5 Great Things about Days Off

Which then goes without saying, I’m enjoying one right now.  Aside from the obvious…oh heck, these are all probably obvious too. 

1.  Sleeping in.  I didn’t lift my head from the pillow ’til 6:40.  An hour of extra sleep.  Yay!

2.  Catching up.  I swear, I get more done in a day off than I do at the office.  It’s only 9:30 but I’ve baked 2 batches of cookies (they were ready-to-bake; so sue me), made breakfast, packed my vitamins for next week, folded 2 loads of laundry, checked work and personal email, and downloaded 3 videos to YouTube.  If I were at work, by now, all I’d have done is checked email, gotten a cup of tea, and chatted with a co-worker. 

3.  Checking work email.  Impresses the daylights out of the boss (I hope) when he knows I’m not in, but I’m still “in”.  (And then it’s up to me, depending on how much work I get done, if I want to call it a vacation day or a work-remote day.  It could go either way.)

4.  I can do whatever I want to do.  I didn’t have to fold the laundry or make the cookies; I could’ve watched TV and knitted ’til my fingers ached.  The choice is mine.

5.  Knowing there’s still a weekend ahead to enjoy.  Once I get done what I have to do, the rest of the time is ALL ME, baby.  🙂 

There is definitely writing to be done with my time off.  I sat down with 1/2 an hour to spare before the autism support group meeting and wrote 2 pages.  Imagine what I could do with an hour or two! 

Have a happy weekend!

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5 Favorite Words

I’ve been holding on to this one for a while, for when the day came that I couldn’t thing of a single thing to blog about.  Today’s the day.

Being a writer (or wanting to be one, anyway), you kind of have to love words.  I know writers who love stories or scenes or ideas, but personally, I love words.  I love the way they fit together to become a wonderful, coherent whole.  I love the feelings they create.  Sometimes I just love the sound of certain words.

Anyway, over the weekend, a friend came to visit, and he dropped a word I haven’t heard in a long while.  The first time I heard it was in high school English class, and it stuck with me then.  I think I’ve used it myself once in a while, when the boys don’t want to get out of bed and get ready for school.  Hearing that word reminded me that I’m sure I can come up with 4 other “fun” words and make a blog out of it.  If nothing else, using one of these 5 words could make you sound smarter than the average bear.  🙂

1.  Recalcitrant:   obstinately defiant of authority or restraint; 2 a: difficult to manage or operate b: not responsive to treatment c: resistant  (have you met my teenager?  BTW, thanks, Kurt!)

2.  Epiphany:   an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being; 3 a (1): a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2): an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3): an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure b: a revealing scene or moment (if you write and you’ve never had an epiphany about the story in front of you, you’ve never really written)

3.  Ebullient:   having or showing liveliness and enthusiasm (some day someone will describe me as ebullient, and then I’ll have done what I wanted to do in this world; in the mean time, just call me Eeyore)

4.  Obstreperous:   marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness : clamorous <obstreperous merriment> 2 : stubbornly resistant to control (I worked for a woman–probably one of my all-time favorite bosses–who used this word on a colleague of hers whenever he made noise at his desk.  Every time I remember this word, I think of Pat and I smile.)

5.  Heroic:   exhibiting or marked by courage and daring; b: supremely noble or self-sacrificing(Okay, so I ran out of words at 4, but I know someone with this tattooed on her ankle and I still think it’s a wonderful word.  It also encompasses the character I plan to work on today, if time allows.)

With all due gratitude to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary.

5 Good Things about Dentist Appointments

Yes there are good things about dentist appointments.  I’ll tell you why after my 5 things:

1.  Walking out of the office.

2.  Waving goodbye to the dentist.

3.  Chatting with the receptionist after the appointment is over.

4.  Letting my son dig in the “goodie box” after his appointment.

5.  Knowing my teeth are in decent shape ’til the next visit.

I had my crown fitted yesterday.  The inside of my mouth feels like raw hamburger.  I suspect when the drill starts sawing away at the tooth and the old filling, there’s no way to prevent the bits from scattering like shrapnel all over the inside of my mouth.  That, and to get the fitting done involves wrapping a string around where the crown will go, in order to get a proper fitting crown.  This involves shoving the existing gum tissue out of the way, and mine wasn’t too happy about this.  Even the hygienist said it was bleeding “a lot more than usual”.  (I’m a bleeder when it comes to my mouth.  Just watch me floss.  It’s like a cheap Freddie Krueger remake.)  Needless to say, when Dr. Sara said I could take Motrin for pain, I picked some up on the way home and took it in the car, even though I didn’t have any water on hand.  Unfortunately I took it on an empty stomach, which resulted in a bad stomach for the rest of the night.  Was it worth it?  Hard to say.  I’m looking forward to having all this done and over with so that I’ll only have to go for regular visits once in a while.  Until then, these are the only teeth I get; I have to take care of them.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Dr. Sara and Donna and Diane, the hygienists.  I wonder what their lives are like, knowing people would rather be audited than visit them.  They do everything they can to make the experience as pleasant as possible, and I give them a lot of credit for that.  More power to you, ladies.  If you can turn a dentist appointment into a fun day, you’re stronger than I will ever be.  🙂

5 Great Things about Not Going to Work

WordPress ate my blog.  I swear, I had 200-something words explaining why I was happy not to be going to work today (two dentist appointments, one for me and one for Alex in the PM), and when I went to post it, all I had was a title.  Color me not happy, but rather than throw something together fast, I’ll try to recreate it later.  I’m off to unwind at the thought of not having to go to work today.  Ugh.

5…Things about Facebook

I can’t quite find an adjective to describe Facebook.  After much heel-dragging, I just signed on Thursday.  Laura warned me that it’ll suck time away from me like I wouldn’t believe but did I listen?  For a while.  Now I’m not sure if I’m regretting it.  Hence, 5…Things about Facebook:

1.  Time flies when you’re having fun.  I sat there on Saturday, telling myself “I’ll take a shower at 10”, but 10 passed, then 10:30, and by 10:45 I was in a panic state because I only went on FB to see if I had any waiting messages.  I did.  There went the morning.

2.  I found friends I haven’t talked to in 20 years.  Andrea and I were best friends in middle school (intermediate school for us Staten Islanders) and Shabeena and I were best friends through high school, started on day 1.  We lost touch over the last few years, but we found each other on Facebook.  I’m also making contact with other classmates and friends (hey Stevie! How’s the wedding plans?) and I forgot how much fun they were. 

3.  Most of my RWA chapter is on Facebook, so several conversations got started.  It’s like having a meeting without leaving the comforts of home. 

4.  I looked up my old boyfriends.  ‘Nuf said.  (No, I didn’t Friend him.)

5.  Yet another source of email, via Friend messages.  Like I needed another one?  Oh heck, you can’t have too much email.  🙂  Well, actually, if you saw the size of my emailbox…?  I used to clean it out regularly to keep it down to 25 items.  Now I’d like to get under 100.

I can’t recommend going there because if you’re easily addicted, you’ll probably never leave.  In my mind, Facebook ranks right up there with YouTube as biggest time-sucks on the net.  Uh, and Ravelry, and KnitPicks, and Lion Brand Yarn’s Pattern Finder, and blog-reading.  If I could get the internet to make me a grilled cheese sandwich and pour me a lemonade, I’d never leave the house. 

Hey, at least it’s CLEAN fun, right?

5 Favorite Songs on my WIP’s Playlist

You already know how I feel about Bruce Springsteen’s “Working on a Dream” (which I played again this morning).  Here are 5 more I’ve played a lot lately while I’m trying to get a feel for the story.

1.  Joshua Radin, “Brand New Day”.  I “lifted” it from “House” on Monday night; it played at the end of the show and I was at the computer by the commercial break, looking for it.  As it turns out, Fox’s website posts the songs played during the episode.  Mostly not-top-40 stuff but very good.  I like to believe they’re giving new and emerging artists a break.  As far as my WIP is concerned, for Liz it’s a brand new day when she realizes she’s in love with Gabriel.  (I haven’t gotten to that part yet but I’m looking forward to it.) 

2.  Josh Groban, “Ave Maria”.  I can’t put my finger on why this one hit me the way it did.  Maybe it’s because Gabriel is a teacher in a Catholic school, and he’s around nuns most of the day (his “mentor” is Sister Louise, or Lou as he calls her).  That, and I think there’s a spiritual aspect to what he feels for Liz.  Now that I think about it, it’s almost Madonna-like (and I’m not talking about the Madonna with the bleach blonde hair and cone-shaped bustier).

3.  Enrique Iglesias, “Hero”.  Please, this is a romance novel about a guy who writes romance novels.  Tell me that wasn’t a no-brainer. 

4.  Lulu, “To Sir With Love”.  The antagonist is a teenager who’s got an obsessive crush on Gabriel.  Not to mention, we sang this at my high school graduation. 

5.  Van Halen, “Top of the World”.  When Liz is finished restoring her ’69 Chevelle SS, she’s going to take it out on the highway for a spin.  She hadn’t planned on it; her intention is to finish it up and sell it, and then invest the money from the sale in a shop of her own.  But Gabe convinces her to take it out on the road, just once.  She pops a CD in the deck (yes, it’s not factory equipment; so sue me) and this comes on, and with the windows open and the warm summer breeze, and sitting beside a man she trusts, she’s never felt this free.  I got the idea from driving across the PA Turnpike connector bridge on a Friday night, and this came on my stereo as I was at the apex of the bridge.  I.  Loved.  It.  So much so that I wanted Liz to share that experience  with Gabe.  It’s one of her turning points. 

There’s 65 songs on my playlist but I won’t share them all.  Maybe later, after the story is over.  Hopefully by then I’ll be looking around the corner for the next big idea. 

Have a happy weekend!

5 Favorite Movie Lines

Last night I was happily writing a scene, minding my own business, when the scene ended and I had no idea what to write next.  Not the dreaded “B” (block”), but I was tired and I’d gotten a lot of pages done in a short amount of time, so I guess the idea font ran temporarily dry.  It happens. 

This morning I woke up with Dory’s line from “Finding Nemo” in my head:  “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”  With that in mind, I could be putting my copyright-infringing foot in my mouth but I need to stay away from thoughts of food (and mocha), so here are 5 of my favorite movie lines (with great appreciation to IMDB.com):

1.  Office Space:  “We get caught laundering money, we’re not going to white-collar resort prison. No, no, no. We’re going to federal POUND ME IN THE ASS prison. ”

2.  The Bucket List:  “Here’s something to remember when you’re older, Thomas – never pass up a bathroom, never waste a hard-on, and never trust a fart. ”

3.  The Abyss: “Goddammit, you bitch! You never backed away from anything in your life! Now fight! Fight! Fight!”

4.  Bull Durham:  “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”  (I had a hard time picking a single quote from this movie.  I’ve seen it so many times, and we quote it around the house so often, that I want to send “Release Point” to Ron Shelton to see if he’s interested.)

5.  Field of Dreams:  “We would’ve played for meal money.”

5 Great Things about Mocha Lattes

I have to confess, I was never a coffee person until last August when John and I were in Las Vegas.  I’m not even sure how it happened or why.  One morning John was on his way to Starbucks for his morning cuppa, and I asked for a cappucino.  He’d told me long before that they were full of sugar and bad for our low-sugar diets–he’d treat himself to one once in a while–but I was on vacation, darnit, and I wanted to try it.  Turns out, it’s not my thing; too much bitter, coffee taste, or in my terms, not sweet enough.  

The next day, I asked for something sweeter and chocolatey, “like hot chocolate only coffee-flavored”, so he brought me a mocha.  I fell madly in love.  Ever since then, mocha lattes are my favorite treat, maybe even more than chocolate itself.  (Yes, Laura, I’m biting my tongue.)  Starbucks’ mochas are wonderful–I asked for a Starbucks gift card for Christmas and got it; there’s still a few more $$s left on it–but McDonald’s McCafe mochas are The Bomb.  I get one on Fridays when I bring the boys to NJ for visitation, and it’s a treat that almost balances out having to spend more than 2 seconds facing my ex husband.  Almost

Last night I was dead tired and strung out from a long day at work, but I was desperate to add to my WIP, so I made a cup of mocha (General Foods Reduced-Sugar variety; not bad, but not THAT low in sugar either) and got to work, and by 10 I was drained but I’d also written 6 more pages.  I’ll keep this story moving, or I’ll die trying.

So here’s 5 reasons why mocha/coffee is a good thing:

1.  Caffeine.  Come on, could anything else be at the top of the list?  Caffeine and I have a love/hate relationship.  I get inspired on the drives home from NJ, but I also break out like a teenager the day after.  It’s worth it.

2.  Caffeine.  It’s worth repeating.

3.  I can’t speak for the non-flavored varieties but McDonald’s mocha is the true nectar of the gods.  From the rich whipped cream topped with some amazing dark chocolate drizzle (remember to lick the lid; you’ll thank me later) to the creamy mocha itself, it’s a reminder that life is indeed good. 

4.  Thermal value.  When the house is cold, hot coffee is a good thing.  A wake-up and a warm-up all in one.  Go hug your mug. 

5.  Community.  I realize that logistically speaking, more people in the world drink tea than coffee, and I do also drink green tea, but there’s something to be said for the smell of Starbucks, hanging out with friends, swapping stories (or plot ideas!) and laughing.  Ever since I started drinking mocha, I feel like I belong in the world.

5 Great Things about Writing

I love writing.  I love to read, too, but when I read (or when I watch TV or see a movie, which is essentially writing put in motion), I’m always looking to see what works about the story and what doesn’t, and how I can use that information in my own writing.   Every written word is an opportunity to learn something. 

I spent the better part of the weekend writing.  I got nothing done in the house, and I feel guilty about that, but when it comes down to it, I have to remind myself that I was productive.  How often do I spend that much time writing?  Really, on average, it’s not much.  The Muse only whacks me upside the head every so often; when she calls, I have to listen.  (To not listen gets her ticked off at me and she clams up, and I do NOT want that to happen.)  I’ve been shushing her for so long, between the house-hunt, moving, settling in, etc., that this past week it only seemed fair to give her some of my time as well.

It’s been wonderful.  Last night after the lights went out, I had more ideas running through my head, and I had to reach for my notepad and scribble them down before I fell asleep and forgot them.  Been there before; it must be what it feels like to drive away from the grocery store, realizing that you left your food back in the shopping cart.  You know it’s gone and you’re not getting it back.  (And those donuts looked SOOOO good…)

Anyway, while I’m enjoying this period of glorious creativity, I thought I’d share the feeling:

1.  Catharsis.  Writing is very much a catharsis.  There are times I hear dialog or plots or scenes screaming in my head, punctuated with “Write this down, stupid!”  And I do.  It’s a lot like needing to use the bathroom but there isn’t one around and you go store to store, looking for a place to go, and when you do…  <sigh>  (I hope you weren’t eating just now.  Otherwise, grow up people; we’re all humans.) 

2.  Fun.  My current WIP is turning into a romantic comedy, and I never in a million years thought I could write something like that.  I certainly didn’t plan on it, but here it is.  I’ve laughed a few times as the story progresses.  I hope readers will too.  (I’ll post a sample in my Excerpts tab.) 

3.  Revenge.  Someone pissed you off?  Bad driving, lazy/ignorant co-worker, mean boss, ex-spouse?  All of the above?  Make him/her into a character everyone can hate.  Just try not to use his/her real name.  People get mad when you do stuff like that, and then lawyers get involved, and it’s not pretty. 

4.  Passion.  I always feel alive when I’m writing.  I feel alive at other times too, but when I’m writing, I feel like I’m doing what I was born to do. 

5.  Emotion.  I’m a very emotional person by nature.  I cried at Budweiser commercials during the SuperBowl.  (Only the ones with the Clydesdales; the rest…eh.)  Being able to put my emotions down on paper (or computer screen) is such a relief.  I’ve heard good writing described as “bleeding onto the page”.  It’s not as painful as you think, and yet, it’s more painful.  Opening up a vein, pouring your frazzled nerves out into a character’s feeling and dialog.  There’s nothing like it, and I want to do it all the time.

Off to write some more.

5 Great Things About Bruce and “Working on a Dream”

Chances are good if you have a pulse, you watched the SuperBowl last night.  (I know some who didn’t; they’re not into sports, period.   That life is as alien to me as cannibalism.)  Hopefully you stuck around through Halftime to watch Bruce Springsteen.  I’ll be honest, I haven’t listened to Bruce in a LONG time; I did as a teenager but over the years I kinda lost my taste for him.  Some of his songs were too down for me, and on occasion it was a little too close to the bone.  That is, until last night.

“Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”.  I still have no freaking clue what it’s about but it just sounds so good and rocks so hard that I sang along, dancing on the couch.  What a great way to get the show started.  (It wasn’t lost on me when he slid into the mike stand and the director cut to a different camera.)  It refreshed my memory of what it felt like to be 16 again, cranking up Bruce tunes on the old tinny tape deck in my ’72 Bug or spinning “Born in the USA” on my turntable.  (Yes, I really had one. )  I knew “Glory Days” had to come along but I didn’t know he’d convert it to football.  Way to go, Boss!

Anyway, “Working on a Dream” hit a nerve for me, and here are 5 reasons why:

1.  Just the brief snippet sparked something in my head, and I had it downloaded before the first commercial after the show was over.  Maybe it was a live wire to begin with because I spent the weekend writing nearly 25 single-spaced pages on my latest WIP, but I actually think it had more to do with the fact that the song nailed my heroine’s story directly on the head.  Liz is working on a dream; she’s been working on it since she was 18, and 12 years later she’s about to watch it come true, and it has nothing to do with love.  That’s what she’s all about. 

2.  The song is what I’m all about too.  I came to work today listening to the song for the 3rd time on my iPod because it reinforces what I do every day, between writing and working full-time.  I’m working on my own dream. 

3.  For a little while, I was 16 again, all my dreams ahead of me, all my “glory days” going on around me.  Hearing a new Bruce song tapping into my imagination was just like when “Born in the USA” came out and I learned every word of the lyrics within the first few days because it all meant something to me then.  It still means something to me now.  That’s what makes Bruce so timeless.

4.  A positive message of inspiration.  I needed that.  Some days I forget why I’m doing what I’m doing.  Thanks for the reminder.

5.  The song got me back into Bruce again.  I’m going to go looking for my Greatest Hits CDs (the albums are long gone; pity) and maybe download a few I don’t have.  “Born to Run” will work well into the manuscript when Liz’s dream comes to fruition.  I also have to hear “The Rising” since I know it was played at the inauguration a few weeks ago.  Sure, Bruce has some real downers in his catalog (“The River”; oy) but the uplifting ones really do the job.  And really, it’s all about life and reality and what we’re really dealing with. 

Thank you, Bruce.  That was the best halftime show I’ve ever seen, and they’ll never top it.  Now I’ll go back to working on MY dream.