Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday ROW80 Update

NaNo starts in two days! I can't believe it is almost here.  Today is just a quick update as I have a lot of homework to get done this afternoon.  I want to get it all done by tomorrow so when Tuesday comes I can just focus on NaNo.  So, here goes:

  • Writing 1 hour a day on my WIP(s); Outline for NaNo by Oct. 31—Over the week as a whole,I put 4 hours in, not 7.  And most of that was the end of the week.  Wednesday I had decided to work on notes and the outline for my NaNo book.  Well that kind of happened but not how I expected it to.  On Friday morning I was standing in my kitchen, drinking a chai and staring out the window, when I had an idea hit me.  And it hit me hard.  Suddenly, I had this character in my head, and then that character turned into an amazing idea for a setting, and well, since Friday I have been scribbling notes and ideas down in my notebook, and on my computer.  I had planned on doing NaNo on a totally different story idea but this one hit me out of the blue, and I just have to write it. I'm itching to start right now, that's how excited I am.  But I've held back, instead sticking to just jotting notes and scene information down. I even drew a map!  A MAP!  Now, this is pretty significant, because I have absolutely NO artistic talent but I needed to visualize the town and surrounding area where this is going to be taking place. It's definitely not something I would hang on the fridge, but it is good enough for my purposes. I can't wait til Tuesday when I can officially start! 
  • Comment/respond to three blogs per week—done, done and done!  I actually exceeded the minimum.  I am really glad I put this as one of my goals this round.  I am learning so much from all of you! And, more importantly, it keeps me engaged. Reading everyone's check in(s) and blog posts, motivates me to keep chugging along.  So thanks everyone--you are all such an inspiration! 
  • Blog once a week, minimum, whether ROW80 update and/or otherwise—Met this goal too!  And, in fact, I even did a non-update blog post yesterday, link is here.  I wrote it based off an experience I had this week in a class I teach, and that evolved into an interesting facebook discussion about teaching students to write and communicate.  If you are at all interested in that, feel free to check it out.  Would love to see what fellow writers/readers think about it.  
  • Read one book a month.  I read, for October, 4 books in total.  Of course, that includes the 2 books I read while I was on my vacation, and another one that was for a class I was taking. Hopefully I can get some reading in this next month but I am not going to push it given I will be writing like a mad woman for NaNo.  
  • Moving 5 days a week—Only did 3 days, but 3 is better than none so I guess I can't beat myself up too bad!  On the plus side, I've been cooking since yesterday--soups and a casserole, so I should be good for all my lunches and dinners this upcoming week.  My week always ends up being so busy that I rarely have time to cook, and then I end up eating like crap.  This way, I can grab and go, and at least my choices will be the healthier ones I cooked, as opposed to fast food or pre-packaged foods that end up making me feel all blah.  
Happy Halloween!!  Good luck this upcoming week and see you Wednesday!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Maybe a Zombie Invasion Wouldn't Be So Bad...

They never read “The Tell Tale Heart”. They never read, or even heard read aloud, “The Raven”.  When I asked them who Edgar Allen Poe was, the response was “…some creepy dude.”  For a moment I couldn’t breathe.  All I could do was stare at them and just…blink.   I might have even felt a little faint (or that was my exhaustion taking over….no way to know for sure.) But whatever it was, I just 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect every student who walks into my English 101: Composition class to have read, or even KNOW all the classics. I get that elementary and high schools can’t teach it all.  But not one of the 23 students read or knew Poe?!  I read “The Tell Tale Heart” for the first time when I was 12.  I thought Poe was the biggest bad ass ever, and he is why I got into reading Stephen King, among others.  Maybe 12 wasn’t the right age to read him, but I was reading at a 10th grade level at the time and they had to give me something other than the Babysitter’s Club and Nancy Drew. I was bleeding my parents dry with trips back and forth to the public library, and bringing me to the mall to go to Waldenbooks!  (God I miss that store; So many memories of me sitting on the floor going through a huge stack of books, deciding which 3 I could get…and then always getting to go to the Ground Round afterwards as a special treat.  *gets all nostalgic for a moment*)

But I digress.  I had them read “The Tell Tale Heart” for Monday’s class, and then had them listen to it here.  We talked about the story afterwards, and I introduced them to basic information about the author, the basic plot “triangle” (which I learned in 5th grade but they didn’t know, and oddly I went to the same public school district that most of these kids did.  I don’t know what the hell happened since I graduated high school in 1996!), and how to do a plot summary, and defined key terms (with examples from the story) like theme, motif, symbol, etc.

I did think, for a moment, that perhaps they were just saying they had never heard of this.  That maybe they just didn’t want to participate.  But after 8 weeks or so of class, I know these students.  When they know about something, they participate.  Discussions of readings and participation in this particular class are not ever an issue.  So I take them at face value when they tell me they have never read his work and did not know Poe. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

ROW80 Update--Oct. 27th

Better late than never...right?  I hope so. I was just going to skip the post for yesterday, but then I thought to myself, "no, then I will get used to that and that could result in a downward spiral, where one skipped post leads to another and then another, and then somehow that could all wind up leading to a zombie apocalypse!"  So, yes, I am posting this even though it's late.  I don't want my brains eaten.  

Anyways, this is what I woke up to this morning.   

Sorry for the blurry-ness of the picture, I took it with my phone.  That little fur ball is my 10 pound, 11 year old, Siamese mix, Dutchess.  (I believe she may be descended from the evil Siamese cats in "Lady and the Tramp" because, well, she has a bit of evilness in her.  I swear sometimes when she looks at me, I get the feeling that she is plotting my demise.  But that is a post for another day.)  She was nestled under the covers, and somehow I had been nudged to the edge of the bed--talk about a total bed hog.  I have to admit that, if I were to guess, I think she is trying to tell me its too fricking cold in the morning!  And it was freezing this morning.  Freezing as in the air felt like ice when I got out of bed and my fingers and nose felt frozen.  Upstate New York can get pretty darn chilly in October (case in point--we are supposed to get a little bit of snow today) but I always try to wait until November to turn the heat on.  I think though, after this morning, I have to break down and turn it on. 

Enough about that four legged fiend, and my grumbling about turning the heat on earlier than planned. Here is my update for the week so far:

  • Moving 5 days a week—3 down so far.  By Sunday I should have hit my goal since I carved out time tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday for that purpose
  • Writing 1 hour a day on my WIP(s); Outline for NaNo by Oct. 31—um,yeah this sadly is not getting done. I've hit the daily goal twice so far, and am planning on putting in the rest of the afternoon today on the outline.  I was going to do some homework today, but after working on my project for three days in a row for Bibliography class (which thankfully is done and submitted--woot!)  My brain needs a break to just write and plan, and plan and write.  That relaxes me, and I need it.
  • Comment/respond to three blogs—Doing that now!  Time to check in on all my fellow ROW80-ers and  NaNoWriMo victims…I mean, err, participants!!  I am getting pretty nervous as we get closer to the start date.  Also, anyone who is doing NaNoWriMo, check out Fun Not Fear!  for an awesome site done by fellow writers and ROW80-ers Em and Lena.  It has a TON of helpful information and links for NaNo and writing in general!
  • Blog once a week, minimum, whether ROW80 update and/or otherwise—I am meeting this goal!  Yay!  I would like to try to write more non-update posts, but, it all goes back to time.  And I don’t have much of it lately. Sometimes I combine my update with whatever I am posting, because I have set aside the time for that and well, that is me being efficient!  However, as I write this, I am also editing something I will be posting later today or tomorrow morning which I'm pretty excited about.  It will be an interesting topic I think, and I've already had a spirited facebook conversation about it, so would love to see what you all think about it too!
  • Read one book a month.  I have to read one this weekend for a class and am close to finishing the first book in the Darkfever series by Karen Marie Moning.  I love to read and ever since getting back from Hawaii, I always am sure to make time for it.  It keeps me sane and really is a nice way to end the day--just relaxing with a book and some hot apple cider. I think this goal will be the least of my troubles this round!! 

That is it for me so far.  Good luck the rest of the week and see everyone on Sunday!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

ROW80 Update and A Quick Movie Review

Let's get the bad news out of the way.  This week I sucked on my goals. Despite my new found organizational skills,  Thursday I looked around at the piles of work on my desk and just set the writing goals aside in an effort to get all caught up.  I had been treading water, slowly getting through the piles, but not as fast as I'd have liked to.  I am not ecstatic about not meeting my writing goals (or my workout goal since I haven't done that in like 3 days) but, there came a point where I had to prioritize.  And I did.

My plan for this week is to finish this upcoming week's homework  and grading, which should be done by tomorrow night, and then Tuesday get back into my regularly scheduled programming ( i.e. working on my WIP(s)--specifically my outline--for at least an hour a day).  I think that is do-able, and it will definitely put me ahead of the game when November 1st comes along. 

So, all that being said, I mentioned a movie review--so here it is.  Last night while I working on my bibliography assignment (oh, what an exciting life I have!), I decided to put on a movie that Netflix kept recommending to me via instant streaming.  It's from 2009 so I may just be late to the party, but it was…in a word…eccentric.  It is called "Malice in Wonderland" and stars Maggie Grace and here is the description from Netflix:

 This intriguing, updated take on Alice in Wonderland is set in modern-day London, where             American law student Alice (Maggie Grace) suffers amnesia after being hit by a taxi and           awakens in a bizarre, gritty netherworld populated by all manner of unsavory characters. With   motor-mouthed cab driver Whitey (Danny Dyer) as her guide, can Alice regain her memory and      make her way back to the real world in one piece?  (

Thursday, October 20, 2011

ROW80 Update

Wow.  I can't believe it is already Wednesday--time is just flying by! This is gonna be a short post since it is almost midnight and I have early day at work tomorrow. So here goes:

I haven't done as well as I would like to since last check in on my daily writing, or my outline (though I have been hitting my workout goals--yay!).  In fact, other than a few random notes here and there, I haven't done much at all. Instead I have been focusing on getting caught up on homework, regular work projects and things I'm trying to get done around the house. I think, okay well more like I hope to be all caught up by this Sunday.  After that, things should settle down some. I know that November is gong to be insane with it being the start of NaNo and I also know I will have two projects due for the classes I am taking, so I want to be on track, and perhaps even a little ahead, by the time Nov. 1 roles around.  Getting ahead is especially important with regard to my class projects (one in Bibliography and another in Modern American Novelists).  I want to get ahead of the work this time, and head off any procrastinating on my part which I sometimes (okay, well a lot of times) do.  I am trying to take the work "procrastinate" out of my vocabulary!

I will be checking around the ROW80 blog-o-sphere tomorrow and Friday to see how everyone else did--hope everyone's week has been great!  Good luck the rest of the week and see you Sunday!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Time Wasted Is Time Lost

So since my last ROW80 update, I’ve come to an important realization about myself.

I am the most unorganized person I know.

This was kind of a shock, because I really thought I was more organized than I, in fact, actually am.  Since Wednesday, I’ve been updating my calendar, keeping tabs on how I spend my time, and yeah…I waste a lot of time.  Take for example, yesterday. I woke  up at 730 am, which is crazy early considering I was up until like 230am the night before (an anomaly in and of itself!).  But when I woke up, I could have gotten things done…but I didn’t. Instead I lazed around in bed, watching a little TV, and then fell back to sleep until a little after 9.  It wasn’t a good sleep since it was only for a short period of time.  It was, well, I guess I would call it more of a “waste of time” sleep.  And wasting time isn’t an option.  I mean how the hell I am going to get crap done on my list if I’m sleeping for no apparent reason!  I was wide awake at 730.  I could have gotten my butt up and used that time to write or workout a little longer. Or get some homework done.  But, in the end that  was an hour and a half wasted.  When I pondered that for a bit, that was when the second realization hit me. 

I don’t get to rewind the clock.  I will never get that time back.

I mean, I knew that, but I don’t think I really ever understood that.  Guess I must be a little behind when it comes to learning life lessons.  In looking over all my goals, and all the other work I have to do, and my desire to still have some semblance of a life, I realized that I don’t have the luxury to waste time.  But then, none of us do, do we? 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ALOHA! I Have Returned...

1.      Hawaii was AMAZING.  I have never had such a fun, relaxing and stress free 10 days in my entire life.  And I miss it.  Not only the place, with its incredible scenery, amazing beaches, wonderful ocean and laid back atmosphere; but also the fact that I did not take ONE work related phone call while I was away.  I didn’t return a call, heck I didn’t even listen to my voicemails!  This was the first time in (7) years that I took a vacation and didn’t call in for a tele-conference, or return calls, or have to email the office.  Being mostly unconnected from work, and even my life in general, was incredibly freeing, and I really, really needed it.  I even went places without taking my cell phone!  I mean, I haven’t done that in…well since I got my first cell phone!  Being almost entirely unplugged from technology was scary at first, but I quickly got used to it.  Don’t get me wrong, I missed talking to friends and family, and I missed blogging and reading other people’s blogs; but I did NOT miss being unconnected from work.  I think I need more vacations like that.

As you can imagine, coming back to work after all that time away has been beyond difficult.   I find my mind wandering way too often to the days I spent laying on the beach in the sun, or swimming in the ocean, or having my afternoon happy hour of pina coladas, mojitos and whatever else sounded good at the time.  Those were the days.  And it doesn’t help that my job is just as I left it—emotionally draining and just a whole lot of ‘blech’. 

If this trip has confirmed anything I already knew before, it is that I so need a job change…But that is what I am doing all this for right?  I mean, the going back to school to finish my Master’s degree; the working less at the job I hate; and taking on more classes to teach (which I love).  I’m doing all of that to get to my ultimate goal of getting out of the current job I have. So I just have to suck it up and deal with it a bit longer.  The writing I have been doing since I started this ROW80 adventure has been helping me a great deal to handle the stress from work too.  It helps me relax and forget about it, for at least a little while, and gives me time to focus on what I enjoy doing.  After all, we all need, and deserve, a little down time! 

So, all that being said, I have made my list of goals for the next round of ROW80.  The goals for this round are similar to the ones from the last round.  The difference is that I have a lot more at the start.  After finishing the previous round, I decided to combine the goals I had started with in Round 3 with the ones I ended up adding and revising throughout.   Ultimately, this round is going to be about organization.  I need to get organized in all aspects of my life—my full time job, the part time teaching I do, homework, and with my writing.  So by setting up these goals the way I did, I can work the time I need to put into those parts of my life (i.e work and school)) around my writing goals.  My calendar is going to be a rainbow of colors; I can just see it now.  Bring on the highlighters!  Maybe blue for writing, red for full time job, yellow for teaching…the possibilities are endless! 

So, without further adieu, here are my ROW80 goals: