Swinging at smoke…

Writing is hard.

It’s a very cyclical thing for me. It moves along in stages. What those stages are, how long they last, and whether or not I recognize them as they’re happening all vary on a case by case basis.

Right now I’m in the JFC everything is crap stage.

It happens.

I’ve spent a lot of time staring at my writing folder—like I do—trying to discern what I should be working on. Truth is, I really don’t know.

Once upon a time I went through and summarized all of my “active” projects. It was a lot more difficult than it should have been. And I’ve been trying to do an updated version of it with the current active list for…a long time. It’s an exercise in brevity and it’s incredibly difficult for someone like me who has a tendency to ramble incessantly, especially when it comes to talking about writing.

I want to write a brief summary of the plot, a few notes on where my brain is at on the given project, and a snippet of text from the actual story. Problem is I could go on for hours about each one when “summarizing” the plot. (I might need to lookup the actual definition of the word summarize, because clearly it doesn’t mean what I think it means.) As for where my brain is at with each one, a lot of it generally comes out as fuck if I know. And when it comes to pulling out a few lines of text…I want to take paragraphs.

And then I have a twenty-thousand word post.

Give or take.

I’ve considered doing an individual post on each one in a series. Then I could ramble all I want. But it’s supposed to be about brevity. And while that’s clearly not one of my strong suits, that’s what I want it to be.

So as it goes with everything in writing, I keep hacking and slashing until it resembles something I’m more or less okay with.

Or I shove it back in the drafts folder and forget about it for awhile.

Fair warning…this whole thing is five-thousand-some-odd words. (The last one I did was 3000+…so…)

So much for that whole brevity thing, I guess.

Hey—it’s fairly brief commentary for each story. But once you pile them all together…

Continue reading “Swinging at smoke…”

Been there for awhile…

I write a lot of blog posts in my head. Mostly while I’m in bed, staring at the wall, not sleeping, debating if I should just relent and get up, or force myself to stay put in the hopes I’ll get tired enough to fall asleep.

It’s fun times.

The downside to writing posts in my head…when I finally open up a blank draft, I pretty much lose everything I wanted to say. That’s not really surprising, but it is frustrating.

This is probably why there are currently nineteen posts sitting in drafts.

When it comes to writing, there are times I get into a solid groove, hammering out words for days. But all it takes is getting hung up on one little detail and the whole thing derails in spectacular fashion. Then I find myself grappling for a hold, desperately trying to get back into that comfortable groove of progress, and eventually I realize I’m sitting in the middle of an indecipherable mess of multiple projects that may or may not stand a chance at getting finished in a timely fashion, if at all.

This is a pretty good descriptor of everything in my life, but right now we’re talking about writing.

Every so often, I’ll start working on a new idea that seems to hold a whole lot of promise. I know where it should start. I know where it should end. I know a pretty good path to take to get there. I start putting words down, things are going well, and then…

Good ol’ Basil comes skulking along from whatever cave he hides out in and starts whispering, “But what if THIS happened???

NOBODY ASKED YOU, BASIL, SO SHUT IT.

But he’s persistent.

And convincing.

And I’m pretty sure he isn’t called a gremlin muse for nothing.

So I start writing these other what-if scenarios. Most of them end up being a little ridiculous, but they tend to be really fun to write. And purging the what-if crazy from my overloaded brain clears the path for the usable material that’s fighting to make its way back to the forefront. Sure I’ll end up with half a dozen different scenarios revolving around the same group of characters, that will sit in a folder and never actually go anywhere, but I’m still writing. Even if it’s utterly ridiculous.

I’ve been trying to articulate the issues I’m having with the latest writing project(s), but it’s just not coming out right. And to get to the root of the problem, I’ve been trying to trace my way back to where this convoluted mess all started.

Best I can figure is it might have started with a Train song. (Oh but don’t so many stories start with a song…) But more specifically, certain lyrics…

I’m not coming back for round two
I just want to love you like a friend would do
You weren’t wrong for the feelings you had
But the man that I was isn’t coming back
So stay
It’s okay…

It got the gears turning on an idea that dates back…a really long time ago…that has been revisited countless times in countless variations since.

What could I do with it this time?

Then I started looking at a pair of characters from a different project, that have been sitting around for an indeterminate amount of time, wondering if they could work in some variation of that old idea. Pieces started falling into place, and a story started to manifest, and progress was happening.

And then…

One goofy, little hangup started an avalanche that—somehow, months later—is still careening down the side of Basil’s mother-effing WHATIF mountain.

I had Stephen, Hannah, and Tyler. When I realized why things sounded so awkward with Stephen and Tyler, I kept Tyler and changed Stephen to Parker. Then for some reason, Hannah no longer sounded right, so she was changed to Alison. (Though I briefly considered Olivia, but then I would have Liv and Tyler.) Then Basil threw in a different Train song to intervene and an entirely different story was born.

Going back to the first idea, however, I decided Alison didn’t fit and changed her back to Hannah, and then changed Parker to Justin. Tyler stayed the same, and other plot points in the story started to evolve and change. And things are still evolving and changing because Justin became Joel but now may actually be back on his way to Stephen. Because WHY NOT.

In the meantime, the ever-scheming Basil threw another wrench into the works—though I can’t quite place where the idea originated (for once, not a song)—and a third plot cropped up, putting those three characters into yet another different situation. After a whole lot of character naming and renaming (and renaming…) I landed on Stephen, Olivia, and Tyler because fuckit, it makes me laugh, and I like to have inside jokes with myself.

There are also three other plots that have been briefly entertained, but really haven’t resulted in much more than a few scenes without stories, though they all have the common element of the character Tyler, because apparently I’m stuck in a naming rut. It almost feels like I’m producing some bizarre Tyler to the Infinite Power in a cloning experiment gone awry.

The name Tyler has long been on my go-to list of reusable character names. I have a sub-list of names I use specifically for kid characters and Tyler is one of the most commonly used. (Nieces and nephews, kids of friends, varied and sundry side characters, et al…) This time, when I pulled the name off the list to use for the teenage son of the main character (or nephew, or little brother, or pick a story, any story…) I had no intention of cramming him into half a dozen plotlines, but here we are.

The other two characters have seen countless name changes, but for this one, I’m stuck on Tyler. It fits. And I like it. There are many similarities between each of them, but there are also a lot of differences as well.

It’s like my constant use of the name Kate. Yeah it’s redundant, excessive, and a little confusing to keep them all straight, but it fits the given character better than any other name I’ve tried, so it sticks.

Infinite Tylers aside…I find myself spinning my wheels on each of the three main storylines, struggling to get my bearings after so many character and plot changes.

Lightning v2.0 Parker, Alison, and Tyler are pretty solid in terms of what’s happening and where things are going, but I’m running into ye olde narrative problem as I hash out all of the major plot points.

Next Gen Stephen, Olivia, and Tyler have kind of hit a wall as they keep getting shoved to the side to make way for Basil’s constant what-if-ing.

Lightning v1.0 Hannah, Tyler, and Justin (or Joel, or Stephen, or…) are sitting at a bit of a crossroads as I contemplate some plot changes that could steer things in a slightly different direction than originally planned. That and I can’t make up my damn mind on one freaking name.

It aren’t that hard.

Does any of this make a single shred of sense?

No.

No it does not.

But I’m starting to think that Tyler is in cahoots with Basil in some bizarre scheme to acquire Aerosmith’s entire discography.

Or I’m just severely sleep deprived.

Maybe.

Probably.

This is my brain, and welcome to it.

Perhaps I should just start from scratch on all of it.

Are we faking this…

1.) The thing about getting a tetanus shot every ten years…you have plenty of time to forget how much they suck. Over a week later and I still have a nasty bruise and a welt from the shot. But now I don’t need another one until the year 2026. WHAT.

2.) I went in for my annual physical and came out with three more appointments. We got new insurance as of the first of the year, so I guess we’ll find out how well it works. Or doesn’t.

3.) My maternal grandmother had breast cancer in her young 40’s. By current guidelines, close relatives should start getting screened ten years before that age. Which means I get to have mammograms every year from now on. It’s a bizarre thing to have some strange woman yanking on and smashing your boobs in a big machine, but it takes ten minutes and that’s it. Sure it hurts a bit, but hey, early detection and all that, right? (Scans came back fine.)

4.) Bob’s been playing the new XCOM2. He’s been having so much fun playing it, I just want to squeeze the hell out of him for being so gaddamn nerdy and adorable. So I do. Also, he’s been naming his soldiers after my story characters because our marriage is just that nerdy. Ben and Marina are now slaughtering aliens instead of each other.

5.) I’ve managed to trap myself in a constant BUT WHAT IF loop on my latest writing projects. I’m still plugging away on Parker, Alison, and Tyler, but the rest of the Stephen Tyler monstrosity refuses to shut-up and let me work on just one story at a time. SHUT IT, BASIL.

6.) I’ve been tweaking style sheet settings, adjusting sidebar widgets, and reworking some pages—rewriting the about page, et al—and despite the fact that looking at code now makes me want to drive sporks into my eyes, I feel mildly accomplished. I still need to ask Bob to help me somehow get the now playing field back in my metadata with this theme, but I seem to only think about it when he’s not home or in the middle of the night when he’s sleeping, and then…Etch-a-Sketch memory kicks in and…lather, rinse, repeat.

7.) We put plastic over our bedroom window because the damn thing is 79-inches wide and covers most of the wall and is drafty as all get out. Our bedroom is consistently ten degrees colder than the rest of the house and, while I love penguins and polar bears, having my bedroom cold enough to keep them is not my idea of a good time. The temperature is still colder than the rest of the house, but it has made a significant difference.

8.) Putting plastic over the window left us with the dilemma of whether to keep the blinds open or closed—they’d be inaccessible behind the plastic—so we opted to leave them open and hang curtains to block the nighttime show for the neighbors. They’re nothing fancy, but they do a good job at blocking the light and insulating the window, and we’re hoping to also gain some benefit from them come summer when our bedroom is consistently ten degrees HOTTER than the rest of the house. Western exposure for the win. Or something.

9.) We don’t really do Valentine’s Day, but Sunday morning I woke up to critters staring me down, professing their love. Because we are grown-ass adults with no kids and my affinity for stuffed animals provides us with endless hours of entertainment.

Looking like a train wreck…

…wearing too much makeup
the burden that you carry
is more than one soul could ever bear…

I should probably have more Jayhawks music in my collection than I do.

Save it For a Rainy Day may or may not be on the Ben & Marina soundtrack for the sole reason that Marina is named in the song. And I may or may not have concocted a scene between the pair during a rain storm simply to fit the song into the timeline.

What?

I do a lot of random research when it comes to writing. Depending on how big of a role certain things play in a given story, I like to at least sound like I might know what the hell I’m talking about. Though if someone were to take a gander at my internet search history, they might be a bit confused and possibly concerned. It looks like we’re trying to adopt a teenager, or at least take permanent custody of one. One of us is diabetic. One of us has endometriosis. Somebody is in need of anti-emetics. Song lyrics suggest we’re having marital trouble. You can, in fact, file your taxes separately if you’re married. And somebody really needs to know the asinine tuition costs of a private high school.

Or…you know…I’m just writing things.

Most recently I was looking up some information on high schools. It’s been a long damn time since I was a student, and things have changed…a bit. Technology and all that. And whilst perusing the website of ye olde BHS, I realized it’s now been twenty-two years since somebody set fire to my former high school. I was only in eighth grade and still had two years until it was my school, but our junior high was impacted in a big way by the accommodations made to finish out the school year. (Before there were school shootings every other damn day, people were setting fire to the buildings in the off hours. The mass shootings didn’t become trendy until the year after I graduated.) The same year they changed the sports teams from the derogatory Braves to the stoner-endorsed Blaze, somebody tried to burn the place to the ground. Though we didn’t get the creepy, demon-like Sparky the Human Flame mascot until two years later.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I can still remember the pep fest sophomore year that introduced Sparky. (On a zip line into the gym.) Crunch, Goldie, TC, and that purple thing that the Vikings have were all in attendance for the occasion. Minnesota still didn’t have a new hockey team at that point, so there was no Wild…bear…thing…but I’m sure he would have been there had he existed. I want to say it was Home Coming Week, but the memory kind of fizzles out. I could dig out the yearbook I suppose. I’m pretty sure the event was prominently featured in full-color.

Though if we’re being honest, what I remember most about high school pep fests was the drumline and all the blue-eyed drummers I was so in love with. (In between my one-sided love/hate “relationship” with Aaron.)

Oy.

That was a trip to the past I hadn’t planned on taking.

What I really need is a teenager at my disposal I can pose all my dumb questions to. Then I get a proper perspective that a district website isn’t going to give me.

I mean, technically I do have three teenagers I could ask. Hunter could tell me a thing or two about an alternative high school. Noah would likely prefer I just be on with my merry way than try to talk to him period. Ellie is twelve, so I suppose I could get a middle school perspective. Though I’m pretty sure they all think Auntie Sara is a bit touched in the head as it is, so getting weirdly nosy about school and life would probably only intensify that notion.

I mean, they’re not wrong, but…

Anyhoo…

I’ve been trying to build a proper timeline for the current project. There comes a time in every story when I stop and ask myself, “Where is this thing even going?” And then I need to take a step back and spend a little more effort focusing on the timeline. If I don’t have a clear picture of where it should end, I run into problems and end up sputtering out far faster than I would if I had a more concrete destination.

I see things possibly ending around the one-year mark of when Tyler gets dropped off on Parker and Alison’s doorstep, but an actual conclusion is still pretty muddled. The story technically starts on New Year’s Day, so I could end it on the following January 1st. The existing scene could really work as an ending. But there are other things that need to happen beyond that point to wrap up certain parts of the story, and it would be too much to just stick it in an epilogue.

When it comes to all these stories I write, I have so much detail built up in my head, I always lose track of what is actually relevant and what is just for my own reference. Does it really matter the exact days Tyler has appointments for his newly diagnosed illness? Is it really important how often Alison talks to her twin brother in a given week? I need to hammer out the major plot points and get those filled in, and then decide which smaller details to connect the dots with.

I am incapable of doing anything in a linear fashion when it comes to writing.

I just know that Tyler’s multitude of appointments are far more elaborately documented than any of my own have ever been.

And the kid doesn’t even actually exist.

Holding down this spot…

It’s three in the morning. I have an appointment at 10AM. Sleep is for the weak, apparently.

I’ve been trying to sort out the latest writing debacle happening in my head and I think I’ve only served to confuse myself further.

I am good at things.

It’s no secret that I repeat myself constantly when it comes to writing. (And everywhere else, but we’re not talking about that right now.) When a story loses steam or interest, it gets shoved into the archives and sits until I decide to start poking at it again—either to pick up where I left off, or to mine it for ideas.

A lot of my repetition, however, is unintentional. I’ll have pages and pages of text sitting in front of me and suddenly, something reminds me that I’ve written this before, or at least something very similar. Or a character will start out on a given path that veers off toward territory occupied by a character in a different story. I’m running into this with the projects currently eating away at my brain.

Fostered… Ryan and Hallie struggled for years trying to have a baby, hindered by Hallie’s health issues, and make the decision to pursue adoption. Several years into the foster-to-adopt journey they finally get a promising placement with Emery, a teenager who has been in the foster system for half his life after his mother died. It’s a rough road to heal all of the emotional damage, but they figure things out with a whole lot of trial and error, and a whole lot of patience and unconditional love. And, inexplicably, a stuffed mouse.

I’ve been working on this one for about a year and a half. It’s currently the longest story in the active pipeline. It’s just kicking my ass on the narrative front. Par for the course.

Lightning v2.0 *… Parker and Alison have been married for twelve years, together for twenty, and friends for nearly thirty. Currently they’ve been separated for five months after two years of a declining marriage following a painful struggle to have kids. Divorce isn’t on the table, but the effort to fix their problems has thus far been entirely one-sided as Alison tries to get Parker to acknowledge they need help. Everything gets knocked off its axis the day Parker’s sister shows up and asks him to keep her son Tyler for the weekend. It doesn’t take long to figure out that she has no intention of coming back anytime soon, if ever. The sudden arrival of their nephew forces Parker and Alison back together and to finally deal with their own issues while balancing an emotionally damaged, recently abandoned teenager and his unexpected health problems.

There is an unintentional connection between these two stories with Alison, like Hallie, struggling to get pregnant. The two main differences being Hallie knows why she can’t have kids, whereas Alison can’t find a doctor who can figure it out. And Ryan and Hallie’s marriage holds up to the trauma of infertility, while Parker and Alison fall apart because they don’t deal with it in any healthy way.

I also feel like I’m starting to turn Tyler into Emery 2.0 with his damaged emotional state and overwhelming fear of rejection.

Emery…age fifteen.
Father disappeared before he was born.
Raised by a single mother until age seven when she died unexpectedly from meningitis.
Spent half his life in unhealthy foster homes.
Highly emotional, sensitive, doesn’t trust anybody, and expects everyone assigned to take care of him to reject him.

Tyler…age fifteen.
Father died when he was a baby.
Raised by a single mother until age fifteen when she dropped him at his aunt & uncle’s house and disappeared without explanation.
Spent last five years in an unhealthy home with a presumably mentally ill mother.
Highly emotional, sensitive, and fears rejection from his extended family in the same way his mother rejected him.

 

The more similarities I find, the more I wonder if I should be making significant changes to this tale. There is a lot that I can trace back to some older ideas too, but those have been sitting in the stalled folder for quite awhile and probably won’t be making any moves anytime soon. Bouncing ideas off Bob, he suggested making Tyler less damaged (not too far of a stretch) and changing the reason Parker and Alison are having marital troubles (harder than it should be). Tyler’s general personality is drastically different from Emery, and I think it’s adequately conveyed in the story. And in terms of damage, Tyler has had other family to mitigate a lot of it, whereas Emery has been shipped from one foster home to the next with no constant support in his life.

Though unless I start letting other people read all these stories—in their wildly disjointed state—does it really matter how similar they are? As long as I’m writing, and not just staring at a blank page, I consider it a victory.


* v2.0?

There was already a story with the code name Lightning and then Basil intervened and I haven’t figured out a new name for it.

Alison and Parker were once best friends and had a falling out that ended their friendship. Meanwhile Alison gets pregnant unexpectedly by her fiancé and he leaves her because he doesn’t want kids. Currently Alison is a single mother to fifteen-year-old Tyler and Parker comes back to town for familial obligations, bringing the pair face to face once again. Reconciliation should be on the agenda, but Alison is preoccupied with problems with her kid—inexplicable personality changes and a whole lot of aggravating silence—and doesn’t have the mental fortitude to rehash the fight that ended her friendship with Parker. Romance isn’t necessarily in the cards for Alison and Parker, but he does help her figure out what is going on with her kid, if only indirectly.

Initially Parker was named Stephen and I couldn’t figure out why things seemed so off until I realized I had Stephen and Tyler and awkwardness ensued. Stephen became Parker and I considered changing Alison to Olivia but then I would have Liv and Tyler and then I started to wonder if Tyler was the problem or if I should just relent and use only Aerosmith songs for the soundtrack. Instead Alison became Hannah and then Parker was changed to Justin, and Tyler is still the scheming teenager in between them trying to rope his mother into dating her once best friend.

Emerson Mouse just wants more live O.A.R.

Me too, critter.

Can’t remember a warm December…

…wait…

It’s been raining…a lot…so…warm December it is.

Minnesota. Rain. December. What.

Anyway.

No.

Wait.

I just looked out the window and it’s snowing.

Joy.

We took my ring in for its regular six-month inspection and they found a loose stone, so they had to send it out for repair. I am without my wedding ring for over two weeks. I don’t realize how much I fidget with my ring until I’m not wearing it. My hand is naked and I feel all weird and off. I am constantly aware that it’s missing. It’s not fun. At all.

It’s two something in the morning, I’m not tired, and I have an appointment at 10:15 tomorrow…today…whatever. So I’ll be in fine shape when I have to leave the house. I love insomnia. And by “love” I mean: EFFFFF YOUUUUU.

But! After Friday, Bob is on vacation for the rest of the year and I. Can’t. Wait.

I started writing a post about writing and it quickly devolved into indecipherable gibberish. After about a thousand words, I decided I should probably just stop trying to make it make sense. I should probably take that as a sign to forego the blogging and get back to the writing, but…this is me.

Home was the last place she wanted to go, but if Tyler was involved, Alison knew she had to be there. Her nephew had enough to deal with, with his mother. She didn’t need to put him in the middle of the stalemate between her and her husband.

The blessing and curse of living and working in such a small town was the time it took to get anywhere. Less than fifteen minutes from the time she’d hung up the phone, she was parked in the driveway, staring at the house she hadn’t slept in, in five months. She had just been here earlier in the day, but it still felt painfully foreign. She sighed heavily, throwing the car door open, and climbed out of the vehicle. Looking around, she realized her in-law family was all here too. She couldn’t even fathom what Natalie’s appearance had incited this time.

She headed for the front door, hesitating before entering, and was instantly met with loud barking as Isabel bolted towards her. She scooped up the dog, kissing her snout in an attempt to quiet the noise, and crossed the hall, finding the family spread around the living room and kitchen.

Parker stopped in front of her, kissing her temple, “Thanks for coming,” he said quietly.

“What’s going on?” she set the dog down, looking around the room, seeing her teenage nephew curled up in an armchair, stoic, staring blankly at the fireplace. He was rubbing his ear—a sure sign of stress and anxiety. She walked over to where he sat, leaning over the back of the chair to kiss his temple, “Hey Sweetie,” she murmured, smoothing his hair, also noting that his mother was nowhere to be seen. She stood up straight as Parker handed her a thin stack of paper, hesitant. She frowned, taking the document, and looked at the top page.

     Affidavit of Guardianship

She stared at the header a moment before continuing, confusion turning to nausea as she comprehended what she was reading. She looked up at Parker, finding him cautiously waiting for her reaction. She glanced down at Tyler, heart stuttering, wondering how much he actually knew about this. She turned to her husband again, stomach roiling.

Why?”

I don’t know,” he shook his head, looking down at their nephew, “She showed up unannounced. She said she was in a jam and she needed me to keep Tyler for the weekend. Then Mom found this envelope in their mailbox.”

“Is this a legal document?”

“It appears so. I’m pretty sure that’s a real notary seal on there. But I don’t…” he trailed off, shaking his head, rubbing his chest absently to abate the ache.

“You can tell me she’s not coming back. I know she’s not coming back.”

They both spun around as Tyler spoke suddenly. He was still focused hard on the fireplace, still rubbing his ear, expression pained.

Parker walked around the chair, kneeling on the floor in front of him, “Did she tell you she’s not coming back?”

Tyler shook his head, but didn’t look at him, “I know she’s not coming back.”

“Did she tell you where she’s going?”

“No. She didn’t tell me anything. She just packed that suitcase. She said she was bringing me here this weekend, but that’s all she said. I know she’s not coming back,” he drew in a ragged breath, looking up as Alison stopped behind Parker. He winced, looking at the papers she held, “What is that?”

Parker turned, looking up at Alison, and let out a slow sigh before facing his nephew again, “Your mom signed over guardianship of you to us,” he said quietly, “Liss and I are now your legal guardians.”

Tyler stared at him, silent, save for the hitch in his breath, and slowly shook his head. He pulled his knees tighter against his chest, wrapping his arms around his legs, as if trying to shrink himself. It was clear he was fighting hard not to cry. The utter devastation in his wide, hazel eyes made it feel like they’d just delivered the news that his mother had died. Though in some sick way, somehow that seemed preferable to the reality that she had—by all appearances—abandoned him.

Alison dropped the papers on the coffee table and moved around the chair. Leaning over the back, she wrapped her arms around him, kissing his temple, “I love you so much, you know that?” she murmured, kissing him again, “So, so much.”

Parker reached out, rubbing his arm, “We’re not going anywhere, Ty,” he said quietly, “We got you. You’ve got this whole family here who loves you so much. We will take care of you. We will figure this out.”

I’ve been building a soundtrack for this project that’s been eating away at my brain. It’s incredibly easy to find songs to fit Parker and Alison. Songs about broken relationships are plentiful as it just so happens. The dilemma…if I’m going to make this an accurate representation of the story, I need songs I can relate to Tyler as well. Though finding tunes that adequately fit a damaged teenager from the perspective of his caretakers are harder to find. I’ll have to keep looking, I guess.

(The Truth by Kris Allen with Pat Monahan)

I tear so easily…

Building a story soundtrack at two-something in the morning because sleep is for the weak.

Every time I sit down to write here, my brain turns to mush, and I seem to get Vyvanse levels of incoherency happening up in this place.

That’s probably a sign I should just step away from the internet, but…nah.

There are days I think, I am thirty-six years old and wonder, how the hell am I that old and how the hell does anyone expect ME to be a responsible adult?

Then there are days when I get really excited about the prospect of a new kitchen faucet or new appliances or furniture made out of real wood instead of MDF—which all just kind of proves that I am, in fact, old.

We’re not getting new appliances any time soon (I’m in denial about the loud clunking the washing machine makes on the spin cycle.) (I also probably just jinxed us.) but we did get a new kitchen faucet. I’ve wanted a new faucet since we moved in—a nice, high goose neck number—but it hasn’t been a priority because the one we had was fine and faucets are bloody expensive. The lever had been feeling rather loose lately, so Sunday afternoon Bob decided to take it apart and see if he could tighten something to hold us off for awhile. Instead he found a broken piece of plastic that couldn’t be cobbled back into place. So for a day, we had to operate the faucet with a needle-nose pliers.

Classy.

We went shopping with a list of parts and tools and spent far too long staring at an aisle of endless faucet options before narrowing it down to two, and then picked based on the available inventory. Then we brought the heavy sucker home and installed it. Or rather, Bob installed it. I stood around and handed him things while singing Train songs and eating Bridge Mix—because why else do we shop at Menards if not for the Bridge Mix???

It took a solid hour to get the old faucet removed. Those nuts were not budging. Then I scrubbed the excess of hard water deposits off the sink (vinegar and Dawn dish soap FTW) and then we (still just Bob) installed the new faucet. Aside from the stubborn nuts on the old faucet, it was relatively painless. We got the whole thing done in about two hours. We’re not the handiest of homeowners so we were prepared for a struggle, but it worked out and nothing is leaking…yet.

And now I have a nice, high goose neck number with a pull-down sprayer.

It’s shiny.

(And we REALLY need to paint those flat, white walls.)

On the writing front…

I’ve managed to derail myself multiple times with the story project I’ve been trying to work on. Every time I think I have things figured out, that little gremlin that’s always poking me in the brain keeps whispering But what if THIS happened???

Last week I was driving home from an appointment, listening to TRAIN—like I do—and suddenly at a stoplight, that effing gremlin was all WAIT A MINUTE!

Because of course he was.

And things completely changed direction and now I’ve got an entirely different story on my hands with the same group of characters. Focusing on one project at a time just…ain’t gonna happen for this girl.

From the beginning of this whole fun fest, there has been something bugging me about this story for unknown reasons. (Regardless of which plotline I’m trying to follow.) There was something off about it, but I couldn’t figure out what it was until I realized I had two characters named Stephen and Tyler.

Stephen and Tyler.

And suddenly things got really awkward.

I tried to push past it, but it was bothering me way more than it probably should have. I knew I had to make some changes. I kept Tyler—that name fits—but I changed Stephen because I wasn’t entirely sold on the name for that character to begin with. I ended up changing a lot of names and now things seem to flow better for the time being.

I WAS supposed to be working on Ben & Marina but SOMEBODY keeps being all, “WAIT! WAIT! HOLD ON! We got THIS idea we need to address! And I’m not about to let you sleep until you write it down, girlfriend.

NOBODY ASKED YOU, BASIL.