Lockdown: Another one flies the coop

I was exhausted Thursday morning after working pretty hard Wednesday. My conference session began at 7 and went to 8:30. It was really interesting and kind of fun. We applied the famous Pixar pitch to projects we’re working on, shared them in small breakout groups, and then had a large group discussion.

Around 10:00 I knew I needed a break, so I took a couple of hours before getting back to work. I’m working on a couple of stories and made decent progress on one.

One of my coworkers is leaving the foundation after 22 years. She’s one of the defining personalities of the company, so losing her is major. We had a Thursday sendoff via Zoom, and it was lovely and several people cried. I was sad, but what really made me want to cry was that twenty people were in the office, most of them attending via Zoom from their desks, but I shuddered to think of all those people in that space. Come on, people. We shouldn’t be less cautious than we were in March; we should be at least as cautious. The numbers aren’t going down and people keep dying.

I met with the NaNo Skype group and banged out 2021 words, pleased about getting myself back on track and pleased with a few places my story took me. I’m writing a cozy mystery set in a Honolulu public high school. The main character is a forty-something woman math teacher, and it’s been fun writing about teacher stuff within the framework of this mystery. I realized Thursday evening that I hadn’t done much to develop the supporting characters, and any lover of cozies knows the supporting characters are the reasons to come back for a second book. You absolutely need likeable supporting characters. Even some hard-boiled mystery series, like Sue Grafton’s, rely on supporting characters for series continuity and reader loyalty.

Breakfast was a couple of hot dogs with sauerkraut, ketchup, and mustard. This time on Chicago-style hot dog buns, coated with poppy seeds. Yeah, Safeway’s hot dog bun game is pretty strong. For a late lunch, I cooked a ribeye a few days past its sell-by date.

Thursday was Suzanne’s birthday, and I always associate her day with tacos. When we worked together, she brought in a bunch of Taco Bell tacos for the office on her birthday. So I wished her a happy day and told her I was having tacos to honor her. Hit the drive-through before my NaNo session. I didn’t really enjoy that meal either. I usually love Taco Bell but once in a while I get a little disgusted with myself midway through.

I pressed on, though. For Suzanne.

Ali and I traded a few texts about our coworker leaving. I sent her a few photos I took of the Zoom party. Crush Girl and I talked about what we did during the holiday. That was about it.

Hit me up in comments if you want someone to connect with. Pandemic’s not nearly done and nobody should go through this alone. Dang it.

Lockdown: Holy freaking mackerel

holy mackerel

I’m writing about Wednesday at 5:30 in the evening on Saturday. Woo. NaNoWriMo and work are making it very difficult not to fall behind.

Wednesday was Veterans Day, a holiday from work. But the major proposal I’m working on with the CEO needed work and he wanted to see it soon. I also had an assignment for the conference, and it took me a while to get it right.

I seriously thought about either skipping laundry Wednesday morning or pushing it off to Thursday, but ugh. These days I hate the thought of strecthing early-week stuff into the rest of the week. So after two hours of sleep I got up and just did it.

Turns out early on a holiday morning is a good time for laundry. I was alone nearly the whole time. I thought I might hit the beach but considering what I had to do Wednesday, I knew my best option was to get home as soon as possible and get as much sleep as I could.

I kind of worked on the assignment most of the morning and submitted it around noon.

I needed a break. I was completely drained. I don’t know if it was sleep deprivation, stress from work and the conference, or the flu shot, but I had no energy, so I went to bed for a few hours.

I got up and worked most of the evening on the proposal. This one fell outside the usual process, but when the CEO wants you to work a different way, what are you going to do? So I drank a rare evening Diet Pepsi and got to it.

I don’t remember when I got it submitted, but I thought I did okay for a second draft. I popped in on the NaNo group Skype and banged out something like 350 words. I just didn’t have it in me, and I had a 7:00 conference session, so I begged out early and went to bed.

Breakfast was a Big Mac combo from McD’s, consumed with little moans of pleasure at the laundry, although I think I got the fries right before they threw that batch out, because they were cold and stale. For lunch I fried up a ribeye a day or two past its sell-by date.

When I was at Safeway early Sunday morning, I picked up a tin of anchovies for this thing I want to prepare, inspired by a link Jennifer sent me. While I browsed the options, I grabbed a tin of mackerel too. I’m familiar with the brand — I’ve had the boneless, skinless sardines and they are great. A coworker got me hooked on them, and when they’re on sale at Costco every few months, they’re like a buck-thirty a tin. A regular part of my intake in normal times. I think I’ve only had them once since lockdown began, though.

That was dinner. I made a fresh pot of brown rice, then just popped open the tin and poured the mackerel and olive oil over it and went to town. The mackerel look a lot like the sardines but they’re larger. I took a bite and oh my gosh. Sublime is the word I immediately thought. They also tasted a lot like the sardines, but they were a lot mellower. There was something almost creamy about the texture and taste.

I looked around for my Safeway receipt (I keep all my receipts for at least a couple of weeks) but couldn’t find the stupid thing. I couldn’t remember what I paid for those stupid little oily fish but I’m hooked so it might not matter. Next time I hit the supermarket I’m grabbing a bunch. Although I’m a little worried they’ve spoiled me. Maybe I should finish my enormous stores of sardines first.

My friend-coworker is a fellow sardine fanatic so of course I texted her a photo of my new discovery. She said she’d seen them on the shelf but never tried them. Also, most of those texts I said I got Tuesday? They were Wednesday. Because of course I messed that up.

I’m going to see if I can write about Thursday sometime before bed.

Blah blah blah connections. Blah blah blah pandemic. Blah blah blach leave a comment. I’m blah blah blahing this but I’m sincere. You need connection you got it.

Friday 5: It can’t be that bad

“If it makes you happy, it can’t be that baaaaad…”

From here.

  1. What movie makes you happy?
    Two that come immediately to mind are Groundhog Day and Sideways. However, the unexpected recent answer is Pitch Perfect 2, which isn’t nearly as good as the first movie (which also makes me happy). Still, for reasons I can’t identify, it really does the job. Oh-em-aca-gee!
  2. What song makes you happy?
    The one that’s almost guaranteed to do it is REO Speedwagon’s “Roll with the Changes,” with REO’s “Live Every Moment” a very close second. I’ve got them first and second in my REO playlist and they’re just great for driving to work with. Shout-outs also to Michael Franti and Spearhead’s “Say Hey (I Love You)” and “The Sound of Sunshine.” And don’t tell anyone, but “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves does it to me too.
  3. What food makes you happy?
    I’m going to be specific and say indian food at Maharani in Honolulu. I almost never go, since I typically dine alone and you always feel bad as a solo diner in such a popular restaurant. When I go with friends I actually feel lucky to be eating such great food. Like I woke up and Morgan Freeman as God said, “You’re going to have a fantastic meal tonight.”
  4. Who makes you happy with just a text message?
    I wish I could give a better answer, but almost always Crush Girl. I think I’m nearly over my interest in her as more than friends, but she still lights up my day when she initiates a text conversation. It makes me feel special to know she’s thinking of me.
  5. What beverage is most likely to lift your spirits?
    Nothing beats a good cup of coffee. It really fills me with joy, especially now that I seldom drink it. Yeah, nothing else comes close.

Listen to Michael Franti and Spearhead and feel good today.

Lockdown: How do you know it’s nice to meet me?

this guy. thinks he’s going to be the conference jokester.

I’m writing about Tuesday and it’s only 8:38 Thursday. I’m getting closer?

I think I only got two hours of sleep Monday night. I could have gotten another hour, but I forced myself up to get a PSL from Starbucks and a couple of breakfast sandwiches from McD’s before the conference began at six.

We had a couple of large-group sessions after the formal introductions and housekeeping. They were a lot like the sessions two years ago, but it was fine. Some of the same material, framed differently. One’s persuasive writing skills can always use a booster. The speaker in one session said his approach isn’t exactly to persuade someone to give; it’s to inspire someone to give.

Heck yeah I wrote that one down. It’s exactly the approach I take, and I’ve tried to muscle and finesse my influence on the writing I get to produce or edit. Sure, there are times and places for numbers and Things With All These Capitalized Words, but hit someone’s inspiration button and hit it meaningfully, and you can toss most of that in the slag heap. Make someone feel something.

There were three breakouts, for which we signed up weeks ago. I’m in the “major gifts” writing workshop. That’s a term in the business. The leader of the workshop is the same guy who did it two years ago, and I really respect him. It shouldn’t matter to me that he has two English degrees, but it does. It means he’s a development officer who understands writing from a writer’s perspective, not merely from a fundraiser’s perspective. Instant cred.

I’m socially awkward, so I always have difficulty fitting in at these things at first. It’s why I make a point of either asking a good question or offering a good answer sometime in the first session. I don’t need the others to take me seriously, but it helps me get the most out of the time we have; it makes me a lot more comfortable.

they really shouldn’t encourage me.

Being from Hawaii always helps. People want to talk to you if you’re from Hawaii, and I’m here for it.

They gave us a writing assignment that was going to take me some serious time. I didn’t even know for sure I had an active project to use for it, but when I looked at the material some development officers sent me for a group proposal, I knew I had something good to work on.

If I were at a real-world conference, of course I’d have the rest of the day to work on it and to do whatever. Probably get dinner with some of the other participants, which is what happened last time. We would have had an early-evening reception, which I would have attended with great anxiety.

But I’m in my usual spot at my usual desk this time, and because we’re on East Coast time, I’m actually done at noon. Which leaves plenty of the workday for work. Unfortunately.

I did it, too. After dashing to the pharmacy for a prescription refill, a spur-of-the-moment flu shot, and a takeout lunch nearby, I had a Zoom meeting, then a one-on-one with the boss, and I’ll spare readers the details, but I was utterly wiped. And still tried to do NaNoWriMo.

I only got 1124 words out of me before I had to run the white flag up the pole. And that was a struggle. I think the flu shot might have hit me hard, too, right into Wednesday.

I’ve often been accused of not knowing how to take a compliment, and I see why people say it. It took me until well into college to learn to say “thank you for the encouragement” when people say something nice about something I’ve done, just as it took me the same amount of time to learn to say “It’s nice to meet you” when I meet people. I told you: socially awkward.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate a compliment, and it’s not like it’s unpleasant to meet people. There’s just this part of my brain that takes these interactions literally. When someone compliments me on something, I’m thinking of all the things wrong about it. And when someone says “It’s nice to meet you,” all I can think is, “You have no idea if it’s nice to meet me.”

But these are not literal interactions. I know that now; I’ve known it since very late into college. I still have to coach myself ahead of time, though, to accept these things and to play my role.

I digress here because it doesn’t take long in these writers workshops for me to feel a quick shift. People recognize that I can write, even sometimes before seeing any of my writing. It’s one of the very, very few things I accept compliments on without forcing a thank-you. I know I can write.

And I have to say it feels really good to be complimented on my writing, because it’s one of the only things I want to be complimented on. My coworkers compliment me frequently, although less frequently than when I was new. They’re used to me now, which in some ways is even better.

But maaaaaaaan it feels good to be acknowledged for my ability to do something I really care about by people whom I’ve just met. It makes me feel for a short moment that all these crazy things in my brain and all these ridiculous things about my personality are okay. They might even contribute to my writing well. Even if they don’t, I feel myself carrying them a little more easily.

The foundation can’t afford to send me to this conference every year, and I’m only going this year because I didn’t have to fly to it — and the conference registration by itself is pretty dang pricey. But I may consider asking to go again in two years, and if they can’t pay for travel and lodging, I might offer to cover that part of it, just for the professional affirmation I get. It helps me sleep a lot more peacefully.

Breakfast was the McD’s stuff with a lovely, lovely pumpkin spice latte. For lunch I went to the 99 Ranch market, which is just called Moanalua 99 or something these days. Enormous food court where there used to be an enormous Asian grocery. There’s a local plate lunch place there that’s just okay, but it has one dish you don’t see anywhere else: Jamaican chicken. I don’t know how Jamaican it is or why it’s called Jamaican, but it’s freaking good. I haven’t had it in years, so when I was in Mapunapuna to get my scrips refilled, I picked some up and brought it home.

That was lunch and dinner, and part of breakfast the next day. I think I’m going to do something similar next Tuesday: not worry about food at all but get decent takeout. I should submit a per diem request since I’m at a conference. I shouldn’t be expected to pay for my own food!

I got the rare text from Susannah. She sent me some encouraging words about NaNoWriMo, which she’s participated in and won. Also from my friend Melody who is having Twitter problems. Someone took over her account, and she’s had it since a few days before me in 2006. Crush Girl and I traded a few texts to talk about our Wednesday holiday. She had a few fun things lined up, but I knew I’d pretty much be working all day.

Tuesday was in turns rough and terrific. I guess I’ll take it?

Leave a comment if you’re not getting enough connectivity these days. I’ll do my best. We can text or DM or whatever, if I don’t forget!

Lockdown: Don’t remember much but the voices remember it all

I’m writing about Monday on Thursday night at 10:55. Silly.

I had all kinds of trouble falling asleep Sunday night. I don’t really want to get into it, but it’s like turning off the part of my brain that was stressed about the election turned on the part of my brain that replays all the stupid things I’ve ever said and done. It was miserable.

The work day was difficult and kind of a blur. I know I didn’t produce any drafts. I did respond to emails. Spent a little time editing web content.

I spent a good chunk of my work day getting ready for the writer’s conference I’m attending over the next two weeks. It’s the conference I went to in Boston two Novembers ago. Although I didn’t travel this time, I did spend some time clearing some mental space. To see things with novice eyes, as a wise Japanese chef in Seattle once advised Reid.

I also spent time setting up my green screen for the Zoom meetings. That took much longer than it should have.

Breakfast was a couple of hot dogs with sauerkraut, ketchup, and mustard. Bad but good. Lunch was corned beef hash with hapa rice and a couple of eggs. Bad but bad. I regretted it so much I skipped dinner, opting instead for a couple of clementines.

Crush Girl texted me to ask for some help with a letter she was writing. One of my favorite kinds of messages. I love helping people with writing. Jennifer sent me a link about Powell’s (the Portland bookstore) but I haven’t read it yet.

That was it. This might seem short because I’m writing about it two days later, but Monday really wasn’t very outstanding in any way. And I was freaking tired from the stupid voices in my head Sunday night.

I’m a little bit of a mess. I was Monday and I am Wednesday night. More about that when I get around to writing about Tuesday.

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you need someone to connect with. I’m probably not much use to you this week but I’ll get it together!

Lockdown: Boba the clown

I’m writing about Sunday at 3:57 Wednesday morning. This is bad.

I got up really early Sunday. Now that most of the Continental U.S. has fallen back, the early Sunday football games kick off at 8:00 rather than 7:00, so I’m supposed to get an extra hour of sleep Sundays.

I guess my poor, tortured soul isn’t quite finished being poor or tortured. I slept pretty well but just not very long. I had considered getting up early anyway, to hit the supermarket and get my in-office work out of the way so I could come home and either sleep or catch a late-morning football game.

I got to the Piikoi Safeway at about six, or maybe a little later. It opens at five. I kinda wanted to get there at five to avoid as many people as I could, but ah well.

Didn’t pick up that much. I was shopping from an abbreviated list because of fridge space plus no planning for meals.

Grabbed breakfast at Zippy’s. A Surf Pac Deluxe. Yeah, it’s far too much food but I wanted mix of flavors and I figured it would definitely be enough for two meals. Which it was.

Man, I spent far more time in the office than I thought I had in me this weekend. Got there around seven and didn’t get out until after two. I had set a loose goal of exiting at noon. What a bozo. But I was doing actual work, mostly,

This means I got home in time for the ends of football games. I can’t remember which ones. Steelers and someone. And Cowboys and someone, I think. They both went to the wire and were fun to watch. Then I took a long nap and missed most of the late game, which is now really late. There’s a big difference between the last football game’s ending at 5:30 and its ending at 6:30.

It’s okay. I wasn’t really in the mood for football anyway. Plus, I think only one of my fantasy teams won this week.

I only managed 791 words on my novel and I can’t remember why. I did meet with the Skype group and I know we wrote. Was I working on something else? This is why I hate being so far behind on this journaling.

I’m pretty sure if I just open the file I’ll remember what happened. This year, I’m doing everything in Google Docs, with each day’s writing a separate document. It makes it easier to stick to my (loose) rule of only reading the work from the day before, plus it gives each day’s work its own character. I mean character as in quality, not character as in person in a story.

For dinner Sunday I had the rest of my leftover Korean veggies on hapa rice. Bean sprouts, kim chi, and cucumbers. Delicious.

Sunday I texted Crush Girl, Ali, and a couple of other people to see if their phones could display the new boba emoji. Of the small number of people I asked, none had updated thir iOS to 14.2. Too bad. I would have sent boba to everyone.

Sylvia texted me a photo of her latest gourmet popcorn purchase. I can’t get into popcorn like that for some reason. It doesn’t taste right to me if hasn’t just been popped. Although I guess I have SmartFood popcorn once in a while, so maybe I should give it a chance. The flavors Sylvia gets do look interesting.

Penny texted me to ask for computer advice. She finally ordered one. At age [redacted], she’s about to own her very first computer. I’m kind of excited for her, and she’s getting a good machine. Essentially the same machine I have but with half the storage. I’m glad also because for her birthday this year, I got her a four-port USB hub and a wireless mouse. The gift makes more sense now.

Computers don’t come with an adequate number of USB ports anymore. Remember when the fruit-flavored iMacs had two ports in the side and two ports on the front? My work laptop only has one port, and my personal laptop has two, and they’re too close together so if you’re using a bulky jump drive you can’t plus anything else in.

That was Sunday. I’m going to have to do two entries a day until I’m caught up, so Monday will be sometime later today, although where I’m going to find time is a mystery yet to be solved. Maybe the heroine in my NaNo project will take it on.

Reach out if you’re looking for some connectivity in these depressing days of pandemic. Just leave a comment and you too could receive emojis your phone won’t display.

Lockdown: Uncorking the wine

Remind me never to send my kids to Notre Dame.

I was awake and asleep a couple of hours at a time all night. Of course I checked Twitter each time I was up, as I have for the past four years to see if you-know-who had blown up the planet.

I was asleep when election news exploded, thank goodness. I wouldn’t have wanted to check and double-check my sources in real time. So when I really got up some time after 9:45, it was pretty much done. Still took me some time, scanning my phone while still on my back in bed, to make sure I was reading correctly, but apparently I was.

All I could do was sigh. Breathe deeply. Feel tension flee my shoulders and neck. Inhale deeply the smell of my bed linens and pillow. They smelled fresher. Welcoming, even.

I took half an hour or so to read the news on my laptop before deciding on a celebratory breakfast from the Taco Bell drive-through. It’s what I most wanted. If someone had offered me steak and eggs, I still would have opted for Taco Bell. Don’t know why.

It went well with the sparkling wine Penny gave me for my birthday. I got drunk. It’s only the second time I can think of that I’ve been drunk. It didn’t feel as morose as I expected it. It felt like convalescing. Like recovery. Like healing.

Went back to bed for a good, long nap. Did the infinite scroll of Twitter and IG. Kinda stayed off FB, where the level of discourse tends to be not quite as thoughtful as I wanted.

I actually watched the last part of the football game between Notre Dame and Clemson. It was a rather thrilling game, even though I don’t care for college football. Notre Dame students stormed the field when it was over. It was ridiculous. Thousands of them dancing and hugging and screaming on the field. Idiots, all of them.

For dinner I had leftover Korean veggies with some hapa rice. Daikon, broccoli, and seaweed. It was good.

More good energy and interaction in the NaNo Skype. I banged out 2075 words.

The Suzanne-Julie-Cindy group text was pretty happy. I stayed out of it. Strangely, there was a little Grace-Penny-Reid group text. Reid doesn’t text much, and Grace has been a recluse all year, returning neither texts or emails. Cautious optimism. I stayed out of that too.

I’m pleased, but I’m still not at ease. It could be a very strange several weeks before January 20.

Lockdown continues. Life doesn’t suck, but the year’s been rough. If you need someone to text you through it, leave me a comment.

Lockdown: Long day short night

(everybody sing along)

I slept terribly Thursday night and was stupidly tired. Getting to my desk Friday was a bit of a struggle, and I didn’t get rolling until a quarter to ten. Which is okay for Friday, because I don’t mind working late to end the week.

The big thing I did was that big-ask project. Moved the houses around, messed around with the furniture just a little, enough to cut the length down to nearly the target length. That took a few focused hours but I stuck with it and emailed it out fifteen minutes before two. My personal goal had been two. It’s nice when it works out like that. Mean’s I’m not hopeless.

I had to do a few more edits for the cancer center article. The development officer wanted the longer version, if it could fit, but part of the longer version wasn’t as graceful as in the shorter, so I fixed that section and sent it off. The rest of my day was editing little things here and there. I didn’t finish one thing that was due Friday so I’ll be doing some work Sunday. I might have anyway.

I was bleary-eyed tired that I knew I couldn’t mess around for NaNo work. Got on the group Skype, and you could tell everyone else was tired. The others weren’t quite as motivated as I was, so I did the first couple of word sprints myself, and I got my first thousand words in half an hour. I hit the daily 1667 word goal some time after but made myself keep going. So far this month, each day’s word count has been a little higher than the previous day’s, so I kinda wanted to keep that going if I could. It’s obviously unsustainable through the month.

So I guess around 11:00 or so I finally stopped at 2712 words. I have a culprit now, and maaaaybe something of a motive. I’ve already resigned myself to the unavoidable reality that the plot is going to contradict itself multiple times, but there’s no erasing in NaNoWriMo, so I’ll worry about putting the beginning, middle, and end together, then take care of inconsistencies.

Whatever, though. It’s messy while not feeling like just goofing off. Feels like a novel in progress, and my brain is happy to be hammering it together.

Tumbled into bed around midnight without Darth Vader.

I had a huge breakfast, so I skipped lunch. Eggs with corned beef hash and hapa rice. It was pretty dang yummy. For dinner I went to Sam’s in Nuuanu for Korean food. I’ve tried to stick to Kalihi for takeout during this lockdown, and I feel bad that I haven’t really explored as much — this is the perfect time for it. I couldn’t decide what I wanted, though, and time was running out. I usually get Korean food when I can’t decide, so yeah. I picked a Korean place I don’t go to very much but really like. I think it’s been at least five years since I’ve been to Sam’s. Maybe longer.

I snacked on a lot of potato chips. A lot of them.

There’s some new music this weekend I’m pretty interested in, but thing I’ve had my eyes on for a few months is the new album by Fates Warning, Long Day Good Night. Gave it a few inattentive spins today. It’s very pleasing to my ears. So far nothing especially memorable. Gonna have to give it some better listens this weekend. The CD is on its way to my mailbox (I preordered it), so it may be better to wait until I have the lyrics and liner notes.

Crush Girl texted me to talk a litlte bit abut TV and exercise. Ali and I texted a bunch about a character in my novel based on someone we know. There was a bit of election talk in the Suzanne-Julie-Cindy group text but I stayed out of it. Sylvia and I texted a little about peripherals for her Microsoft tablet, then about options for restaurant-prepared Thanksgiving turkey.

I need some recovery time this weekend. Coincidentally, the main character in my novel needs a recharging weekend as well. It might be fun to write about it.

Stress, tension, anxiety, restlessness. Pandemic feelings. Don’t deal with them alone if you need someone to connect with. Leave a comment and I’ll send you contact info.

Lockdown: Pants afire

Laundry Thursday morning was uneventful. I had twice as much as usual, thanks to my new black tees, but twice as much as not very much is still not very much.

I spent some of the laundry time thinking about groceries. There’s a Safeway in the same strip mall as the laundry, openint at five in the morning and the couple of times I’ve stopped there to pick something up, it was basically me and the stock people. That’s what I want, minus the stock people, who tend to block exactly the spot I want to get at, and take forever to make room for me.

But by the time I was ready to roll, I really had to get to a bathroom. I should have stopped at the office, then the Safeway two blocks from the office. Instead I trucked it for home.

So now it’s been two weeks plus three days since my last visit to the grocery store. I’m thinking about stretching it out to Monday night. I’ll have to grab some Diet Pepsi somewhere, probably Long’s again in the wee hours.

I got a couple more hours of sleep before reporting for work.

Work was busy. Had a couple of Zoom meetings, started a new project (for a huge ask), and was told I’ll be working directly with the CEO on this one. It’s fine. The project looks straightforward enough with no landmines I can think of.

I worked on edits for that cancer center story. Other stuff I can’t remember now.

I guess the Big Mac combo was my breakfast. I finished off the Portuguese bean soup for lunch and dinner. Kind of scarfed a bunch of chips while working on NaNo, so maybe that was dinner.

The NaNoWriMo group Skype was well attended, chatty, and fairly productive. I didn’t work efficiently, and stayed with it until nearly one in the morning, finally packing it in at 2647 words, or 11,077 cumulative words. That’s nearly 3000 words ahead of the pace, so I’m feeling good. I could slack for two days and only be a couple of words behind.

In NaNoWriMo lingo, there are outliners and pantsers. Outliners plan what they’re going to write, sometimes for a whole year in advance of November. Panters fly by the seats of their pants as they write their novels. You can probably guess which one I am.

I’m writing a cozy mystery set in a high school. I don’t think you’re supposed to pants a mystery novel, but I’m trying. Thursday night I was seven chapters in and still hadn’t decided who killed the custodian or why, so I had my main character play a little game where she would just name people she worked with, then make up a crazy reason each person would murder the custodian. She turned into a little song, each coworker a new lyric.

It was fun, and it led me to figuring out who the killer is. I’m still tossing a coin on the motive, but I think something I wrote a couple of days ago is an accidentally well-placed clue. So my motive may have already written itself.

I have to say some of the funnest bits of writing are explaining teacher culture to people who might not be familiar. I’ve got a lot of that to mine over the next three weeks. I’ll enjoy it if nobody else does. If you’ve never snuck out of an assembly, asking the teacher whose homeroom sits in front of yours to keep an eye on your students, you’ve certainly thought about it. Hey, dental appointments are difficult to grab sometimes, or someone was making 10,000 photocopies before school and you’re giving a test tomorrow.

Yes, of course I’ve done it. But my students didn’t need my supervision — they were always super well-behaved.

Crush Girl and I texted about some shows she’s been watching. I made a few recommendation because of course whatever anyone else is watching is not as good as what I’m watching. I need to get over this need to tell people what’s good. Jenny texted me to get some help editing something related to her work. I’m always down for that, especially for Jenny.

One of my friends has been in self-isolation because she was feeling suddenly terrible and had herself tested. She messaged me to say she tested negative, like six days after her test. What a ridiculous turnaround. But I’m glad she’s feeling better and doesn’t have it.

It’s been a crazy November so far and it’s going to get crazier. Especially if you’re doing NaNoWriMo. But even if you’re not and would like someone to connect with in the craziness, leave a comment and I’ll send you some contact info. Don’t self-isolate needlessly.

Lockdown: I can’t see clearly now

Aaaaaarrrrrrrrr. I’m writing about Wednesday at 1:02 a.m. Friday. With very bleary eyes.

Very late Tuesday night is my usual laundry time, but because of NaNoWriMo and election stress, I did decide to push it off to Wednesday night. So after not nearly enough sleep (but more than I would have gotten) I got to my desk Wednesday morning and wrote a story for the cancer center’s annual report. It wasn’t especially difficult but it took time. Most of my day, in fact.

I’m fairly pleased with how it came out. It took some amount of finesse I think most readers won’t recognize, but I know what I had to do and I admit I’m kind of impressed with myself. And I’m difficult to impress.

I also proofed a thing we’re printing in a local publication.

I didn’t waste any time when I was done with work. Did some chores, brushed my teeth, packed up the laundry, and loaded the car with my empty water jugs. The nightly NaNo Skype session began at 9:00, but I started writing at about 8:00. By the time we got rolling, I was more than halfway to my daily goal.

It was a nice time, hanging with other NaNoers. The energy was really, really positive. I got a few hundred words past the daily 1,667 goal and called it a night. I was in bed by 10:00, but didn’t get to sleep until about 10:30.

Woke up in the middle of the night, just past 12:00, and ugh. Took a while to get back to sleep. At 2:30 I got up and headed for the supermarket to get drinking water. Then the McD’s drive-through for a Big Mac Combo and then to the laundry.

I’m speeding through this because I’m ridiculously tired.

I got a text from Sharon asking for some help with wording on an announcement. That’s my job. Crush Girl texted to talk a little about her job. My friend Wendy in Manila asked me on FB messenger how the election was going and I told her I can’t talk about it until it’s over.

Breakfast was leftover Portuguese bean soup. So was lunch. I kind of skipped dinner so I could get to bed early.

That’s it. Speed version of my lockdown journal. Leave a comment if you want someone to connect with. Pandemic isolation sucks, and you don’t have to go through it alone. Zip. Zap. Zoom.