Funtimes–I Went on a Trip…and Did Very Little

The view from our room.

The view from our room.

Despite the con that was the purpose of our visit being cancelled, roommate extraordinaire Carrie and I ventured to Milwaukee anyway. We had four nights in a nice hotel booked cheap and it seemed a shame to waste them. At the very least, it sounded like a good idea to just get out of the cornfield for a bit.

We didn’t have a concrete plan to do anything. Oh, we had ideas and got even more from the very nice concierge in the hotel. We thought maybe we’d go to the museum or possibly walk a block over and go shopping.

Instead, we did basically nothing. From Thursday at about five o’clock in the evening when we checked in until Monday at around ten o’clock in the morning when we checked out we didn’t even leave the hotel.

And it was glorious!

After spending the day on trains (the first one being late enough that we had to run to make our second one and that was not a great time), we had room service. The next day, Friday, we were totally going to go downstairs to eat in the pub, but instead we got all caught up in a How It’s Made marathon on the Science Channel and ordered in pizza instead. Thus began our food drawer. We stashed the left over pizza and breadsticks in the dresser along with some of the snacks we’d brought along because we are experienced travelers. After that, any extra food went into the drawer for later.

Milwaukee Christmas tree

It’s very pretty for existing before Thanksgiving.

Saturday, after receiving passive-aggressive notes from housekeeping (okay, not really; they slipped a card under our door saying they were honoring our Do Not Disturb sign and if we needed anything to call them), we left the hotel room so they could come in and do a bit of tidying, which was mostly them just making the beds and putting in new towels because the room was so nice we didn’t want to do anything to mar it. We admired the Christmas tree in the lobby (which had been lit for the first time that day in a ceremony that we missed because it’s not Thanksgiving yet and I acknowledge nothing Santa-related before then), Carrie got some Starbucks, and we hung out in the lounge before finally heading to the pub.

At the pub we enjoyed a fish fry and cheese curds (when in Wisconsin!) and I had a fantastic pumpkin ale which was why we ended up going back to the pub again on Sunday. That second visit I got to watch three NFL games while enjoying my ale and onion rings and chicken tenders.

In addition to the pub and watching more of How It’s Made (that show is just fascinating; I never before contemplated unicycle wheel hubs), Sunday was momentous as I had for the first time in my 34 years a Starbucks coffee. I liked it well enough and didn’t die. It was a salted caramel mocha and I wanted to add pretzels to it.

I miss the food drawer.

I miss the food drawer.

Monday, we bid goodbye to our now empty food drawer and our fabulous view and the seemingly endless episodes of How It’s Made (we watched several episodes before leaving that morning, too, as our love had grown so strong), and trained on out of there, making a stop at Union Station for lunch with my amazing friend Harry, before finally arriving home to find the cornfield really friggin’ windy.

I think most people would find our vacation to be incredibly dull and a missed opportunity to see all sorts of Milwaukee things, but to Carrie and I, it was relaxing. For me, it was the equivalent of floating in a warm pool for several hours. Refreshing.

So don’t knock it until you’ve gone someplace else and done nothing.

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Funtimes–I’m Going on a Trip!

mapAs you’re reading this, I’m probably on a train bound for Milwaukee. And if you’re reading this sometime after five o’clock on Thursday evening, then I’m in Milwaukee, hopefully snug as a bug in my hotel room, possibly chowing on delicious food that was delivered to me after a long day of traveling.

If you’re reading this at any point between Thursday evening and Monday morning, then I’m still in Milwaukee, but maybe not eating and possibly not in my hotel room.

If you’re reading this after about 11 in the morning on Monday, then I’m back on a train, this one bound for my cornfield home. Also, you’re way behind on your reading and you should put a little more effort into being timely.

So, this trip was originally supposed to be all about a pop culture/comics con, but the con in question got cancelled. After some debate, friend/roommate/fellow trip-taker Carrie and I decided that it would be a shame to waste such cheap hotel room prices in such a swank hotel and we could probably think of something else to do in Milwaukee if we really felt compelled to do so. Really, just sleeping in a different bed and not cooking dinner for a few night is good enough of a vacation for me.

This is the first trip I’ve taken in a while. I can’t wait to see what I forgot to pack.

Let the good times roll.

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Writing–NaNoWriMo 2014 Done

nanowrimoI  hit the 50,000 word mark and finished my projects last Friday, so it only took me two weeks. Which is great. It’s done. I’ve got two more novellas ready and waiting to be revised and that’s all just peachy.

But I have to admit, I feel like a cheat.  And I’m not talking about doing two novellas instead of a whole novel, either.

This year I think I only had a couple of days in which I struggled to get the words down, but even then, it wasn’t too horrible. The word count still got met even if it did take me a little bit longer than what I would have liked. I think part of the reason why it was easier was because I was writing about characters that I’d already written about. Ivy and the gang have been in two novellas already. I came into NaNo already knowing what the tone was going to be and how the story needed to be told.

I also had a much better time-use game plan. I work two day jobs, which can be time consuming, but I almost always have my weekends free and Mondays and Fridays are lighter days for me. Because of alllll of this time available (it helps not having much of a social life or social obligations) I was able to do several 4,000 word days. Last year, working three jobs, I wrote as much as I could on my days off, including doing a 12,000 word day. Then it felt like a mad scramble. This year, not so much.

Finally, this is NaNo number 11 for me and win number 8. I think that NaNo has become so habitual for me, that I have such a groove when November 1st rolls around, that the default playing level here has now been set on easy, just through the years of repetition.

So none of this is really cheating. I just feel like it is when I see many of my fellow NaNoers struggling to get to their word count goals. I have fast-finishers guilt, I guess (minds out of the gutter on that one, guys).

I should also remember that I used to be one of those struggling NaNoers looking on in awe at the people who could rack up awesome word counts in short amounts of time. What I’m experiencing is just the result of several years of conditioning.

You could say I’m NaNo fit.

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Megalomania–The Anxiety Monster

Kiki's red hairI have a mild problem with anxiety. Back in the day, smoking is what helped me medicate it. I smoked when I got anxious. The nicotine helped when I’d get that sudden flare of what I called “fuck up anxiety”, that sure fire feeling that I had just fucked up even if I hadn’t, or if I had, it was so insignificant that an ant wouldn’t notice it because it was such a small thing. Just the act of getting the cigarette out of the pack, lighting it up, taking the first inhale, smoking that sucker down, helped take the edge off of that.

I don’t smoke anymore, but I still have that fuck up anxiety.

I’m having it right now, actually, as I type this.

It likes to settle in my shoulders mostly and ride up the back of my neck. My brain likes to replay whatever it is that I’ve done or think I’ve done until it’s so huge and wound up so tight my head would spin off if it were to let go. It makes me want to primal scream in an attempt to release the pressure in my head and drown out the voices assaulting my character.

It’s really annoying. I’ve yet to come up with decent coping mechanism in the five years since I quit smoking. Meditation helps, but funnily enough, when the anxiety acts up, I don’t want to meditate. Kind of defeats the purpose there, huh?

Now, I know that compared to some of my friends, I’m getting off easy. Their anxiety and the resulting attacks can be debilitating and that’s pretty awful. I do acknowledge that I’m lucky in that respect that it isn’t worse for me. I can actually still function despite the anxiety.

But it’s still annoying.

I don’t need any help from my brain when it comes to screwing things up. I can do bad and feel bad all by myself over legit things. I don’t need to blow up tiny seconds and non-existent moments into a disaster.

Sometimes, it’s a once in a while thing. I can go weeks and not have a problem. And then I have times when it’s basically an all the time feeling that can go on for weeks. It lightens up, but never really goes away. It’s the latter that I’ve been dealing with lately. It makes me a right irritable bitch because the constant anxiety puts me on edge and within a day I hate everything, everyone, and your mother, too.

I haven’t exactly figured out the triggers for it. I think some of it is stress. I think some of it could be hormonal. I think some of it could just be. I don’t think I always need a trigger.

I do need a better coping method to riding it out, though. Because this habit of doing nothing but feeling bad and being irritated and not meditating isn’t working.

Stupid anxiety monster hanging around the closets of my mind.

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Writing–November Projects aka NaNoWriMo 2014

nanowrimoNovember means NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo means that I write like a madwoman.

My NaNo this year is similar to last year’s in that I’m going to do two 25,000 word novellas instead of one 50,000 word novel. I am once again breaking rules, baby. But I couldn’t think of a good novel idea and decided NaNo would work just fine to clear two more items off of the To Do List.

This year’s NaNoWriMo project is The Odd Section of Town and Firebugs and Other Insects, the next two Ivy Russell novellas. Possibly the last two, I don’t know. I don’t have any ideas for this character beyond these last two novellas, so I suppose we’ll see. You know me. I’m not good with commitment.

The Odd Section of Town involves our intrepid private investigator Ivy dealing with several cases in  the Odd Section of Buddington, an area of own that seems to be plagued by a rash of bad luck that seemed to start around the same time an old friend came for a visit.

Firebugs and Other Insects finds Ivy looking for a mentally ill man during a rash of fires that are certainly the work of one weird arsonist.

I felt like it was a good idea to get these two written since I already had the ideas and the only thing holding me back was The Timeless Man wasn’t fixed yet. But with that scratched off the To Do List, I actually switched two different novellas out to write these two and finish up the Ivy series, at least for the time being.

I’m already off to a good start and anticipate being done by no later than the 16th (yes, I realize I’ve probably just jinxed the hell out of myself). Which poses an interesting question.

What am I going to do with the rest of the month?

The answer: I don’t know, but nothing heavy. Between Thanksgiving, working Black Friday, and going to my first con in about six years, the end of the month will be no time to start anything serious. I’ll probably end up doing some revisions on projects that will only take me a day or two to accomplish. I’ll figure it out when the time comes.

My brain is kind of crowded right now.

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Special–Happy Halloween: 2014 Edition

 So sweet. A beloved childhood toy. Well-played with. You can tell by the cut hair and barrettes. I give you…

Rag Doll.

 

Halloween 2014: Rag Doll

Halloween 2014: Rag Doll

I don’t even have to try to be creepy. Doll faces tend to be that way by default.

Happy Halloween!

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Writing–Let’s See Where This Goes

Rainbow paperI’ve been working  on “Nadie Has a Dog” for the better part of the month and I’m finally getting to the point where it’s wrapping up.

I’ll be honest with you; I’m only now sure how it will end. I wasn’t sure before. In fact, the ending is nowhere near where I thought it’d be.

That’s probably because when I started the story, I only had a couple of scenes in mind.

-The beginning, in which we establish who Nadie is and how she got her name.

-The scene in which she acquires her dog.

-The first scene illustrating what she and her dog do.

After that, I figured I’d wing it. More than likely, writing those scenes, stringing together those parts of the story would lead me to the end. Actually, I thought the last scene was the climax and Nadie and her dog would ride off into the sunset.

Only they didn’t.

And I had to see where the story decided to go.

That happens occasionally with my short stories. I try to be a little more planned out with my longer works, like novellas and novels, just because there’s so much going on that I need to keep track of all of my threads. I let myself have some room to play, of course, but it’s more like dallying between set pit stops on a road trip rather than full on wandering in the woods.

With short stories, I can wander more, though I don’t usually. When I sit down to write, I know what the story is. I still manage to surprise myself, but the overall story is usually written with a solid beginning and ending.

With Nadie, I thought I knew the ending, but I didn’t. There was more story there than I’d originally thought. That’s both scary and neat. The potential to go so far off the rails that the story meanders into nothingness is there and that worries me. I don’t like it when my stories end up as bupkiss. But it is kind of a thrill to just write as it comes and see what happens and see where things go.

Nadie has turned out to be longer and not as overtly shocking as I thought it’d be. Instead there’s a touch of sweetness and a even a little humor to the story. And I like that! It feels right.

Sometimes it’s good to wander.

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