30 Days in the Hole

It’s the beginning of October. That means I have less than a month until NaNoWriMo. And if I want to get past the 500 word count… I should have started planning months ago. But I never do. And I probably never will.

For those of you uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. The word count goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. That seems like quite a lot but it breaks down to 1,667 words per day. It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to get written. The first draft is never supposed to be good. I remember someone on Twitter once comparing the first draft of a novel or story to Lego bricks in barf. And then something about picking the lego bits out of the barf. I forget the exact wording, I saw it in my Timehop and it won’t be back around for another year.

So far I’ve never won a NaNo. I think my best year was 21,000 words. My worst was a few hundred words because my mental health decided it was a good time to say fuck you word making center of my brain. But I keep participating.

I went back through my Dreamwidth account and tried to fill in the gaps on my NaNo profile. There were stories I’d started for NaNo that I’d completely forgotten about until now. Most of them I still like the ideas of and may even look at poking at again at some point.

Let’s see what this November brings. Now I just need to find my muses.

Loyalty and respect: Earned, not freely given

I have been accused of unflinching loyalty. It’s a subject that has been on my mind lately. 

Loyalty and trust is not something many people have earned from me because so few have shown it to me when I needed it.

But the idea keeps haunting the edges of my brain. It’s been an underlying theme in recent conversations dealing with family and work. How do you know where to draw the line? How do you know when to quit fighting? How do you know when to walk away?

I’ve been avoiding the idea of walking away from this job because my loyalty is to the customers who we have built a relationship with over the years. But when it’s gotten to the point of having to explain how the job program works to employees who have been here for a couple years or to the actual OWNER of the business who was the one who set the system up in the first place, my frustration level rises. When the fact that my parents are coming to visit for the first time in 2 years and the “boss” in charge of scheduling has known for over a month and seemed appalled that I would like to have someone cover the office for me for part of the time they are here, it goes beyond frustration. Apparently it’s fine for me to be scheduled to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week but having anyone else work for 12 hours is a horrible idea. I’m salary, they are hourly in the office.

I know they don’t appreciate me and they are using me for as much work with as little compensation as they can manage. What they don’t seem to understand is that I know what they’re doing. You learn a lot more when you keep your ears and eyes open and your mouth shut.

I’m about ready to walk away. There’s a plan in place with the details being worked out. We’ll land on our feet but I can’t say the same for them.

My To Be Read Pile

It’s a never ending story. Well, more a collection of stories. And novels. And biographies.

I’m never without a “To Be Read” pile of books, both physical and digital in form. A lot of them are by people I know from various online circles. A couple of them I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting in person.

Certain authors are on my automatic “if they write it, I will buy it” list. Derek Des Anges (in all his pseudonyms), Megan Fennell (both as a single author and as half of the writing team V.F. LeSann), and Christin Haws top that list. I owe them all multiple book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m horrible about not leaving public feedback. I’m trying to do better though.

If I was independently wealthy, I could buy multiple copies of all their books and gift them to various libraries. A person can have goals.

I don’t have as much time to read as I would like. My current job is in the hospitality industry and it’s 12 hours a day every day. Except Christmas. We do close that day. And 5 hours early for Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could just read 10 minutes at a time while the tv is playing Bubble Guppies and my 5 year old is playing Bad Piggies on his kids tablet. But I need to be able to sit without distractions and interruptions to really enjoy a story of any length. By the time everyone else in the household is asleep, the dog is taken out for his last walk of the night and all the work is prepped for the next morning, it’s too late for me to be able to spend an hour or four buried mentally in a book about giant scorpions or murder mysteries or retold fairy tales.

Which is why I do enjoy Christin’s Patreon where she posts a section of a project about once a month. I can keep up with that and I can read it on my phone if necessary. Derek’s books come out less frequently but I tend to buy the physical copies so I can write in the margins and mark my favorite lines. Those I tend to read during the slower times of the year when the phone isn’t constantly ringing or when we can get away for a day or two.

So if you need some reading ideas, I’ve included links to all of the above authors blogs/websites plus a couple extra of my favorites.

Christin Haws

Derek Des Anges

Megan Fennell/V.F. LeSann


Cal Spivey
The Trident Chronicles

Can anything good come out of Nazareth… I mean Troy?

People amaze me in the most bizarre ways. I work in the hospitality industry so it should come as no surprise when people say or do something that utterly baffles me. But every once in a while someone comes along and just blows me out of the water. Normally I can spend a short time pondering the situation and then move on. I leave it behind me. But over the last year and a bit, one name has kept popping up in my social media feed and in the news. Rachel Dolezal.

A name from my childhood hometown. A name from my past. A name now surrounded by controversy and scandal. A name which refuses to go away. She’s cemented her place in infamy.

I’m sure you’ve heard all about her story. A woman in a position of leadership in the NAACP and the black community who presented herself as a fair skinned black woman when in reality she was born to white parents. A quick internet search will turn up a vast variety of photos from the present as well as the past. I haven’t spoken to Rachel since the early to mid 1990s when I was in the same homeschool group as her and taking piano lessons from her mother. There weren’t many black people in Troy, the population was just under 1,000 people. I remember one family in the church that had a black father and a white mother with a mixed race son. In the summer, quite often there would be Mexican and Cambodian people working seasonal jobs but for the most part, that little corner of Montana was roughly 95% white. It still is and probably always will be.

Troy isn’t known for much. There’s really nothing there other than a couple interesting geological areas. Ross Creek Cedars, Kootenai Falls, Bad Medicine. There’s been a couple movies that have filmed in part in the area. The River Wild and what’s the name of the forest fire fighters where the pilot dies and his ghost has to basically train his replacement and he loved the song Smoke Gets In Your Eyes? Always – 1989 with Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and John Goodman.

If you look up Troy in Wikipedia, you’ll find it’s the lowest elevation in the state. It’s less than 1 square mile in area. It’s been contaminated with asbestos. It was featured in the book World War Z as a safe zone for humanity (there’s jack shit around for miles, what are the zombies going to do?). There’s been 2 people of note, one of the teacher’s kids who managed to make it to the NFL for a total of 19 games and Rachel.

There’s basically 2 groups of people that grew up in Troy. The lifers, who may leave for a while but always end up coming back to where their parents and grandparents lived all their lives. And then there’s the leavers, the ones who might come back to visit on rare occasion if their family is still living there and they’re still on speaking terms or if they don’t want to drive 3 hours out of the way to avoid having to pass through on the only real highway in the northwest corner of the state.

I’m one of the leavers. Rachel was one of the leavers but on a whole different level. People often will shake the dust off their feet from their hometowns but rarely do they start a new life with such extremity. The Rachel of today (no I’m not using her newly appropriated legally changed name) is so far removed from the person I knew from childhood that I can say she really isn’t the same person. She is nearly unrecognizable. Not that I’d ever mistake her for a black woman which she was trying to hard to be.

Mostly, this whole situation has me confused. When the news first broke over a year ago, I was dumbfounded. I knew she’d been married to Kevin and had been living in the South but I didn’t know she’d taken legal guardianship of one of her adopted brothers or that she’d had a child at that time. Reading the news articles that called Izaiah her son made me side-eye them because I was there when he was adopted along with Ezra, Zachariah and Esther. I honestly don’t know what has been going through her mind over the years and I have no clue where she’s going to end up. I don’t wish her any harm or hatred just an enlightening of what her actions have done to the lives of others.

I’m reminded of a passage in the Bible, John 1:46 that says “And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.” (King James Version)

I’ll admit I had to look up the verse because while I can remember what it says, I am shit at memorizing and can’t remember where anything is usually.

That verse makes me think of Troy. Can anything good come out of Troy? Nothing worth writing home about from my experience. I just hope we only have one Rachel.

Your insurance isn’t accepted here, that’ll cost you one arm and one leg… plus interest

$85 for a 10 minute visit to the doctor. When you grow up in a country with socialized healthcare, this is an outrageous idea. The idea that a doctor visit isn’t covered by your particular insurance is unbelievable. The idea that you can’t change your healthcare options until after the year is over is unheard of.

For those of us who grew up in the US, an $85 or higher doctor bill isn’t unusual. There is a reason why places like Planned Parenthood and walk in clinics exist for low income people or people without health insurance. I’ve got friends who work minimum wage jobs and there are times that they’ve had to choose between buying food or toilet paper with no thought of luxuries like prescription medication or doctor visits.

I’m lucky in that no one in my family has major health issues. But I do miss that part of living in Canada. I don’t miss having to sign up for a different health insurance plan every year because “this plan is no longer offered” or “this plan doesn’t have any local doctors and sucks”.

People down here that are fighting against the idea of having socialized medicine don’t get it. When your medical costs are part of your taxes, yeah you’re paying for everyone. But everyone is paying for you at the same time. Not everything will be “free” but you won’t be worrying about feeding your kids if you have to take them to the doctor. Having a baby won’t put you in bankruptcy. If you have to spend a week in the hospital with kidney stones, you won’t have to sell your house.

Down here, the insurance industry can literally kill people with the price tags attached. The ACA (Obamacare) was a step in the right direction in my opinion. Millions of people who previously didn’t have insurance were finally able to afford it. Not everyone was able to shell out the cash for insurance but there were a hell of a lot fewer uninsured people the last few years. Now that the Republicans in Washington want to repeal it and make their own version, I’m worried. Not necessarily for my family, but for the millions of people who can’t afford hundreds of dollars a month for health insurance. I know people who don’t make hundreds of dollars per month, let alone thousands. And when push comes to shove, food and shelter will take precedence over insurance. Mental health will come in behind physical health. People will die. If former president Joe Biden had to plan on selling his house to pay for his son’s cancer treatments with the ACA, how is the average person supposed to survive on less?

Get your shit together Washington or you’ll have blood on your hands.

The start of a new project

The words aren’t doing anyone any good by sitting in my brain. And shouting them at the computer isn’t quite working either. Quite often I find myself saying, “Hey, I should tell someone about this book/product/person I came across” but rarely have I done more than mention them in passing. So this will be part of a self-motivation project to get my thoughts out of my head and in to your head.

I don’t have room for them right now because it’s trying to be spring here and that means things are sprouting and starting to bloom and my sinus cavity is full of grossness and I’m sneezing all over everything. I like flowers in March. I have seen robins and blue birds already and it’s a slower time of year at work.

Work related – we’re theoretically going to be combining our 2 offices that run 4 cabin rental businesses and a real estate business into 1 office for everything in the near future. We have the new building and the housekeeping/laundry area is set up and in use but the offices and front desk/check in area is still under construction. It’ll get there eventually and when it does, supposedly we’ll be working in shifts and I will have days off like a “normal person” whatever that is.

On a personal note – I’ve got a year long writing project I have signed up for again this year called Get Your Words Out so hopefully this blog will be an additional motivator for my word goal for that as well. There is a story project I’ve been mulling over with a friend for a number of years that I really want to put in motion this year. Again, we will have to see how that turns out as well.