Countdowns

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update

Dear Secret Blogiary,

This will be my last NaNoWriMo update for 2010.

I AM A WINNER!!!


After a great struggle in the last week, I managed to stumble over the 50k mark last night. From the get go this year’s NaNo was a struggle. I did not plot and plan as much as I have in previous years and I feel that my story certainly shows the effects of inefficient planning. With a critics eye I can honestly say that my characters were one dimensional, flat and static; not a single one of them grew or developed. The plot, weak though it was, did not drive the story and I spent a good twenty thousand words meandering throughout a very stagnant middle.

Also, I did not end the story. I just stopped writing in the middle of a fight scene between my main character and her sister. I had had enough so I walked. All of my investment, my time and effort, I just walked away and that was okay, because really, I do not think that the story would go very far to be a viable polished piece.

Please note my use of polished rather than published. Over the month, I have heard a number of critics slam NaNoWriMo as, and I am paraphrasing here, stupid, hack work, fan-fic crap. These critics who are “published” writers seem to think that NaNo detracts from the written word and they miss all the good that NaNo has done: the surge of interest in writing, the donations to libraries, the connections that the WriMos make with others. All this done in the name of literary abandon!

Do these critics honestly believe that just because a writer writes fast, produces quantity that we expect to be published on December 1? That seems to be the case, but I can tell in all honesty, that most of the WriMos I have encountered are intelligent, word wise people who know that what ever they produce in November is a first draft. It will need polishing, tightening and sometimes, yes, we toss the whole thing out, as I plan on doing.

Now, someday, I hope to be published. Someday, I hope that I have a story that people are moved by. But until that happens, I will continue to participate in NaNoWriMo because the way to improve my writing is through writing. And that is what the critics should focus on. People are writing! Words flowing from the mind through the fingertips so fast the sometimes the word processor can’t keep up with you!

That’s writing, uninhibited by rules and structure, (okay…we all still follow rules and structure, but still). Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in six meager weeks. SIX!! And it was an instant success when it was published. Walt Whitman kept reworking and republishing Leaves of Grass until he died. So who is to say how long a work of genius should take? I’ve seen romance writers publish four novels in a single year. Stephan King publishes one every year or so.

NaNo comes around once a year; a crazy month long adventure that is entertaining, exciting and enjoyable. It is a break from my “regular” writing: blogs, short stories, novellas and yes, novels. I may not be a published writer, but I am still a writer because, my friends, I have stories to tell that are just about near to exploding out of my head!

I write because I love words.

I write because I have stories to tell.

I write because it is who I am.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update

Dear Secret Blogiary,

What I should be doing is sleeping, but what I am really doing is working on my NaNo novel to try to up my word count so that when my family arrives on my doorstep tomorrow and demands I entertain them while they wait for my amazing Thanksgiving Day Feast Extravaganza!

So...

No Tuesday Bananagrams today instead bask in the awesomeness that is my word count:

40162!

Yeah. Yeah. I know some are already done. But I am beyond pleased with my progress.

Have a Great Thanksgiving All!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Bananagrams

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Autumn is my favorite season hands down. It would be hard to name exactly why, though; perhaps it is the perfect crisp weather, the abundance of seasonal veggies, the delightful harvest treats, the holidays...so many reasons and only three short months in which to enjoy them. I find that aside from Zombies, autumn is the easiest topic for which to compose haiku. So while waiting for my awesome new camping post in which I meet more nature, please enjoy this week's haiku.


As always, the solution will be revealed next week in the comments.

EDIT: WTF?!?!? I totally missed last week's Tuesday Bananagrams! What a bum I am!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Twisting the Plan Up in Bunches or How My Family Keeps Throwing Me for a Loop

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Is it a reprieve from angst and worry? Or is it a trap cunningly disguised as salvation?

I have written many times about my current position regarding the pit of hell I am living in my house. Just to be clear: we are upside down on the mortgage, live in a neighbor that is unfriendly and reside in a city that is a drug-runners haven. We want out and after speaking to a lawyer made the ultimate decision to walk away from the house and rent for a while.

Eventually the goal would have me at home writing, possibly home schooling Big Sis and Little Sis, and living on Mister W’s salary.

This was the plan. We agreed upon it and took steps to start it.

Now? Oh Boy!

My father, after two long years in litigation regarding my grandmother’s will, is reaching a settlement that will free up his finances. The will was contested and it looks that the judgment will be in my father’s favor.

Well, after hinting and hemming and hawing for the past two years about “wishing” he could “help” us it finally came out that Dad wants to buy a home down here and will be able to plunk a $50,000 dollar down payment on one. Peachy. How does that involve me? Apparently, he wants to buy a 4 or 5 bedroom house and have Mister W and I live there and make the mortgage payment as he has no real income aside from social security. And he would have his own room.

Currently, he travels a lot. But the house would be his and when the time came, he would relocate here permanently and the unspoken arrangement would be that I would become primary caretaker in his elder years.

I love my Dad. I do. But he is very hard to deal with. So I made a pro-con list:

PRO:

1. house troubles = fixed
2. Mister W loves his job and wants to stay in the state
3. With such a large down payment, the mortgage will be less and I’ll be able to be a stay at home mom as I have been longing to do
          a. If I am stay-at-home then I can leave-the-home at will to go camping and kayaking
                  i. Not that I have a kayak yet…but I really want one
                 ii. And going camping during the week? How cool and less crowded would that be?
4. A single family home means that I can let the Psycho Dog outside and get chickens

CON:
1. Dad is a hoarder and as much as I love to stockpile Jell-O and craft supplies, I am not willing to live with a true should-be-on-Hoarders hoarder
2. I do not really want to be a caretaker, especially for my Dad...that just seems skeevy.
3. I would never feel like the house was my home...we might pay the mortgage, but we'd only be able to do so because Dad dropped that much money on it
4. Dad took care of my grandmother for over 15 years (she lived until 96)
5. I had the girls on the young side and by the time I am 45, they will both be out of the house…do I really want to be tied to house taking care of my Dad
          a. Oh Geez! How selfish is that?!?! It’s like I only think about myself!
6. I do not want to live in Florida for the rest of my life - seriously, I told them I was moving back up north and what do they do? They all follow me down here!
7. I hate being obligated to people – even family

I am not sure that this covers everything that I have been thinking about since my Dad offered this as an option…except that it wasn’t really phrased as an option; it was more like an expectation. Like when the finances cleared up, Dad would put the money down and Mister W and I would pay the mortgage.

Mister W is all for it. And by "all for it" I mean that he is willing to go with this "plan" because it solves a great many problems. The biggest one on his list? He doesn’t want to leave Florida. He likes it here amazing as that is. He doesn’t want to leave his job. He loves it and is quite good at it. I can respect that especially considering that in Florida we can live comfortably on his salary alone.

And if I don’t take up this offer, how do I tell Dad? “Sorry Pops, can’t be bothered with thinking about you in your old age, I am just going to put you into a nursing home?”

Ouch. I can’t do that. But I also have to be able to live with my choice. So how do I choose between a sharp pointy rock and a bigger jagged blood-stained boulder?

Monday, November 8, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Oh how those plot monkeys have been working!

I am pleased to announce that the first week has gone exceedingly well! My word count is 15333 as of tonight and that is with me being a total bum over the weekend wasting time with silly things like laundry and grocery shopping and playing D&D.

If my word count keeps it up, I think I will be way ahead of the game and get a great enough word count cushion that I might even be able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with the family. This would be especially helpful as I am apparently the one who is going to cook the Thanksgiving dinner...

...Who am I kidding?

I am always the one to cook!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Diaper Cake Wrecks!


Dear Secret Blogiary,

I love Cake Wrecks. I only wish I had the baking talent to recreate some of the cakes I've seen on the site. Instead, I make some fantastic crafts and sometimes, the most well-intentioned craft gets out of control and explodes all over my dining room table.

This week, I bring you a story of a craft gone horribly wrong. You might remember me mentioning my BFF Rose and her soon-to-be-born baby. Her baby shower is coming up this week and Big Sis and Little Sis and I intended to make her a diaper cake.

Expensive craft, yes, but utterly delightful and fun to make. Here is what I envisioned we’d end up with:

Diaper Cakes by The Stork Connection
Photo taken from The Stork Connection

After working about two weeks on it, looking at different configurations and ways to attach everything in, we finally finished it yesterday.

We spent night after night, rolling and rerolling organic cotton cloth diapers, organic cotton receiving blankets and splash-themed hooded towels. We tried tiers; we tried single layers, no matter what we did it looked lopsided, drunk and deformed. Finally, we settled on rolling the diapers (which are taller) inside the blankets and towels for a thick, wide base that we could “fit everything” on.

HA!

We rolled soft little baby washcloths into something that resembled a flower…or a sausage…or a wiener…

We implanted little Nuks, jittery vibrator vibrating toys, things that rattled, crinkled and jingled all throughout the cake. We attached things with giant safety pins that shed much of my blood. Baby safe, rubber coated spoons grace the top like candles and the center piece (the only thing that would fit and stay put) was a super safety rubber ducky that wasn’t even on the registry but Big Sis fell in love with it and needed it for “her” Rose.

How can I resist that kind of logic?

Well, after all was said and done, this is what we ended up with:


And this is the pile of all the stuff that didn’t fit on the cake!


Big Sis looked at the cake and the pile afterwards,

“Well, I guess we over did it again,” I said.

“WE??” Big Sis asked her eyes practically popping out of her pretty round face.

“Yes, WE!” I replied, “You were at the store too. Half of this stuff you put in the cart.”

“Na-uh.”

“A ya-huh!”

“Our Rose will like it anyway.” She said completely not playing into the argument.

“Yes.” I said, “Yes, she will. ‘Cause we made it.”

“What about the other stuff?” Little Sis asked.

“We’ll just wrap it up.”

“Cool.” Little Sis said, “I think you'll need a bigger box, though.”

“Yeah.”

Can't argue with that one.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday Bananagrams

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Happy Tuesday! And with it another Tuesday Bananagram! This week I was feeling a bit lazy. And really, all of my creative juice is flowing into my NaNo novel (which by the way is already off to a great start but I'll talk more about that later).


This week's Bananagram will get a bit of a hint although if you grew up in the 90s you might recognize it right off the bat!

Good Luck!


Hint: It is Novemeber and chilly and rainy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

30 Days. 50K. And I still don't have a plot?

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I am in serious trouble! November 1st is almost here and I am still without a solid plot! Heck, I'd settle for a wobbly plot at this point!

Tomorrow night, after the Tricks and Treats, I will be joining fellow Nano-ers in an Night-Owl kick-off writing session at a local 24 hour coffee house and I am terrified that midnight will roll around and I'll sit and stare at blank screen for hours.

But I was a winner last year and I will be a winner this year! I don't know how I'll do it, but those plot monkeys better be dropping by to help me out. This year I vow that not only will I win, but I will actually finish the whole story and not just stop because I hit 50K

All I know is: don't expect too much from me for the next 31 days.

To all who are participating in NaNo this year: Good luck and I'll see you on the other side of November.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Got the CarFacts? I do. I don't think he does.

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Fact: I would like a new car. (notice that I don't claim it as a need?)

Fact: Mister W needs a new car.

Fact: I am not picky when it comes to cars.

Fact: There is no way in hell that we can afford a single new car much less two new cars.

Fact: I will settle for a new-to-us car. (I can’t justify spending that much money)

Fact: Mister W is a car guru…or snob depending on how you look at it.

Fact: As a married couple, Mister W and I should make big purchase decisions together.

Fact: Mister W is a big freaking pain in the ass when it comes to car shopping!!

We have needed a new car for about three years now, ever since Mister W’s car stopped caring about life. Little Red has really let her appearance go. She keeps her lights on unless the battery is disconnected. She threw her tailpipe and exhaust system at the highway in a fit of road rage. She picked up some infectious rust. Really she is just a mess.

The fact is my car, The Boo, is gamely hanging on. Oh she gets me where I need to go, but she protests it mightily. She squeals as if a Mack truck was reaming her up her tail end. She rattles if I push her near to 70. Her rust spots look like a case of chicken pox.

For the past six months we have been trying to save money so that we can put a large down payment on a new vehicle. Thus far, we have been relatively unsuccessful in this endeavor. Something always comes up: the furnace breaks, the bathroom explodes, we need to eat.

While we have been “saving money” we have also been scouring the web for a decent car. We can’t afford a brand new car. Can’t. Really. Really. Can't. I mean, I guess if we let the house go into foreclosure, and we save up the mortgage money to plunk down the whole price then, sure, we could afford it. And we are still debating doing just that.
Quite honestly, Little Red WILL NOT last much longer. I have been saying this for a while, but Mister W keeps MacGyvering the damn thing back together rather than accept defeat and let the poor girl go on off to the big car crusher in the sky.

So we came up with the plan that since Little Red is in much worse shape and I am the main transportation for the girls that I would get the newer car and he would get The Boo. Sounds like a plan to me until we actually started to seriously look at cars.

I want something “vany.” I’m involved in Girl Scouts and I often have to transport many screechy Brownies. Also, a van would provide ample space for travel and camping trips. And besides an AstroVan or a Mark III would be full of awesome.

Mister W is anti-van. The center of gravity is too high.

They tip.

They have exploding engines. (At least that is the gist of what I got out of his rant against vans. I sort-of tuned him out after the first five minutes.)

You name it; he’s used it as a reason.

Fine. Let’s look at SUVs. Same flipping problem.

Ok, I think, what about a truck. Eyebrows rise in interest. He agreed to that if he got to drive the truck. So I said “okay, but it needs to be an extended cab to fit us all in.” Well, the truck idea went out the window. Reason? Gas and mileage.

When I find a car we could afford, he shoots it down for some reason. For example, tonight I found a ’99 Passat on AutoTrader. It was listed just under $7,000 which is really a lot if you go just by year alone but it also had really low mileage and when I checked the CarFax, the two owners were obsessive about servicing and maintenance. So when Mister W got home from work, I showed it to him. He looked at the year said, “Warranty” and walked away. He refuses to consider a car that is older even if it has low mileage because it wouldn’t come with a warranty.

Argh!

After a deep sigh and eye roll, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t talk to the man anymore. He is far too picky and fussy.

I'll just go pick out a nice little number and it'll be in the driveway when he gets home.

Tuesday Bananagrams


Dear Secret Blogiary,

In honor of the upcoming Halloween festivities, I opted for a Halloween Haiku.

Enjoy.



The answer will be revealed in the comments section next week.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Art of Babies and Diaper Cake Construction

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I decided that the Sunday Supper posts are going to have to be put on hiatus for the time being. It isn’t that I didn’t like doing them, but it has been overwhelmingly busy on the weekends lately and with Nano just around the corner and Thanksgiving and Christmas racing in behind, I am feeling stretched and stressed already.

Instead, today I worked on making a diaper cake for my BFF Rose who is due in December. If you don’t know, a diaper cake is a “cake” made with baby supplies: cloth diapers, receiving blankets, hooded towels, socks, washcloths, toys and other essential baby material. You can see some really gorgeous examples at Rattlecake and if I had really wanted to save my sanity and some money, I would have ordered from them instead of attempting one on my own. But...well, I never once claimed to be rational.

Diaper cakes are expensive to make especially when the person for whom you are making it is an eco-friendly vegetarian and registered for only 100% organic cotton everything. I would go that route too if I could afford it. I also found out she is going with the au naturel diaper option so a diaper cake is a perfect gift!

The girls and I had too much fun at Target picking out the baby gear needed to go into the cake. It is hard to imagine now that my girls were ever as tiny as the baby clothes we saw! I ended up spending way more money then I had wanted, but I was able to completely justify it by clearly and slowly explaining to Mister W (again) that Rose is an Only Child and I am her BFF, which means, of course, that I will be Little Baby’s Only Aunt and therefore I am allowed to spoil the snot out of Little Baby.

Nyah.

After unloading all the bags onto the dinning room table, Little Sis reverantly touched every item with a single finger as if they were sacred talismans. She oohed over the tiny booties and gave the rattles a timid shake. She looked at me and asked when I was going to give her a little brother or sister. Mister W gave me “the look” - the one that said "HA! Have fun explaining that one to her and oh by the way, she'll also want to know where babies come from, because you know that'll be the next question" - and walked away from the table.

Oh. Boy.

That is a story for another day, but I explained that Mommy was happy with just two shiny pretty girls even if they were from Outer Space! That prompted giggles and the subject was easily diverted.

We went back to the cake and looked over the instructions and started unwrapping everything and rolling diapers up. We rolled up the first dozen and wrapped a thick ribbon around it for the “top layer.” Then we started rolling receiving blankets and towels together and as we reached for the last towel, we realized we had forgotten an essential piece: The Diaper Pins!

We secured the “bottom layer” with a ribbon temporarily and then tried to figure out how to get all the goodies inside. Little Sis played with the baby face clothes trying to roll them up to look like flowers like in the picture from the directions. Big Sis debated the merits of stuffing the toys and rattles into the top rolls or unrolling the whole thing and rolling the toys up inside.

As I stared at the cake, all I could think about was how I would ever get this thing shipped without it falling apart. We played with it for a few more minutes until Little Sis, frustrated that she couldn’t make wash cloth flowers wandered off to play on the computer and Big Sis started hinting that it was close to suppertime.

So the cake is on hold for right now. Once we get diaper pins I am sure the whole thing will come together effortlessly.

Right.

Well, at least the blanket I made is done.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dear Mom

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I had an interesting encounter while I was visiting my mother tonight. And it was bugging me something fierce...not enough to talk to her about it (because as I might have mentioned, I am really not fond of confrontation), but I was bothered enough that I wrote a letter to her, one that she will probably never read. It did accomplish its mission though, for once I wrote it, I felt better.

Dear Mom,

Just because I don’t like something you do, doesn’t mean I’m being contrary.

I don’t like the movies you do. I’m sorry. I haven’t been into mainstream Hollywood for a really long time. When? You ask. Well, around the time that Hollywood just kept recycling garbage and actors like Jim Carey and Adam Sandler became popular. Movies like Wild Hogs destroy my faith in humanity. I am tired of actors thinking that because they are famous they can behave any way they want and get away with it. They have a moral obligation to society to model exemplary behavior because so many of our youth look up to them. Therefore, I boycott a great many movies. I will not give my money to see a movie starring, produced or directed by such people.

And yes, as I have told you before, I am anti-CGI, so please stop asking me to watch Avatar or any other movie with excessive amounts of CGI. George Lucas killed it for me. Too many have misused the technology just because they could, not because it would enhance the movie. And please I won’t even discuss the rash outbreak of 3-D movies that have no right to be 3-D. And let’s clarify another point: just because I don’t like sappy WE T.V. movies does not mean I am not in touch with my emotions it just means I have no tolerance for “women are victims” movies.

Mom, don’t get mad, but I also don’t watch T.V. all that much either and certainly not ghost hunters or UFO hunters or any other paranormal show nor do I appreciate you letting Little Sis watch shows like that, especially since she then comes home and has nightmares about ghosts taking her away.

T.V. comedies are not funny to me.

Reality T.V. is anything but.

Fox News has no concept of “fair and balanced.”

Mom, please keep in mind that I don’t ever get pissy at you when I suggest a movie that you are uninterested in, or a book or a TV show for that matter. I say “okay” and move on with it. But when I say I am not interested in something you like you go out of your way to inform me that I am being contrary, difficult and elitist.

And you’re absolutely right about how I don’t like going to your house. Think about that though, I have never been to your house when the TV wasn’t on. And there isn’t really anything for me to do there. When I try to bring something to do, I get scolded for not socializing and being grumpy, but it is hard to socialize over Glenn Beck.

Here’s what I like to do: I like to read books. I like to work on craft projects with the girls. I like to play board games. I like to spend time with my girls looking at them, not at a T.V. screen. If that makes me elitist and difficult, well, I will just have to accept that label.

Think back, Mom, way back, did I ever once beg you to watch a movie with me? If I did I can’t recall it, but I can recall all the times I begged you to play a game with me or read me a story and I was put off with the claim that you were too tired. I don’t blame you for that, I know you were working, I know money was tight, but the age difference between my siblings often left me by myself so I made do.

I guess the point I am trying to make, Mom, is that I like things you don’t and you like things I don’t. And that’s okay. Just because were different does not mean I love you less or that I am deliberately trying to hurt your feelings. Please stop being so sensitive. I know that you have always yearned to have with me the type of relationship that you had with Grandmother. But you have to admit, we have never had that type of relationship. You and Grandmother were closer in age and liked the exact same things. With only 17 years separating you and your mom you were able to be friends. You could talk to Grandmother in a way that I cannot talk to you. We have over thirty years between us and I have never felt anything but a mother-daughter relationship with you.

I am just me.

You should be proud of me for my moral convictions especially since you were the one who helped  instill them. You should rejoice that I am not mindlessly brainwashed by technology or messages about women that contradict how you raised me. You should be thrilled that I demand more from my entertainment than contrived drivel. And you should be overjoyed that I don’t just believe what I see and hear on the news, that I look for my own answers. You should love that I am raising my children as you raised me: with morals, honesty, and integrity.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Playing Hookey

Dear Secret Blogiary,

After a particularly stressful Wednesday, I needed a break. So I took one. I played hooky. But even better than that, Big Sis and Little Sis came right along with me!

I am corrupting the youth! Well, my youth anyway.

I wish I could say that we lazed in our PJs until noon eating bon-bons (which just so we are clear, I have never had). But even knowing that we were skipping school, we were all up at our regular time. Pitiful. What a waste of good sleeping weather.

I wish I could say that I made pancakes or waffles, but I didn't. Cold cereal and leftover oatmeal filled our bellies.

I wish I could say that I ignored all the housework in favor of sitting at the computer and playing Sims until my blood congealed in my rear.

What we did instead: cleaned. Scrubbed, vacuumed, organized and washed the upstairs in preparation for my Father's visit. He'll be here tomorrow and we didn't finish!

Instead, after we got the rooms shiny, we went for sushi and I discovered that I totally love raw salmon. Can't stand it when its cooked, but I am digging it raw. We went to the library where, after paying my overdue fines, I checked out enough trashy romances to last me until Nano starts. Then to Target for last minute materials for an upcoming Girl Scout meeting. And a quick dash to the Halloween store where the girls finally decided on costumes.

There used to be a time when I made them from scratch, but they are both so undecided and wishy-washy that it is just more practical to let them wander around the aisles and pick something.

Big Sis is going as either Indiana Jones or a Ninja. Possibly Indiana Jones dressed as a Ninja. Either way its cool. Little Sis was going to be a Vampire Fairy. Then she was going to be a Poison Butterfly. She really wanted something with wings and something "scary." What she ended up with was a purple witch's costume decked out in rhinestones and a can of purple hair spray.

Then we spent an hour in PetSmart naming each hamster and gerbil. They have both been hinting (and by hinting please understand that to mean: begging non-stop for weeks) that they would love to have hamsters. Cute, fluffy, cuddly little hamsters that would just as soon die if you look at them funny.

The final result: I need to skip school more often! And I have apparently pledged myself to "thinking about" hamsters.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday Bananagrams


I like writing haikus, so that's where I went again. And really, it is super-fun trying to get all the words to link together!


Answer to follow in comments next week!

Monday, October 18, 2010

If I was any busier I might actually get something accomplished.

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Ten Things I should be doing right now instead of playing on the Internet:

10 – laundry.

You can not imagine the pile of laundry that has accumulated in front of my laundry closet. This is what happens: I can’t seem to get the hang of doing a load of laundry every night. I like separating: whites, lights, darks, and delicates. You know the deal. So when the weekend comes, I spend time doing laundry…unless of course I have more pressing needs to attend, like for example: going to the zoo, playing D&D, crafting anything, talking on the phone with my out of state BFF. All these things take precedent over stupid laundry.

9 – cleaning the kitchen.

Or at the very least, running the dishwasher, but since I am also thinking about running laundry I have a vital decision to make. Clean spoons or clean underwear. Hmmm.

8 – grading papers

The end of the quarter is Friday and I have a stack of 110 final exams + 110 final essays + all the assignments that should have been turned in weeks ago that are now just getting turned in because OMG not doing work amazingly equals failing grade and since I am not allowed to actually fail a student, I have to offer grade recovery in the form of “please turn in your work whenever you feel like it, I have to accept it.”

7 – reading

Back in the bookstore we met and fell totally in love. How your blurbs caught my eye and your first chapters sang to me. It didn’t matter one bit that I had other books with me you were all fine with sharing my affection. And then, what do I do? Plop you on a shelf and occasionally glance your way with longing. I’m sorry, this time it really is me, not you.

6 – watching my Netflix

I have been waiting and waiting for an opportunity to sit and watch “A Town Called Panic.” I have yet to have the T.V. to myself. And since I refuse to allow T.V. in other rooms, I wait….Netflix waits…

5 – walking the dog

Oh love my dog, don’t get me wrong, but I have learned since owning my dog, that I don’t really like them. And I really don’t like interacting with the dog. So what should be a brisk 45 minute walk around the neighborhood twice a day is really only a five minute pee and poop break. I really need to get back into the habit as the dog is going stir crazy and to be honest, I guess I might be too.

4 – getting the lunches for tomorrow

Mornings are always rushed, panicked and disruptive in my house. I rarely make it to the bus stop and four out of the five days, I drive Little Sis to school. I really don’t mind, but I hate that early morning rush when it feels like my house is where the rush hour traffic bottlenecks from six lanes into one. The nights that I do prep for lunches always result in a smoother panic free morning.

3 – lesson planning

Since Mister W and I have talked about our plans for the future my desire to do anything work related has tanked. Unfortunately, this poses a slight problem as I am still expected to attempt to teach. As of 9:30pm, I still have no idea what the plan is for tomorrow or how I might execute said plan.

2 – sleeping

Mister W complains every year that between October and January, he never sees me. I’m here, but October through January is my “peak” seasons when I indulge in all manner of craftiness from painting to scrapbooking to writing to sewing. I often go into overdrive and rarely do I go to bed before 1 AM during these months.

1 – WRITING!!!

OMG!! NANWRIMO is almost here and I have done NOTHING! Nothing, I say, to prep! Oh I’ve given some thought to characters, to plot, to setting… but I still don’t know what I am planning on writing. I mentioned in an earlier post that I was thinking about a vampire romance spoof and an apocalyptic humorous story, or maybe even going back to work on a story from long ago. Well, it just so happened that I caught a report on NPR about the T.V. show Sister Wives and that got another story all jumping through my brain like it was a kangaroo in heat! So I am now quadruplely torn. What to do! What to do!


PS - obviously I failed on the whole post every day for a month gig but I pinky promise, I will try to be better. Really. I've got a number of posts I am working on and a Banagram Tuesday puzzle for tomorrow! You can count on me. Mostly.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Man Can Plan

Dear Secret Blogiary,

So the word is in and it is not in my favor. Not that everything has to be about me (though it is nice when it is) and not that I expect to win get my way all the time (although, really, I still don’t understand why I don’t).

Mister W and I had a deep standing-in-the-kitchen conversation about plans for the future tonight. This was probably not the best time to converse about the subject, but as I had finally forced my way through the massive number of secretaries and voice mails and actually managed to speak to the real live lawyer*, I was able to get some basic real estate advice. And the crazy thing was, after I explained what was going one with Mister W’s dad, the house and everything, his legal advice was explicitly simple in design:

Walk Away.

It. Isn’t. Worth. It.

This from a LAWYER!!

Wow.

He laughed and commented that I sounded like I had been raised by “proper” middle class parents who instilled in me a set of rigid morals that kept me on the straight and narrow.

And I certainly was. You pay your debts, pay your taxes and follow the rules. I was good with this system. I like it. It works for me. Everything is structured and symmetrical; which is odd, considering how chaotic and spontaneous I tend to be. I have never understood myself!

In any case, Mister W and I talked and we developed a three year plan. One that unfortunately does not involve me moving to Maine and becoming a lobsterwoman, never mind the fact that looking at waves gets me seasick! The plan then is this:

We walk away from the house, bankroll my paycheck, I keep working at least until the school year is over, and then we pick up an apartment closer to Mister’s work and I can work or not (probably will so as to keep the extra money coming in for the next two years and then Mister W will entertain the possibility of moving back up north. Maybe.

This is something that I have just got to accept. I knew way back when, that Mister W did not want to leave Florida. He likes it here, likes his job and really invested in it. But me? I’ve never been thrilled with Florida. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it since I came here. I hate it for nine months of the year when the blistering sun bakes the very gray matter in my brain. And Florida loves to torture me with the blistering heat.

There are way more reasons than this, but far too many to go into any great detail. Let’s just say that I came with the understanding that I would remain no more than four years. It has now been ten years and I am more than ready to exit stage right!

The biggest problem I have with this plan is that it puts Big Sis as a junior in high school when the plan magically comes to fruition. And I would feel bad ripping her from school (assuming she didn’t graduate early and head to MIT or Yale because that is how bad-ass her brain is). I hate that I have been unable to provide for her the kind of physical environment I had growing up. I hate that for most of her life she had lived in a city and a crappy one at that! Obviously, I can’t change the fact, I can only do what I can to ease my mind about it (because really, I don’t think she has ever once complained about it except once she mentioned she wanted to live in the country and raise chickens).

Little Sis is, quite honestly, happy wherever. She wants a horse and to live on a farm, but then so did I and that never happened and I turned out mostly sane. I still want to live on a farm though, except, I’d rather have llamas than a horse. And a large concrete wall but that’s a story for another day.

Little Sis seems to have the mindset that home is where Mommy and Daddy are and if we don’t have a horse, chickens or llamas, that’s okay because it is. She is so wise sometimes and makes connections that I just don’t remember making at her age.

I guess what it boils down to is that Mister W needs a plan and I think plans take too long. I’d go tomorrow if Mister W said, “Hey, let’s jam!” I’ll go his way, though, if for no other reason than that while I hate my job, Mister W loves his and he is really good at it. His biggest fear about the “let’s just go” plan is that we’d go and end up in a worse situation where he is in a job that he hates and I can’t find a job I love.

Also, he seems very concerned about food.

Geeze. As if I wouldn’t pack a few granola bars to tide us over.

*Coolest thing about being part of a union, I totally have free access to a lawyer…and of course, by free I mean I make regularly monthly payments to be able to have access to a lawyer.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Supper

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Sometimes there just isn't enough time in the day to make a proper Sunday supper. Today was one of those days. Between all the household chores and a house full of guests (the kind that I don't feed), there was just barely enough time to make our weekly treat. Dinner was a late, rushed and virtually pre-packaged meal.

So I present: Chicken Alfredo from not really scratch and a totally from scratch Busy Day Chocolate cake with Oozey Chocolate Glaze.

From this:


  To this:


And then right in the pan with just a little salt and pepper.


Whole Wheat spaghetti.


From-a-jar Alfredo
(to be perfectly honest, I have never mastered the art of Alfredo from scratch anyway)
  
  
In goes the sauce and the chicken.


Yummy. Quick. Mostly healthy.
(notice a lack of veggies?)
And best of all the two biggest picky eaters I know gobble it up!


Ahh... and then the cake. I use the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book from the late 70's. Which just proves that good recipes are timeless like Little Black Dresses and Martinis.
I was quite busy so I did not remember to capture the build, but the final result is oh so pretty.


For the glaze:

Two squares semi-sweet baker's chocolate...


...all chopped up.


3/4 cup powdered sugar and 1.5 tsp butter.


Melt the butter and chocolate over low heat...



Remove from heat then add powdered sugar and mix it all up.


Add about 2 tbs of hot water (more or less depending on desired consistency)


Slather it all over the cake.


Talk about pretty and shiny!


I added sugar crystals for decoration.


Moist and picture perfect!

And of course, quickly devour because *Someone* might have finished his piece while you were taking pictures and start eyeing your piece!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Almost Kind-of Counts, Right?

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I sort of had a threesome once.

Over at Toy With Me, there is a lively discussion about the pros and cons of a MMF versus a MFF threesome. The Queen of Fucking Everything got it all started with this post. And then her husband responded with this. I have to say I agree that a MMF has got to be the way to go. It seems more naughty…more thrilling…more thrusty.

Mister W and I have been together for 15 years and we when started dating we were just punk teenagers without a clue. At 19 and 18, we thought, as many teen-almost-adults do, that we couldn’t go wrong with anything we did. So at 18, Mister W moved out of his father’s house and rented a small trailer with his buddy John.

John was Mister’s almost exact physical opposite. Mister: tall, blond, kind of nerdy. John: Short, dark and buff. Personality-wise they were pretty similar which is why I was attracted to both of them although I favored Mister’s looks over John’s.

John had a girlfriend and the four of us would often have dinners and get togethers at the squalid trailer (it really was squalid but how cool was it to be all like, “I’m going to my boyfriend’s place!). Being young men, Mister and John did not invest much in furniture or decorating. They had a second hand table in the kitchen; they bought the cheapest set of Cornell dishware and a sauce pan. The each bought used mattresses (skeevy) which I immediately purchased waterproof/allergy protective sleeves for. They used baskets and boxes for dressers and aside from a kick-ass stereo, T.V. and VCR completely ignored the need for any other required furniture: no sofa, no chairs, not even a stool! But being teenagers, sitting on the floor didn’t bother us in the least.

As it happened John and his girlfriend had one of those relationships where if they weren’t broken up they weren’t happy. I often spent much of my time alone with both the guys and they doted on me-I cooked, cleaned and took care of them so they had better of doted!

One particular night, after John and his girlfriend had broken up again, he was feeling depressed and sad. I took it upon myself to cheer him up. I made a nice dinner of hotdogs and macaroni and cheese. We had a picnic on the living room floor and listened to some music.

As it got later, we decided to watch a movie and we pulled Mister’s mattress out into the living room so we could get comfortable. And that, my friends, is the start of my almost nearly oh-so-close threesome.

The three of us snuggled on our makeshift couch: Mister on one side, John on the other. At 19, I thought I was pretty awesome and I began very quietly and subtly fondling Mister. Nothing porno-style, just small little caresses letting him know I was interested in maybe later on taking care of some business.

John had obviously noticed and made a snarky remark about how lucky Mister was to have me willing to take care of him.

Very politely and innocently, I turned to John and said, “Sweetie, I can take care of both of you.”

John looked over my head at Mister and raised his eyebrow. Then, very boldly, reached out and started to caress my neck and when Mister didn’t say anything, went lower. Mister rolled me over so that I was facing John and then Mister began kissing my neck and running his hands up and down.

I was in shock…in heaven…in disbelief. I completely didn’t think that Mister would be so good at sharing. We played and touched and kissed…let me rephrase that I played and touched and kissed both of them. They individually played and touched and kissed me. If Mister was touching down below, then John was above. Then, like tag-team wrestlers they’d switch out, swiftly changing positions so that neither of them touched the other.

Their soul focus was on me and my pleasure and pleasure me they did with hands and mouths but it stopped there. I was allowed only to caress them. I made one motion to move so that I could offer Mister Fellatio, but he stopped me, grabbing my shoulders and holding me against him while John suckled my nipples.

As if through some unspoken communication between the two of them, they never took it to the ultimate culmination. And even though I was clearly in favor of it, there wasn’t an iota of penetration.. We spent all night together. They each brought me off, we’d fall asleep, wake-up disorientated, then reach out and begin touching again. And while at the time I thought it for the best, now, I wish we had gone farther

The next morning, Mister was the only one who had to go to work. He kissed me rolled me over to face John and left for the day. John pounced on the opportunity Mister presented him but after just a few moments of his hands roaming upon me, I stopped him.

It was one thing for John to touch me when Mister was there, but with him gone, it felt like cheating. John rolled over, clearly frustrated, told me I was right to stop him and crawled from the bed.

So that’s how I almost had a threesome but despite the fact that three of us were in a bed together and intimacy was being shared, I still don’t consider that encounter a true threesome as 1) there wasn’t any actual sex; 2) because Mister and John did not interact with each other; and 3) I was the only person in the bed that night that got off.

At this point, I can't say I'd like to try for another threesome. I think that I am much more modest now than I once used to be. And I don't know anyone right now that I'd trust enough to share that sort of experience with, male or female.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I might be Mean, but you're still an Ass

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Without fail, every year I am accused of being a racist.

Without exception the student that accuses me of this is always a black boy who has been diagnosed as OHI: a nebulous label that essentially means the child has been diagnosed with an unknown behavioral disorder that is not a learning disability.

These are the students who are not disciplined according to the Code of Conduct because they “can’t be held accountable for their actions.” These are the students whose parents offer no support at school and tell us they’re our problem between 9:30 and 4pm.

Personally, these are the kids that desperately need to be held accountable for their actions because we are doing them a grave disservice. We allow them to continue without consequence and then shake our heads sadly when those same kids become a statistic.

The group of kids I have this year have been a problematic group since they were in sixth grade. The 6th grade teachers warned the 7th grade teachers last year and then in turn the 7th grade teachers warned us. Disrespectful, Disruptive, Disinterested, the three D’s heard over and over for the class of 2014. The 8th grade teachers came down hard the first few weeks but nothing seems to faze them as a whole. I typically end up spending most of the class dealing with behavior problems.

Clarence has been a problem since day one. Every other word from his is a curse. He thinks nothing of making sexual comments to both girls and boys in the class. He exhibits violent tendencies, immediately jumping to his feet the moment he perceives a “challenge.” He is a bully, he makes threatening gestures and comments. He refuses to do any work and cares not at all about his grade.

I have used all my interventions: changing seats, time outs, parent contact, referrals. Nothing works. Maybe if he was the only problem OHI student in the class (he is one of 12). Maybe if I was the only teacher having an issue with him, I could just suck it up and deal with it, but every teacher on my team has trouble with him. Maybe if I had administrative support and Clarence received consequences instead of “conferencing” he might settle down.

Today, I had enough. I sent him and a few others to the office and wrote more referrals. When they strode back into class right before lunch, Clarence danced in, his pants sagging down to his calves and with every step he stopped and thrust his hips forward sexually. I told him to stop and sit down and he just laughed and said he was “dancing.”

I just gritted my teeth and glanced at the clock. Only a few minutes until lunch, I thought, and I wrapped up class as best that I could. A few minutes later we were out the door, down the hall, standing in line waiting to go into the cafeteria.

I happened to be standing near Clarence.

“Mrs. W. I think you racist.”

“Really?” I reply, indifferent. “Why do you say that?”

“You don’t like me ‘cause I’m black.”

“No, Clarence, I dislike everyone equally.” I say. It is my standard response to the kids that try to pull a race card with me. I have no tolerance for those types of games.

“Really? ‘Cause you yell at me all the time. You mean, too, you always pickin’ on me.”

“Because you are disruptive. And I’m not “picking” on you, I am attempting to redirect your behavior.” Why I try to reason or explain myself is perplexing.

I moved forward in along the line getting my “wanderers” back into line. While I was doing this, another student, David, a tall gangly black boy came rushing up to me.

“Mrs. W.!” He cried out giving me a big hug.

David is also labeled OHI but his “behavior problem” is a deep need for constant attention and if he doesn’t get it, he fidgets and calls out, so while disruptive, he does follow most of the class procedures and has not once been rude or disrespectful to me or any other student.

I give David a quick one armed pat and ask him how his day has been.

He smiles down at me (did I mention this kid is TALL? Taller I think than Mister W.) and says, “Been good so far, Ma’am. Lookin’ forward to lunch.”

“Me too,” I reply as he rejoins his class in line.

Immediately after David walks off Clarence steps forward his arms open.

My eyes narrow and I step back and say, “Get. Away. From. Me.” Each word is enunciated, pointed and hard.

Maybe I shouldn’t have said it like that. I was harsh and rude. But I had had enough of him.

“Oh,” Clarence spit out, “You’ll give David a hug.”

“Yup. I like him.”

Maybe I shouldn’t have said that either.

Clarence steps toward me again and I glare at him, turn and walk away.

I got to thinking about his comment though later on. There is no way I could have taught for as long as I have at my school if I was racist. I work in a minority school and the population is roughly 85 percent black.

As a teacher, I am supposed to be fair and unbiased toward the students. And regarding grades and discipline I am 100 percent fair and balanced (like Fox but with less snark). But I am also a human. And I’ve got feelings. So, yeah, I’ll readily admit I have kids that I adore – black, white or green! And I have kids that I dislike intensely; I try not to hate, but sometimes I do. And as much as I try not to let my feelings show, it is really hard to pretend I have anything but disgust and loathing for a certain few.

Does that make me a racist?

According to Dictionary.com racism is:

1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

So by definition, I am not. I just have intolerance for this one particular kid.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesday Bananagrams

Dear Secret Blogiary,

For some reason, I've never had a lazy Tuesday. I always end up being overbooked with activities and meetings. Today was no exception, but I managed to carve out a few minutes to play Bananagrams by myself after Little Sis and I read our bedtime story and I did the dishes but before Big Sis needed my help with homework and Mister W took his shower (we have our own special appointment later).

The girls and I play Bananagrams a few times a week. It is a fast-paced after dinner game that we all enjoy. So I had a great thought about using Tuesday as Bananagram day!!

YAY!

Welcome readers to the FIRST EVER Tuesday Bananagrams! I'll create a Bananagram message and you all can try to figure it out.


Today's Bananagram is a haiku.



Try to figure it out and post your response in the comments. I'll post the answer later this week...maybe next Tuesday.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Culture Shock

Dear Secret Blogiary,

One of my students today, while we read an essay about growing up with black and white TV, calls me to his table. I go looking to help with a question; instead, he leans over his book, his dreads falling into his face and he points to a grainy black and white photograph the kind you only see in a grandmother’s album.

“Look at this, Mrs. W.” He looks up at me. “What they doing?”

I cringe a little at the poor grammar, but as I have been instructed, I correct only through modeling proper speech. I look at the photograph: a family sitting, Norman Rockwell style, around a table eating dinner. I look at him and blink.

“What do you mean?” I ask frustrated that this was not a “real” question regarding the assignment and fear he is trying to avoid the work, “They’re eating dinner.”

“Yeah, but, they all sittin’ at a table together.”

“Are you serious?” Confused now I stare at him and he looks back at me and nods.

“Yes.” I say slowly nodding trying not to appear as though I am indulging a small child. “That’s what people do when they eat dinner. They sit at the table and talk about their day. Most of the time that is the only time people have together with all the busy schedules.”

“Huh.” He looks back at the picture. “You do that?”

“Eat as a family?”

He nods and his dreads bounce, once, twice.

“Every night. And I try to make a point of having a breakfast together every week too, usually on Sunday.”

He looks at his group, all young black boys, as if to say: “the things crazy white people do” and then back at me dumbfounded. “You watch TV while you eat?”

I shake my head.

“What you do then?”

“We talk. About our day, what happened at school and work. Things that we learned or funny things that people said at work.”

“How long do it take you to eat?”

“At least half an hour, sometimes longer. After dinner, about two or three times a week, we’ll play a card or board game.”

He falls silent for a moment absorbing what I say.

“Huh,” he says finally, shaking his head and flipping back to the story.

“What is it?” I ask.

“Mrs. W.” he says, “ain’t no one in my family ever do that. We grab the food from the kitchen and sit in the living room to watch TV or text while we eat. Most of the time, my ma just text on her phone while we eat.”

I am horrified.

How do I tell him that his parents are robbing him of a good childhood? Do his parents not realize that eating with your children is one of the best ways to stay in touch with them, keep them on track? How do I convey the best part of my day is joining my family at the table. So much can happen at the dinner table, it makes me sad to realize that some kids won’t ever have that experience.

And then just as soon as I think that, I realize I shouldn’t judge. It isn’t my place. I remember my "cultural diversity" training and realize that even though we are both Americans, we do not share the same culture. Still, I am distraught and even though I have taught in this school for six years, I am continually shocked by the foundational differences.

I have no response, so I smile at him, point to the book and tell him to get back to work. And as I reflect on the moment, I wonder if I had said all the things I was thinking, would it have made a difference?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Supper

Dear Secret Blogiary,

As envious as I am of other food blogs like The Pioneer Woman and Bakerella I thought I'd try my own hand at it. After spending far too much time in the kitchen for a simple meal, I've come to the conclusion that if I do this more, it will probably only happen on Sunday when I have the time to play with my food and the camera.

So here is my first ever Sunday Supper:

Sweet Potato and Ham Soup and Homemade Applesauce

First the sweet potatoes: three large ones will do


Bake at 400 for 45 minutes or until soft. Let them cool slightly and then strip peel them.
See how the skin just falls away?
See all that good caramelazation that took place in the oven?


In batches, puree sweet potatoes with 3 14.5 ounce cans of chicken stock (I use low sodium)


Pour into pan (I ended up using my crock pot because I was using my only large stock pot to make the applesauce)


Bring to a simmer and then add 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. Stir and simmer some more. Then add some ham cubes.


Simmer some more and then add about half a cup of heavy cream.
Don't measure.
Really don't. Do this part to taste.
I always end up adding more than a half cup.


Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes and then remove from heat.


Oh. Yum.
This is a perfect soup for autumn.
Creamy, filling, with just a touch of heat from the cayenne.
Perfect.

And then onto dessert.  
Although really, can applesauce really be considered dessert?
According to Big Sis and Little Sis, this is the best dessert ever!

I start with a mix of apples.
Today, I used Gala, Granny and Red Delicious
(sometimes, I get daring and add in pears, too!)


Peel 'em.


Core 'em.


Coarse chop 'em.


Mix 'em with cinnamon, sugar and 1/4 cup water
(nope, I didn't measure these out either)


Cover and cook 'em over medium heat until they start to bubble.


Stir then turn the heat to low, cover, and let simmer, occasionally stirring.

Until you end up with this:


Admittedly, these are not very complicated recipes. But they are oh so good.

The applesauce is particularly versatile. Mister W likes to eat his over vanilla ice cream - like apple pie ala mode with out the crust. Big Sis loves to dip graham crackers in hers. Little Sis eats it as is. I've also used it to replace oil in certain recipes and in a spice cake. You can also cook this down even further if you are opposed to chunky style.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

It must be a Velociraptor

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Big and Little are out playing in the neighborhood while I am cooking dinner. I am listening to music and doodling on the cover of a notebook waiting for water to boil when a large crashing thump resounds from Big Sis’s room upstairs. I jump and then call Big Sis on the walkie.


Me: Hey.

Big Sis: What?

Me: There was a big thump in your room, but I’m not going up there because it is scary.

Big Sis: Okay.

Me: I mean it. It was very loud and smashy sounding. I think it might be a troll.

Big Sis: I don’t think so. Probably just the cats.

Me: I don’t know it sounded super crashy and kind-of breaky like.

Big Sis: Do you have to make all of your verbs into adjectives?

Me: Yes. But I am still not going up there.

Big Sis: I might have been *static* so don’t worry.

Me: OMG! I bet it was a velociraptor!

Big Sis: Mom, it was probably just my butterfly chair. I had it standing up.

Me: Okay, it might have been the butterfly chair falling over but it was probably knocked over by a velociraptor.

Big Sis: It was not a velociraptor, Mommy.

Me: Okay, but I’m going to put the gate up at the bottom of the stairs so that if it is a velociraptor, it won’t be able to come downstairs and get me.

Big Sis: Are you done?

Me: *sigh* Yes.

We all could use some clarification sometimes

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I spent a good portion of today writing. I used the "Writer's Book of Days," and ended with a decent 2,600 word short story. I was getting ready to post it, when I thought all of a sudden about copyrights. I am in the process now of researching copyrights and blogs and as soon as I get the information I need, I will be more willing to post stories to my blog. Until then, please enjoy this picture I drew on Paint depicting my workspace.



I only wish that it was this clean and sparsely decorated.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blogtoberfest Kick Off!

Dear Secret Blogiary,

It is almost that time of year again. You know, when would be writers crawl out from what ever manuscript they were feverously working on, and prepare themselves for the glorious madness that is NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. Thirty days of faced-paced furious typing to reach the all powerful 50,000 word count.

Working in devoted frenzy, I managed last year to finally hit that word goal. I am determined to do so again this year too. In fact, I can guarantee that the stakes are much higher this year.

It isn’t just hitting a word goal this year; it is about completing an entire manuscript. I’ve mentioned the trouble I am having at work and how Mister W is all for me quitting. Well, we’ve decided that I am in fact going to quit. We are planning for me to tender my resignation on December 1 with my actual end date as the 31st. This date allows us to settle any accounts and debts as well as start working with a real estate attorney to gracefully walk away from the house.

So this year, NaNo is vitally important. If ever I am to hack it as a writer, now is the time I need to start proving it.

Writing takes time and practice and unfortunately, when things get crazy-busy, daily writing is the first thing that I sacrifice to eke extra time from the day. As such it is not often that I post a blog the same day I type it, sometimes it takes a day or two to get it out, proofread and posted. But in order for me to get back in my good writing habits, I am turning October into BlogtoberFest! Original, right?

For 31 autumn days, I will blog daily, maybe even posting, not once but twice a day. I will blog about my life as I have been doing, but also, I intend to post some creative writing pieces as well. I will be using “A Writer’s Book of Days” by Judy Reeves to help inspire some of my writing exercises and when I do I will post the prompt along with my writing.

NaNoWriMo Countdown is ON!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Concerning the Amish

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I don’t know much about the Amish except what I’ve gleaned from watching that episode* of Arthur when Mr. Ratburn takes the class on a fieldtrip to Lancaster and Buster decides he wants to be Amish. At least I think it was Lancaster because I’m pretty sure that even though they never say where Elwood City is, it is smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania. But based on watching that episode not once but several times, I’m thinking that Buster was on to something.

At some point in their history, the Amish** decided that technology had advanced enough and anything else was simply frivolous. They shun the electricity, the cars, the phones, the car phones, I’m pretty sure they frown on Mp3 players as well. Hell, they even hate buttons and Velcro! All they require to live the good life is The Book, a buggy, some land and neighbors to help with the barn raisings.

As I am not Amish, I tend to watch late night T.V. while I crochet, weave or scrapbook. I can’t stand reality T.V. so I typically end up watching the History Channel or something similar.

Currently, I am both hypnotically fascinated and mortally terrified by the entire line up of apocalypse, end of the world, asteroid shows currently being run ad nauseam on the History, Discovery and Learning Channels. Yet as much as I am tired of watching them, I can’t seem to turn away.

My favorite is “10 Ways the World Will End.” It’s like they were reading my mind and figured that I wasn’t worrying enough about Zombie Plagues, Super Volcanoes and Rogue Waves so now I also have to worry about Doomsday Asteroids, Blackholes, and Gamma Radiation Bursts. Geesh.

Now that I am duly panicked about imminent destruction, 2012, or Apophis, with all this advanced technology, I can’t help but think, “Is anyone going to tell the Amish?”

Probably not. They, the Amish, are probably going about their days plowing fields, quilting, making preserves and awesome wooden furniture that doesn’t even use nails or glue yet lasts forever! And not a single one of them worries about asteroids, blackholes or zombies. They live their lives simply and peacefully. Have you ever heard of a mob of angry Amish looting because their quilt didn’t win at the quilt show? Any Amish double murder suicides in the news lately? What about that Amish politician who was sleeping with his intern? Of course not! No one has, because they don’t concern themselves with the outside world.

Subsistence agricultural in a country that forever looks down upon the agrarian lifestyle, and yet consumers flock to purchase their quilts, furniture and produce.

What snobs we are.

Somebody drops an EMP along the Eastern Seaboard everyone is screwed except the Amish. A comet impacts anywhere, The Amish have it covered, they’ve got root cellars with stores galore. Zombies lurch into their midsts; well those Amish have all manner of reach weaponry right at hand: scythes, shovels, axes. They know how to survive in ways that we with our superior technology have forgotten.

In this age of superior technology, sometimes I can’t help but wonder about how much we gave up. Sure, we live to a hundred, but are we satisfied with that? Did we trade, somewhere along the way, a bit of our humanity for a few gadgets? Is instant communication with millions worth never sitting down to break bread as a family?

So, back to the old farmstead in Lancaster. Here, I am making a stand. No more technology JUST for the sake of technology. Isn’t a DVD player good enough? Does HD really enhance our life? Is it really necessary to be able to contact someone 24/7? If I am going to curl up with a book, it will have physically, turnable pages, Damnit!

Don’t get me wrong, I like AC. I enjoy central heat in the winter. But no more gadgets. No more digital or HD or for God’s Sake 3-D. Enough has got to be enough.

*Buster’s Amish Mismatch Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3oa_VoscwQ
  Buster’s Amish Mismatch Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMioFRJ1p_o&NR=1

**I would like to point at that I really have not done any actually research into the Amish, their beliefs or their lifestyle. All the “factual” information here has been vaguely recalled from Arthur, The Shunning by Beverly Lewis, that Harrison Ford movie, and Amish Paradise by Weird Al Yankovic. Any real facts that I might actually mention regarding the Amish are purely coincidental.