Friday, November 30, 2007

Coming Up on the Finish Line

Well, I am 827 words away. It is 10:19 at night, the last night and my fingers are tired because I started today 5,000 words away from finishing. I had hoped to only have to do 2,000 or so words by tonight but I had a vending event to work last night at Son's school and I came home too tired to see straight. So I waited.

I thought maybe at work I'd get a chance to do a thousand or so words at lunch. But I had to go on a mommy mission and pick up Daughter's coveted Dora Vanity today while I had the money. So nothing.

Then I left work thirty minutes early to go check out a new store where we might be able to sell our puzzles but traffic, a major accident and generally not being as familiar with the area in the dark as I am in the light, got me there 5 minutes after closing and I was still not able to write. But I called the woman who was still in the store and she let me in. It felt good. It felt right. My partner needs to go check it out with me and if she agrees, we may plan on trying to get in there about 6 months from now when the first set of contracted vendor agreements expire. If anyone leaves, that is. I suspect between now and then someone will decide they can't do it anymore or they will screw up the rental agreement and we'll get our shot. There is no waiting list right now so we'd be first on the list. Plus the woman was receptive to what I had to say about our product. It's just the sort of thing she looks for as gifts, she said. Plus she and her partner own two other stores so they are pros and partners - just like us. Perfect. We'll see.

But now, 827 words away, why do I take the time to write here instead of there? Simple. I am savoring the moment.

It felt impossible just a few days ago. If you look at my little widget in my sidebar, you can see I had way more red days than green ones. There was Thanksgiving, cub scout meetings and trips, a fundraiser wrapup and product printing, vending at Son's school, finishing a lesson for my children's writing course, business group meetings, and doctor visits amid the usual work frenzy, homework checking, bedtime stories, dish washing, clothes washing, and the like. I know I did it last year but I just didn't see myself pulling it off this year - yet I was determined until the end.

So now I have an hour and a half to go. Like the dropping of the Time's Square ball, I am counting every word and let me tell you, this is an even bigger deal because I am finishing this at home. For whatever reason I and my other nearby Nano Buddy have yet to figure out, my Word program at work gives me approximately 150 more words when I do a word count there than if I do it at home. So 50,000 words here is 50,150 there. But it's better to err on the side of caution than to upload at 11:50 and find out I am 150 words short. There would be a lot of very-ing and and-ing going on if that happened!

But let me not tempt fate and try to upload near midnight only to find the entire world is uploading and have the website crash or something horrible like that and then I would be counted out. Heaven forbid!

When this is done, sweet reward shall be chocolate covered cherries and watching one of the many shows I missed this week; probably "Heroes".

Back to the grind!
It is 11:10 p.m.

Good night.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Are You In?

Know what I did last night? Instead of writing my ninny novel that is 9,000 words away from done? Until 2 in the morning even though I was already tired after taking Son and Daughter to Son’s cub scout pack meeting – read, TONS o’kids instead of the usual dozen? I went Link crazy.

I’ll explain.

I got the kids settled, Son read his book, they went to bed, I washed dishes and accepted the fact that I would be missing Nip/Tuck for the night because I was too busy. It was already about 10:30 and I had eaten spareribs Mr. T had cooked between shouts at Daughter to go to bed for the 5th time. Nevertheless, I sat down for a moment to chill and look at this lovely catalog that had arrived in the mail. It was just my style, not cheap and full of unique looking stuff. I was intrigued and found some great gift ideas for a friend who is a new mom and one who is having her housewarming next month. And while I was at it, I found another possible gift idea for my nephew-in-law and his wife’s upcoming housewarming that I think is in January. I saw the company, which I had never heard of before, had a website so I checked it out.

“Ooooo! Wishlists! They have wishlists!”

So I saved the stuff I liked for me and I saved the potential gift ideas.

“Hmm, wishlists? Oh yeah! Amazon!”

Off I went because I haven’t updated that one in forever and I had some new books I wanted to keep track of. And I may as well throw in that Palm I still need. And how about some music? May as well get that list going too. And movies? Yep, add them on. And gee, Brain Age! I really have to get that one day. Toss that on the list too because I think this year I’m emailing it to Mr. T, just in case his siblings say, “Hey little brother, what should we get your wife this year?” Mom-in-law gives money so hopefully she’ll never ask him that question because I don’t take Discover or Visa or American Express but cash gets me everywhere I want to be.

Now that little wishlist update somehow, in my twisted mind, made me remember my business meeting from the night before and my internal struggle with networking. So vital yet so hard when you can’t go to 7:30 a.m. meetings. Not now, not ever. At least not until the kids are practically grown. But one way I can network in my own time is via

You know it? If you are dealing with people in any way and if you really want to get ahead somehow in whatever you are doing, this is one way to help you do that. I joined before I took the job I have but I didn’t really work on growing it until I got into my new position and one of the people who was leaving did a mass email to many of us asking us to join his network. It’s been on my mind ever since to keep up with that.

Last night I had LinkedIn scan all my email addresses for people already in their system. Got about 10 new folk that way, some of whom still need to accept. Then I trolled one of my business groups that has over 300 members. I couldn’t send an invite to all of them because I don’t have everyone’s full name but of the ones I sent, I am still waiting on about 80 of them to reply somehow. A few already did. Sweet.

Then I went back in the contacts list to see who was on from my college days. And that’s where it got interesting. I didn’t know too many of those folk. One was a friend I still keep up with but we hadn’t Linked so we’ve done that now. One sounded soooo familiar that I emailed her to see if she’d write back and maybe we’ll Link. We’ll see. Then there was Mr. Popularity. A BMOC if ever there was one. He graduated two years before me and he was the president of the Kappas (Kappa Alpha Psi, for those who don’t know). He has an unforgettable name so of course I recognized it. I flashed back to my best friend at the time. She ADORED him. I can hear her drawing out his name now in the high-pitched squeal she had when she laughed. But we had to be seen as kids to him. At least I know she must have been seen that way because she always had a little girl way about her. (I told you, she is a former friend. Gets tiring after a while.)

So now he’s a lawyer in my town of birth, Washington, D.C. Surely he must be a BMOC there too I bet. I check his profile. THREE connections? Really? I’m kind of surprised. I mean in our small school, everybody knew his name. But maybe he really doesn’t care about networking in this manner, that’s all. Still, it struck me strange. I had to think. He doesn’t know me from Eve but after all these years, his thinking has to have matured right? Networking is networking right? It was amazing how I instantly flew back to not fitting in with his crowd. Not that I wanted to because they were not my type of people and I have NEVER fit in with the in-crowd in my life so why start then? But it kept me wondering. Contact him? Don’t contact him? No messages, per se, just an invite to Link and maybe a brief note so he’d realize we indeed have a connection even if he was oblivious to my existence back then? I looked at his name and kept thinking and just said do it. We weren’t friends then and I doubt we’d do anything for each other now anyway but you never know. Got for it. I did.

Now you think the story ends there don’t you? Nope.

I scanned more names. Remember how I told you my friend was nuts for this guy? Well I had one of those crushes myself so we had a good time baiting each other about our respective loves-of-our-lives-who-don’t know-we are-alive. And watching them. And stalking them, But only a little. (I was 17 and a freshman. Cut me some slack, eh?) Embarrassing, but true. But Maurice – yep his real name - wasn’t a Kappa. He was a laid-back Alpha (Alpha Phi Alpha. A Phi A. Ice ice baby.) He was quiet. He was smart because he was an accounting major and if you can work numbers, I applauded you then and still do. He stopped my heart every time I saw him but I was not the bold type. Got more bold as I got older but not then. I won’t tell you all the stuff I did with my friend in tow. It’s simply more than I care to tell. But we had fun doing it and it helped me break out of my semi-shyness to boot.

I don’t need to say more. You guessed it. He was there in all his glory. I always loved his last name because it was his and I had my days when I imagine it could be mine. Of course I recognized it instantly.

I checked out his profile. Nada. No connections at all. Kind of sad, actually. Made me want to pity link. He’s got no real info about him except where he works but that was interesting because he is in the same state we went to college in all those years ago. He doesn’t give his work history so I don’t know if he ever left or never left. He’s a CFO now. Good for him. I’m sure he must have a family because I wasn’t the only one who watched him and I knew I wouldn’t be the last. I remember the little Greek girl who came into the picture a year or so into our college days. And that’s what I and my friends called her – the little Greek girl – because she just didn’t fit the picture of who should be with Maurice in my mind and I had no respect for her simply because she existed. (I told you I was a teen-ager.) My friend and I watched her too. She was way to giggly for my taste. I don’t know how he tolerated it. Men.

So I check his contacts and he has it set not to receive InMail but I could invite him to Link if I wanted to. He has no connections right now for goodness sake. He’s crying out to be Linked! But do I dare? Do I tell him I inadvertently found him again and risk having him think I tracked him down all these years because clearly I have been waiting for my chance to cyberstalk him and pretending to be in hiding so he’d never suspect? I pondered. I left. I came back. I pondered some more. It was 2 in the morning. Time to call it a night.

Hooking up with friends and acquaintances of the past is cool and if Mr. Popular wants to Link, that would be fine too. But Maurice is on a glass-enclosed shelf all by himself and I’d rather leave him there in all that fantasized perfection. To re-connect at this stage in life and risk ruining my memories all for the sake of one more link in the networking chain is just not a chance I care to take. It’s nice to know I can go “visit” any time I like but there is no place like home.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Let the Season Begin

Too busy to post Happy Thanksgiving posts. I'm terrible. But I hope you had a happy one! I chilled. I wrote. I ate. I chilled some more. I read. I wrote. I chilled lots more. I love doing nothing - when I want to do nothing.

Too busy to post this note. With 7 days and 15,000 words to go until the end of NaNoWriMo, the only thing I should be doing is writing my novel. Instead?

It's Sunday, we went to church and my friend's daughter got baptized today. She's 8. Son thought it was how she joined the church and had lots of questions but he still doesn't get it so I told him he can't do it until he does.

We had to also do the big see-you-later to our friends - the youngest sister of the same friend above - who have now fully moved to North Carolina with her family now that their house here has sold. They take with them the only boy in the world Son will be able to say has been a friend since birth, since his friend was born 6 weeks before he was. He mentioned all the other friends he has at school. I tried to explain to him the significance of a friend who's been in your life so long that you can't remember meeting - I only have one of those myself - but I know he won't get that either, probably much later in life. Lots of tears.

I had lots of the usual housework to do when I got home and now everyone has to get back to routine now that Thanksgiving is over but our minds are also on holiday things and with Mr. T. going to get Son the DS he wanted (don't worry. Son doesn't read this.), the official start to Christmas has begun. We may even get a live tree this year. If Mr. T. will vacuum and pick up the prickly little torturers that bury themselves in carpet, then I will agree to it.

But I can't sing the carols too soon. I have 15,000 words to find and get down on electronic paper. My challenge is to find those words this week amid not one, but two cub scout meetings, a business meeting, a vending event at Son's school and wrapping up the fundraiser we did because hopefully our product will be in our hands this week. It's going to be a photo finish. And it is only now, at 10 p.m., that I can even begin to write something for today because Mr. T. has been tying up my computer ALL DAY - I do mean ALL DAY - downloading TV shows and music for his precious iPhone. Did I say it was ALL DAY? Yeah, it was. Plus I had to stop all my obessesive cleaning that was helping me to forget that I wasn't writing to help him figure out why some of his stuff wasn't downloading. Any iTunes experts out there? Got an error 34; something about a full disk and I can only presume it means my hard drive since he wasn't burning at the time.

Anyway. I had hoped to crank out 5,000 words today so I could start Monday at 40,000 words. Ain't gonna happen. Gotta settle for half that if I can do it.

OK. I gave you 20 minutes. Gotta go.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Books I've Read in 2007

OK, so a friend of mine from one of my writing groups was chatting with us lately saying she keep a running list of books she has read on her blog. (Aside: If you are a writer, I highly recommend joining a critique group. I've been with my group for a couple of years now and I adore them. They are not only a smart, diverse group, they are published and inspirational.) What a great idea, I told her. A perfect way to track my own growth, if you will. So, while I am not going to wrack my brain trying to recall every book from the beginning of the year, I'll just start with now and back track to through summer. This is more for my own record than anything else but you never know. You may see something interesting and want to ask about it, or maybe you read it and wanna chat! Cool! SInce I write for kds and adults, some of the books on my list are kids books I've read as my group and I studied the latest popular works.

So far I have read (or am reading) the following. As you can see, I'm currently nurturing a new Kinsella habit - despite those awful "erms" she uses:

1. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella (book 3 in the series)
2. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
3. Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
4. Mr. Sebastian and The Negro Magician by Daniel Wallace
5. Guide to Organizing Your Life by Donald Wetmore
6. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (kids' book)
7. Ida B. and Her Plans to maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save The World by Katherine Hannigan (kids' book)
8. Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (book 1 in the series)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Taste of Domesticity

Someone please tell me why, once it gets here, the holiday season has to move so quickly! How on earth can it be Thanksgiving already THIS week? And I certainly don't have enough paychecks left between now and Christmas. It would be great if I could spend a whole check on Christmas. Hmmm.

Don't get me wrong. I look forward to the break. I look forward to not driving in traffic for two days. I look forward to three "Friday nights" in a row. What's a "Friday night" you ask? A Friday night is when I don't have to do a darn thing the next day and I can go to bed as late as I please because I won't be hopping up the next day. Fridays are usually the only time I get a night like that.

Some Friday nights I know I have to get up early the next day for a hair appointment. Good to get my hair done. Not good to have to do something every single day. Saturday nights usually mean church the next day or, now, Son's cub scout pack may have a trip planned. Saturday nights just aren't really that relaxing these days. Sunday afternoons are good if I don't have to do anything. Like right now. I've got a moment so I tried to call a friend who had her first child back in June. She and her husband are living with her aunt right now. Boy do I know what's that like. But she's not home. So I should be trying one of three other long distance friends but first I thought I'd catch you guys up and then - write. Because that's what November has been the past two years. A time of non-stop writing. The closer we get to the end of the month, the more I should have written, but nope! Been busy. Doing what? Well, take a look at this:

Know what that is? That, my friends, is the very first time I ever made macaroni and cheese from scratch. After nearly 37 years of living, it is only now that I felt compelled to do it. I can't tell you why. I hate to cook, for the most part, but I do get these itches and twitches every now and again. Something domestic possesses me from time to time. So I've been cooking for over a week now for the heck of it. It's a long time. Trust me.

Daughter and I went to the hairdresser on Saturday. They were having a Thanksgiving dinner that day so my hairdresser, who is also my friend, tells me, "You'd better go get something to eat! Eat, girl, eat! That's less you'll have to buy later!" After a good four hours in there and after sending Daughter home two hours prior because she was done and I was barely started, I said, why not. And what was there? Mac and cheese, of course! A co-worker recently helped me figure out a poll to put on our job website. It was about the tempting foods of Thanksgiving. I told her I figured the list could go on and on. She sent me back some of the more tempting carbs and I replied that macaroni and cheese is as tempting as they come.

"That's NOT a traditional Thanksgiving food!" she IM'd me.

"It is if you're black!" I IM'd her back. She's not. So she laughed. She had mentioned something about pilgrims to which I responded increduosly, "You are talking to the BLACK girl about pilgrims?!" Don't think the incongruity of the two had crossed her mind before then.

Yep, most black folk (and Southerners of all races) have this filling favorite on most of their holiday tables. So maybe there was just something about this time of the year that made me feel like making it. After all, I don't want to have to wait for a special ocassion to go to someone else's home to have something I love so much.

Time to make it for myself. So I wracked my brain trying to recall what I saw over the years as various family members made it. You would think I would have asked the older women where I get my hair done how they make it because I was guaranteed to get a ton of answers. But I didn't feel like listening to the shock and dismay.
"You've NEVER made it from scratch?!"
"How did THAT happen?!"
"Your mama or grandmama didn't teach you?" (For the record, my mother offered when I was a kid back in Philly but I wasn't interested then either.)
"Why, in my day..." I think you can finish that one for yourselves.
Many women of all ages are still surprised that others of us ain't into the kitchen scene. I'm not the career-type, necessarily, thinking cooking is for SAHMs. It's just not me. Unless I'm in the mood.

So I keep thinking about what makes sense and I even checked out the back of the macaroni boxes to see if they had a recipe - of course they did - and to see if it rang any bells. Checking out 3 different brands yielded me pretty much the same recipe with dry mustard and flour as two of the ingredients. But that felt wrong. So I called my mother who said exactly what I was expecting to hear - milk and an egg, among the usual macaroni and various cheeses.

I get what I need and I go home to see what happens. An hour after I put it into the oven, that dish came out smelling up the house and even though I didn't tell anyone I was making it, they came asking because it's one of those unmistakeable odors. Kind of like Doritos, you know it when you smell it.

It was OK. It smelled fantastic, that's for certain. It LOOKED perfect. But it was a little bland for my taste so I'll figure out what's missing - it may be as simple as not enough salt since it tasted more flavorful after I added salt - and I'll try it again eventually.

My need to heat things up in the kitchen hasn't quite dissipated yet. Maybe I'll venture next into forbidden territory - German Chocolate Cake!

But first, I have to write. I'm still woefully behind and there are people who actually think I'll make the 50,000 words anyway! Oh the pressure! That's a good thing, K8. ;-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

So Far and Yet So Near

Look how behind I am!

(The counter keep up with me so at the time I posted this, I was at 10,007 words. Before the night was over, I was at 11,032. Only 38,968 words to go!)

With only 18 days left, I have got to get my words in gear. By the end of the night, I should be in the green again. But at least I finally cracked 10,000. Just 40,000 to go!

It's been a challenge, that's for sure. If Son isn't on the computer playing Club Penguin, Mr. T is there downloading some goodie for his iPhone. I can't seem to get on my own computer when I am awake! So I read at home, waiting for my turn, and I write during my lunchbreak at work. A few times I have been awakened early in the morn by the inability to breathe and I've done some writing then. But it's not enough. I should be at over 21,000 by now. I'm still determined to get there and claim my worthless paper prize.

Of course the weekends aren't giving me much wiggle room either. The first weekend in the month was getting Daughter's hair done and taking updated birthday/kid pictures. Oh! I didn't show you one of those, did I? Aren't they gorgeous?

The second weekend was a workshop and birthday party one day, a trip to the Pequot Musuem the next day with the rambunctious Cubs and somewhere in between, we had to make room for Son to see his friend who just moved to North Carolina and was up for the weekend as his parents packed up their house that just sold. This Saturday coming is a hair appointment for both Daughter and I but then I should be clear to do a little writing - in between finishing a writing assignment for my children's writing course and trying to make the house a little homier. Something about the fall does that to me. I've even been cooking. It's just weird but it tends to keep me busy.

I need a laptop. That's the only real solution. So I can write in the car while waiting for Son. I can write at the hairdresser while waiting for Daughter or getting mine own done. I could be writing from the comfort of my bed. How sweet that would be. A few words here and there. It would be so easy! My old computer can't hack it anymore so we're down to one and clearly that is not enough for a family of four. Daughter will want her crack soon enough and then we'll have to set a schedule.

So a laptop goes on my To-Buy List right after furniture for every room in the house and a new external hard drive/memory for the PC I already have and need for my business. Oh and that needs my money too.

Let's not talk money too much. I was relieved to find out the $649 flood insurance bill that I thought we were going to have to pay in this holiday time was actually escrowed into my mortgage - as I thought it should have been - so that brought 6 days of agita that hindered my writing too. That doesn't relieve the debt that's coming because my poor car needs to go into the shop about 4 times to get everything done that needs to be done. But at least it's a little more I can hold onto for that expense.

No real rest for the weary. Thanksgiving is around the corner and at least I'll get some time then AND quiet since I no longer live in the family house that gets invaded every major holiday. I can't give up yet. I write for the sake of writing and maybe I'll end up with something worth pursuing. Maybe not, since I still don't feel drawn to novel-length stories. But this stuff does wonders for my creativity and sense of accomplishment and I really do love that about it. It's just another 40,000 words. I could say that much yelling at the kids for some ridiculous, childish infraction.

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 09, 2007

And We're Back

It's all about the writing, baby. Got the widget in it's proper place over there on the side, plus now you can all see how horribly I am doing thus far. I should be at about 11, 000 words by now - that's why it's in the red everyday. (Reminds me of my bank account.) Oh well! I'm currently working on a new children's story, a writing assignment for my children's writing course, an article on musculoskeletal issues for my job and, oh yes, there is NaNo. So, methinks I can cut myself some slack. With a new goal of 2,100 words a day, this is still doable. But first I have to get through a weekend of Son's friend visiting from NC, a birthday party for one of Son's classmate's, a trip to a far away museum with Son's cub scout pack, and a business workshop.

Who needs sleep? Or brain cells?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Just For The Weirdness of It

This is from my boss who comes across the oddest things. I'll blog a real post later. If you understand German, let me know what the heck is going on, would ya?



Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Father's Love

God did something for me today. He met a physical need that truly only He knew the depth of. I can't tell you what it was - too personal - and if you had witnessed it, it would have seemed like a small gesture. But it wasn't and it never is when God takes the time to physically stand in front of you and say, "I hear you. I see you. I know what you need. I know what you want. I love you and I am always taking care of you." At least that's what I heard. My Angel only said, "When God tells me to do something, I listen." I had to walk awy before I cried, not that she wouldn't have understood it. I just needed a moment to process the fact the God just validated the need. So many times we think we put ourselves into certain situations because of what we do or don't do. It seems unavoidable, maybe even deserved, however - and I don't know about you - I am harshest on myself and I keep thinking I could have done something differently. I should have. But fixing it, isn't always as easy as you tell yourself it can be. You're just struggling in quicksand.

One of the blessings of being a parent is being in the place of God. To your child, you are the provider. You are the protector. You are the one who makes the bad things go away. You are the one they long to please just because they like to see your smile of approval. Children are not just our charges from God. They are a way to see and feel God in real terms. The lengths you go through to get your child what they want for Christmas. The sacrifices you make so they can take part in activities that they want to do. The sleep you lose because one ear is always listening to them as they sleep, making sure each breath is followed by another one, that the cough is a one-time occurrance. The jobs you sometimes take or stay with not because you want them but because you want your children to feel the security of a home.

They are carefree and full of laughter and hopping from place to place. You are stressed and aggravated and tired. But if you have one last dollar, you'll happily give it to them. If you are down to the last drop of gas in your car, you'll drive them to the moon and pray for a way back. As long as you have a pulse, you are there. And God? He's a million times the parent you are. So just imagine how He must look at us and feel for us. It's not always easy to see - unless you are looking through the eyes of a parent.

I still haven't the words to say to Him and I know I don't need to. But His reaching out to me, through her, just to make sure I knew that He touches me more than I know how to convey. But for certain I wanted to be certain to tell you all that He did that. Because somebody else, I am certain, needed to know it too.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Let The Writing Begin

If it is November 1, 2007, then it must be NaNo time! That's write - pun intended - National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo a.k.a NaNo)is in full effect. It is four hours from the end of day one and I have written ZERO words so far. Woo hoo!

I'm not worried about it. Way to early to worry. This year I will only be doing one book, thank you very much, so I won't be as pressured. Plus, I worked on a bit of an outline this time around so I may even be a little organized but that's because it may be a real story for me as opposed to the one I finished last year, which was just 2 characters that wouldn't let me go so I wrote the life out of them and now I don't care to revisit them. My second one last year I didn't hit 50,000 words but that one is a really work for that I want to complete so that's OK.

This year, I may be working on another real work. We'll see how it goes. I have two children's stories in the works so I have them as a distraction when I want to write my NaNo novel but don't know what to say at the moment. One day I'll make a real effort at shoping around the children's book I already wrote. I've been too busy to be bothered with setting myself up for repeated rejection. ANd I was too busy at work today to think about NaNo. But I have a quick moment and I may at least put my little excerpt in my online book. Depends on how slow the Nanowrimo site is at the moment. I want to at least go pull my word count widget and get that posted so you can all see what I'm not doing. Thank God for DVR. I'm going to miss a lot of my shows.

But first, I need to rest. It's been a long week.