Sunday, November 30, 2008

I won!

I can't believe I wrote the whole thing! 50185 words.
Now I can get back to being a "normal" blogger. If there is such a thing.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Crossing the Finish Line?

Tomorrow is the end of my writing marathon. I'm still playing catch up but I think I will make it yet. 44,807 words is the latest count.
I took a few pictures yesterday but I probably won't get any posted until this is over tomorrow night.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

NaNo Home Stretch or Over the Hump?

the Action Road

38322 words!
So will I be able to do 10,000 words on Friday, Saturday and Sunday?
Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Took Me Long Enough

Happy Food

I finally got out and took a few photos. I've been preoccupied with writing, Nutcracker rehearsals, work and family obligations and my photos had been placed on a back burner. Today I dragged my sorry self out of the house and rediscovered my love of photographing Chicago's South Side. I discovered a few new areas that I will have to get back to.

Love Garden

NaNo update: 33160 words.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Boy Who Walks into Walls

or, Johnny Potter and the Order of Idiocy

Yesterday older son got the see the inside of the ER. Things were relatively quiet there so he only had to wait 6 hours to be taken care of.
The story goes he was goofing off in the hall at school and he ran into a display case. Apparently no blood was lost but he has a non-lightning-shaped scar on the middle of his forehead. Nowadays wounds are closed with glue. Neat!

Last night was Dad's turn to sit in emergency rooms. Mom was working late so she managed to break from work to run to the emergency room. There she sat and teased older son for a bit until she had to run home to pick up the car to pick up younger son. She dropped him off at home and went back to work where she proceeded to save the world, leap tall buildings in a single bound and otherwise cure cancer and mental illness. And she didn't utter even one unforgivable curse.

I blurred his face in the photo to preserve his privacy. Silly I know but I did it anyway.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Feast for Da Gulls

A Feast for Gulls

Seagulls at the local dump? No tailgaters at a Chicago Bears game. I didn't go to the game but since I was stuck in traffic for a good 45 minutes I had time to take a few photos.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mother son teams

Jazz Dance

It is funny to me that two people have commented on how my son might find it embarrassing to have his mom up on stage with him. What you have to understand is my son is only 11 years old. He still thinks I am cool (except when I'm nagging him to do his homework). He's more embarrassed that he is a boy that dances than that I am a mom who has a bit part in his show.
I know this might change one of these days. I'm glad he doesn't think I'm embarrassing to have around. I try to be a cool mom without being a mom who tries too hard to be cool, if you know what I mean.
With my teenage son, it is the reverse. I'm embarrassed to be seen in public with him. Some times he gets into what I call "doofus mode" and I just want to hide. I think it is the overdose of testosterone or something that makes him act more juvenile than his 5 year younger brother.
I still can't focus on blogging and photography. Too much of my energy is invested in getting my NaNo story off the ground. I finally passed the half way point. 25669 words.

Monday, November 17, 2008

NaNo NaNo

Remember Mork and Mindy? Not if you're young.
I spent the weekend doing chores and typing madly. Progress is happening but I'm still playing catch up, hence not much blogging and fewer photos.
Word count is at 22772.
Tonight I have dinner to prepare, homework to help with (gotta hate those dangling participles) and a Nutcracker rehearsal. Yeah, I'm dancing in a local Nutcracker for the second year in a row. No, I'm not even remotely good at it. They just need my warm body as an "extra" more or less. My younger son has a lead role, though. He's the Nutcracker. Literally.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More on Writing


19,771 words.

What have I learned from this, my second year doing NaNoWriMo?
I think actually a lot. Last year I wrote on a whim. It was a story that I had stored in the back of my mind for years but there was no reason to believe it would ever go anywhere.
This year from reading, thinking and going to a writing workshop, I'm focusing more on the craft of writing. Dialog, imagery, point of view are going through my head fully as much as plot. I still can't do metaphors. Well, no one's perfect.
And surprise, surprise, I actually think the writing is better. For a first draft.
I have 30,000 more words before I have to figure out the ending to this story.
This is a good thing because I don't want to drop the thing mid thought or end with a trite "and he lived happily ever after."
I'm also thinking a lot about keeping up the tension of the story line. I want to know what will keep the reader moving from one chapter to the next. A good story has to be more than a string of interesting events. After all, I'm not trying to write a soap opera script! One theme is the growth of my character as a person. But I'm not sure what else will draw one forward. My essential brilliance as an author? I don't think so.
Well, live and learn.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cause it's work, work, work. . . .

17022 words. I'm shooting for 25,000 by Sunday. It is starting to feel more doable.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NaNo Update

Keeping up a steady but too slow pace. Now at 13,600 words. I had a few ideas for plot elements today which should help. I'm planning a writing marathon this weekend. I need to be at least at 20-25K since this weekend marks the halfway point. At least there is a long weekend coming up for Thanksgiving, even though I will be cooking turkey and entertaining too.
No time for a picture. Work calls.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

School Days

Avian Group Dynamics
Avian Group Dynamics

I thought I'd post about a strange experience I've had recently. A few weeks ago my secretary convinced me to join Facebook so we could play Scrabble together. This has been a lot of fun and there are a couple of other good word games.
Shortly after I joined, my best friend from middle school contacted me. We've kept loosely in touch but it still was a surprise to hear from her (plus I still can't think of her by her married name and it took me a minute to place who had written me). Through her I was "friended" by another classmate and next thing I knew there was a small list going around of people from my school. There were only 12 in my graduating class and about half of them are on the list and a number from the classes above and below.
At first the chatting was fairly simple reminiscing. Do your remember this class and that teacher? But it didn't take long before the conversation brought up old, painful memories. I was probably the least popular kid in my class. I didn't fit in for too many reasons to go into here. Kids that age form cliques and many of the kids in my group had known each other since they were babies (three were first cousins) and lived in the same neighborhood. I was definitely an outlier in personality and background and arrived at the school in 5th grade so I was the "new" kid.
So, like I said, here I am again on the outside. They're chatting about playing "spin the bottle" and I'm figuring I wasn't invited to that party. They're chatting about cheating on a test and I'm remembering refusing to cheat and being furious that I would get a bad grade because I hadn't memorized the answer sheet. I then remember feeling that vengeance was sweet when everyone in the class except myself and one other got caught red-handed.
Well, today, two people had the courage to post a bit about the mean spiritedness that was common at the school. And here come the rest of them posting that they are offended that someone would say that their happy memories had flaws and maybe there should be no more chatting. I guess I'm still being the silent partner. Leave me out of it. Funny how 35 years later, the group dynamics haven't changed all that much. The mean kids still come across as smug and self-satisfied and the shy loners are still not popular.
I didn't like going back to the old feelings. I'm a different person but the memories still aren't all that happy. Funny how hard it is to escape one's past.

Boys 'n Fog

I gift you with a picture.

Boys 'n Fog

NaNo word count--more behind target--11,238 words.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Writer's Block?

NaNo is moving slowly. The concentration just isn't there. 10,320 words to date. At least I beat the 10K goal. I should be closer to 15K if I'm to keep this going at a steady pace.
It has been fun to revisit the scene of the crime (last year's NaNo novel) as it were. Makes me hope I get to go "home" to Seattle this winter. That's the plan anyway.


I saw a few flakes of snow today. I have a feeling it is going to be a long winter. I don't know how my friends in even more northerly climes make it.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Insane Asylums and Other Good Neighbors

Men's Department

So here's a rant. Some days I'm just sick of the incivility of people to one another. A few years ago I had a run in with a man who left his car blocking my garage. When I asked him to leave, he refused, defended his lack of consideration, and when we had words called me something unbelievably nasty. In all my years as a mental health professional, working with people who were psychotic, intoxicated, violent, criminal, or agitated, no one has ever called me anything that nasty before or since. That particular day I lost my temper and did some things I regret. I won't go into the details but I regard that day as one of my worst days ever.

The Psychology of Insanity

So today some idiot is blocking entrance to the alley where I park is again blocked. Same issues--we live 1/2 block from an elementary school and folks who come to pick up their kids seem to have no consideration for the neighbors or other drivers. Today's idiot literally had blocked the entire alley. I waited patiently for him to move to no avail. The drivers behind me started honking. I honk at him and he still doesn't move. I pulled forward and he rolled his window down. I said that if he didn't move so I could enter the alley I would call the police. He finally moves and I have to maneuver backward against the honking traffic to get into the alley since I had pulled forward to talk to the jerk.
At this point I discover that I can enter the alley but this idiot and the ten other cars that are still in the alley make it nearly impossible to enter my garage anyway. I also start to get cold feet about entering my garage in front of these people. After what happened last time, I'm afraid of retaliation if these people know where I live.
I circled the block two times before dropping my son off to walk himself home while I look for parking. I also call the police and ask them to clear the alley. They are the University police not the city police. I hate to call 911 for a parking problem and our non-emergency police line (311) leaves you on hold for hours. By then the alley will be clear anyway.
When I get home I call the school in question and ask to speak to the principal or an administrator. The secretary says they are busy, after all school is just letting out. I explain my problem and the woman is sympathetic but says there is nothing they can do. She says they have issued memos about the alleys and not blocking roads or double parking and the parents just ignore them. She suggests I call the police. Sigh. I explain that I have had some nasty experiences with their parents before and she says she can relate. People in their office have been accused of being "white haters, black haters and Toms," she tells me.
The police came by and cleared the alley. The people will be back on Monday ready to spread more ill will.
Some days I just hate people!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wordless Wednesday--Red and Blue

Nature knows no winners (or losers).



And a quick NaNo update. 4542 words. I'm playing catch up so I'm working hard.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama Wins!


Blue blue my world is blue
Blue is my world now I'm without you
Grey grey my life is grey
Cold is my heart since you went away

Red red my eyes are red
Crying for you alone in my bed
Green green my jealous heart
I doubted you and now we're apart

"Love Is Blue" was written by Pierre Cour and Andre Popp. The English lyrics were written by Brian Blackburn. From The Dating Advisor.

No Electioneering

So I had a few minutes to tour Hyde Park with my camera on election day. I found a few interesting political signs and bumper stickers but none for McCain. I'm sure the red voters are there so they must be in hiding.


Voting was a breeze. The lines were amazingly short. Did everyone around here vote early? The lines at 6 PM when I strolled by my polling place were even shorter.

No LInes at This Polling Place

There seemed to be a lot of good cheer going around especially in the local Starbucks which was giving away free coffee if you said you had voted. By this evening they were sold out of nearly everything edible.

Too Little, Too Late

Some of the political stickers I found suggested a new old saying:
Old Democrats never die; they just fade. . . .

Glenn Who?

I hope you all voted whether you reside in a red or blue state.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

How many words?

Four Hundred Fifty Five

Actually I'm at 2205 out of 50,000 total. I'm a bit behind my daily goal but my meeting ended today so now I can get to the real work.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Obama Land

November first means Obama and McCain finally will get some rest in three days. Grant Park in downtown Chicago is surrounded by a giant fence which I presume is in preparation for Obama's victory? rally on election night. This is one party I'd love to photograph but honestly, I don't want to be out late whether Obama wins or loses. Let's face it, even when the Bulls win a championship there is gunfire. So I'm not even trying to get tickets to Grant Park.
November first is the beginning of a different type of marathon for me, but one that is mercifully only one month long. Last year was my first time participating in NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month a month in which people compete against themselves and the evils of laziness, carpal tunnel sydrome, procrastination, family and work obligations and writer's block to churn out a 50,000 word novel by November 30th.
Last year I stunned myself by completing my first novel. The aforementioned evils have prevented me from polishing it up and trying to get it published but the novel is alive and well and waiting for me to get off my behind. In the meantime, I am starting a sequel which I am calling Home Again.
My first novel was called Runaway and was drawn from my experience with the foster care system. I wrote about a foster child who runs away and tries to make a go of living in the woods on his own. Home Again continues the story with my hero now living in a residential treatment center and later a group home.
I am starting off at a disadvantage because I have been attending a meeting all week and have one day left to go. My enthusiasm and energy for writing could be better but I'm doing my best.
I'll keep you posted but I may not be up for much blog posting while my fingers try to churn out my goal of around 2000 words a day. If any of you are also NaNo'ing, let me know and I will add you to my buddy list.