27 Jun

It’s probably not a bomb

I woke up a while back to the sound of ticking. Not a big sound, a little sound. Tick, tick, tick.

My first sleepy thought was, “I should get rid of that clock. I don’t need more things to ruin my sleep.”

My second sleepy thought was, “I don’t have a clock.”

From sleepy to heart-racing in two seconds. My thoughts went like this: there’s a ticking noise. I don’t own a clock. It must be a bomb. There’s a bomb in my bedroom. Someone must have stolen into my room and planted a bomb under my bed. They want to blow me up because… nope. That’s silly. There’s no reason anyone would want to blow me up.

Okay, then it’s not a bomb. It must be a watch. A loud watch. Okay, someone’s standing in my room watching me sleep and wearing a watch. A burglar? Would you wear a watch to burgle people’s houses? Maybe if you need to time things, like your getaway, like getting in and out of the house.

You’d think they’d use a quieter watch, though. Like why not an iWatch or one of those smart watches that you could also communicate with your lookout with? Although if you could afford an Apple watch, you probably wouldn’t need to burgle my house. There’s really not much to get here. I could see being robbed by a junkie, I guess (do people use that word anymore?), who was desperate for anything he could get…

Tick, tick, tick

Although if it was a burglar, wouldn’t they get on with the burgling? Why just stand there? Also, two dogs… wouldn’t one of them make some noise if a stranger was standing in my room? I can make them go ballistic by setting my coffee cup down a little too hard, how are they sleeping through an unknown person wandering around the house?

Finally I opened my eyes. My fan was on. The tick was the cord, very gently banging on the base.

I find this to be a cautionary tale about my own tendency to jump to worst possible conclusions. Lately, whenever my brain gets stuck worrying about something I can’t control, I remind myself that it’s probably not a bomb. It’s surprisingly helpful!

Anyway, I was reminded of it this morning because I was meditating and I could hear the fan ticking away. I’ve been trying to meditate every day, slowly increasing the time I spend at it. I’d like to get up to a serious number — 30 minutes, maybe? — but at the moment, I’m stuck at 15. Usually, my last couple minutes of meditation isn’t meditating so much as it is wondering if I remembered to set a timer, before finally asking Alexa how much time is left. The last few days I’ve gotten that number down to seconds — yesterday I think it was fifteen of them! — but until I’ve made it to the end without asking several times, I know I’m not ready to bump up the number.

But I really like meditating. Six months I would have said (like probably almost everyone reading!), “Oh, I can’t meditate, my brain just never shuts up.” But someone told me that prayer is talking to God, meditating is listening, and when I think of meditating as listening, the experience becomes… well, I think what it’s supposed to be. My brain still doesn’t shut up, and I have in fact, gotten so distracted by it that I’ve totally forgotten that I was supposed to be meditating until the timer goes off and I realize, oops, I picked up the computer or whatever. And the dogs can be seriously distracting. They think me sitting up with my eyes closed, doing nothing but breathing, either means that I am in need of snuggles or that my hands should be busy petting them.

But some of the time, concentrating on listening, feeling my breath, and trying to exist only in the moment I’m in results in a calm that feels sustaining. And every once in a while, it’s something even more than that. I suspect it’s something like runner’s high or a flow state, but it’s an amazing sense of well-being and joy. I’ve only had it a few times, but it is well worth the fifteen minutes (soon to be twenty I hope) that I give it every morning.

25 Jun

Head hopping

One of the “rules” of fiction-writing that I learned while A Gift of Ghosts was getting critiqued at critiquecircle.com was that you should pick a point-of-view character and stay, absolutely consistently, in their point-of-view. Don’t show thoughts of other people, don’t show actions that they can’t see, don’t mention knowledge that they don’t have. (Critique Circle was extremely useful for me, so don’t take this a criticism of the site, please. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants useful feedback on their own writing.)

I wish I had never learned that rule.

It’s a good rule, actually. Since then I’ve read a number of works by beginning writers where head-hopping makes the narrative hard to follow and confusing. And it’s enormously helpful when writing description or setting a scene to be able to focus on what your POV character would notice or care about or feel. I stopped getting stuck on writing descriptions when I got better at remembering to think about what the POV character cares about and to use scene-setting as an opportunity to develop character. And I’m fairly sure my descriptions got a lot better, too.

But it’s also really limiting. I’ve been stuck on Grace (I know, I know, you’ve heard this so many times!) so I’ve been reading and revising early chapters, trying to figure out where this story could go. Should go. Is going? I was close to deciding to give up on her again, because even getting an ending — a good ending, a romantic ending, a charming ending! — wasn’t getting me through TO the ending. But there’s so much in it that’s fun. Their first kiss is just great. And Grace is a riot — pragmatic and romantic, efficient and flustered — she might not work for everyone, but I love her.

But I realized about six chapters in that flowing between points-of-view, not just switching at scene or chapter breaks, but actually flowing from one point-of-view character to another, would really help the narrative. All the points where it’s confusing are times when switching to Dillon for a while and seeing out of his eyes would make everything so much simpler. And most of the fun belongs to Grace and Noah, but most of the tension belongs to the ghosts. Right now, it feels like it seesaws between fun chapters and tense chapters, and if I blended — no, head-hopped, if I head-hopped — it would be much easier to keep both the fun and the tension going at the same time.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with this realization. NOT go back and start Grace over. And not revise the whole thing either. But I think I’m going to start breaking the rule about no head-hopping and write what I want to write, where I want to write it, focusing on what makes the story easier for me to tell. And if it gets confusing, well, I’ll confront that issue when I get there. Words on pages are a lot easier to fix than words that don’t exist.

Writing this reminded me that back in October I was thinking that POV was my problem with this book. I did get freer with POV after that, but not within scenes — I stuck to switching POV characters using breaks. I wonder if I’d started head-hopping back then if I’d be done now? And that’s not a useful thought so I’m not going to pursue it. But someday soon I’m going to get back to writing 1000 words a day, whether they’re good or bad, and I really hope that eventually those words add up to a story I feel good about.

Meanwhile, a few lines that were alone almost enough to keep me writing yesterday:

“You can’t escape destiny with a to-do list, Grace,” Lucas said.
Grace gave him a cold stare. “Perhaps you can’t, but I certainly intend to.

23 Jun

Serenity

Serenity-PurchaseDay

I had a moment of thinking when I woke up this morning, “Thursday, must blog, what am I going to write about?” and then I thought, “Duh.” Seriously, it was a very half-awake thought because in reality I am pretty much bubbling over with excitement, wanting to babble my stuff to anyone who will listen.

So yesterday I bought my RV, a Winnebago Travato 59K. Although maybe I should start calling her a camper? It seems like the class B people prefer to use camper or van in reference to their homes-on-wheels, class B being the type of RV I chose. I am… excited. And scared. And excited again. And overwhelmed and excited and amused and excited and… yeah. I’ll stop there.

I haven’t gotten to take possession of her yet. It takes the service guys a couple of days to prep her and get her ready and then we get to do a big walkthrough where I check everything and they teach me everything I need to know. The walkthrough can take several hours, so I’m not sure when that will happen but not before the weekend, I suppose. Apart from any other issues, I need to arrange for a ride, since obviously, I’ll be driving away in Serenity.

Yep, that’s her name. It’s probably a cliche for geeks to name their vehicles Serenity, but I was thinking of doing so anyway — not just for the Firefly reference, but for the reminder to self that serenity is the true destination of my journeys. Then R said, upon seeing a picture, “You must name it Serenity.” Decision made. (In that list of adjectives up above, the amusement is because I am so very, very excited about Serenity. Oh, the irony.)

Serenity is, if it’s not obvious, very small. Well, relatively speaking. If you’re used to driving a Honda Civic, as I am, she feels pretty big. But more like a mini-van than an RV. And storage is going to be tight, even tighter than I imagined it would be. When I was looking at the overhead compartments yesterday and the depth of the drawers, I quailed. But just for a moment. There’s not going to be any bringing along of stuff “just in case” and I suspect that I’m going to have to make some hard decisions. I have a frying pan that I love and use all the time. I know exactly how it heats, just how food will cook in it, and I would have said that bringing it along was non-negotiable. (Little side note: it took me years to realize how important cooking tools are, but all pans are not alike and a good pan that you know well makes such a difference for consistent cooking.) But my frying pan has a long handle, which is going to waste a ton of space. Decisions, decisions.

Some of the other decisions are going to be interesting, too. I’ve gone through my pantry and gotten rid of stuff already, but I kept things that I thought I might need. So I’ve still got sugar and brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar and honey and molasses and agave syrup. If I’d bought a Class C RV, I probably would have packed all that into a corner somewhere. But with Serenity? Nope. I’ll keep some honey, because that is the sweetener that I most consistently use, but all the rest has got to go. And then spices and herbs — I still have a full shelf of the spices I knew I needed. But Serenity does not have a full shelf to give to spices. I’m going to go from a pantry the size of a full-length bedroom closet and cabinets with multiple shelves devoted to food to one cabinet, the size of maybe half an overhead airplane bin, for pantry goods. From a full-size refrigerator and freezer to a dorm-room size fridge. It sounds impossible. And so, so, so exciting!

20 Jun

Productive Mondays

When I woke up this morning and walked into the kitchen, I remembered that Past Me was kind of an asshole last night. I hadn’t cleaned the kitchen. My niece was visiting me for the weekend and my dad, step-mom and nephew came over for a Father’s Day dinner. It was a pretty low-key meal. We had flank steak, fruit salad, potato chips and dip, i.e. not a lot in the way of dishes to deal with. We even used paper plates, leftover from my house-painting party of a year ago. Anyway, I felt okay abandoning it after everyone left to spend some time on the internet.

Alas, my time on the internet stretched in that way that it does, and then I did a meditation class from yogadownload.com, and after the meditation — well, three quarters of the way through the meditation — I shut my laptop and went immediately to sleep. Thus, messy kitchen.

But when I saw it, after I rolled my eyes at myself and called Past Me some mean names, I promptly set about rectifying the situation. I threw away what needed to be thrown away, recycled what needed recycling, loaded up the dishwasher, washed some dishes, wiped down the counters, started my hot water for tea, and about ten minutes later, if not less, the kitchen was clean. Funnily enough, although I greatly prefer starting off my Monday mornings by walking into a clean kitchen, it was also strangely satisfying to start with an accomplishment. It made me feel like today is going to be a productive day.

It might also be a big day, emotionally speaking. The house is under contract. It had its inspection last Friday and the report is due to the buyer today. After he gets it, if he still wants the house and doesn’t ask me to do anything unreasonable… well, then I guess I’ve sold my house. Assuming all works out today, the closing is July 25th, five weeks from today. I wonder whether that day I will break my blog streak of actually posting every Monday morning? Maybe. Five weeks both feels like forever and no time. Fingers crossed that today goes well.

And may we all have productive Mondays!

16 Jun

Salad dressing

I eat a lot of salad. If you’d said that to me three years ago, I would have envisioned “a lot” being a reasonable amount of salad, maybe a side salad with dinner most nights, with a couple of meal salads for lunches. But no, I mean A LOT of salad. On average, two of my meals every day are probably salads. I have an entire theory of salad creation that I developed a while back and my salads are full meals. Also complex, interesting, and often weird. And surprisingly enough, I’ve started to get bored with them.

I’m not even sure how it’s possible to get bored when we’re talking about so many different kinds of food. For examples, here are some of the salads I’ve eaten in the last week:

    1) Mixed greens, honey smoked salmon, radishes, cucumbers, black olives, avocado, balsamic vinegar.
    2) Mixed greens, roast beef sliced thin and rolled, carrot rounds, cucumbers, avocado, balsamic vinegar.
    3) Mixed greens, turkey chunks, fresh mango, dried apricots, avocado, dressing made of balsamic vinegar mixed with peach honey mustard.
    4) Mixed greens, topped with chicken mixed with capers, avocado, a little olive oil, and avocado chunks.
    5) Shredded cabbage, shrimp sautéed in garlic, nectarine, red onion, avocado, cilantro, dressing of lime juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil and a little salt.

See the impossibility of being bored? And yet… there starts to be a sameness. I’m sure I had #1 at least three times, I know I’ve had #3 twice (and it’s new to my rotation), and I didn’t include the “mixed greens, hamburger, avocado” that I ate at least three times.

Thus, I am now discovering the virtues of salad dressing. For a long time, the majority of my salads have simply been topped with plain balsamic vinegar. But when I was fretting over my sense of salad boredom, I realized that the best salads, my favorites, are the ones with more interesting dressings. And the great thing is that an interesting salad dressing is ridiculously easy to make. Most of mine are just a form of vinegar (often balsamic, but sometimes red wine or white wine) and potentially a little olive oil mixed with a flavoring: i.e., jam, jelly, mustard, chopped herbs, garlic, sometimes a little salt or pepper.

But the internet is providing me with lots of interesting potential new options. So, collected here for my future reference:

    1) shallots or green onion
    2) lime zest or lemon zest
    3) parmesan cheese
    4) feta cheese
    5) minced jalapeno pepper (hot sauce might be tasty, too?)
    6) minced red onion
    7) mayo! or greek yogurt — creamy dressings sound quite easy, actually
    8) nuts — but most of those recipes require a blender, maybe I could mash the nuts with a hammer, instead?
    9) olives — also the blender problem, but maybe I could mince the olives? on the other hands, lots of my salads have olives, not sure I need them in the dressing
    10) truffle oil or flavored oils? — a great idea, but probably not going to work well in my future minimalist life
    11) sweeteners — honey, maple syrup
    12) cumin? maybe for a salad with roasted vegetables?
    13) orange juice or other juice
    14) relish
    15) any pureed fruit
    16) ginger
    17) soy sauce
    18) fish sauce

Most of the time, I don’t actually follow recipes because most recipes make enough that I’d have to throw out a lot or eat the same salad many times in a row. I just mix up a teaspoon of something with a tablespoon or so of vinegar and add oil only if it looks like it needs the oil. But I suspect with some of these (cumin, fish sauce, anything with mayo), I’d be a lot better off if I got the proportions right. Still, I’ve gotten so many interesting new ideas that I’m quite looking forward to my next few meals. I wonder if a cumin cranberry dressing for a salad with turkey chunks would taste good? I bought a big piece of turkey at CostCo the other day and I’m going to be eating it for many more meals this week. I’ll have to give it a try.

In other news… Orlando is a weird place to live this week. It’s a big city, but a small world and it feels like everyone knows someone affected by the tragedy. I’m trying to stay off social media, having unfriended a couple people for the first time ever, and trying to avoid the news, too, after Sunday’s binge, but it’s impossible not to be aware of the emotion in the atmosphere. But the sun is shining and the weather is lovely and Tuesday we had a huge rainbow of which this is not a very good picture…

Rainbow

Rainbow

… and on we go.

13 Jun

Mom paranoia

In March, R won a fellowship to study James Joyce during the Bloomsday festivities in Dublin. Saturday night, he was on his first ever overseas flight. Before he left, I asked him for his itinerary.

“Why do you want that?” he asked.

“Oh, you know, mom paranoia,” I answered.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that if a plane crashes, I want to be able to look at your email and know that it wasn’t your plane. If there’s a terrorist attack, I want to know that you’re nowhere near it. You know, just your basic mom paranoia.”

He laughed at me, but he sent me his travel plans.

When I woke up Sunday morning, Facebook wanted me to tell it that I was safe. I thought that was creepy as hell and then I read the news. Maybe not quite creepy as hell, maybe just a little creepy. I couldn’t stop myself from hitting refresh, refresh, refresh all day long. I stopped when I reached a photo of a teary-eyed mom, trying, in daylight, to get news of her son. The daylight is relevant, of course, because if the news were good… well, the daylight came hours after the shooting stopped.

Needless to say, R’s hotel is nowhere near the latest terrorist attack. I’m so selfishly glad. I know in my head that no place is really safe — it would hurt me just as badly if R died in a traffic accident a mile away from home as if he did in a terrorist attack fifteen miles or even four thousand miles away, and the traffic accident is statistically a lot more likely. But that never changes the fear. And I really wish I’d gotten him a phone with a travel plan so that I could call him and hear his voice. In our highly connected world, we’re pretty retro — I told him to send me a postcard, I believe — so I don’t expect to hear from him until he gets home. But I keep thinking about those other moms, the ones fifteen miles away, who aren’t ever going to hear from their kids again, and my heart is just filled with sadness.

Time to walk the dogs.

09 Jun

Self-publishing

I’ve been a pretty terrible independent publisher of late. Despite my firm belief when I started in self-publishing that I shouldn’t do anything marketing-wise until I had ten books available (a goal that I thought I would reach much, much earlier than I actually will), 2014 and 2015 felt like years where I really tried hard on the “business” of publishing.

For A Lonely Magic, I spent months editing and rewriting, hired a professional editor, joined a NetGalley co-op, gave up away a multitude of pre-release copies in hopes of early reviews, worked to set-up pre-release marketing, had an ad budget and an intern developing a list of sites to advertise on, even did some video stuff with her. Oh, and spent six weeks or so working on an audio version. It was all discouragingly pointless.

In 2015, I tried the anthology experience. A lot of that was quite fun, because the people I was working with were great, but it meant time spent on Facebook parties and dollars spent on giveaways and more. We did ad campaigns and blog tours, twitter blasts and keyword loading, the whole thing. It was the full complement of the modern publisher’s toolkit of sales and marketing tools. It wasn’t pointless, but the real goal was to reach the bestseller lists in order to have that label in our bios, and we didn’t succeed in that goal. The second anthology I participated in was even more work for me, but in the end, I opted out before we went to press. (Long story, I’ll spare you the details.)

I also dabbled with conferences, attending two in the fall, one of those as a speaker. They were great. I had a really good time at both, learned a lot, had fun. I don’t think they did anything at all for my book sales, but I didn’t go into them with that in mind. Still, the conference route — including buying booth space and sitting at a table selling books — is one that some people seem to succeed with. I could still give it a try, and it might possibly work out better with my future life than it does with my current life. (My current restriction, is, of course, the two dogs that I live with. Going away from them regularly is not really an option.)

But I entered 2016 seriously considering what my future was as an indie publisher. I’ve not done the things I intended to do. I haven’t even updated my business site — my blog post was stuck on lessons learned from 2014 throughout the entire year of 2015, before I finally hid the blog. Now it’s just blank. How’s that for a professional business? I don’t even have all my books listed there! Bad me.

On the other hand, maybe that’s sort of the point of independent publishing? I certainly knew it was back when I started. I didn’t intend to take it seriously. I didn’t intend to be all gung-ho and professional about it. I loved the idea that I could write my stories, post them on Amazon, maybe make some coffee money from them and maybe make some friends. Maybe the point at which I decided to take it seriously was the point at which it stopped being fun? And, more importantly, the point where I stopped liking my writing?

I’m not sure what this means for my future. Obviously, it doesn’t mean anything about Grace. I’m going to finish (I’ve got an ending! Woo-hoo!) and I’m going to post it on Amazon and probably even send an email out to my mailing list. And I’m absolutely going to write A Precarious Balance. I can’t wait to get started — Fen is so much fun and the things I already know about her story give me a great glow inside. And then there’s the Heather story that I mapped out a few months ago, with Noah’s brother… that’s pretty fun, too. So, hmm, maybe I’m going to continue to write because I like writing, but maybe I’m also going to stop beating myself up about being a terrible indie publisher.

The reason this all came up was because I was posting new versions of the books to Amazon — long story, but I lost my mobi files, needed to download them again, realized I had new files — and saw this button, View Service, under KDP Pricing Support. Turns out, Amazon thought I should increase the prices on my stories and on A Gift of Thought, so I did. I have no idea what that’s going to do for sales or dollars, but the seeming immediate short-term result was that sales of the box set jumped (from 1 to 3, we are not talking meaningful numbers.) So I went back to the View Service button and looked at what Amazon thought I should do to that price. It turns out that Amazon thinks I should sell the books for $4.99 and the short stories for $2.99 but it thinks I should sell the box set for $3.99.

Um… no? At first I was sort of dismayed, really — frustrated by how much the whole business seems like a magical, illogical, black box — and then it made me laugh. Publishing *is* a magical, illogical black box and probably the best way to enjoy it is to treat it like that. Some hand-waving, some mumbo-jumbo, but in the end, the books will do what they do. And I’m going to continue writing them and maybe muddle around with my business site a little bit in the near future — really, it wouldn’t hurt to post all of my books there! — but continue with 2016’s plan of not paying much attention to the business of publishing and just write. I don’t know that it’s working in terms of financial success and glory, but when it comes to quality of life, it’s pretty damn great.

06 Jun

Yoga

I haven’t been making it to yoga at the Y nearly as often as I would have liked. Partly that was motivation: with C gone, it was harder to get out of the house at the right times. Partly it was bad planning — I kept intending to go to evening yoga instead of morning yoga so that I wouldn’t be so tired in the afternoon that I didn’t write. But then I’d forget or be busy and miss the evening class. Last month, though, my favorite yoga teacher left the Y. And I knew that given my future plans, I’d be needing to come up with another solution if I wanted to keep yoga in my life.

So question one: did I want to keep yoga in my life? Easy answer: yes. As with any exercise, I struggle to get motivated. I don’t love pushing my body and it’s always easier to just sit and do nothing. But yoga enriches my life, brings me a sense of peace, helps me feel stronger and more competent, doesn’t push me harder than I want to go (hanging out in child’s pose is always an option in classes at the Y), and has generally been an all-around positive for me. Even though I’ve been going weeks at a time without making it to a class and haven’t been choosing to practice at home, I knew I’d regret it if I just stopped.

Voila, yogadownload.com. Holy cow, this place is a bargain! I didn’t want to only stream classes because I know my future life is not going to be friendly to streaming (mobile data plans are expensive and limited) so I bought the $90 elite membership, which gives me a year of free downloads of their own classes and streaming episodes from their content partners.

So many classes! So many options! So many choices to work any part of your body or to have whatever kind of yoga experience you’re looking for! I keep winding up downloading more than I can feasibly do because I’ll be looking for a class that fits one idea and I’ll see so many that interest me that I wind up with three or four. Dorm-Room-Yoga (to see if it could be future RV yoga), Moon Salutations (because it was short), Sunset Flow and Night, Night, Don’t Sleep Tight (because it was the evening), Yoga Break for Writer’s Block… I’m downloading ALL the yoga.

And so far the classes have been great. Clear videos, good teachers, reasonable expectations. There have definitely been moments where I have to pause and try to figure out what the instructor is doing and a couple times that I’ve been like, haha, isn’t that cute, NO!, to poses that abused my knees more than they could bear, but I am without question going to get my money’s worth from that $90. I’ve done yoga three days in a row, two classes on Saturday, and the reason I’m writing about it right now is mostly because when I woke up this morning, thinking about what I needed to do today and what I wanted to do today, yoga was at the top of my list. Yay! My Future Me is going to be very grateful to Present Me for being willing to include more exercise and stretching in our life.

Anyway, if you’ve ever been interested in learning more about yoga, but group classes seemed too ambitious or you didn’t want to over-commit, yogadownload offers some free classes or you can pay by the class or package if you don’t want to commit to a subscription. That said, the Elite membership is really a bargain.

In other news, possibly more exciting, I — for the first time ever — found an ending for Grace and Noah. I’ve had an ending for the book, a place where I thought it would close, and I’ve sort of had a scene in mind for Grace and Noah, but one of the reasons I’ve just been wallowing around in this closing third act for so long is that I didn’t see and couldn’t get to a HEA or even HFN (happy-ever-after/happy-for-now) ending to the romance. I think I found it on Saturday. Still not there, but it’s like sighting land at the end of an ocean voyage that’s been taking forever. So my other goal for the day — write lots of Grace! Get myself to that ending!

02 Jun

Sunshine

It is another absolutely gorgeous day in Florida. I should spend it writing — a blog post first, followed by at least 1000 words on Grace — and then cleaning out the garage, maybe working on the kitchen.

But I’m not going to.

I’m going to float in the pool, enjoy the weather, and read more Elizabeth Peters. I’ve been binging my way through her Amelia Peabody series and although I have mixed feelings about it, I have about three more books to go. And instead of telling you all about my mixed feelings, I’m going to go read my books. 🙂

30 May

Waiting

Before anything else, you should go visit Andrea Host’s blog and read about a new release from Intisar Khanani, Memories of Ash. I don’t remember whether I reviewed her first couple stories on Goodreads, but I read them and enjoyed them, so I’m looking forward to reading this one.* And at the moment, it sort of feels like I have plenty of time to read. Still no house sale so I feel like I’m living in limbo.

Sort of.

It’s a limbo that involves three main elements.

1) Continuing to clean and get rid of stuff. The cleaning is partly just that houses get dirty, especially when one has two dogs, and a house that’s maybe someday going to be shown to potential buyers (of whom there have been none — it’s not like people are seeing it and rejecting it, no one’s even seeing it) has to look good. So I’m keeping it cleaner than I normally would bother with and that’s annoying.

But I’m also still cleaning things out. I did the bathroom again over the weekend. I’d cleaned it out once already , getting rid of all the extra stuff on the back of the tub — bath salts that I didn’t really like, shampoos that weren’t quite right, moisturizer that wound up sitting there for months, that kind of stuff — and cleaning out the cabinet under the sink. I hauled a small trash can bag out that time. This weekend, I did it again. I tossed the makeup that I hardly ever use, some cleaning stuff that was almost gone, that kind of thing. It’s sort of amazing. I thought the bathroom got a lot nicer when I got rid of the first round of clutter, but it’s seriously nice now. The drawer has room in it for all my stuff, and the cabinet’s not crowded. I can find everything. But why did I need three hairbrushes? Why did I have EIGHT sets of toenail clippers?

I also did the last couple of drawers left in my bedroom and today I’m thinking about tackling the kitchen. My kitchen plan is to put everything that I think I don’t use into bins in the garage and see what I miss. Anything I miss, I’ll retrieve from the bins. Anything that I don’t miss, between now and whenever the house sells and closes, can go to goodwill. It’s going to be interesting to see how that works. I think I use my cutting boards, my knives, two different frying pans, two pots, my micro-grater, my garlic press, a ladle, two different spatulas, a wooden spoon, my oven thermometer, one cookie sheet, one pan, a rack, a round glass dish with a cover, a strainer, a vegetable peeler, and a can opener. I have a lot more stuff in my kitchen than that. Oh, I use my coffee pot and my electric kettle. And plates, bowls, silverware, glasses and mugs, of course. But seriously, I have drawers full of stuff. What is all that stuff? Why do I have it? I guess I’ll find out.

So, yeah, item one, cleaning and cleaning out. Item 2: daydreaming about my future. I actually set up a Scrivener file (more about Scrivener in a future post) titled Destinations, with forty-nine folders, one for each state an RV could reach. Each has three subfolders, Places to Stay, Things to Do, Food. I felt like maybe I should add a People to See folder, but that seemed a little… I don’t know, unrealistic? I’m pretty sure I can keep track of the people I know without needing to list them in a file. I’m planning to use it to track places that I read about, so that I don’t have that experience of thinking, wait, that great campground on the gulf coast that I read about, where was that again? I’ll be able to look it up, I hope. I’m also spending far too much time browsing and reading RV sites. I’m torn between trying to learn ALL the things now, and the practicality of how much easier it will be to figure out, for example, how to use the switches on a refrigerator when I’ve actually got the refrigerator in front of me. So yes, too much time spent doing that.

Thing 3: enjoying where I am. I am probably as tan as I’ve ever been in my life because Present Me has been being very careless about sunscreen, totally unsympathetic to Future Me’s cancer risk. But I’m so enjoying my pool and my neighborhood. This morning when I was walking Z, not quite 7AM, with the sun risen but the sky still holding traces of peach and pink and that blue edging into purple on the clouds, I was filled with joy. The birds were doing their bird thing, whistling away to one another, and the squirrels were running around — one jumped from a branch above my head, just a couple feet away — and the world felt glorious. I cannot say how many times I’ve spent that walk with my thoughts grinding away on worries — what to do about the wood rot in the front door, how to afford fixing the water heater, what sort of job would give me health insurance… the usual stuff. It’s not as if I don’t think I’ll have worries in an RV — what happens if it breaks down, what happens if a dog gets sick, what if I’m in a crash? I’m sure I’ll find plenty of things about which my anxious brain can ruminate. But none of that deterred me this morning from enjoying the moment that I was in.

I should probably add thing 4: writing and planning writing. I’m sort of wondering if the universe is insisting that I finish Grace before letting me sell the house? I did say that I was going to do that and I’m not really any closer than I ever have been. I just fiddle around with the same bits all the time. But I do work on every day and I do think about it a lot and someday, someday I am going to break through whatever has me stuck. Maybe even someday soon. Maybe even today! But not if I don’t get to it, so I guess that’s what I’ll do now.

May your day have joy!

*I am re-blogging in order to enter the giveaway, because I’d really love to win a Fire and those books, but I hope you know me well enough to know that I would never say I liked a book unless it was true!

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