Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Fellow Soul Searchers

I hope that everyone has a wonderful day today regardless of what holidays you may or may not celebrate. To commemorate this day, which is celebrated by so many as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, and a holiday I have grown up celebrating as well, I’d like to share this video and lyrics to Dave Matthews Band’s Christmas Song. I feel this song totally encompasses what the spirit of this season is really about:

♥ ♥ ♥ love, love, love ♥ ♥ ♥

Christmas Song
She was his girl; he was her boyfriend
She’d be his wife; take him as her husband
A surprise on the way, any day, any day
One healthy little giggling dribbling baby boy
The wise men came three made their way
To shower him with love
While he lay in the hay
Shower him with love love love
Love love love
Love love is all around
Not very much of his childhood was known
Kept his mother Mary worried
Always out on his own
He met another Mary for a reasonable fee, less than
Reputable as known to be

His heart was full of love love love
Love love love
Love love is all around
When Jesus Christ was nailed to the his tree
Said "oh, Daddy-o I can see how it all soon will be
I came to she'd a little light on this darkening scene
Instead I fear I spill the blood of my children all around"

The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children all around
So the story goes, so I'm told
The people he knew were
Less than golden hearted
Gamblers and robbers
Drinkers and jokers, all soul searchers
Like you and me

Rumors insisted he soon would be
For his deviations
Taken into custody by the authorities
Less informed than he
Drinkers and jokers all soul searchers
Searching for love love love
Love love love
Love love is all around

Preparations were made
For his celebration day
He said "eat this bread and think of it as me
Drink this wine and dream it will be
The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children all around"
The blood of our children all around

Father up above, why in all this anger have you fill
Me up with love
Fill me love love love
Love love love
Love love
And the blood of our children all around

Enjoy your own celebrations today, big or small, by spending time with the ones you love! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What Do I Want?

It’s that time of year where those who celebrate the giving & receiving part of the season either start or finish their holiday shopping, but unlike many years before, I am actually participating this year. In the past I have both given and received handmade gifts, charitable contributions, baked goods, store bought items or those things that can’t be bought in a store like the gift of babysitting or something similar. This year though I have decided that in addition to donating to charities, for some folks there will be something wrapped and under the proverbial tree and I am putting it right out there that I am hoping for the same.

Does it sound selfish to want to get a gift? I don’t know really but I definitely don’t think it is selfish to want to give some so that is what I’m intending on doing!

My mom is still desiring nothing more than a charitable contribution so that is just what we will do for her, but for everyone else I want to start considering just what type of gift would make them happy. Are they an outdoorsy person? Do they love coffee? Did they just get a new pet? Are they out to dinner types? Once the questions are answered as to who they are and what they like, the next big decision of course is in what to give.

For many this year we are intending to do gift certificates. Lame? Perhaps, but as a firm believer in the awesomeness of getting exactly what one wants, sometimes that is the most excellent option. A perfume that rocks to one may not be lovely to another so why risk it when I can just pick up a gift certificate to the perfume house of choice and let them pick their own? You know what I’m saying?

The one person I will be picking up gifties for is Matt. For years we have exchanged nothing more than a Merry Christmas hug and kiss but we are both looking to do something special for each other this year. Well cool! He has given me a couple ideas over the year (whether he knows it or not) so I will be acquiring some of those things, but perhaps a few unexpected little items that he will really like as well.

Now of course comes the obvious question from everyone -- what do I want? Some things I’ve mentioned recently that I wouldn’t mind having are:
Drums (my own real ones) &/or pre-paid lessons with Gil
Music (specifically this)
Tires for my car
To have my book published
A paycheck

Okay, maybe those last three can’t technically be given for Christmas but if I were to receive any of the other things above them, some (if not all) of those would certainly be taken care of as well. Now here’s the real deal. I hope that Matt doesn’t get me anything on this list. I know it might sound odd because I’m not really asking for anything else here but if he’s going to get me a gift then I really want it to be creative, and romantic.

That movie Love Actually keeps coming to mind “I don’t want something I need, I want something I want. Something pretty.” From Matt I want something that only Matt could give me, that only he would know I want.

So if you’re reading this babe, maybe that seems like a bit of pressure but after ten years I know you will figure it out.

Image thanks to Associated Content

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Reverie to the Past

You’re back again, at night
I sleep and there you are hovering
Over my slumber, as if a whirlwind I
Can’t escape from; but it’s easy,
I don’t want to run, although my
Heart stops hammering for an instant
As you pass. You greet me in silent
Measure with a wink
And a smile, and my heart thaws
Just like years before. I thought
I was over that. Present. You are
Skinnier, and cuter than I remembered;
Still, somehow I verbalize
All the right things
This time. All the occasions before
Were rehearsal for this singular
Let’s do lunch. Here’s my number.
You glance through me, seemingly
Not beyond my soul, so
I have to laugh at the tension that
Builds in my head. I am
Grown now; old and wise in self
Proclamation, I shouldn’t feel,
But shouldn’t is just a word and
You are just a boy from a dream.

Friday, December 4, 2009

As the Fog Lifts

Huh, the title reads like the name of soap opera or something. Well the November haze of Nano is over now and suddenly it occurred to me this morning there are only three weeks until Christmas. Wow. Kind of fast moving again this year but seriously, what year isn’t anymore right?

All this holiday talk has reminded me that red and green work together in such a pleasing color combination, especially when used in varying shades and tones. I like the way sage green and cranberry, plus a little gold sprinkled in for sparkle, looks together. It is perfect on the wreath on my front door.

Funny though, I don’t really ever decorate for the holidays anymore, other than that fake pine wreath. It isn’t that I don’t believe in the holiday spirit or anything, frankly it’s just because I’m lazy. Plain and simple.

I barely see the point of putting out a whole slew of stuff all over my house, that no one will see but us because everyone is far too busy running around doing their own holiday things, that I just have to take back down and put in the basement for the next 49 weeks before doing it all over again.

Something just gets lost on me when I realize the only one who will see the wreath is our letter carrier because everyone else uses the side door. Am I too cynical? Maybe that’s it, but between the pressure to send out cards, torn wrapping paper, empty bank accounts and countless hours spent in return lines, I frequently understand the inclination to follow Pagan traditions of the celebration of returning light and that whole ‘eat, drink and be merry’ attitude instead of the ‘buy, buy, BUY’ mentality that seems to accompany this season now a days.

Seriously, Dar Williams hits it right on the money here.

Anyway, regardless of all of that, we have a few awesome events coming up this year. We get to see not just one but two amazing choirs perform their holiday songs next weekend! My mom’s best friend sings in one that plays a bit north of us and Bridgete sings in one a bit south of us. Can’t wait to hear the tunes, these concerts are always so uplifting!

Another cool thing about Bridgete’s is that her mom will be in town so hopefully I’ll finally get to meet the always awesome KC! After meeting Bridgete’s dad at Thanksgiving and laughing over dinner for like three straight hours I have no doubt we’ll have just as much fun with her mom.

I have some other exciting news about Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve but can’t really divulge just yet so stay tuned for the update…

In the meantime I’m going to go make a Holiday playlist on iTunes. Yes I mean holiday and not just Christmas because I plan to include things like Adam Sandler’s Hanukah and Thanksgiving songs, Chicago’s Saturday In the Park and Jason’s Remedy (both for their 4th of July references), NKOTB Valentine Girl, Dan Fogelberg’s Auld Lang Syne, Monster Mash, maybe a few selections from Jesus Christ Superstar and perhaps You’re Not Irish by Robbie O’Connell. Plus of course a bunch of Christmas tunes that I love. Hmmm, does anyone know of any good songs about Flag Day, President’s Day, MLK Day, Boxing Day…

Monday, November 30, 2009

More Than Ever Before

There was no fanfare, just Matt pumping his fist into the air and saying something like ‘woo hoo, that’s so awesome!’

The characters decided to kind of write themselves; a lot like life I guess. They just did what they wanted and made me tell their story. Which I was happy to do, it was fun.

As I finished the last line at about eight o’clock last night I felt no relief or huge exhalation of greatness or anything. That is mostly due to the fact that I know that I now have to rewrite basically the entire book through editing. But this is the fun part.

This is also the part I have become intimately familiar with over the past quarter century that I have been writing so it should be a no brainer; sort of.

All of my early journals are filed with stories that have lines crossed out and written over the top of, or they include circled paragraphs at the very top of the page, written as small as the type on a bottle of medicine to ensure maximum capacity, that trail long wavy lines indicating they should be inserted in other places on the page. My internal editor is ready and willing to tackle the next challenge.

I already know there is quite a bit of content that is going to be crossed out, not to mention the thousands of words that will meet their demise through the delete button. It is okay though, I fully anticipated getting rid of them even when I was writing them. That’s what the ‘Save As’ feature is for. ‘Save As’ draft 2 - Ripple the Twine is going to be well underway starting tomorrow.

Funny thing is I felt like maybe there would be some kind of let down or sense of loss inside this morning. Instead I slept until ten. I can barely remember the last time I did that but it felt good to wake up completely refreshed, knowing the bulk of these characters were purged out of my brain. Plus I slept great knowing I didn’t kill off the character I considered killing off a long time ago, they made it to the final scene. For now.

Once I uploaded the manuscript last night and claimed my shiny new winner badge I decided to hit the forums for a few minutes to read about other people who had made it through the proverbial rain. Turns out there were quite a few. One of the most interesting things I read was a thread where the poster asked how everyone’s families reacted to their win.

So many people made mention that no one in their circle truly understood what it meant to “win”. I could relate to what they were saying. Parents, siblings and friends of these people were saying things like ‘well if you don’t actually win anything, what’s the point?’ and the Wrimos who won simply let it roll off their shoulders. Because that’s what writers do. We develop thick skins that allow us to be present for the war but never impaled by the jabs of other’s daggers.

Or something like that.

After I wrote my final line I went outside to get a little fresh air for what felt like the first time in a month and I too was greeted by a whole bunch of nothing. Barely a car went down the street, no paparazzi were standing outside my door, no one chased me down the street for an autograph. But you know something? I couldn’t have cared less because for the first time in my life I could truly call myself a novelist, something I had aspired to be for years, and that alone was the greatest personal achievement of my life to date.

So what’s next? Well I feel so strongly about my characters and the content of this story that I do plan to edit the hell out of it a few times, hand over a copy to some friends and relatives for genuine feedback, rewrite it again and then get cracking on learning how to write a kick ass query letter because this one is getting published.

Then one of my other life long dreams will be complete, I can actually refer to myself as a published Novelist.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The End is Rapidly Approaching

It’s been a while, yes that’s true, and I wish there was some excuse other than I have mostly been writing the book like a complete fool junkie for Chick-lit but there isn’t so here I am now. I do have to admit, I miss my blog and miss reading blogs but in February when I have a well crafted publishable novel that I can start shopping (read: lots of down time while I get rejection letters in the mail) it will all have been worth it and I promise to get back with everyone before then.

To keep my mind semi off the book I have been continuing with drum lessons, which have been going really well and my instructor is branching me out of the instruction book and into more real time beat driven stuff that doesn’t involve me reading along with anything and keeping the beat in my head, not on the page. It’s awesome to escape for the hour and just not think while I bang out some real music; albeit very slow music.

Speaking of music… Something strange that has happened, and I didn’t at all expect, is that I have not been able to bring myself to listen to my favorite music this month. No Jason, no Melissa, no Foo Fighters and no Dave Matthews Band. Since I tend to sing along with every word most of the time I didn’t want them infiltrating my brain and clouding up my own words for the book. Weird, because I love to listen to music while I write most of the time and especially lyricists like those folks.

Speaking of Dave (and Jason)... Last night the band (including Tim which was so awesome!) was the musical guest on SNL. Lately I make it to the Weekend Update and that’s about it but last night I think there were only one or two skits that didn’t make me laugh out loud. I was impressed by Joseph-Gordon Levitt as a host, I haven’t seen this kid since he was in 3rd Rock From the Sun but he was awesome! Great monologue, no shame, never forgot a line & he stayed in character, no matter what the skit, all night.

The best skit ever came somewhere near the start of the show. Anyone who’s a fan of Dave, Jason, Jack Johnson or Ozzy Osbourne will enjoy this. Even if you’re not and just know the general personalities of any of those musicians you should get a kick out of it.

The Mellow Show with Jack Johnson

Still makes me laugh. Hysterical.

So I’m breathing down the door of 40,000 words and bloody well plan to be at 44-46 by the end of the day today. I plan to hit the 50k mark on the first day we’re allowed to upload the book to claim the certificate, that way the pressure is off and I can just finish the beast knowing, if nothing else, I let myself win this challenge.

In other awesome news…you may have noticed there is a stagnant post at the top of the blog. It is a story on local Nano writers and I was featured in the article. Woo hoo! Matt Reid from the Medford Transcript and Malden Observer contacted me to see if I’d be interested to share some info for the article and it went up this past week on line and into the print copy last Thursday. Not only was it a front page story it was the lead off headline! It is very exciting that locals will get a chance to learn about Nano and I was so happy to be a part of the piece! Thanks Matt!

So that’s about all the news to report in my life.

My character, Sara, on the other hand... Well so far she has had to deal with the break up of one of her friend’s relationships (because she just got signed and is about to go on tour with her band), discuss the possibility that another might be having an affair with a much younger man in London, find out that another friend might be selling his bar and sandwich shop (which is her touchstone location) and she is trying to decide if its appropriate to sleep with a guy on their next date (because she isn’t really sure if its their second or fifth) and that guy is about to reveal the biggest secret that will affect all of them forever.


She is on a month long roller coaster here but I’m so glad to be able to be along for the ride. Luckily I have her to live vicariously through; my own life sometimes seems kind of boring in comparison. Of course that isn’t exactly a bad thing.

See you all again in December!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Word Counting Down From My Favorite Number

Well I guess this is either really early for this Thursday or really late from last, but either way it seemed like it might be a nice time to write something other than my character for a little while. Something I can edit. Something that I care to make grammatically correct, spelled right and punctuated appropriately! (OK the exclamation point is probably a little aggressive here but there are just not too many chances to use them when writing a novel so I’m going over the top baby!!!!). It will also be really cool to not have to immediately check my word count after finishing this little post. But I probably will anyway.

Whew! Talk about a whirlwind! The funny thing is I am not freaking out like the powers that be indicated would likely happen, I also still feel like the idea is fresh and my MC still has boatloads more to say and do. I guess that is a good thing seeing as though I’m not quite halfway done yet. The good news is that by Thursday I will be, three full days ahead of schedule. Nice.

Halfway to the NaNo goal that is, I am personally aiming for 60,000 words and so far I’m pretty much on track to get there. I like to have more meat to work with later that way when I reread it and admit to the recoculously gratuitous dream sequence or the boring as hell dialogue I can simply remove it without fear of having to rewrite half the dang book so it can get published. I am really looking forward to having a chance to read again.

It’s been bumming me out that I haven’t had a chance to read everyone’s blogs either the past ten days. Some of you I get in email so I’ve been able to keep up that way, but this is actually the first time I’ve even logged onto blogger since the end of October.

By some miracle of chance, Theresa still seems to think that makes this little blog worthy of an award. Woo hoo! (Because I’m short on time, that’s the beautiful ‘Lovely Blog Award’ pictured above).

Theresa is a hilarious writer, I love her blog mostly because she has a rockin’ writing style -- slightly sarcastic and her subject matter is all over the map. Plus who can resist a blog titled An Officer and A Garbage Can.

Way to go Theresa *insert clapping* way to go!

If you don’t get that reference go to Netflix and add this movie right now. Girls should definitely pick up a box of Kleenex before sitting down to watch it. Come to think of it, some guys should too. It’s a good one.

Now I am supposed to link to blogs that I think everyone should read by passing the award on. Urgh, I hate this part of the award receiving. They don’t go and force Grammy Award winners to then pass on their award to five other people do they? Can’t I just accept this gracious gift with my humbling, and yet, touchingly honest acceptance speech; one glistening tear streaming down my cheek for the spotlights to pick up on? I mean I’m already linking to five other peeps at the end of this Broken Thought Process so can we just call it even? OK good. For a minute there I was feeling way too much pressure.

So anyway, I had to write today, its 11-10-09. All day yesterday I considered writing this and scheduling it to post at 08:07 this morning but I just didn’t have that kind of time so it will just have to post at like 08:32 or something. I like when countdowns start from eleven and not ten, eleven is my favorite number. Matt and I have decided that if we have a kid we are naming it Eleven. Of course I think it’s more appropriate for a girl instead of a boy so I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens there.

What’s that you say? ‘Shut your pie hole and give us an excerpt’? Well alright if you must have a juicy bit to chew on, here is a little something.

Sara opened her email only to see one from her mother. She wondered what had taken her so long; usually there were at least ten inbox messages from her mom by this point in the day. Most of her messages were silly forwarded jokes that Sara already received two years before that but occasionally she snuck one in that was meant to make Sara cave in to the ‘get married and have babies’ pressure. She was really good at it and today’s was no different.

‘OK hunny so I’ve been thinking of having my friends Ted and Myrna over for dinner. You remember them right? Ted worked with your father back in the early nineties when he was on the road for those six months. Well anyway they are coming on Saturday and I knew you would want to see them too so I told them you would be happy to join us! They should be arriving around six and their son Paul will be here after he is done with the contractors working on his three story home in the South End. That will be about seven so feel free to get here anytime before that. And I will not have you saying no, it is time for you to find a man and finally fill that great big empty house of yours. Make sure you bring a really nice bottle of wine, and wear a loose fitting shirt dear.

Sara marveled at the way her mother could all at once extend a heartfelt invitation to spend time together and put the words in her head to make her feel like less of a woman. She wondered what year it was and how it was possible there were still women anywhere who felt that if a woman was single she must be ‘less than’ even if she had a wonderful group of friends, a fantastic job and a home to die for.

So I want to hear it, bring on the compliments, awards, publishing houses that are ready to give me a huge advance to complete it. Okay, I’ll take criticism too. Hopefully it will give you a basic idea of what the book is about, in 325 words that is.

Well I guess I should hit it now, besides the fact that I have five GLR posts and another 2,000 words to write today, I decided why not take on even more of a challenge so I accepted a writing gig doing SEO through my new favorite marketing company Social Lite. My fingers are in the best shape of their life!

Hope everyone has a chance to check out the ladies here…
Bree, Ginger and Bridgete.
PlusKC and Kate who are also Wrimo writing fools this month, so get over to their places and give them some high fives!!!! Or at the least some completely unnecessary exclamation points.

This post? Five shy of 1,200 btw.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Focused Thought Thursdays, for November Anyway

As I’m sure everyone can imagine my thoughts have me pretty well focused on NaNoWriMo tomorrow. Actually midnight tonight but I plan to be attending a party at that hour (or already home and sleeping), the last hurrah of freedom if you will. That is a good escape because there is not much else going on in my brain right now outside of character development and scene and structure outlines.

But I am trying to stay true to the Nano process and not write anything concrete until tomorrow. That has not been a challenge, which I guess is the first hurdle crossed for me.

I usually get so wrapped up in a character I dive in with reckless abandon, not caring if there is anything concrete to back it up. What that usually means for me is I get about 8,000 words out and then abandon the project in search of something fresh and new because I have no idea where this character is going. This time I can actually feel the entire story coming together. Yippie!

So you want a synopsis? OK, here you go…

“Sarah, a freelance sports writer, has no Choos in her closet, but rather, enjoys spending time with the girls at a friend's bar on a Thursday night, drinking a beer instead of a highly overrated cosmo. Her girlfriends are self made and while one is nearing the brink of stardom, another is wildly successful in the ever growing Green industry. Sarah's mom can be a bit abrasive at times and only wants to see her happily settled with a good man, but the great man in all of their lives recently revealed some information that will have the girls opening their eyes to just how short life could be.”

Like I said last week, its Chick-Lit but I am keeping her a lot more real inside the world of fantasy. Everyone always says write what you know. Well I know sports and Green products and beer so it’s a start I suppose. I also know friendships, strong and lasting ones that weather anything. Currently I am learning music (which I think is what I’ll be doing with the “brink of stardom” friend; perhaps a lead singer) and I have had some experience with both comedy and tragedy in this life of mine.

The real test is going to be writing characters that encompass their own unique personalities while embracing a little bit of each other at the same time. I have some inspiration for this book but it is mostly chick-flick romantic comedies. Here is where I stand up and introduce myself so I might as well get it over with…

Hi, my name is Jenn. Although I am a writer I barely ever read.

There, now that the secret is out I can go into more detail as to why. When I put characters down on paper I actually see the scene I am writing in a mind’s eye, visual way. I can feel the table they are sitting at, notice the peeling paint in the corner of the wall, smell the garlic roasting in the kitchen, know how comfortable the main character is in their clothing. Its weird but when I write it is like a movie plays so I figure why fight it, I simply use that medium as my inspiration.

So anyway I need to come up with a whole slew of stuff but hopefully it will just come to me. Ha ha, yeah, hopefully. Pretty much it is all names -- the main character’s (not set on Sarah…maybe Sara is more modern?) including the last name, names of all the supporting cast, name of the band, the bar, the Green products company, the main character’s company. Additionally I need to figure out the moment we enter their lives and at what point I will have her meet a good man (if at all).

The good news is I have some standard Chick-Lit “stereotypical” stuff already -- fantasy jobs for all the characters, an intrusive mom, a bad boy (which I already have a name for strangely enough), the hang out spot, the conflict they will face, the age group, a love interest -- plus I already know that I will not have a gay “BFF” or any of them shopping for $500 shoes as retail therapy. I know it’s a fantasy world but I’m not trying to rewrite Sex and the City here.

Anyway, it all kicks off in the morning, thankfully the Patriots have a bye this week so I will be able to write as inspired. I already have my trusty composition book and about 4 black ink ball point pens ready to go and I intend on bringing that baby with me everywhere but my drum lessons. After all it is a little tough to write holding two sticks and in reality I think I just need to turn it off for at least an hour a week, it will be like really cheap therapy.

So have a really happy Halloween everyone, be safe and don’t eat too much candy unless its Reese cups. Then go and read everyone else who rocks out on Thursday (or there abouts, most of the time).

KC, Ginger, Kate, Bridgete and Bree

PS What’s really cool is that my word count for Nano should be 1667 per day and this is 875 (up to the links). A little over halfway there, and this stream of consciousness came to me in about a half hour; now I just have to channel that into a different character and its go time. Maybe I won’t be up as late at night as I thought.

Thanks for letting me borrow your picture Mom!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Some Call It Insane, I Call It Necessary

NaNoWriMo. A term familiar to over 120,000 people worldwide who are willing to take on the writing challenge, is now going to be a household word around these parts. I just signed up this morning and it feels great!

Immediately after doing so, and before even reading the welcome email telling me I should do this, I sent an email to everyone I know detailing what I am about to embark on. Here is the content of that email:

Well folks the time has come to put up or shut up. NaNoWriMo is here again and this year I have signed up to participate. Holy shit. What have I gotten myself into?

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and from November 1 - 30 I am taking on their challenge to write a 50,000 word novel. Again, holy shit. It is simultaneously liberating and scary as hell to know that with this kind of structured approach that I will finally have a completed novel after all is said and done. Regular postings of content and word counts are done and although no one will be ringing my doorbell to point and laugh at me if I don't complete the challenge, it is going to feel a whole lot better to win than not fulfill it.

In my recoculously OCD brain I worked it out that I have to write about 2,000 words a day on average. That isn't really all that bad; between all the procrastinations I complete on a daily basis I estimate my current word count to be somewhere upwards of 5,000. That's good because it makes me feel a little less insane for taking this on and also makes me realize how I have been squandering my time on unfocused priorities for just way too long now.

What does it mean though? Well pretty much I will be just as available as I was up until November 1 -- read: basically non-existent (yeah sorry about that) -- its just that my focus is going to drastically change because its time to be a novelist. Period. My ability to stay connected won't really change its just that no one will likely hear about anything but my characters for the next 30 days (yeah sorry about that too).

I will still post GLR blogs (this week I am working to try to get the entire month of Nov. front loaded, I'm about 1/2 way there) and will still see people but my time in email/comment land/FB/text/phone is going to basically be nil. The product of that is going to be a completely crappy, unedited, first version of a novel that I will be able to refine and publish. About effing time.

So I guess really I'm just looking for the validation (shocker right?) and to kind of let everyone know what's what with me. If you want to see me in Nov. just come over because I only get a max of 5 days off and I plan to spend them sleeping.

spread love

And there it is. I put a PS on the email that I would be posting all over the place from email to here to FB so I could be held completely accountable. One of the things it should have said is that my first task is to go out and learn how to spell words like fulfill and existent. Ugh. Regardless, like the wonderfully supportive people over at NaNoWriMo have made very clear “editing is what December is for”.

I had fully intended to write one of my novels by hand and strangely enough that one is coming along really well, albeit slow but definitely steady so I will not be looking toward that project for this challenge.

In process right now I have at least three other novels. Well stuff that I think could become novels if expanded; I guess more appropriately they could be expanded, not every story can be. One of them has been in the works since 1999 and its early character development and outline is likely what I am going to use as my basis for this November writing project.

Sorry fellas, its kind of chick lit, modern woman blah, blah, blah boring kind of stuff to you (unless you embrace the inner humorous romantic in yourself and in that case I say bravo!). Luckily though, I know a lot of ladies.

Here’s hoping I don’t forget to do things like eat, sleep, pee. Then again isn’t that what furious writing is all about anyway? I will keep you all updated on the progress.

Holy shit. It’s on.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Broken Thoughts, by Random Lunacy

I went to open a new checking account for my business because the bank I am currently with decided that instead of giving a high five to their loyal customers, they started hitting small business accounts with mondo fees.

Um, did they not get that small business part??? Can little fishies like me really afford to have my money either held hostage or unceremoniously taken away? I believe the answer you’re looking for would be a clear, ‘oh hell no’!

So, the local bank in the next town over charges nothing for small business checking and I decided to move my money on over so it is no longer held up at fee-point.

When I opened up my EIN document to print it this morning, I realized that Chucka Stone Designs just celebrated her second birthday three days ago. Yea!!

I totally love my job and I love my company and fully intend to keep this little fish swimming in the big old ocean for as long as possible, dodging sharks and finding super secret awesomeness around the corners of patches of coral reefs.

Speaking of awesomeness…

Today I started drum lessons, a promise I made myself last year. Well I might be a little late to the party, finally learning, at age 36, the instrument I have wanted to play since I was a kid, but as far as I’m concerned it’s never too late. My instructor Gil Graham, is so cool.

I found him in a most destined way too; thanks Universe! My mom was selling her lovely photo inspired art at an open studio fair in my old (and now defunct) Junior High School so Matt and I went to check it out. The show was on all four levels of the building as there are artist studios everywhere. We came in through the basement door as it seemed a logical place to start.

As we were walking by a completely unassuming room with an open door I pointed out where the cafeteria line used to form across the hall. Next thing I knew there were some slow drum beats coming from that door and there was a sign reading “Come On In!”. As if I could resist. We listened to the kid play for a few, shook hands with Gil and promised to be back near the end of the day to chat after seeing my mom.

The end of the day proved to be well over an hour while, for free, Gil started breaking down my skill and experience level as he let me play a few hundred beats. I was amazed with what I already knew like how to hold the sticks and limb independence (thanks Rock Band, seriously) and Gil was amazed at not only those things too but also that I was able to keep consistent time.

I think we both got a little giddy at the prospect of entering into a kick ass teacher student relationship and I signed up on the spot. Today was great as I worked toward greater independence and lengthier beat combos. The coolest thing was he told me as I was leaving that we just went through about 3 lessons in that one lesson time slot, that I sound great and am picking it up really quickly. Woo hoo! It still feels weird but I guess that is like anything new right?

I had a chance to interview Adam Sankowski from local band The Grownup Noise again about their veggie oil conversion van that they have used to tour the country for two consecutive summers now. He is such a great guy and always a fun interview. Plus I love discovering new music, especially when it is really, really good.

And they are really, really good.

If you are in the area and can stay up past your bedtime this Saturday night I highly recommend hooking up with me and Matt at their show at TT the Bear’s in Central Square Cambridge.

OK that’s about all I have steam for today so go read everyone else’s stuff now. How about if I say please?
KC, Ginger, Kate, Bridgete and Bree

BTW…thanks for the picture SuperStock!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Too Long, Goodbye

And then a funny thing happened,
You were not home anymore.
I had said farewell
A year before that day.
So to see you again,
Clearly, with sunshine
Bouncing off the best parts of you,
Felt, odd, amiss, off.

I could barely bring myself
To slow down and look at you,
All I wanted was to speed past
With my head down.
The part of me that once
Wanted nothing but you
Had already disconnected.
I had moved on,
Unintentionally; still
Most necessarily.

Then nostalgia crept in and
I promised to visit;
Perhaps, move closer.
But as the words formed
I realized they were a lie.
With complete certainty I knew
That I would never see you again.
Not the way you projected;
Never as a fixture,
And you could never be
Just a summer thing.

The churning in my gut
Was enough to make me ill,
But I waited until
I was out of sight,
Distant miles behind me,
Before I allowed it to drain.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Broken Thoughts, Am I Early? Do I Care?

The picture is from our foliage viewing trip last weekend. It was a really nice day, we always do so much talking about all things life when we have hours of time in the car. Road trips are some of my favorite memories with Matt over the years. Even when we weren’t seeing things like Mt. Monadnock, but just the same old boring and dark roads from LINY to Springfield every Friday night for two plus years. For some reason the car is so us. Maybe that is fate telling us to buy an RV and hit the road or something. Or maybe not.

Now that I have a food processor and finally walked through the door of the unbelievably cool spice store Penzeys in Arlington (I am happy to report there are 42 across the country including one in Grand Central Terminal of all places!) it was high time for me to finally try my hand at making chocomole. That stuff is the shit!! I am not sure I can bring myself to ever make regular pudding again. Even Matt said he could not tell, and he was trying to.

I modified it from the original recipe because I didn’t have enough avocado so I ended up thinning it out a bit with the left over water from soaking the dates and I forgot completely about the coconut oil. Next time I’m thinking of using dried cherries instead of the dates, or maybe in addition to. All I know is I couldn’t even finish a whole bowl it was so rich and that is definitely not like me when it comes to chocolate. So thanks Jason, this will go into regular rotation in this house!

This afternoon my mom and I are going to visit her friend Bill, have lunch together and then just the two of us are hitting the Garment District and/or Goodwill to see if we can find some good Halloween costume supplies. Matt and I both need wigs and I was also hoping to try my hand at stitching up a little something for my costume. Pictures and/or success/disaster stories to follow!

Bill fell victim to a fairly massive stroke a couple years ago and he is now a resident of an assisted living facility in the heart of the city. He and my mom have been friends since I can remember and as a super active guy (traveling once a year to places like Paris or Africa, a stellar photographer, night shift worker, foodie, movie aficionado) the stroke was quite a life changing blow. Bill was like a second dad to me growing up, except you know, gay. I try to see him once a year, which is about all I used to see him after growing up & getting out on my own but this time of year is odd, we usually get together just after the New Year. Regardless, it should be a nice day. I anticipate we will be going for sushi but who knows.

So my neighbors upstairs are slowly pushing the both of us toward paranoia. Every time Matt or I go into the bathroom or kitchen one of them seems to follow. It wouldn’t be so bad except by some chance both of them tend to be home all day everyday like me. I wish I knew what they did for a living that they only have to leave the house once every three weeks or so; maybe they are writers too? I never hear them on a phone or talking during the day (believe me I should be able to in this place) so I don’t think they are sales people, although I know they both allegedly work in the financial industry. The only thing I hear is them walking around, but only when we do. It is now getting a little creepy. I am thinking maybe we should both become screamers.

I wonder how many books are published every year?

So has everyone seen the freaky UFO cloud in Moscow yet? No? Well it was quite a phenomenal sight apparently and one that Russian meteorologists are brushing off as a weather related, “optical” thing. Um, OK. I mean really, I saw Men In Black. Hell I own Independence Day. Where is Will Smith when you need him? Wait, did Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer make either of those movies?

Speaking of Jerry Bruckheimer, last night we decided to throw on the television for the first time in weeks to watch something prime time and after a couple killer episodes of NCIS and the new (but actually really good despite the absence of Tony & Abby) NCIS: Los Angeles we clicked over to another network for the show forgotten. All hail Christian Slater! I was probably one of the only people on Earth who kind of enjoyed My Own Worst Enemy when it was on and I was sad to see it yanked so soon because I thought Slater could have done a lot more with the role. So when I discovered this show last night I was intrigued.

Not too bad, a twist on the typical crime drama where the people investigating the crime are not cops, just average citizens who concern themselves with solving Jane/John Doe crimes. I don’t think I would stay home to watch it but that isn’t saying much, there is really only one show I would stay home to watch (yes, Lost) but some other random Tuesday when we decided to throw on NCIS I hope this is still on the air.

Since taking the semi break from blogging I have been doing a ton of journal writing. Seems to be doing the trick; my brain constipation is apparently getting its recommended dose of fiber because I have a bunch of new prose for the book. Thank goodness, it was starting to feel like my creative stuff might never come back.

Tomorrow I work on the character book. This is an area where I have previously failed. I start something and then want it to be “perfect” so I never finish it but constantly go back to just the content already written and edit over and over again. Well no more. This character is dying to come to a conclusion.

Since the over edit thing has never seemed to work to get me to finish a book before I figure the best solution is to do something completely different, so this time I am just going to write the whole thing in one shot, no edits at all. After that I will re-read and edit 100 times before I shop it but at least I will be able to breathe knowing she has been purged out of me.

The Farmer’s Market is ending in a couple weeks and I am not going to be able to get there today with all the other stuff going on. Kind of a bummer but its so freaking cold out I’m not sure that is a bad thing. Besides, I shouldn’t have to grocery shop for at least three more days and I don’t want to go early, this planning meals thing is working out awesome!

Since starting to eat less meat and more protein/veggie filled meals I am actually noticing that I have dropped a couple pounds of fat off my tummy. This is impressive because I haven’t yet upped my exercise quotient. That is starting this week. Quitting smoking was the best thing ever. My whole body feels healthier and ready to get back in shape. It’s about time.

Thinking of learning Spanish, must look into local college courses. Huh, if I go back to school I can stop paying my student loans for a while too. Definitely worth looking into I think. Maybe for January. I have a few years to get it together.

Still haven’t found an artist to draw my tattoo. That might be something I have to just do myself. I am so seriously sick of putting this off, waiting for the perfect thing.

What I am really finding is there is no such thing as the perfect thing/time/situation. That thing/time/situation is right now. Procrastination went out of fashion with smoking. It is time for action.

It is going to take me at least ten extra minutes to pull the box of gloves out of the closet and put them all on. Sadly, I just put them away about two weeks ago when spring ended; welcome to the second season in New England -- winter! The voice in the basement eerily whispering “GET OUT!” is creeping back with the colder temperatures. But the spirit of “action” has me getting all my ducks in a row.

In light of that, read these awesome blogs while I go get ready to hit pavement. Later! KC, Ginger, Kate, Bridgete and Bree

Monday, October 12, 2009

Two Seconds to New

I used to be this person who believed in romance.
I believed in that happily ever after part at the end of the movie.
When the two lovers find their love.
The moments that bring a smile and let everyone know the world is ok.

Some where along the way I let it go.

I became cynical;
Worn out.

I unlearned the meanings of beauty;

Instead I started focusing on darkness;

I started noticing the one second in the film.
The exact millisecond before they get it.
In that second they are as low as they can go
It is always their breaking point; hope through the hopelessness.

In the film they come away from it.
Characters are written to find the perfection in the millisecond that follows.
The starkly distant moment from the reality they just lived.
In a new moment everything is whole.

They find inside themselves the strength;

I want my second second.
I want it now.
It is time to write it.
Time to arc.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Break me off A Piece of That

This past Wednesday I went to the Farmer’s Market with S and the twins and since it is winding down there was a ton available. I picked up a whole bunch of veggies at the grocery store that I just didn’t see at the FM like avocados, carrots, cilantro, red onions, etc. and then at the market I grabbed a butternut squash, red pepper, corn on the cob, an enormous heirloom tomato and a jar of locally packaged Thai peanut sauce with nothing artificial added. Yum.

The night I brought all the veggies home it occurred to me that I never actually liked squash so I have not made it in the ten years Matt and I have been together. I had never seen him with squash on his plate, he’s never even ordered it out, so it was going to be interesting to find out if either of us would eat it.

Over the past couple years I have been experimenting with re-trying foods I used to not like because I figure tastes change so why not give it a go. I think I have mentioned before that this experimentation led me right down an avocado filled path of yumminess, so I wondered if squash could be the next alright veggie.

Yeah, not so much.

Well OK, in all fairness, just not the way I did it. I have major issues with texture in my foods as well as this very odd thing where if I have had the same flavor in my mouth for too long I feel nauseated and I have to stop eating it in favor of something else; sometimes I have to stop eating altogether, don’t ask I’m a freak. Usually it happens with pasta or chicken but never with veggies, until now.

I cut up the heirloom into small cubes, tossed it into a pan with a shake of dried basil, a pinch of each -- nutmeg, sea salt, black pepper and sugar -- and set it to boil. Once it was boiling I simmered it on low for about 2 hours. Making sauce is one of my specialties. In fact for a long time it was the only thing I could cook that I didn’t screw up beyond recognition (lemon poppyseed super bouncy ball anyone?). For some reason, the tomato and I are just happy bedfellows; if I wasn’t Irish, I would have definitely been Italian.

Squash however is entirely new territory for me, so a lot of online research had to be done before I was ready to give it a go. Upon delving, I discovered that about two minutes in the microwave will soften both: the skin to easily peel it, and the meat (is that the proper term here?) enough to cut it up easily. I cubed it, tossed it in my 8x8 Pyrex and sprinkled the top with a pinch of salt, nutmeg and cinnamon and a couple tablespoons of brown sugar then I tossed about a ¼ cup of water in the bottom, covered with my recycled aluminum foil (awesome stuff which I had sent to me recently by Reynolds) and baked on 350 for about 35 minutes.

Zucchini chunks were steamed and vermicelli was boiled and when all was said and done I mixed them all together in a big bowl.

Matt downed that squash so fast I didn’t see a single chunk make it to his bowl before it was in his mouth. I asked why he never mentioned that he loves butternut squash so much, since he clearly missed it something awful over this past decade.

I couldn’t understand his response as his mouth was full of squash.

On the other side of the spectrum was me. I ate about 5 chunks of squash until I finally had to admit that while the flavor was good, the texture was not going to work. This was a vast accomplishment though as I never used to like the flavor, so I started hatching a plan for what could be done with the rest of it, in lieu of allowing Matt to turn into a butternut squash of course.

Into the food processor (my new favorite household appliance by the way, we finally broke down and got one a few weeks back because it is fall and fall is all about soup) went everything chunky along with about a half a cup of 2% milk. Out came the most delicious creamy soup I have ever made.

Admittedly, yes, it was the first creamy soup I’ve made but seriously, who’s counting? Since butternut is a winter squash I have a feeling we will be experimenting with it around this house a lot over the coming months.

That is if I can keep any of it off of Matt’s fork.

If it’s Broken, you’ll find the Thought Process behind it here:
Bridgete, Kate, Ginger, Bree & KC

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Broken ish Thoughts on All Things Baseball

One of Matt’s best friends, Dan, just came through Boston while on a 4 week baseball tour around the entire northeast region of the country. He had been to Cooperstown, games, grave sites, and then Boston. He told us that doing the ballpark tour of Fenway was something he would settle for. I told him that there was nothing, and I mean nothing in this world as a baseball fan that could ever top seeing a game at Fenway Park; screw the stadium tour!

As a Mets fan who, from what I understand, basically grew up at Shea Stadium, he was hesitant to agree but we got to work on locating tickets anyway. Matt managed to score some in deep right, just “south” of the bleachers.

Walking out that particular tunnel toward the field, the first thing you see is the press box with Fenway Park emblazoned above it. I still get chills every time I rise out into the aisle to see the entire field and I seriously have to stop for a moment just to take it in.

We were playing Toronto and after being crushed the night before by one of the worst teams in all of MLB this season, we just knew it would be our night. Plus Clay Buchholz was pitching. He was pretty much on fire this season and we couldn’t have been more excited.

First pitch, home run Toronto. Oh no.

It went down hill pretty rapidly from there. So much so that before the end of the first a kid behind us was yelling “who’s warming up?” Ouch. Dan, an outsider to Red Sox Nation, chuckled. The rest of us nodded in agreement as we craned our necks toward the sadly silent bullpen.

Toronto scored four in the first but the Sox wanted to give the fans a reason to hang around so we scored one run a piece in the first and second. Of course Toronto had another home run in the second and the third. By this point someone was screaming “Francona????” and we were off to get another beer.

Clay finally had a 1-2-3 in the fourth and we all rejoiced as we exhaled for the first time all night.

This was immediately followed by Toronto home runs in both the fifth and seventh innings.

So now we were losing 8-2. But we are Sox fans. We do not waver, we never quit believing. After what happened in 2004 we know that anything is possible.

Just as a quick side note for those not in the know …2004 was the biggest comeback ever in MLB for a championship win. We were down by three games to none to the Yankees, projected to go home in game four, and it looked like we would until we tied it in the bottom of the ninth after a stolen base. We won game four on a home run at the bottom of the twelfth and then sopped up the grass of Yankee stadium with their home team over the next three games to win the championship. There are some who forget we beat the Cardinals in a 4-0 sweep to actually win the World Series that fall for the first time in 86 years. To many Sox fans, beating the Yankees like that was the pinnacle of perfection and the dreaded Curse was forever broken regardless of the Series win.

And I digress, back to more present day baseball…

Come the bottom of the 7th, I decided screw it and every single player that came up I screamed & cheered for like we were in the lead. Clapping, screaming, yelling of their name and it didn’t hurt that we were watching Papelbon warm up in the bullpen; Dan was going to see something really cool there. I don’t want to claim it was me that got our section going, which in turn got the whole stadium going but there is something about 36,000 positive vibes that tends to make a team turn around and it only takes one person to start that chain of love.

When the first few notes of I’m Shipping Up to Boston started at the top of the eighth and all those fans jumped to their feet, snapping flashbulbs as Pap took the field, it was like a tornado of awesomeness, love and excitement swirled around the park.

The entire stadium stayed on their feet throughout the entire eighth inning. And then through the entire ninth as well.

The Sox, because they have the best fans in the world behind them, managed to come back and score 5 runs, most of which were with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th. Yeah that’s right baby! Dan was smiling and screaming for the players and having as great a time as any of us die hard Sox fans.

All of us went crazy when Ellsbury singled in the ninth. We all thought Pedroia hit a homer immediately after that but he was off by about a foot. Ellsbury, in true to form fashion, stole second and they walked Martinez. Now it was two outs at the bottom of the ninth and everyone in Fenway was wearing a rally cap.

A single would tie the game. A double deep down the right field line would win the game. That is if Martinez could hustle. Ellsbury of course would be home before the ball even hit the ground.

All the fans started the familiar chant in unison “YOUUUUUUUK!” as Kevin Youkilis came up to the plate. If anyone could get it done and send us home smiling it was Youk.

Sadly Youk struck out and we went from a scream to uttering “aw” collectively before we fell to silence.

We headed home on the T and talked about how much fun we had even though they lost and how Dan was lucky to have had the full experience from a Red Sox rally to Sweet Caroline to Papelbon pitching. Until last month I had never even seen Pap throw.

Dan said in all of the games he's seen on this trip nothing topped the intense fan love he felt at that Sox game. He said it was the most fun game he had been to yet, hands down.

That’s because we’re wicked pissah.

Otha pissah peeps:
Kate, KC, Bree, Bridgete and Ginger.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Can Not Let BTPTh Pass By

OK, I know. I said something about not being here very often over the next few weeks. So isn’t a gal allowed to change her mind? Geez. Guess I just felt compelled to post something today because my thought process is very broken right now. This post should be a plethora of random, inane wackiness.

So I have been thinking. Why are there no stars right next to Earth? Why do we have to go light years outside our own Solar System to reach them? OK, I know the Sun is technically considered a star but then this makes me think even greater thoughts like I wonder if every single star is a sun and if tiny little Solar Systems spin around each of them. It isn’t like we can get to them to find out so how can we really know? I hope so. I hope other beings exist in other systems and treat their own rock the way we should be treating ours.

I have been smoke free for twelve days. Matt is using the patch. I only smoked 1-2 a day and the patch makes me feel like I’m having a heart attack so I’m going cold. Not sure how I’m doing. I want to be quit because seriously smoking is so last decade but for some reason I’m having a way more difficult time this time around. I really wanted to quit last year. But if I don’t just stay quit this time I’m never going to get around to doing it later so that is that. I need to totally reprogram my brain.

With the advent of quitting Matt & I estimate we will be able to save upwards of $3000 a year. Yeah, no joke. Collectively we smoked a pack a day and at about $8.50 a pack that is over 3k a year. There are many things we are both looking forward to putting that money towards.

First off, we’re joining the Trustees of Reservations and getting a fairly chunky membership at that. At the Sponsor level we’ll be supporting the over 100 locations across Massachusetts that the Trustees support. Free entry into many of the beaches alone makes this well worth the cost, but they also have historic register properties and lots of great hiking trails to explore too.

I am going to admit that I need some structure toward working my literal ass off and will join the gym. The one right down the street offers a whole bunch of cool classes like yoga and Pilates and some aerobic stuff too plus just having access to a treadmill is going to be the golden ticket for me.

We both plan to get our butts out to see a whole lot more live music again. We used to be super duper concert goers, discovering new and local acts all over the Boston music scene but let that slide in recent years so it is going to be nice getting back into music again.

Matt is probably going to upgrade his bike to one that is a bit sturdier for mountain biking and he’s going to buy a season pass to a local ski area.

While he’s off doing that, if I’m not at the gym, I plan to be taking drum lessons or getting my first tattoo. Finally.

The tat is tripping me up a little bit. I do not want something that anyone else has so it can’t come from the wall, and it has to be something that really means something to me; otherwise why would I permanently mark my body with it? Anyone know any phenomenal artists who will let me just tell them the stuff I love and then they will whip up something amazing that is no more than a few inches square? Then anyone have other suggestions of a tattoo artist who can interpret it and adorn my hip with it?

One of the awesome products that was sent to me to review is a “cook” book called Raw Energy 124 Raw Food Recipes…. I have been hearing more and more about this food movement lately and although I have long admitted to being an omnivore some of the stuff in this book sounds way too good not to try. When grocery shopping tomorrow I have to pick up a whole bunch of stuff to make some of these and a few of Ginger’s vegan yummies.

My ex sent a friend request on Facebook. WTF? We’re not talking the “oh its so good to hear from this person because we haven’t spoken since we broke up when both of us went to college and there were no hard feelings” ex. I’m at a loss what to do.

Well off to dinner and ice cream with a good friend.

Why not go ahead and check the fun stylings of KC, Bree, Bridgete, Ginger and Kate for more randomly sprouted thoughts.

Photo courtesy of South Park Studios clips

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back in Action, Sort Of

After a nice long vacation to Martha’s Vineyard last week I returned home to find a virtual shopping mall of boxes stacked beside my front door. Looks like I will be very busy for the next month or so doing product and service reviews for Green Leaf Reviewer, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way; I absolutely love my job.

Boxes loaded with stuff like toilet paper, a self filtering water bottle, 8+ boxes of cereal, aluminum foil, canvas bags, produce bags, kitchen scrubbers, a raw foods “cook” book, soap, paper towels, sugarcane plates and granola bars arrived while I was gone. Not to mention a CD from a musician I reviewed recently, Peter Mulvey.

It is so cool to know that I don’t have to buy many household items these days because Green companies are responding to my marketing gal’s request with such vigor! I truly feel so blessed to have such an amazing job; in fact it is the exact job I asked for a year ago -- I made a declaration that I wanted to blog for a living and well, here it is.

So this year, in my ever so frequent “reevaluation” fashion, I am making a new request. While continuing to write daily for Green Leaf Reviewer and watching it take off like a bullet, I also want to ensure I schedule a good chunk of time to work on my two near and dear writing projects -- my fictional character novel and the poetry/photography coffee table book my mom and I are collaborating on -- so they will be completed, edited and put out into the world for sale within the next six months.

With that said I am sorry that I have to slow down a little bit on posting the Labor of Love series here because I actually had some content from one of those posts stolen and republished as if it was their own work. I filed a claim and Blogger has taken it down but it still nerves me that my real writing has been copyright infringed. That one I am shopping though so if it gets published as a novella I will be sure to let everyone know!

For all of you who are posting anything on your blog that could be stolen (and seriously, that’s everyone) I can not encourage you enough to set up some Google Alerts. I never would have known about my content being republished if it wasn’t for an alert on nothing more than my blog title.

There are a bunch of things that I need to shore up in my personal life as well and once they are behind me I will be able to move forward in a much more meaningful way, here and everywhere else. I guess what I’m really trying to say is I am taking the pressure to post off of myself and if I feel up to it I will but if not I am not going to force it anymore just to stay current.

So I may not be here as often for a while, writing or commenting that is, but I assure you I will still be reading all of you. It’s funny, this blog has gone through a slew of changes in its short 2 year lifespan (blogiversary was on the 13th of September, yea!) from short blurbs to haiku and prose to lengthy diatribes, has covered a range of stuff all over the map and has gone through phases from daily to barely weekly posting. I guess that’s why I titled it Random Lunacy.

To send myself off on the virtual three week cruise ship, here are a few pictures from our recent vacation for all of you to enjoy. Check you later.

This is no joke. Every year, without fail, at least three people can be heard screaming and we all turn to watch as a seagull flies away with their sandwich or bag of chips.

The little dudes, known in these parts as Hammer and Anvil, totally enjoyed their first Vineyard trip.

We discovered a hidden gem of a spot in the Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary. Nice light hiking trails and they end up on the beach. Simply gorgeous and serene.

This is our favorite beach, Long Point. The temperature was about 68, mostly cloudy and the winds were gusting at about 125 miles an hour it seemed this day. We were the only people out there and it was fabulous.

At Mytoi Japanese Gardens on Chappaquiddick Island we sat and watched this little dragonfly for a few minutes. He was blind in one eye but seemed to be doing just fine.

Our last full day on island; I managed to only chop off a little bit of Matt’s hat this time. This is us in Mytoi.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Labor of Love: Uplifting Can Be Heavy

Over the next seven days we had to weigh our most essential priorities for reconstruction because moving into the house with the cat was going to be one of our greatest challenges yet.

There were three things we deemed more than essential: running water (primarily in the bathroom), at least one operable outlet in each room, and walls.

Since we both knew that only a crew of ten could get drywall up on every surface in five days, and that it would be a cold day in hell before Mr. ‘Slow as Molasses Uphill in the Winter’ would have our outlets installed in the same amount of time, we were forced to scale back on even the most basic of needs.

We finally settled that if we could get a toilet, sink and shower, two outlets (one in the bedroom for the alarm clock and one in the kitchen for the coffee maker) and walls up in the bedroom that we would at least feel more comfortable moving the cat in.

That first morning living out of Motel 6 Jerry miraculously beat us to the job. He proceeded to be there before us every single day for the next two weeks and since we were only coming from fifteen minutes down the road now, we were arriving fairly early in the morning.

At the time it was baffling but months later we discussed how he suddenly became so motivated to get the job done; why he was putting in such long hours. The only sensible conclusion either of us could surmise was that he felt nervous to allow us to move in without a C.O. since it was his name alone on the permit. Rightfully so.

Unfortunately obtaining a certificate of occupancy was the very least of our concerns at this time. Basic survival and the essential elements to achieve it for both ourselves and the cat were much further up the list of priorities so we started in the most critical location -- the bedroom.

While we were still in the demolition phase of the project, a couple of our closest friends, Sharon and Bob, were brave enough to trek through the ‘hood to come and help us tear down and clean up about four rooms worth of plaster and lathe. Those same friends, when called upon for another favor during this stage of the game were more than happy to oblige.

We headed back to the Boston area and picked up their drywall lift.

There are no words to accurately express the level of gratitude we had for their lending of the big yellow contraption. This beast of a machine is one of the simplest pieces of equipment ever constructed yet one of the most useful for any contractor doing a job like this -- it has two L shaped arm rests where the drywall edge is placed so the sheet is vertical, a pin that is pulled so the arms fall back flat to bring the sheet horizontal and a crank that essentially does the work of a professional body builder as it slowly snugs the piece of drywall just about right up to the ceiling.

With eight or more pieces per ceiling all I kept thinking was ‘and we thought it was heavy just carrying it into the house’.

When I mentioned before about the number of curse words we both uttered during the door installation I was simply preparing everyone for this part of the story. Seems the lack of level and plumb was a rampant issue throughout the entire house. So rampant that some walls were upwards of 3” out.

For those not in the know of the beauties of home construction, most contractors attempt to come within 1/16th of an inch out but anything up to 1/8th of an inch over about ten feet is considered acceptable. That leaves a difference of 2-7/8” out of level and / or plumb throughout the whole house.

Not one single sheet of drywall fit into a perfect square because not one single ceiling or wall corner in the entire house was a perfect angle. Every sheet in the house had to be scored, cut, shaved, retro fitted or simply fist-hammered into place before being screwed in.

While we crept up on the end of day four of our seven day stint in the motel, Jerry finally got us two working outlets -- one in the bedroom and one in the living room.

When we moved in we had a small dorm sized refrigerator, toaster oven, microwave and coffee maker to house in the kitchen. There was also our fourteen inch television, alarm clock and self cleaning cat litter box that would need to be run in the bedroom.

Walls were finally complete in the bedroom and in order to prevent the cat from pulling insulation from the cracks we tossed up some unfinished trim and I got started on joint compound while Matt began plumbing the bathroom.

Matt and plumbing became strange bedfellows over the course of this experience; a true love hate relationship was born out of applying heat to flux. He remains to this day one of the most skilled plumbers I have ever seen install copper. Unfortunately he is also the slowest and most meticulous pipe fitter I have ever wanted to take a torch to. It took him two full days to complete the shower install and toilet rebuild as well as shoring up the sink.

With just one day left before we moved in we had yet to install any walls or flooring and caulk was going to take at least a couple days to dry. We hugged each other then because we both knew after three more days of hard labor with no shower both of us were going to be wishing we had two bedrooms complete just so we didn’t have to smell each other.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

BTPTh The Countdown Is On

So we have been invited to a Halloween costume party this year and I think we both really want to go. It has been ages since either of us has gotten all costumed up and I have to say its kind of exciting coming up with just the right thing.

The last costume party we went to we dressed up as white trash.

That was an awesome costume; I carried my Bud around in a cozy all night that I put in my overalls front pocket. Matt looked like he had just come from his job at the convenience store. The costumes were perfect and now we have to do something even better but still go as a couple.

Of course it has to be very us and can’t take a lot of prep time to create or find it. All of the individual pieces from this costume we already had in our closet its just that when put together they became quite the trashy ensemble.

The toughest part is conceiving the costume.

In three short days we go on vacation. This is our annual trip to Martha’s Vineyard with our friends and there is no way to possibly express how excited I am for this adventure. It is so time to get away for relaxing book reading.

Lists upon lists have been created for items not to forget and things to pack. We will probably even squeeze Rock Band into one of the cars. On top of the stuff to pack I have been front loading like a freak for Green Leaf Reviewer and I only have 2 posts to go to ensure I have one post a day scheduled. Between yesterday & today I wrote one from yesterday through a week from Monday. Whew!

Research is a lengthy process. But I wouldn’t have it any other way; it is way too fun writing every day!

The skunk population in the neighborhood is getting worse, it is just about every night now we either see one, smell one or both. I am starting to wonder if the early summer rain had something to do with it.

Tonight is dinner at Mum’s and that should be nice. Hmmm…I should text her to see what we are having so I will know what kind of wine to pick up.

Because my brain is swimming I am going to leave this a short but sweet post tonight.

Before I forget, here is the rest of the crew of homies. Bree, Bridgete, Ginger & KC. Check em out, they are fun and only bite if you ask nicely.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labor of Love: Leaving on a Jet Plane and When You Get Back, Get Out

It became clear that not only had I reached a glass ceiling at my day job, but that helping out on weekends alone was not going to cut it, so the moment we were able to refinance I joined Matt in making the house a full time thing. We were now commuting in one car together from a family member’s house in the Boston area. Each morning we headed out at about 8:00 and did not arrive back home until well after all of the members of the household had gone to sleep.

It was May so with Jerry stumbling in here and there and our newly acquired pile of materials secured in the front bedroom, we wasted no time doing all of the things that could be done before the inspector came to give the final okay on the permit; the day we would finally be able to put the house on the market.

Matt located a builder’s supply center in Rhode Island that was a fairly lengthy drive but worlds less expensive than Home Depot for windows. He picked up nine standard sized, wood ones there and we custom ordered eleven more in vinyl for some areas that were a little bit quirky in size. While on the spending spree we also sprung for eight new interior doors and the front and back exterior doors.

That is when Matt found Phil.

Phil and Jerry were definitely both sent to the same school for odd ducks, but Phil was just an all around funny guy. He was big and burly and drove this beat up maroon pick up truck with his company name on the side. That was more than poor Jerry had to show for credentials.

We hired Phil and his crew to do some demo work for us that was a little out of our comfort level; we paid them to rip out the shed in the front yard as well as the two and three season porches on the back of the house that were only still together because the termites were holding hands.

In three days all said structures were down, cleaned up and the guys were out of our yard. It was tempting to ask if they also knew how to hang drywall. Or could run wire.

On the back of the house the three season porch was accessed through a slider door in the kitchen. The slider was an older style aluminum type and the only locking mechanism it had was the block of wood that had been cut to fit in the lower channel on the static door side. Needless to say we were anxious to remove the entire jimmy-rigged contraption and replace it with the locking door.

We both agreed that this would be the last thing we did before going away on our vacation because we were looking to firmly secure the premises prior to being gone for a full week.

The day came and while we replaced the door Matt got a call from Jerry that he was having shrapnel removed from his appendix and would not be able to get back for a couple weeks. By this point we both held nothing back with the world’s slowest contractor and Matt simply told him that we were running low on some materials over at our place so since he was likely on his way to another job for a couple weeks, he might want to pick up a check from them to pick up the stuff for our job.

After a very long day, and lots of curse words flying out of both of our mouths at the lack of not only level but plumb in a 150 year old house, we managed to install the door and window on the back of the house. There were some cinder blocks lying around from who knows what and we used them to makeshift a set of stairs out the back door.

We stood in the yard and admired the first truly noticeable exterior change then we headed home to pack for our trip the following morning.

After 9/11, as many may recall, flights were somewhat off for a while and many airlines were offering amazing deals on tickets as well as additional incentives to keep people up in the skies. Just before our wedding I had come across an impossible to pass up price on tickets to Arizona so I jumped on it.

Neither of us ever imagined we would still be working on the house in early June of 2003 but we were so I began looking into the options of what we could do about not going away. Sadly, it would have cost us substantially more to transfer the tickets than the original tickets cost to begin with so we found ourselves heading out for sunny weather.

The trip was just what we both needed and we came back rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to tackle whatever the house could throw at us next. Even if it meant we had to corral and hog tie Jerry for him to actually finish before the anniversary of our closing date.

The people who were letting us stay however must have felt that the vacation was a bad idea because the day we returned one of them sat down to talk to us. The conversation went something like this: “He wants you out tomorrow.”

We had no electricity, no walls, no bathroom and a cat.

Matt went to pick up some rope for the necessary kidnapping of Jerry and while I located a local motel that took pets, Matt called our friendly electrician to explain that we would be moving in just five days from that moment so he had better get his act together.

We packed everything we owned that night and made it to Motel 6 in Springfield the following morning by 9:00 AM.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Labor of Love: Materials Witness

We decided it was finally time to have the re-construction materials delivered despite the fact that Jerry was stringing us along with stories of his wife’s, cousin’s, landlord passing a gall stone, or something just as ludicrous. That way, we figured, we would be able to begin putting her back together before a year had passed in our three month renovation.

We waited out on the stoop one warmer spring day in 2003 for the eighteen wheeler flat bed truck to show up. When it pulled in I believe I simply mumbled a fearful ‘um, is that seriously all for us?’ Matt just nodded. I think I saw his eyes well with tears. Mine immediately followed.

That day we had delivered sixty bundles of cedar shingles, 176 sheets of drywall (packaged in twos), twenty rolls of R-19 wall insulation, four packages of R-38 attic insulation, twenty rolls of drywall tape, four 5 gallon buckets of joint compound, three packages of roofing shingles, two 2-1/2 gallon buckets of textured ceiling paint, six boxes of industrial staples, a few sheets of paneling, ten sheets of pressboard, a crate of drywall screws and very likely a slew of other things my brain has purged because the day was simply too traumatizing.

The truck arrived at about 9:00 which means we had risen that day at about 5:30, hit the road by 6:30 and arrived just before the materials were to be dropped.

Total time for truck driver to back in, exit vehicle, get in attached little forklift truck thingie, unload all our stuff and leave? Approximately twenty minutes.

Home Depot doesn’t bring your materials into the house, they forklift the palates onto the front lawn then wave goodbye with their middle finger which they just used to point at the storm cloud moving in, and then they laugh as they peel out of the field.

We stared at this material in front of us, looked at each other, sighed and started moving it all into our storage room. The size of the pile was daunting; it was definitely taller than both of us when stacked on top of itself. We knew there would be no lunch until this was finished but we doubted it would be done before the rain.

Trouble with drywall is getting it wet renders it useless.

The other trouble with drywall is the stuff is insanely heavy and neither of us had built up any real stamina or muscles yet. We had to cut apart the double sheets and carry each individually. For those who are counting, that would be 176 trips up the four front stairs with just the drywall. My calves were rockin’ by the end of that day.

The real trouble was that we had no choice but to secure all of these materials before we left for the day no matter how long it took or we would never see them again.

We got a couple of our tarps out as we watched the ominous storm clouds race across the open sky as fast as we were racing up and down the front stairs.

After about forty sheets we felt a drop. Both of us hustled like maniacs attaching the tarps to the two piles; something we became pros at by the end of the day.

There were at least three separate times when rain came through. At one point we half considered just giving up and saying oh well, that was at about 5:00. We decided that one of us should just run out for food instead.

We ate dinner and felt completely recharged to tackle the rest of the pile. With only a handful of drywall sheets, most of the paneling and all of the cedar shingles left to redistribute to secured locations we figured we were home free.

The last bundle of shingles made it into the basement just as all four of our calves tore away from the bone while we were on the basement stairs, sometime around 8:00 in the evening. We never had a more physically exhausting day than that during the entire remainder of the project; we were wiped out but miraculously Jerry had called and would, by some miracle of chance, be showing up the next day.

In order to ensure he would, we knew it was vital that we did too, even though all we really wanted to do was lie down and sleep the next four months away. Luckily we had a vacation coming up and we were both pushing so we would be able to take full advantage of the recovery time our bodies so desperately needed while we were away in the sunshine.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Labor of Love: A Pirate’s Life for Me

I am not one of those girls who goes all ga-ga for electronics, but pulling the electrical nightmare wiring out of the entire house was one of the happiest times in the whole project. At that moment we knew the only way the house could ever go up in flames would be because of the punk kids who lived behind us.

At some point we prayed that very thing would happen; alas it never did.

That first winter we had saved up enough money for Matt to quit his mortgage job and go work on the house full time. He was going to complete the demolition of plaster and the subsequent clean up, frame out the concrete block room and a couple other places while our electrician ran all the wire into the brand new, super shiny, battleship grey, 200 amp circuit box.

Perhaps I should back up to explain how it is we arrived at winter as some of you might be scratching your heads in wonder for the “couple of months” we had promised ourselves as a completion date.

Since we purchased the house just before our wedding we wanted to get through that insanity first. There went ten weeks right down the drain. Of course another week for honeymoon and another for catching up with work once we were back and, well, you probably get the idea. Our couple of months was over before it even started.

During the winter, while Matt was working in sub zero temperatures with little to no block from the elements, he tracked down a couple reasonable priced electricians who could come in to complete the work; he chatted with all of them and made a decision to hire Jerry.

There are times when a spouse is supposed to bite their tongue and allow their other half of the equation make their own choices, regardless of the outcome.

This was definitely not one of those times.

Matt was all kinds of excited that Jerry would be able to finish the entire project from running the wire, attaching outlets, baseboard heaters, smokes and pulling it all back into the box in just a few weeks.

Again I will pause because I think it is important for everyone reading to run right out and pick up a copy of The Money Pit, watch it and pay special attention to the standard line that flies out of the mouth of the General Contractor who handles their project. I will wait.

Contractors in Massachusetts are required to become licensed and many of them must complete ungodly numbers of hours of training before the licensing can occur. In some instances certain classes are even required. I am convinced that the “How to tell the client two weeks no matter what” class is the first they are all sent to. It is an ongoing educational endeavor they all must refresh each year to stay quick on their feet when asked how long a project will take.

Matt gave Jerry a key and entrusted him to get in there and get the job done with little to no supervision because after all, he was a professional and Matt may or may not be able to be there every day. Silly, silly Matt. Jerry started the work sometime in early part of the Spring of 2003. A few weeks in we headed on out one weekend to check out the progress.

I was still going with that original few week estimate. Silly, silly me.

Our electrician had drilled a bunch of chase holes in the studs, haphazardly hung switches and outlets from the boxes with just one screw and hundreds of feet of wire were coiled up all over the three floors of the house but not attached to anything. He had assured Matt he would be done by the time we showed up that weekend. The two of us just looked at each other and Matt dialed the phone to find out where he was at.

While this was going on, our apartment, which was one floor of a two family house, had gone under agreement and we were being forced to find an alternate place to live. A family relation allowed us to move into their basement area for a short time.

On top of all of that the city had failed to turn off the water so although we had shut things off on our end, there was a trickle from the street. As one of the coldest winters on record the plumbing slowly filled, so did the water heater and furnace.

All of the above burst. Luckily we had been given the Home Improvement 1-2-3 book from Home Depot for our wedding (yes we registered at Home Depot) and Matt read the plumbing section like a bible. The inspector told him there were professionals who didn’t do such quality work and he should consider getting licensed.

About a week later, Jerry arrived back on the jobsite and Matt did a double take. He was wearing a gauze patch over one eye. Turns out although he was cutting for a ceiling fan box above his head, straight into horsehair plaster, he saw no reason to wear safety glasses. The plaster had gotten in there and he wound up in the hospital.

This is the second class contractors are forced to attend, the “How to come up with the most outrageous excuses on the fly so as not to simply admit to the client that you ran out of money and needed to front load at a different job for a few weeks”. If he was telling the truth I certainly felt bad for him but his overall wishy-washy work ethic told me otherwise. I had never seen any contractor go so far as to don a costume to drive the point home however, so I had to give him a solid A for effort there.

Jerry worked for approximately one more week, which brings us up to about mid May, and then he simply vanished. Matt blew up his phone leaving countless messages. We threatened not paying his final installment, we threatened going to the licensing board. Nothing worked, he had just disappeared. We were ready to get going with reconstruction so we called in a new electrician.

He sadly told us that because the permit was in Jerry’s name he would be unable to do anything.

I went looking for sharp, pointy things to stick in my ears while Matt utilized the tools of the mortgage trade and tracked down Jerry’s address and home number. We contemplated going by, ringing his bell, snatching him and tossing him in our car to take him back to the job, but figured that might be a little harsh so we went with a call instead.

He answered.

“Surprise Jerry, its Matt. Miss us? I expect you to be here tomorrow, finished by Friday or your license is going to be yanked so fast your head will spin.”