Monday, November 29, 2010

On Writing and Willfulness

Sometimes, even though I love to write, it's hard for me to just sit down and make myself do it. And when I do finally reach the point of more or less chaining myself to my laptop and forcing my fingers to plunk out word after word, it almost feels like a chore.

It shouldn't, right? I mean, I love writing. It's what I want to do with my life, in some way or another. So why is it so hard for me sometimes?

Is it just because I'm lazy? Or is it because I'm afraid?

Sometimes I think it's both.

There are days where I sort of feel the urge to write, but I'm distracted. I keep thinking of other things I could be doing—or other things I should be doing. Being a student clashes with being a writer sometimes. I want to sit down and work on a piece, but all I can think about is that research paper I should start. Or finish. Or perfect. Or the video I need to watch so that I can answer those questions over it that will be discussed in class. Or the book I should be reading in case of a pop quiz. (Or how I'm so tired of doing homework and reading for school that during my free time I just want to throw myself onto the couch, switch on the TV, and mentally vegetate for a little while...)

I know education is important. If I didn't think that, I sure wouldn't be putting so much money, time, effort into it. I want that degree, don't get me wrong. But sometimes, especially when it concerns busy work, or work that I see as absolutely irrelevant to the things I want to do in my life (*coughMATHcough*), it's really hard to justify stifling a creative urge to look up congressional election statistics.

But other times, I think homework or laziness or lack of inspiration are just excuses. Poor, pitiful little excuses made up by a person who doesn't really want to admit to being afraid.

It's like I expect to never write garbage. Not ever, not any time. And that's just not feasible. Or realistic.

Brings to mind Ernest Hemingway's famous quote—
"The first draft of anything is shit."

I don't always believe that's true, but at the same time...there's definitely some truth in it. In other words, it doesn't make sense to put so much pressure on myself. It's not like I'm doing something wrong if I don't sit down and spill out a masterpiece in a few hours with no edits.

In a way, I think that's what I love so much about NaNoWriMo. It's one of the few times that the absolute insanity of the deadline creates an excuse in and of itself to not think too much or too hard about what I'm writing and instead to focus o the act of writing itself. To get the idea down, to flesh the story out. Editing is for later.

I've always been told that oftentimes the pieces that end up getting cut out of manuscripts are the pieces that the author loves the most. I never understood how that could be—how a scene or series of events favored by the author could somehow not fit in the story they created.

But you know what? It's true. I found this out myself in a longer piece I'm working on. The section I wrote that I felt was the strongest, that I was the most proud of, doesn't actually fit anywhere in the story. It's kind of mind-boggling, really. It probably sounds just about as crazy (especially to someone who isn't a writer, or who doesn't know any personally) as when I try to explain that just because I created a character doesn't mean I have complete control over what they do. But it's true. If you create a character, give him or her a lot of depth, background, personality, you'll start to find there are things they just won't do. It can be very tiresome when trying to write a scene in which your character just...isn't havin' it. But it happens.

Sidenote: I just watched a really great movie with my Mom over Thanksgiving break. It's called Miss Potter (about the woman who created the lovable Peter Rabbit) and there's a scene in this film that reminds me of what I just mentioned. She's talking to her illustration, which is misbehaving, and she says something along the lines of, "You better stop that, or I'll write you out!"

Anyway, that's the point of NaNoWriMo. To just get the story out, I mean. The idea is that unless you get it written down, you'll never have anything to edit. I'm constantly having to remind myself of that. Because all too often, even if I have the urge to write, if I get the feeling that I don't know where the story is going, or that I'm too tired or distracted to put my whole heart in it, I start to tell myself it's better if I just abandon the idea for the moment. But that's not the case. Some of the better stories I've written have come at times when I'm grasping for inspiration. It's always a very pleasant surprise.

So my advice to any of you out there with aspirations to write and anxieties about when and where to do it—the best methods, the tricks of the trade—would be simply this.


Because if you don't start there, if you don't start with a blank page and pour words out onto it, you'll never have anything. And if you never have anything, you sure as hell won't ever have anything great.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that always comes and goes faster than I expect. Unlike Christmas, which encourages at least a month-long build of anticipation and enthusiasm prior to Christmas Eve and, even better, Christmas Day, Thanksgiving doesn't get a lot of hype.

Let's face it, it comes fairly soon after Halloween. It isn't Hallmarks biggest card-seller. And a lot of the decor that's Thanksgiving-related fits nicely into a sort of general "It's fall! Hooray!" category. Sure, there are turkeys. Pilgrims and Indians. But I don't think I could name you any catchy songs about them. I don't see much of them on sidewalks or in shop windows.

I see carved pumpkins, witches, and ghosties.

Then I see Christmas trees, tinsel, and brightly colored lights.

Thanksgiving is vastly overlooked. It's a Thursday, and we eat a lot more than we should. And that's about it.

Which is a shame, seeing as how Thanksgiving is the perfect time to remind ourselves, and to be reminded, just how thankful we should be for everything that we've got, that we are, that we have been given.

Which is why I decided to post my list of 50 things I'm thankful for. To which I'd like to add one more.

51. I am thankful for the fact that I have so many blessings to easily fill a list of fifty. And to fill a list far longer. I had to make myself stop for fear of driving people away with a never-ending list of awesomeness.*

That being said, I hope everyone took at least a moment to sit down and really count their blessings. IT may not be, "I'm thankful for my new Ferrari," but just as important are the, "I'm thankful for the socks on my feet so they aren't so cold," or the, "I'm thankful for that one picture that always makes me smile." Thanksgiving doesn't have to be about giving thanks for all the big, awesome, amazing, and totally fortunate things in your life—though it can be. But it can just as easily be about all of the little things that make our lives so much easier. Things we often forget completely because—and maybe I'm not speaking for you, but I'm definitely speaking for myself—we've become so accustomed to some of those little things that they seem like a given. A fact of life, rather than something fortuitous.

But the fact of the matter is, those little things could be gone in an instant. They leave us just as easily as they come. It's important to remember that, and to not grow so comfortable that we forget what a luxury comfort really is.

*I'm totally using #24 on my list!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey & Dressing & Pies, Oh My!

Thanksgiving. A day in which I eat lunch and dinner in elastic-waisted pants, never shy away from second helpings, and eat far too much pie than is necessary for any one human being. A day in which families come together to celebrate and stuff their faces with delicious, mouth-watering foods.

A day in which I was fortunate enough to see my Aunt Donna and Uncle Jim, along with my parents. Being off at school is hard, especially for someone like me. I'm a major family person. I have a great relationship with my parents, and in that I am truly blessed. I know this because I know several people who can't say the same. Or who flat out don't. Who, in fact, may even claim the exact opposite. Who dread going home for the holidays because their families drive them absolutely bonkers. I'm very grateful that that's not the case for me.

My Thanksgiving was excellent.

I slept in until eleven. Ish. My Aunt and Uncle had already arrived, so I made myself presentable as quickly as possible. (Remember, elastic-waisted pants. Easy-peasy.) My mom and my Aunt were already busy with food prep in the kitchen. My Dad and my Uncle were in the den watching football. And I flitted between both rooms—hovering over the pots and pans, which smelled absolutely heavenly, and sitting in for some conversation in the den as well. What can I say? Throw me in some comfy pants and a sweatshirt and I become a social butterfly.

But seriously.

The turkey was in the oven, potatoes were being peeled, onions were making us cry. The green beans, nearly forgotten amidst the rush of mashing potatoes, seasoning the main course, and readying the pies, were prepared last. We also had sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, browned to perfection. Gravy, warm, thick, and perfect for topping. Dressing, ever the crowd favorite. We had a veritable feast laid out before us by the time we were done.
Red wine, to be sipped. Turkey, to be...gobbled.
Sweet potatoes + marshmallows = <3
Mashed potatoes. A personal favorite.

Green beans. Delicious!

And I re-learned some basic etiquette while I set the table. Spoon and knife on the right, fork and napkin on the left. Plate nestled between, of course. Though for our purposes, we made the napkins obviously accessible by plunking them smack in the middle of the plates.

I did this.
These plates are just begging to be piled high with food.

We gathered around the table and the food was served. For us, Thanksgiving dinner is more of a late lunch/early dinner affair. Somewhere around two or three, we settle in for a dining extravaganza. And since there's no rush, it can easily last several hours. Especially when one factors in the time spent sitting, slouched back in our chairs, desperately wishing we could unbutton our pants for a little breathing room (What did I tell ya? Elastic is the way to go...) while our food digests enough for us to have room for dessert.

Food options. Ready to be tabled.
The dinner table setup.
My hearty first helping.

This year, our dessert lineup consisted of three different pie options. Pecan, Pumpkin, Chocolate. A trifecta of deliciousness that would please even the most fickle of sweet-tooths. I should know. I have one of those, myself.

The trifecta.

By the time we had each snagged as many helpings as we liked, of both main course and dessert items, we were full to bursting. And once again we drifted out of the kitchen. My Dad and Uncle returned to the den for more football. My Mom and Aunt took over the living room, chatting to their hearts content. And once again I traveled from room to room, never one to miss out on any good conversation.

I was very proud of Tucker, who behaved like a perfect gentleman the entire time. Even though I'm sure his sensitive little doggy nose was overrun with smells that would make any persons' mouth water. He's such a good boy. He did his Momma proud.

Tucker wants to help make the dressing.
The only problem with Thanksgiving is that by the time the food has been eaten, everyone sort of slips into food-coma mode. In which case conversation can become sluggish. Eyelids start to get heavy.

And, as is always the case when concerning the things we enjoy, time simply flies by. Before I knew it, Aunt Donna and Uncle Jim were headed out. They had a bit of a drive and weren't keen to make it in the dark. I can't say I blame them. Especially on an evening when I'm prone to want to turn in early anyway.

I wish they could have stayed longer, but I'm just really glad I got to see them at all. And especially glad that I was able to make it home. It's been great to be with family for the past few days, and I'm admittedly unhappy that Thanksgiving break is basically over.

But I had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope all of you did, too! And anyway, just think...Christmas is coming soon!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

50 Things I'm Thankful For

1. My friends and family, and being able to see them for this Thanksgiving holiday. Specifically, the fact that I was able to come home for Thanksgiving, and that my Aunt and Uncle were able to come up to spend a good part of the day with us.

2. My dog, who is behaving like a perfect gentleman today amidst turkeys and relatives and excitement.

3. My house, which is keeping me warm today—now that it's FINALLY cold outside.

4. The fact that it's finally cold outside!

5. Having a week-long vacation from school.

6. Being able to afford to go to college, and doing pretty well in my classes—even when I do desperately want a break from them.

7. My phone, which I am hopelessly addicted to. And, again, my parents—who bought my phone for me.

8. Words. Because without them, how in the world would I write?

9. My ability to write. I have no idea what I would do without it.

10. Chocolate Pie. Specifically, the chocolate pie that my Mom made for us to devour today. Enough said.

11. Memories. Because I can't be with all of my family today—some of them are gone. But I will always have such wonderful memories of them.

12. Music. One of my favorite things in the world.

13. Pumpkin pie. Which is also on the dessert menu for today!

14. Exercise. Because otherwise I wouldn't be able to eat so much pie!

15. Yoga, because it's one of my favorite kinds of exercise.

16. Glasses. Without them, I wouldn't be able to see the screen to type this list. Seriously.

17. The fact that even though I'm probably legally blind, there's something I can do about that.*
   *see above

18. Sweet potato fries. Delicious!

19. Bud light. Admittedly, I love it.

20. Starbucks. My all-time favorite place to get coffee. Particularly Frappuccinos. Also, my favorite place to go, sit, and chat with friends and family.

21. Christmas! And the fact that it's coming up super soon!

22. The fact that I'll be able to see so many friends this Christmas.

23. My laptop, on which I am typing this list.

24. Block quotes. I've written several research papers lately, and I love block quotes.

25. Sigma Tau Delta. The English Honors Society I just joined. And the fact that I'm making friends there!

26. Oreo balls. Um, if you've never had're missing out. I can't even explain.

27. Cameras and photographs. Memory capturer-ers. Invaluable!

28. Art. And being inspired by it.

29. Alexander Skarsgård. Because that man is visually inspiring as well. ;-)

30. True Blood, because that's where I watch Alexander Skarsgård all the time...

31. Silverware. Come on, isn't it handy? Really helps keep the food in my mouth instead of on the table. Or my clothes.

32. Shoes. I love shoes.

33. Purses. For the same reason.

34. The roof over my head. Both at home and off at school. I'm so used to having a place to live, it's hard to imagine what it would be like to be without that. And it's hard to believe how many people are without that.

35. The fact that I have never known true hunger. I'm not starving. I have never wondered where my next meal will come from.

36. My biological parents, and the fact that they cared enough about me to not get an abortion—instead, to put me up for adoption and allow me the wonderful life that I have with my parents. Without them and their decision, I would not be here. Period.

37. God, who obviously doesn't belong at #37 on any list. For everything he has done, especially providing me with such amazing, loving, caring, selfless parents.

38. Medicine. And all of the advances it's made. It's amazing the things we can fix, heal, repair, prevent these days!

39. Cool days spent sitting on the patio, sipping a drink, listening to the wind in the trees.

40. The smell of chocolate.

41. Chocolate.

42. Pizza. My absolute favorite food ever.

43. The Simpsons. Best cartoon show ever.

44. Film. So many wonderful movies.

45. Books, without which I'd never be able to afford such extravagant 'vacations'. Nothing lets you be anything you want to be, go anywhere you want to go, do anything you want to do like books do.

46. Airplanes. Making travel so much faster, even with the ridiculous amount of hassle one must go through just to board a plane.

47. Elastic-waisted pants. Which I will need after Thanksgiving dinner.

48. Heaters. Because without ours, my teeth would no doubt be chattering right now!

49. Hot chocolate with little marshmallows on top.

50. My bed. Which I am about to curl up in and nap. My belly full of food demands it. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas at Starbucks

Christmas is my favorite holiday. Hands down. And Starbucks is my favorite coffee shop. Also hands down. So Christmas at Starbucks is like the ultimate Most Best combination of Christmas and coffee for me.

A few days ago, the holiday displays and decor were readied, the new merchandise put out. As an avid and self-proclaimed Starbucks enthusiast, of course I couldn't wait to get my hands on the new merch and check out the displays.

Gifts display. So cute.
The running theme this year is sharing and stories. Along with another adorable edition of the Bearista bear, Starbucks has introduced Huxley—a precious little mouse with a story to share. Not only is Huxley a handsome little fellow, he's also a writer. (You can see why he appeals to me!) And Starbucks has released companion books to go with the Huxley Mouse, as well as tumblers, mugs, and other items to continue on the theme of stories. 

I first learned about Huxley through my favorite Starbucks blog, If you love Starbucks as much as I do—heck, even if you just like it a little—Melody will have something for you over at her site. I highly recommend checking it out! Particularly this post if you want to learn more about Huxley and his books.

This is Huxley! Well...Huxleys. Aren't they precious?
They're guarding the awesome cold cup ornaments!

Another of my favorite items has made an exciting return to Starbucks! The Grande and Venti reusable cold cups with festive candy cane straws. I absolutely love these! 

And, pardon the brief interjection, I was browsing the Starbucks online store (which, by the way, sells replacement straws so if you lose yours, don't fret! However, you can't buy replacements of the candy cane straws; they're a seasonal item) and was kind of riduculously excited to find that Starbucks is now selling a Domed Lid for these cold cups! As far as I know, they aren't sold in stores, but at $2.95, I will absolutely be buying one. 

My only prior complaint about the reusable cold cups had been that you definitely couldn't have them make your Frappuccino in one if you wanted whipped cream. It was a mild complaint, since I'm generally a sans whip person anyway. But still. Yay!

I love the reusable cold cups! I have three.
Of course, I couldn't go browse and ogle the new merch without sucumbing to the urge to shop... Oh, don't act so surprised. Besides, I only bought one—wait, two, I only bought two things. What can I say? I'm a sucker for impulse buying and retail therapy. And Starbucks.

Starbucks goodies! I couldn't resist.
As soon as I laid eyes on the new (STARBUCKS)(RED) To-Go Tumbler, I knew I had to have it. This holiday edition mug was designed by Jonathon Adler. I love absolutely everything about it. In addition to the tumbler, there's also a new Starbucks card that shares Adler's funky and awesome design. And yes, I had to have the card, too!

It was love at first sight.

Darn right, it's custom!

Companion (RED) card! A match made in heaven.

I didn't manage to get pictures of every single new seasonal item—Sorry!—but there's a delightful abundance of Christmas and winter themed treats at Starbucks this year. They also have new holiday mugs, tumblers, ornaments, gift sets, and a lot more! And, of course, the holiday coffees, teas and hot cocoas. Including a Starbucks VIA Christmas Blend. There are also two new holiday Starbucks cards (not including the (STARBUCKS)(RED) card that I got!).

So if these pictures have done anything to whet your holiday appetite, take a cue from me and head to Starbucks to check out the new Christmas goodies!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Payoff

You know how when you actually put a lot into something, you tend to get a lot back out of it? Yeah, that actually happened to me!

I had previously written about all of the things I have to do in the near-to-immediate future, one of which was a ten page research paper for Marriage Institution. This paper had involved two separate Paper-Writing Parties, which took place at Starbucks with two other girls from my class. And they were very successful! Two of us finished our papers, the third very nearly finished, and we all turned aforementioned papers in on Monday so that our professor could read them and give us feedback.

We got our papers back on Wednesday. I was expecting something more or less along the lines of, "You really missed the point, didn't you? This is horrible." Instead, I got this:

You can imagine the way in which my head swelled with pride and my heart puttered with relief. It was a great feeling, knowing that I only had a few things to change. And change them I did. The other two girls and I made plans to hold a Paper Writing Party Finale the following day (Thursday; in other words, today) at one in the afternoon. To top it off, from 2-5pm, Starbucks was doing a 'Buy One, Share One' promo for their holiday drinks—Peppermint Mocha, HELLO—so we knew we'd have sufficient...motivation.

Thursday—today—rolled around, and unfortunately one of us couldn't make it. But the remaining two of us met up at one as planned.

We were a little too early for the holiday promo drink thing, so we staked out our spots in two of the comfy chairs in the corner and, since I couldn't resist, I got an Undertow, which is basically espresso, cream, and I get mine with vanilla. It's delish, and it comes in one of those adorable Short cups.

The view from my chair!
We started working on our papers, with some breaks for chatter, and two came around pretty fast. We got our first round of coffee for the day. Since it was buy one, get one, we each bought one—first she bought one, and I got the free one. Then a few hours later, I bought one and she got the free one.

Interjection—the second time around, I tried a gingerbread latte for the first time. AMAZING.

So we were undoubtedly adequately pumped full of caffeine.

And can I just say, we were at Starbucks working on our papers (the chatter didn't take up too much of our time, honest!) for six hours!? And can I also point out that that's twice as long as we stayed on the previous two days we'd had our Paper Writing Parties? In other words, we basically spent as much time editing our papers as we did initially writing them. That doesn't make sense, does it?

Still, it was worth it. My friend left a little before me, but I was only there maybe fifteen minutes longer. I was determined to leave and be completely finished.

I was successful!
The finished product.
Grand total I have spent...about fifteen hours on this paper. Not including the two hours I spent watching one of the movies I used as an example so that I could get the specific quotes. But including the time I spent pulling quotes from the books and articles I used.

All in all, not too shabby. And now, I am officially done with my paper. Which means I don't have to worry about it at all this weekend. Oh, it's going to be blissful.

Oh wait. That's right, I still have to finish my Campaigns & Elections paper...

Tucker would like me to wrap this post up and declare it officially, "bedtime."

I'd also like to mention that I wrote this whole post while listening to one particular song on repeat—It came on while I was in Starbucks, and I loved it. Which prompted me to download it and subsequently listen to it over and over again. 

"It Was a Very Good Year"—a song that Sinatra made famous; performed by Willie Nelson and Ray Charles. It's excellent. Just...thought I'd throw that out there. As a fervent lover of music.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Behind + Ahead = Behead?

Maybe being beheaded wouldn't be so bad at this point. I mean, that would totally kill my headache, right? Among other things...

Well, okay, maybe being dead wouldn't be so awesome. In fact, no, it definitely wouldn't be so awesome. But it is pretty tiring to work so hard to get ahead on some of the stuff on my To-Do list, but still be behind on so many other things. It's like the extreme satisfaction of getting ahead is totally mauled by the knowledge that I'm still not done.

I think I spent more time this weekend doing homework than I did like...all last week. Catching up on homework for one class inadvertently put me behind schedule on some other things. Some literally and some only according to my self-imposed deadlines.

I have this paper. This 10-page research paper for my Marriage Institution class. It's basically one fifth of my total grade for the class, so there's definitely some pressure to do a stellar job on it. It's due the class period before Thanksgiving break, but my professor had encouraged us all to talk to her about our topics. When I did just that—which was extremely helpful—she also said that she would take my paper early, grade it, and give me comments, which would then allow me to make any changes necessary to make the best grade possible.

Quite frankly, I'd be a fool not to take advantage of this. So I talked to her Friday, and told her I hoped to have something to give her on Monday.

That left me spending this weekend writing like a crazy person. And researching. And re-learning how to cite internet sources, movies, books, etc. And how to properly quote them.

Block quotes are my favorite.
They look awesome. They break up the monotony of a Times New Roman 12 point double spaced black and white research paper. But they can be hard to come by because they can only be used for quotes that take up more than four lines of the page. So my overall paper only has a few. Not including the snippets of movie dialogue I included in order to discuss the family structure evidenced in the exchange between characters.
I suppose technically not having to put those quotes in block form would take up more space on the page, but I'm tellin' ya, 10 page papers look pretty monotonous without them.

And yes, 1 and 3 are different pages.
Note the near identical nature of the paragraphs and their spacing.
Not monotonous.
Note the block quotes and even some dialogue!
Fortunately, I wasn't the only person from my Marriage Institution class who wanted to get a head start on the paper. So myself and two other girls from class decided we'd have a Paper-Writing Party.

We met at Starbucks on Saturday. Because really, nothing makes homework more tolerable than coffee.

We got there at two, and I honestly didn't expect to get as little actual writing accomplished as I did. I left at five (three hours later!) with barely more than a paragraph written. Turns out it took much longer than I had anticipated to find my last of three pop culture examples of marriage (it's more specific, but I'll refrain from bogging you down with details) and pull quotes from my sources. When I did finally start writing my introduction and following paragraph, I kept having to stop to make a citation of my source so that I could do my in-text citations. So that held me up. That's when I decided I'd compile my sources and cite them all first, that way I could just refer back. That mostly worked.

When I left, I had just about half a page and a headache.

Since we didn't finish our papers, we decided to hold a continuation of our Paper-Writing Party at the same Starbucks the following day. Again at about 2.

Thank you for existing, Starbucks. <3
This time I got about five pages written. Again I left with a headache.

I managed to be a semi-responsible adult when I got back to my apartment. I avoided all distractions.

The problem I was having was that by the time I finished up page 7, all that I really had left to write was the last half of the paragraph I was working on and my conclusion. Not so easy to stretch out into three pages... I had to elaborate on some of my earlier paragraphs and lengthen my analysis of the last example, plus split my conclusion into two separate paragraphs.

Yikes. It was such a headache.

The good news is, I finished up my paper—not-so-creatively titled "Family Types and their Reactions to Marriage"—at a hefty ten and a half pages. And this morning I turned it in. So now I must anxiously await my professor's comments and criticisms so that I can edit it accordingly. Ideally, it'll be fine. And I won't have to change much of anything. Which would mean I finished my paper just over a week early. That might be a personal best!

So that's what I'm ahead on.

However, I am certainly not ahead on everything. Sadly, NaNoWriMo is not going so well for me. I should have about 25,000 words. I don't. I have just over 13,000 words. Yeah, that's pretty behind.

Maybe it would be wise to just give up and focus on my schoolwork.

But I am rarely wise.

I still have half a month to catch up. During Thanksgiving break, I'll have even more time since I won't have to deal with classes.  Last November, I stayed behind all the way up until the last week. I think. Either way, I know towards the end there was an outpouring of wordswordswords and I crossed the finish line with just over 50,000 at more or less the very last minute.

It could happen again. Right? If anybody else out there is doing NaNo and is behind, hark! Don't lose hope! It's not over 'til it's over.

I just have one more big thing—wait, maybe two. No, three. Sorry, four. Three more big things to get out of the way before I can buckle down and get to work on my writing. Yes, that's three more things I'm behind on. Two that I'm actually behind on; one that isn't due yet but that I'd intended to finish already. And another that doesn't exactly have a due date but that needs to be done nonetheless.

The two I'm behind on are for my Shakespeare class and my Sociology of Gender class. The one I'm "behind" on is my Campaigns & Elections paper. All three I am determined to take care of this week. The one I just plain need to do is...well, a multi-step process involving meeting with my advisor, nailing down what I need to take next semester, figure out what classes I want and working them out on my schedule, re-advising to make sure they'll all count, and then actually registering for them as soon as I'm allowed to. (Which, if you're wondering, is November 23 at 5:30 am. Yeah, I think that's cruel, too.)

So my current mantra is pretty much, "Go! Go! Go!"

Hopefully I can continue to avoid all distractions...

Major distraction.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Christmas Spirit

My grandmother, Super Granny, always used to give me presents—Surprises, she called them—whenever she would visit. Some of the best ones came near the holidays. There would always be one, usually in November, that would be Christmas-related. To help us get in the Christmas spirit.

The first Christmas ornament of the season!
Christmas is my favorite holiday, anyway. And Christmastime is my favorite time of year, too. But it's also the time of year that I miss Super Granny the most.

So today, despite the fact that I'm well over a month early, I put my Christmas tree up. To get in the Christmas spirit.

I know what you might be thinking. "Why, it's only November 4th!" And you're right.

But I love to go all out for Christmas, and if I'm going to spend so much time and money decorating, why shouldn't I get some good use out of it?

I'll probably wait until after Thanksgiving to put out my wreath, but I have every intention of putting my Christmas lights up soon. Possibly this weekend.

If you don't like it, too bad. I'm going to play the adult card. You know, the, "I'm an adult and I can do what I want and you aren't the boss of me so there!" card. Christmas decor always makes me feel warm and cozy. I think my house looks its best at Christmas, and I'm ready to prove my apartment can look its best this season, too.

I haven't gone overboard yet. But anyone who knows me will tell you...overboard isn't a stretch for me. So I imagine that the amount of Christmas related decorations in my apartment will, ah, multiply as the weeks go by.

For now, I've got my tree, several ornaments, and a welcome mat.

I actually spent most of the day in the car. I drove home from College Station yesterday for a doctors appointment today. After that, since I still have class on Friday, I drove back. I decided while I was home, I'd grab some of my Christmas stuff so that when I come back after Thanksgiving, I'll have less to haul.

I'd pretty much decided by the time I'd loaded it in my car that it was going up soon.

Then, when I got home, I couldn't resist—the box was staring at me, my tree all but begging me to give it some air.

"I am tree! I look taller than I really am!"

See? Not so tall.
And yes. I have a pink Christmas tree.

And my two boxes of ornaments? Practically crying out loud to be unwrapped and on display.

These guys are a little heavy for my tree branches.
So they're adorning my TV stand.
Apparently I was really into snowmen when I bought these.
Also, yes, I bought duplicates. There weren't enough single ornaments I liked to fill my tree with!
And lastly, yes, I know this is an abnormally long photo-caption.

My welcome mat, which I thought had been lost to several unfortunate incidents with a puppy and pee (but had made a remarkable comeback) was simply dying to get a second chance.

"I'm clean again!!!"

Who am I to refuse the Christmas spirit?
Pink tree + ornaments + lights = Happiness.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It begins...

I may lose sleep to get my word count in,
but Tucker does not.
It's begun! NaNoWriMo is well underway. So far, I'm the slightest bit ahead with my word count and frankly, I'm hoping to keep it that way. I'm still torn about what I'm working on. I originally planned to use this NaNo to keep working on my novel from last year—which I'm hoping to finish eventually and publish eventually. But at the last minute I decided to start something new.

Now I'm kind of stalled on my plot and I can't help but wonder if I should have stuck with my original plan...

Either way, I'm pressing on! I'm pretty happy with what I've written so far, and I thought I'd share it with you guys in you're interested. Feedback is most definitely welcome!

This is my first chapter, and my working title for the manuscript is "Checking Out." I'm not quite sure how to box it up in a genre for you guys—I guess it's kind of an alternate universe, or at least a futuristic, science-fiction piece. But I'm honestly not sure where it's going. So I hate to limit myself to writing only sci-fi. I tend to lean toward horror, so it won't surprise me in the least if it starts to creep in that that direction.

Also, I'm kind of creating a whole new system of government in this piece—new titles, new rules, all of that. If anything trips you up, please let me know—I'm happy to clarify. But instead of preemptively explaining the vocabulary, I'd like to see if the context makes it clear.