Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On Nanowri...No?

On the first of November I decided to throw my writing hat into the ring of Nanowrimo. This was all well and good, but for a few minor problems.

1. I was scheduled to take an accelerated class throughout the month, and by accelerated I mean cramming an entire semester or quarter or term (depending on the schedule structure of most colleges) into a four week period. This includes writing multiple essays, a research paper, four assignments that included approximately one hundred and four question and equaled around fifty-two pages, and three tests. This doesn't include the nearly five hundred pages I had to read during those four short weeks. *twitch twitch*

2. Thanksgiving. This was the first year I've actually been responsible for an all out Turkey Day meal. Plus, my best friend flew in for the dinner so between writing and spending time with her--I chose her. Okay, her and the firemen and paramedics we took food to. 

3. The Marine was on leave, because he's preparing to deploy. Again. He's going to be gone a long time and miss a lot of things during the next...long time. The Munchkin, Niece, and I wanted to spend as much time with him as we could. After doing homework there wasn't much time left.

Needless to say, I did great for the first twenty days of Nanowrimo. Things started to go down hill on the twenty-first day. My brain was no longer focusing, I was getting surly and snarly at everyone, and I was stressing myself out because as much as I'd like to be some kind of super hero--I'm not. I'm just an average woman who needed to spend time with her loved ones and relax after one of the most grueling classes I've been in.

I made a conscious decision on the twenty-first day of November. Nanowrimo was going to have to try again next year. It just wasn't important enough for me. I made my choices, and decided what was most important to me. This year it wasn't Nano. 

This doesn't mean I didn't write. I did. I also tossed around a few other ideas for stories and articles I'd like to publish. Do I respect those people who stuck it out and succeeded in conquering the beast known as National Novel Writing Month? 


Do I especially respect the novelist who managed to beat the beast by writing 50k in two weeks?

Hell yes, I tip my writing hat to you, oh great one.

Do I respect myself for the decision?

Most definitely. Though some people might consider it quitting, or losing. I consider it a move done out of intelligence and respect--not only for myself and my family, but out of respect for the characters I'm so lovingly writing about. They deserve better than my stressed out writings. They deserve my passion and focus. 

So, on this last day of November, my official final word count for Nanowrimo is: 30,184.

Though, if I counted the eight page research paper, the fifty-one pages of questions, and the occasional blogs I'm sure I wrote more than the 50k. 

It's all in how you look at it. 


Monday, November 28, 2011

On the 'State' of Happiness

So, this morning I read this blog post, and thought I'd give my own spin on it.

I've been part of the military my entire life, in one form or another. The funny thing is, I barely remember the moves, because my father actually retired from the Navy when I was a little older than what the Munchkin is now.

When my father retired we headed to his home state of Washington, and moved into the only home I remember. Now, there are flickers of memory from previous places, but they're pretty fuzzy from the passage of time. They don't really count.

We arrived in that little town in the Pacific Northwest just in time for me to begin first grade in the fall of 1988. I was lucky as far as the life of a military brat was concerned. I attended school with most of the same people from '88 until I graduated in 2000.

I wasn't moved around at random intervals like my sister was--she had to start all over again during her junior year in high school--and because of this I didn't seem to have the wanderlust that other people did. I didn't dream of backpacking through Europe, or flying off to the Middle East. I was content. Happy.

Kind of.

Then I hit my 20's and the wanderlust appeared. Not like it did in everyone else, but in a subtle way I didn't really notice. Between the ages of 20 and 24 I moved every six months. Not out of state or out of country, just to different places around the county.

In March of 2005, my brand spankin' new husband of a month--the Marine--had orders to Hawaii, and for the first time ever I was leaving the Continental U.S. Since then we've moved four times and lived in three different states.

I've still never been to a foreign country.

And my wanderlust is great.

I can't stay in one place for longer than two years without getting that 'itch' to move. I start getting antsy, and I start hating everything about the place I live. In the case of the desert, it's become a physical thing. I've NEVER had allergies, but in the last eighteen months I've not only acquired them, but they've set out to murder me.

Forget itchy, watery, or dry eyes. Forget sinus pressure. Bring on the allergy induced asthma!

That's right.

Why do something half-assed like boring sinus pressure, when you can go big and hyperventilate from a lack of oxygen? While doing nothing more strenuous than sitting on the couch? Or even better--sleeping.

Anyway, like the above mentioned blog, I've often wondered if it's where I am that depends on my happiness level.

Will I be at this level of happiness no matter where I'm at? Is there some place I'd be happier?

I know that while living in Washington I was never happy. That didn't become obvious until after I moved away, then it was so obvious I didn't know how I'd missed it for so long.

It turns out, that I'm at my 'happiest' or at least the 'happiest I know', when I'm some place sunny.

I don't do well with gray and dreary days filled with clouds and rain.

I 'thrive' in my own way, when it is sunny and bright.

It could be negative four out and as long as it's sunny I wouldn't care--though on a side note, I'm not a fan of extreme temperatures in either direction.

There isn't a particular 'state' I've found that I'm happiest in, and maybe that state doesn't exist. I know it's time to move again (even though a part of me would really like to buy a house and put down roots). Someday maybe I'll even get to a foreign country.

In my mid-twenties I believed Ireland was the place I needed to be.

Maybe it is.

Where is the place you're happiest? Have you found it yet?


Thursday, November 17, 2011

On Being Swamped

November is evil.

Between class, holiday preparation, the Marine preparing to deploy again, and Nanowrimo I haven't had time to think. I completely spaced that yesterday was Wednesday until I was finally getting horizontal last night. By that point there was no chance of me writing a blog post.

For the last week I've been eyeballs deep in research on gangs for a research paper that is due tomorrow. I just finally finished is, and I'm more than happy not to think of gangs for the next...oh however long I can get away without thinking about them for. Let's just say there is some pretty scary and gruesome facts involving youth gangs.

Tomorrow is my last day of class, and on this most glorious day I've got not one, but two tests. Yes, that's right I have two tests in the same class. I've also got a hair appointment. :) I'm going to have pretty pink streaks added to my natural strawberry blonde hair. After the month I've had, I deserve this.

As for Nanowrimo, I've done pretty well balancing it all out. I'm a little over half way to their word count goal. I've taken the past two days off because of the worn down feeling of my brain. My allergies have been killing me and have taken their tolls as well. However, I'm not worried. I'm pretty confident that as long as I get back on the 2k daily word count again in the next couple of days I'll finish right on time. I won't be early anymore, but finishing on time will just have to do. :)

How have you been this week? I'd love to hear. Please, let me think of something other than gangs, violence and death (the real-life kind, not the fictional variety).


Thursday, November 10, 2011

On 236 Years

In 1775 the United States Marine Corps was created inside a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania bar-- the Tun Tavern.

Every year the Marine Corps celebrates its birthday in the fashion fitting its origin. Marines across the world, regardless of where they're located, recognize today, November 10th, as their birthday. If you live anywhere near a Marine Base you will most likely hear people discussing the Marine Corps Ball-- for months prior to today, because it really is THAT BIG of a deal.

Marines will don their dress blue uniforms-- you know the ones you automatically think of when you hear the term Marine (yes, the one on all those Marine Corps commercial), take their dates and spend an evening celebrating with their Brother Marines.

I guarantee it's much fancier and classier than the original days of the Tun Tavern, but these celebrations don't stray far from their roots. There are speeches, and food, alcohol and laughter, but in my opinion one of the most important parts of the celebration is the table they have set up for their missing brothers.

No one sits at this table, but there is a place set regardless.

It is to remember all those Marines who didn't make it back, who aren't there to celebrate, and those who will never be forgotten.

So on this joyous day you'll hear Marines saying "Happy Birthday" to each other, because today is as important to them as the day they were brought into the world by their mothers. Today is the day the men and women celebrate the creation of the lives they have chosen for themselves.

Take a moment to celebrate with them. If you see a Marine, acknowledge today as his day, and thank him for all he and his brothers and sisters, both past and present, have done in the last two hundred and thirty-six years.

Happy Birthday, Marines.

Semper Fi.


The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps! -- Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, 1945 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On Books You Should Read

My friend, K.K. Sierra, pointed me to this article this morning while I was trying to figure out exactly WHAT I was going to blog about. The only things happening in my world consist of huge amounts of homework, and intense writing sessions where I try to continually make my writing goals (while not going crazy). November is a stressful month.

Anyway, after reading the article, I decided it was important for me to post my own version of it.

1. Because I've read only about six of the works on here, and I did in fact graduate from high school with no ill effects.

2. Because I'll be the first to tell you, I'm not a fan of the 'Classics'
   2b. Except I did enjoy the original Robin Hood, the Count of Monte Cristo, and Little Women

3. As K.K. and I discussed, I see very little reason a teen needs to read the 25 books listed, because really they have little to do with the way the world is now. There is probably a reason why very few high schools are requiring those books to be read anymore.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a huge, huge, huge-- did I mention HUGE advocate for reading. I've had an intense love affair with the written word since I was four years old and successfully read the I Can Read book, Frog and Toad Together.

I'm also a HUGE advocate for reading what you want as long as there are words in it (though I must include here that I still have a major issue with Comic Books and Graphic Novels because the word count tends to be less than most short stories--but that's just me).

Here is my list of 'must read' books that you'll probably never find on the 'Classics' list or in a school.

Any of the original 'Fairy Tales' by the Brothers Grimm

One For the Money by Janet Evanovich

Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series (all Four Books) by Ann Brashares

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

L.A. Requim by Robert Crais

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max (For a lesson in what NOT to do to be a productive member of society--and to laugh.)

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

The Root Cellar by Janet Lunn

Mirror Image by Danielle Steel

In Her Shoes by Jennier Weiner

A Time to Kill by John Grisham

The Client by John Grisham

The Warrior Ethos by Steven Pressfield's The Sandbox: Dispatches from Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan

Hot Ice by Nora Roberts

Hot Rocks by Nora Roberts

While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky

What are some must reads on your list? I'd love to know. I'm always looking for more novels to read. I've read some other great novels as well, but if I listed everything I've read this post would never get out. :)

And if you're interested, the blog K.K. Sierra wrote about this topic can be found here.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On Hitting Thirty

Last week I hit the big 3-0.

A lot of people worry about leaving their twenties and growing older.

Amazingly, I don't.

Being thirty doesn't feel any different than being twenty-nine did, and twenty-nine didn't feel any different than twenty-seven or twenty-eight.

In fact, being 'older' hasn't meant much to me since I hit 21, and even that didn't have a huge affect on me.

This decade though, is going to be different.

I have great plans for my thirties.

* Publish the wonderful stories running through my head.
* Watch, participate, and enjoy my daughter as she grows up.
* Graduate from college.
* Read amazing novels, both YA and Adult.
* Live life to the fullest and love with all of my heart.
* Take each day as it comes and know if the day didn't go the way I planned there is always another day.
* Be young at heart and always learn from the youth around me.

The people I love and hold dear to me, celebrated in my tiny home in the middle of the desert, and it was great. We played Clue, drank rum and coke, and laughed.

We laughed a lot.

That's what turning thirty is to me.

It's life.

It's experiences.

It's beautiful and wonderful.

And it's me.

I am thirty, and I am happy with that.

What age are you looking forward to or dreading? What was your favorite age? I'd love to know.