a report from halfway to destination
Greetings from Columbia, Missouri, home of the 87th Missouri FFA Convention! We reached Kansas City, KS/MO by about 7 PM and felt we had it in us to push on. Discovering that the convention had eaten up almost every single hotel room in Columbia almost made us regret that decision. But the check-in clerk at the Red Roof Inn, who was the one to give us the worrisome news, volunteered to call over at the Budget Host Inn (which was sufficiently off I-70 that we might not have found it ourselves), ascertained that they did indeed have a vacancy, and gave us directions down the road.
And now here we are. We've brought our suitcases and computer bags in for the night, had some munchies out of our travel snack arsenal, and gotten comfortable. I've traced my skater number on my arms with henna so they'll be nice and dark come Saturday afternoon. (Don't worry; I'll wrap them to protect the sheets from getting henna stains overnight.) And I'm planning to sleep with my boom-mike headset on for its big, ear-covering cushions. The FFA attendees appear for the most part to occupy the central intersection of the venn diagram of "young," "noisy," and "oblivious," and I don't want to be woken up all night.
So I guess we drove some 10 to 12 hours today. Didn't really feel it. I took Boulder to Goodland, KS. John took over until Salina, KS. Then I took us into Columbia. It was fun. John and I used to do mega-epic road trips back in our college days, when we had the whole summer to play with. We'd go all the way from southern Oregon to New Orleans and back in two weeks. This is our first multi-day road trip since then, but we seem to have retained the knack. The knack requires a satisfying variety of travel snacks and drinks, more music than we'll ever need in a month, and a high tolerance for each other's company in a small space. All of which we have. The modern laptops and the AC inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter only make things that much easier. We joke that in another life, or an alternate universe, we'd team up to drive freight for a living.
When we left Boulder, it was pouring down snow and visibility was crappy. And traffic on I-270 was horrendous. But once we were on I-70 we left all of that behind... just in time to drive through not one but two thunderstorms in Kansas. (The forecast said "slight chance." I suppose we just got lucky.) But in eastern Kansas, as the terrain got hilly, the weather got gorgeous. Everything was lovely until sunset, when we hit Kansas City. Then it was dark, which made it hard to tell if anything was lovely. I thing most of it was intercity sprawl; the town names seemed to come at very frequent intervals.
Oddly, I did not manage to get any writing done in the car. John only took one driving shift to my two, and during his shift I ended up reading aloud from a copy of Mind Gym (Gary Mack and David Casstevens) which the All Stars coach is having everyone in the team take turns borrowing and reading. It's a little cheesy at times, this book, but it's given me some good insights, and just in time to use them, too.
(So I'm trying to make up for that lack of writing and other daily duties tonight before I go to sleep. Good luck me.)
I'll arrive at the tournament pre-bruised. Sunday's practice involved all the hitting drills you can possibly think of, and my left upper arm is now sporting two huge, colorful, and perfectly round "derby kisses." They're showy even by derby standards; even other skaters have been commenting on them, or just making that hissing wince noise. The coach said it looked like someone had stood me up in front of a tennis ball service machine. Everyone told me I should take pictures, so here's one with the bruises and the numbers made of fresh henna-goop applied on top of Sharpie.
And that's all I got for now. Time to go do my daily foam roller hell while John takes a turn reading to me. Goodnight!
and they're off like a herd of tortoises
- 1,012 wds. long
All right, already, it's up. "The Moon and the Mage's Gloves" is the Friday Fictionette for April 10, available in PDF and MP3 formats for Patrons at the appropriate tiers. Link goes to the excerpt posted to Patreon. The Wattpad excerpt is not yet up, nor is the one on the blog, nor yet the extra audio I meant to get to--but I'll get to those real soon now.
It felt damn good to sit down and write that thing. Even if it was only a slight, thousand word piece, it was writing and it felt good. It felt like, "That's what I'm supposed to be doing with my days." I look forward to doing more of it in the car tomorrow.
Speaking of which: I've washed my safety gear, I've put my derby wear through the delicates/hand-wash cycle and the air-dry cycle, I've gone to Target for brand new C9 "Champion" brand fitted knee pants to replace the pair that got a hole in during last season's final bout, I've bought road trip snacks at the grocery, and I've put in the car those things belonging to our league which my teammates who are flying entrusted us to take in the car. Am I ready to leave? Almost. By 9:00 AM tomorrow morning, I will be.
Am I ready for the tournament? Well. Tonight's practice was... well, it wasn't our sharpest, I'll say that much. But everyone showed up, so we had all our jammers and both of our blocker line-ups on the track. And our league's head coach as well as our team coach were there to work our butts off. And after our practice, our team coach revealed the secret that, at the beginning of practice, she said she'd share with us at the end. "The secret is this: You have to have a crappy last practice before your bout. It's a good omen."
It wasn't that crappy. Should I be worried...?
Bloomington, Indiana: Here we come!
...pending a stopover in Kansas City! ("Do you mean the one in Kansas, or the one in Missouri?" I don't know! We'll find out when we get there!) And a freakin' whole lot of I-70!
there is a time and a place for dominoes this is not it
So last week's fictionette is still not ready. However, there will be a bonus fictionette this month (for reasons which I will explain later), so I hope y'all will consider that sufficient means of making it up to you. And this Friday's should be on time, despite that John and I are taking off on a road trip Thursday morning, because what else am I going to do while it's his turn to drive?
Last week and the weekend wrecked me. I already talked about the epic 14-hour day of moving, right? Well, what with one thing and another, I ended up getting four hours of sleep that night. Which is where everything went wrong. That was the first falling domino that knocked over the rest. From four hours of sleep, to skating with Phase 1, to napping again, to skating at the library (which was enormously fun!) to trying to get everything else done and so going to bed late again, to the double practice on Sunday capped off with another hour and a half of helping to enable assessments for two returning skaters. (Assessments require more bodies on the track than just the assessing skaters. They need people to hit, people to hit them, people to exchange whips and pushes with, and they need a pack to fall down and get up in. They also need people to hug them and congratulate them and welcome them back, because hearts and flowers!) Then going home and pretty much dying for the day. Then kind of not moving around much Monday. At all.
Teal deer says, basically the weekend just alternated between sessions of roller derby something-or-other and very long naps. And not much else.
I could stay up late tonight to finish and post the fictionette to Patreon, but I desperately want to avoid knocking over any more dominoes. Dominoes are bad. I have to be up early to move a couch out onto the sidewalk for donation pick-up. I have to make it to Bombshells practice. I have to survive through the weekend's tournament (not to mention the drive to Indiana). And do all the other daily/weekly things to the best of my ability. No dominoes allowed!
So the April 10th Friday Fictionette and its accompanying audio file will go up early on Wednesday, April 15th. An extra week's audio will go up not too long thereafter, and everything will be on time for April 17th. That's the goal.
And next week, after the tournament, and with moving over and done with, I'm finally getting back to work on that dratted short story. So I can submit it and move on to the next thing. Really, that's the worst part about not being able to finish a project: not being able to start and finish the next one.
imagine if we had to do this every year
With many an apology, I must sadly announce that this week's Friday Fictionette will be late. Now: Raise your hands, anyone who is surprised by this. Seriously, I thought I'd be able to get at least a little writing done in between stuff-moving carloads and roller derby practice. Turns out I was wrong. My intention is to finish it up and post it tomorrow afternoon between my morning roller derby obligation and my evening one. I'm hoping this will turn out to be possible.
I'm happy to say, though, that in one respect I am most definitely not late. John and I will relinquish possession of our old address on time tomorrow, having emptied it of all our possessions today. Finally. It required pulling a 14-hour day today on that job, maybe eight or ten carloads, I don't know. I don't even want to talk about that last carload. I was hitting the despair cycle of project fatigue and bodily exhaustion. It showed. Also, it is amazing how little seems to fit in the Saturn wagon when we're trying to get stuff out of the old house, but how very much there seems to be in the car when it's time to unload into the new. Does it multiply in there? Does it become extra slippery?
Nevertheless, by about 10:30 PM we were able to walk through a completely empty house, and by 11:00 PM we were unloading the final carload at our new home. (Which is now, of course, choked with boxes and random piles of stuff. But we have all the time in the world to get it organized. It's OK.) Even before we'd quite begun unloading, we'd already placed our order for late night delivery from Golden Sun, because celebratory comfort food is the best. My celebratory comfort food will be chicken egg foo young and a cup of hot-and-sour soup.
Now I just have to compile the packet of things to give to the buyer's agent tomorrow. Shouldn't be too hard. All the owner's manuals are in the file cabinet, neatly sorted. Except possibly a few that are still in the great big packet of paperwork from the original purchase. But I know exactly where that is too, so everything's fine, right? Right? Please? *sob*
My feet are ridiculously sore. I can't say I'm looking forward to putting skates on them tomorrow. But I'm sure once I'm on wheels I'll feel better. That's usually how it works. A good night's sleep can't help but help, too.
Very, very soon, life will get back to normal. Or about as normal as life ever is around here.
you're gonna carry that weight for a long time
- 59,193 wds. long
- 128.50 hrs. revised
As expected, I haven't been able to write much this week. Any time not spent sleeping or at derby practice, has been spent moving items from our old address to our new. There have been many carloads, and each carload required multiple trips up and down the stairs that I'm so pleased to leave behind. I can almost do those stairs blindfolded by now: Eight steps down, three paces to U-turn on the landing, another eight steps down and another landing worth three paces, one last bunch of eight and three paces forward to finally descend the three steps of the front stoop.
Most of those carloads have been packed solo, either because John did it while I was at derby, or I did it while John was working. A solo carload takes longer, and it takes a higher toll on the person making it happen. I was done today an hour before we had to leave for practice and scrimmage, but it was an hour spent half asleep because I simply had nothing left for anything more productive.
Today was mostly me, and my goal was to completely empty the office closet. Six clear-bin stackable plastic drawers plus a Rubbermaid bin and a couple bags full of crafting supplies, three stackable plastic file cabinets, two big boxes of miscellaneous removable data media (CDs, DVDs, 3.5" floppies), another box full of "all manner of useful cables" according to my Sharpie memo to myself, a great variety of stationery...
...and a surprisingly large amount of my own writing. Early NaNoWriMo novel drafts printed out for revision. Copies of my short stories with critiques scribbled between the lines and in the margins. Spiral notebooks with drafts, writing exercises, and notes toward rewrites. The three chapters of The Drowning Boy that went with me to Viable Paradise in 2006 and came back looking like they had bled from innumerable cuts. (Not that they all bled red. But oh, how they bled.)
There were in that great mass of paper several copies of other people's stories that they chose to share with me or to send by mail as part of a critique exchange. But for the most part, the author whose works were contained in that box was me.
It was almost too heavy for me to lift. But I managed. I got it down the stairs and into the car without breaking either it or me. I felt strangely reassured by both of these things. The weight of that box was a reminder of how prolific I really have been. And yet I am capable of lifting the weight of my own words. There's something symbolic in that.
Still, when I pulled up to our new front door, I was happy to accept John's offer to take one end of that box and help me lift the load. Just because I could do it alone didn't mean I'd always have to.
There's something symbolic about that, too.
scenes from an unofficial house warming
Things Become Irrelevant. The housewife contemplates the laundry machines. She has options now. She can run a small load on half the water. She can tumble her yoga pants and sports bra on an hour of the air dry setting. It won't be a waste of quarters. Quarters are no longer of pressing concern. Maybe there doesn't need to be a quarters jar anymore, just a single jar for all the household loose change. Later, the housewife will realize that she forgot a load of T-shirts in the dryer. There will be a moment of panic before she remembers she can leave those T-shirts there all night long, and no neighbors will care.
Meeting the Neighbors. The roller derby skater opens her front door, expecting nothing more than a brief wait for her ride to practice. Instead she encounters a pair of young deer. They stare up at her from the sidewalk, as though caught in the act of daring each other to ring the doorbell and run. Skater and deer simultaneously engage in a pretense of nonchalance. If it's a contest, the deer win. They amble away towards a not-very-distant lilac bush. The skater is too delighted to keep a straight face. She watches them snacking on the shrubbery until her teammate arrives to pick her up.
Care and Feeding of Your First Hot Water Boiler.
"Help! I can't get any hot water for the tub!"
"I need a hot bath, and the water's coming out lukewarm!"
"I... just can't. I don't know. I'm tired and I need to eat. Can I not deal with this?"
"Wait, it's OK--there's this dial thingie on the boiler thingie, and it was set to VACATION. When I turned it, it started a fire! Look, it's all blue and stuff!"
"Good. That's good. Good for you. We're good now, right?"
"Yeah, I set it somewhere between WARM and HOT."
Paradigm Shift. The author sits at her desk, writing with teal ink in a spiral notebook. It is her desk. On the desk is her computer, her printer, her electric kettle and her favorite cup of tea. The routine has been enacted countless times before. But all these things are in a room that is entirely new to the author. Thus she is writing at her desk in her office for the first time. She remembers a previous move, when the cats slinked and yowled in the empty rooms of a new apartment, how they only began to settle down when the humans unloaded the cats' familiar, beat-up, second-hand arm chair from the U-Haul trailer. How they gravitated to it immediately, how they curled up around each other on the stained and much-scratched cushion. The author understands them better now. The move wasn't real until the desk arrived. She can finally convince her habitual self that this isn't a hotel, they won't be packing up again and going home. They are home.
i may need to refer to this later
Moving week of doom is upon us. Much-anticipated activities of stress and delight and more stress will be enacted. It will look something like this...
Monday: Met with State Farm about transferring our inside insurance to the new address. Visited the Xfinity office to reschedule transfer of service to new address. Grabbed empty boxes from storage. Proceeded to be aggressively useless for the rest of the day. It was my last chance all week to be useless, and I was going to take it.
Monday roller derby content: A brief scare that we had a scrimmage in Colorado Springs. Turns out that no, someone just misread the calendar, and the scrimmage against Pikes Peak Derby Dames isn't until May 3. Just kidding!
Tuesday: In the morning, pay all the bills currently due, and file change-of-address notices with all services and utilities and credit card accounts etc. Transfer of insurance policy takes effect. Pack up the First Carload, focusing on items which need to be moved anyway to free up the furniture items. Bring also scrap paper, Sharpie, blue masking tape. Go to the 1:30 PM closing. Once that is done, we officially Take Possession. Drive directly from closing to the new address, hurl ourselves face-first into the carpet, and giggle madly while making snow-angel motions. Regain our senses. Unpack the First Carload, then consider where all the furniture will go. Use scrap paper, Sharpie, blue masking tape to label furniture destinations. Go back to old address and prep furniture for moving, possibly with more labels to tell movers where they'll go.
Tuesday roller derby content: All Stars practice, preceded by brief bout production committee meeting.
Wednesday: Movers gonna move. A four-man crew will wrestle all furniture items, and anything that might conveniently accompany them, down the stairs and into their truck, then unload them at the new address. Potentially there will be a trip to storage for other furniture items that would benefit from this treatment. After that, John and I will continue shlepping boxes and loose items by the carload. Meanwhile, transfer of Xfinity account takes effect. Old address will be without internet. Activate Xfinity gateway at new address.
Wednesday roller derby content: Bombshells practice.
Thursday: We continue shlepping boxes and loose items. Undoubtedly I'll remember yet a few more change-of-address forms to fill out and transfer requests to file.
Thursday roller derby content: All-league scrimmage for both me (skating) and John (coaching)
Friday: Just like Thursday, but with higher stress content, because the old address needs to be empty at the end of Friday. We also need to have run the oven's self-clean cycle by now, too, by request of the cleaners. Also, I need to round up all owners' manuals for appliances which remain at the old address (stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, air conditioner, dual flush mechanism on toilet, etc.), which will be turned over tomorrow to the buyer. Maybe also the remaining stain and lacquer used on our various wood furnishings? Left-over paint? Yes? No? (Better text the agent to find out.)
Friday roller derby content: NONE. Hallelujah, blessed be.
Saturday: Let the cleaners in at 9:00 AM to do their magic, then run off to Longmont for roller derby action item A (see below). Cleaners wrap up around noon, when John will see them off. John will then wait around to meet the buyer's agent, who will do one final walk-through, accept delivery of keys and owners' manuals, and Take Possession of our old address.
Saturday roller derby content: Fulfilling my training obligation for April and my event obligation for 2015 Quarter 2. Thus, action item A - train Phase 1 from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Action item B - skating at the Longmont Library Festival / Teen Second Saturday from 6 to 9 PM.
Sunday: Moving is over. Over over over. We are home! But we can't relax, because...
Sunday roller derby content: All Stars practice (10:00 AM) followed by Bombshells practice (1:00 PM) for both me (skating) and John (coaching). John may also stay to coach the Daisy Nukes/Shrap Nellies for 4:00 PM if the coaches-to-skater ratio suggests that would be useful.
Then we go home (our new home) and probably fall face-first into the carpet again, and not move until Monday morning.
Not that y'all need to know all these details, but, 1. when I inevitably get very little of anything else done this week, I can point back to this post and say, "That's why"; and 2. it's darned handy to have it all written down in one place, in case it all falls right back out of my head.
it's less dodgy than back-dating checks
- 1,147 wds. long
O dear Gods in alphabetical order, it's late, it's like 2:00 AM, why am I still up. (The blog timestamp lies. I just back-date each entry to associate it with the day it belongs to. Maybe I shouldn't.) But look! Shiny, shiny new Friday Fictionette! This one is called "Out of Order" (excerpt available at Patreon and right over here, also at Wattpad later this weekend) and it's available for Patrons in both PDF and audio flavors, depending on your pledge tier.
Yes! I am finally doing Audiofictionettes. Audio Fictionettes. Friday Fictionettes: The Weekly(ish) Podcast. (It was originally going to be monthly compilations, but then I actually started trying to create one. It'll be one at a time, thank you very much.)
Why now, of all weeks? Because I got notice that I actually have a Patron now, and they're subscribed at a sufficiently elevated tier to trigger the audio option. So I'd darn well better deliver, right?
That said, Patrons pledging $3/month are also entitled to all the audio archives as well as the PDF archives. And the audio archives don't exactly exist yet. So... here's my plan. I'm already about six months in. I'm not going to record them all in one fell swoop. But I'll record at least one extra audio a week--maybe more if time allows--and that way I'll get caught up eventually. (The recordings corresponding to a designated Fictionette Freebie will be free as well.)
I really don't have a good excuse for my day taking me until past 2:00 AM to complete. I did not get up on time. I didn't go to bed on time the night before. THESE THINGS CASCADE. Hopefully I can reset my internal clock over the weekend.
i blame the snooze button
Sometimes I don't know what to say in these blog posts. I get to that time of the night where I need to cross "actually writing blog" off my daily to-do list (or, to be precise, check its checkbox on my list of HabitRPG "dailies"), and I find I don't have much to say. Not that I've ever let that ultimately stop me, as my nearest and dearest have learned to their chagrin. But that's arguably part and parcel of being a writer. You can't let "I don't know what to write" stop you from writing.
It doesn't help that tonight I can't seem to hold a thought in my head much longer than it takes to chew and swallow what's in my mouth. Roller derby ate my brain, and only food can give it back. Tonight's scrimmage was especially brutal, because it was an interleague scrimmage--BCB's Bombshells versus the combined might of Castle Rock 'n Rollers, South Side Derby Dames, and I think High City Derby Divas were in there too. (Look, I don't know, once the whistle blows all I see is hips and shoulders and helmets. Especially the helmet with the star on. Sometimes all I see is the helmet with the star on, and not useful things like, say, jersey colors, and I try to block my own jammer BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I DO DURING TEAM PRACTICE.) Anyway, it was a great outing. We had a rotation of two blocker line-ups and three jammers, so it really worked our endurance. It was great practice for our upcoming tournament. The opposition hit hard and didn't give an inch. All of which means I am now gobbling down egg fu young and cold sesame noodles as fast as I can shovel it in my mouth.
Anyway. When I first started blogging, my thought was, it would hold me accountable, because 1. I would not blog unless I had written that day, so 2. if I didn't blog, it meant I hadn't written. Which at the very least kept me in subject matter. If I'd written that day, I probably had something to say about how the writing day had gone.
But now my rule is to blog every weekday. In theory it should work out to about the same thing, because I'm also supposed to write every weekday. Well, every Tuesday through Friday. Although it's looking like I won't be doing farm work on Mondays, so it might be time to consider Monday a writing day. (Or I could continue preserving Monday as a Get Shit Done day. I rather like that idea. There's shit that doesn't get done unless I have a weekday that isn't a writing day.) But the sad fact is, there are days I don't get any writing done at all.
Like today. For no really good reason at all.
And then, unless something really momentous happens (like, say, closing on the sale of our home of 15 years), I wind up without much to say.
Well, I suppose I could say something like,
I slept until ten and I wished I hadn't, because what with one thing and another I wound up with no time to do Morning Pages before the representative from The Cleaning Fairies arrived. She walked through the house, took notes, asked questions, and concluded that the job would take two staff members and three hours for a total of $240. So, nine a.m. to noon on Saturday the 11th. Armed with this knowledge, I called back our buyer's agent and scheduled her final walk-through for one p.m. on the 11th. Then I realized I couldn't both be there and be at the Longmont YMCA to take my turn at training the Phase 1 skaters, so I double-checked with John that he could be there instead. He said yes. After that I spent rather a while on the phone hammering out details about the mortgage because it turns out the sale of our place lets us make a somewhat higher down payment and thus take out a smaller loan, and also get explained to me how it works that our condo owner's insurance policy is now bundled up in the mortgage payment too. Once all that was done, I failed to be productive until it was time to leave for scrimmage. At least I got to my Morning Pages, if only by 4:00 p.m., and used them to hash out with myself what the next few days are going to look like. That is, what they'll look like if I actually manage to get out of bed on time.
And I suppose I just did say something like that. But it's boring. It's full of minutiae and administrivia and excuses. Worse, it has very little to do with writing, and this is the actually writing blog, dammit. I would prefer to have a writing day to report on.
Hopefully that will happen tomorrow. If I get up on time, that is.
this piece of paper pleases and frightens me greatly
Today we closed on the sale of our home of fifteen years. Put that way, it sounds like a nostalgic, bittersweet occurrence. It's not. We are so, so ready to move. Although at this point it's less a matter of dissatisfaction with certain features of the property as it is just eagerness to finally see the end of a process begun in August of 2013.
A year and a half ago.
A year and a half ago, we said to each other, "You know, we could move out. That really is an option that is open to us. Let's go talk to someone about that." A year and a half ago, we wandered into Pedal To Properties and met a realtor who began demystifying the process for us. A year and a half ago, we began gleefully carting box after box of stuff--mostly books and media and also shelving--to a newly rented storage facility unit. We were going to de-clutter and tidy and clean and get the place ready to be listed.
And then the storm of September 2013 hit. Water soaked through the roof and ruined a bunch of our home's innards. It was clear we wouldn't be selling the place any time soon.
It wasn't until April 2014 that our roof was replaced. Then it wasn't until August 2014 that our unit's interior got repaired and renovated. And then, because we had not, admittedly, been using the intervening time wisely, it wasn't until mid-February 2015 that we finished our own personal hand-wrought home improvements (e.g. OMG THOSE CLOSET DOORS) and were ready to put the place on market.
And then on February 19 and 20 we hosted about a million walk-throughs, received a bunch of offers, and accepted one. Everything just followed schedule from there. Which is how we wound up, today, very briefly, for the amount of time it took us to drive from the title company's office to the bank, with custody of a check made out to us in an amount that gently exceeded that with which we'd actually bought this place 15 years ago.
That's a weird feeling. It's not so much Daffy Duck crowing "I'm rich! I'm rich!" and diving through piles of gold coins, right? Because for one thing, it's all going toward the closing costs and down payment of the purchase of our new home. It won't be ours for long. And for another thing, it's frankly terrifying. Like, I have a piece of paper worth MY FUTURE sitting in my bookbag, all fragile and easily lost or stolen. We got to the bank and we were all HERE PLEASE TAKE THIS OFF OUR HANDS AND PUT IT SOMEWHERE SAFE IT SCARES US.
And then we had lunch. And we crowed a bit.
Now there's just the aforementioned closing next week, and then the moving-in operations. Which, to be honest, don't look so daunting now that yesterday's great big to-do list is to-done. All the wheels are in motion and all we have to do is ride them out.
By Sunday the 12th, the process started in August 2013 will be over (give or take a few weeks of leisurely emptying out our storage unit). I'll finally be able to breathe.
And, y'know, maybe write a little.