I have always thought that Halloween was a fun holiday. I mean, what's not to love? You get to dress up as whatever you want, people give you tons of candy, and everyone goes out of their way to scare the shit out of you. There are times when I wonder if it's half as much fun for kids now as it was back then. First of all, we never really worried about our safety too much. Sure, my parents made me throw out any unwrapped candy just in case it was poisoned or something, but that was about it. No one ever talked to me about scary child molesters lurking in the dark waiting to snatch me up. And if they had, I would have probably thought it was a trick to scare me.
Also, we used our imagination when we came up with our costumes. We spent the week leading up to Halloween going through Mom's closet and talking to friends about what we could borrow so that we could create the perfect costume. These days, parents just go to Walmart and buy one for $20, and that's that. It can't be that much fun for a kid to just put on a costume. They are totally missing out on the fun of figuring it out for yourself using things in your very own closet.
The biggest reason of all, though, has more to do with the "scary" parts of Halloween. Our teachers used to read scary ghost stories and turn out the lights, and I fucking loved that. These days? Forget it! Kids can't dress up in their costumes for school. Teachers can't do anything scarier than have their kids color pictures of pumpkins. And everyone is scared of what might happen if a child under the age of 13 is actually afraid of something. I have a strong suspicion that the end result of this mamby-pamby treatment of America's children is going to be a nation of total pussies.
The saddest part is that parents refuse to let their kids get scared or knock on a stranger's door or dress up for school... BUT they will let their morbidly obese 2nd grader bring home a giant fucking bag of candy and keep it in his room so he can get up in the middle of the night and add more pounds onto his already over-stressed little body.
As much as it sucks, the Halloween of my childhood is gone. All I can do now is try to have my own adult version of fun (which includes dressing up of course, and drinking) and wait until I have children of my own someday. For all of you out there who remember the good times when Halloween was scary and fun and innocent, Happy Halloween!
Yesterday morning at my regular Jazzercise class, there was a woman that I don't remember ever seeing before. Granted, I have only been going for about five months, and even then I've missed a lot of classes. But I think I would have remembered this one.
First of all, let me start by saying that Jazzercise is a very judgment free zone for me. I never feel like anyone is really looking at me and saying "She can't dance" or anything like that. There are lots of women, and even one man, at my classes, and we are all just there to exercise and have fun. There's none of that looking over your shoulder to see if anyone is noticing how stupid you might look, which is the way I usually feel at gyms.
With that said, I am usually very non-judgmental as well, just enjoying the people that are there and not caring if they are fat or skinny, old or young. Yesterday, however, there was this woman...
She had super short brown curly hair and looked to be maybe late 30's or early 40's, and she had a pretty muscular body. Not a weight lifting crazy muscle body, but just toned up. She seemed totoally normal and sweet. Then, the music started and the instructor got us warmed up. Everything started to change. Suddenly, this woman was all over the freakin' place. Somehow, she managed to carve out a large chunk of free floor space (probably because the people around her were scared she would run into them) and she was pretty much just jumping around like a lunatic. Where the rest of the class was taking a small hop like the instructor said, this lady was jumping halfway across the room.
As if that wasn't enough, she would randomly break out with a "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" really loud, as if her name had just been chosen as Jazzerciser of the month. In some ways, I guess I admired her freedom. She obviously didn't give a shit what any of us thought of her. She was in her own little world. Even the instructor said, at one point, "Not yet!" when the lady moved on to the next part of the routine early, and making it super size. The woman paid no attention and kept on going, so the instructor laughed and said, "It's your workout, do what you want."
The only thing is... it's MY workout too. And this woman's gyrating and loud screams were not only distracting, they were downright in my way. And not just mine. She was all over the place! Granted, the room where we Jazzercise is pretty big, but there were probably around 30 people there yesterday. This woman just demanded half of our side of the room, pushing others of us closer together, which honestly, was pretty rude and selfish.
Is it possible to admire someone and still be annoyed by them at the same time? If you have ever wondered that exact thing, yesterday I found proof that yes, it is possible.
I read about NaNo WriMo last year, but it was already over at that point. Well, this year, I am signed up early and ready to go.
In case you are wondering, NaNo WriMo stands for "National Novel Writing Month". For 10 years now, people all over the states have been getting together online and in person every November to work on the goal of writing one 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. That means writing an average of 1667 words every single day. Including weekends. Including Thanksgiving Holidays.
On the sidebar here, I have put a participant badge that will update throughout the month with my current wordcount. I also put my local Raleigh-Durham area word meter up just to keep track of how the area is doing on their words. It's kind of neat to go onto the NaNo WriMo website and cruise the forums. I was surprised to see how many people from this area are involved. There are even planned "write-ins" where you go to meet up with other NaNo's to work hard, discuss ideas, and encourage each other. I am really looking forward to it.
I am pretty sure I know what my novel is going to be about. Instead of plotting every tiny detail, though, I am going to try the Stephen King method of letting the plot come naturally out of the situation that I have created. We'll see how it works for me.
If any readers want to join me in my pursuit of writing an entire novel in just 30 days, just go to the NaNo WriMo website and sign up. It can't hurt to try!
I have been giving plotting and outlines a lot of thought over the past few days. Is it better, I wonder, to spend time at the beginning of a project plotting out the storyline, writing down everything you can about your characters and getting to know them inside and out? Or is it best to take a more organic approach and let an idea sweep you away, counting on your imagination and the characters themselves to guide you?
I have read a lot of books about writing over the past year or so, and most of them say that it's up to you as a writer to figure out what works best. In the end though, they pretty much all say that outlining and getting to know your characters is the best way to write a successful novel. Of course, the only book I've ever read by those people are the books on writing.
Last night, I started reading part 2 of Stephen King's book "On Writing". The first part was mostly a memoir, a telling of the journey he took from boy to man, and how it affected his writing. The second part is more about the writing itself. He very clearly advocates that the best stories are written organically. He says he begins with a situation. (e.g. A popular writer wakes to find himself injured and being cared for by a crazed fan.) The characters begin as flat ideas, and as he writes, they tell their own story, fleshing out into real people. He often has an idea where he thinks the story is headed, but most often, it goes in a completely different direction altogether.
I can see both ways being good, but outlining and plotting the story before you write seems to be the safest, yet least creative way. Once a story is all outlined and settled, it is difficult to expand and let your imagination guide you as you write. If I wrote a complete outline and character sketch, almost anyone could write my novel for me. However, trusting a situation and a small idea to simply begin to develop into an entire 80,000 word book seems extremely scary. What if the characters don't magically begin to speak to me? What if my words sit flat on the screen with nothing important to say? What if the story rambles and no plot ever really develops? It really scares me. Sure, it works for Stephen King, but come on! He's like a God among writers. Sure, he's not the most literary of writers, but he can pull you in and scare you more than any writer I've ever read. And he's written over 35 books, most of which, if not all, were bestsellers.
(Not to mention the movies!)
I am no Stephen King. How do I know whether I possess the ability to write in that organic, let it come to you kind of way? Truly, there is only one real way to find out. I have already just written a short novella that was very detailed and plotted before I began. I strayed from it and changed the plot a little bit, but for the most part, I followed my original outline. Now, as I start my next project, it seems only right that I give Mr. King's method a try.
Well, I did it. On Saturday I mailed off my very first manuscript to a publisher in New York! I think I must have read through each page a hundred times just to make sure there were no mistakes. Of course, I ended up printing a lot of pages because everytime I read through the whole package, I'd find some tiny thing wrong here and there and have to reprint that page after I made some corrections. I feel good about what I sent off, though. I know the spelling and format is good. I know the story is at least moderately good. The only thing I don't know is whether it's good enough to get published in the romance market.
The only thing to do now is keep writing. I sent off my precious first story to Kensington Publishing Corp., and their website claims three to six months before you should inquire about your submission. With that kind of time frame, I am going to have to find a way to let it go and just keep writing so that when the news does come, good or bad, I am ready with a new novel or story on the other side. If I'm lucky, I'll hear something before Christmas. If not, I imagine it will be late January or February since I'm sure everyone takes vacation and holiday time. The truth is, publishing is a waiting game and I am going to have to start getting used to it.
All I know for sure is that I am really proud of myself for finally sticking with one idea and finishing a manuscript. It ended up being just over 18,500 words, which is a solid length for a novella, and, I think, a good place to start. I already have an idea of where I'm heading next. I want to write a full-length novel this time, so this week is all about outlining before the main writing gets underway. The good thing is that I have momentum now, and I know that I can do this. Just wish me luck as my first submission makes its way to NYC!
Hate is a strong word, I realize that. Maybe I don't exactly HATE Hollister so much as I LOATH it. Ever mall in America, including the one I go to at least once a week, has been invaded in the five or so years by this very annoying clothing store.
I think that they are mostly trying to be like Abercrombie in their clothing style, mostly targeting teens I would guess. But what the fuck is up with this stupid, "Let's build a fake hut out into the middle of every mall so that we can look extra gay".
With that said, there's one other reason I will never step into a Hollister store. You can smell the store from 100 feet away. That's right, smell! I don't know exactly how they do it, but Hollister has its own sporty male cologne smell that is sprayed into the hallway in front of their store. I mean, I could live with the fake hut thing because at least that doesn't invade my body. A scent that potent however, does, and it pisses me off every time I pass by that stupid fucking store. What gives them the right to invade my nose with their unpleasant smell? I'm sure they think it's pleasant and clever, and there are probably swarms of teenagers that just love it, but I personally think it stinks.
On that note, happy Friday, and may all your weekend shopping be Hollister free.
After an amazing trip to Florida, I am back home again. It was so great to see T, J, and the new baby! He is such a sweet and cute baby, you wouldn't believe it! I was expecting loud crying and nonstop drama, but he was so good. He only cries when he really needs something, and other than that, he is mostly asleep.
Getting back into my routine is never easy after a trip like that. I had a runny nose on Tuesday night when I got home, so G gave me two benadryl to help me sleep and take care of the stuffy nose. I didn't wake up until noon the next day. Today I was up at a much more reasonable 8:30 am, but I am just now getting around to updating the blog, which usually is one of the first things I do.
I wonder how other people just go on trips, then get home and step right back into routine. I suppose if I had a regular 8-5 type job, I would have no choice but to follow routine. Anyway, I am going to do my best to get back on track today and get this short story out to a publisher in hopes of finding a home soon.
T, if you read this, I just wanted to say thank you for everything. I miss you already!
In 20 minutes I will head to the airport and be on my way to see T! I can't wait!
My only concern right now is how heavy my bag is. Did you know that airlines are now charging a baggage fee per bag each way?? For me to check one bag that is less than 50 pounds, it will cost me $15 each way. A second bag would cost an additional $25 each way. A third bag, were I going somewhere on a really long vacation or had a big family, would cost $100 additional each way. Does that suck or what? I just didn't realize I had to add on a $30 fee to my ticket cost when I booked the flight.
Of course, if gas prices are so high and travel so low, they probably have no choice but to find a way to recover some extra money. At least they found a way to do it so that those who don't want to pay the fee simply need to pack lighter. If you can get everything in a carry on bag, you are fee free :). Then, the plane is also lighter with less bags and probably consumes less fuel, I imagine.
I, however, cannot possibly pack for an entire week in a carry on bag. In fact, I have a packed laptop bag, an adidas carry on duffel bag, AND a bag to check. I am even concerned a little bit about how much the checked bag weighs. If it weighs more than 50 pounds, I have to pay $65 to check the bag. I figure if they tell me it's over 50 pounds, I'll just start throwing shit away. I could probably replace some of that stuff cheaper than paying the $65 fee. How funny would that be if I was throwing out an item and then telling the lady at the desk.. "Okay now how much does it weigh??" LOL. I wonder if they would kick me out of the line or get really pissed off? I don't know, but that would be funny as hell.
Okay, so I am off. Hopefully I will get a chance to update. Lord knows it's hard for me to live without internet! If I can't get online, then I'll update next week!! St. Pete, here I come!! Woohoo!
I finally got to talk to my friend T yesterday! She is doing well and so is little Jody. I had seen some pictures on her sister's blog, but I didn't know that she had a bunch up on myspace until yesterday. These pics are so sweet!!
Congratulations to the both of you, he is such a beautiful baby boy. I will be flying down there tomorrow to spend a week with her to help out in any way that I can. I have a feeling all I will want to do is hold this precious baby!!
Anyway, if my blog is late or non-existent some this week, I'm busy holding a baby or changing a diaper :p.
Sometimes I feel as though I am constantly at war with my own attitude. I know what my attitude should be. I know what my attitude needs to be in order to find success and to be happy. But just because I know doesn't necessarily mean that I can always have the right attitude.
I was a mess when I first moved to NC. I was in love, and that made me very happy... but as for how I felt about myself... dismal. Over the past year and a half, I have worked really hard to get my act together and to change my attitude. It seemed for a while there that I was really doing well. I finished a story, I was exercising regularly, everything was grand. But for some reason, ever since I got home from my trip to Georgia, I have been the poopy, down in the dumps version of me that I dislike so much.
I don't even know how it's possible for someone to be on two different anti-depressants and still be feeling low. More drugs is certainly not the solution here. A new attitude is the only real solution. A new outlook or self view.
I get down on myself because I didn't follow the plan of what I think I need to do to be a good person. Does that make any sense at all? I finished a story, but I still haven't finished the editing and submitted it anywhere. I could have a freaking house full of finished stories and it wouldn't make a damn difference if I never tried to get them published! The thing is, why is it so hard to just restart today and pick myself up from right here, right now, and start over? I should be able to say to myself "Okay, so you screwed up and wasted time. Today is a new day. Let's get to work and reach some goals, because it's better late than never."
Instead, what I've been saying to myself sounds more like, "You are completely useless. Why do you even bother to try when you obviously suck so bad? You totally should have finished that story already. It should have already been submitted. it's too late now." WTF??? Why would I tell myself something that awful and discouraging? It makes me want to reach inside my own head and strangle myself!
Maybe what I need is a weekly kick in my own ass to say, "Here's where you are. You can't change the past. But you can start right now to make your future everything you always hoped for." I like that attitude much better.
Do you ever find yourself wondering if anyone actually wins those prizes from McDonald's Monopoly and contests like that? Well, I always love to play the Monopoly game. I don't know if it's because I like the little game pieces, or if I just think it's fun to collect stuff, but I always wondered if anyone really ever won anything.
I wish that I could say I was a $1,000,000 winner, but if I was, I would probably be shopping right now instead of writing a blog. No, not the millions this time, but I did win a $50 Shell Gift Card last night on the online version of the game! It will take some time to get here and I have to fill out some forms and send them in with the game piece, but the fun thing is that I won! Wooohoo!! These days $50 in gas might not go a long way, but every little bit helps, and I am very happy to have won something. Oh, and I also won a free fruit and yogurt parfait :).
I know that money can't buy happiness. I know that there are more important things in life than material wealth. But here's the thing. I already have found my happiness with G, and he will be there, money or no money. I don't have to have material things to be happy, but is it so wrong to wish for some of those things that might make life more enjoyable or just a little bit easier?
We saw a commercial the other day on TV for the Biltmore House. If you have never been there or never heard of it... it's basically a castle right here in North Carolina. The Biltmore House was built by the Vanderbilt family (namely 25 year old George W. Vanderbilt) in the 1890's. Originally, they owned 125,000 acres, but now the Biltmore Estate spans over 8,000 acres with its gardens, winery and trails. It is the largest private residence in America... of course it's really more of a museum these days.
Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a 250 room house that had a bowling alley and pool inside?? I don't ever want to own that much house, but that doesn't mean I don't dream of having millions of dollars and being able to build our own house that has everything we could want or need inside. For the most part, I think we grow up feeling that it is selfish and "evil" to wish for money and material wealth. We are taught to seek wealth in other, more spiritual ways. While I agree that spirituality and love are more important than money, I definitely disagree that monetary wealth is evil.
I guess the bottom line for me is this: I am happy without the millions, and I know that I can continue to be happy without millions of dollars. However, I often dream of what it would be like to have a lot of money and be free of the worries that come along with lack of a lot of money. I hope for a day when G will not have to go away to work and we can stay together all day working on our own business or projects. I don't need a castle, but a nice, beautiful house with a nice yard and a lot of space would be great. I am going to keep my eye on that dream and keep working every day to attain it. Is that so wrong?
Believe it or not, I have actually stuck with a blog long enough to have made it to my 200th post!! I realize this blog isn't about anything in particular, but I have loved writing it every morning. It's always good to have some kind of outlet where you don't have to be afraid of what others will think, and you feel free to express yourself and your thoughts. For me, it has always been journals, but after I hit my mid-twenties, I found it harder to actually finish a journal that I had started. When I was younger, I used to fill up two or three journals a year, from start to finish without leaving a single page untouched. Over the past few years however, I have started plenty of journals and finished none. Instead, this has become my journal, and I am happy to say that it will never run out of blank pages on which to write. Thank you to those of you who faithfully read my ramblings.
I have been talking about steam cleaning the carpets in our house for months now. We have two dogs, which in itself, makes carpets dirty. In addition, the carpets haven't really been cleaned that thoroughly for many years. Sure, we vacuum and we spot clean, but we wanted to try steam cleaning.
We went to the Harris Teeter around the corner and rented a Rug Doctor. They cost about $25 for 24 hours. Then, there were all these bottles of cleaner. Wanting our carpets to be super clean, we bought just about everything there was to buy, loaded up the steam cleaner, and headed home. First, we vacuumed the entire house. Then, G did the stairs and I worked on all those little cracks between the carpet and the baseboards where dog hair tends do collect. Both of our dogs are white, so you can imagine just how much white hair we picked up yesterday, even though it's only been a few weeks since we last cleaned out the corners and such. After that came the pre-treatment sprays and spot lifters and things like that.
We finally got down to business and steam cleaned our carpets. G filled the bucket (okay, pitcher since we didn't actually have a bucket) with warm water and cleaning solution while I moved the Rug Doctor along the carpets, cleaning. We worked really well together, and got so much done. We did the downstairs on Saturday afternoon, and then we finished with the upstairs yesterday morning. I am almost shocked at how amazing the carpets look. Overall, it did take up about 3 or 4 hours, but it was definitely worth it.
Our carpets are all dry now, and almost completely spot free. It smells so nice and the carpet feels more cushy under our feet. I am really glad we decided to that this weekend. It also makes me very happy that the two of us are able to work together for hours on end towards a common goal without arguing a single time. This was just another wonderful example of how perfect we are together.
Why is it so hard to get back into your routine after an interruption? I was really getting into a groove before I went home to Georgia. Jazzercise every Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Reaching my writing goals. Keeping the house clean and organized. Then I went home and my routine that was so hard to get into was practically destroyed overnight.
Since I got home, I haven't been to Jazzercise once. I have felt super tired and have been lacking the energy I had before I went. What the hell happened to me? Why is it so hard to just pick up where I left off and start following routine again? This, I have decided, is part of the difficulty of setting your own schedule and being a work-from-home person. There's no 8:00 AM job waiting for you with a boss that is expecting you. Sure, my fiance is here and he knows if I don't get up right away in the mornings, but that is a completely different kind of motivation.
The scary thing is that I have only one more week of normal before my schedule is disrupted again with my parents visiting next weekend. Then, on the 14th, I am flying to Tampa to be with my best friend T to meet the new baby and spend some time with the new mom. I'll be there for a week, but I know she'll kick my butt and make me write every day. When I get home from T's, I will have just over a month of normal before the crazy holidays begin. The bottom line is that I have to discover ways to get right back into my routines the second I walk back in the door after being away. This whole, it takes me four days to get back into the swing of things is just not going to cut it.
Right now, it's not only my personal career goals are on the line, but also my wedding dreams. I have to really work hard to get some stories published and my novel finished so that I can start bringing in some real cash, like a normal working girl. And by working girl, I reference Melanie Griffith in "Working Girl"... not hookers. Just to be clear.
Ahhhh!! Last night was so scary for me! G and I went to bed around 1:30 and it was raining with a thunderstorm alert, but I usually can sleep right through that sort of thing. At 3:30 AM I was still awake, holding onto G for dear life. It sounded like the storm was right outside our window, crashing into our back yard. I had the blinds closed, but the sudden flashes of lightning were still visible through the cracks. It was a rough night.
This morning, G doesn't seem to remember me snuggling up to him at all. I am glad he was able to get a pretty good sleep though. Speaking of sleep, I hope T was able to rest and get some good sleep last night. Her fiance called me yesterday afternoon to say that baby Jody was born and was 7 lbs. 6 oz. Mother and baby were both resting when he called and he was anxious to hold his son. I can't wait to talk to her and see how she is feeling. Despite the storms, any day that you are surrounded by the people you love is a beautiful day.