Of Pork and Prose

I forgot my work glasses again which put me behind. I don’t know if its mental conditioning or has something more to do with the flood of dopamine and endorphins post workout, but I’m definitely more motivated to write in the morning first thing. If I miss my window, I feel my mind and body becoming more sluggish by the minute until I’m forcing it out of me just to get words on a page. Of course, my exhaustion today could also be attributed to last weekend …

We had our baby shower on Sunday. In lieu of a lady’s luncheon, we had a cookout for family and friends. She wanted to include me in the process and I wanted to eat pulled pork so everybody was happy. Kidding aside, the day was wonderful. Great weather, great food and great company. I felt kind of spoiled being showered with so many gifts, but not that spoiled. We got a lot from our registry, but there’s still so much more to purchase. Who knew that babies needed so much stuff?!

As she’s the one from this area, most of the guests were her friends and family. I had a couple of surprise visitors by way of my best friends from back home (Pennsylvania) and another couple of good friends from Chicago. We made an unlikely little social gathering, but it was pretty cool. It was great seeing everybody, but it meant hosting those out of town guests and late nights. After a few days, my body and mind are wrecked. Rich food and a hot sun will do that too, so I think I just need to recover. I was out of work yesterday for the tail end of the weekend and the result is that I no longer know what day of the week it is anymore. I’ll bet whatever you want that it is, in fact, Monday.

Just like listening to your body when you know you’ve pulled something means skipping the gym that day, I don’t think I’m capable of a full word count at the moment. I’m taking copious notes for tomorrow and you better be damned sure I’m making it all up. I’m rounding to the nearest 25 though … come on, I’m not that crazy.

I know I’m just making excuses and what I really need to do is push through the pain, but I’m gonna take a page out of my future childrens’ books and go full on baby this time. I’ll work on the prewriting though so I can hit the ground running tomorrow. Pinky promise 🙂

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Writing is a discipline.

It’s true. The simplest distractions or interruptions can all too quickly rip you out of the moment. I was having another one of those days. I slept through my alarm, my back was killing me from a bad gym tweak and a morning spent helping my wife move out of her classroom, and on top of everything it was storming like a biblical apocalypse movie outside so it was pretty easy to decide that today would not be a running day. It was time to listen to my body.

Fine, well then I was going to get to work and write extra hard. I want to get this novel finished next month and this was a golden opportunity. That was until I had a fight with my wife about something stupid. Point is, the shouting scared my little creativity critters back into their trees. It took a while to coax them back down and I was finally chugging away but then my phone would ring or somebody would come in my office or they’d need me to catch a pokemon or … OK well that last one might not have been true, but it was pretty close.

Anyway, it just reinforced the whole concept of you can’t always choose when you write. Something will always come up that either sounds more appealing or is actively trying to stop you. Unless you make a living by writing and your personal time is also your work time, time management is pretty freaking huge. This goes beyond turning off your WiFi or whatever so you don’t get sucked down the internet rabbit hole. This is sentences flowing freely and then – oh something shiny! – the well literally drying up a moment later. This is where the discipline part comes in.

Yes you can’t always choose when you write, but its hard to go in cold too. Prewriting, brainstorming, anything that’ll keep me thinking about the plot in between writing sessions is huge. As I type this post, my phone is buzzing out of control as my wife keeps texting me. See? Distractions can come from anywhere.

I got my words in today and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Kind of like the first goal of the last Women’s World Cup game. It wasn’t pretty, but I’ll take it. The longer these distractions go on, the less I write. The less I write, the less I like the book, the less I like the book, the harder it is to finish. You get the picture.

My life has become a ticking clock and in a month and a half – maybe only a month?! – it’s going to explode and reveal two baby dragons. That’s a good thing. An amazing thing. A thing I’ve been looking forward to for almost 3 years. But if I already have all of these distractions vying for attention, I imagine that shit’ll increase exponentially with the onset of babies.

Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy

This morning has just been one big comedy of errors.

I was going to go for a run. I love running. I need to run. It burns off all the excess stress and worry and even pent up excitement. I feel so much better throughout the day if I ran that morning.

So I woke up ready to go at 6:30. Then I heard it was raining. OK, not running anymore. I take the dog out. Rain dies down. OK, running is back on. I figure what the hell. I’ll wear a hat and a poncho and feel like a superhero. I finish eating and get ready. It’s 7 am. I spend the next 15 minutes stretching. Then I can’t find the poncho. That takes another 10 minutes. I could run without it, but I’d get soaking wet, probably ruin my phone and with my luck, catch a cold. And seeing as how I’m the only able-bodied person in my household right now, I kind of need to stay healthy.

Grumbling, I give up on running. It’s now 7:25. I can still make the gym if I hurry. I throw work clothes in a bag, tramping through the house for the umpteenth time and figure my wife probably hates me at this point as she tries to sleep. I take out the trash and head off to the gym.

It’s still raining, but a light rain. The kind of rain you don’t mind running in. So naturally everyone around me is driving 10 miles an hour under the speed limit. This isn’t snow people. It’d been raining for hours. Going 35 isn’t going to cause your car to hydroplane …

I finally get to the gym. It’s 7:42. What should have been a 12 minute drive took like 20. My membership expired. Well, turns out it expired at the end of April but the machine was down and nobody caught it. Until today that is. So that took a minute to renew. I go to the locker room and somebody’s claimed my locker. It’s a small room but there’s a core group of regulars. We use the same lockers every day. This is inexcusable.

I race through a 45 minute workout in under 30, rush off to shower and change and discover the jerk who took my locker. It’s an elderly gentleman who’s always there. I talk to him all the time. He should know better. Meanwhile, I get a frantic call from my wife who thinks I’m out running and never came home. I explain my misery.

I get to work on time, but today I got roped into conducting an interview for our open GA position. Thing is, that’s not my job. I have nothing to do with this. Someone else in the office is supposed to handle all of this, but somehow it ended up on my shoulders …

It’s just one of those mornings.

So I know what you’re thinking and believe me, I’m thinking it too. These are totally first world problems. Oh boo hoo I was late to the gym. Oh my god I had to renew my membership when I got a month and a half for free! And how inconvenient to interview somebody when it could land them a job and literally better their future. Yeah, I get it. These aren’t real problems. I’m kind of mad at myself for being such a whiny baby about them.

Thing is, it’s good to vent. With my wife super pregnant, most everything falls on me. I’m starting to crack a little. Don’t get me wrong, what she’s going through is so much more important and I’m not mad at anybody in the situation, it’s just some added pressures in life. Normally, I’m fine dealing with everything. Hell, I welcome it. But that’s because I run. I can run out those stresses and I feel better about life. Puts things in perspective.

Everything that happened this morning could have been totally manageable, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought if I’d just gone running …

EDIT: I’ve been dicking around for 45 minutes so I wouldn’t get caught up in something before the interview. Just rediscovered(?) the interview is Monday at 10, not today. It continues!

I’m an Idiot

I did a dumb thing …

I was so brain dead this morning, I put off writing until this afternoon. Just got back from running home at lunch to let my dog out and I forgot my damn work glasses at home. There’s no way I’m not going to get some serious eye strain from looking at a computer screen without them for the next four hours. Headache city, here I come.

That also means, I most likely won’t get any writing done either. Even staring at the little bit I’ve written here is already making me wince.

Just goes to show you … don’t slack off ’cause second chances aren’t guaranteed.

My Two Favorite Things

Like apparently the rest of the world, I got to see Jurassic World over the weekend. Highest weekend opening ever, what?!

I wanted to hate that movie so much. Not that I knew everyone else would like it and I needed to go against the grain, but because I love Jurassic Park so freaking much. Seriously, on my all time list, it’s #2. It’s the movie in which I literally compare every other movie ever made to. If they nailed it in ’93, why ever do movies suck now? Anyway, so here’s the shtick my wife is tired of hearing me talk about …

Jurassic Park is awesome because it’s about the wonder and the awesome (true definition) power of dinosaurs. We see that with Dr. Grant when he puts his ear on the sick triceratops just to listen to it breathe. The score by John Williams still brings me to tears every time. It’s complete and utter wish fulfillment of childhood fantasies but then it goes a step further … See, in the original movie, the dinosaurs are animals. That’s the whole point. They’re majestic and they’re awesome and they’re scary as hell, but they’re animals. So when they come in contact with man it’s all, Uh oh. We’re not equipped to deal with this. That’s what makes them scary. In the money grubbing sequels, these animals have been reduced to nothing more than monsters. That underlying respect for nature is gone and replaced with shock tactics and violence.

Now flash forward to present day and with a new one coming out, I was more than a little suspicious. But I have to say that I liked the movie. On the off chance that you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil anything but the film gets back to the debate of man’s dominion over nature versus man’s relationship with nature. Oh and Chris Pratt raptor pack motorcycle club.

Even though the film was pretty heavy handed at times – my head still hurts from the hammering – I do agree that there was an actual story there worth telling. While it’s not the original – nothing ever will be – I was still surprised and pleased at the results.

We had some friends come over that evening and I finally got to open up the Eldritch Horror game my wife got me for my birthday. Big mistake. We started around 10pm and by 1am we had to call it. After setting up, struggling with rules and completing half of the objectives, we were all too tired to continue. That said, the game is freaking awesome! It’s so complex and apparently takes around 3 hours when you know what you’re doing, so starting at 10pm was just plain silly.

Typically I can convince my wife to play these kind of games with me. Other people are usually involved so she gives into peer pressure. She feels badly that I don’t have a core group of nerdy friends anymore to play this stuff with. So like a trooper, she’ll suck it up and play once and a while. This time though, she told me I was on my own. I also always try and convince her that it’s really not that bad or honey, you’ll actually probably like it. Nuh-uh. There’s no way this game is for her. She’d have been miserable.

We’re giving it another go around Wednesday and we’ll start much earlier. I’m really excited to see if we can keep that ancient one from waking up.

Just Like the Dentist

Short and sweet today. I need to get some stuff finished so I can run home and mow the grass before the rain comes.

After being off writing for about a week, I’ve had to get back into the saddle before I can ramp up the word count. My little inspiration critters were skittish early on, but they’re coming back. Not yesterday though. Oh man. Yesterday, I had to fight for every single sentence. I know you can’t always pick the time to write. You don’t have the luxury of waiting around for inspiration to strike, but yesterday was just torture. I made myself get at least 600 words down so I felt like I’d accomplished something, but I had to throw in the towel.

I think it was a problem of direction. I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to go next and I hadn’t done the proper prewriting for it, so I just ended up floundering. Solved that today though, so I’m back on track and the world is good. Although, I ran into another interesting issue.

I have a secondary character (one who I hope will one day spawn his own spinoff series) who’s a magic-usin’ Scotsman. I used to live in Aberdeen when I studied ethnology and folklore for my master’s degree, so I like to think that I know a thing or two about the Scots. I’ve always wanted to write a Scottish character and I do a pretty mean accent, but for whatever reason, this guy is coming off as Irish.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t confuse the two cultures. Not one bit. I absolutely know the difference. I like them both, but I had a target in my mind that this guy was Scottish. His backstory confirms it. But when I hear his voice in my head, it’s totally Irish. Maybe it’s a subconscious thing on my part and that’s how I’ve actually always envisioned him, but this is the first time where I can absolutely say that my character has a mind of his own. When authors talk about characters doing what they want, I usually smile and nod and say “Sure.” But I get it now.

Try as I may, I might just give in. What the hell? I can rework the backstory to make him Irish, sure. Plenty to draw on. Maybe this just wasn’t the time and place for my Scotsman protagonist.

Has something like this happened to any of you out there? Characters going differently than how you thought they’d be?

The Quest for Pants

Now that the wife is off for the summer (well until January now), it means that I don’t have to go home to let the dog out at lunch anymore. While that means I get more work done and can then leave that work earlier, it’s only been two days but I already miss my puppy. Her and the video games.

My lunch at home was when I’d get some prime video game time. It wasn’t long enough to delve into anything on a console, so it usually revolved around Hearthstone and Final Fantasy XIV. I’d binge on one, get burnt out and then start up the other. But now that Hearthstone is on phones finally – thanks Blizzard! – I can play that anywhere. That meant I’d been doing some serious work in FFXIV trying to hit 50 before the expansion comes out.

I like the game. It’s pretty. I might have liked World of Warcraft more back in my heyday of video game playing, but that’s because I felt like there was more to do in WoW. Each zone had more quests and more places to explore. FFXIV is pretty linear. That said, however, I love the main storyline quest in FFXIV. I don’t always read each and every text box, but I appreciate that there’s a throughline that’ll get you from start to finish. I love RPGs and I love progression hooks. I like to think about character customization even when I’m not playing. After stressful days at work, sometimes it’s just nice to go home and bit the ever living piss out of a bunch of kobolds. But there’s another progression hook that’s got its claws in me deep

For those of you who’ve ever played a MMO or any kind of role playing game in general, you know that loot and more specifically gear is pretty important. Now, I’m not always lusting after the most epic gear sets out there – I just don’t have the time – but there is something I do care about … Pants. Or lack thereof.

Here’s how my character looked a couple weeks ago:

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He was so ridiculous, I had to take a screenshot of him lounging on a behemoth like some kind of androgynous king. I don’t know who’s job it is over at Square Enix to design all of the armor choices, but … this? …. What? How is that …

Fine. Whatever.

So I dug in and really started questing, got a bunch of levels, ran some dungeons and on my last venture, I won some pretty sick pants. It was on a Sunday where the wife was doing something and I told myself I’d just play for an hour or two. That hour or two soon changed into OK I’ll play for however long it takes me to find a pair of freaking pants. So back to that dungeon, I see the pants drop. They’re for monk, my class, and the stats are awesome. I’m psyched. Those two hours had become more like four … maybe five … but it was all worth it. I’d finally found me something to cover those man thighs. Hey, I’m all for wearing whatever you want, but exposing just the inner thigh. Seriously? I’m supposed to be some world renowned bad ass adventurer but I looked like the Village People wouldn’t even take me in.

With baited breath I equipped my new pants …

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I went from Village Person reject to sex slave …

And then we went on vacation.

Now I don’t go home at lunch. I don’t have an opportunity to fix this. I can’t find new stuff. I can’t level up. I just think about those booty shorts. I had thought my quest for pants had come to an end, but it appears that it has just begun …

Sigh.

There and Back Again

Hello, everyone!

I’m back from Florida. After driving back and forth to a wedding in Pennsylvania the other week and then to Florida and back, I am sick to death of being in a car. But it was definitely worth it. At a good clip, it’s a 14 hour drive each way and definitely something that can be done in a day. But with the wife being super pregnant and all, we split up the drive and stayed in a hotel on the way there and the way back again. That said, we pushed ourselves to do most of the driving on the first day so we could get down there on Sunday and make the most of our annual pass before it expired the very next day.

After having an annual pass and visiting about 3-4 times a year for the past couple of years, it was strange to be down there knowing we couldn’t just waltz into a park whenever we wanted to. Not that I had any real desire to wait for the newly refurbished Splash Mountain or anything – although it was pretty freaking hot – but just knowing that I couldn’t even if I did was a little irksome. I’d grown used to the luxury.

It was a great trip though. We stayed at Saratoga Springs due to its proximity to Downtown Disney. Most mornings were spent out by the pool and then we’d stroll over to DTD to do a little shopping or something. The highlight of each day was usually dinner. In the past, dinner was always planned in advance but we usually showed up as sweaty messes like everybody else from spending all day out in the Florida heat, but this time we could slow it down. You know, take a shower. We wined and dined. Well, she couldn’t wine and I scotched but only back in the hotel room.

The trip was bittersweet. Don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing time and I’m so happy we went. I’m rested and recharged to do what needs doing, but it also marked the end of an era. Yes we may never get annual passes again, but we’ll also not ever vacation just the two of us again. Next time, we’ll be carting around two little dragons. We’re going from a 3-4 times a year cycle to a maybe we’ll go next year? … Probably wait until they’re older. The drive back was spent discussing the line between when do little kids start to get something out of a vacation versus how much work it now takes Mom and Dad to take them in the first place.

So we’re back and that means it’s time to kick my other work into high gear. I spent most of yesterday swapping cribs out of the nursery and putting together a changing table. I have a lawn that needs mowing too, but I’m upping my word count to make sure the novel is finished by August. Ideally, I’d love to knock it out sometime in July so I can clean up a draft or two and get it in the hands of some alpha readers. That way when I’m not sleeping, I’ll at least rest a little easier knowing that some work was still being done on it.