Monday October 16

Weekly check in, overview of last week and plans for next week.

October 16

The view from my office at 5pm, actively snowing.

The sun came up at 8:48am this morning and set at 6:23pm. The high was predicted at 33 with a low of 24. We had some sun this morning, but it has been snowing steadily since about 4pm.

LAST WEEK

Between the weather changing, overtime, and Inktober, I spent a lot of time sitting down last week.

We rewatched Passengers, Liar Liar, The Goonies, and the first season of the animated Spawn series. We also binge watched Stranger Things again so it will be fresh in our brains when season two starts next week.

And then there’s this…

2bg 6

Season six of 2 Broke Girls (Amazon affiliate link). I loved the first season of this show, and I enjoyed season two. Season three was just okay, but it’s been downhill ever since. The show has finally been canceled, so season six is the last. Because I adore Kat Dennings, I’m forcing myself to watch the entire series. I got season six last week and it’s been a painful slog to get through all these episodes. Today I’m just over half way through, but I know if I don’t finish the thing it will bug me. If I didn’t love that first season so much I wouldn’t bother, but it’s like I have to know the thing is dead before I can bury it and move on, you know?

THIS WEEK

I’m putting in twenty hours of overtime this week. Between work, sleep and Inktober, I’ll blink and it will be Saturday again.

Bye!

Monday October 2

Just an overview of last week, my plans for this week, and some talk about living in Fairbanks, Alaska, movies, books, and maybe the occasional home improvement project. Read at your own risk.

October2

View from my office window at 5pm

This morning the sun came up at 8:07am and it will set at 7:13pm. The high temperature was in the upper 40’s with a low in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy, little bit of wind.

Last Week

Having finished most of this year’s home improvement projects, Jason and I have been spending more time crafting on the couch with a movie playing in the background. Last week we watched The Shawshank Redemption and Poltergeist.

Piedatre 2

We rented Predator 2 (Amazon affiliate link) from Blockbuster. I hadn’t seen the movie since it came out, and I was curious to see Bill Paxton’s part. (Still cannot believe he’s gone.) We were halfway through when the disc stopped. That’s one drawback to renting physical media–it gets pretty beat up! But we figured we’d seen enough anyway.

My two cents: the original Predator is a masterpiece; the extended cut of Alien Vs Predator is a decent movie; and Predators was pretty good, too. I have no love for the other sequels, and I have no interest in Shane Black’s upcoming version.

georgians interplanetary

Saturday night we watched Guardians of the Galaxy. Sometimes you just want to enjoy a fun, entertaining movie, right?

Sunday was our 12 year wedding anniversary. We’re still in the cute phase.

IMG_1034

As a treat we went to see It, you know, the one with the clown?

them

I’m terrified of clowns, but this version of Pennywise didn’t bother me at all. Maybe it was because we were in a crowded theater with smelly people and whispering kids, but I spent most of that movie bored. Bummer.

Afterwards we splurged on some more fun crafting stuff from Michaels, then did our best to relax the rest of the night.

 

This Week

We’re both participating in Inktober this year. That’s the one where you take the daily prompts listed on @Inktober and complete an ink drawing every day. Check out my Instagram if you want to giggle at me.

I’ve also started doing “preptober,” for NaNoWriMo next month. I plan to devote a separate post to preptober.

But right now, I’m going to cut this short. Today has been a heart-wrenching day, and I want to hold Jason’s hand and snuggle with my cats. Please be safe and considerate, wherever you are.

Bye.

Monday September 25

This is my first entry in what I plan to be a weekly update. Just an overview of last week, my plans for this week, and some talk about living in Fairbanks, Alaska, movies, books, and maybe the occasional home improvement project. Read at your own risk.

September 25

The view from my office window at 5pm today

This morning the sun rose at 7:46am, and it set at 7:39pm. The high temperature was in the upper forties with a low in the upper thirties. And it rained, straight down, all day.

Last Week

Metropolist

I showed Jason the movie Metropolis (Amazon affiliate link), and he enjoyed it. This movie gets better every time I watch it. Like most older movies, it’s reassuring how much things haven’t really changed.

Wonter Womyn

We rented Wonder Woman (Amazon affiliate link) from Blockbuster. It’s the best DC movie I’ve seen since The Dark Knight, but I wasn’t exactly blown away. It felt very paint-by-numbers to me. Enjoyable but forgettable.

And I see James Cameron’s point about it being a step backwards. Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley were heroic badasses who paid no attention to their appearance and were attractive anyway. Every Amazon lady in this movie looked like she was styled for a magazine shoot. Sort of like the airbrushed abs in 300. Hey, I understand the aesthetic. Pretty people are much easier to look at. But I don’t think a gorgeous woman running and wearing an outfit like that is especially groundbreaking, let alone a victory for women everywhere.

Debt Mtn

I wanted to read this book, Dead Mountain (Amazon affiliate link), ever since Caitlin Doughty (of YouTube’s @AskaMortician and on Instagram @TheGoodDeath) recommended it.

It’s the story of nine mountaineers who died mysteriously on a mountain in Russia in the 50’s. Was it aliens? Government conspiracy? Yeti? Alien yeti working for the government?

The local library has the ebook to borrow via Hoopla, and I happily checked it out. Then I found out that Hoopla isn’t available on my Kindle. So I got the app on my phone, opened the book, and the margins cut off the first few letters of each line. No big deal right? Adjust the margins and read! Until I turn the page and the margins move back. Again. And again. Every time I turn a page. Crap.

I don’t know if it’s the way this ebook was formatted or if it’s a Hoopla thing. If anybody knows how to make Hoopla behave on the iPhone, please let me know. Or better yet, if you know of a way to get Hoopla books onto Kindles, I would love to hear it!

In the meantime, I started re-reading the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. Once I start reading that series I compulsively burn through all thirteen books. So I’m forcing myself to only read it while walking on the treadmill.

Yes, I have to trick myself into exercising.

Last week we sold our old Volvo. We bought it when we got here in March. It was going to take nearly a month for our Civic to get up here, and then it wouldn’t be ready to drive until it warmed up. A rental car would be incredibly expensive (Alaska!) so we bought a twenty year old Volvo. It was still pretty nice and took great care of us, and even though stuff kept breaking Jason was able to keep it running. But when the transmission started to fail, that was too much. I was worried we’d have to just scrap it, which would be like putting down a pet, so I’m glad Jason found a buyer. And yes, the guy knew exactly what he was buying.

I also attempted the keto diet last week. I didn’t make it past the keto flu. I have a very tender tummy and irritable bowel. Any change to my diet is tough, but trying to eat so much fat was just too much for me. Oh well.

 

This Week

Settling into a new place seems to take longer the older I get. We’re nearly settled into this house…seven months later. Our bedroom closet is the last real disaster area. It’s the only place in the house truly off limits to the cats, so it’s overflowing with all kinds of junk. The bad thing is, there’s a single shelf with a single bar, and that’s it. It’s a good sized walk-in closet, but the space is wasted (which was definitely this house’s theme).

I’m going to empty it out, try to get rid of the stuff we never wear, find new cat-proof homes for the breakables (my poor knitting needles and yarn!), and see if I can’t make better use of the space.

Next weekend is our twelve year wedding anniversary. So far the plan is to finally go see It and then go to our favorite restaurant, Taco King. Fairbanks is not known for great restaurants, and this little Mexican place is so far the very best we’ve found. Who doesn’t love tacos?

 

Bye!

Just Another Drop in the Ocean

Lately I’ve been spending my life watching YouTube.

On YouTube, you get a nugget of information (taken with a grain of salt), a giggle, a cringe, and then suddenly it’s three hours past your bedtime. There’s something compulsive about watching just one more five minute video. Not a ten minute video. Ho no! Ain’t nobody got time for that. But a dozen five minute videos?  Sure, why not?

So it’s no surprise that as my creative bug starts to wake back up, my gut instinct has been to start filming content for my little YouTube channel. A vlog, maybe, or I could talk all about bullet journaling, or writing, or maybe just make hundreds of cat videos. Better yet, I could do it all! Unboxing, product testing, pranks!

I went so far as to buy a little tripod for the old digital camera and started brainstorming script ideas. And then I procrastinated by watching more YouTube videos.

procrastinate

Recently I found out that something like 300 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day.

Yeah, I have zero interest in producing YouTube videos now.

It’s the same with my writing. How many millions of books are available to read on Amazon? How many magazines and blogs are desperate to get a single reader? The competition is fierce, and I’m just not competitive.

Anything I do creatively, I have to do for myself first. If I wanted recognition of any kind, I would have to change the way I do everything. And then I would be beholden to strangers for their attention and approval. It would be like reliving high school, and I am not doing that.

I have to ask myself, why bother? Why spend the time and energy to create a thing if I truly do not care whether or not others will enjoy it, especially when it means that my video/novel will just be another drop in the ocean?

Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 8.51.11 PM

We recently moved to Fairbanks, Alaska. One of the few remaining open Blockbuster Video stores is here, and I love it. We usually visit once a week. Yeah, returning the discs stinks and yes, they don’t have everything. But there’s something to be said for wandering through the aisles and picking out something to watch.

Netflix and Amazon online video services are great, but there is no real browsing to be done. They use algorithms to point out content that you’re likely to enjoy, and sometimes they’re right. But what about the genres I don’t normally watch? What about that amazing movie that was released before I was born and isn’t even available digitally yet? And who wants to spend hours surfing through thumbnails of “related” titles when you really want to watch something new and different?

It’s like book stores. Sure there’s a big selection, but it’s strictly curated by the business owner. They want you to spend your money, and they fill the shelf with things they think you want to buy. We actually canceled our Netflix subscription. Having DVDs shipped to our house in Fairbanks was prohibitively time consuming, and their instant view portal is obnoxious (via the Playstation anyway). I would much rather wander through Blockbuster.

This is why I hope Blockbuster makes a comeback and used book stores never go away. Variety is the spice of life, right? But the algorithm depends on your tastes being consistent. I said it before and I’ll say it again:

angtft

 

P.S. After re-reading this, I realize that if my point is “why bother?” in addition to “variety is the spice of life,” then wouldn’t that mean that my creative offerings are “spice” and not just another drop? *shrugs* The ocean is already pretty polluted.

Short Story Exercise: Light a Match

(using the book Playful Way to Serious Writing, set the timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase, “light a match,” lightly edited)

Carol swiped the paper book of matches from the ash tray on the table. Smiling slyly at the handsome man seated next to her, she tore off a match and hit it against the striker on the back. The paper match folded in half, unlit. The man, fresh cigarette waiting between his lips, winked at her.

Carol tossed the wasted match to the floor, flipped her hair over her shoulder (she’d read that men love that), and grabbed another match. Unfortunately when she tore it she managed to leave most of the match in the packet. With a nervous giggle she doggedly pulled yet another match from the pack.

The man leaned forward, presenting his unlit cigarette. Carol smiled then tapped the gray match head on the striker. It did not light. She tapped it again. Then again. She tried holding the match sideways, then tried sawing the match back and forth. She smelled burning and brought the match to her eyes. The head was black and dull. She blushed and shrugged at the man. He leaned back in his chair and began searching his pockets for his lighter.

Quickly Carol ripped three more matches out of the pack. She bunched the heads together between her fingers and forcefully pushed them across the back. They lit! And the bright flame immediately burned her finger tips. Carol cried out and threw the lit matches onto the table. Chuckling, the man quickly pinched out the small flames, lit his cigarette with the Zippo from his pocket, and excused himself.

Carol glared down at the book of matches on the table. The bar’s logo was printed on the flap in tacky gold lettering. The Bar Room,” she muttered. “Stupid name for a stupid bar.”

A few minutes later the man returned to her table, smiling and carrying two pints of beer. He placed a glass in front of Carol and resumed his seat. She was elated…until he casually pulled a match from the book and lit it with his thumb nail.

Short Story Exercise: Have a Drink

(using the book The Playful Way to Serious Writing, set the timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase “have a drink,” edited a bit)

Jarys was pleased with his disguise. He wore carefully inked Chuck Taylor shoes, stone washed blue jeans, a shiny silk T shirt, and two gold chains. His curly silver hair was gelled into the exact same shape as that popular boy’s from the TV show. On each wrist, he wore the biggest gold watch he could find. He completed the look with skull rings on his pinkies.

And so it was that Jarys, an adventurous creature from a planet somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy, strolled into a biker bar in South Dakota. The bar patrons quieted as Jarys sauntered through the bar. A few snickers sounded from the pool table and the bar fly raised her eyebrows at him.

Jarys was confused. These people looked bizarre with their black leather, tattoos, and wrinkled skin. And no one on his TV screen wore bandannas on top of their head. But Jarys reasoned that he had only watched the one channel. Perhaps these people were on another frequency. So he gamely waved at everyone staring at him and smiled, baring his pointed cerulean teeth.

“What’ll you have?” the bartender said, unfazed.

“I will have a beer.” Jarys said, then slapped his hand on the bar for effect.

The bartender popped the cap off a Budweiser and placed it on a napkin. Jarys ceremoniously handed the man a one hundred pound note. Then he raised the bottle to his lips and drained it.

No one could have predicted what happened next.

A high pitched, abrasive shriek ruptured the eardrums of everyone still in the bar. Jarys fell to the floor, his legs kicking the air as he continued to scream. And before anyone knew what was happening Jarys’s abdomen exploded, drenching everyone with his acidic, black innards.

Short Story Exercise: Swim Laps

(using this book, set a timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase “swim laps,” edited lightly)

Lester kicked off the wall to begin his third lap. As the cool water flowed over him, the stress from his day melted away. Joining the YMCA near his office was probably the best thing he had done for himself in years. In the evenings, the pool was deserted. The loiterers and the screaming children had all gone home, allowing Lester to exercise in peace. 

At the end of his eighth lap he rested his arms on the edge and peered through the dark windows as he bobbed up and down in the water. What few stars he could see twinkled at him, and the pine trees in the parking lot swayed in a gentle breeze.

Lester rolled back and leisurely swam to the other side of the pool. Using a variation of playful strokes he made his way back towards the window, anxious to gaze at the stars a little longer. But when he got to the other side, he forgot all about the stars. Two shadowy figures were standing on the other side of the glass. Just then, the parking lot lights blinked out.

There was knocking on the glass, each blow louder than the last. It took Lester a moment to realize these people were not knocking; they were trying to break through.

Panicked, he started for the other side of the pool, the side closer to the locker rooms. But it was too late. The glass splintered, and with a final blow it shattered.

Two men in ski masks pushed their way through, dragging a large black bag behind them.

Who would rob a YMCA? Lester wondered as he tried to maneuver himself into the center of the pool where he was confident he would be safe. They won’t jump in, he reasoned. Not to rob a man in his swim trunks.

In fact, the men paid him no attention. They pulled the bag to the far edge of the pool, unzipped it and slowly tipped it over the water. Lester couldn’t be sure, but he thought he could hear them chanting. Curiosity took over and he watched with wonder as hundreds of furry brown balls dropped into the water. The second the balls touched the liquid they erupted into foamy, hissing bubbles.

Lester, understandably alarmed by the foaming balls in the pool, resumed his escape plan.

Planning 2017 In My Bullet Journal

This is my first New Year since I started using a bullet journal. A lot of people highly recommend starting a fresh journal for the new year, but as I’m not even halfway through my Leuchtturm 1917 I’m going to stick with my old one.

Here are the spreads I’ve come up with:

2017-goals

Whenever I set tangible goals or deadlines for myself, they tend to have the opposite effect. Read twenty-six books in a year? my brain says incredulously. Ha! Try none-six!

So I’m trying to simply adjust my attitudes and expectations rather than hold myself to a hard target.

peace-of-mind

With that in mind, I’ve added these quotes from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. When the world is getting me down, re-reading these will help reset my attitude.

I hope.

books-read

In an attempt to trick myself into reading more (because I honestly do want to read more), I made this grid. My brain loves to fill in boxes, so having this ready and waiting to be filled out throughout the year should make the prospect of reading regularly more appealing.

I hope.

 
money-challenge

I heard about this over on Boho Berry’s blog. It’s a financial challenge. Every week, you put a certain amount into your savings account and then color in the box. For example, if money’s tight, just toss an extra buck in and color the “1” square. If you have extra, throw in one of the bigger numbers and color in that square. By the end of the year, you will have tricked your brain into saving more money than you normally would have.

I’m sensing a pattern, my brain grumbled silently to itself.

 
i-am-what-i-eat
Being healthy is a nonstop goal. I’ve told my brain that my body is a hoarder. Anything I eat that can’t be used immediately is stored as fat, so let’s maybe only eat stuff I can use, mmkay brain? To that end, I’m going to fill in this grid with my diet staples, then in my daily spreads I can make bar graphs to keep track of how much I’m really ingesting each day. Sticking to this one will be tough.

Of course it will be. It’s probably the most beneficial spread in my entire journal.

 
wanted-spread

With the pending move, the list of things that we need is growing ever longer which means all the goodies that I want will have to wait. But my compulsive brain occasionally gets fixated on things and complains that if I don’t get it right now I’ll never get it. So this will be a place to list all of that “wouldn’t it be nice” stuff. Hopefully this will help me stick with that 52 week challenge as well.

month-in-review
My January month-in-review. I’ve started using an “If, Then” motivation system. I look at the previous month’s habit tracker and anything that I’m routinely skipping (like, reading and writing), I’ll offer myself a reward as motivation to do more of that thing in the coming month.

 
accountability-january

And here’s my habit tracker. I used to do this in a landscape layout but I got tired of turning the notebook all the time.

 
supplies

If you’re curious, here’s a list of the supplies that I use. Links are all via my Amazon affiliate account, but you can of course get most of these things anywhere. I actually got my notebook from Goulet Pens. Their prices were better and they have a much better color selection. And really all you need for a bullet journal is a notebook and something to write with; these are just the things that I use.

Leuchtturm 1917

Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens

Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils

Stainless steel ruler

Thanks for reading, and I wish you all the best in the coming new year!

Short Story Exercise: Escaping the Farm

(rolled a D12, took that number of random Rory’s Story Cubes, shook ’em up, dropped on table, arranged in order they fell top-to-bottom, wrote short story)

When Brandon came home from the bank, he walked straight past Daisy in the kitchen and entered his bedroom. There he emptied the envelope’s contents onto his old comforter and started counting. The teller had counted it, too, but he wanted to see it stacked, wanted to feel each piece of money in his hands. He formed a pile of twenties, a small pile of ones, then arranged the coins in descending stacks.

“So that’s what a summer of mowing lawns gets you,” Daisy said from the doorway, smiling and shaking her head in that sisterly condescending way.

Brandon crossed the room and shut the door in her face. She didn’t understand. Daisy had never had a problem taking money from their parents or their grandparents. But to Brandon, every cent he took hurt like a bruise, a mark of weakness and greed. He gazed at the money on his bed. He had earned every last cent himself, and no one could take that from him.

After a moment’s hesitation he toppled the neat stacks and swirled the money into a large pile. He pushed his fingers through it, squeezing an odd bunch of coins, crumpling a few bills together. He scooped it into his hands and rained it down onto the bed with a laugh. Satisfied, he gathered up his bounty and stashed it in the piggy bank hidden in his closet.

***

Brandon rose with the sun the next morning. There were chores to do before he left for school and the farm house was already humming with activity. Dancing around his siblings in the kitchen, Brandon managed to gulp down a mug of coffee and put a square of toast in his mouth before going outside. The older girls took care of the cow and the chickens and his little brother was on hog duty. Brandon was in charge of the sheep and horses. Their father was already in the fields riding the old John Deere and their mother, once breakfast was cleaned up, would tend to the dogs and the cats.

By the time his work was finished, Brandon barely had time to clean himself up and catch the bus. But he still rode to school with a smile on his face. This was the first day of his last year. One more school year, then he was free to leave.

After school he met up with two of his friends. They took turns riding a dirt bike until one of them managed to wreck it, dislocating his shoulder in the process. Brandon made it home in time for dinner, and then it was up to his room to count the money he’d been saving for years once again.

But when he pulled the giant plastic Coke bottle out of his closet, it was no longer full of money. In the poor light Brandon couldn’t tell exactly what was in the bank, but he knew his cash was gone…and he had an idea who took it. He hoisted the bottle over his shoulder and strode to Daisy’s room.

She was sitting on her bed painting her toenails with Katy Perry blasting from her stereo. 

“Give it back,” Brandon said, snapping the stereo off.

Daisy shrieked when she saw the Coke bottle. “No, don’t! I’m sorry, okay?! I thought it would be funny. Please don’t dump that in here!”

Still not knowing what was in the bottle, Brandon tipped it over her bed and said, “Give it back. Now. Or else.” He gave the bottle a little shake and a dead cockroach dropped onto her bedspread.

Daisy screamed and kicked, dumping nail polish onto the carpet. Brandon stared wide-eyed at the piggy bank. Now he could see the little legs, the brown masses, and he roared with laughter. Daisy tried to run out of the room, but Brandon blocked the exit, pointing the bank at her like a weapon. “Where’s my money?” he demanded.

“I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry!!!!” She yanked open her closet door and dug through piles of clothes, shoes, costume jewelry and old Barbies. Finally, she dragged out one of her tall boots and upended it. Coins and wads of cash fell onto the floor.

“Where did you even get this many dead cockroaches?” Brandon asked, curious.

“My boyfriend. He got them. And filled the bottle up,” she said, red faced.

“You have a…boyfriend?” Brandon’s voice dropped an octave. “What’s his name, and where is he right now?”

Daisy made an exasperated noise. “You’re so stupid! I can have a boyfriend if I want. I’m old enough.”

Brandon put the Coke bottle on her dresser and calmly picked up his money. What wouldn’t fit in his pockets he could carry in his hands. He stood and said, “I’ll give you one more chance. What’s his name, and where is he?”

Daisy stuck out her tongue.

Brandon shrugged, called out, “OOPS,” and hit the Coke bottle with his elbow. When it hit the ground, the lid broke off spilling hundreds of dead cockroaches onto the carpet. Daisy screamed louder than Brandon could laugh, but at least he had his money back.

***

The following spring, Brandon was ready to go. He’d graduated from high school and had packed the few things he wanted to keep in a single sturdy suitcase. He said goodbye to his sisters and spent an extra few minutes with his kid brother to give him a “you’re man of the house now” pep talk. His mother was crying and his dad, well, he gave him a gruff “See ya later, kid,” before passing him a sweaty twenty dollar bill. Brandon’s gut ached at the idea of taking the money from his father, but he swallowed his disgust and thanked him. With a final nod to his siblings, Brandon stepped onto the green and gray striped bus that would take him far from the farm, all the way to another planet.

***

Eight months later, Daisy got a package in the mail. When she realized it had shipped from New Venus, she squealed and ran to her mother who was in the backyard hanging laundry on the clothesline.

“Mama! It’s from Brandon!”

Mother gasped and hollered for the other kids to come and see what Brandon had sent. To date they had only received signed postcards and the occasional money order, always with a promise that he would send more when he could.

Once everyone was gathered around, Daisy opened the envelope taped to the box. Brandon wrote, “Daisy, here’s something I picked up for you that reminds me of home. Love, Brandon.” There was also a money order, made out to his mother, and another promise that more was on the way.

Daisy handed the papers to her mother then tore into the box. Inside she found chocolate brown tissue paper, folded and closed with a fancy foil sticker that read, “Dark Chocolate Confections.”

“Oh my gosh, yum!” Daisy ripped apart the paper…then screamed at the sight of a dozen eight-inch Venusian cockroaches, dipped in chocolate and covered with sprinkles.

rory-escaping-the-farm