Feeding Spam to My Ferrets

I love my job. I mean LOVE. I snack on words at tea time. I shake them in a bag like dice and see what they form when they roll out. People send me words and I’m as excited as a kid at Christmas to read them. My collection of greeting cards fills more than one box and when I’m down I pull one out at random and feel the love.

Words. The gift that keeps on giving.

But when I want a laugh, a good deep belly laugh, I pull up my spam emails and feed them to my ferrets.

It is my pleasure to communicate with you via this platform. Your positive regards towards this very message will be appreciated, please do not regard this email as one of the common unsolicited email or false business invitation in the world today. I am fully convinced that you will really be of help as a new friend and business partner. I hope my message to you will be given proper attention despite the fact we have not seen or even meet each other before. knowing fully well it takes a minute, an hour or even a day to know somebody and also establish an everlasting relationship with truth and honesty between you and I without cheat, lie or sabotage the business project. My lawyer will prepare a good memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the success of this project in-line with law of your country of origin. I can assure you the success of the business transaction if you can keep it top secret. Humbly indicate your full name, Contact address and contact number while replying my proposal.

Hello my loved one! I wish to say that this post is amazing, nice written and include approximately all significant infos. I would like to see more posts like this.

certainly like your website but you need to test the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find it very bothersome to tell the truth then again I will definitely come again again.

The subsequent time I read a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this one. I imply, I do know it was my choice to learn, however I actually thought youd have something attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you might repair in case you werent too busy on the lookout for attention.

It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this fantastic blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will share this website with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

Thanks for the tips you discuss through this blog. In addition, several young women who become pregnant don’t even try and get health insurance because they dread they probably would not qualify. Although some states right now require that insurers supply coverage no matter what about the pre-existing conditions.

We are approaching a future of a one-world cashless society in which they will mandate us to have an RFID microchip implanted in our body. This chip will contain all our personal information and we will lose much more of our privacy because of the tracking capabilities. More importantly, did you know that this was all prophesied almost 2000 years ago by a man named Jesus? Don’t believe me? Keep reading…This may be the most important thing you will ever read.

Was it ever. Went on for pages and repeated in several languages. But he could have spared the space and just beeped the info via satellite into my microchip.

Knowing fully well it takes a minute, an hour or even a day to know somebody and also establish an everlasting relationship with truth and honesty, I know I can count on you to stick around when I do a bunch of whining about one thing that I might repair if I weren’t so busy looking for attention.

You’re the best.

And it is my pleasure to communicate with you via this platform.

The Maelstrom

My kid stepped on a screw last week. He went through the garage barefoot to take out the trash and started hollering. When I answered his warbles, he calmly asked me to unscrew the screw sticking out of his heel. To do this properly, you have to turn it ‘Lefty Lucy’.

Later, after a trip to urgent care, some X-rays, a new Darth Vader boot, and a tetanus shot, he rode the whole way home updating his social media accounts.

“Seriously kid?”

“If I don’t post it,” he said, “it didn’t happen.”

“Oh, it happened. It was disgusting.”

Silence. More tapping.

A long, long time ago, somewhere off the northwest coast of Norway, a Viking discovered a swirling vortex of death, a tornado made out of ocean, and just said no to the maelstrom. Have you seen the movie, Sharknado“? This is how I feel when surrounded with social media. My kid was sucked in willingly and I never heard from him again. The kraken got him.

It’s his own fault.

In the meantime, I’ve created accounts on Instagram, YouTube, Goodreads, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and three – count em, three – Facebook thingys. One of which is a Private Group called Jolie Tunnell’s Earlybirds“, which is basically a book club. I’ve got a website, a business, a blog, and a book to maintain.

So, I’ve set my own vortex into motion, spinning in happy little currents, and as the tide goes in and out, I wonder how much time I have left before it traps me. At its center is my newsletter. Everything else is attached to it in some way and that feels like the right direction for this year. Lefty Lucy. If you want to know what happened to Jolie, read the newsletter.

Which, by the way, I may have accidentally on purpose signed you up for already. I knew you wouldn’t mind. But if you do, there’s this cool button called “Unsubscribe” at the bottom of it that will make it all go away. It has adorable palm trees in the title so you can find it in your inbox but I think most of them landed in your trash. You’d best go dive in there and save it from last month.

🌴

If the kraken ate it, sign up here for a fresh start:

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The Imperiled Ocean Winner!

The Imperiled Ocean by ocean journalist Laura Trethewey is a deeply reported work of narrative journalism that follows people as they head out to sea. What they discover holds inspiring and dire implications for the life of the ocean — and for all of us back on land. Battles are fought, fortunes made, lives lost, and the ocean approaches an uncertain future.

Congratulations to Missy from Illinois, the winner of Laura’s freshly minted and personally autographed book! These smart and thought-provoking stories are worth sitting down and thoroughly ingesting. Here is an excerpt from her piece, Cleaning the Coast.

Thank you, Laura, for an exploration of the earth’s last wild frontier, and the opportunity to get to know it – and you – better.

A worn piece of plastic drifted on the ocean over a thousand miles from civilization. A sailboat approached with a 30-year-old woman on board. She leaned out over the gunwale to pick the plastic from the surface. Except she couldn’t: long, dangling seaweed roped the plastic to the water. She reeled up the weed, hand over hand; it stretched deeper and deeper into the depths. Down below, she saw fish darting between the fronds.

As Chloé Dubois sailed farther into a slowly spinning gyre of plastic in the largest ocean on Earth, she experienced this scene again and again. It was 2015, and Chloé and her team at the nonprofit Ocean Legacy had sailed to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to collect microplastic samples for The Ocean Cleanup, another plastic-pollution nonprofit.

Using samples collected by 37 boats, Chloé’s included, that trawled a 3.5-million-square-kilometer swath of the Pacific, Ocean Cleanup hoped to create the first high-resolution map of ocean plastic. Chloé remembers hauling up the water-sampling trawler and peeking in at its contents on deck, and discovering all manner of marine stowaways in the detritus. How did you get here? she wondered as she picked up a tiny crab clinging to a bottle cap in the middle of the formidable ocean. Drifting by the boat, she saw buoys covered with gooseneck barnacles. Ocean-knotted islands of rope that hid masses of organisms.

“On the news, there’s this plastic island in the middle of the ocean that’s the size of Texas, and that’s pretty much what people know unless they go out there and experience it for themselves,” she said. Instead of a floating island of waste, as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is so often portrayed, she encountered more of a drifting slurry. The pollution came in all shapes and stages of degradation, from microscopic particles and fibers, to toothbrushes, bottles and great tangles of fishing nets and lines.

She witnessed, too, how nature worked with the plastic intruders. In the ocean, bacteria and algae quickly glom onto any floating feature they can find, drawn to the nutrients that collect there. More and larger animals, like barnacles and tubeworms, follow suit, fastening themselves to the marine debris. How productive of the ocean to use the plastic to build tiny ecosystems out on a vast desert of salt water, where so little life thrives in comparison to coastal waters.

The Garbage Patch was not a dead zone at all, she realized, but a world teeming with life.

Since she was 17 years old, Chloé has been involved in the environmental movement. In her early twenties, she began collecting plastic from beaches and she’s now cleaned shorelines across Mexico, Alaska, Costa Rica, Panama, and Canada. When she was 29, she co-founded the nonprofit Ocean Legacy, and she has become obsessed with cleaning plastic from the environment. She knows the names, acronyms, and resin codes of the plastic pantheon like they’re her children.

For a moment, Chloé hesitated before destroying the little crab’s home, this plastic piece of garbage that it had found and colonized and survived on against all the odds. Rationally, she knew that the crab’s plastic bottle cap was on its way to becoming a toxic pill. Plastic is a master at teasing out toxins from the ocean, sucking floating chemicals from the water column and condensing them into ever more hazardous forms. Industrial metals, pesticides, fertilizers, plastic softeners, and flame retardants can dissolve in water or be hydrophobic, meaning they want out of the water fast. Plastic already contains some of the chemical contaminants found in water, and that makes certain types of plastic naturally attractive hosts to wayward chemicals. A smaller animal might then ingest that poisoned plastic item, covered in slimy nutrients and pollutants, like PCBs, that have been banned on land for decades but are still drifting out in the ocean. A larger animal will then eat this animal, and up the food chain the plastic goes, magnifying its toxicity as it jumps to each new animal.

Chloé knew all this. She had seen the damage firsthand, yet destroying an animal’s home still gave her pause.

Then she plunged her hands in and removed all the plastic she could find, no matter how much life clung to it. The team built a home for displaced crabs in a glass tank on deck.

When they had sailed outside the center of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Chloé dove off the boat and into the sea. When she climbed back on board, tiny pellets of plastic covered her skin. After a month and a half sailing across the Pacific, her sailboat returned to land with 154 water samples hauled up from across the ocean. Every single one contained plastic.

Not all plastic is a problem. Much of it helps us and is integrated into every step of human life from birth to death. As I write this, I tap away on computer keys made of plastic, scroll through webpages on a mouse made of plastic, and peer through glasses rimmed with plastic. It’s the cheap, omnipresent plastic that lasts hundreds of years but is built to throw away the second after we use it that’s a big problem, perhaps one of the biggest for the ocean.

For almost as long as industrial plastic production has existed, we’ve known that plastic was going in the ocean. In the 1970s, a team of researchers sampling water in the sluggish Sargasso Sea reported that tiny plastic fragments were floating on the surface. During a 1997 yacht race from Los Angeles to Honolulu, a sailing scientist named Charles Moore passed through a remote stretch of Pacific Ocean and found himself surrounded by plastic debris in all directions. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as it was later called, grabbed the world’s attention.

Suddenly there was a tangible place where all our waste was going, just outside the limits of our imagination.

The sea is a vast, deep, mutable force that covers 71 percent of the Earth. Plastic is small, ubiquitous, and breaks into ever-smaller pieces. When these two meet, they marry: a horrible collision between the synthetic and the natural.

A trawl sample collected from the Great Pacific Gyre by Ocean Legacy.

Given enough time, the ocean has the ability to spread plastic to the most remote reaches of the planet. Today, plastic is drifting in the waters off Antarctica. Plastic comes down in rain. Plastic fibers pass through the filter-feeding valves of oysters. Not long ago, Japan’s Deep-sea Debris Database reported finding a fully intact plastic bag in the Mariana Trench, the deepest underwater trough in the world.

We still don’t know exactly how much plastic is going into the ocean. One study, published in Science in February 2015, conservatively estimates that eight million metric tons of plastic is entering the ocean each year from municipal solid waste streams on land. That is 200 times higher than what had last been calculated in 1975 based on plastic pollution entering the ocean from maritime activities, and more than 2,000 times higher than what had been estimated from floating debris samples.

In that 2015 study in Science, environmental engineer Jenna Jemback and her co-authors argue that barring any major changes, plastic going into the ocean will multiply by a factor of 10 in 2025. That’s 80 million metric tons of plastic dumped in the ocean each year.

Despite the startling numbers of waste already in the ocean, our love of plastic endures. Plastic production is growing and expanding right along with plastic demand. By 2030, our need for plastic is expected to double.

The financial guru Warren Buffett once compared a stock market crash to the tide going out: you find out who’s been swimming naked all along. During the 2008 financial crisis, we discovered that big banks can fail. For centuries, we’ve believed the same of the ocean: that it was simply too big to fail. But an encroaching movement of threats, such as a warming ocean, overfishing, and pollution, could change that in the not-too-distant future.

If we could see beneath the surface, what would we find at the bottom of the sea? Perhaps millions of tons of plastic lying undisturbed, except for the bottom-dwellers that nibble at the nutrients collecting on it. Perhaps this evidence of the world’s waste will eventually become a layer of sediment pressed between rock layers: the Plastic Era, a fitting symbol of human-made change, baked into the Earth’s crust.

Author Giveaway, The Imperiled Ocean

Laura Trethewey sits across the folding table from me on bright San Diego Tuesday mornings, but we’re not supposed to talk to each other. The writing room is pretty much like sitting in detention and being forced to write a three page essay on dust bunnies before the bell rings. We swing between frantic typing and staring in frozen silence at our screens – or out the window – and this is what we do for fun.

It works.

All of us writers come and go in anonymity here unless we make it a point to step out for a ten minute break. On one of these jaunts between our laptops and the coffee place down the way, I discovered that Laura was working on nonfiction essays about the ocean. And she’s been working on them for a while. When you meet other writers, it’s polite to ask about their projects, but I’ve found that sometimes the best stories are the writers themselves. Laura’s been on a lot of travels and adventures, and writing them down for magazines and newspapers has recently culminated in her first book, The Imperiled Ocean. Congratulations, Laura!

Laura is a native Canuck who has also lived in Scotland but now lives here. Because, San Diego. You can read all about her on her website, but her projects, like this video, which she wrote, researched, and produced, will give you an idea of her passion for all things ocean.

Hubby and I attended her book launch last month. We sat in the cozy downtown bookstore, listening to her broad perspective on the relationship between people and the ocean. “I’m very curious,” she said, “about the ways that people view and use the water. I’m used to thinking about traveling over water, by boat for example, but I hope this book helps people think about the ocean from many other angles.” As these amazing essays cover topics from refugees to plastic pollution to Hollywood, I’d say Laura did just that.

On a life raft in the Mediterranean, a teenager from Ghana wonders whether he will reach Europe alive, and if he does, whether he will be allowed to stay. In the North Atlantic, a young chef disappears from a cruise ship, leaving a mystery for his friends and family to solve. A water-squatting community battles eviction from a harbor in a Pacific Northwest town, raising the question of who owns the water. In this exploration of the earth’s last wild frontier, I follow seven true stories of the ocean undergoing tremendous change as it faces an uncertain future.

To win an awesome autographed copy of her new book, enter a comment in the box below. Entries will be accepted through Sunday the 26th at midnight and the winner will be announced next week on the 28th! Addresses accepted from anywhere in the world that a book can be mailed.

Laura Trethewey reporting from the Dogpatch, an off-grid boating community fighting eviction from the harbor of Ladysmith, British Columbia.

Top Five Faves from 2019

I can’t believe it. 2019 is rolling to a close. I hope you have each decided on a creative way to ring in the fresh 2020. Perhaps with a thankful list of all the little things that brought you joy, perhaps with a sigh of relief that some things are now behind you. Or perhaps like a certain sister-in-law, determined to do a Polar Bear Plunge on the first fresh new year morning with a leap into the salty Pacific. To each her own.

Taking a peek at my website, I can see that I tried a variety of new things this year and I want to encourage you to spread your own wings, too. It’s okay to knock on doors, just to see who opens them. Bring a couple of girlfriends along, in case it’s a trap full of Imperial Stormtroopers, but most of the time, it’s just a group of Ewoks and a Baby Yoda or two. (What if there’s more than one? EEK!)

Since you’re staying up past your bedtime tonight anyway, here’s the countdown of our Top Five Blogs of 2019 to read.

5. The Blues is about depression, what feels like, how it works, and that you are loved.

4. Eldercare Where? is about transitioning through our different life stages and giving particular thought to our elders’ circumstances.

3. Pie Giveaway Time! was a fun blog to run and I’m planning a lot of giveaways next year! Stay tuned!

2. Vaping, School, and Your Kid is as labeled and full of links and photos. Parenting is not for sissies.

1. Stalked by the Empty Nest was the opener for 2019 and contains all the emotions of change.

I wish you joy and courage. I hope you do hard things and grow stronger from them. I want you to carry your laughter into battle because we are all in this together and I need to hear your giggles beside me.

Love your people, lend a hand, nourish yourself with all good things. May your light rise and brightly glow into the new year.

NaNoWriMo Week 4: Sliding Home

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count since November 1: 50,161

Cool, celebration music video for proper writing atmosphere:

I am thankful for: The opportunity to live a well rounded life and appreciate that this day will never repeat, ever, in the history of the universe. So you better fill it to the brim. And I did, in between turkey and pie and maybe some shopping at the mall.

I poured over 50,000 words into a document, one bite at a time, and it even looks like a really fun book. Who knew?

Excerpt from a random bit of writing (with great reservations because we are not allowed to edit until December and you know it’s making me crazy):

He had his stetson in his hand and offered me the other. I smiled and took it, whereupon he gave me a spin right there in front of the hostess. “Oh, my,” he said, “I believe we’d better get the best seat in the house tonight, ma’am.” Then he winked at the hostess and I’m fairly certain she had to hold on to her podium to stay upright.

“Gina, darlin, you can’t be more than knee-high to a grasshopper, but aren’t you just all lady.”

He held me out at arm’s length and I actually couldn’t do anything but let him.

“Not exactly serving the salad tonight,” I said with a smirk. I was half flattered and half annoyed.

“I should say not,” he said as he tucked my hand in his arm and we followed the hostess to our seats. The table was in front of a window wall with a view of the Torrey Pines lagoon and beaches of Del Mar. Below us was the highway and beyond that was a line of train tracks. The sun was at the end of it’s evening rituals and the sky was several shades of blue. Shane held out the chair for me and the hostess added a napkin to my lap.

“Wow,” I said as he took his seat. We enjoyed the scene for a minute in silence. When I looked his way again, he was watching me. It was hard to tell what he was thinking. Maybe that my nose could use some work. His hat was on a corner of the table, and I set my little black clutch next to it, friendly-like, and smiled.

The sommelier arrived with the wine list and Shane gave it a quick look and ordered a bottle for us. I was grateful. I buy my wine by the label and I’m certainly not above two-buck chuck. This date was his idea. But just in case he thought I was a women’s libber, Gramps’ stash was in my little bag. I crossed my toes for luck. Luck that I could return the money to the freezer before anyone noticed.

“How are you, darlin?” he asked and it really looked like he meant it.

“Oh, fine, just great,” I said, with a mental face palm, “How are you, Shane?”

“Never better. It’s been a good week. Thank you,” the sommelier was back and poured him a little taste from a fresh bottle. Shane approved it without the whole swirl, sniff, smack of lips or other antics I’ve seen on TV. Two glasses were poured and the rest left in a bucket at his side. He lifted his for a toast and I raised my glass as he said, “Happy Friday. Here’s to a weekend free of weddings.”

I took a sip and said, “As much as I’d love to applaud that sentiment, I may have to object instead.” He waited politely for the punch line. “I might just have a new job in the industry. Fingers crossed.”

“I knew there was something going on, there. I’m just not sure I understand your interview methods.”

We perused the menu for a minute and I focused on the options, not the price tags.

“I hope you’ll order something more than a salad,” he said, “the filet mignon is first rate and I can speak personally for the prime rib.” He looked my way. “And before we get into the nuts and bolts of sexism and cliche and other weary female adages, let me tell you up front that this evening is on me. My mama raised me right, but I have no problems taking your little bag away from you until you’re on your way home again.”

NaNoWriMo Week 3: Every Word Counts

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count since November 1: 35,201

Cool, procrastination music video for proper writing atmosphere:

I am thankful for: surviving the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, and whatever we are calling the decades after that because everything shrank up then, including the date digits. We can’t be cool again until the 20s. That’s in January, people. Get ready for bigness.

Big hair. Big teeth. Big family. Big attitudes. Well. Some things never change.

Excerpt from a random bit of writing (I missed two days of writing and the pain involved in catching up was unreal):

I was dreaming. Alec Trebeck was looking in the mirror and working a can of mousse through his thick distinguished hair, working it up to epic heights. Ronald Reagan appeared next to him in a robe. “Dude, is that a wig?” he asked. Then he read the back of the can. “Can I borrow some of that?”

“Evacuate immediately,” said Alec.

“Huh?” Ronnie looked confused.

I cracked open an eye and in the pitch darkness, a circle of red danced across my wall and disappeared. I heard a car outside rolling slowly down the street and Dufus started barking in the hallway. I rolled over just enough to wipe the drool from the side of my mouth and sat up and shook the sleep from my head.

“Everyone evacuate immediately. There is a gas leak in the area.”

Are you kidding me? I grabbed my cell phone and read 4:30am before it conked out. I reached the other direction but my sweatshirt wasn’t where it belonged. I slid off the bed, stumbled over the piles on my floor, and slapped at the lightswitch. Nothing. The electricity was out.

“Dufus! Can it!”

“Gina? Gina what’s happening?”

“Hold on, Gramps. Stay where you are, I’m coming.”

My bag was on the peg, thankfully. I hauled it over my shoulder, opened the door and heard Dufus scuttle into the living room. Through the front window, I saw a patrol car going by with all it’s lights on. The megaphone on it’s roof blared across the neighborhood and, although it was dark everywhere, I could see people moving around outside.

“Everyone. Please evacuate the area. There is a gas leak.”

“Gramps, we need to go. Where’s your bathrobe?”

I stepped to his bedroom door, where he stood in his boxers, knobby knees and spindly chest. His robe was on the door where it always went and I helped him into it. My eyes were adjusting to the darkness.

“Gramps, can you get your slippers on?”

“Sure, Gina, where’s the fire?”

“Gramps, that’s not funny. The cops say it’s a gas leak. I wonder where? Grab your teeth and I’ll grab your emergency cash and let’s get to the car.”

I herded him into the living room. My car was parked right outside. I could see other neighbors car lights coming on, as they scurried around. I reached into the freezer, behind the broccoli that had been there for a solid ten years and pulled out a small container of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Inside was Gramps $500. I hoped fervently that he hadn’t dipped into it in his poker enthusiasm. I gave it a quick shake and heard a reassuring thump. Tossing it into my bag, I took Gramps by the hand and we dashed out the front door.

I beeped open the passenger door and got him into a seatbelt.

“Wait here while I get Dufus,” I said, and set my bag on his lap.

“What about my teeth?” He was waving them around.

“Just toss them on the dash.” I slammed the door shut.

NaNoWriMo Week 2: Into the Weeds

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count since November 1: 24,506

Cool, procrastination music video for proper writing atmosphere:

I am thankful for: those moments when inspiration hits and your feet just take over the dance floor. Confetti helps, of course. And screaming.

Excerpt from a random bit of writing (goals achieved for 14 straight days in a row! Woot!):

Meggie was frantically snapping shots, running almost in circles around each couple as the groomsmen escorted family up to their seats, parasols aloft, and then took their place beside the chaplain. There was a pause and then, each bridesmaid, in a delicate swirl of pale green silk, carrying bouquets of cream with arches of greenery and ribbons cascading from the bottom, began their slow procession to the alter. I knew, without a doubt, what those ladies had sacrificed by wearing thongs under Spanx and walking through the sand in high heels. There was sand between their toes and misery in their nether parts right now, all in the name of love. Psh. The fact that they could slap smiles on top of that makes me proud of strong women everywhere. But also shake my head.

I saw a swatch of pale gray pantsuit through the gap. Finally, I’d found her. Then I saw a swatch of black tuxedo and a sinuous slink of white lace pause at the end of the sidewalk. Two things happened at once. Lizzy McEwen turned with her back to me, to let them pass, and a sudden gust of wind came around my corner. The bride shrieked and when the pantsuit moved forward, I saw white flowers flying away on the beach, tumbling down the sandy shore. Someone at Dandelion Daydreams was going to be fired today and it made me happy to think that I wouldn’t be alone on the streets tonight. My hands started moving before I realized that I’d had a thought. Snip, snip, and another snip later, my arm reached out from behind the bushes.

Ms McEwen cocked her head to the side just enough to see the voluptuous cluster of exotic pink flowers in my proffered fist and that it was attached to an arm in black sleeves that extended from nowhere. She seized the hibiscus and with one deft twist, the bridal bouquet was filled with pink. It had taken almost no time at all, and immediately the bride and her father were down the aisle. Ms McEwen waited for a beat, then placed a hand on the corner of the building, the other on her bluetooth, leaned over and made eye contact with me, frowning a real, live frown.

I felt like a mouse caught in a trap, waiting for its fate. She looked at me like I was an alien with two heads. “Eagle has landed, cake in place, Zach no-show with the accordion, and can the florist.”

Now who had two heads?

“Who are you?” she asked.

“I’m Gina,” I said, “I can explain.”

NaNoWriMo Week 1: So It Begins

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count since November 1:  12,391

Cool, procrastination music video for proper writing atmosphere:

I am thankful for: working from home where I can shout, shout, let it all out without coworkers giving me the side-eye or putting customers on hold. I can cough and cough and cough without missing any work days. I am deeply grateful that I am able to spend my time spinning straw into gold. (Watch the whole bit. You’re welcome.)

Excerpt from a random bit of writing (unedited because knickety-knack and we don’t look back, please refer to #1 and #5, above):

Currants and Cream Catering was having none of it. Loretta herself wasn’t here, but it was apparent that she had a bouncer hired as her representative. The catering commando stood squarely in front of the gorgeous Mr O’Donnell and from what I could gather from peering through the window, was calmly informing him of the error of his ways. I was next in line, and I cowered mostly behind the windowsill, watching in mute horror as Shane had a few words with her.

I couldn’t hear a word because the piano man had obviously ignored the fact that everyone else was in the house now, and he put forth an energetic rendition of Elvis’ “I Want to Be Your Teddy Bear”. I thought I could hear him singing along with his tune, softly. Some people really get into their jobs.

When the commandant was finished, Mr O’Donnell began speaking. I could tell by his arm motions and the cock of his head. As he proceeded, Ms Currants and Cream began to thaw. Her shoulders dropped a little. Her face softened. She took her tightly crossed arms down and put a fist on one hip. I shivered a little in the evening breeze. It wasn’t cold, but I was wet in places that had no business being wet. My toes were swimming in little champagne pools.

“Tiny Bubbles,” crooned the piano man.

The catering queen smiled. Who wouldn’t? Just watching Shane – er, O’Donnell – from the backside was a treat. I watched her nod once, say something dismissive, and take the hand that O’Donnell extended. Her smile grew and she said a few more things before releasing his hand but once she did, he marched away and into the house. We both watched him go and she had to bark my name before I turned back to the business at hand.

She never told me what he’d said, but I was to remain a gainful employee of Currants and Cream Catering at least through the next week. This dinner was the prequel to the main event and if O’Donnell had put in a good word for me, it seemed that she was going to at least keep her word and not fire me until their contract was completed. This meant a wedding. A glorious affair next Sunday at the Hotel Del Coronado itself, the crown of San Diego, the historical monarchy of the coast, the next gleaming paycheck with my name on it.

I left with the catering truck and never saw him again, not even when I peeked through several windows while we packed our boxes and stacked leftover trays in their gleaming perfect kitchen. He was taller than a lamppost with a flaming red top. How hard could it be? But there you have it. Story of my life. What are you gonna do? It was really sweet of the guy. If I couldn’t thank him, I could at least pass on his good karma to the next klutz I met.

I passed the piano on my way out with the last box.

“You can stop now. Unless you know anything from the 80s?”

Tiki torches bounced their light off his smile.

I listened to his tune all the way home in my head. A deep rhythmic, rebellious, perfect for a wedding and my new job, rendition of “Another One Bites the Dust”.

****************

When I told Jen the story, she went nuts.

“You did what?” she questioned, “And Loretta took you back?”

She spooned mashed peas into her eleven month old.

“Loretta is pretty tough about her reputation. I can’t believe it.”

“It wasn’t my fault,” I began, “accidents happen, you know.”

NaNoWriMo Because I Hang Out with Crazy People

Lest I feel that dedicating this year to earning a “Novel Writing Certificate” is small potatoes…

Because it’s not enough to spend Tuesday and Saturday mornings driving in traffic for an hour in order to diagram plot points and decide whether my historical protagonist likes her coffee black or with a smidge of stevia…

Because meeting total strangers for the sole purpose of discovering that they are master writers and I am a kindergartner wielding a purple crayon…

They gotta throw “National Novel Writing Month” on top of it.

Did you know that novelists – the guys doing the real deal – have three to four books somewhere in progress while simultaneously coming up with new book ideas to pitch to publishers and they still teach classes, hold workshops, and market like crazy to make the money happen?

Do you know how much work it is to maintain a business social media, website, and amazon presence? No, you don’t, because if you’re smart you’ve hired me to do it for you. I run a freelance writing business on the side to pay for my obsession. That puts me one step closer to crazy town than I thought.

Me: “Don’t you think attempting to write a brand new novel in a single month will distract me from the one I’ve been trying to write for the last three years?”

Teacher/Author: “I highly recommend NaNoWriMo. Especially if you have a hard time with perfectionism.”

Me: “Who, me? Don’t be ridiculous preposterous silly.”

Teacher/Evil Person: “The idea here is that in one month, you sit down and make 50,000 words. That’s only 1,666.66666 words a day. Easy peasy. As long as you don’t edit while you write.”

Me: “But that’s what people love me for pay me to do.”

Teacher/Gastroenterologist: “You can’t keep a good steady outgo if you’re blocking with analytics. You have to relax. Just enjoy the word vomit.”

Me: Simultaneously whimpering and signing up online. My code name is Jolie Guacamole.

If you clean your house before the cleaning lady arrives, you know exactly how I feel.

And if you know how I feel about vomit, you also know exactly how I feel.

Buckle up. You will still get regular blogs in November because I love you, but they will be made ahead of time and auto-post with updates on my progress.

If you have a completely random character, setting, villain, plot twist, vehicle, pet, name, or an especially exciting way to kill off boring side characters, give it to me right here in the comments! Then tune in next month and see how I wrote about it.

Better yet, sign up yourself and join me on the dark side. *evil laughter*