Run, Pencil Carrying Man! RUN!
July 8? ALREADY!? O.O
You might be asking, “What are you panicking about?”
Well. For those of you who are familiar with NaNoWriMo, last month myself and Glen Robinson did a thirty day NaNoWriMo of our own, aiming for 45,000 words in that time, averaging 1,500 words a day. It was successful. Immensely successful. I’ve never done so much writing over a summer. It was something to be proud of.
Now, me and Glen are back at it again. 45,000 words before the end of July. Word counts are the name of the game, and goodness knows I’ve got plenty of things to write about. The problem is, it can be extraordinarily difficult to catch up once you’ve gotten behind.
I. Am. Behind. I didn’t fall off the wagon, I never even got on! You see, I went to Illinois recently (I’ll get to that later) and I was able to write virtually nothing. Perhaps if I had managed my time wisely I could have eked out a few hundred words. Maybe over a thousand. Maybe.
What day is it again? Oh, right… THE EIGHTH! Let’s do some calculations really quick. Eight times * mumble*… carry the one *mumble* How many fingers is that? *mumble* …… Oh.
12,000 words. That’s how far behind I am. I need some serious “Don’t Panic!” in friendly golden letters action, here.
Thank You Douglas Adams!
That’s okay though. No, seriously. That’s okay. I’ve got a plan, see. There are, after all, loads of things or me to talk about. Lots to write. Loads, even. Let me lay it all out for you (and me – this is partially to convince myself.)
Okay, first of all, there’s my blogging. Thankfully all this ranting and raving counts to the final word count. This is a stipulation of the agreement between Glen and I that I couldn’t do without. It is supposed to give us practice for keeping up an online Social Presence that we need as Authors. Between you and me, it’s also a great way to get rid of stress.
Nothing like a word count for motivation!
Today’s Blog will be about… well, this. I’m also going to go into detail about my Illinois Trip over the fourth of July and my new, yet nostalgic, addiction to Civilization IV. There will be some other details I might throw in, but I’m saving the politico/religious talk for the weekend (well, I might write it up before then, but that’s when it’s getting posted.)
A textbook case for the power of a good trailer for a bad movie.
Aside from regular blogging activities, I’m also going to be writing up a Review of The Last Airbender, which, when completed, should have a link HERE
. ← If that doesn’t work yet, it’s because I’m a lazy bum. If you’re not interested in the long version, just know that there is no reason you should see that movie (Just watch the cool trailer instead.) Period. Stick to the cartoon.
In the realm of actual authorial projects, I’ve got a number of things to work on.
Whew! That's two words already! What a start! ... What? 'One' is a word.
Jaine is still my primary project, but I’m starting to tread into unknown waters, and I have to make sure I keep up good quality. In that vein, I have a bunch of side projects to work on such as “Paradox” which is a story about the god of the same name and his few followers in a fantastical setting. That story still needs to be thought out, but I’ve got what I feel is a solid first chapter/short story that introduces the main conceits, ideas and characters already in my head. I just need to write it. The rest of the book will have to gestate from there. There’s also “The Correspondence” which began primarily as a philosophical exercise involving two character’s letter/e-mails/AIM conversations/etc. concerning various elements of their fictional religion and commentary on other religions/ideas and events. It is still primarily that, but there’s also a shadowy Idea to take these letters and frame a story around them. I have no idea what story to put around them, but that just means there’s a lot of possible realms to consider.
I’ve also had some various minor ideas that might blossom into full projects. I’m not revealing those though, until they’ve turned into something.
All in all, though, it looks like I’ve got a lot to be working on. Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up some momentum and smash past all those words I’m behind. Seven days of 3,000 words should catch me up really nice. No telling if I’ll be able to manage it. At the least, I’m going to have to do 2,000 words a day average from here until then end. No more 1,500 day words for me, it would seem.
Well, I’ve put off the rather difficult task of summarizing my Trip to Illinois long enough, I think. Let’s begin, shall we?
Yay for Fourth of July Vacations!
Okay, now that Katie has moved down here to Texas, it has become nearly obligatory that she try and travel to Illinois for many of the holidays, since she’s no longer splitting her time up between traveling here and there. As such, she was fairly well determined to take me with her to Illinois for the Fourth of July. Being the loyal boyfriend I am, I went without complaint. The visit turned out to be well worth it, despite the horrible side effect of killing my writing momentum.
I packed well ahead of time, and thankfully I pack easily. A weeks worth of clothes and so forth are easy to fit inside my duffel bag. I was taking along extra equipment that I don’t normally haul with me, of course. My new breathing machine, for instance, was a must.
We started out the morning of the First around 8:30. It was later than Katie had wanted, but I was feeling pretty good about it. The drive was mostly uneventful. We talked. We listened to music (when the damned CD player worked. You have no idea how frustrating that malfunctioning piece of equipment is.) I did my best to do something productive, but got nowhere (writing while in the car is freaking impossible for me, I think.) I slept for some of the time too, so that I would be ready to take over for Katie for a while.
And I did. You have to understand that me driving part of the way was a pretty big deal. Katie thinks I’m a bad driver. Well, maybe not bad, but certainly not up to her expectations, and the car is Katie’s baby, after all.
She Didn't Want Us To End Up Like This, For Instance.
Combine this with the fact that the only other time I’ve driven that far as with Brandon on the way to and from Cornerstone (and I had a terrible time staying awake for that trip) and the three hours or so that I drove were kinda stressful. Whenever I was on the open traffic-less highways listening to podcasts, I dd fine. Whenever traffic got tighter, Katie got worried and stress levels went up. Despite all of this, we made it quite safe and sound, and more or less in the time frame we had intended.
The First Day was primarily a day of relaxation and settling in. We hung out around the house. I set my laptop up (and tapped into an unprotected wireless hub with a delectable internet speed. Yum!) And we ate at Subway. When Katie’s Mom got home we quickly decided to go to the movies as I had really enjoyed the Last Airbender trailers, and had heard many great things about the cartoon.
Stick to the Cartoon. You will be better served.
When we watched The Last Airbender, however, we were dissapointed. It was, unfortunately, a terrible movie. This film was the first to ever give me the inclination to walk out of the theatre. That never happens to me. (For the rest of my thoughts on the film, check out my review HERE
.) It did, however, give me a desire to see the cartoon, which is supposed to be multiples of awesome above the film.
Afterwards we had Taco Bell and perhaps watched an Episode of Supernatural (season 4, fyi,) though I can’t be sure on the details. – We would watch a lot of Supernatural in our downtime over our trip.
On the second day, July 3rd, they had their Fourth of July Parade. It happened on the third because the fourth was a Sunday, and the town they live in is full of non-Seventh-day Adventist Christians. It was a strange role reversal for me as normally the reason I’m attending a Fourth of July event on a different day is because that Keene is primarily Seventh-day Adventist, and the fourth usually lands on a Saturday (in my experience.) It was just another thread connecting other Christians to SDAs and their patterns of behavior. The notion that SDAs are so different from every body else becomes more ridiculous every day, it seems. 🙂
The parade itself was short, but pretty good. Much of it reminded me of the Keene parade, though I’d say Keene’s is a bit bigger. There were veterans driving by, tractors, antique vehicles, local organizations and schools on flatbed trailers and, of course, the fire department and police department.
There was also this one congressman who had a ton of people in yellow shorts with his name on it and hundreds of balloons. That segment seemed to drag on forever, as the people he had with him were all strung out, instead of one big clump. Katie theorized that the people were just walking too slow for the vehicles ahead of them. Personally, I think it was a planned thing, so that the congressman could take up enough time and mind share of the parade as possible. Well, he did succeed in making me remember him enough to talk about him in his blog, even if I couldn’t remember his name for the life of me.
Oh yeah. That's his name. He can't be ALL bad. He does give out candy and Balloons. It's an important part of being a congressman.
Their parade has a one-up on Keene, though, because they throw out candies and stuff that are actually good. In Keene, the only thing they seem to throw out are mints. This parade saw flying mini candy bars, jelly beans, Tootsie Rolls… they even had freeze pops! I wasn’t able to really join in the candy chomping free-for-all, being an “adult” (bleah!) but I did manage to accumulate a piece or two.
After the parade, Katie’s Mother’s side of the family came over and we had a big pizza party (my favorite kind.) When ordering the pizza, I insisted on a large stuffed crust pizza with green olives on one half of the pizza and pineapples on the other. This particular order is my favorite not only because I love both toppings, but because it also tends to drive off most other pizza eaters. This was not the case. Indeed, I only partook of a couple pieces of my lovely pizza. The rest was snatched up by others who oddly share my tastes in pizza.
Me, Katie, and her sister, Heather.
This wasn’t a total loss, however, as the discovery of people with good taste in Pizza is a rare find, and gave me an instant connection to them. I’m telling you, pizza brings people together. Afterward we had tasty Ice Cream, though it was merely of the vanilla sort (Katie adores vanilla, so she saw nothing wrong with one flavor.)
I also had some time to chat with one of Katie’s cousins, who’s name I cannot remember at the moment. He’s a gamer, or at least he used to play games a lot (It can be hard to fit games into a busy life.) So we talked a lot about various titles and systems. Turns out he was a Sega kid, and then later a Playstation fan, so we didn’t have the most overlapping experiences. While we weren’t able to reminisce over games from our pasts so much (He’s never played Ocarina of Time. *sad face*) but we found plenty to talk about nonetheless.
During the pizza party and the later socialization we had a little avian drama. A nestling bird (we think it was a Blue Jay) fell out of the tree in the front yard.
Like This, But With Less Feathers.
While everyone was generally confused and curious I *inserts hyperbole chip into brain* valiantly drew my iphone, that preposterously amazing weapon of choice, and google searched what to do in case of avian young falling from the heavens. At first I mistook the bird for a fledgeling, and ascertained that it should be fine (according to The Google) as the mother would feed the poor creature on the ground. As time passed and this did not happen, I went to get a closer look. Turns out the fledgling was a nestling, and thus in need of more than mere space. Again, following the all-knowing words of The Google, I went to work, and we soon had a plastic container with paper towels and grass in the bottom (along with drainage holes.) I nailed this make-shift nest as high on the tree as I could and slipped the baby bird inside. From there we were left only to hope that the mother found the baby and fed it.
After the family left, we took the opportunity to relax for a time or take naps. While everyone else was napping, I took the opportunity to play Civilization IV which I had just finished downloading to my laptop over Steam the night previous. Twas fun.
Around five, or so, we all got ready (which involved a lot of waking people up) to go to Katie’s dad’s side of the family’s party.
This get-together started out a little more awkwardly, but I warmed up to it fairly fast. There were lots of little kids and older people there, while Katie’s Mom’s family had more kids my age or so, so it was harder to find people to really talk to.
Lots of Little Kids
People like Rick and Heidi (who happens to be vegetarian too! Huzzah!) made me feel welcome, and we ended up chatting about Texas, animals and so on. The food was surprisingly great (like a dish that you reluctantly try a bite of at a potluck only to discover that you didn’t scoop up enough of this ambrosia in the first place.) I mostly enjoyed the dishes, but the whole thing was primarily grilled hotdogs and hamburgers. I brought some veggie patties, thankfully, but they didn’t have any mayo. Why don’t people like mayo? *Sigh*
After the meal most everybody got together in their back yard and played baseball. Now that was fun. My first at bat was sad, but partially because I was holding back for fear of hurting someone. Once I got it through my head that I couldn’t half-ass this, I started really swinging (I didn’t miss a ball once after that.)
The whole game was a heck of a lot of fun, and my team won handily with Katie’s dad pulling off an awesome grand slam.
We talked as the sun went down, and then headed out to the street to catch a glimpse of the fireworks that were beginning to boom in the distance. We couldn’t see them very well at first due to the trees arching over the street, so Katie, Heather, their dad and I took a walk. After moving up the street a couple of blocks we were finally able to more or less see what was going on, with bright red white and blue explosive lights dancing just above the tree line. Despite this, it became clear that there were missing the majority of the show for the trees, so we went back to the party, packed up, and went back to Katie’s house.
Did You Know? - 'Fireworks are difficult to photograph.'
The fireworks were still lighting up the sky when we arrived, and we could see them better from the lawn than we could at the party, so we stood outside and watched as the last of the fireworks thundered and showered to the distant applause of spectators.
On the actual fourth of July, we all went to Katie’s home church, which has had some major problems recently, with nearly two thirds of the congregation leaving over the issue of women in ministry.
It may not be Katie's Mennonite Church, but it is A Mennonite Church! ... Okay! Sue me! I didn't have a picture.
Due to this, the church was much more empty than I remembered it from the last time I visited. It’s sort of sad to see decline like this, but on the other hand, when I think of the close-minded nature of the people who left (they didn’t want women in leadership in the church, obviously,) my knee-jerk response is “good riddance, who needs ’em.” Still, if a church is supposed to be a family, then it’s not unlike a divorce where one parent takes the children and splits.
The sort of resentment that is sure to exist in the hearts of many of the church members was the indirect topic of the visiting pastor’s sermon, though I was only able to grasp it a little (I was falling asleep because for some reason I had taken my breathing mask off the night previous.) He was speaking on the two greatest commandments, Love your God, and Love your Neighbor, especially in the context of being wronged by said neighbors (aka, those guys who left.)
Afterward there was some socializing which I was only marginally a part of, which suited me fine. Especially considering I had completely forgotten to bring any nice clothes (I don’t usually care, but I wanted to do right by Katie’s family.) Thankfully, as Katie had assured me, nobody seemed to really care that my shirt said”(Elite).”
Sometimes, You just Gotta Hope Nobody Gets The Reference.
The rest of the day consisted of lunch with the family and lots of Supernatural episodes, which is to say, it was a slow day. Thus it was a nice change of pace from the previous.
One sad thing I should mention is that our valiant efforts to save the baby bird from the previous day all went for naught. We came home and checked on the nest, only to find a multitude of flies buzzing and a decidedly disgusting smell. So much for that, I suppose.
That evening was primarily taken up with Katie’s latest Netflix disc, that is to say it was from Star Trek Season 2. Initially, Katie was upset at the disc, thinking that it only held one episode of the show, the fantastically funny Trouble With Tribbles.
Creepy Thought: Most of those Tribbles Are Dead. He's standing in a pile of dead bodies.
Thankfully, there were actually two other episodes, but not of the original series. It pairs the original Tribbles episode with a Star Trek cartoon episode called “More Trouble With Tribbles” and a particularly great Deep Space 9 episode in which the characters accidentally travel back in time to the original Trek’s Tribbles episode and play into the various parts of the original. It was done in a style similar to Forest Gump, where the new characters were added in to scenes from the classic show, and had much the same effect as the Back to the Future film. Overall, Katie was very happy with the disc and we had a great time watching it.
The next day followed a similar track, being mostly relaxation, with only a visit from Katie’s niece, Kaylee to vary things much.
If You Don't Find That Adorble You Have No Soul
It does, however, give me a chance to say that Kaylee was a source of constant amusement the whole trip long. Not only is she freaking adorable, but she does many funny things. Except for crying. She did that once and I was torn between amusement and annoyance, as her parents looked like they were being hounded even as my ears were. Sadly, she finds me to be quite scary. Twice she went around high fiving everybody only to come to me, pull back her hand, give me a look and run back to another family member. We think it’s my beard. And the fact that I’m a guy. She apparently doesn’t like us much.
I do look like a viking though. That probably doesn’t help much.
But Really Now... What's So Scary About Vikings?
That evening we went over to visit with Katie’s dad, where I had some pizza, and Katie and her Dad got some Hardee’s take-out. We talked about little things, like how things were going and so forth. We tried to help him set up a printer, only for me to discover that the printer is decidedly too old for his operating system. Eventually we moved on to religious topics, occasionally tinged with political overtones. As per my usual mode of operation, I chimed in as much as I could while skirting obvious hot-button topics.
Katie and Her Dad ... And My Hand.
I usually find that right out disagreeing with someone on a topic is the easiest way to get them to stop listening to you, so I try to build to otherwise controversial opinions by laying groundwork with minor, very easy to see conclusions that might one day lead toward my own conclusions about things. I think it went very well. It was a fun time, even when I squirmed in my seat a little when he said something I flat out disagreed with.
The next day we packed up the last of our things, said our goodbyes, and hit the road. Much like the trip up, it went pretty well. In fact, I’d say the trip was better than the first time around, largely because of three things: 1. We left earlier in the day than last time, like we wanted to. 7:30, I believe. 2. Katie was much better about me driving her car the second time (though I could tell she was still tense) 3. We let Leon out of his cat carrier for the last hour or so, and he provided a lot of entertainment just by looking out the windows at everything curiously. Other than that it was much the same with the one aspect that was actually worse being the CD player, which became ridiculously enraging with its “No CD” errors.
You lookin' at dis, Mr. CD Player? Dis is you if you keep up that wise guy act. How' that for a deal, eh?
And that is how the trip was. Fun and different from my normal daily experience, if a little frustrating and busy at times. And of course I was happy to spend all that time with Katie. 🙂 I’m gad I went, and I’m actually looking forward to visiting again next time.
It really Was a Great Time
But now that I’m back, there are things to worry about and deal with anew. First of all, the new Health Bill isn’t going to go into effect fast enough for my parents to keep me on their insurance until I’m 26. So, basically, I’ve got until October before I have no health insurance (Which I can’t afford right now.) I’m hoping that I can still get my health insurance through the school because I’ll be going through the alternative certification program, but I’m not sure if it’ll work. I’ve also got to figure out if I own my breathing machine, or if it’s being paid off by my insurance. If it’s not mine come October, I’m going to need to find a way to keep it. It’s helped me too much to give up on now.
Complicating this problem is my car problem.
My poor, poor car. 😦 *sniffle*
My car could not blow air conditioning, putting a decidedly negative spin on my transportation during the summer months. At present, we managed to get the air conditioning blowing full force out of the car’s every orifice. That’s great, but I can’t control it at all, which means it’s really going to suck… I mean blow… come winter. The part I need to fix the problem entirely is over eight hundred dollars. My car is in such bad shape that myself, and my parents too, have come to the conclusion that it would be better to just start looking for a new car.
So now I’m in the car market, looking for a vehicle that is cheap but runs well, and which must have air conditioning and good gas mileage. I kind of like the look of the 2008 Ford Focus, but so far everything I’ve found is out of my price range.
And all this while I’m having insurance troubles. *sigh*
As a final note, I’m also waiting for Dr. Doneskey and Dr. Jones to look in their emails and realize that they have a message from me asking for letters of recommendation for the Alt-Cert. Program. I’m thinking of going out of the three-recommendation-letters box and asking some other professors to recommend me (Glen in particular.) At the very least I’m going to ask Glen if he has Dr. Doneskey’s phone number, as I do not.
That would be a rather negative note to leave off on, so I’m going to briefly talk about a new addiction I discovered just shortly before going to Illinois.
This game has me in the One-More-Turn trap that I remember so well from a number of years ago playing Civilization II (Gold Edition.) I love building up my civilization to be a marvel the world over, to have unstoppable armies and culture to die for. There’s always another city to invade, another wonder to build, a worker to direct. I love the changes from the older editions, with elements like religion taking a bigger role, and with fun little animations for the units. Probably the biggest change for me is that now I get it. I finally understand how to play the game. I know how to take advantage of different unit abilities. I know what is required to win and how to plan for that. I think I might be able to start playing at higher difficulties. In sum, it is everything that Civ II was, but much better. I’m definitely addicted, and so now the trick is going to be balancing my time with this game, my time with FFXIII, my writing, and everything else I need/want to do.
Ooo, so I’ve finished today’s blog post! What’s that in word count? um… 4,357! O.O
Sweeeet… Maybe I really can do this thing.
Anyways, that’s it for today’s post! Keep an eye open for stuff come this weekend! Adios!
Edward L. Cheever II
P.S. If my “Last Airbender” review links don’t work yet, don’t worry, I just haven’t written up the review yet.