NaNoWriMo Day 7

I passed 13K words tonight. The writing is going well. I’m seeing the shape of the story now, and I’m having fun.

I probably shouldn’t (many writers advised against it) but I’m going to share a scene from my work in progress. Just a little bit that gives the flavor of what I’m working on, presented without context.

Feel free to let me know what you think; you can reach me through the social medias listed on my About Me page. Or wait for this weekend’s Community Post and share your feedback. I’d love to hear what you think!

Excerpt below the cut.


NaNoWriMo Day 5

Just a quick update, tapped out on my phone. I managed almost 2000 words today, including 350 or so before work, which brings my total, my official total word count for NaNoWriMo, to 10,092.

I’m officially more than a full day ahead. I know it’s early but I will take a moment to savor my streak.

And the shape of the plot is coming together. It’s all starting to gel. I know what the main character needs, I know what stands in his way, and I know generally what he’s planning to get him out of this mess. My plan to “just write and see what happens” is working well.

And I have a working title: Seasonal Work. That title makes me giggle, though it might not make sense to anyone but myself, yet.

Thanks for checking in. I’ll have a comment post tomorrow and maybe some things to chat about!

Happy 16th Birthday to This Blog

On this day, 16 years ago, I clicked “Publish” on my very first Lunar Obverse blog post. That’s a long time.

If I had been planning ahead I might have more to say about it than this, but as you may know, I’m on Day 2 of NaNoWriMo and so most of my writing energy has been going towards that project (the rest of it has been texting my friends and tweeting about how far behind I am on my NaNoWriMo goals.)

The good news is that I did, in fact, reach my Day 2 goal today. As of right now, my project-in-progress is at 3,643 words. I’m about two or three scenes in, maybe one and a half chapters, and I have introduced four named characters and a handful of important-but-so-far-unseen characters. I have no idea where the story is going yet, but it’s early, and I just want to keep up my habit and momentum, as I have talked about repeatedly here.

In related news, to help promote the blog I started a blog-related Instagram account. Go follow LunarBlog if you have a mind to. The blog is mostly words, and Instagram is a visual medium, so I’m not certain how to cross-post there, but I’ll figure something out.

A lovely writer’s account on Twitter, Tara Neilson, gave my Twitter account a boost, along with a bunch of others, to get our writer’s follower counts above 1000. I currently stand at 961 thanks to this post. I believe I gained at least 10 new followers, and I promptly followed them all back. It was a very nice gesture and not one I expected or asked for, and I thank Tara for the lift.

#WritingCommunity Lift writers under1,000! @SeeLoveFollow @Story_Beard @ellysejmoir @SerraSwift @wendywyant @RRozow @RebeccaL_Carey @BRBWilcox @MarkScully365 @J_D_Wilkes @kattitudereads @NicoleJSimms1 @Graybird_Grace @brooklynstasher @lunarobverse @erintheinfp Go #NaNoWriMo2019!— Tara Neilson (@neilson_tara) November 2, 2019

Thank you, Tara! If you’re readinig this, go follow all of these mentioned accounts!

And now, since I’m caught up, I’m going to give myself permission to play The Outer Worlds some more, until tomorrow. Goodnight, and I love you all.

An Auspicious Night

Hurley knows something about taking action over feeling sorry for yourself. “Let’s look death in the face and make our own luck.”

What does the word cusp mean, anyway? What’s its etymology? Where is it from and what is the metaphor behind its meaning?

After tonight, two things change for me. The first is me quitting something, the second is me beginning something.

I’m quitting Facebook. It’s a cause of anxiety and joy. I’ve posted about that before, and I’ve written about my reasons—mainly political in nature. I don’t like how the company is being run, and I don’t like the awful things its behavior has enabled. Looks like they’re going to go on enabling those things because the money spends just as well as any other money.

I suppose it’s possible that Zuck believes what he says in public, but I doubt that. I do like that hundreds of Facebook employees wrote a stern letter taking their boss to task for his misuse of the phrase “free expression.” I also like that Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter (which is its own dumpster fire) made the exact opposite decision and subtweeted Zuck about it. That was fun.

Am I going to miss some things about Facebook? Sure, I am. There are some communities there that provide me with a little light, a little hope, and a little laughter. But I can find those things elsewhere. I’ve been connecting with people online since way, way, back. Those skills won’t leave me. I’ve joined BBS’s, forums, Usenet groups, and social media sites. I’ve made my impressions and gathered friends from there. I’ve had this silly blog for a decade and a half, as well as the founder of other, long-gone blogs.

My presence will remain on the internet. Just not on Facebook, after tonight.

The thing I’m starting tomorrow is a cause of joy and anxiety. Completely different. Starting tomorrow I turn this “write every day” thing up to 11. Or, rather, I turn it up to 1,667, because that’s how many words a day I would like to be stringing together. NaNoWriMo technically begins at midnight tonight; I won’t be staying up late to do any write-ins, though, because tomorrow is a workday.

I’d like to get up early and do some writing before work. Hopefully, typing that out doesn’t click in my brain and satisfy the urge to do it, which is apparently a thing that can happen. Saying you’re gonna do something sometimes kills the actual drive to do it. Brains are the weirdest thing.

I’ve managed over two months of daily writing, but my word count hasn’t gone up as much as I’d hoped. I’m going to have to dig deep. Or I’m going to have to just turn off my inner critic and write whatever comes to mind. Probably the latter.

Look, I beat myself up a lot, about a lot of things. I don’t have to beat myself up about this. I can just relax, have fun, go crazy with writing, and see what happens. I’m going to pants it—as in, fly by the seat of my pants. If I can keep the daily writing up, and there’s literally no reason to think I can’t, as I have proven to myself, then at the end of November I’ll have 18,000 words added, only these words will not just be random, unconnected blog posts, but all on the same story. That’s awesome! That’s more than I’ve done in years. And if I push, I can reach the half-way point of a full NaNoWriMo. And maybe the momentum will push me to write more and more.

Maybe my muse will come back to me, whisper in my ear, and encourage me further. If not, I will have put in the seat time. Either way, I win.

Winning is a good thing. I can use a win these days.

Wish I Knew Why

An older man sits, head bent down, holding the top of his head with both hands. Rays of light shoot out from his hands surrounding him in a halo of white-orange spears.
Pain, radiating from the head. This is what it feels like.

Woke up with a headache this morning. It was mostly in the back of my head, near the base and down into my neck, although it also felt like my sinuses were throbbing a little. Could have been a sinus headache or a tension headache. It’s a frequent sort of headache for me to wake up from sleep with.

I googled it.

I should not have googled it.

The results came back as you would imagine. Brain tumor. Extreme high blood pressure. Sleep apnea. Terrible, terrible things that require extensive medical intervention—diagnoses that triggered my anxiety and hypochondria. Statuses that made me worry for my life, and then have to play the game of “do I dare try to find out if any of this is what’s really happening, find out it’s true, and then have to deal with the life-long consequences of requiring medical care in the only country in the world where ‘medical bankruptcy’ is a thing?”

I took some aspirin and went about my morning.

Other things I fear that might be causing it: too much sugar, or untreated diabetes. Stress and tension. Poor posture. Changes in the weather (it’s been unusually cold lately, or something something pressure changes.) Again, this is just my active imagination working, and not any real sense of what my body might be going through. Just my brain, casting a wide net to snare as many adverse outcomes as possible and parading them before my horrified id.

About an hour or two, after I started working, I walked across the street to the Thriftway and bought a pint of half-and-half for my coffee, and gave in to buy a delicious but very sugary raspberry scone. I regretted buying it and regretted eating it even more. Why do I do these things to myself? The momentary pleasure of the taste is never as rewarding as the angst I put myself through before, during, and afterward, and the very real physical aches and pains eating a bunch of sugar cause me.

The headache lingered the rest of the morning until close to my lunch break at work. Slowly the back-of-the-neck throbbing was joined by overall body aches. Were they caused psycho-somatically, or biochemically? Or is there a difference?

Saying something is “all in your mind” is a phrase that people use a lot, even non-religious people, to try to indicate that there exists something other than your physical body, which includes the organ inside your skull, the brain. The “mind” is made up of your thoughts, your consciousness. The mind is acceptably science-y enough to use in casual secular conversation; where saying “soul” is, even now, more religious in nature.

I don’t think “mind” is a useful concept. My mind is just the result of electrochemical processes that happen in my brain and my nervous system; it is shaped by the hormonal and chemical soup of my various other bodily systems. Telling me something is all in my mind does not describe anything real. I don’t buy into any mind-body duality. There is only body. My thoughts are shaped by my body and are centered in my brain, which is a mound of mostly fat with some protein and salts in a fluid sack and wired to various sensors in a meat robot.

Still, headaches hurt like crazy. Wish I knew why I woke up with them so often.

…They Just Fade Away

I’m growing a beard. I know it’s a bit early for Movember, or No-Shave November, or whatever that beard-growing awareness campaign is called. I’m not doing it for that.

I’m doing it for cosplay. I’m going as Old Luke Skywalker.

In December, Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker comes out. It’s the final entry in The Skywalker Saga (though definitely not the end of the cash cow Star Wars movies, for sure.) And for once in my ever-lovin’ geek life, I’m going to attend a premiere party in costume. I’ve cosplayed but never for a movie premiere. It seems very fitting for me to do so for the Skywalkers.

Since Terry has assembled a very good Han Solo outfit, it is also just and right that I go as Luke Skywalker. I was always Luke to Terry’s Han, even when we were kids—unless I was being Lando because Lando was cool in ways not-yet-a-Jedi Luke wasn’t. That was before Return of the Jedi Super-Confident Luke showed up. I’m old enough to have lived in a time when there were only one or two Star Wars movies. There were three-year gaps between each film in that first trilogy.

Terry was always Han, though.

Even back in the day I never cosplayed as Luke. I wasn’t nearly as blond and blue-eyed as he was; I was a round brown-haired brown-eyed nerd. I did make a lightsaber, though; I cut up and modified an aluminum pool cue. Wish I still had it today. I wonder what happened to it? I never cobbled together a karate gi, nor rolled up some Ace bandages on my legs. I didn’t like that look. I did covet Luke’s spiffy yellow coat from the award ceremony, though. That looked great. Also loved his grey jumpsuit from Bespin or the black outfit that was a black version of a combo of his Tattooine and Bespin fatigues.

The Kenner figures always called Luke’s outfits “fatigues”: Dagobah fatigues, Hoth fatigues. I don’t know why. That’s military-speak, right? Like BDUs? I guess the Rebellion was sort of military. Don’t @ me, I’m just spitballing here.

But now, 42 1/2 years later, I’m much older, and I have much less ego, so I have no problem going as Luke. I still can’t quite bring myself to put my balding, pudgy, short body into a body-hugging jumpsuit. I’m more than happy to wear a big comfy robe with a nice hood. That sounds great! I can grow out my beard, spend a little effort to make a mechanical hand. I will need a wig, because Mark Hamil is not bald, at least not in the movies. Even if I had started growing my hair out when the previous episode came out, my hair would not be as long and as thick as Mark Hamil’s hair by December; old age and genetics, man.

I really hope that there are some Rey cosplayers at this party I’m going to. It’d be fun tossing away their lightsabers like the grumpy ex-Jedi I’ve become. Heh heh heh.

Best part is, I convinced Terry to go as the age-appropriate Old Han Solo. Mostly because it gives Terry and excuse to buy another really great jacket. Han’s got Luke beat for jackets.

By The Skin Of My Teeth

Many boxes and bottles of various cold, cough, and flu remedies.
I wish I had all this right now. Damn you, stock photography!

No post tonight. I did write at least 500 words, but they are super rambly and incoherent, because I’m coming down with a cold, and I just want to drop into bed and sleep it off.

But I did show up and pound out some words. 527 words, in fact.

Thanks for checking in. I appreciate you, dear reader. I’m glad you’re here. Here, let me give you something to ponder:

You’ve probably heard the phrase “by the skin of their teeth” but did you ever wonder what that meant? Isn’t the skin of our teeth our gums? What do gums have to do with escaping from something?

And as an experiment, I’m going to open comments tonight. Comments will close after 2 days. You have to include a name and an email address, but you don’t have to register.

If you’re a reader, drop a note below and say hello! I’d love to wake up from my NyQuil-induced coma to read what you’ve got to say.

65 Days in a Row (And Counting)

A close-up view of a blank paper journal, with a red cloth bookmark, and a fountain pen laying on the open page.
Writing longhand would make it much harder for me to write 500 words in a day, let alone 1700! But this journal sure is pretty.

Seven days until NaNoWriMo begins. I’m a little nervous. I have done a great job so far of writing daily. Today is my 65th day of posting at least 500 words every single day, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. I have a habit now, a habit of writing. The practice and the urge to keep the streak going works much, much better than waiting for inspiration or motivation to strike—as I knew it would.

But most days lately, I barely write over 500 words. To write 50,000 words in November, I have to average more than three times that, every day. I need to up my game if I want to win. I’ve been attempting this for years now, and a win would be awesome.

I think, though, that just making it through the whole month writing on one single story would also be a win. Wouldn’t it? It would be something I’ve never done before—a milestone. So, listen up, Inner Negative Voice, you can fuck off with the dour thoughts. I’m just going to keep going with my current goal and see where that takes me.

I have ideas. I haven’t taken any notes on what I want to write about; it’s all in my head so far. Not counting the first draft pages I wrote, the pages that now all count as backstory to the current story. 

I’ve gone over all this before, so there’s no need to repeat it. If you’re new here (hello! welcome to the blog!), you can read back over the previous 65 days. The ones about NaNoWriMo should stand out from the others.

Tonight will probably just be another 500 or so words because I am not feeling well. It feels like I’m coming down with something, which would suck majorly. But here I am, in front of the keyboard and screen, tapping away. See? Habit over motivation. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s the best way to go if you have a goal that seems far away. Just start, and make a small promise to try to make it a habit.

There are other areas of my life where I could be putting this philosophy into practice. I have terrible attendance at work, for example, and I’m sure part of it is that it is elementary for me to convince myself to stay home. Maybe I should keep track of how many days in a row I go to work, and try to make that another daily (almost—I still get weekends off) habit? That would also help. Could I get to 65 days in a row? That number gets me well into the next year. If I’m doing the math right, that would be January 23, 2020, counting only weekdays and subtracting the holidays between now and then.

Feel free to check my math on that.

Another daily practice would be making dinner at home. It’s cheaper, and it makes it so much easier for me to eat well and not eat crap. But, again, I have gotten into the habit of stopping for fast food on the way home from work. Maybe I can just take it one day at a time and see how far I get? 

I don’t know, maybe I’ve found a hammer and now every problem I have looks like a nail, but it’s worth a try, right?

A Night on Clinton Street

My friend Terry and his wife are building a second house on their property, an ADU that they plan to rent out. Don’t worry, I’ve already guilted him about how shitty landlords are, about how bad gentrification is in Portland and issues around housing and rent-seeking. He’s aware. But we’ve known each other for a long time, and he’s a good friend in different ways, and so we agree to disagree.

Where was I? Oh, right. 

This week, the construction crew was connecting the new property up to power, and it was going to disrupt power to their house, so they decided to rent an Airbnb to live in while construction was going on. They got a beautiful place over on SE Clinton and 20th, and Terry invited me over after work to chill out, maybe play some board games, drink, just a nice post-work hang. OK, you had me at “drink,” Terry. I’m there.

I had to commute from… from where I work, which is 30-40 minutes away from Inner Southeast, and I couldn’t leave work until my standard quitting time. On my way there, Terry kept texting me, wondering if I was going to make it in time for Happy Hour. I didn’t speed, but I tried to make good time. I arrived and parked in front of the rental at 5:52 PM. Technically in time for Happy Hour, but not enough time to get a drink ordered. At least, not at the Night Light, the closest bar, and the one Terry was most looking forward to visiting.

We poked our head in there, but it was crowded, and there was a long line for the bar (there’s no waitstaff). So we wandered off.

Luckily that area of Clinton and Division had plenty of bars. After walking around a bit, we landed at Dot’s, across from the infamous Clinton Street Theater, where the Rocky Horror Picture Show has been playing, every Saturday night, since forever, continuously. 

Dot’s is terrific, a Portland legend. Dark, with funky decor, and plenty of booths and tables. We hunkered down over our sandwiches and drinks and caught up on things. I related my encounter at Bertie Lou’s recently, and he let me know how the construction was going.

I had the Chile Verde Pulled Pork Sando (that’s short for “sandwich”) and a fantastic tomato bisque soup that tasted like the soup version of a Bloody Mary. My beverage of choice: a stout. I don’t remember the brand.

Terry ordered their last slice of coconut chocolate pie that, and I swear I am not making this up, the waitress said had been made by a little old lady who lived near there. 

We decided to bar hop from there, rather than go back to the rental and hang out, so we bounced around to several stops around the theater, none of whose bar names I recall. Each one was busy, packed, and we didn’t stay long enough even to order. Terry and I were each feeling restless tonight.

Our second drink was quite a ways west on Division, a pub that had a bazillion things on tap (they had four kegs on nitro!) and usually catered to cyclists; in the rain, not many cyclists were present, although one die-hard rolled in while we were working our way to the bottoms of our respective glasses. I again had a stout—this one aged in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels, and I could smell and feel the bourbon in the beer. Terry opted for a chocolate porter. 

We kicked around the idea of going to a strip club or seeing a movie, or more bar hopping. However, when we drained our glasses and left, our feet took us back to the Airbnb. Terry’s wife was up in the loft watching TV, so we sat down… and watched the latest episode of Stumptown. I’m all caught up now.

By then, it was 10:30 PM, and I realized I still had to write tonight, so I excused myself and drove the long stretch of Division out to my little Tosche Station on the far edge of nowhere.

Happy Friday, y’all.