Thursday, November 29, 2007

Within Spitting Distance

Nanowrimo ends with the month of November.  We're almost there.  

Some desperate souls are still under 20,000 and yet still trying to reach the finish line.  I've been there, tried to do that, failed but felt valiant in the attempt.  I cheer them on.

Some souls have their 50,000 and more, but are trying to reach 'The End' in their manuscript.  Some are closer than others to achieving their goal.  To me, this is the ideal for Nanowrimo, and I cheer them on.

Some, like me, are close to 50,000 but not quite there yet.  I have 48,481 words.  I won't reach 'The End' but I'll have crossed the finish line, and that's nothing to smirk at, which you'll know if you ever try Nanowrimo for yourself. 

There are quite a few writers who can write over 100,000 words during that time, and I used to count myself among them.  Something weird happened along the way.  I'm not sure if I do more housework during Nano (as opposed to only doing laundry or dishes if I run out of something) or if it's the part time job or if I write with more consideration on a first draft or what.  In a way, it doesn't matter.  What matters is that people are getting out there and writing lots, learning lots, getting past lots of road blocks, encountering problems they didn't know they had and they learn how to get past them.   Writing is one of those underestimated skills.  A lot of people believe that if they have a good idea, and since they know what they like to read, they can write.  They've been writing since kindergarten, or even before, right?  Well, there's a lot of suppose between that right and write.  Like any skill it takes practice, it takes feedback, it takes thinking and more practice and time and lots and lots of practice and education, learning from peers and pros, and tons of practice.

A lot of pro writers exceed the daily word count to produce a Nano, while a lot of pro writers are well under it.  Pulling a number completely out of my ass, I think many pros aim for about 1000 words in their daily writing, and Nano asks that you do 1667.  It's a fun pace, a somewhat forgiving pace provided you don't have too many zero word days, a brutal pace if you have lots of interruptions or there's a crisis in the midst of November (~which, as we all know, would never happen!~)  Let's cheer the mad, the inspired and the sleepless in these final hours.  I'll cheer me on, and them on, cheer everyone on, and hopefully encourage some of you out there who've been thinking about it to join us next year.

Go Nano!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I've got six thousand, seven hundred and ninety words to write on my Nano novel today.  Well, ideally today.  I work for the next two days and I don't anticipate having much writing time.  So why am I wasting my time here blogging?

Because sometimes I just need to warm up before I get started.  And sometimes I need to face that number.  Over six thousand words.  That's a long writing day, and I do have other things to do, like pee, and eat.  I can actually do substantially more than that in a day, but it takes the joy right out of writing.

There, I've whined, I've faced the number, and I'm ready to buckle down.

Nano finish, here I come.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Inconvenienced Poopyhead

Tis the season for poopyheads.  

I have an ongoing conversation with the customers about the holidays.  It's a strange conversation, because for me it's all the same, long discussion but they only participate in thirty second to one minute snippets.  A particularly brilliant customer pointed out that she far, far preferred Thanksgiving to Christmas.  No pressure to get the right presents or feel a need to overspend to make others feel loved, no overcommercialization outside of the constant push to buy your entire meal pre-prepped at your local grocery store, etc.  Just family and friends getting together to feast, and maybe watch a parade or football or a holiday classic.

I really like that observation.

Contrast this to my poopyhead customer yesterday.  She wheels up an overflowing cart full of Stuff and Things and starts unloading it, scowling.  Why she came to my counter I'll never know--my station that day is the smallest and is meant for fast transactions and tobacco and razor sales, though we don't have a sign up or anything.  I'm completely unable to help unload, or reload, bags.  She doesn't wait for me to ring things through but keeps loading until it starts to fall over, and then she barks at me to help catch it so it doesn't all tumble to the ground.  Then she scoots over and tells me she wants all her stocking stuffers in one bag.  That would really help.

Eager to improve her mood and keep myself in the running for queen of customer service, I do my best to obey.  Problem is that she has things like sample sizes of baby powder, toothpaste and such included as stocking stuffers along with the traditional chocolates and beanie babies.  Rather than sort them into piles or something she just waits for me to ring them through and impatiently rearranges things from one bag into another when I guess wrong. 

I'm almost done when she says she wants me to call someone to help her out.
"Sure!"  I tell her.
"Call them now."
"I'm not supposed to do that until I'm done ringing the purchase through."
"Well I don't want to wait here for ten minutes while they get around to coming up here.  I know how this works."  Okay, now I'm steamed, so I smile at her and page housewares.  Carrie, bless her heart, is there in ten seconds.

And this isn't even the beauty part.

She tells me "I have two of those and two of those, and I want them rung at the end."  She hands me an organizer of plastic drawers such as a crafter might use.  I obediently follow her command, only to find while I'm bagging them up that the two organizer drawers are *not* the same.  They're about the same size, but one is three drawers with a flip top and the other is five smaller drawers.  I rang up two of the five smaller drawers.  Worse yet, I've already totalled (over $300 of stuff) and the machine is printing off the receipts in hopes of getting Carrie out of here so she can get back to the floor and waiting on customers at the photo-electronics counter.
Naturally, since these were the last items rung, by her request, I've already hit the total key, ran her card, and it authorized.  We're at the point of no return.  Good.  Ness.
"I'm sorry, I just realized these aren't the same," I tell her.  I put them on the counter and she looks them over.
"I don't want this one," she says, shoving the five drawer organizer at me.  "I want two of this one."  She jiggles the flip top.
I'm tempted to tell her just get another flip top and we'll call it square, but I have a sinking feeling I rang up the more expensive one.
"How much does this cost?" she asks, jiggling the flip top one.
"Um, the five drawer is $7.49.  I don't know how much the other one is."  
"Well can't you just check?"
"The receipt is still printing out.  I have to wait until it finishes printing out."
"Just take this one off, then."
"I'm sorry, that has to be taken care of at the customer service desk," I tell her.  "Just sign here on your receipt and take everything over there."
"Can't you just refund my money for the organizer?" she asks.
"Sorry, I'm not authorized to do that.  If you just sign here they'll be able to write you a refund--"
"Well that's inconvenient," she snaps.
"I'm sorry for the inconvenience.  If you would please sign here--"
"I'm not signing anything until this is fixed."
I do a price verify on the flip top and my heart sinks.  $6.99.  I'm not even going to offer.  She's going to blow her top if I suggest we get her another flip top when it costs less.  She'll want her dollar.  Gah!  Darn you flip top organizer, why did you have to cost less?  If only you cost more!  I know my boss would be all over getting her out of the store at any cost, and this would be minor.  But no ...
"I'm sorry, I can't fix this," I tell her.
The customer behind her says, "The customer service desk is right over there.  They'll be able to help you."
She storms off, leaving Carrie to mind her cart.  Carrie doesn't dare leave, in case the woman might come back and feel like she was abandoned.  I can hear her chewing apart the lobby person from where I'm checking about how horrible I was to her.

Merry Christmas, ma'am.  I'm sure everyone will be delighted that you went through so much effort and trouble to get them sample-sized deodorant, weathering the horrible inconvenience of a self-created problem.  Yes, it was partly my fault.  I should have been doing my job instead of doing what she was telling me to do.  Yes, pleasing the customer is the bulk of my job but if I had rung through her order accurately using my own eyes instead of doing what she asked me to do, there would have been no error, and no fuss, and Carrie would have only have had to wait on her majesty for a few minutes.  I'm sure this makes her feel powerful, to prove how incompetent retail workers really are, and how much a trial it is to shop for presents.

Where is the excitement?  The pleasure found in generosity?  Was there ever a time in our own generation's history when people bought beautiful but modestly-priced, thoughtful gifts and enjoyed the spirit of giving?  I thought I used to do that, but I have to admit I've been getting stressed about it the past few years.

Well, the incovenienced poopyhead had cinched it for me this year.  I'm not going to be that.  If I can't find something nice and sweet and modest I'm going to give a card and gift card with my most heartfelt wishes.  I refuse to succumb to deodorant stocking stuffers and Easter-basket-style packaged over-priced gift sets of bath products just because I can't find anything on a store shelf that will bring real pleasure to the person I'm shopping for.  If I get a bath product, it's going to be Burt's Bees or that wonderful company that produced the glorious bath salts I got for my birthday and it's going to be something they'll want and use.  If I get deodorant it'll be because my son asked could he please have that darling deodorant in the window, please or please!  

So shall it be!

Poopyhead shopper.  :raspberry:  Take that, commercial Christmas!  

All my favorite songs

Sometimes music is too distracting to have on while I'm writing.  But when the music is composed of very well known faves, I can sink in beyond the lyrics and get into a great rhythm.  After spending a few mindless hours loading songs, I now have 272 or so faves that play at random while I type.  No commercials, no skipping past songs I don't like, no disk swapping.  It just goes on forever.  Well, twenty hours anyway.

I love that.

Overheard at the checkstand yesterday: 
"We combed over the place for hours and hours.  No blood, no hair.  He asks how we could have possibly missed that.  I don't have an answer for that."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Home Duck Home

I managed to survive Black Friday at work.  It wasn't that bad, actually.  We rarely had more than two people in line at a given station.  Of course, we had sixteen cashiers.  Yes, sixteen.  We have eight regular register stations and the lobby, and whenever someone took a break or lunch someone took their place, plus some started work early and some came in for the closing shift (which overlap during the busiest time of the day, which happens to be lunch time) so all sixteen people had something to do at all times.  

By six the shopping crowd had burned itself out and everyone apparently went home for dinner, so my boss gave me the option of leaving early.

"Yes!" I cried and closed myself off.  Hurricane winds swept up in my wake as I dashed to the CSM and started to count out.  I came home to duck dinner.  Bliss.

Today:  Nano, laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and organizing.  Huzzah!  It's been a long time since I've had a full day at home.  I've missed being here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kami Becomes a Zombie

One of the ideas I put forth to someone who was really looking forward to the Zombie Apocalypse was how sucky it would be if you ended up being one of the zombies.  Now that's no fun at all.

That became my fate after OryCon, although I don't think this is the start of the Apocalypse and hopefully my case is reversible.

I slogged through work today.  I had to keep moving because I was literally falling asleep while standing up.  But I had a nice laugh at the expense of a customer.  She seemed nice, really, and I wish her the best.  I doubt she realized the humor in her words, though.  Her mother explained to me on the sly that she'd recently divorced a real creep recently and had moved back home.  Then, separately, the girl told me that she graduated from high school in 2003.  She'd gotten a membership card before she married, she thought.  I hunted through records and pestered three stores before admitting defeat.  
"I can give you a membership as a courtesy," I told her.
"Oh no!  I can pay the five dollars."
"You can always wait, hunt through your things.  Maybe your card will turn up."
This very young, very pretty woman-girl who was already divorced four years after graduating from high school smiled and said, "I doubt it will.  I'm good at getting rid of things."

Yes, my dear, apparently you are.

Shuffling right along while moaning, I have the Mighty Transfer to look forward to.  I'll probably spend some time on it tonight, but mostly I plan on sleeping and then finishing up as much as I can tomorrow.

Which means it's time to stare blankly a moment, realize there are no brains directly in front of me, turn, and shuffle, moaning, in a new direction.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Movies that Make Me Cry

I'm having a bad night, so it's nicely coincidental that at work I read an article about movies that made people cry. It's been blogged about before all over the web, but what the heck, I'm feeling dispirited anyway. Might as well throw in my two cents. They had a top ten list that included The Green Mile, Old Yeller, Terms of Endearment, Ghost and so forth. They mentioned Schindler's List, but it didn't make the top ten and that's when I thought Huh? Not that I can do better, but here are mine, not ten exactly but my list of sob-inducing movies that didn't make the top ten list in the article.

1. Schindler's List--Let's start with the honorable mention from the article and put it on top. This movie is so hard to watch people often watch it just once, even though they report that it was one of the best movies they've ever seen.
2. Forrest Gump--This movie got so much hype it turned people off from watching it. Too bad, because I'm right there with Forrest leaking and snurffling when he's talking to his beloved, buried Jenny. And his little boy--goodness. And there's happy tears at the end, and on and on. I even cry during the credits, dang it!
3. Big Fish--The hardest part for me is when his son carries his father to the water, with all the people his father has loved there to bid him farewell, and his father swims away. But they don't let us off the hook that easy, nope. We go back to the hospital. Brutal. Pass the kleenex, please!
4. Bridge to Terabithia--The ending was terrible, as in some Hollywood jerk couldn't be satisfied with the boy and his sister crossing the bridge together but had to turn it into a bad facsimile of a Hallmark moment. Nonetheless, when I want to feel deeply and let the darkness take me away I grab this movie, some chocolate, a cup of tea and a handkerchief and brace for impact after the museum trip.
5. Braveheart--William Wallace, no matter how many times you're hurt and betrayed, you keep trying. When Wallace sees his beloved as a kind of ghost among the crowd of spectators while he's being disemboweled, I can't take it. Waaaaaaaaah! There are just so many difficult moments in this movie I want to curl up in a ball and rock.
6. What Dreams May Come--Has its moments, good and bad, but when push comes to shove this has to make the list of movies that wring tears from my eyes and forces me to stifle sobs. Robin Williams has a spotty track record but he does well in this. In many places the setting alone makes my throat ache. And then they meet again. Sniff!
7. Cyrano de Bergerac (French remake)--No one can take his panache. Emotional agony by death of a thousand paper cuts, and then it goes in for the kill. Gerard Depardieu is the one and only Cyrano for me. Roxanne, you are unworthy. I miss the semi-yearly tradition of Cyrano, brie cheese, red wine and croissants I used to have. I really need to have a Cyrano night again sometime soon.
8. Fellowship of the Ring--Kudos to Sean Bean for the horrifically beautiful death of Boromir. I felt every arrow, and wanted to soothe his regrets right along with Aragorn. It's not your fault, Boromir. Stupid ring, stupid stupid ring ...
9. Return of the King--While we're at it, when the ships sail, I lose it. I'm filled with joy, and pain, and longing. To the white shore, and a swift sunrise. Geez, it makes me tear up even now.
10. City of Angels--This movie got a lot of flack because apparently most people liked an earlier version rather than the remake. Well I didn't see the original, so this one makes my list. If I ever plan to see the original I'll let you guys know so that you can buy stock in tissue paper first.
11. Charlotte's Web--This movie has become threadbare over the years for me, but Charlotte's song about Mother Earth and Father Time will always get to me so long as I have a soul.
12. Watership Down--I'm not ashamed to say that animations can affect me just as deeply as a drama filmed with the world's finest actors. Bright Eyes, ah yes, I know he survives but dang. It still hurts like a sonuvagun. The movie hits hard with that feeling of loss.
13. Don Juan de Marco (with Johnny Depp)--Happy, happy tears. Chokes me up every time. Why not? And the music swells. Can't ... see ... I need a hug!
14. Toy Story 2--There's something about abandoning a cowgirl doll that kills me. Argh! It's just one point in the movie that makes me cry, but man is it ever reliable.
15. Grumpier Old Men--"I think God forgot about me." If you gotta go, I guess at a venerable age, in the midst of a beautiful love affair, is not a bad time. Here's a rose for the old man. Normally I'd pass on this sort of movie, but I have to admit I'm a long time fan of Sophia Loren, who still has my vote as one of the most beautiful women in the world. Ann-Margret is also in this film. Boy, if I hold up as well against time as these two women, I'll be a happy (if tearful) Kami. I'm glad I caved and watched this. I wasn't disappointed.
16. Somewhere in Time--I almost left this off the list because it's been so long since I've seen it, I don't know how well it holds up. But I still feel the pain after all these years, so here it is, warts, tears and all.

Additions, subtractions, disagreements, rotten vegetables and thumbs up welcome, as always.

Snufflingly yours, Kami

Monday, November 12, 2007

Day Three

Mojo is roaming the house now. We keep calling him a she because he's so pretty. It gives me a new perspective on writing about Jasmine in Mayhem.

Lucky is friendly, as he is to everyone, but Wizard is surprisingly concerned and hostile, although he's never done more than hiss at Mojo. Even Huntress seems a bit more tolerant, although she also hisses at Mojo. Dakota is just confused about this new member of the family, though not any more confused about Mojo than she is about anything else in this house. Mojo acts as if he's lonely, and roams about looking for company. When he thinks he's alone, even if he's not, he cries in his little white kitty voice until someone assures him that he's okay. I think that living in the house with all those cats, even though he was isolated from direct contact from them with just one friend inside a cage, has made him a far more social cat than you'd expect. He likes to be near people and near Lucky, although he doesn't like to be too near Lucky. He's wanting to play, though. He'll stalk Lucky, and then when Lucky looks his way Mojo sits very neatly with his front feet tight together in a tidy package, satisfied that he got at least a look. His Mojo distance of happiness appears to be about two to three feet. If there's someone or Lucky within two to three feet he's happy.

Andrea is knitting scarves again--it's that time of year--and Mojo *loves*, not a little bit but *adores* balls of yarn. They are the best toy ever and he doesn't care one wit if it's a cliche'.

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All in all, I think Mojo is content here. In this pic Huntress is on top of the chair back and Rory's leaning against the chair. Huntress protested when Mojo first settled in, but then she decided to ignore him. He's happy as a little white kitty can be.

Meanwhile, Nanowrimo continues apace. I've got a lot of writing ahead of me, so here goes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Not again!

We rang the bell and after a moment the grage door rolled up. A couple of people looked at us with puzzled expressions.

"We're here to see Tim," I tell them.

A third, older man comes down a set of side stairs. "We're here to see Tim?" I offer, since no one else ventured any information.

"Oh," he said. "No one told me you'd be coming."

"I emailed," I said.

"Well come on in. How'd you hear about us? Catlink or Pet Finder?"

"Pet Finder," Orion says.

The smell slaps us in the face the moment the door opens. They say meth houses smell like cat piss. Well this place smells like a meth house, and more. Its eye-watering, nose-covering bad and I'm grateful I'm sick. I'm sure it helps deaden the smell and when I cough A. I have a handerkerchief already handy and B. I can explain I'm sick and not have the caretaker give me a hairy eyeball for making a physical comment about the state of the house.

It's full of cats. Last month they had 200, and fortunately many of them were adopted out. He searches for Tim, and finds him. Big Bengal cross, and boy is he shy. The caretaker explains that most of the cats at the facility are or were feral. Tim's a hard case. He's been there two years and he's still incredibly shy.

Why are we here, do you ask? Because Orion pointed out that both he and Andrea lost pets this summer, and Andrea got to adopt one. It seems only fair ...

Yeah, I'm a soft touch.

Unfortunately Orion can't get near Tim. Apparently only the caretaker, and strangely me, can touch him. Tim allows me to pet him, but he makes himself flat. It's not a very convincing flatness, because he's so big. He's a sweetie, and so good natured considering that he's terrified.

Orion wanders. And wanders. And wanders. There are so many cats hiding in bookshelves, tucked in cages, curled up on scratchposts, nibbling on food, playing, chasing, scurrying underfoot that it's overwhelming. There's a poodle in the mix. Someone found him on the side of the road and brought him to the cat shelter. Why, they don't know, but there was no room at the nearest humane society so he's there among the cats, confused and scared and lonely and wondering what the heck he was doing with all these cats. The cats wondered too.

We play with lots of cats. I fall in love with a calico with fur as soft as a rabbit's and twice as glossy. She literally shines wherever she goes. Orion plays with a cute black and white kitten, but I say no. A. Black and white and all black kitties are reliably obnoxious about being vocal and B. he obviously has or has had ringworm.

It sounds like a house of horrors, and in many ways it is, but not for the cats. They're warm. They're safe from predators. They have plenty of food and clean water. They get medical treatment, including for the ringworm that so many feral cats have. And they're altered so that they don't have to suffer through pregnancy or hormonal rages that put them at risk for injury. The FLV positive cats have their own room and don't spread the disease to other cats. It's a very good thing, though it sure doesn't smell that way.

We land beside a cage, overwhelmed, when a small white kitten about four months old reaches through the bars and snags my shirt. "Mew!" He has such a soft yet insistent voice. He's not pure white either. He's unusual. If you can imagine a pure white siamese but with ginger instead of dark coloring, that's him. He has ginger tabby stripes on his tail and ginger ears. It's a red-eared hound! Only, er, not. He looks up at me with big blue eyes.

"Now he has serious personality," the caretaker tells us. "Want to pick him up?"

We had picked up a lot of cats, including a black kitty that likes to ride shoulders like Lucky and fiesty ones and cuddly purr muffins, but this one, yes, he has personality. He likes to be petted but only X amount of pressure, and his body leans away from the stroke to adjust so that you're petting him only just so much. He loves to be carried. He has a tender, ready purr and he's trusting, but not too trusting. Any noise, bump, sudden movement and he hides, but then he comes right back out as if to say 'If you're still out here I guess it must be okay. But next time it might not be so don't forget to hide too!'

We filled out the papers and took little Mojo home. He's our first white cat and he'll be all indoors. White cats are particularly vulnerable to predators, and also are prone to ear cancer.

Here's our Mojo all happy at home. He looks a lot younger in the pic than he actually is: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I mean it this time. No more animals. I'm putting my foot down! All you strays out there, you better not show up at our back doorstep because you're out of luck.

Unless you're really, really cute.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A moment of regret

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I had a moment today. While I was walking through the garden I was thrown momentarily back in time to spring. I suddenly longed for spring, and the summer to come. I normally love autumn but I wished with all my heart that it was spring, and it made me sad to see just a very few bees humming among the very last of the flowers. Not so long ago there was so much activity in the wildflower bed that you could hear it a good distance away. When the sun hit it, you could see silver sparkles where the insects flew and leapt among the blossoms.

I had a hard time gathering seeds. The birds have really picked them over. But I got enough, I hope, a future garden in little zip lock bags.

We'll get our first really hard frost soon and I'll forget all about this, snug in a house that smells of cinnamon and spiced cider, taking pictures of frost heave, enjoying how fluffy the goats are, and being able to see the birds in the feeder when the leaves are all gone. But for a moment, I had regret.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


I just spent a wee bit of time saving my recent work onto Snape, both writer's workshop stuff as well as my Nanowrimo novel WIP, the most recent Masks edit, and some new stuff that I played with but set aside for now due to time constraints. I feel a little safer about my data after a Finder crash earlier today.

I know what's wrong with Gypsy. Her b-tree is corrupted. I know, I know, say it ain't so, Kami, say it ain't so! I've known about this problem for a long time, but we've lived with the instability and uncertainty for quite a while and I'm sort of used to it. There are certain things that the directory won't support anymore, like changing email identities and then trying to send out emails, going to certain websites, and sneezing on a Tuesday. Those things are annoying but recoverable. The Finder going kaput for a bit this morning, though, scared me. So I took some precautions. Snape has his issues (big time!) but he doesn't appear to have any symptoms that might suggest that his hard drive is starting to fizz. True, b-tree corruption may not necessarily point the bitter black finger of death in the direction of our hard drive, but it's one of those things like coughing up blood where I wouldn't necessarily ignore it and assume everything will be okay.