Following my arrow

Just had a really long day. Scribbling for a few minutes just to decompress. I won’t get into it here but if we’re FB friends you can read it there. If we aren’t, you should add me.

If you’ve never worked where payday is every other week, as opposed to twice a month, I suggest quitting your job and finding someone who’ll pay you this way. My first school paid this way, as did the engineering firm. The non-profit used to pay me twice a month but a couple of years ago switched to every other week, at the urging of employees. And yes, I’ve worked for a Japanese-owned company so I know what it’s like to be paid weekly! That could be sweet too but I don’t see it happening.

It means 26 paychecks per year instead of 24. People who work in places like this call those extra two the extra paychecks, and they can be glorious. See, most monthly deductions for stuff like insurance or parking are split in two, since you usually have two paychecks a month. Twice a year, you get a third paycheck in a month, and these paychecks don’t have the deductions. So not only is it a third paycheck in a month, but it’s often a larger paycheck.

I don’t have that many deductions, but I have more now than I ever did. I’m paying for parking (we get free parking after our fifth year; I’m just completing my third) and I loaded up on supplemental health insurance last year, in anticipation of turning fifty. I was sure I was going to get a colon cancer diagnosis, which I did not.

My check was not quite two hundred bucks larger, but holy moly what a difference it felt like. I’ve been super bummed about my pay lately. I knew when I switched careers I’d be starting over, but I kinda thought that in three years I’d have proven more value than they were expecting. My employer doesn’t see it this way.

The not-quite-$200 take-home pay bump this pay period isn’t quite half the increase I want, need, and deserve, and it felt soooooo good. I almost forgot how unappreciated I feel. Until this long (pricey) day, I almost felt like a grown-up making a grown-up living.

On the other hand, it’s Christmas. Getting most of my shopping taken care of during the weekend felt great, but now it’s going to be a pretty lean couple of weeks! Still feels good, though. Better to be scraping bottom because I spent money on gifts than scraping bottom because of the usual reasons.

Is it weird that I left teaching and became poorer?


I put Crush Girl on my Christmas list. I hope it’s not weird. I didn’t even get her something practical; I wanted to get her a book but I know her stack is pretty high right now. Plus I gave her a book for her birthday and I have a feeling she didn’t care for it.

So I got her something that’s probably just going to take up space but is a cute gift. I saw it while flipping through IG. Those ads are pretty useful. I’ve now purchased two things IG targeted at me, both of them gifts. And there’s one more thing I bookmarked to get myself for my birthday next month.

I didn’t see the Kacey Musgraves Christmas TV special, but I picked up the CD and it’s pretty cute. Yes, I still get CDs. Not nearly as many as I used to (thanks, employer!) but I don’t want the medium to die.

I feel fine about the long day I had, but it’s created me more work, which means at least two more long days in addition. Not really looking forward to that but not complaining either. I don’t know about jolly, but ’tis the season to be positive, and I remain so.

Oh, I finished NaNoWriMo just past 50K words. Yay. I’m drained! So I’ll save discussion about that for later.

Even at My Worst, I’m Best with You

I can’t tell you why the title of this entry is relevant, but the song is playing on the speakers in this establishment, and the song is an especially good soundtrack to part of what I’m writing here.

I don’t know if I have it in me to do the Friday 5 this late Sunday evening. I’ll type a few thoughts and see.

My part in the stressful project at work isn’t as finished as I thought. I’m not sure when my part will be done — it seems when I think they’re happy with my draft, they come at me with “can we do this?” And it doesn’t bother me much but the communication this past week was weird. Like people are saying, “Why did you do this?” And I’m saying “You know why I did this. If you wanted to reverse it you totally could have, or just told me you wanted it reversed and I’d have been happy to do it.”

I understand my role, and I embrace it. I’ve embraced it for going on three years, and usually it’s not a problem. Tell me what you want, and I’ll write it. If I disagree, I may say something about why, but I’ll almost always defer unless the point of contention is about grammar or some other mechanical aspect of the language, which I consider myself better informed about than almost everyone I work with.

People I work with appreciate and respect my expertise. I don’t know much about most things, but I know what good writing is, and I know how to produce it. On this project, though, I think people aren’t being clear about what they want and don’t want. So I assume the drafts are fine until I’m told that I need to change certain things and I need to change them now.

Geez. I wouldn’t really mind that either, but be a little nicer about it, you know? And don’t make it sound like the draft is where it is now because of me. If I’m waiting for you to tell me what you want, and you don’t tell me what you want until seconds before you need it, don’t act like I’m the reason nothing’s been done yet.

Arrrrrrrgh.

This project has been making me lose sleep, and it’s not the work itself. I haven’t been nervous or stressed a single moment about the work, which involves some very high stakes. This team I’m part of always produces excellent work. High stakes don’t change any of that. I want our project to succeed, but I’m not afraid of its failure. That’s how you do good work.

It’s the communication that’s been driving me insane.

I’m working myself up just typing this, so I’m going to back off a bit.

This is going to sound a little weird, but I’d kind of like to piss Crush Girl off. Not about anything important, but maybe some minor way that sets her off. I haven’t seen her mad (although I’ve certainly made her mad; I just wasn’t around to see it!), and I suspect she’s beautiful when she’s angry.

I can think of two friends who got really beautiful when they were mad. One is Janice, with whom I spent a lot of time before she married my former college roomie Sterling. I was on the receiving end of at least four very angry scoldings and I have to tell you, that fury made a beautiful woman beautiful. A few times I saw her unleash it at others, and how great it was when I wasn’t the target. I could get a closer look, for one thing.

The other is R, whom I’ve seen angry more than anyone I’m not related to, and only a very few times was I the person she was angry with. Hers was a little different — she went right up to the line between anger and psycho. Once, when she was mad at her mom, I am quite sure I saw her go a step or two over the line, and that was pretty scary. I didn’t have anyone to compare it to until Helena Bonham Carter’s performance as Bellatrix LeStrange. Yeah, it was that kind of psycho-beautiful.

I’ve only noticed in the past couple of months (that is, in the time since she friendzoned me) that Crush Girl has a really musical way of speaking, especially when she’s either going a little gaga over a doggie or a baby, or when she’s listening sympathetically to someone else’s sad story.

I’m actually trying to learn a thing or two from her on that last thing. She makes all these really sympathetic sounds that I’m not sure would work coming from me, but the vocalizations are so sympathetic that I think they help all by themselves. When I hear someone telling her about their bad day or whatever, and she makes these (I’m not even going to try and spell them) sounds of caring, I feel like little daggers are going right into my heart.

I still don’t know her very well, especially not outside the one context in which we interact, but when I see the way she listens to people, I think she’s someone I could love. That’s never enough, I know, so don’t remind me. It’s a good sign, though. There’s a really good person in there.

R had a very musical way of speaking, which over many years of being her friend I picked up a little of, which I’m sure doesn’t help my already semi-effeminate speaking mannerisms, which have led many people to ask if I’m gay, which I’m not. Or from California, which I also am not.

Crush Girl’s musical inflections are different. Like she’s singing along with a completely different orchestra. Like she’s got a story to tell, and if you just wait a moment, she’s going to sing it to you. I’m picturing Amy Adams in Enchanted, although it’s not quite like that. I need time to think about it, because I’m pretty sure I can think of an actor she reminds me of.

this is a crappy picture of the movie on my tablet, but there are NO good still images on the web for this film! but dang: isn’t she pretty?

Speaking of Enchanted, I saw the new Anna Kendrick movie, Noelle, which is streaming on the new Disney +. It’s not great, but Anna is great in it, so I’ll probably see it a few times a week between now and the new year. It reminded me of a cross between Elf and Arthur Christmas. It’s going to remind everybody of Elf.

A coworker also saw it, and she said it reminded her of Elf and Enchanted, and I can see that too.

It has moments of cleverness and genuine, sincere kindness. It has moments of stupid, too, like when Noelle is required to address the North Pole denizens about what Christmas means to her. Ugh. Ugh. Bleah. Vomit.

But you know, I teared up twice and actually shed tears once. Anna really sells the kindness.

Now that things aren’t going to happen with Crush Girl, I should probably give Anna another chance. Although really, if she goes another ten years without calling me, I might stop waiting around.

Friday 5: Body of Evidence

The stress at work continues, but while my part of the project is mostly done, the other people on it are really just getting going. They’re going to be shooting all week, away from the office, so I think I’ll be able to get back into a quiet routine. Here’s hoping.

It was getting rough enough to make me write an email, mostly saying “I’ll work with you whenever I need to, but if you want me to hate it, keep talking to me the way you’re talking to me.” Cooler heads (mine) prevailed and I emailed it to my boss instead. I felt better just expressing my issues with someone; it didn’t have to be the person I have issues with.

She welcomed my venting.

NaNoWriMo continues. I took a few days off last week because of work stress, but there was a write-in at Kaimuki Library this morning and I knocked out more than 3K words, catching me back up. It was a nice morning.

Friday 5. From here.

  1. Among people you know, who’s got the softest shoulder?
    Man, that’s a good question. I haven’t had need of a soft shoulder for quite some time, and when I needed it most, I didn’t really want to talk to anyone except R, and I couldn’t because she was the reason I needed it. The truth is that I’ve been something of an emotinal lone ranger since the R thing. I open up in these journals, and that might be about it. Oh, I just remembered that Jocelyn has been my only person to talk about Crush Girl with, and that’s been a good help. Maybe not such a Lone Ranger after all.
  2. Among people you know, who’s got the stoutest heart?
    My mom is super tough, and while that may not be as true today as it once was, she’s still the person I look to for toughness. Japanese moms — they raise us to be koi, and my mom has set a pretty good example even though the metaphor’s not supposed to extend to women.
  3. Among people you know, who’s got the most soul?
    There’s a way to answer this that kind of goes against the usual meaning, and since I’ve grown up in church culture I’m more likely to go that way. Actually, I think my pick answers it both ways. My eighth grade social studies teacher and my former landlord, Mrs. Wong.
  4. Among people you know, who’s got the biggest mouth?
    Although he’s not nearly as big a mouth as he used to be, I still have to go with Reid here. High school classmate and former roomie. It was never one of his more endearing traits, although combined with his more endearing traits it can really liven up a party. We planned our most recent high school reunion for a year but his emceeing is what really made it a success. It was actually nice to watch him come to life with the mic in his hand. A good reminder of what he’s like at his best.
  5. Among people you know, who’s got the toughest liver?
    Growing up, I watched my dad put down impressive amounts of beer, and I never saw him behave in a drunken manner. He was always aware of how much he’d had to drink, and sometimes I would ask him why he didn’t say ______ or do ______ when it was clear to me his expertise would have settled whatever debate or task could have used his input, and he would say quietly, “I’ve had a few beers. It’s not the best time to get involved in something like that.” So while this doesn’t exactly answer the question, it keeps with the question’s spirit. I saw some of my friends’ dads drunk or hungover, and I could see how embarrassing it was to my friends. I never had to go through that.

If that salt has lost its savor, it ain’t got much in its favor

It’s Veterans Day here in the United States, a federal holiday and a state holiday, which when I was a teacher usually meant a one-day weekend. Saturday and Sunday for work, Monday for relaxing. Normal two-day weekends were seldom real weekends — I usually worked both days.

Thank God we have more state holidays than any state in the union. We also have the longest life expectancy, and I don’t think the two are unrelated.

Now that I’m out of the classroom these eight (wow) years, I no longer really work all weekend, but I still put a good amount of time in, either on Saturday or Sunday, so a three-day weekend usually means a normal two-day weekend.

I went to the office Saturday, but only for a literal couple of hours. In the morning, I met two of the NaNo regulars for a small write-in, where I banged out about 4,000 words. Then got a few things moving in the office, then we had Penny’s birthday dinner at Chicken Factory. I was going to try to wring another thousand words or so out of my brain at the boba spot, but I did the Friday 5 instead. It was good for me.

Sunday I did a little bit of tidying up at home and worked on specs for steaming broccoli in the microwave oven. Broccoli is one of my favorite foods and I prefer it blanched above any other method, but I’m trying to take healthier lunches to work during the week, and while blanching isn’t exactly a hassle, if I can work out a good system for microwave steaming, the time and energy I save will be worth the slight decrease in epicuniary pleasure.

I think I’ve almost got it. Also, I ate a ton of broccoli Sunday.

In between attempts, I just napped. It was such a stressful, tiring week. Then I went to the folks’ place to hang out, watch football, do laundry, and have dinner. I did a couple of crossword puzzles, too, which may have been the most therapeutic activity all weekend.

I’d already blocked today off for work and NaNo, and it was pretty productive both ways. I went over the 20K words mark for NaNo (yay) and am ahead of the pace by about a full day, I think. In the very late afternoon I wasn’t feeling physically well, so I took myself for a long walk. Okay, no. I think that was the most therapeutic activity all weekend. During lunch (microwave-steamed broccoli and rice) I got halfway through Linda Sue Park’s 2001 Newbery-winning A Single Shard, which I’m rereading for the first time. I read it the first time when I was working on my thesis and haven’t been back to read it for pleasure. I thought it was time.

My next read was going to be Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello Universe, the 2018 Newbery winner. I bought it right after the award was announced but never got to it — in fact, didn’t know anything about it — and was really looking forward to getting to it this weekend.

But, you know. NaNoWriMo. November is the worst time to start a new book. I was trying to work out a reward system, where I’d allow myself to read X pages for every 1000 words I wrote this month, when Crush Girl mentioned to me that she thought it looked interesting. So I lent it to her, alleviating myself of my problem while also doing something nice for her, so double win.

I did not know that Kelly is a writer of Filipino descent, which makes it three Asian American writers who’ve won the Newbery. Linda Sue Park’s A Single Shard, Cynthia Kadohata’s Kira Kira, and now this book by Kelly. At a time when people seem to question my American-ness, I have to say this really resonates.

I practically begged Crush Girl to take her time with the book. I really shouldn’t get started on it until December 1.

And speaking of her, I got to hang out with her outside of our usual context for a very brief moment this weekend, with a small group. It was nice. I managed not to spill anything, offend anyone, or break down crying over the sorry state of the world and my sorry place in it, which I’m always in danger of doing when I have a drink or two.

You gotta love alcohol. It really lets you be yourself!

I’ve been moody as heck all day for no discernable reason, unless it has something to do with the work stress, which has been formidable. I feel like I’m on the verge of plunging into the darkness. I was already kind of teetering on the edge because of some of the other work stuff that’s been bumming me out.

Which is why I’m doing this instead of working on NaNo. Just needed to open up the laptop and write whatever. I think it’s helping, at least a little.

The plan, once I finish this, is to put myself to bed at a very early hour (it’s only 8:30 now) and face the new week determined to reflect light, no matter how many attempts others make at putting it under a bushel. If you hide it under a bushel, it’s lost something quite crucial. Don’t quote me — that’s from Godspell.

My calming mantra all of last week was “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” It helped. So this week I’m going to repeat the light of the world stuff to myself and see what happens.

I like it because it is bitter, and because it is my heart. That was my mantra for weeks before last week. I liked it (I liked it because it is bitter and because it is my heart) but I think maybe now I need to focus on more forward-thinking thoughts. This week’s episode of Heavyweight has convicted me about not being who I was, but being who I am and who I hope to be.

The Heavyweight podcast usually inspires while also making me want to stab myself in the heart (my bitter heart) with my own pen because the writing is so good it’s maddening, but this week it just inspired me. It was either not written quite as amazingly as usual, or I’m pretty pleased with the quality of my own output this week.

I just deleted a funny, self-deprecating line here because it wasn’t in keeping with the positive note I hoped to end on. So you’ll just have to imagine it. You’d have laughed!

Friday 5: Bad Mood Food

I’ve had a long, busy day, and I’m unwinding in the boba cafe, which closes in thirty minutes, so I’m going to try to write this in 20, leaving me time to pack up and visit the lavatory.

From here.

  1. What are you most likely to reach for when you stress-eat?
    Ice cream is my depression food. Chips are my stress food, at least lately. And I’ve downed a ton of them at work this past week and a half. It’s not good. It’s helping me cope, but I can’t keep relying on it — I’m trying to drop weight, not add chips. But grrrrrrrrrrrr this group project at work is taking a toll on me. By the end of Friday I felt wrung, like a chamois. It’s affecting the rest of my life, too. I lost sleep Monday night because I was so annoyed about a scheduled 90-minute meeting I thought could be an email. The meeting turned out not to suck, and we got good work done, but I still don’t think it was necessary. Now WHERE THE HECK DID I PUT THOSE DORITOS?
  2. When were you last disappointed by a meal?
    The frickin’ Popeye’s chicken sandwich was supposed to be available last week. The stupid Popeye’s app even TOLD me to go get it. Turns out the app for some reason doesn’t even work in my region (beyond sending me notifications) and the Popeye’s in my ‘hood had signs up all over the restaurant saying the chicken sandwich was coming soon. So I ordered chicken fingers and they were on the downside of okay. So annoying; I should have ordered chicken but I was trying to write while I ate, and I didn’t want to grease up my fingers, so I could type. Blasted chicken sandwich and crappy chicken fingers. Two disappointments in one meal!
  3. What food are you sad you can’t get anymore?
    They added a thin layer of caramel to the Whatchamacalllit bar in the summer after my junior year. It was a perfect candy bar before that. It’s still good but it’s not nearly as good as it used to be. KC Drive-In shut down 20 years or so ago, so the legendary chocolate ono-ono shake is but a memory. I wrote it about it in my NaNo project, so I’m feeling the nostagia now.
  4. For what food will you make an exception to a personal rule?
    I don’t like to get food on my hands, so eat a lot of finger foods with a knife and fork, but I make an exception for wings. Wings are among my favorite foods, and you can’t eat them with a knife and fork.
  5. What’s something you really like but would never order while dining out because you have it at home all the time?
    There are fewer items on this list than there used to be, because I’m so busy and I typically dine alone. I’m a sucker for corned beef hash when it’s made in-house, and I used to have the canned version all the time at home, but I’m trying not to have processed meats at home. So I’ll order corned beef hash even in joints where I know it’s out of a can, once in a while when I want to indulge. With a sunny-side-up egg and some rice, it’s one of my favorite breakfasts.

Yay. Got it done in 15 minutes.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey

ONE: Ordinary world (let’s say 5000 words)
We meet our hero.

TWO: Call to adventure (5000 words)
The adventure begins.

THREE: Refusal of the call (2500 words)
The hero digs in his feet.

FOUR: Meeting the mentor (2500 words)
The hero acquires a personal trainer

FIVE: Crossing the first threshold (3000 words)
The hero enters the other world in earnest.

SIX: Tests, allies, enemies (5000 words)
The hero faces new challenges and gets a squad.

SEVEN: Approach to the inmost cave (3000 words)
The hero gets closer to his goal.

EIGHT: Ordeal (5000 words)
The hero faces his biggest test of all so far.

NINE: Reward; seizing the sword (3000 words)
The hero sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

TEN: The road back (2500 words)
The light at the end of the tunnel might be further than the hero thought.

ELEVEN: Resurrection (1500 words)
The last test is met.

TWELVE: Return with the elixir (2500 words)
The hero has a triumphant homecoming.

This adds up to 40,500 words, which means I have 9,500 words to play with in hitting my goal. I’m going to have to revisit this every few days because honestly I don’t know how many words it takes to get my character from one step in the journey to the next.

More NaNoWriMo talk Friday.

Friday 5: Food Mood

From here.

  1. What’s the best striped food?
    Someone else said salmon, and I really wish I’d thought of that. My first thought was Fudge Stripes cookies, which aren’t really that great. Then I was chatting with Sylvia the other night. She wants to make Japanese-style potato salad (mmmmm…) and asked if I thought Kewpie mayo was a must. I said the only thing Kewpie mayo is a must for is okonomiyaki. Bing. There’s my answer.
  2. What’s the best spotted food?
    Crush Girl has a blouse that reminds me of a certain fruit I’m fond of, so of course that’s the food I want to name here. Really, though, how could it be anything other than vanilla bean ice cream? Great. Now I’m craving ice cream.
  3. What’s the best layered food?
    Why are layered foods so amazing? Tiramisu, ice cream cake, seven-layer dip, loco moco. Mm. The winner is clearly lasagna, though.
  4. What’s the best swirly food?
    Helloooooooo Cinnabon.
  5. What’s the best black-and-white food?
    I’m going comfort food here: nori tsukudani and rice. I only just learned the word tsukudani now. I had to look it up because in our house we just referred to it by one of the brand names we liked (Gohandesuyo!). When we were kids, my sister and I always called it “mushy nori.” My mom, the first time she heard us saying it (when I was like 6 and my sister was 4), told us not to call it that. Because mushi means bug. Hahaha. And if you look at nori tsukudani closely, you couldn’t swear that it wasn’t made of blended bugs. So of course that’s what we always called it when my mom wasn’t around. In college, it was a frequent breakfast, and my roomie Captain Daveman was grossed out by it. Wouldn’t even try it. Kept calling it “that black stuff.” But it is freaking delicious. That stuff is straight-up umami paste, and it will always give me feelings of being taken care of, which I suppose is really what comfort food is, right? The stuff in the photo up there isn’t as black as the stuff I usually have, but better photos were from personal blogs and I didn’t want to steal from them. This one’s from an online retailer and therefore fair game.

Story Brainstorming

Okay I think I have a premise and only the slightest glimmer of a hint of a whiff of a story idea so I am going to run with it and see what happens. Working title: Killian Kobayashi Gets Laid.

I’m going to start drafting in a bit but then come back here and answer some idea-generator questions I got from goteenwriters.com, a website I discovered when Googling brainstorming ideas. I haven’t explored it much, but it looks kind of interesting. Its about page has a misused it’s, though, which maaaaaaaaaay be a dealbreaker. Hey, it’s happens to us all, but on something as prominent as an about page, should there be some proofreading?

It’s 5:35 a.m. November 1. I got up at 3:30 to pick up some stuff for the NaNoWriMo kickoff Saturday morning. I had to wait around a little because I didn’t get what I wanted (although in fairness, I sorta got what I ordered), and the lady at FedEx Office was nice enough to redo the order while I waited.

So i’m off to a later start than I expected. I’m going to do some free-writing, then come back and respond to the questions from goteenwriters.

Don’t nobody go nowhere.


Okay, it’s 9:55 a.m. November 3. Here’s what happened between where I left off and where I’m picking up.

  1. I wrote more than 800 words Friday before a quick trip to the beach and then back to the office for real work. Friday wasn’t a great day at work — I pissed someone off and don’t know what I did, and my apology was clearly not accepted. It was barely acknowledged. Great.
  2. So I went to the boba cafe to continue the work. I was pretty spent by 9:00, the time for the online Oahu NaNo group meetup. Hung around and chatted a bit, but didn’t do any more writing.
  3. Woke up early Saturday for the annual Oahu Region kickoff. We had a nice group, and I had a nice time; I also got another 2476 words, then finally tried this new burger spot in Chinatown everyone’s taking pictures of for IG. It was good.
  4. Went home for a nap, thinking I’d hit the boba cafe for another evening push, but I got up, ate some leftovers, and pretty much went right back to bed. My body was telling me to cool it, so I cooled it.
  5. Woke up early Sunday for a swim, and to figure out what to do with my NaNo project now. See, I’m kind of bored with the premise already after only two days of work, and I don’t like it for the Hero’s Journey, which is my focus this year. I’ve already written the words and I’m not about to give them up for NaNo (every. word. counts.), but if I insist on staying wed to the premise, I won’t finish the month with a victory. And if I do, I’ll hate the process along the way, and that’s a loss, no matter how many words I crank out.
  6. Had a good swim, but already decided on a change in working title. It’s now Killian Kobayashi Gets Played. And I’m ditching the premise, but I haven’t quiiiiiiiite come up with a good premise to replace it. I’m going to do some brainstorming in a minute to see what I come up with.
  7. I also have some real work and some side work to do today, so yikes.

Although a lot of what i’ve already brainstormed is no longer relevant, I thought I’d post it here anyway, as intended. Didn’t get through the whole exercise yet, but I plan to in the next few days. Here’s what I have so far.

Character Questions (for major characters) •

Who is my character?

A fourteen-year old in the summer between eighth and ninth grades, a student at Pacific International School.  He gets middling grades but doesn’t find school challenging, except for assignments he doesn’t see a reason for.  His friends are the sorta alt crowd, kids who don’t listen to the popular music, who appreciate his not being like everyone else.

What is he named and why?

Killian Kobayashi.  Killian for the Irish side of his heritage (his mom) and Kobayashi for the Japanese side (his dad).

If I had to describe him in one word, it would be:

Horny?

What’s his family like?

His dad is a Japanese American computer security guy, contracted by the military but not in the military.  His mom is an Irish American restaurant manager from New York.  His parents met when his dad was at a conference in Washington.  His mom was there to visit a friend – they were both dining alone at the bar and struck up a conversation.

What does he value?

In others, he values intelligent people who treat him like he’s not an idiot.  He values wit.  He’s drawn to shy people.  He admires people who work hard, even though he isn’t a hard worker himself.

He loves learning but hates schoolwork.

I need more here.

What lie does he believe?

He believes a lie he’s told himself – that the raging hormones in his body demand he have sex, as soon as he possibly can and with as many people, and that if he doesn’t get laid he’s going to explode or die.

Why does he believe that lie?

A steady diet of guy talk, longtime exposure to porn, lots of talk about it from grownups in his life telling him not to do it.  And his own hormones.

What happened in his past that caused his to believe it?

Ooh, I think I just answered this.

What is his main goal in the story?

Externally, it’s to get laid.  He doesn’t know that it’s really for nice female companionship.  He’d also like to pass his summer typing course but he’s not stressed about it.  He might find out that a passing grade (that is, even a D-minus) will be as good as an A, since only the credit transfers to his school.

Why is he ideal for the journey and why is he not?

He’s pretty typically a horny teenaged young man, and he’s motivated by a stupid bet and his distaste for the guy he’s betting with.  He’s also kind of daring, but still a wuss about certain things.  Like, he wants to get laid but when he hears about some friends who did it in the McDonald’s bathroom he’s horrified.

Who are his allies and who are his enemies?

He has two friends in his typing class, a guy from his own school who sits next to him, and a girl from another school who he’s just getting to know, who sits at the desk behind him.

NaNOOOOOOOOOOOWriMo

It starts midnight tomorrow evening. Last year’s attempt was a disaster, ‘though I can’t feel too bad about it, since the reason was my work trip to Boston, which was wonderful.

I still haven’t settled on a premise, but I have decided I’m going to post all my NaNo writings in this space, for good or ill. Probably for ill. Almost surely for ill. I just feel the need to put my process out there while I’m going through it. I’ll put the NaNo stuff in its own category, then take it all down a week into December.

So you may want to go away for a month and come back around December 8.

I’m not looking forward to the stress of 50K words, but I have to say I’m looking forward to the writing. I need to get something out of me, and NaNo has proven to be a pretty good vehicle for it. I don’t care if it’s good or if it sucks. I mean, it’s sucks — I can pretty safely predict that right now. But the tapping on the keys, the reaching down for some shred of something expressive or creative, for some original thought or a handful of good phrases I might use another time? I need that like a junkie’s craving vein.

Don’t write that last image down — it’s Bruce Cockburn’s. Which reminds me I might want to set up a few playlists for NaNo. Bruce’s lyrics inspire me as a human plodding through this existence and as a writer yearning to express the truth that has been struggling for utterance in me.

Don’t write that last phrase down either. It’s Oswald Chambers’s.


I took the afternoon off from work to watch the World Series. I had visions of taking up residence at a table in a sports bar, perhaps a plate of nachos and a couple of Blue Moons keeping me company as the baseball season comes to its glorious end. I even asked for recommendations on FB.

My problem with sports bars when there’s an event I really want to see, besides my great dislike for bars, is that they tend to be noisy, and they almost always have the sound muted. I’ve been let down more than once, trying to see a World Series game in a sports bar where it seemed I was the only patron remotely interested in the game. So in my request for recommendations, I asked specifically for a place likely to have the sound up.

I cruised past one place in Moiliili, but it was closed. Then I went over to this spot in Manoa near the school, a spot I’m semi fond of, but it was closed too. Hello? People? Do we not understand this is the World Series we’re talking about?

I ended up right where I saw parts of the World Series last year: on campus at Manoa Gardens, where there’s a Vietnamese sandwich shop and supposedly the only place on a supposedly dry campus to get a beer. I actually like the spot since you don’t feel pressure to spend money. It’s as much a study spot as a lunch spot or bar.

I did spend a little bit of money, first on a large Diet Coke and some shrimp chips, and then on a lemongrass chicken banh mi and a Blue Moon. The spot has two large TVs and a small one over the bar. Guess which had the ballgame on?

So annoying. The big screens were showing an NBA game and an NHL game. Insanity. But I still managed to really enjoy my time away from the office, watching a fantastic World Series come to its climax and resolution.

You know what doesn’t have any trouble at all writing its own plot? A ballgame. Sigh.


Don’t ask me about Crush Girl today. I’m having one of my less pleasant nights thinking about her and I’d rather not plunge this evening. Too much on my mind with work and NaNoWriMo for self-indulgent wallowing.


I’m wondering if my drive to find some kind of story to tell is misguided. Most of my favorite books de-emphasize plot, as far as I can tell. Someday I will expound on Lynne Rae Perkins’s Criss Cross, the novel I most wish I’d written, which I just re-read this summer.

My writing partner seems frustrated with my avoidance of plot, and she hated Criss Cross. Haha. But then Criss Cross won the Newbery Medal so what does my writing partner know?



A whole lot of nothing going on

I really need to think of something to work on for NaNoWriMo. Running out of days in October. I normally don’t worry about plot, since I think (and NaNoWriMo has preached for more than a decade–the book about NaNoWriMo is called No Plot? No Problem!) everything should focus on characters. My problem is that all this character focus has helped me with my character development, but that character development hasn’t helped me with plot development.

I suck at plot.

I have a few premises floating around in my head, some of them for years and years and years. Maybe I’ll just grab one, work on a character, and force it into some kind of plot. Except that’s kind of what I always do, and it never works. I mean it never works for story development.

One idea I have is to take a look at the Hero’s Journey. I’d break it down into it components, then schedule my writing so I’m writing each component at a designated time of the month, however many words that is. I’d force my character, with a mind on my premise, into something I create that satisfies characteristics of the Hero’s Journey.

Could that work? It’s how I used to write my papers as an undergrad, and I slaughtered those assignments. It’s also sorta how I read Anna Karenina seven years ago in time to see the movie.

Okay, I just looked up the Hero’s Journey and there’s no way I can make it work with the premise I was hoping to use this time. So I either stick with my premise and find a different story framework, or find a premise more compatible.

I don’t think I’ll decide it now because it’s getting late and I really need to use the bathroom. Tomorrow for sure. Maybe!