Nearly NaNo

About a week ago I realized it was almost November. And while sane people associate that month with things like turkey, some of us think only one thing: NANO

Yep, it's that time of year again.... Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. If that sounds fun to you, you should sign up. If it sounds nuts, probably avoid it. And those of us participating.

Although it's my third year NaNoing, it's the first year I've really gotten it.

Earlier this year, as some of you may remember, I embarked on a mission to self-pub a bunch of stuff and become officially self-supporting with my writing. Those dozen or so trashy romances I put out are still bringing in about $100/month... which isn't too terrible, considering each copy sold only nets me in the 30-cents-to-a-couple-bucks range.

Between preparing for the move up here, then actually moving, then getting here, adjusting, and nannying, I have not-- as planned-- managed to refocus on the self-pub stuff again. It's never a good time. I'm unpacking, or I'm changing diapers, or driving my kid to school or sleeping.

Then I thought back to my first NaNo. I spent the first week of November that year nursing my husband after his thyroidectomy. Year two, I squeezed in NaNo among the 30,000 odd words of online articles I wrote. And this year? Just moved, single momming it while my husband's still 800 miles away, I'm working full time at one job and part-time at a second. Plus learning how to use a Mac.

Clearly not the best time to be writing.

sheer brilliance from Inkygirl.com.

But that-- THAT-- is exactly what NaNo is all about.

It is NEVER the right time to do what you want to be doing. Never. Real life will not stop long enough for you to pursue your dreams. You have to carve out your own space and guard it ferociously. Push even the heaviest of mandatory curtains aside to make just enough room for your tiny end table and your laptop. Even if you're scribbling on cocktail napkins during happy hour, you're working toward something. You're getting there. You're doing it, doing it 100% more than if you had no scribbled-upon napkins.

NaNo is the time when I realize how much carpe I could diem in a day. Wait, that's Latin so it's probably... how much diem I could carpe. And if I find the time to write 50,000 words in November, I can surely find the time to keep writing the other 11 months.

And that's what NaNo is for. That novel you keep thinking about starting, but can never find the time. Know what? You never will. There's always something that's more practical, more necessary, more grown up.

Our lives, however, are finite. Check your excuses at the keyboard, take November and go for it.

And to all, a happy NaNo.


About Me (reprise)

Since I moved to CO at the end of June, I keep thinking it's vital to update the "About Me" thingy. And then keep forgetting. This week I finally got around to checking on it and was surprised at how little needs changing, even though everything has changed.

The girls. Their ages. That's the only things I had to fix on that page, despite the rest of my life being deliciously unrecognizable from a year or two ago.

This reminds me of a quote from The Little Prince:
On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.
If, like me, your high school French is the right level of rusty to only figure out most of those words, this translates to:
"One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye."
If you have not read this book-- well, first, shame on you-- the entire story is a good reminder of invisible essentials.

"I cannot play with you," the fox said, "I am not tamed." 

In my head, my blog profile centered around living in the desert, feeling transplanted. When I read it, I'd mentioned nothing about those things. Or maybe had removed them. Or maybe never included them. Now that I'm living somewhere life makes sense to me again, who knows what was going through my head whenever I wrote that. It's all a blur.

As unsettled as I've felt over the past -- uh, decade-- that's not how I described myself to the outside world. I only mentioned the essentials. The invisibles.

Writing. Painting. My husband. The girls. The things that have tamed me; the things I have tamed.
"Men,"said the fox, "They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing. They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?"
"No," said the little prince. "I am looking for friends. What does that mean---tame?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties."
"To establish ties?"
"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world. . .
My life is very monotonous," he said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat. . ." 
The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time. "Please---tame me!" he said.

PS- While looking for images for this entry, I stumbled upon this lovely blog post.

...attached to this fantastic graffiti


Don't Break Your Axe

Miss G got me hooked on this show called Once Upon a Time. The broad plot is that all the fairy tale characters were cursed to come live in the Real World, aka a town called Storybrooke, forgetting their lives as fairy tale characters. Throughout the show, we see glimpses of the characters in their parallel lives.

Leroy, the Storybrooke town drunk, is also Grumpy the Dwarf. In the fairy tale world, Grumpy hatches from his egg (as dwarves do) and is handed his axe. When touched for the first time, the dwarves' axe handles tell them their names.

We see the dwarves take their axes, familiar names appearing on handles: Sleepy, Doc, Sneezy... And when Grumpy takes hold, his name flares up solid and true between two thick-knuckled grubby dwarf hands:

[cue me crying]

"The axe never lies, Dreamy," says Bossy Dwarf.

A difficult choice becomes the catalyst of Dreamy's evolution to Grumpy. Angry at a world that has no place for a dwarf with his kind of dreams, Dreamy throws himself into his work with a bitter "Heigh ho," breaking his axe. Bossy hands him a blank replacement axe; the axe itself assigns Dreamy his new name.

"I'm Grumpy now," he says, unsurprised.

I married a wide-eyed optimist; he makes me bonkers. He's completely unrealistic, scattered and impractical about almost everything. 

And I love the snot out of him for it, because god knows I'm realistic, grounded and sensible enough for any dozen Dans. Maybe more. 

About our marriage, Dan's mom said it best:

"Danny's always been this dreamer, and here you are so practical. He lifts you up with his ideas, and then you figure out how to actually get there." 

And it's true. He does. I do. We're a good team. I learned from my parents' marriage that opposites are a sublime force in the world when properly applied.

There's a little Grumpy and a little Dreamy in all of us. The trick is integrating them without breaking your axe.


Year of the Honey Badger

If you spend any amount online, you've probably heard of the honey badger, an animal that just does not give a crap.

If not, feel free to catch up by watching this video. We'll wait for you.

(Oh, and dislaimer... in case the title "Crazy Nastyass HoneyBadger" wasn't by itself a giveaway, there's a goodly amount of profanity in this. Consider yourself warned.)

The awesome not-giving-a-crap-ness of the honey badger has led to an explosion of Internet memes, etsy jewelry, stickers and sweatshirts.

This year's bday present from my mom, by the way.

Beneath the blatant kitsch, however, honesty lurks.

The honey badger recognizes what's important. Honey. Eating snakes. Whatever. And he doesn't let the nonessentials distract him from his goal, no matter how intimidating those nonessentials may be.

This has given rise to a secondary (or possibly tertiary) movement of embracing the honey badger as a role model, or maybe as a life metaphor (and you guys know how much I love those!)

When you look at your life from the perspective of a honey badger, you realize how many things really don't matter. They're often the same things that are holding you back. Much like the Buddhist precept of non-attachment, only by leaving the toxic and nonessential behind can you move forward.

It isn't that the honey badger doesn't give a crap. It's that the honey badger doesn't waste time on the stuff that just doesn't matter. I freaking love that idea.

The proverbial bee stings and snake venom in your own life? Forget 'em. Move on. Be true to your goal.

Nothing fazes the honey badger.


One of the things I carry

Kids point out the magic in the everyday mundane, state the obvious truths our eyes have become too grown-up to see properly.

My elder niece, Peep, keeps talking about "Uncle Dan and Mamie's house in the desert." She loves it there, and is having some trouble wrapping her brain around the idea that I am not in the desert anymore.

The other day, we walked out to my car and she stopped dead in her tracks, pointing at the Arizona license plate, a silhouetted saguaro.

"Mamie! You brought a little bit of the desert with you!"

In Colorado, you don't have to surrender your old plates, so I tucked my saguaro into the pocket behind the passenger seat, carrying a bit of desert with me as I drive around my new mountain life.