problem. Fortunately, nothing broke so I transferred the condiments from the floor to any shelf where they would fit. I took the broken shelf and set it aside to deal with later.
Our refrigerator door holds a buttload of condiments and we love condiments and have very many. It became a problem to find anything in the fridge because every shelf was overflowing with condiments. I finally found a box, filled it with condiments and put them in the outside fridge.
I thought maybe I could fix the shelf but it’s a tiny wedge of broken plastic — just a teeny piece that holds it on the door. Poor design in my opinion. So then I dug out the paperwork that came with the fridge thinking I could pop online and order the part but I couldn’t figure it out. So I now look forward to what will no doubt be a long and aggravating telephone conversation with Sears to see if I can solve this problem. Plan B is duct tape.
All my energy that isn’t devoted to day-to-day survival is on Book #3. (I have a cover!) The situation will not change for some time.
(Yeah, it does look grim. There are still a couple of scenes ahead that aren’t counted in this but I’ve moved into panic mode.)
Last week I forgot my update on my month of giving up non-essential Internet.
It was brilliant. Why don’t I do this all the time? I don’t know. At the beginning of this month I signed back in and gave up on giving up. Why is it so hard to give up the things we know are bad for us?
I decided to sign back out of everything. I should probably nuke all of my accounts but I can’t decide. I need to recommit to that “non-essential” thing, too but I need my cute animal gifs after I have my lunch and one thing leads to another …
I’m still not clear on how my new DVR works and somehow I have it set up to tape every freaking NCAA gymnastics meet that is aired within my cable package which turns out is 5 or 6 a week. That’s about 3 or 4 more than I can watch. If I keep my the remote in my hands I can power through a meet pretty quickly and whatever I haven’t finished at the end of the week I delete so I can be ready for the fresh batch.
Does anyone out there watch The Magicians? It’s based on the books by Lev Grossman that I would love to re-read if I can ever get back to reading more than one book a month. I had a funny reaction to the books which is that much as I loved them, the whole time I was reading them I kept feeling like I was on the verge of losing my mind but never got there. So yeah, I criticized the books for not being even greater than they were.
We’re in the third season of the TV show and I’ve always liked it but this season is so insanely good I am losing my mind. I don’t keep track of what’s changed from the books since I finished the last book years ago but whatever is going on in the show is working for me. Margo is my idol.
That middle photo is my apple tree stump. I had a guy come over and grind it out so it’s a big hole in the ground waiting for me to plant a new apple tree. I thought I would get to it this weekend but I had some other plans and urgh. I have got to get in the groove with this dang book. I can no longer tell if I’m still panicking or if I’m moving ahead. On the current timeline I need about 5000 words a week to make it which is doable if the stars are in perfect alignment and I have no distractions which is not possible in this universe.
I’ll figure it out.
This is Percy, all piled with leaves to keep him warm. I don’t know why Bob named our fig tree (is it really a fig tree when it’s this small?) but now I drive up and I think, poor Percy is just some sad little sticks.
One of the good things about driving home from the coast was I got to drive along Highway 101 between Eureka and Crescent City which means I had some beautiful ocean views and drove through the redwoods. I know the world is filled with amazing beautiful things and places but there are few places or things that can compete with the redwoods in NW California. One of my very favorite places to be.
I made an off-hand remark a couple of days ago that I was considering giving up all non-essential Internet for the month of January. I can’t really give it up completely because I use it for work and streaming exercise classes and certain kinds of research and apps for writing.
The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I have unsubscribed from almost everything. I cleaned out my feed reader and left only friends and work related. I took Instagram and Twitter off my phone. I’m keeping a list of what’s allowed and what’s not. I am making an exception for Timbers and NCAA gymnastics — which starts NEXT WEEKEND. Here’s a link to my case for watching NCAA gymnastics.
Bob asked what I was going to be doing to fill the void I was creating and I’m like: getting my brain back. I let myself get so distracted. Hopefully I will do more reading and writing and learn new stuff.
My brand new backpack, which is not little or black. Did I ever write about what a hassle it is to find a new backpack? I started looking two years ago but it was like looking for a car with all the different kinds and configurations. Last year I found one to buy — it was nothing special but had nice colors and would carry my crap to and from the office every day and was reasonably priced. But the first three comments said: don’t even think about using this backpack in the rain.
Clearly, that wouldn’t do.
Then I started looking at waterproof backpacks which weren’t pretty and said things like, “Mt. Everest compliant.” I need to keep my stuff dry while I walk from the bus to the office. I don’t need to keep it dry in a monsoon.
Finally I found one I liked and bookmarked it and when I went back the company was out of business.
Then I found this one and it was not cheap but I figured, I have a big girl job, I can treat myself to a nice backpack that I will use and enjoy every day. So I bought it immediately, months ago. I opened the box to make sure it was the right thing, then I gave it to Bob to give to me for Xmas. I have been counting down ever since.
I can’t wait to use it. It’s from Waterfield. I bought several laptop sleeves and a laptop bag from them. I have never been disappointed.
This post is kinda all over the place but I will conclude with some podcasts I listened to while doing so much driving lately.
My favorite is Gymcastic which is for gymnastics nerds. I love the hosts – they are shameless fan nerds, they are extremely knowledgable, and they are funny but have covered the criminal abuse case with dignity.
My Dad Wrote a Porno — I feel like I might have mentioned this one. SO SO FUNNY. I haven’t listened consecutively but you can drop into any episode and get a good laugh.
My friend Tina does a podcast Toasted Cake which is spec flash fiction. I like that the episodes are short so if the story doesn’t work for me, it’s over quick, and I get to hear so many different writers.
I especially like long car rides for listening to writing podcasts because during my regular life if I have time, I’d rather be writing than listening to a podcast.
I like Writing Excuses because they keep it to 15 minutes and almost always hit something interesting even if the topic isn’t something related to what I’m doing.
Finally, I recommend with reservations, Narrative First. This one discusses stories using Dramatica which is story theory that I love. It is not for everyone. It takes some effort to learn. Narrative First works hard to make it more accessible but it isn’t something you study over the weekend and then get. Recommended only for deep story study nerds.
I will try to post once a week going into the new year. I’m still getting my bearings on my manuscript after my trip down south. As soon as I get a grip, I will start posting my word counts. I’m way behind where I want to be but I think I’m further along than I realize.
Happy New Year.
These are the last of the last. A few of them were sun ripened. Most of them were underdone and pulled off the plant either before heavy rains or before I finally yanked the plants out of the ground. I’m enjoying them while I can.
A few weeks ago I noticed what looked like drywall dust on the floor under one of the electrical outlets at the office.
Naturally, I assumed we’d been bugged.
I dug around to find a screwdriver so I could look inside. Colleague saw me going about this and asked what I was doing.
When I explained he said, “Move. I know what bugs look like. I’ve seen them on T.V.”
Under our careful examination, it appeared to be a regular electrical outlet. So either the bug or other secret hidden item was well disguised, or there’s nothing weird going on in our office.
Wednesday starts NaBlo which I don’t think is even a thing anymore. Way back in 2006 when all the kids were blogging someone started National Blog Posting Month and then eventually handed it off to another organization that has since rebranded and so I think it’s purely independent study at this point.
Almost every year since I’ve manage to post every day in November and even though I’m perpetually frazzled within an inch of my life *and* can barely post something halfway coherent once a week *and* I’m working on another book that I plan to write 36K words in the same time period, I’m going to give it a shot.
This is not the current scene. This is from a couple of years ago. This weekend we got a light dusting with some freezing rain on top.
I tracked down all of my blog post idea lists. I have one in google docs, one on an electronic stickie on my computer desktop and one on a piece of paper that I printed out at least a year ago that had only two crossed-out items. One about papaya and one about lists. (ahem) I didn’t merge the lists, just made a note that I had three and where they are.
One of the items on the printed list was Goals for 2016. That’s not a typo. That’s because the list has been sitting here so long. Grabbed a sharpie and crossed that off.
This is why I don’t do a bullet journal. A bullet journal is a written journal where you write all your lists and stuff to do and ideas and supposedly it’s super organized and intuitive and handy and people love them. (More here.) That article says a bullet journal is great for people who have millions of lists and like paper to-do lists and like goal setting. Sounds like this was made for me.
Here’s where the wisdom of old age comes in. I know I would spend all my time making the bullet journal. It would be all pretty and organized and color coded and take up a giant chunk of time that I could use to actually do things. Plus it would never be quite right so I would fart around with it, thinking and rethinking my organizational strategy — so I could get really efficient with it. But then I’d be afraid to cross things out and I would get weary of transferring the same to-do things over and over and over and over. The only thing I would ever cross off my list would be “organize bullet list.” Then after a few weeks I would fail at that too.
My best organizational system is the poor one that I am implementing now. I keep a giant list. And lots of sub-lists. I have one in Google Docs and various lists on my computers. I name them things like: “OMG Save Me! Another List” and “Neverending List of Doom”
I print them out. I break them down and write them on index cards. I put them on colored index cards and fasten them with fancy paper clips.
I don’t need any new systems. Plus I thought all the kids today wanted everything on their phones. I’m still trying to remember to put things on my phone. How long has the iPhone had Reminders? I *just* learned how to use those. (Aside: I saw a blog post from a year ago that said I was on page 42 of my iPhone book. The post-it that reminds me what page I’m on in my iPhone book still says page 42.)
We made it to 2017. Hooray.
I made some ambitious writing goals so you can expect much more of the half-assed content you’ve grown accustomed to. (Or would that be much less?) I keep finding notes for posts stashed everywhere — on Mac stickies, in Evernote, on my phone, on regular paper. I don’t know why I fail between that step and pasting it in right here.
I’ve had a good winter break. I always wish it were a little longer but I’m well-rested and more or less on top of my list. Less, actually. Perhaps one of my 2017 goals will be to let more things slide. Don’t tell Bob.
This time of year I clean off my bookshelves. The idea is to take books away to make room for the new books. I give the old books away or sell them back. Very rarely, I will throw a book away. A number of years ago I read a book that was beautifully written, wonderful characters and the worst story. This poor lady was a good, decent person trying to do something and everyone was against her and in the end she had nothing and was run out of town.
WHY EVEN WRITE THAT BOOK?
One less copy exists now. You’re welcome.
In the process of going through my shelves I always come across books that I forgot I had or that I still want to read. I found one such book and opened it and the purchase receipt from 2004 fell out. I still think I’m going to read it.
Keep your feet warm.
During the dark months I like to have string of xmas lights in my room. Sometimes I can get away without using the overhead light and it’s cheery.
If you’ve used these lights, you know they are super crappy and don’t last long. The string I had up developed a short and would blink on and off so it was like living in a David Lynch movie.
The store doesn’t sell lights year round so I’ve been keeping an eye out. I didn’t think they would be here in October, but I was poking around the Halloween stuff in case there was something I could use.
The holiday lights are out now.
We went to Bob’s Red Mill this morning, and I picked up another giant bag of flour, even though I still had flour left from my last bag.
I had a lot of trouble moving the last bag around, and obviously, the most logical conclusion was that my aging body isn’t as strong as it used to be. I was also surprised that I hadn’t managed to use it up yet.
I brought home a new giant bag today (the one on the left) and I noticed the problem:
I still don’t have new romance novel news. Unfortunately, there are forces beyond my control causing delays. Trust me, if they were in my control I would be controlling them. I will update the minute I have something to update.
The rest of my vacation coverage is going to be spotty since other than the giant plates of meat I ate, it’s already a blur.
This photo reminds me that during our time in MO I saw more empty parking spaces than I’ve ever seen in my life. Everywhere you looked there was some massive parking lot, often with zero cars in it. Or just a few. Or a fence around it because dang it, just because there are parking places doesn’t mean you can put your car there.
If only there were a way to export parking places.
My note about the title is that I would say 4 out of every 5 people you see are wearing some sort of Kansas City team attire. Those Missouri folks love their sports teams.
Our hotel was downtown and new with amazing service. The room was terrific except it was like a meat locker. Even Bob was cold. I turned the fan down. I turned the thermostat up. I was afraid to turn it off because that seemed like something that could backfire.
I hated to do it but I asked about it at the desk. They were super nice and they said they adjusted something but we eventually broke down and turned it off. Also the A/C unit had a bright blue light on it. I am relaxed about light sources when I sleep and even I was astonished that no one had put tape over it or carved it out of the unit. Since I already complained about the A/C and the staff was so attentive, I didn’t want to ask about the blue light.
Also, my tea was never hot enough. I didn’t have a decent cup of tea the entire trip. I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or if it’s because it’s 1000 degrees there and they don’t like their hot drink truly hot.
Isn’t that great how I these are the details of the trip I remember?
Our first night we were ready to go check out the BBQ but couldn’t find anything within walking distance of the hotel. The desk clerk was kind enough to recommend a restaurant that was in walking distance but it was a chain and we have one in Portland and it’s one of those places that thinks it can disguise the fact that they have mediocre food by having a giant menu.
I wasn’t about to waste a vacation meal on that place so we broke down and tried a ride sharing app. The desk clerk understood our change of plans and was happy to help us figure out which bbq to try.
I forgot to mention earlier but we took the train from St. Louis to KC. It was a pleasant way to travel but it was a tad disappointing in terms of scenery. Most of the time the train is in its own little trench so we saw lots of green trees and only a few nice views. But mostly I read my book. I read 4 books on vacation.
Getting back to dinner, we’d been traveling all day so we were hangry by the time our ride dropped us off at Q39. It was 4:30 and the line was going out the door. We had to wait in line to put our names on the list. We never would have done it except we had no car so we put our names in and then went for a walk and found Thomas Hart Benson’s house (artist) which was closed but we could walk around it and the neighborhood was pretty.
The food ended up being amazing. Super amazing. We both ordered platters where you try different things and tried everything. It turns out I can eat a lot when I’m motivated.
This week I did just over 11,000 words. I remain on target for my goals.
From here on out it makes no sense to measure by word count. I need to tidy up about 24K per week to get the draft to the beta readers by July 28th.
Now that I look at it like that, it seems impossible. Oh well. I’ll do my best.
So I wrote a complete (not pretty) draft since starting on May 20th. That’s pretty incredible. I’ve always considered myself to be a slow writer.
I had a fairly substantial outline to work from but I need to remember not to let myself get too gummed up at the beginning because I figure out a lot of stuff as I go along.
One of the things that makes this possible, like I said before, is letting everything else slide. This is agonizing for me but when you want one thing you have to sacrifice something else. Bob is out of school so he picks up more of the chores. I also (oh so painful) gave up about 90% of my reading time. I had time to power skim the New Yorker and that was it. I used my time on the bus to work out the next bits I wanted to write.
So if my outline says “woman discovers she’s really an alien.” Then while I’m on the bus I’ll write notes about how she figures out her craving for raw meat and the strange appendages she has growing out from behind her knees aren’t normal so she goes to the science library to do research but realizes she’s being followed by a purple Cadillac…
And so on like that so when I sit at the computer I’m ready to roll.
I try to preserve my back and neck and wrists by regular breaks.
I do any number of these things:
Wrist and forearm work (This is a class preview. It might sound technical but watch the demo. These are great.)
Foundation training back exercises. I am generally the type to be put off by branded exercise systems but I’ve been doing the basic exercises regularly as part of my recovery from the back debacle of 2015 and I think it’s helped a lot.
Those are my secrets to writing a whole bunch in a short time. Although to be honest I’m not as confident in this manuscript as I was in the last one.
Thanks again to all my terrific sponsors. My report showed over $10K in donations already. Not for me but for the whole thing.
This is what the tomatoes are doing. I’m going to put the cages up this afternoon. I did a half-assed job of throwing them out there and have ignored them ever since so probably not going to be a big tomato year. (Again.)
A couple more links.
I’m not a big pork eater but I’ve been anxious to try out a new recipe and this Cuban Roast Pork caught my eye. Right now the house smells amazing.
For a huge portion of my career I worked with the Metlakatla Indian Community in SE Alaska. This is a terrific article and photo essay about basketball in the Community.
That’s this week’s update.