Ask and Ye Shall Receive

This morning we called my dad, put him on speakerphone, and sang “Happy Birthday.” Which would have been great, had it actually been his birthday.

Oops.

So we were a day off. In my defense, January 11 was my grandmother’s birthday (RIP), and my dad’s is the 12th. I could never quite get those two days straight. My apologies, dad. At least we were thinking of you on your (almost) special day!

The truth is, I was probably a bit distracted anyway. Remember how just a couple of days ago I complained that we were getting all kinds of cold weather but no snow to go along with it? Mother Nature was clearly paying attention to my ranting and raving, and more than made up for that. We woke up to 8-12″ of snow throughout Vancouver and Portland, our biggest storm in at least nine years!

It all started innocently enough. Yesterday was pretty calm – overcast but close to 40. The snow from our last little storm had turned to slush (and in fact, I slipped and fell not once, but twice when out walking at lunchtime; fortunately, the only thing I damaged was my pride). The forecast was calling for evening rain turning to snow after midnight. We might get 1-4″ if we were lucky, and that sounded like a stretch. So when Tara got home at 6:30, ninety minutes after me, and asked if I’d looked outside, I couldn’t imagine why I would be doing so.

“It’s snowing,” she said. “And already beginning to stick.”

I was in the midst of a game of Dr. Mario (love our NES Classic, by the way!) and enjoying a glass of wine and really didn’t think much of this. Until I looked out the window and saw it coming down nice and steady. Still, I figured it would let up momentarily. Instead, it started snowing LIKE HELL. Yes, I realize that if Hell were a real place, it would likely be too hot to snow. But that’s a figure of speech, and an appropriate one. Seriously, we were getting 1-2″ an hour all evening long. There was already half a foot on the ground when we went to bed, and no signs of a let-up.

So today was a work-from-home day. The office was closed, anyway (but the company wasn’t closed, an important distinction). Fine by me. I love working from home! Good thing, because this snow isn’t going anywhere until Sunday, when it’s finally supposed to warm up. I may be stuck here a while longer.

Tara is not nearly the snow fan that I am, but she’s happy we got what we did, because it means I will finally stop my bitching. Even if we don’t get another flake all winter, I am happy.

Enjoy some pics!

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Rumor has it my car is buried under there somewhere.
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The fitness center looking all festive.
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Anybody feel like a dip?
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Probably the best way to get around today.
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Definitely not picnic season.
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Snowy walk through the park on my lunch hour.
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This is why I love snow so much. Look at it!
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Very appropriate sign today.
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Our back deck. That’s 8″ on the railing and closer to a foot on the table.

Cold AFF

It has been cold AF here lately.

If you don’t know the meaning of AF, you’re not hip to the lingo. (The fact that I used the phrase “hip to the lingo” probably indicates that I am not hip to the lingo, either. Oh, well.) AF simply means “as f**k.” I’m sure you can fill in the blanks.

However, in this case, I actually mean it’s been cold As Fargo. You know, the city in North Dakota where people talk funny, own a lot of wood chippers, and slog their way through notoriously cold winters.

Actually, on second thought, it’s been cold AFF here lately. Cold As F**king Fargo.

Normally, I love winter. But I’m beginning to suspect I love it more in theory, because when you step outside and the temperature is hovering in the teens and we’ve got gusty east winds blowing out of the Gorge at 40+ mph, there ain’t nothin’ enjoyable about that. I’m sure a bunch of my readers on the East Coast are probably snickering right now, but I am not on the East Coast, and therefore am unused to temperatures this extreme. 15823153_10211517029750314_5762248814829038873_n

45 degrees sounds like a heatwave right now.

And that’s normally what we’d be experiencing in January. Gray, dreary, and wet. Rain I can handle. Sub-freezing temperatures are another story. Last week our highs hovered right around 32 for five days in a row, which wreaked havoc with my daily walks. When the hundred or so yards between my car and the office feels like a formidable distance due to the cold and wind, and I spend half the day at work bundled up in a puffy coat because I can barely feel the tips of my fingers when I type, I’m certainly not going to be in the mood to put in four miles around the neighborhood. I’ve actually been taking advantage of the fitness center in my apartment complex and using the treadmill again. It’s the first time I’ve bothered in about a year and a half. I despise walking on the treadmill; not only do I find it tedious and boring, but the act of moving without actually getting anywhere drives me to the brink of insanity. However, even at 5 a.m. the fitness center is a toasty 71 degrees and there is zero percent chance of getting rained or snowed on, so I’ve made temporary peace with the place and will continue to go there until we’re only cold AS (cold As Sacramento, which really isn’t cold at all).

Making matters worse: we haven’t even had a decent snowstorm to justify all this cold weather. Oh, we’ve had a bunch of close calls this winter, but we keep dodging the bullet and ending up with nothing more exciting than a few flurries. We picked up a 1/2″ dusting yesterday. And there has been a little sleet and freezing rain at times. But ice isn’t as nice. I want a big payoff for putting up with the cold. A good 3-4″ of snow at a minimum would at least make it all seem worthwhile. C’mon, Mother Nature! Quit giving Eugene all the goods!

In other news, as is usually the case, the worst part about returning to work after an extended vacation was the anticipation (some might call it dread) of returning to work, rather than the actual returning-to-work part. It didn’t take long to get back into the groove. I think I was there by 10:00 a.m. Monday morning. After a pretty slow six-week stretch our workload has picked up again, which makes the days pass quickly. Last Wednesday I helped conduct employee reviews for my team, and I had tantalized them in advance by letting them know I’d put together a little pun for them. Sure enough, when each one walked in, I greeted them and said, “You might call this a room with a (re)view!

Deb laughed, but the others were a bit less effusive with their praise. Maybe they’d prefer a boss without a sense of humor?

Hey. At least I crack myself up.

Tit’s the Season

Funny how quickly we fall into old habits, huh? Like not posting blog entries?

In my defense, there have been many distractions over the past ten days. Such as:

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Christmas.

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Food and drinks. (Sometimes in the same glass!)

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Fun stores.

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Amazing scenery.

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Video games.

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Even Elvis managed to get in on the action, and if that isn’t a theme in my life these days, I don’t know what is!

The weekend before Christmas, we drove up to Bothell to visit Tracy, David, Anne, and Anthony. We had a great time seeing them all for an early Christmas gift exchange. My MIL entertained us with an Atari Flashback gaming system, a miniature version of the old 2600 console with 101 built-in games. In turn, we entertained her by rearranging the LET IT SNOW letters on her window to something less appropriate but more fun.

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When I returned to work the following week and noticed one of the marketing managers had hung some garland in her office that resembled, ahem, that same part of the female anatomy, I once again improved upon the decor by adding a couple of well-placed bows.

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I may have all the maturity of a twelve-year-old, but I’m awfully fun to hang out with. You’d have the breast time with me, I swear!

I’ve been off work since last Friday. That evening Tara and I went out to Shanahan’s to kick off the holidays. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like Scottish eggs and tequila soda from an Irish pub!

Saturday we went to my Aunt Nancy’s house in Newberg for our annual “ethnic Christmas Eve” feast. We’ve done this every year since 2006 except for two: in 2008, when we were snowed in; and last year, when she wanted a break from hosting. This year my cousin(ish) Shannon was there with her guitar, and we had a great time listening to her play.

Sunday was Christmas, and I’ve gotta say, it was a delicious day. Between the Bloody Marys, biscuits and gravy, prime rib, mashed potatoes, cherry cheesecake, and wine (not all at once, of course), we did not go hungry! We opened gifts in the morning, and everybody made out well. Tara ended up conspiring with Deb to surprise me with a pair of Bose wireless noise-cancelling headphones I’d been coveting. Deb’s brother works for Bose and his employee discount is 50%, so when she showed up to work one day wearing those headphones and I tried them on, I knew immediately I wanted some. In fact, I tried to order them from her, but unbeknownst to me the two of them had already placed an order, so there was a good bit of scrambling on their part that ended up as a conspiracy to rival the JFK assassination. Well played, you two!

Tara was off on Monday and we were itching to get out of the apartment, so we drove into the Columbia River Gorge for a little winter hiking. Ended up seeing a bunch of waterfalls, but after four miles of freezing our asses off we decided to drive across the river to Stevenson for cocktails and a light lunch. Seeing all the snow still on the ground makes me want to live there even more now.

The rest of the week has been both busy and relaxing for me. Tara’s been back at work, so I’ve done quite a bit of writing; surprised her with a candlelit dinner; run errands; listened to records; drank wine; and took myself to Portland for a day in the Hawthorne District. It’s been a good mix and a fun vacation. Today will be another low-key day around the apartment; I plan to work on my book, watch a movie, and meet Tara for sushi. Friday  I want to do something fun, and am torn between going into downtown Portland or driving back out to the Gorge. I’m leaning toward the latter, so long as my Mazda can handle the snow. Saturday night we have early reservations at a Chinese restaurant called Shandong – their claim to fame is 3′ handmade noodles you have to cut with a pair of scissors – then we plan to hang out at home, drinking responsibly. I am excited to have a low-key NYE for a change. It’s been a long time: last year we were in Ely, the year before I was in the hospital, and the year before that we were also in Ely. We’ve only stayed home once since Tara moved up here, so it kind of feels like a novelty.

Sunday we have brunch reservations in Portland, and then Monday it’s back to work for me. Not going to lie: that will suck. It’s also supposed to turn super cold next week – highs in the 20s, lows near 12 – so it’ll feel like winter for sure.

Hope your holidays have been as fun as mine!

There’s an Echo in Here

Hard to believe that Christmas will be nothing but a memory in less than one week!

Friday night was our company Christmas party, and we had a grand ol’ time. At least I assume we did, though my recollection is a bit hazy. I am no stranger to the boozes, but I don’t usually mix ’em like I did that evening. In my defense, it’s not very often I am handed free drink tickets, so naturally I wanted to take advantage of my employer’s generosity. My final tally for the night: three tequila sodas, a Negroni (gin + vermouth), and a Sazerac (Cognac + absinthe). Is it any wonder my memory’s a blur!?

I ordered the Negroni based on Candace’s recommendation, a coworker with whom I share a similar fondness for good food and alcohol, but didn’t care for it that much. I suppose if you’re a fan of bitterness you’ll love it, but I am not, so I did not. The Sazerac, on the other hand? That’s a different story! I was sitting next to Deb’s roommate Jess, and we were sampling each other’s drinks. She ordered the Sazerac first and I liked it so much I ended up getting my own. So if anybody is the bad influence here, it is her.

The food was pretty good. It was your standard buffet fare – hand-carved prime rib, spiral-sliced ham, pasta, rolls, salad, veggies, etc. – but the plates were fancy little rectangles that were more artistic than practical, and did not hold a lot of food. Which is pretty much the sole purpose of a plate, when you get right down to it. The roll alone took up half that prime real estate, and the huckleberry butter was mostly frozen so you had to devote a square inch of space to that since it was too hard to spread. This meant you had to get creative and pile items on top of each other, resulting in layers of food that resembled a geological strata. My slice of roast beef rested atop a mound of green beans that, in turn, covered my salad, the vinaigrette co-mingling with the horseradish. It was a bit annoying, if I’m being honest. A decent plate (read: big and round) would have made a world of difference. Is it any wonder I got so drunk? I hardly ate any food! (Apparently I did eat a s’more, according to Tara, though I have no memory of this. I find it rather surprising given my general avoidance of sweets. I also do not recall an entire conversation about my meet-n-greet with Bruce Springsteen, but am told I was discussing at length how he smelled. WTF?)

After finishing my precariously-balanced dinner there were casino games, and I actually did pretty well at the Blackjack table. I must have been pretty sloshed, because 21 is not normally a game I excel at, but I kept raking in the chips. I cashed them in for raffle tickets when I was finished and ended up winning an Amazon Echo Dot. Score! (I do not even know what to do with this device, not really, but I did have it on my wish list so I will happily figure this out.)

All in all, it was a fun party. My rock ‘n roll boss played two sets with his band, and I even got out on the dance floor for a bit. This part I do remember. We ended up ducking out around 11:30, and only reluctantly, because we were driving north to Bothell the next morning to visit Tara’s family.

We ended up leaving around 10:00 Saturday, and Audrey even came with us. It had been a long time since she tagged along, so that was nice. It was snowing when we left – again! – (after another storm last Wednesday that wreaked havoc for Portland commuters), but just flurries. In any case, we enjoyed a scenic drive up to Puget Sound, and spent the afternoon hanging out at Tracy’s apartment. She bought an Atari Flashback gaming system that came pre-loaded with 101 games, so I whiled away the hours playing Frogger, Missile Command, Asteroids, Centipede, and Space Invaders with my nephew, Anthony. So much fun. I was a big Atari fan back in the day and loved my 2600 console. At one point we realized it had gotten dark and we were hungry, so we  drove out to the local McMenamin’s tiki bar for dinner and cocktails. Went back to Tracy’s place and watched Elf before turning in for the night. The next morning she made eggs Benedict, we whipped up Bloody Marys, and opened Christmas gifts early. We left around 1:00, but made a stop in Tacoma at Bass Pro Shops, where I bought a really good quality pair of hiking shoes. I figure this whole hiking thing is more than a passing fad now, so it seemed worthwhile to invest in something sturdy and waterproof. The Keen brand I ended up purchasing was very highly rated. Can’t wait to break them in.

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This morning I got up early to walk, but had to cut my pre-dawn stroll short because it was 31 degrees and sleeting. I still ended up doing 2.75 miles, but it was getting pretty icy and I was afraid I was going to slip and fall and break something fragile so I decided not to push my luck. We are having quite the winter, and it isn’t even winter yet! For a while there it looked like I would once again be going in late, but the temperature warmed to just above freezing and the sleet turned to rain, so I made the trek to work without issue. It then warmed all the way up to 47 degrees, which feels downright tropical after the cold snap we’ve had.

My team surprised me with a Christmas gift this morning that is right up my grammar-loving alley.

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Aww. It’s perfect!

I, in turn, gave them gift cards to the coffeeshop around the corner. We were just chock full of holiday spirit today.

I’ve got three more days of work this week, then I am off for ten. I plan to do a lot of writing over the holiday, as I am anxious to finish my novel and am nearing the home stretch.

Puffy Coats and Cat Sweaters

Audrey bought a sweater for our cat today. Suffice it to say, she was not a fan of playing dress-up. Poor Sydney. You can practically see “you shitty humans” written all over her face. Hey, I thought she was cute!

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Last week was pretty interesting. I ended up working from home  Thursday and Friday due to the weather. We didn’t even end up with all that much snow – no more than 1″, really – but then it turned to sleet and freezing rain, and that created an icy mess. Fortunately, I have a very understanding boss and a job where I can easily work from home (and usually get a lot more done there, anyway). But after being cooped up for a couple of days I was feeling a bit stir-crazy come Saturday morning. So we probably shouldn’t have started watching Disc 1 of the Stephen King miniseries 11.22.63, because we got totally sucked in and ended up watching all four hours’ worth before budging from the couch around noon. It’s such a great book – probably my favorite King novel, and that’s saying a lot – and the miniseries is just different enough to make it feel unique. James Franco nails the lead role. When we finished I finally got outside and took a nice, long walk around the neighborhood. I’d tried venturing out  on Friday afternoon but the sidewalks were icy and after nearly falling a couple of times I gave up on that idea and decided staying inside and drinking Wild Roots vodka was the better idea. Mama didn’t raise no fools.

Yesterday, we went out to dinner at Der Rheinlander, a German restaurant in Portland that has been in business for 53 years. I have a longstanding love affair with the place; the first time my parents came up for a visit in 1994 we went here, and have been going ever since. It has been a holiday tradition for many years, one that I have written about fondly right here on ye olde blog. Sadly, they are closing for good on December 31st. Apparently there was big demand in the marketplace for a castle-shaped building. So we wanted to go one last time, and invited my parents along. My dad has been battling a cold and wasn’t feelin’ the schnitzel, but my mom joined us and, as always, we had a great time and an amazing meal that consisted of – for posterity’s sake – cheese fondue with white and rye bread and German sausage links; bier onion soup; and a chicken breast in a pepper cream sauce with sauteed mushrooms and spaetzle. Plus a couple of cocktails. It was so, so good.

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The family that owns Der Rheinlander opened a chain of similar restaurants called Gustav’s, and their menu is basically the same, but the ambience just isn’t the same. The Rheinlander is more like a theme park: it’s a dark maze of adjoining rooms replete with cuckoo clocks on the walls and  strolling accordion players dressed in  Lederhosen. Campy? Yes. Fun? Absolutely. I will miss the place very much.

Today I ended up venturing out to the mall, a place I never go. Especially this time of year. But I was in need of a winter coat, since our weather is supposed to remain cold (30s – low 40s) for pretty much the next 10 days or so. And they’re predicting more chances of snow, which might translate to more days working from home. I can live with that. My mission was successful: I found a nice, warm “puffy” coat (Seinfeld, anybody?) and treated myself to conveyor belt sushi. I am living the high life, folks.

When I came home I called an old friend. Actually, my best friend from high school, Ted. We had been inseparable for three years when we lived on Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota, but had completely fallen out of touch with one another. I last saw/spoke with Ted in 1987 before he dropped off the face of the earth, and had been searching in vain for him for years. After turning up exactly zero leads, I figured one of three things had happened: he’d died, ended up in jail, or entered witness protection. Seriously. In this day and age, it’s not too difficult to find people.

And then, about a month ago, I got a message from his daughter on Facebook. I’d emailed her two years ago, thinking she might know him (she shared his last name and had also lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, where I knew he had at one time resided), but had never heard back from her. Then, quite suddenly, I did. Turns out Ted is her father, and he had legally changed his last name years earlier, which is why I was never able to find him on social media. We had not spoken in 29 years, and yet, it was almost as if no time had passed. Growing up an Air Force brat I never made any “permanent” friends, and Ted’s whereabouts had long been a mystery to me. I’m so glad I found him! He is the closest I have to a childhood friend, and we spent 45 minutes catching up and reminiscing today. It’s amazing how quickly you can bridge a three-decades gap. Ted’s a good guy. He has had his share of challenges in life, but haven’t we all? It sounds like he’s emerged stronger for his experiences. Turns out we have actually followed similar paths in life. Best of all, he now lives in Roseville, CA – a suburb of Sacramento. I have two other close friends who live there. I’m thinking a road trip in the near future might be just what the doctor ordered.

The “S” Word

Tara and I drove into Portland yesterday to pick up a few things (an $11.45 bag of Jacobsen sea salt, a bottle of Wild Roots Marionberry infused vodka, a package of smoked steelhead trout – god, we’re weird). While on Sandy Blvd. we drove past a huge vintage store we had never seen before and decided to stop in. This place was great! In addition to a million knickknacks, including more than a few lava lamps, they also apparently bought out an old clothing/costume store and there were all kinds of groovy outfits. I really, really wanted to buy a yellow ruffled tuxedo shirt and houndstooth jacket just because, or maybe to wear to the upcoming office holiday party ironically, but we didn’t have a lot of time to browse so we will have to go back sometime and invest a solid hour or two for looking around.

Along the way, we passed this car.

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Guess you’d call that a tree-cylinder, huh?

Oh, Portland. I love you so.

On the way home there was a woman on the side of the road selling homemade tamales out of a cooler for $5 each. “You just know those would be the best tamales you ever had,” Tara said, and I was tempted to stop but I had already passed her by and we really needed to get home so I could start cooking, as we were having my parents over for dinner. Come to think of it, I should have just picked up a bunch of tamales and served those – would’ve saved me a heck of a lot of trouble, huh? But I was already planning on making enchiladas and guacamole, so we just stuck with that.

I’m tempted to drive back over there sometime and pick up a few, though.

The dinner turned out very well. Doing it all from scratch, right down to the enchilada sauce, is a lot of work but definitely worth the effort. Our apartment is all decked out for the holidays and we had Christmas music playing, so it was very festive. Audrey and her girlfriend were there too, so that was nice. After dinner my parents went home and we watched my favorite holiday movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Tara made popcorn and it was a grand ol’ time.

I was itching to get out of the apartment today and Tara had some stuff to do, so I took an impromptu drive into the Gorge. The weather was very dramatic. Check out the storm clouds from the Cape Horn Lookout.

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I wanted to climb Beacon Rock, but the trail was closed for maintenance. What?! So I ended up hiking to Hardy Falls and Pool of the Winds instead. It’s been really wet lately, and the falls were quite spectacular.

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I also drove into Stevenson, our future home, to check out their community Christmas tree. It was, umm, cute. Pretty small actually. I also stopped in the grocery store for a few items, and the checker was addressing the lady behind me by name and asking about her kids. How quaint. I guess that’s something we’ll have to get used to when we live there.

On the way home I ran into a massive hail storm; that provided some excitement!

I am currently drinking wine while Tara is making a beef and butternut squash stew. We are watching football and will put on The Walking Dead later. Yesterday I hit page 200 in my novel, not a bad feat considering I started out on page 30 a little over a month ago. I am not that far away from the home stretch, which makes me want to keep banging away at it.

So people are getting excited around here because the National Weather Service mentioned the “S” word. As in, snow. They’re predicting that just in time for the morning commute tomorrow, but it’s doubtful that anything will stick unless you get up into the foothills. There’s a better chance of snow and/or freezing rain later in the week, and that offers a little more promise. We shall see. For all the times they predict snow around here, it rarely materializes. We just don’t live in the right climate for it, so everything has to come together perfectly. Regardless of whether it actually does end up snowing, it’s going to be cold this week. Highs in the 30s. We haven’t had temps that low in quite awhile, so it’ll feel especially frigid for those of us more used to a damp 48 degrees.

Have a great week!


NNWM/30: Final Words

Happy last day of November! If you participated in NaNoWriMo, I hope you hit your word goal.

I, for one, am glad it’s over. NaNoWriMo was harder than I imagined it would be. 50,000 words in a month is tough. I did the math before signing up and figured 1,667 words a day – the number needed in order to reach your goal – was do-able. Well, it is, but if you fall behind even one day, you are stuck playing catch-up. And let’s face it: there will be days where you are unable to write 1,667 words. Life gets in the way, especially when you have a full-time job and a hundred other daily responsibilities, like cooking and showering and sleeping. Suddenly, you find yourself needing to write 2,100 words a day to get back on track, and that creates a lot of pressure. Four of us signed on at work. I’m the only one who successfully finished. I don’t blame the others, though. Maybe they’re the sane ones?

I basically devoted every spare moment I had over the past month to writing. Even when I didn’t feel like it, I did it. And yet, I still fell behind, and found myself scrambling the last two weeks. The long holiday weekend saved me. There were slow periods at work where I was able to knock out a few hundred words. As soon as I got home, I fired up my laptop. Weekends, in between errands, I focused on my novel. With that deadline looming constantly over my head, I had very little time to relax and have fun. I feel fortunate, at least, that I never suffered from writer’s block or ended up getting hung up on the plot. When I wrote, the words flowed. Research slowed me down more than anything else. So, yeah: great accomplishment and it was very inspiring and motivational, but I am mentally exhausted. Do I really want to put myself through this again? I’m sure in 11 months I’ll be all fired up again, but I reserve the right not to be.

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I kind of wish NaNoWriMo took place in a different month. One with 31 days, for starters. That alone would reduce your burden by 54 words a day. And preferably a month without a big holiday that required your attention. I think March would be perfect. Maybe we can circulate a petition?

As for the book, 50K words doesn’t even bring me close to the end. According to Dr. Google, most novels clock in at 80,000 – 89,000 words on average, and that feels about right. Here’s an interesting link showing the word counts of popular works of fiction. I probably have another 1/3 of my novel to go yet. But NaNoWriMo was instrumental in providing me with the motivation needed to pick it up again, wipe off the dust, and plunge back into the story. Honestly, if I had never signed up, I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten back around to working on Dream Sailors again. It’s too hard to find excuses not to write; NaNoWriMo provided me with the exact lift I needed and got me back into the habit of writing. It helped me rediscover the joy of creating fiction, and for that I will be forever grateful. I love how the story has unfolded and can’t wait to finish. I’m estimating that will happen in January(ish). Then comes the editing, which will take several more months, if the past is any indication. I figure I might be a year away from publication yet, but I will get there. Mark my words.

I have also really enjoyed the daily blog updates. They have been very helpful in keeping me motivated, as well, and have done wonders to hold me accountable. Life is busy and my blog has sort of fallen by the wayside this past year; I’ll make an effort to update more often moving forward.

So…that’s it! I’ll continue to keep you posted on my novel progress as I go along.

Just not every day!

Word Count Today: 622.
Total FINAL Word Count: 51,023.

NNWM/29: Turning 24 Into 10

When I got to work this morning, I told my coworkers how happy I was to be back in the office. They assumed I was joking, but I was deadly serious. I feel like I’ve been cooped up for days. Probably because I’ve been cooped up for days. Vacation felt like work, so in this backwards reality, work felt like a vacation. I did not have to spend hours toiling away on my novel and could instead participate in meetings! and edit documents! Once I convinced them I was not kidding, they assumed I was insane instead.

Actually, much of this morning was spent figuring out holiday schedules. I realized that with a little planning, I could turn 24 hours of PTO into ten days off. All I had to do was request Dec. 27-29 off. It took me all of five seconds to decide that was too tempting an offer to pass up. With so much time off, I should do something productive.

Maybe I’ll write another book.

Ha. I kid.

I did manage a couple hundred words today. I’m holding true to my promise to write every day. It’s so much easier now that the pressure is gone.

Here’s a photo I uploaded to Instagram this morning. This is Dewey Lake in Mount Rainier National Park, taken during a hike the end of July. With winter-like weather forecast next week, I thought it would be nice to share a little slice of last summer.

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Word Count Today: 220.
Total Word Count: 50,401.

NNWM/28: 50,000

I have a new favorite word in my vocabulary. That word is several. It’s a simple word, really. Merriam-Webster defines it as “an indefinite number; more than two and fewer than many.” I like it for another reason: it is the 50,000th word in my novel, Dream Sailors. Which means I have successfully completed my first-ever NaNoWriMo! With two days to spare, no less. Although, in all fairness, I got a jump start on my book two days early when I embarked upon my writer’s retreat in a vintage trailer on the Washington coast over Halloween weekend. Still, I completed it in 30 days either way, so there is no asterisk beside that accomplishment as far as I’m concerned!*

*Except one. But I’ll talk about that in my final post this month. I’m too busy celebrating now.

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Up until a few days ago, I wasn’t even sure that I’d reach my NaNoWriMo goal. You have to write 1,667 words a day, every single day, for 30 days, in order to hit that magic number. That’s a lot, especially when you haven’t so much as looked at your novel in almost a year. Doubly so when you’re working without any sort of outline or draft. But I’m a sucker for personal challenges and was able to plow through and pick up my pace over the holiday weekend. When I realized I was getting close, I decided to take today off and focus 100% on writing. And that’s exactly what I did. I forced myself to get out of bed at the usual time – 5:45 – and other than a walk, coffee, lunch, and a shower, I did nothing but write. And at 4:45 p.m. I reached my goal with the word “several.” Honestly, I am relieved as hell. I feel like I can finally take a breather for the first time in a month. No, my novel isn’t finished. I probably still have another 30,000 words or so to go. But I will get there, and I can do so on my own schedule now.

I’ll still update my blog the next two days. I promised one entry a day all month long, and that commitment is an easy one to keep.

Word Count Today: 4,580.
Total Word Count: 50,181.

NNWM/27: A Lot Like Christmas

I woke up this morning dismayed that the long holiday weekend was already coming to an end. It’s amazing how quickly the days fly by, huh? But I’m not ready to go back to work just yet, so I texted my boss and asked if I could take a last-minute PTO day on Monday. He gave me the okay, so – woot! My weekend isn’t over just yet!

It’s been incredibly productive but busy. We ended up decorating the apartment for Christmas, which turned into an afternoon-long project. But it looks great, and I love that we have a real tree again this year. It’s been a while.

I also hit 2,000+ words for a third consecutive day, so I’ve made up quite a bit of ground and am now rapidly closing in on reaching my goal. This is the main reason I decided to take tomorrow off. With an empty apartment and nowhere to go, I should be able to make a big push toward finishing. By “finishing” I mean hitting 50K words, not completing the novel. I figure that’ll take at least another month. But I want the trophy, dammit. Or whatever it is you win for a successful NaNoWriMo.

Please don’t tell me it’s only bragging rights. Those are so overrated.

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Word Count Today: 2,442.
Total Word Count: 45,601.