Right now I am sitting on my front porch with my computer open before me. It is pleasant and sunny with a strong breeze blowing the wind chimes. Two tables are set up at the end of my driveway with various items decorating the tops in the hopes of enticing some random person into handing over cash. This was not my idea.
Yesterday I went to a small convention in Chattanooga. Even though I was running on only a couple of hours of sleep, I had a good time. I picked up a couple of graphic novels and a nine-tailed plushy of a kitsune in glasses. It was fun. It was Metrotham Con’s inaugural year and I think I just may return for year two if they manage it.
My weekends are usually divided up into a day where I actually go out among the masses and accomplish things like socializing or grocery shopping, and a day where I stay home and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Yesterday was my do things day. Today was supposed to be my stay home and do-nothing-unless-it-involves-a-creative-endeavor day.
Then my mom decided she wanted to have a yard sale. At my house. On a Sunday. At one o’clock in the afternoon.
She is having a bad depression day too which isn’t making life any easier. Signs weren’t put up to advertise her impromptu yard sale until 2 o’clock. We haven’t had anyone stop by yet but I am still sitting here waiting. She decided to run home and see if she could convince my dad to come back with her, so now I am temporarily in charge. I put a few of my books on the table with her stuff because, why not?
If she does manage to get my dad to return with her maybe I will cook dinner for all of us or something. I highly suspect that no one will return and in about an hour I will be packing away her yard sale. That is okay too, I guess.
So far this yard sale hasn’t generated any revenue unless you count words. I started a new story and have been fighting formatting for the new poetry book I’ve been trying to get out. I also managed to write this post. If this day had gone the way I planned, I probably would have never changed out of my pajamas and would have stayed inside reading. I consider that a perfectly reasonable way to spend a day off. However, this has maybe turned out better. Sitting out here is rather relaxing and peaceful.
I am not in the best of moods today. I haven’t felt well the past couple of days but I have been trying to ignore it. I know that it is the sudden weather change exasperating a previously existing condition.
Several years ago I broke my nose. Not in a cool way. Not even in a dumb way that makes a good story. I dropped my shampoo bottle in the shower after I already soaped up. I fumbled closing the lid and didn’t want all of the shampoo leaking out, but I also didn’t want soap in my eyes. So I bent over with my eyes closed and bashed my nose against the little indentation where the soap goes.
It hurt but I didn’t even realize I broke my nose until several months later when the seasons changed and I developed an ear infection with a side of vertigo. I was out of work for a week because I couldn’t stand up without falling over or throwing up, all because I dropped the shampoo. To this day I have sinus issues that give me major headaches and earaches. The experts say they can fix it by rebreaking my nose and I am all for it. Temporary pain versus long term pain sounds like a win to me. Yet so far no one has actually followed up. Something always seems to happen right before we can schedule whatever it is they need to do.
Today my face hurts and my head hurts because mother nature seems to be having hot flashes. It went from 27 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees in a matter of days. The change in air pressure hurts. Add that to three hours of sleep filled with nightmares, followed several hours fighting to formating issues and I have been done with this day since before the sun rose.
I would take a nap but my son is home sick from school with a stomach virus. Neither of us are having the best day, but at least the things I eat are staying down. We went to the doc and picked up some meds so hopefully, after a bit of rest, he will be feeling better.
Today is also the start of the Chinese New Year. Welcome to the year of the Pig. I don’t know what that means for me. Every placemat I’ve ever read lists me firmly as a Sheep. A Wood Sheep if you want to get specific.
So about twenty or so years ago, (Yeah, I know. I’m getting old.) My boyfriend at the time and I tried to take a trip up to Chilhowee. We ended up most of the way up the mountain before trouble struck. A screw in the engine vibrated loose and fell in just the right place that the accelerator became stuck. We quickly realized that we had a problem and turned around. It was my car so I was driving. We took curves at 80 miles an hour because there was no other choice. I burned up the breaks getting down the mountain and used up the emergency break getting home, once we were on comparably flat ground again. I always considered that as a once in a lifetime event. I had to back part of the way down the mountain at one point too.
Yesterday, I used a couple of hours of vacation time to leave work early. Chattacon is this
weekend and my kid needed some light gray face paint for cosplay purposes. I had tried to acquire it during my lunch break but couldn’t find it at the three stops I managed. So I was hungry, cold, and grumpy when I came back. I caught myself almost snapping at an insistent customer and thought that excusing myself would be the better part of valor. My vacation time was approved so I left early to search Target for the elusive face paint, only to find that Google lied about it being there as well. I figured I would just have to stop in Chattanooga tomorrow after Toby’s therapy appointment. So I turned on to Paul Huff Parkway to hit the interstate and go home.
Unfortunately, that was when lighting figuratively struck twice. I speed up to go up a hill and heard a click. Then the gas pedal was stuck to the floor and I was clearing the other side of the hill with traffic in front of me and behind me. My emergency flashers wouldn’t come on. (I blew a fuse to the turn signals a couple of days ago and the old fuse was stuck and wouldn’t come loose. I had planned to get my brother to fix it the next time he was over.) However, there was a gas station coming up on my left, so with smoke coming up from my breaks, I timed it until the road was clear enough and shot across three lanes of traffic and into the Speedway parking lot before throwing the car in neutral and stomping the breaks until I slowed and then was able to slam the shifter into park and turn the thing off. (I felt like I was stuck in a Final Destination movie for a moment.)
I called my brother who was just sitting down to dinner with his wife and his friend. He left with an empty stomach and came out into the cold to rescue me. (I really do have the best brother in the world.) We didn’t manage to fix the problem but he did get the turn signal fuse replaced. He took the idle positioning sensor off and we have to cough up $150 tomorrow for a new one. Oddly enough, the thing idles better without the positioning sensor than it ever did with it. I guess that means it has been going bad for a while. I am thankful that James wasn’t too far away and I am also thankful that it happened during daylight and without my kids in the car. The fact that I had experienced something similar before helped me keep a calm head while it was happening. (The “Oh Shit” response didn’t kick in until after the car was turned off and I had already called my brother.)
Currently, I am coming to the end of chapter two in a book I am writing. At least I think it will be a book. (I have been mistaken before.) I would be much further along if it wasn’t for Mercedes Lackey.
For Christmas, I received an eagerly anticipated trilogy of books. I knew I would get them. I had asked for them specifically when people inquired what I wanted for Christmas. Mercedes Lackey has been one of my favorite writers for a long time. I picked up one of her Valdemar books at a thrift store when I was too young to appreciate it and hated the book.
Then I discovered the Bedlam Bard books and fell in love. They were rare treasures I would search shelves for. That was how I discovered the Serrated Edge series. I loved those too but I hated them as well. Those books turned a flashlight on the dark corners of humanity. They absorbed you as you read them, immersing you in the story until you felt all of the horror and pain but also the hope. It was wonderful and awful at the same time. I read some of them over and over.
Years after my first introduction to Valdemar my sister started telling about this book she was reading. It sounded awesome. It had magic, adventure, and was written by one of my favorite authors. Then I found it out it was a Valdemar book. By then I knew Valdemar had quite a large fan base but I don’t like jumping on bandwagons. I honestly thought the Bedlam Bard series was better and that people were fans of the wrong series, even though I had never really given the Valdemar books a chance.
My sister can be quietly demanding when she wants to be. She gives you unspoken orders and you hop to, only later realizing what happened. I don’t think she even realizes that she does it. Which was how I was presented with a stack of Valdemar books from her collection and told to familiarize myself with this world she was always talking about. I devoured them all and came back for more. The storytelling was great. Later as I learned to read as a writer, I picked out a couple of things I thought could have been done differently and made a few of the books better. (In my opinion of course.) I was fool enough to mention these thoughts out loud.
Learn from my mistakes. If you are discussing books with someone who showers a story world with complete adoration, never ever ever suggest that there is something wrote with it. Ever. Not even if it is just saying that the ending felt a little rushed and you wonder if the author had to hurry through it to make a deadline. Don’t do it. You will regret it. (Unless of course, you are trying to start a fight or have odd compulsion to have the skin ripped from your body with words. If that is your goal then insulting a favored author or book series is an easy way to accomplish it. Even if the slight is only perceived, it will do the job.)
So after eight books or so I wandered away from Valdemar and on to something else. Then this Winter I was poking around on Amazon, looking for gifts for others when I stumbled across something called “The Herald Spy Trilogy”. I am a sucker for rogues and I enjoy Lackey’s writing so I asked for them for Christmas. I received them, eagerly sat down to read after the holiday craziness was complete, and discovered I had no idea what was going on. References were made to characters I had never heard of. Confused I contacted my local Valdemar informant, A.K.A my sister. She did some google-fu and produced a list of books that come before the trilogy I wanted to read. And to her surprise, she only owned three of the five and they were in storage. (Another long story.)
So I set out to acquire the five books that came before the trilogy I got for Christmas. Then I had to wait for them to be shipped because I bought them online. In the meantime, I got an idea for a book of my own after speaking to a friend and started writing. I managed to get a chapter and a half in when my books acquisitions arrived. I ignored them for a few days but then the person who got me the trilogy started asking questions about if I had read them yet and if I liked them. So feeling guilty for ignoring my gift, I started on the Collegium Chronicles and am now on the fourth book. However, I have only written a couple of paragraphs over the past few days since reading has taken over my writing time.
My writing is suffering from my lack of focus, concentration, and sleep. If Mercedes Lackey wasn’t such a hell of a storyteller I wouldn’t have this problem. The compulsion I feel to read and purchase these books because I enjoy them so much is fascinating. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could be like that one day?
(By the way, during the writing of this blog post I stumbled upon another book in one of Lackey’s series that I haven’t read and ended up buying it too.)
I am awake. Well, I am faking it to the best of my ability. I’ve had coffee but it really hasn’t kicked in yet. Today is December 23, which means two days until Christmas. I don’t feel ready. Just like being awake, I am doing Christmas to the best of my ability but I’ve got that nagging feeling that I’ve forgotten something important and I won’t remember until it is too late.
This year is a lean year. There are more handmade gifts under the tree than usual. I don’t see that as a problem though. It took more time and effort to crochet a hat or scarf than it would have to pick out an item online. I’ve also spent more quiet moments just thinking of the people I care about.
I think my main issue is this sense of worry that keeps lingering in the background of my mind. My muscles are tense and won’t relax. Maybe I have been watching the news too much. The government shut down has me concerned because I know too many people that either work for or are dependant on money they receive from social security. It isn’t hurting those who actually make the rules. It hurts those that live check to check. Maybe everything will be okay by the first or third of the month, but I worry about the theoretical elderly person that spent a little extra this month because it is Christmas and planned on paying their electric bill just a little late.
I know this should be a happy and uplifting post because it is so close to the holiday but these things have been spinning around in the back of my mind and it does me good to let them out. Everyone has been sick in my family so my normal schedule has been completely wrecked, which also accounts for my unease. So far only my sister and I have escaped the flu, and I still managed to catch a sinus infection. Everyone is on the mend now.
My poor brother even came over with some friends yesterday to fix the massive leaks coming from every faucet in the house. It seems the water company must have turned up the water pressure. They had to crawl under the house to put in a new regulator valve (I think that is what they called it) and take apart the bathtub spout to put in something else. I am down to a trickle still escaping from the kitchen sink but I will take it over the tub full of hot water I was losing every six hours or so.
My brother coughed the entire time but didn’t complain. He should have been in bed with Netflix instead of crawling under my house. The two men who came with him to look things over and help should have been at home with their families instead of helping me, a stranger. I am thankful for all of them. The help they gave was the best Christmas present I could have received. I don’t think they even understand how much of a blessing their kindness was to me. I hope that they receive it back tenfold.
….So that is where my mind is at right now. How about you? Is there something you are currently spinning your mental wheels on? Sometimes it helps just to put things down in words, it doesn’t have to be here but the comment section is open if you just need to lay down a worry or two. You can share good things as well.
Life is weird. Life is also busy. It is now November. I have two sick kids who are on the mend and I really just want to take a nap right now. I slept well last night, aside from strange dreams, but I feel like I need an extra thirty-minute nap or something to reach fully recharged. I think these days that is a permanent feeling. I am always a nap away from not being tired but I never actually get the nap.
November is National Novel Writing Month. Three days ago NanoWriMo kicked off and thousands of people out there are furiously writing away at what will hopefully be a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. My friend Lori is giving it a shot. I have competed against time and life to write that 50,000-word novel in a month before too. I am considering doing it again. Only this time I think I will give myself a break. I mean I did just finish a book. Not quite a 50,000-word novel, but a book none the less.
I think I will write a book of short stories. There are hundreds of writing prompts floating around out there so I can just pick one or two a day and write a bunch of short fictional narrations that will eventually add up to the necessary word count. That is the tentative plan. I also have another book idea but I have so many writing irons in the fire I really don’t want to chase after another long project right now.
If anyone out there wants to hop on board the National Novel Writing Month train, I have provided links to the website. It is fun and challenging, especially if you have never done it before. I am just giving it a shot for fun. I know I can write a novel in a month if I need to so I am not as worried about if I can. I am just writing to support my friend in her endeavors as she runs the race and to enjoy writing just for writing’s sake. Who knows, maybe I can churn out something useful by the end.
I’m writing this on a Tuesday morning before getting ready for work. I have a new coffee mug that states “Mornings are for Coffee and contemplation”. It is actually from the Netflix show Stranger Things, but I have wanted one ever since I saw a character drinking from it. Not because of the show but because I liked the mug. I like the show too of course, though I haven’t seen the second season yet. I am waiting to watch it with my eldest child and teenagers rarely have time for moms.
Anyway, I am rambling about the wrong thing. What I wanted to ramble about is the tree in my neighbor’s yard. The reason I like my new mug is that it reminds me to set aside time just to be, to sip a cup of coffee or tea and look around the world instead of just rushing through it. I am trying to be better at doing that.
So, I was sitting in my favorite chair with a hot cup of coffee and my front door wide open. The only light was from the door and the windows because I wasn’t quite ready for artificial light yet. I heard the cicadas singing and there was a light breeze rustling the flag still attached to my porch from the 4th of July. I had the passing thought that these five minutes of my morning sound like the beginning of some sort of patriotic commercial or political ad campaign. Then I notice the gentle trembling of green leaves.
My across the street neighbor has a huge tree in her front yard that squirrels delight in. The wind this morning just teased its boughs while it was bathed in early sunlight. I waxed poetically inside my head about how pleasant the morning was and how nice it was to watch the oak tree across the street, and then promptly tripped over my own thoughts. Was the tree across the street an oak? Maybe it’s a maple?
I got up from my chair and moved to the door with my coffee so I could squint at the foliage, trying to make out a single leaf. The wind picked up just enough to toss a couple of yellowing small ones from a top branch. They twisted and danced as they fell to the ground, making it impossible for me to tell what they looked like. My morning contemplation has been filled with: “Is it a maple or an oak?”
I am pretty sure the tree is a oak. Maples around here aren’t usually so big. If it is a maple tree it is very old. I could just walk across the street and look but that feels too much like giving in.