Wednesday, September 29, 2010

he says listen, takes my head, puts my ear to his, and i swear i can hear the sea

I'm making a list of things that I want to do while I'm funemployed, and I just added 'learn French' to it (coming right after 'learn how to knit' so that I can make my own ridiculous sweaters while watching 'Project Runway' in the future). I don't know if I will actually follow through on the goal to learn French, but I unfortunately have just enough knowledge about the language to know that I am completely butchering any attempts at pronunciation. That, combined with the fact that I had the black lung the entire time I was in Paris this spring, made me extremely uncomfortable talking to anyone, even though everyone took pity and spoke to me in English.

But the desire to learn French stems from the fact that I have this strange fascination with Carcassonne (the city, not the board game) and the whole south of France, and I wonder if it holds the key to some of my research for my gargoyle young adult romance novel. Without boring you too badly, Carcassonne is in the Languedoc, which is the area where the people used to speak a Romance language called langue d'oc (or Occitan, or Provencal). This differs from classic French, which was langue d'oil, because langue d'oc speakers used 'oc' as 'yes', while French speakers used 'oil' (later 'oui') as 'yes'. Anyway, having now already bored you, I will go on to say that Carcassonne and the surrounding region was home to a group called the Cathars, whose beliefs were deemed heretical by the Church, resulting in a crusade against them (which was far more 'successful' than the Crusades in the Holy Land, since the northern French/German armies basically wiped out the Cathars and took complete control of the region). Carcassonne continued to be a fabulous fortified city until fortifications stopped mattering so much, and is now rather sleepy, but it saw some amazing things over the past couple of thousand years.

So long, tangential story short, I would love to spend a couple of months in Europe next summer, if I can figure out a) how to do it affordably and without indulging the champagne tastes that I developed after staying in luxe properties all over India, and b) whether I can sublet my current place so that I don't have to move but also don't have to pay rent. Between England (where I could spend a lifetime), Paris (which I would quite like to see when I don't feel like I'm dying, since my first trip there was at the end of my two-week European odyssey with Claude, when my feet were covered in blisters and I had lost ten pounds due to our forced marches, and my second trip gave me an appreciation for what it would feel like to be dying of consumption there), and the south of France, I could quite easily stay two months -- or possibly expand and add more of Italy as well. Decisions, decisions, all of which will be determined by what's going on with my books and whether I can con anyone into going to some of these places with me.

I've now stayed up far longer than I intended. I made it to the big boss's staff meeting on time, where I delivered the slides that I made last night. It went well, and the big boss said that she dreamed last night that she and I were getting an apartment together -- so I think she's not looking forward to letting me go. Then, I slogged excessively all day, with a great lunch break to talk to two women who are starting to write fiction and wanted to hear how I got into it. As soon as I was done with my 1:1 with the big boss, I stole a sandwich from the cafe, swung by Philz to get some fortifying coffee, and went to Stanford for my magazine writing class. It was quite good; we each had to interview someone else in the class, which showed me that I'm reasonably good at making conversation and asking follow-ups, but my interviews have been tainted by doing hiring interviews -- I was asking questions that would give me insight into the girl's thought process, and didn't even think to ask questions like whether she wanted to have kids (since such questions are frowned upon/illegal due to possibility of discrimination). So, I'll have to get better at interviewing, but the exercise was fun.

Now, though, I must go to bed; no writing happened tonight, but I'll do some tomorrow if it kills me. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 0 (0% of goal)
Productive time: -
RescueTime productivity rating: - (global average: 0.84)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

go pick out a white dress

Sometimes my procrastination is really debilitating. Luckily, I'm about to enter a world in which I won't have to do PowerPoint, which is one of my favorite things to try to avoid -- but that doesn't make me feel any better about tonight. I just spent the last couple of hours working on some slides for tomorrow morning's big boss staff meeting -- but rather than do those slides from 7pm to 9pm so that I could write, I moped around on the couch and watched tv until almost ten, thus forcing myself to build slides from 10pm to midnight. Granted, the 7-10 hours are not good for me anyway, since those seem to be my least productive times, but still. At least the slides are done and the light in the powerpoint tunnel is rapidly approaching.

You might ask why I didn't make the slides at work like a normal person, which is a valid question, but for some reason I just had no free time today. I had meetings from 10-11:30, then went over to my old building to have lunch with Meital (Alan's admin) and Natasha, which took longer than planned but exactly as long as desired. I had to cut off lunch so that I could go get a massage (I know, rough), and when I got back to my desk I had to prep for a phone screen for someone to replace me. After that, Adit's friend Vivian was in my building interviewing for roles, so I hung out with her for 45mins, and then it was time to go home.

Sadly, tomorrow doesn't hold much possibility of writing time either; it will be a hard slog all day, and then I have class tomorrow night. But the rest of the week and weekend are looking good, so if I survive the heat and don't stab out my eyes because of powerpoint, I sense some writing in my future.

Now, though, it's time for bed -- goodnight!

Daily word count: 0 (0% of goal)
Productive time: -
RescueTime productivity rating: - (global average: 0.88)

just say there's nothing holding you back

I should have gone to bed over an hour ago, but I got sucked into a vortex of GoDaddy/Wordpress/site issues for my romance alter ego, and I finally emerged battered and not entirely victorious. I realized that the twitter feed on my website hadn't updated in a couple of weeks, so I tried to fix it, which resulted in me briefly losing the entire site. The end result was that the widget I was using is still broken, I downloaded five others that don't work nearly as well, and I'm too frustrated to continue. This is not an important project (although it might be to my mother, since she checks the other site to see my twitter feed), so it's going to have to wait until I'm funemployed (and perhaps for the blog class I'm taking later this fall). But for those of you (in other words, Mom) who want the twitter feed -- it's now linked from the top of this blog. Knock yourself out!

Anyway, clearly I was procrastinating in a major way from the writing. I don't know why I'm avoiding the scene that is next on my list; I even tried making a list of why I didn't want to write it, and that didn't really help. I did have a breakthrough and realize that it was in the wrong place in the story, taking place at the wrong time of day and in the wrong room (and with Mrs. Peacock and the candlestick instead of Miss Scarlet and the knife, right?), but that didn't give me any more words. In fact, I lost 1500 words tonight to deletions -- necessary, but not good for morale. But, I love my desk now that I have pictures all over the place, and I still put a lot of thought into the story even if the word count didn't materialize, so it wasn't a complete waste - and hopefully tomorrow, whatever little snit I'm having over this scene will resolve itself so that I can write the damn thing and move on.

The rest of my day was rather meh; I had a blood test this morning (since I'm doing every elective medical procedure around while I still have fantastic insurance) that at the time seemed to go extremely well. I took their advice to drink a ton of water before the test, which meant that she found a vein on the first try, rather than attempting both arms and the back of my hand (which happened last time, and I nearly fainted). But then a couple of hours later, I had really awful pain in my wrist, to the point that I couldn't turn my arm or type. I of course used my good hand to look up all sorts of horror stories online about people who had nerves perforated by phlebotomists (that's what she said), or who had veins burst and cause internal bleeding. Most of these stories were on a message board for people with chronic pain, most of whom seemed like basket cases (and freely admitted that the 'doctors don't listen because I call too much'), but it was morbidly interesting to wonder whether I would ever recover. Of course, I recovered almost immediately, although it still hurts just a tiny bit, so I suppose my Percocet addiction is going to have remain unborn.

After that, I slogged the rest of the day in a rather desultory fashion that was completely at odds with my two-page to-do list -- after all, what are they going to do, fire me? Of course, that isn't the attitude I really have, and I'm going to have to spend some quality time tomorrow making up for today's lack of productivity -- but I wasn't wholly useless. I even had lunch with someone who just got back from leave and wanted my perspective on reentry -- I'm apparently seen as somewhat of an expert on this, since I'm one of the only people who ever took a 3-6 month non-maternity leave and actually came back for a couple of years -- and tried to convince her to stay with the company. Funny, right?

But now, I have to sleep; luckily it's cooled down from the 100-degree temperatures that were baking everything when I came home, so sleep should be possible. Goodnight!

Daily word count: -1543 (-77.15% of goal)
Productive time: 3hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 0.86 (global average: 0.88)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

just say yes -- 'cause i'm aching and i know you are too

I didn't write as much as I wanted to today -- but since I almost never write as much as I want to, I'm still happy with the progress that I did make. After staying up way too late avoiding the contest that I was supposed to be judging, it's little surprise that I stayed in bed until almost eleven -- but I managed to drag myself out of bed and over to Starbucks by noon, where I worked diligently for a couple of hours. Then I grabbed a late lunch, came home, played on the computer a bit, and called my parents. I also spent some quality time cleaning off my desk and putting up photos/cards/quotes on the corkboards over my desk -- yes, this is clear procrastination, but I wasn't able to work at my desk until this happened, and now I'm feeling the love in that little corner of my house.

After finishing that little project, I sat back down to Madeleine and Ferguson and considered their situation for a couple more hours. The net result was not a high word count, but I think I may have finally figured out a way to get Ferguson to the theatre -- I already knew that he became obscenely wealthy upon inheriting his father's estate, but as it turns out, the estate includes large tracts of land in London, including the building which houses the theatre where Madeleine is acting. He goes to check it out, finds Madeleine 'in the act', so to speak (ha, I make myself laugh), and the rest proceeds as expected. This also has the unexpected benefit of giving Ferguson a major temptation to interfere in her acting career by shutting down the theatre.

Of course, the twins are now sitting on thin ice, since I'm tempted to kill them off again -- but I think I shall keep them. I just wish that this story would lay flat and stay still for awhile so that I could finish it, but it seems that every time I engage with it, it throws me another curveball. The point where one begins attributing human actions to something that one actually created is clearly the point at which one should perhaps step away and take a break -- but I make so much more progress when fully immersed in the story and the characters.

And that is why going to work tomorrow will be no fun. I want it to be fun; after all, I only have fifteen work days left in the office (omg). But I have a lot of stuff to do before I can leave feeling like I finished everything I wanted to do, so this week is going to be a tough slog. Hopefully it's a tough slog that still allows me to write every night -- time will tell. But now, it's time for bed!


Daily word count: 1329 (66.45% of goal)
Productive time: 4.5hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 0.86 (global average: 0.25)

one man's trash

Today didn't go exactly as I planned, mostly because I needed to judge this contest that I had volunteered to judge for (many local/online chapters of the romance writers group do contests as fundraisers, etc.). I had expected to judge -- but for some reason, I thought that the contest was limited to the first 15 pages of each manuscript, and instead it was the first fifty. Adding a couple of hundred extra pages to what I had to read did not make me happy, and it made me even more unhappy that none of the entries were that great. Sigh.

So I did get up and go to Starbucks this morning, although I ended up not really writing. I came home, had lunch, watched the Stanford/Notre Dame game, and then set about judging. And judging took all night, mostly because I didn't like the entries and so let myself be distracted by watching the reunion episode of 'Top Chef' and the last three episodes of 'Project Runway'. So, I have a lot of writing to do tomorrow to salvage the weekend. But, it's probably a good reminder that when I am writing full-time, I'm going to have to give myself days off; I probably would have been happier today if I had just abandoned all pretenses of productivity entirely and rested up for tomorrow.

And on that note, it's bedtime -- goodnight!

Friday, September 24, 2010

you wanna know, know that it doesn't hurt me

Even though it's a Friday night and the weekend is stretched luxuriously before me, I'm going to go to bed in a few minutes so that I can get up and slog with renewed purpose in the morning. My much-touted internet ban last weekend died an embarrassing and unreported death over the course of the week, but I'm going to try to strike a healthy balance tomorrow and get some serious writing done. I also need to judge a few entries for a romance contest that I'm judging, which I've tentatively pencilled in to do while watching the Stanford/Notre Dame game. But the current plan is to go to bed, get up, and write for a few hours before that happens -- so we'll see if I can follow through.

Today almost started out disastrously. I went to bed late last night, consumed with thoughts of my upcoming freedom, and set my alarm for 8am, thinking that my first meeting wasn't until 10am. So, when the alarm went off and I was still sleepy, I reset it for 8:30, thinking that would give me plenty of time. But when I woke up at 8:30, stretching happily in my warm bed, I suddenly remembered that the 10am meeting had been rescheduled for 9am...and was a twenty minute drive away from my house. Damn. Needless to say, I didn't have time to shower, and I ended up doing my eye makeup in my car; but luckily I had washed my hair yesterday, so a bit of dry shampoo and some tinted moisturizer for my face was enough to get me out the door. I made it to the meeting just as it was starting, which was a total miracle, and looked put-together in my fun Anthropologie brown/blue/coral striped skirt that I bought a few weeks ago.

After that, I slogged for an hour, attended a meeting with the big boss for an hour (at which I was mostly irrelevant, since I have lame-duck status), and then had what we billed an "Alaska/Indiana/Iowa Solidarity Rally" (or something similar) lunch with Alaska Matt and Heather (aka dear respected madam, who is, obviously, from Illinois). Alaska Matt is in town briefly, back for a week from his eighteen-month stint in Dublin -- but his last day with the company is at the end of October, at which point he's moving back to Alaska. It was kind of crazy to have lunch with them and realize that two of the three of us will no longer be employed in a month -- but it was quite entertaining to see them and catch up.

Post lunch, I had all sorts of work stuff that I intended to do, but I had to deal with an issue with my favorite cable company (which shall remain nameless since I don't need their weird comment spam here). Adit had left the cable box behind when he moved out of our place, and I had never taken it back; I had assumed that if he got charged for it, I would pay the fees, but I really dreaded the idea of standing in line at a cable facility, and figured that I would just wait to see if they noticed it was missing before I bothered to take it back. As it turns out, he didn't forward his mail from our old place and so never got the past-due notices, and then was sent to collections. Oops. So I had a fun afternoon driving up to Foster City and standing in line to drop off the DVR and the modem; it wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting, but it also left me in no mood to go back to the office, so I worked from home the rest of the afternoon.

I had a surprise visit from Chandlord, who 'enjoyed' a glass of cranberry juice (which I mistakenly bought completely sans sugar, which tastes a bit offer) while sitting at my kitchen table for half an hour. After she left, I did some more work stuff, made dinner, and then decided to read Gary Shteyengart's SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY, which is getting some critical acclaim and has been sitting on my to-be-read pile for awhile. I'm a little over halfway through, and it's a sign of my ambivalence that I put it down; it's funny and v. well-observed and vaguely depressing and ominous, but it feels just slightly forced. I'll still finish it, since I want to know what happens, but I don't think it's going on my all-time favorites list.

And now, I should sleep if I want to write tomorrow. Goodnight!

Daily word count: - (0% of goal)
Productive time: 0hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: -- (global average: 0.88)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

one day you're in...the next day, you're out

So, dear readers, the time has come to announce something that I've been keeping closer to the vest for the past month: I've resigned my position with my current employer and am going to spend the next couple of years writing full-time. I'm finally divulging it on the blog because today marked an important milestone: we filed my resignation officially in the system, and my last day will be October 15. That's three weeks from tomorrow, for those of you keeping score, and is going to come extremely fast; when I originally resigned in August, I told the big boss I would stay until we found my replacement, but since we're looking externally and the hiring process can easily take six to nine months, I decided that I didn't want to drag it out that long. She was her usual v. good self about it, letting me leave on the date requested without making any arguments, although she did say she didn't know what they would do without me, etc.

This is all crazy and wonderful and terrifying. When I left work to go to class yesterday, I was both elated and scared, and the adrenaline was definitely flowing. I've been with this company for seven years, and it's the only full-time job I've ever had. I love my coworkers (well, most of them), believe in our mission, and think that the company will do some amazing things in the years and decades ahead. And it was a v. tough decision; I was flipping through the exit survey I have to take, and I realized that a lot of the questions don't really apply to me. I'm not leaving because I'm dissatisfied (even if I was sometimes bored or stressed), and the big boss is amazing to work with, which is probably why I stayed as long as I did.

Instead, I'm leaving because I've been feeling for a long time that the more time I spend focused on a corporate career, the less time I have to pursue my real dreams and try to turn them into reality. The company I work for is amazing, but it's not my dream -- and it's time to spend my energies on my own projects.

I'm staying in California while I do this (unless I decide to travel for awhile next year, but we'll see) because I realized when I took my sabbatical that writing is already isolating enough without the added problem of doing it someplace with a v. limited social circle. My savings would go much farther in a cheaper place, but I would also end up massively depressed, which would sort of defeat the purpose of taking some time to focus on my passions. So, those of you who are in California should be prepared for me to make lunch/dinner/movie plans more often, if only so I get out of the house and don't go crazy.

Obviously that's the biggest thing going on right now; everything else is just noise. I slogged all day today, since I have a ton of work to get done before I leave, and had lunch with John (I will miss working someplace where I can say 'meet me at the dinosaur in five minutes' and then meet up with someone at a life-sized skeletal replica of a t-rex). I left around six-thirty, came home, made dinner because I was ravenous, and then called my mother. I accidentally fell asleep and then spent a couple of hours taking care of a variety of tasks after I woke up, so I didn't do any writing tonight. Since I don't have any plans this weekend, there will be time enough for writing later -- for now, I'm going to do one last thing for the soon-to-be-dead day job, and then go to sleep. Goodnight!

Daily word count: - (0% of goal)
Productive time: 0hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: -- (global average: 0.88)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the final countdown

I'm too tired to blog tonight; or rather, I don't feel like putting the effort in to write anything meaningful (not that you ever get anything meaningful here, but I like to pretend). Work was a hard and brutal slog today. I made it to the big boss's staff meeting on time (shocker), then slogged like mad (with a brief break to grab lunch downstairs, which left much to be desired) before my weekly meeting with the big boss. It went exceedingly well, which made me both happy and sad, and now I'm staring at a mammoth to-do list to take care of over the next three weeks, so we'll see how that goes.

After the meeting, I left almost immediately to grab a sandwich at Quiznos (I made the mistake of trying something new and hating it) and some tea at Starbucks so that I would be properly fueled for my 6:15pm class at Stanford. Tonight was the first night of my 'Writing for Magazines' class, which is going to be v. interesting. I talked to my father for the seven minutes that I had between parking my car and making it to the classroom; he was home alone and making a frozen pizza, which sounded both sad and awesome at the same time. Then, I went into the classroom and spent an interesting three hours with my classmates. The lecturer seems quite good; he's done a lot of magazine reporting in the Middle East and is working on a book about Arabs who fight in the Israeli army, and he's funny (always a big plus for me). My assignment for the class got props for being funny and having a 'voice'; we were supposed to introduce ourselves in less than 300 words, and I think I acquitted myself well. The classmates are really v. interesting people (including a woman who just barely missed the women's diving team for the Beijing Olympics and is trying again for London '12, a single solitary male student in the midst of 18 women, and, bizarrely, three different au pairs -- I've never even seen one au pair, let alone three in the same class), although some of them have the propensity to talk way too much. But, I think it's going to be fun. I strategically signed up to bring in a piece at the end of October -- several weeks away, but right before I start taking the half-quarter blogging class that is going to double my school workload.

After class, I came home, worked for about an hour, and talked to my brother. Sadly, there was no time to write; even though I'm not totally sleepy now, I'm going to go to bed so that I can hopefully blow dry my hair tomorrow morning. Goodnight!

Daily word count: - (0% of goal)
Productive time: 0hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: -- (global average: 0.88)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

there is no blame, only shame - when you beg you just complain

I should already be in bed, but I needed a few minutes of downtime to decompress before beginning another whirlwind day tomorrow. Today started with a seven a.m. conference call with Alan (my old boss), which was quite the way to start -- but at least it was a call, which means I rolled out of bed at 6:45 and took it in my pajamas. Then, I worked while drinking tea at my kitchen table until after nine, then hurriedly got ready and went into the office. I intended to go to the gym then, but as it turned out I had too much to do (boo), since I was leaving early to run an errand and then go up to the evil city with Heather (aka dear respected madam) and Salim.

Heather and I drove to Redwood City to pick up Salim at his place of employment, and then we drove up to the city of sin to meet our mutual friend Durand for dinner. Durand lives in Boston now, but I've known him for ages, and he spent some significant quality time (that I'm v. jealous of) with Heather and Salim in India after I left the subcontinent. We were all on the epic South Africa trip together (which was over four years ago, which is impossible to believe), so I was v. glad that I got to see him while he was out here. But, because Heather and I were both eager to get out of work, we got to the city absurdly early, and so hung out at the bar next to the restaurant and had some wine while waiting for it to be dinnertime.

The restaurant we chose was Chow, which was v. close to where I used to live with Adit (and is where Adit and I took my dad on his first night in town in February, right before we went to India). And we had a totally lovely time catching up on current events and reminiscing about India, which was awesome. It's too bad that it's a school night and that Wednesdays are my worst days, because I'm going to be tired tomorrow, but it was worth it.

So now, I need to go to bed -- I have to slog like mad tomorrow to get ready for a meeting with the big boss, and then I need to leave shortly thereafter to go to the first session of my freelance magazine writing class at Stanford. I also need to squeeze some gym time in there and finish the assignment for the first class, so I'm guessing that I'm not going to get any romance writing in, but we shall see. Goodnight!

Daily word count: - (0% of goal)
Productive time: 0hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: -- (global average: 0.88)

Monday, September 20, 2010

all there's left to do is run

I should work out more often. There are many reasons why I should work out more often (including awkwardly running into Katrina while she was in a towel in the locker room, bam), but as I discovered, it was a lot harder to be annoyed at work this afternoon when I was floating in the haze of post-workout endorphins and the pain of torn muscle fibers starting to rebuild themselves. In fact, I was almost (but not quite) happy. Not happy with what I was doing, perhaps -- but happy to be alive, and to have survived the trainer who told me that his nickname "Bones" was given to him by my doctor after a woman she referred to him broke her ankle during one of her first training sessions. He's actually really great, despite that rather ominous story, and I'm a little sad that I didn't discover him months ago.

So work was fine as a result of that; I had a couple of meetings, a bit of lunch, a gym session, a shower (after which I spent an inordinate amount of time drying my hair, and lost a significant bit of my post-workout rush when I found a gleaming white hair in the same little snakepit that seems to be producing a nest of them on my head), and then some slogging until around 6:30pm. Then I came home, made dinner (chicken fajitas), sat down at my laptop to work -- and wasted a bit of time. Not a ton of time, although I did check Twitter once, mostly by accident -- but I did read up on Vita Sackville-West on Wikipedia. She was responsible for the Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, one of the most renowned gardens in the UK, which I would love to see someday (and take my mother to, if I can just trick her into thinking that we're going to Des Moines for the day and then kidnap her onto a transatlantic flight). She was also an acclaimed writer who had an extraordinarily stable, deep relationship with her husband even though she was also carrying on affairs with women such as Virginia Woolf. But it was about her husband that she said "...there is only one person in whom I have such utter confidence that I would give every line of this confession into his hands, knowing that after wading through this morass -- for it is a morass, my life, a bog, a swamp, a deceitful country, with one bright patch in the middle, the patch that is unalterably his -- I know that after wading through it all he would emerge holding his estimate of me steadfast."

Isn't that a lovely line? I proceeded to write for a bit after that, and I think the scene I worked on ended up more pensive and dreamy because of it. I couldn't write for that long, though; I had a couple of work emails to send out, and I need to go to bed so that I can wake up for a 7am call. Tomorrow should be fun, but I'm going to have trouble doing all I need to do -- I somehow need to make up for the productivity at work I was sorely lacking last week, squeeze in some time at the gym, work on the first assignment for my magazine writing class (which I should have written this weekend), and then go up to the evil city with Heather and Salim for dinner with our friend Durand, who happens to be in town from Boston. That means it's unlikely that I'll write tomorrow -- but since I have class on Wednesday and likely won't write then either, I'm going to be going crazy by Thursday. I must squeeze more time out for the book...but that's a story for another time. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 545 (27.25% of goal)
Productive time: 1.5hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 0.73 (global average: 0.88)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

you can catch a sight of angel eyes, all emptiness and infinite

My no-wasting-time-on-the-internet vow from last night was a very hard thing to keep up in the cold light of day, but it was worth it; despite going through the shakes as I kept reaching for my phone to check twitter or the news and reminding myself that I wasn't supposed to, I managed to write a whole lot of words today. Even though I didn't get out of bed until almost ten and then proceeded to blow dry my hair in a blatant act of procrastination, and even though I made both lunch and dinner, and even though I called my parents and talked for an hour and a half, I still managed to write over four thousand words. And those were real words, not just a copy/paste hack. Yay me.

So clearly cutting off access to things like Twitter and the New York Times was v. beneficial. As mentioned, I woke up this morning, got ready for the day, and made myself lunch (I perhaps stretched the definition of the word 'cooking', since I just reheated some chicken that I cooked last night, sliced it up, cut up half an avocado, and made a wrap -- but as that's slightly more effort than a peanut butter sandwich, I'm going to count it). Then, I relocated to Starbucks, where I knocked out a couple thousand words while drinking a big mug of earl grey tea; ever since I discovered that I can get tea in a real mug if I'm going to drink it there (which was not that long ago, as it happened yesterday), I've been v. excited about drinking tea there. I refuse to drink hot tea out of a paper cup, since I swear that I can taste the paper in the beverage -- but a big mug of tea is the perfect accompaniment for writing about British people drinking tea and having sex, right?

My battery started to die, so I came home and talked to my parents while it recharged. Then, even though it wasn't even six p.m., I made dinner (linguine with a storebought tomato sauce that I added chicken to) -- I'm on a mission to cook more, both in an attempt to be more frugal and in my push to eat healthier, and this weekend I was quite successful in my endeavors. After eating, I went back to the same Starbucks, got another mug of tea, and wrote another couple thousand words. The story is humming along quite nicely now, and the issue now is that there just aren't enough hours in the day (during the week at least) to keep making this kind of progress. But at least this week I worked on the book every single day regardless of what was going on -- I just have to keep that up, and keep trying to increase my word count, so that I can finish the book before it kills me.

When I came home, I had been productive for over five hours, which is about five hours longer than anyone should be productive on a Sunday. So I decided to reward myself by watching last week's finale of "Top Chef" (verdict: I was happy enough that the person who won was the winner, but the season overall left me feeling kind of meh). And, dear reader, I will admit that I caught up on Twitter while watching "Top Chef" -- it seemed fine to read a whole slew of tweets while watching tv, since it's not like tv is a great use of time either. But as long as I can keep up my discipline during the day and only check twitter at the end of it all if I've accomplished good things, I'll still consider this week a victory.

Now, I suppose I should go to bed so that I can get up and drag myself into the day job, where I will endeavor to feign enthusiasm until it's time to go home and write again. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 4360 (218.0% of goal)
Productive time: 5.75hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 1.56 (global average: 0.28)

desperate times call for desperate measures

Today was utterly unproductive, and I'm so annoyed at myself for that that I'm going to take some drastic measures to get back on track.

But first, the good stuff. I woke up early enough to clean up around the kitchen and get myself dolled up before Chandlord arrived for a 'tea party', which oddly enough consisted mostly of ordering vegetarian Chinese food. We had been discussing a tea party for awhile, but I almost cancelled on her yesterday because I didn't want to cook or have to buy groceries for a tea party, so we compromised and said we would still hang out but that we would order food instead. This turned out to be ideal, even if I did feel a little old at the beginning when Chandlord showed up and we sat at my kitchen table drinking tea like my mom and her friend Carol used to do when I was little (although they were drinking endless cups of black coffee instead). It's a little surreal that I'm now only a year or two younger than my mother was when that started. Also, fun fact: Carol and I share a birthday.

And now that you have your dose of my childhood reminisces and my endless moaning about impending old age in one short paragraph, I'll continue to the rest of the day. Vidya's friend Kathy came over too, which was fun; I would probably try to poach Kathy and make her my friend instead of Vidya's if I wasn't so lazy and hermit-y. We picked up the food, ate, and watched the first half of a 4hr miniseries version of "North and South", which is like a more ridiculous "Pride and Prejudice" set in a mill town during the Industrial Revolution. The hero has the brooding stare down to a science -- so much so that it just made me want to find a guy who is really good at staring intently, even if in real life it would probably be super creepy and not at all attractive. Also, it may be harder to have a brooding stare when one is wearing the ubiquitous Northern California hoodie instead of a top hat. Sigh.

After they left at 3pm, I should have written, intended to write, was just on the verge of writing -- and then I completely, utterly, irrevocably failed. I spent the first hour reading about a lot of aspects of the Industrial Revolution on Wikipedia (no surprise there), then took a long nap, then had a snack, then spent some time on the internet, then made dinner (and actually cooked - chicken, green beans, sweet potato fries), then cleaned the kitchen, then wasted a whole boatload of time while watching the Stanford/Wake Forest game (complete blowout, so rather uninteresting). I finally ended up writing in my journal in an attempt to root out the source of my procrastination, and didn't really come up with much (other than that I sometimes get scared of my own potential success, which is nonsensical).

But I did make a decision to go on an internet crash diet: no internet usage for a week. There are some exceptions, as there have to be since my entire life is tied to the internet (starting with the job that currently pays me, but extending to the management of all my assets and debts, as well as some writing/planning stuff that I keep "in the cloud" on Google Docs).

But the plan is:

1) banned activities:
- no Twitter/Facebook (I already removed the apps from my phone - this has to apply to my beautiful soul-sucking Android device as well)
- no online news sites/gossip blogs (so if something truly momentous in the world happens, call me; I removed my headline news widget from my phone too)

2) restricted activities:
- <30mins of personal email time per day (which should be more than sufficient, since I don't respond to any of the email I get anyway)
- no Wikipedia unless *directly* related to a research question for my writing

3) unlimited activities:
- online financial tracking/bill pay
- any required assignments for my freelance magazine class (starts on Wednesday!)
- online calendar (which is where I keep all details about what I'm doing and when)
- anything I have to do for the day job (but don't just use work as a time to cheat on all this)
- writing this blog - I won't leave you hanging, since I'm sure you're eager to see what kind of nervous breakdown I have around Day 3

There are probably things I'm forgetting that I'll have to figure out as I go along. But considering that I almost didn't do this because the thought of disconnecting from Twitter sent me into a cold sweat, I realized that I *needed* to do this before I get assimilated any deeper into the hive and lose all hope of ever being steadily productive.

And on that mindblowing decision, I'm going to bed. Let's see how tomorrow goes. I'm predicting 5000 words minimum (or at least one book read) in the absence of all distraction. Goodnight!

Daily word count: -576 (-28.8% of goal)
Productive time: 2hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 0.01 (global average: 0.29)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

dragging baskets full of bones

The crickets outside my house are going insane. I suppose it's preferable to the crackheads going insane outside my apartment in San Francisco (or Adit going insane inside it), but it would be nice if they were just the teensiest bit quieter. Then again, that's the price on pays for living in a wampcabin, so it's definitely worth it.

Today was a mostly useless day; I woke up with a smashing headache and so decided to skip work. No biggie; the big boss is out of town, I could do anything that needed to get done from home, and my increasingly lame-duck status is making every day a struggle to stay focused and motivated. So I worked from home in the morning, but still went to campus in the afternoon for a training session at the gym that I didn't want to reschedule. So now, in addition to a headache that doesn't seem to want to go away, my arms are so sore that there was a moment on the way home from the gym when I wasn't sure that I could steer. Yay, I suppose.

When I got home, I took a nap, took a shower, ate some dinner, and eventually went to Starbucks for a couple of hours to work on zee romance novel. I didn't make a ton of forward progress, but I reread some scenes for the next phase of my writing/edits, and I'm feeling much better about the novel as a whole. Now that I've worked out some of the timing issues in terms of what happens when, I can focus on the writing and character development instead of just the mechanics and the plot -- and I have to say, without a shred of modesty, that what I have so far is great and the finished product is going to be an order of magnitude better than my first book. Now, my opinion may change tomorrow when the bleak light of day rains on my parade (to completely mix incompatible metaphors), but for tonight, I'm feeling good about where things are and I have a clear sense of what needs to happen in the next several chapters.

The key is just writing them, so I'm going to go to bed and then get up in time to do some writing before Chandlord comes over tomorrow morning. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 154 (7.7% of goal)
Productive time: 1.55hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: .34 (global average: 0.84)

Friday, September 17, 2010

there's a thunder in our hearts, baby

As you can tell by the fact that I'm posting this at three a.m., I just stayed up *way* too late on a school night. I had a relatively annoying day at work (although not quite as bad as every other day this week, so I suppose that was a start), and so while I was supposed to see a movie with John and Emily, I bailed in the interest of getting more work done and doing a bit of writing. Lame, I know. But, I managed to do some significant edits, getting to the end of sequence two (again) -- and I'm feeling very good about the first couple of sequences, other than the opening chapter, which I know I'll rewrite another ten times anyway. And then, unfortunately, I picked up a book with the intention of reading for an hour before bed...and the next thing I knew, it was three a.m., and I'm thirsty and tired and headachy, and I have to be at work in approximately six hours. Boo.

So on that note, it is most certainly time for bed -- goodnight!

Daily word count: 768 (38.4% of goal)
Productive time: 1.5hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: .16 (global average: 0.88)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

you weren't there, you never were, you want it all but that's not fair

I just realized that I am destined to get less than eight hours of sleep tonight, which makes me v. sad; I stupidly volunteered for meetings from 8am to 11am that I previously didn't have, which means I have to get up and go into work tomorrow. Ugh. This week should have been really quiet because the big boss is out of town, but as it turned out, it's been kind of miserable from a work perspective -- it's no wonder my head hurts.

However, from a friend and life perspective, today was great. I took an hour to have lunch with John (who works at my company now, as you know) and Emily (in town for the week -- my college friend who has lived in New York for the past eight years, so I typically only see her once a year). Lunch was good, with much merriment, and I ate a beef and lamb shish kebab that I could have just kept eating all day (the food at work is usually good, but it's rare that I have an entree that wows me by being a step above the other entrees I eat all the time, and this one was it). I also ruined John's day/life by accidentally telling him about an article I had purposefully not forwarded to him earlier in the week (involving the pollination of figs by wasps; don't look it up if you like to eat figs, as it may put you off them for awhile).

After lunch, I slogged excessively until 3:30, when I had a massage. I have several free birthday massages that I've stockpiled over the course of the past three or four years, and so I decided to start using them. However, I never relax well when I get a massage at work; even though the rooms are decorated like spa rooms, you're still fundamentally getting naked in your office building with hundreds of other employees in the vicinity, even if no one else is going to see you. And, in the middle of working, it's hard for me to relax.

But I will say that in this case, the masseuse made it worse. I was wearing my Golden Heart pendant (which I've been wearing all the time, as a reminder that I have something other than the day job to be passionate about) and asked her to set it aside for me because I forgot to take it off, and so when she asked what it was, I told her that I write romance novels. That's all well and good -- until after about ten minutes of silence, while she's massaging me, she suddenly asks "do you have any romance in your life?"

wtf, man? Was I so tense that it was clear that I'm not dating anyone because she could just tell that there was something wrong? Did my ass (which she massaged more than necessary) clearly lonely? I told Heather (aka dear respected madam) later that it was the most awkward massage I've ever had in my entire life, and that probably includes the time in India when I got two unexpected breast massages in the same hour. Between that and the fact that she later said that I needed to give in and that women were usually easier for her to work with than this, and that the only thing I should have in my head is thinking of synonyms for 'ravishment' (I think she was making a romance joke, but it just sounded creepy), I left feeling muscularly relaxed by mentally shellshocked.

Anyway, I worked for another hour, then vacated and went to Starbucks, where I was very good and edited for exactly an hour. Then, I picked up Jav in Palo Alto and went to Menlo Park for pizza. Adit was in town for the night, and so set up dinner with me, Jav, John, Anton and Amanda. It was great to see all of them, particularly Adit, who is just as charming and wonderful as ever. After dinner, I ended up taking Adit to the airport, and as it turns out I've now gotten home just in time to go directly to bed. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 282 (14.1% of goal)
Productive time: 1hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 1.19 (global average: 0.87)

you don't want to hurt me, but see how deep the bullet lies

I should have gone to bed an hour ago, but between writing, researching, and procrastinating, it didn't happen. Did you know that the people who used to make ormolu objects often didn't live past the age of forty? Ormolu (gilt bronze) is the really gorgeous (if you like things absolutely covered in gold) French decorative stuff from the 1700s and early 1800s, but the process was outlawed around 1830 because it involved covering the bronze object in mercury, spreading an amalgam of gold and mercury over the top of that, and then subjecting it to extreme heat until all the mercury burns away. The result is an amazing gold finish, but understandably, the dudes who did this for a living usually went insane or died of mercury poisoning at a fairly early age.

So I slogged all day today in a generally unenthused way, although I drove over to my old building for baked potato Tuesday (I can't believe it's only Tuesday - I thought it was at least Wednesday all day). I relocated to the balcony for a couple of hours in the afternoon since I was at risk of falling asleep at my desk, and the brisk air and sunshine managed to restore my mood (and wakefulness) enough that I was able to get through everything I needed to accomplish and leave around 5:30. At that point, I relocated to Cafe Borrone, wrote for awhile over my favorite sandwich, and then came home and wrote/procrastinated/researched for the rest of the night.

My overall word count was dismal because I rewrote two scenes, which took a lot of work but did not net a lot of words. This book is going to be the death of me, but at least my laptop isn't covered in mercury -- let's be thankful for small miracles. While I was sitting on my couch producing words, I heard some ridiculous hubbub, and when I turned off my music, I realized that tonight must have been the first night of Stanford freshman orientation, because I could hear the lovely strains of the band run. Lucky me. I felt somewhat nostalgic for a few minutes, but then I just ended up being glad that I'm a grown-up now and will never again have to meet Adit for the first time.

More writing awaits tomorrow, although perhaps not that much more, as I believe I have dinner plans. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 279 (13.95% of goal)
Productive time: 4hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 0.85 (global average: 0.88)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

i'm superman with the wind at his back, she's lois lane

I have nothing to say tonight; I slogged from nine until six-thirty, with a break for lunch with John at the cafe in the building that I was in back in 2006. I also had a checkup with my doctor, who promptly gave me a flu shot -- my doctors are very trigger-happy with the vaccines, which is of course generally a good thing, although given that my last vaccine was the tetanus/whooping cough shot that gave me uncontrollable fever/chills for three days, I felt a slight twinge of misgiving when she stuck me with the flu vaccine. Then I came home, ate the rest of my Greek lasagna, and had a stomachache that prevented me from going to Starbucks like I had intended. So, I sat around and wasted time on the internet for four hours, with a few attempts to go back to the book and work on the manuscript, all of which ended in relative failure.

I'm having another 'I hate this book' night, mostly because the death of Ferguson's father removed any and all reasons for him to show up at the theatre (or anywhere else, for that matter), and so I'm having a lot of trouble getting him and Madeleine together in a believable way. Also, I had decided to switch the moment when Ferguson recognizes Madeleine from the end of sequence one to the end of sequence five so that there's more entertaining masquerading in between and the risk/payoff is higher when he does discover her. But if he doesn't know it's her, then everything else starts to feel wrong -- like, how should he interact with her in public when she's her real self and he doesn't know it? If he flirts with her there, then he just looks like a two-timing bastard. And every decision I make has a bunch of knock-on ramifications that are driving me absolutely up the wall.

But, I'll persevere; work tomorrow should be quite so hectic, so I'm going to leave early and go someplace to write. Hopefully my sleeping brain will come up with a solution for Ferguson (preferably one that doesn't involve nightmares about my own wedding, which seem to be plaguing me with increasing frequency -- it's like phantom limb syndrome, being tormented by something that doesn't exist). Goodnight!

Daily word count: 206 (10.3% of goal)
Productive time: 1.25hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: -0.22 (global average: 0.89)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

you have to cut until it hurts

I should have written a lot more today than I did, but I salvaged the evening and managed to hit my word goal despite wasting a lot of daylight hours. Not that writing while it is light out is required; if I had my way and the rest of the world cooperated, I would probably be almost nocturnal. If I ever become a vampire, I would miss the days when I could go outside without the sun setting me on fire, but my new night-centered life would certainly fit better with my natural circadian rhythms (also, what mead were the monks drinking when they decided how to spell 'rhythm'?)

Anyway, I slept until almost eleven, and then I spent an hour and a half washing dishes and scouring my kitchen (particularly my stovetop, which suffered from several spillovers on Friday and was in desperate need of a chemical bath). I had a fantastic lunch consisting of leftover Greek lasagna; John had sent me an email yesterday saying it was even better the next day, and he was absolutely right. I could eat that stuff all week, but between lunch and dinner today I polished off enough to leave only one serving for tomorrow night. Then, I played around on the internet, since I really hadn't spent any time on it in the past two days, and was just getting ready to settle in and write when my grandmother called. She had tried calling yesterday, but I was either in meetings, driving, napping, or hanging out with Vidya all day, and so I didn't talk to her. She also tried to call around 8am, but I v. smartly turned my ringer off before going to bed, since I anticipated that at least one person would try to call while I slept off my birthday. So, I talked to her for a few minutes, which kind of depressed me, and so I abandoned the writing and called my parents for our usual Sunday conversation, which ended up lasting for almost two hours. By that point, it was 6pm, so I ate some more pasta, took a nap, and finally roused myself to go to Starbucks around seven.

Surprisingly, I managed to stay there for almost four hours, and I accomplished a lot. I started to panic as I thought of everything that I need to do with this story, and so I decided to go back to the beginning and rewrite -- I had decided last week that I would just pretend that the first half was done and write the second half and then make it all fit together later, but I think that's too much of a risk. It feels like building a house on top of a bunch of balsawood stilts with the intention of filling in the foundation later, and while I'm no engineer, that doesn't sound like a good idea.

So I rewrote most of sequence one; the rewrites are reasonable but still somewhat substantial, since I have to add in the twins, subtract the brother, and change the point at which Ferguson realizes that Madeleine is the actress. But, the big boss is gone this week, and so if I put in some quality slogging time tomorrow and perhaps Tuesday to prep for some stuff coming after she gets back, I should have a light week that enables me to make major progress on the book. That's the plan, anyway; what will really happen remains to be seen.

Now, though, I need to go to bed; I have to be at the office for a nine a.m. meeting, and since I want to wash and blowdry my hair tomorrow morning, I should probably attempt to overcome the grande latte I just finished and go to sleep. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 2374 (118.7% of goal)
Productive time: 4hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 0.59 (global average: 0.34)

what you've got, what you love, what you need, what you have is real

Thanks for the wonderful birthday wishes, everyone! I will have to respond to some of those wishes separately, but right now I'm barely capable of typing, so I'm going to call it a night. I made it to Berkeley (ssssss) just in time for the RWA monthly meeting, which was good, and then Grace bought me lunch afterward in honor of my birthday. Then, since I was so exhausted, I came home, talked briefly to my parents, and then slept for almost two hours. This resulted in me being fifteen minutes late to Vidya's, but we were still able to have a lovely dinner at Arlequin (after our first plan to act suburban and go to CPK failed because the restaurant closed).

Craig was dreaming; having now seen him twice, I think I prefer when he's in my living room (albeit on Tivo). But, he was still hilarious, and he brought along a couple of his opening standup buys, including the black dude who shoes up in every musical number, and the little bondage dude who also shows up everywhere. And, at the end, Robin Williams came out unannounced, which was amazing.

Now, though, I'm falling asleep on my keyboard. I successfully drove home tonight, since I intend to write all day tomorrow and I'll get more done if I start off with a solid chunk of sleep in my own bed. So, goodnight

Daily word count: 0 (0% of goal)
Productive time: --
RescueTime productivity rating: n-

Saturday, September 11, 2010

caught in a bad romance

Today had the advantage of being the day before my birthday, which means it's not a "national day of service/remembrance", which means it was totally awesome. I got into work by nine (not awesome), and discovered that persons unknown to me had decorated my cube in a most delightfully ridiculous way (including signs saying "30", even though they knew that I am turning 29). It turned out that the mysterious person was Natasha, with help (randomly) from this dude Sriram who sits in the next cube over and happened to still be there at seven last night. I got to thank her in person because we had a birthday lunch at Fiesta del Mar, which was an excellent break to the day. Then, I went back to the office for a couple of hours, stayed longer than I intended, and ended up coming home around 4:30.

This didn't give me much time to prep for my dinner party, but it all managed to come together. Chandlord came over v. early, which was lovely, and so we hung out and she cut up a bunch of strawberries while I prepared a double batch of a recipe I'd never made before. So, it was kind of slow going, and I was feeling v. behind, but I got it in the oven about five minutes before the first of the rest of the guests showed up, which was just about perfect.

So in addition to Chandlord, my birthday party consisted of John and Jess, Connie and Chris Boyd, Fauxneil, and Katrina. This turned out to be the perfect number of people, as we were able to crowd quite cosily and amusingly around my kitchen table (although it necessitated Katrina sitting in the rocking chair and Oniel and I both sitting on the cubes that are usually my living room end tables). We consumed several bottles of wine that people brought (including the $70 bottle that Adit failed to take with him - tanks for the birthday gift, Adit!), and Connie brought some truly lovely flowers which made me inordinately happy. In addition to the wine, we had two pastas: the meat pasta was the Greek lasagna that I was eager to try out, and the non-meat pasta (mostly for Chandlord, but everyone had some) was fettuccine with truffle butter sauce, which I adore. I abandoned the salad I was going to make because, really, no one wants to eat salad and I didn't have time to chop stuff. Then, we finished off with strawberry shortcake. So it was an incredibly carb-and-cream-errific meal, which was lovely.

Even better, though, was the company; I have to say that when I first met the boys' drawgroup (eleven years ago this month), I never would have ever guessed that I would still be friends with them so many years later. So while I've made a lot of friends since then (well, not that many friends, since I'm choosy and have hermit tendencies), it was nice to celebrate with the people who have been there for most of them. I believe that everyone had a genuinely winning time, and it certainly lifted my spirits about getting older (which were crushed this morning when I was sitting at a stop sign and watched a bus of v. depressed looking old people drive by and wondered what it would be like when we were all on some version of that bus).

Everyone left around eleven, and I spent a bit of time loading the dishwasher and rinsing pots and pans so that the dishes won't be too gross tomorrow. And now, I desperately need to sleep -- I have to be in Berkeley at nine a.m. tomorrow for the SF area romance writers chapter meeting, which means I have to get up at seven, which should be illegal on one's birthday. Then I'm going to the city tomorrow night to see Craig Ferguson (YAY) with Chandlord -- but based on how tired I am, I suspect I'll drive back here and take a nap/relax for a couple of hours before going back up to the city, since even though that's an unnecessary amount of driving, I'm going to need a nap so that I don't fall asleep while watching the love of my life perform on-stage.

But first, since it's officially after midnight and so officially my birthday, I opened the cards and presents that I had patiently saved for my birthday. Katrina brought me a card, which was hilarious; Felicia sent me a very sweet card and some hair tinsel (which is great, since I need to retinsel soon); and my parents sent me a random medical bill that had come to their house for me (not a present) and a present and a card. The present turned out to be the stovetop espresso maker and a milk frother I've had my eye on so that when I am poor I can make my own lattes and not give Starbucks $4 every day (although I'm not kidding myself that I'll completely cut back on cafes) -- I can't wait to try it out! And the card was a Hallmark (because they care enough to send the very best) that was v. sweet, appropriate, sparkly, and made me tear up just a bit, which proves that I'm turning into my mother. There are worse things, I suppose :)

And now, I really must go to sleep. Have a lovely national day of mourning -- goodnight!

Daily word count: 0 (0% of goal)
Productive time: --
RescueTime productivity rating: not even going to bother to look it up

Thursday, September 09, 2010

when the world ends collect your things, you're coming with me

I didn't accomplish as much as I had intended tonight, starting with the unforgivable fact that I didn't even try to write. I slogged from 8 until 4:30 and got a lot accomplished (with a break to have a long-overdue lunch with Gyre), and then came home with the intention of putting together my patio table. However, as it turns out, I can't find the hardware required to put the table together, and so it's still sitting uselessly in the backyard. Sigh. That means that the people who are coming for dinner tomorrow are going to have to eat indoors, rather than fight the mosquitoes and raccoons as night falls.

I lost steam after that disappointment, although I did cart some of the remaining boxes to the garage with the intention of dealing with them once I have a bit more free time on my hands. Then, I took a nap (yes, I'm old), woke up, and planned what I'm going to make for tomorrow. I invited my oldest college friends over for a lowkey pre-birthday dinner; I can't have a blowout on the actual day of my birthday because Chandlord and I are going to see Craig Ferguson, and I'm trying to preserve Sunday for a write-a-thon, so Friday dinner seemed to be the best option. After much debating, I'm going to attempt to recreate the awesome Greek pasta dish that I had at Cat Cora's restaurant in Orlando; it's always risky to make a brand-new dish for a dinner party, but you only live once, and if they don't like it, I can make some Kraft mac and cheese in about ten minutes. Or, they can try to steal the truffle butter pasta away from Chandlord, since I'm making a non-meat alternative for her. Or, Jack-in-the-Box is down the street. Regardless, it should be fun, so I'm looking forward to it.

I had debated prepping the pasta dish tonight, since I could mix everything up and then just slip it in the oven tomorrow, but it's too late to start cooking. Since I can leave the office around 3pm tomorrow, there's plenty of time to get everything accomplished, so I'm not concerned. I just have to get through some unpleasant tasks at work, and then the weekend can begin in earnest. And on Saturday, I turn 29 (sigh). Birthdays don't seem to be as much fun as you get older, although I did get what I assume is a present from my parents today that I'm saving to open on Saturday, since the present stream has turned into a dry and barren gully as I've aged. And on that self-pitying note, it's time for bed!

Daily word count: 0 (0% of goal)
Productive time: 0.75hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 0.07 (global average: 0.9)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

someone's gonna tell you lies, cut you down to size

Today was a brutal, endless slog at work, hampered by the fact that I was crankier than I've been in recent memory (with the possible exception of how cranky I was yesterday). It probably didn't help that my boss was fasting for a Ramadan/diversity awareness event, and by the time we met at 3pm, she was starving and cranky and I was over-caffeinated and cranky, so it was all pretty much a wash. I eventually had to put my headphones in and crank up the volume just so I wouldn't hear anybody else; the new building I moved into is lovely, but the concrete floors, while stylish, are hellish from an acoustic standpoint since there are too many people running around in heels. I somehow need to figure out how to stop being cranky, since it's neither useful nor attractive -- hopefully I can get myself back in check tomorrow. If nothing else, I'm spending the morning in my (carpeted) old building and then having lunch with Gyre, so I have high hopes that I'll revert to some semblance of good cheer.

After slogging basically nonstop from 8am to 6:45pm (with a quick break to eat a baked potato), I left the office and went to Cafe Borrone, where I forced myself to work on zee romance novel for a couple of hours while enjoying a sandwich and an overpriced glass of wine. I spent some quality time moving scenes around and fleshing out which scenes need to be built, and then I made myself just sit there and write, netting exactly 1000 words before deciding to come home. By the time I got here and took out the trash for tomorrow's pickup, I was desperately in need of a break -- so I watched tonight's "Top Chef" without even turning on my laptop. Since all I used my laptop for today was writing, I've netted the best productivity rating I've ever had -- let's see if I can keep it up.

Now, though, I should go to bed; getting sleep would probably help me be less cranky, but since I have an 8am meeting, I need to go to sleep asap. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 1000 (50.0% of goal)
Productive time: 1.25hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 1.99 (global average: 0.89)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

can't you see what you've done to my heart and soul? this is a wasteland now

I probably should have gone to bed an hour ago, but in an attempt to write, I accidentally got sucked into several chapters of a book on the fashion and style of Marie Antoinette. I also spent some quality time trying to determine whether a spinster had to be thirty before she could safely chaperone other unwed women, or whether she could get by as a chaperone at twenty-eight (which is, as you'll notice, exactly within my own age range, since I will be twenty-nine on Saturday -- oh, and I'll probably still be a spinster on Saturday too).

Today was remarkably frustrating and annoying and rage-inducing. Nothing bad happened at all, but I absolutely did not want to do anything that was on my list of things to do, and if I had played my cards right a couple of weeks ago, none of these things would be my problem anymore. Instead, I spent the day developing communication strategies and collateral for a project that I don't really care about. And, the cafe was out of baked potatoes by the time I went downstairs, so I had to eat a sandwich instead. Worse, there's no fountain Diet Coke machine in my building, and the cans of Diet Coke run out by around 3pm, so my addiction is not being fed. I know, I have such a tough life, and you don't understand how I'm even capable of living under such awful circumstances.

But, I got my act together around 3pm when Natasha told me that I inspire her; since I wasn't feeling particularly inspiring (other than in sort of a Jim Jones, let's poison the kool-aid kind of inspiration, which won't get me anywhere), I then felt a bit guilty about wallowing in my own lack of desire to accomplish anything useful, and so I put my head down and slogged until six. Then, I met up with Joann, Jane and Tolu for our every-six-weeks Friendship Renewal Dinner. It ended up lasting for two and a half hours; at around ninety minutes, we paid (or rather, Joann and Jane paid, since Tolu and I are both having birthdays this weekend), but then Jane dropped a long bomb-ridden monologue on us about some friend of hers whose husband has been sending money to a Thai prostitute for years, which sort of stunned all of us, and ended up prolonging dinner until 8:45. After all that wonderful nonsense, I came home (with a stop to buy some milk, since my milk is about to go over the hill and also tastes like the peppers in my fridge), tried to write, and ultimately did a lot of research instead.

And now it's really time for bed; I have the big boss's staff meeting tomorrow morning and a hard slog to prep for our one-on-one later in the day, but I have high hopes of vacating immediately thereafter and writing a nice chunk of zee romance novel. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 142 (7.1% of goal)
Productive time: 1.25hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 0.51 (global average: 0.88)

Monday, September 06, 2010

please don't say we'll never find a way and tell me all my love's in vain

So, I completely failed in my goal to write 12000 words this weekend. But, today I did write another 3500 words on my long synopsis and 1000 words on the manuscript itself. And, more importantly, I think I figured out the ending! So, the synopsis was worth doing, since I have a clearer sense of where I'm going. Of course, in the process of that, I decided to change the point where Ferguson discovers Madeleine's secret acting career by about two hundred pages (from the third chapter to the midpoint climax), so if I stick with that decision, I'm going to have to do some rewriting of the first half (again). This is why it's a good idea to just pretend that the first half is done, write the second half, and then go back and fix the first half once and for all, since I can't just keep rewriting it every time something changes. I just have to hope that I can suture all the pieces back together at the end without creating some Frankenstein's monster of random bits and characters.

In addition to the v. satisfying moment of getting a glimpse of the end (hint: it involves kidnapping, my favorite!), I also did four loads of laundry, cleaned up the living room, and made mac and cheese for lunch and chicken quesadillas for dinner. I also got out of the house for a bit and went to Starbucks. And, in the brightest/most disgusting moment of the day, I finally found success in my surgical endeavors and removed the splinter that has been hanging out in my foot for a week. Some days it was totally unnoticeable, other days it hurt -- and this afternoon, it was back to the point where I couldn't step on that side of my foot without sending burning pain coursing through my veins. So I got out the safety pin, the tweezers, the rubbing alcohol, and the flashlight, and went to work. Several minutes later, I was successful: I extracted a quarter-inch-long piece of hair from the deep interior of my foot. I had suspected that it was a hair splinter and not a regular splinter, but I can't say that I was particularly thrilled to be proven right in this instance.

And now, after having shared too much, I should really go to bed (on my fresh, clean sheets with a fresh, clean duvet cover on my comforter, even if it's eighty degrees and I really don't need the thing). Goodnight!

Daily word count: 787 (39.35% of goal - but this doesn't count the work I did on the synopsis)
Productive time: 5hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 0.56 (global average: 0.63)

who do you love

I was going great guns on working on zee romance novel until about five minutes ago, when I suddenly started to fall asleep on the couch. I didn't actually do any official writing today (as in, words that are part of the manuscript itself), but I'm working on writing a very detailed synopsis of everything that happens because I'm in one of those modes where I have to climb to the tallest tree in this dense, fucked-up forest and try to figure out where the path is, what it's leading to, and whether I want to go to that destination (since it currently could be leading to a big stake-lined pit, rather than anything desirable). I'll get back to writing tomorrow, though; I have no plans other than to write 9000 words (stretch goal, obviously) and do a ton of laundry, so I'll have to get going early tomorrow.

Today was nice, despite the lack of forward progress. Terry and I were enjoying a leisurely morning of coffee (for her) and tea (for me) when Chandlord called and said that she was fifteen minutes away and would come over if I would have her. I happily acquiesced, and so Vidya came over and spent a quality hour with us; it felt v. neighborly to have someone drop by for coffee, in a v. old-fashioned way, even though Chandlord lives almost an hour away from me. Then, Chandlord and Terry both left (Chandlord to go to yet another wedding, since that seems to be the extent of her social plans, and Terry to go to the gym), and so I showered and straightened up around the house. I later met Terry, her brother Tom, her friend Heather, and our friend Natasha at California Pizza Kitchen, where we had a great time until it suddenly became clear that Terry was running very late for her flight.

But as it turned out, security was only four minutes for her, and so she made it to the plane with plenty of time. After I dropped her off at the airport, I picked up a few groceries, came home, talked to my parents (who seemed to be in fine form), and then organized my toiletries/linen closet. If that's not a sign of procrastinating from my writing, I don't know what is. However, I felt justified; because it's always disorganized, the clutter is taking up valuable shelf space that I can use for towels. More importantly, because I have so much stuff, I never know what I have and what I might need more of -- which is how I have four things of deodorant, five or six tubes of sunscreen, a whole bunch of travel-sized shampoos, etc., etc. Even worse, I have a whole ton of eyeshadows, lipsticks, glosses, etc., that I need to get under control -- and knowing what's in there will help me to hopefully just swap back to something I already had when I feel like a change, rather than going out and buying yet another variation on pinks, purples and browns. So in a true sign of completely obsessive behavior, I made a spreadsheet of everything I have; we'll see if it actually changes anything, but at least the closet is clean now.

By the time I was done with that, it was close to eight o'clock, so I made myself some danged quesadillas, and then sat down to contemplate Madeleine and Ferguson. And now, I'm going to sleep on the synopsis and hope that I wake up tomorrow morning miraculously knowing how to end this book. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 0 (0% of goal - but this doesn't count the work I did on the synopsis)
Productive time: 3.5hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 0.26 (global average: 0.28)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

i'm not your babe, i'm not your babe, fernando

Today was lovely! I woke up around eight and made Terry some overly-strong coffee while we sat around the living room, and then dropped her off on Stanford campus to pick up her sister's car so that she could go get her hair done. After dropping her off, I came home and spent the usual inordinate amount of time blowdrying my hair, which made it look super spiffy, and then I adjourned to the Starbucks on California Avenue to write. Terry joined me when her hair was done, and we had a delicious lunch at Joanie's Cafe. Then, Terry went off to run some more errands, and I came home to write.

The writing started slow (with a 45-minute nap), but I persevered, and eventually got through the entire scene that I was trying to write. It's a critical scene in which Madeleine's family confronts her about her secret life; it will require some editing, but at least it's all out there now. I'm quite happy with the progress I made, and it's within reach to hit my 12,000 word goal during the three-day weekend, so I need to keep pushing tomorrow and Monday.

Terry came back eventually, and she read and watched sports while I wrote. I felt like a bad hostess, but she claimed that she wanted to relax -- and since I know that she's desperate to reach Madeleine and Ferguson's story, I ultimately just had to trust that she wanted to sacrifice hanging out with me now to get her hands on the book a bit faster. Around seven, her brother Tom came over, and we ordered takeout Indian food (mmm, butter chicken and garlic naan), opened a bottle of sauvignon blanc, and watched several episodes of "The Big Bang Theory". It was a perfect low-key evening, and it was v. nice to see Tom, since I don't see him when Terry's not around. After he left, Terry and I watched an episode of "Bones" (which I detest, of course), and now Terry is sleeping while I watch Craig and finish this blog post.

I believe that we're having brunch tomorrow, and then I'm dropping her off at the airport and enforcing a major slog on the romance novel front. If I don't write at least 4000 words, please shoot me. And now, it's time for bed! [although I just have to add - Craig just said "During the break, I was just thinking -- are we human? or are we dancer?"]

Daily word count: 3196 (159.8% of goal)
Productive time: 3.5hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 1.06 (global average: 0.27)

Friday, September 03, 2010

i get by with a little help from my friends

Today was a lovely, somewhat lazy day. I made it into work around ten (after blowdrying my bangs and pulling the rest into a ponytail - clearly my attempts to keep up with my hair style are already failing), and slogged until 3:15. This might seem like a short day, but since the big boss was only there from 12:30 to 3, I was totally fine; we were all recovering from the offsite, so it was pretty slow even though next week is going to be extremely chaotic.

But, I left at 3:15 to pick up Terry from the San Jose airport; she's in town for the weekend, and currently trying to fall asleep while I write this, so I'll have to keep it brief. We went straight from the airport to Fiesta del Mar Too in downtown Palo Alto, where we hung out for over three hours, eating, drinking, and making merry. Several different people stopped by to see her, ending with Chris and Natasha, which was lovely since I adore them. Then, Terry and I came back to my place and talked for a couple of hours, before watching an episode of "Big Bang Theory" while getting ready for bed. Now, it's time to sleep; I intend to write tomorrow morning while Terry goes to the gym and gets a haircut, so I need to make sure I wake up. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 0 (0% of goal)
Productive time: --
RescueTime productivity rating: -- (global average: 0.34)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

take another little piece of my heart

Today was the third and final day of the big boss's staff offsite, and I'm really, really glad that it's over. We had a good day, but three days is just too long to sit in the same room with the same people talking about business problems that only tangentially affect you, and so I spent a lot of the afternoon compulsively checking my email on my phone while waiting for it all to end. But, I survived, and I escaped around 4:45 to go to Palo Alto in search of a tiger spice chai at Coupa Cafe and some productive writing time.

I only stayed at Coupa for half an hour, since I was able to get my hair stylist (who is half a block from Coupa) to squeeze me in and trim my bangs. My hair grows fast, and the bangs were already uncomfortably in my eyes (even though they look awesome that way), but since Susie does free bang trims in between cuts, I felt like I should get them taken care of. After she was done, I came home, tidied up just a bit, and ate a delicious frozen enchilada while watching last night's 'Top Chef' (verdict: sad!). Then, I procrastinated on the internet, procrastinated with getting ready for bed (you know I'm procrastinating when I exfoliate and floss on the same night) -- and finally sat down to write. I've decided to just pretend that the first half of the book is done (since I have something down for almost every scene in the first half, even if there are pieces that need to be substantially rewritten) and focus on making rapid forward progress. My hypothesis is that since I don't yet know how the book is going to end, I should just write towards the end immediately, knowing that however I end it, I'll probably need to tweak some things at the beginning anyway, and I might as well do the tweaking while rewriting the beginning for the final time. So, I wrote a brand-new scene tonight, officially breaking ground on the new Sequence Five. I'm setting the ambitious goal of writing 12,000 over the three-day weekend -- it's definitely doable, I just need to *do* it.

But now, I should really sleep; I need to be productive at work tomorrow morning because I'm leaving early to pick up Terry from the airport, and I want to squeeze some writing time in (either tomorrow morning before work, which is usually a fool's errand, or while Terry is out socializing with people). And, of course, I need to blow dry my awesome bangs. While they're kind of a pain in the ass, they are encouraging me to dress snazzier to look even more eccentrically awesome (the big boss commented on this fact today, likely because I was wearing the brown/aqua/coral striped skirt that I bought the other day) -- so I'm enjoying them. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 1415 (70.75% of goal)
Productive time: 2hr15min
RescueTime productivity rating: 0.66 (global average: 0.88)

if heaven is on the way, we'll wrap the world around it

I'm exhausted; today was a v. v. v. long day. I made it into work by 8:20, just in time to grab coffee and some fruit before the offsite started at 8:30. Then, I sat through nine hours of discussion about the future of the business, what our plans are, etc., etc. -- it was all rather interesting, but that is a ridiculously long time to spend sitting in one room with the same people, particularly when you did it all day yesterday and are going to have to do it again all day tomorrow.

When we ended, we went to downtown Mountain View for a going-away party for Roy and Emily, both of whom I worked with way back in the day (Roy was in charge of India when I was there) and both of whom are leaving to go to other companies. There were some other people there who left the company in the past couple of years, so it was fun to catch up with them. Several people from the day-long offsite were there as well, including the big boss, because we stopped there en route to our other event of the evening -- food, drinks and bocce. We had planned the bocce/bonding activity well before we knew about the going-away party, so we sort of inserted the going-away party in between leaving work and arriving at bocce. That meant that between the wine I had at the party and the wine and champagne I had at bocce, I was in quite a good mood, although I stopped early enough that the busride back to Mountain View from Los Gatos was enough to get me back to sobriety.

Bocce was super fun; I'd been there for an offsite once in 2007, and now I want to go back. I'm not particularly good at the primary objective (getting your ball close to the small guide ball), but I excel at and take vindictive pleasure out of knocking other people's balls away from the prize. So, while my team lost both times, I still had a lot of fun bonding with the big boss's staff (although I think there are some ringers who have played some serious bocce in the past).

But, I didn't get home until after eleven, and then I had to send some emails, so now I'm only going to get about six hours of sleep before I have to get up and get ready for the day ahead. Luckily, tomorrow's session is supposed to end at four p.m., so hopefully I'll be able to come home, take a nap, and get some serious writing done. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 0 (0% of goal)
Productive time: --
RescueTime productivity rating: -- (global average: 0.34)