When A Place Becomes A Part Of You

I’m a nostalgic person. There’s no hiding this (nor have I ever really tried, as I’m sure my husband, who has had to hear about my nostalgia ad nauseam for the past ten years, can attest to).

I get nostalgic for moments. Sometimes, in my mind, I see moments of my life as if they were a still frame from a movie scene. The people with me, the time of day, what I was wearing, the way the air smelled: all of it gets stuck in that frame in my mind in a place I can pull it from again and again.

I started getting nostalgic recently because a place we have called home on Friday nights for many years closed its doors for good last weekend. And if you had told me, in the first year we started going there, that I would someday feel an emptiness in my heart when it closed… Well, I would have called you a liar.

But here I am, five years later, feeling this unexpected emptiness.

I’ve lost other important places before.

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The Upstage was probably the first. Prior to turning 21, I used to go to concerts on the other floor of the building, called Club Laga. Under the age of 21, I danced my ass off at P-Funk, Railroad Earth, and Sound Tribe Sector 9. And then from the moment I turned 21 in 2003 until 2006, I became a regular, hitting the Upstage dance floor every Thursday night for 80s Night. So many good times, bad decisions, and questionable after-midnight shots were enjoyed there. Boys, vodka, the best new wave songs (and sometimes, although rarely, I could talk DJ EZ Lou into playing my theme song, “Little Red Corvette”).

In late summer, 2006, the Upstage announced it would be closing. At the time, it felt a combination of not real (how could this place we’ve called home for so many years go away?) and strangely not-that-important. I was graduating in April 2007, and in June of that year, we were moving west to Los Angeles. It wasn’t like we’d be going dancing on Thursday nights anymore, anyway. Husband and I went one last time and danced our asses off and bid the place farewell. We didn’t even take any photos that final night, as far as I can find in the archives.

The next place I lost would be St. James in the South Side. That spot had been our karaoke home for years. Every Tuesday night (and once, for 12 hours, on a Saturday), our crowd of karaoke regulars gathered to sing until the bar closed down. It was never super crowded, so on a good night you could get in 5 or more songs.

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St. James was a dump – too shitty to even be called a dive – but it was *our* dump. We were the Oscar the Grouches, and that was our karaoke trash can. My parents came down for my ‘Dirty 30 Birthday Party’ (where everyone sang songs with dirty lyrics for my 30th). Despite the fact that they were probably scarred for life by the touching rendition of “Darling Nikki” their daughter sang that night (sorry guys! everyone used to love when I sang that one!), the thing my parents still talk about to this day was how filthy the bathrooms were.

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(I still have – and wear – those fake leather pants.)

But when The James announced it had been sold to new ownership and was closing, it didn’t feel like the End Of Times. It was the End Of An Era, sure. But it was going to end anyway. The kitchen had been shut down for a couple of years because it was broken and no one could afford to fix it. Our karaoke DJ of the past nearly-decade had gotten a grown up job and was going to be retiring from the KJ business anyway. So it was just logical that everything ended all at once, neatly tied up at the end of the year in 2013.

There have only been two places that have closed and immediately left a hole in my heart where they were. The first was Eclipse. A goth wine bar with two monthly DJ nights? What wasn’t to love.

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From the first night I walked into Eclipse, it felt like coming home. One of my dearest friends was a resident DJ there, and from the first time I went to one of his DJ nights, I knew this place was a part of me.

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When a regular goth night became part of the rotation at Eclipse, things were even better. There wasn’t much of a dance floor, but we made it work. There was never, ever, EVER a place where I felt more at home than I did at Hades Night at Eclipse. William and Christian are both incredible DJs, each with their own styles, but both of whom brought the music to us so beautifully. Familiar faces behind the bar, good wine flowing all night, delicious snacks from the kitchen.

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Eclipse was snatched out from under us, and suddenly. We were less than a week away from the next Hades Night when the call came. We knew the bar had been sold, but we were told it would retain its DJ nights until October. But with less than a week’s notice, that all changed. Hades Night was cancelled. The bar was closing. We were without a home.

The loss of Eclipse hit me hard and hit me fast. One moment, I had this safe space where I could be my weird, gothy, wine-nerd self whenever I needed it, and then… nothing.

But I’ve long maintained that if I don’t dance, I will go crazy. For awhile, we had been casually hitting Belvedere’s on Thursdays and Lava Lounge on Fridays. Belvedere’s closed long-term-temporarily in January of 2015, so we’d just stuck to Lava on our non-Hades-Night Fridays. And I liked it, and it was okay, but then, when Eclipse closed…. something shifted.

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Our first visit to 80s Night at Lava Lounge was in December 2011. We liked it a lot, although there was a bit more pop music than we liked. It was close to the old days at the Upstage, but not *exactly* there. And the DJ couldn’t beat match to save his life.

So I didn’t fall in love right away. This wasn’t anything like Eclipse. Eclipse was all dark purples and fairy lights and exposed brick. Lava, on the other hand, was cheesy as hell. The chairs were uncomfortable and weird, there was fake lava on the walls, and there were ugly rock formations – at least one of which I maintain, to this day, was shaped like some male anatomy – hanging from the ceilings. The dance floor was so tiny you could barely move without bumping into a wall. When we first started going, the drinks were high-priced and had barely a full shot of liquor in them. And for the longest time, you could smoke on the dance floor, and we would come home smelling even worse than we had during the old, smoky days of the Upstage.

But we kept going.

Some nights, the floor would be packed with bachelorette parties or middle-aged yinzers who wanted to hear Whitney Houston and Bon Jovi songs. Some nights, the place wouldn’t be crowded at all, and you would have actual space to move, and you’d get to hear more new wave and less pop.

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And we kept going.

From December 2011 until some time in 2014, we were casual regulars. We went dancing at Lava roughly once a month. We mixed it up, primarily with 80s Night at Belvie’s, and sometimes Title Town.

In early 2014, DJ SamAraI took over control of the speakers. I admit, it took us a minute to realize we were getting a better set every Friday night. Gradually though, I realized we were losing more and more of the the 80s bubblegum fluff. We were gaining more of the bands that hit me right in the heart: The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, David Bowie, Peter Murphy, Pet Shop Boys, New Order. The new wave bands and the alternative sound and the stuff that makes you dance with reckless abandon. And Sam had a great handle on song transitions. We lost the choppy beat-match-attempts and gained a more cohesive sound.

So by early 2015, without quite realizing it, we had gone from monthly trips to Lava to weekly. With the loss of Belvedere’s, it was all we had. And at first, it felt like that: the only thing we had, so of course we would go. But every week, that smelly, dirty hovel wore me down a little more. Every week, the Lava Lounge pressed a little harder into me, at first in ways I couldn’t measure unless I sat down and really thought about it.

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We got to know Bethany, the awesome gal behind the bar. We got to know the regulars – sometimes only by nicknames we came up with because we didn’t know their real names yet. The bar became non-smoking on weekends. Drinks improved (thanks, Bethany!). I got to a point where I was comfortable showing up in my goth attire without worrying anyone would judge me. We started following Sam’s setlists online. I started tagging songs on Shazam as I was out and about so I would remember to request them on Friday nights.

Lava became a part of my heart, against my better judgment. This place stunk and there was hardly any room on the dance floor, and it was in the fucking SOUTH SIDE of all places. But sure enough, week after week, it wormed its way into my soul.

When we lost Eclipse, something shifted. And this was a shift that I felt. I went from believing that Lava was ‘the only place I had’ instead to realizing that Lava was ‘that place that I actually kind of need.’ I needed somewhere to lose myself, to dance and dance and laugh and dance more. Lava filled that hole. Lava became the security blanket that wrapped around my anxiety and depression and gave me a time and a place to feel comforted. There were weeks where I would stare at the calendar, wishing away the hours until Friday night. There were nights I stayed out way too late because ‘just one more song!’ happened over and over and over. There were mornings I woke up so sore from dancing so hard. But I never regretted one of them.

I was out of town when Sam sent out the word. Lava was closing. We had four weeks left – 2 of which, we were out of the state. It was closing at the end of April and reopening as a different beast where we wouldn’t be dancing on Friday nights.

Our group of regulars – who, by now, we were all friends with on social media – talked about it online. How could this happen? How could we lose our safe place? Where would we go? How could we send it off properly?

Sam reached out to us for requests for the final night. The dance floor, which was hardly ever packed these days, was full every Friday night in April. On the penultimate 80s Night, we actually only made it an hour before the crowd was too much for my anxiety and we had to leave.

And then… the final night.

I was out of town for work, but I drove home that Friday night. I couldn’t miss this.

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By the time I made it the hour & a half drive down after my shift, there was a line clear up the block. We stood in line 45 minutes, waiting to get in. It was a bit disappointing – we had been going every week I was in town for so long now, and all these other people had just shown up out of the blue! But we knew once we were in, we were in for the rest of the night.

Finally, around 1130, we reached the door. And we walked in, and suddenly…. we were home.

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So were like 400 people we’ve never met before. But it didn’t matter. We were home. We, and our fellow regulars, were home, even with strangers in our house. There was room for all of us. As fellow Lava regular and Lord Of The Dance Floor, HH, said to me earlier that evening, “tonight – we are kings and queens – we rule the world!”

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Fortunately, the gorgeous and lovely Tina (previously known to me only as ‘that dancer girl who is my spirit animal’) had gotten in before us, and secured a tiny plot of dancing real estate on the side of the dance floor. I had to dance on a little ramp in the floor, which made me feel very much like I was dancing on Club MTV back in the day.

We met new people, saw old people we haven’t seen in ages, and spent the entire night dancing like there was no tomorrow – because there wasn’t.

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As the night went on, we moved to the main dancefloor, becoming part of the mass of dancing humanity. Sam played “When Doves Cry,” and there was something about that moment that made me feel like Lava 2016 had transformed into First Avenue, 1984. That was one of those still-frame movie scenes, and I have pulled it up dozens of times in the week since it happened.

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I had wondered all week what the final song would be. When Sam had reached out to some of us regulars for song suggestions, nowhere in the selections I volunteered could I find a ‘final song’ that fit. But not to worry, he had captured it perfectly: Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” into REM’s “It’s the End of the World.” I’m not even an REM fan for the most part, but there it was, the end of the era. A place I’d thought I could shake, a place I thought for years I didn’t need, but a place that had become a part of me.

I wanted to dance: I’m a dancer, I ALWAYS want to dance. But I wanted to take it in. I wanted to pause, watch everyone, capture every single moment and sound and sight that there was. In that moment, as everyone was dancing, that final song playing over the speakers, all I could think of was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind:

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And we did.

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My love affair with the Lava Lounge was unlike any I’ve ever experienced. I fought it for years, denied that it had gotten a hold over me, pretended I could walk away from it at any time. And now that it’s gone, I feel that hole in my heart. A hole that, in a way, shocks me with its existence. And a hole that, in another way, I think I always knew would be there someday.

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Thank you, Lava Lounge, for the years. For the dances, for the music, for the drinks – both shitty and wonderful. For the new friends, for the laughs, for the memories. For the conversations about bad smells, for reminiscing over setlists, for giving me a bright spot at the end of the week where I could get my mind right.

For the longest time, I thought you were just a place I went to dance. And now, I realize, you were a place that became a part of me. And you’ll always be with me. <3

Where Do We Go Now

Okay. The title is from Guns N Roses lyrics. I know. I know that is PLAYED OUT but oh well.

Tonight, I was driving back to my hotel after dinner. I’m away for work, and all the Real Places to get food here are closed on Sundays, so I drove 40ish minutes into the closest neighboring Pennsylvania town with restaurants for dinner. Daylight was fading fast on the drive out, and the sun had set as I got on the road to go back to Bradford.

The roads up here are mostly 2-lane highways, in the middle of the woods, questionable cell service, and definitely unlit by streetlamps. The particular 2-lane highway between Warren and Bradford goes through the Allegheny National Forest, and, most scenic-ly, past the Kinzua Dam and Allegheny Reservoir. In the daylight, it’s gorgeous:

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At night… it’s a totally different story.

No streetlamps, and not even the soothing sounds of my favourite Richard Blade to get me through the drive. My satellite radio cut out completely for almost ten miles. In fact, the only sound I could hear tonight, driving past the reservoir, was this creepy sound that reminded me of the sounds at the start of the song “Fascination Street” by The Cure. In fact, at first, I thought it was my radio cutting back in, because “Fascination Street” is not an unusual thing to hear on First Wave.

But nope. When a song did finally blip in and out, it was a Psychedelic Furs song that sounds nothing like that effect on the Cure song. I heard the sound 4 or 5 times in the 10 miles of dead zone. There was total darkness on the road ahead of me, but the mountains above the reservoir were, in my rearview mirror, lit up with this strange pale-blue glow. It was the kind of thing that sends a creepy shiver up your spine. I was really convinced, for a few minutes there, that if I didn’t get safely out of the forest quickly, I was going to end up exiting it on a spacecraft with some new alien guardians.

When I did get back to the land of the living and get into my hotel room, the first thing that pulled up on Facebook was an article about a person who was visiting the hotel from The Shining and took a photo that appears to have a ghost in it.

Since I was already creeped out as fuck from the drive home, I decided to go for broke and click on the link. I was reading about Close Encounters of the Third Kind last night, why not The Shining tonight?

But it wasn’t the creepy ghost photo that sunk in with me. It was this quote, from Stephen King’s website, embedded in the text of the article: “In late September of 1974, Tabby and I spent a night at a grand old hotel in Estes Park, the Stanley. We were the only guests as it turned out; the following day they were going to close the place down for the winter. Wandering through its corridors, I thought that it seemed the perfect—maybe the archetypical—setting for a ghost story. That night I dreamed of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming. He was being chased by a fire-hose. I woke up with a tremendous jerk, sweating all over, within an inch of falling out of bed. I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in the chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind.”

This is missing. I mean, obviously not the part about the son and the cigarettes, but that feeling, that fleeting thought that wakes you up that turns into an idea that suddenly just spills out of you onto paper and becomes a story.

That kind of thing used to happen to me. Inspiration used to pop up everywhere. I used to have vivid dreams, and I would wake up with an idea in my mind, rush over to my computer, and write it down in my old LiveJournal. I told the story about the creepy drive through the ANF because that’s exactly the sort of shit that used to spark something in me. Years ago, a single creepy nighttime drive would be fodder for at least a few hours of writing that night.

And now what happens? ‘Adulting.’ Work. My brain is stuck on work, and it’s so hard to tear it away.

My confidence is not what it was, either. I’m self-conscious about everything. I have zero confidence in my writing. When I read things back over that I have written, my brain reads it in the voices of people who have criticized me.

That’s ridiculous, I know. I know it is. But it’s what my mind does right now.

Here’s an example: about a month ago, I fell asleep while reading in the afternoon. I had this awesome dream, and in the dream, I was meeting a set of fictional supernatural characters who were telling me about their lives. And in the dream, I was like, YES I want to write about them! Their story is one I should be writing!!

Flash forward to waking up: I immediately felt like a fucking fool. Why would I waste my time writing about that stupid idea? COME ON FOX THAT’S JUST DUMB.

I don’t even remember what the characters were trying to tell me anymore. I was so embarrassed that I was thinking about writing that I drove the thoughts from my mind and they won’t come back.

So even in that very rare moment when inspiration hits, my brain shuts it down. It’s like my brain is conditioning itself to be a machine, a machine that doesn’t have bright colors or interesting shapes or fun noises. Just a machine that plods along, day in and day out.

And that’s why this post began with lyrics from “Sweet Child O Mine.” Because honestly, where do we go from here? How do I get that inspiration thing back? How do I read shit that I’ve written and not immediately feel like I should toss it on a fire and forget I ever thought those words?

The truth is this: I fell in love with 2 characters last November. In February, I brought them out to The Cage with me. And I reviewed our history together.

And I liked them. Like I wanted to know what they were going to do tomorrow or the next day or the next.

And I didn’t really feel any shame or lack of confidence reading their story. Their story that I had written.

I didn’t have any great inspirations about what will come next for them, but I did have a feeling in my soul that I wanted to know. I want to know what happens. I want to know how they win.

I need to do the things that inspire me: dance. Listen to good music. Sit at The Cage in my favourite flannel shirt and play an eclectic mix of Love and Rockets and sad Bruce Springsteen songs on the jukebox. I need to travel. Sit outside and drink wine in the evenings when it’s not too hot.

I need to try to actually get a fucking good night’s sleep (lost cause tonight, ah well). Sit with the story, even when new words aren’t coming.

It’s in there. It’s going to come back. It has to come back. I’ve gotta make it work.

The 2016 Reading Challenge Begins

I write every November. Without fail, I write at least 50,000 words in the month of November. And the rest of the year, I do write a handful of blog entries (at 101 Achievements, not so much here), and I do some freelance contract writing on the side. But that’s it. November, some blog entries, some contract assignments and… that’s all I’ve got.

And that’s fine, for someone who doesn’t have in her heart that maybe someday she wants to be a writer. For someone who wants to make a go of this full-time, the occasional blog post or month of feverishly adding to word count isn’t enough. So 2016 is going to be different. I have promised myself this: 2016 is going to be a year that I take a better approach to working on creative pursuits. This, obviously, means working on writing, but it also means other creative pursuits, like cooking and dancing and reading.

I’ve been a member of Goodreads for a few years now, although I don’t always keep up with updating it. Each new year, they send you a little note that’s like, ‘Hey you, why not decide on a reading goal for the year!’ So this year, I did. I decided (quite arbitrarily) on 40 books. I’m not the fastest reader, but I thought that was manageable.

A couple of days later, a friend of mine posted on Facebook about a reading challenge she had embarked upon. Curious, I looked at the list, and what do you know, it’s 40 different books.

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So here it is: the forty types of books I will read in 2016.

I have a very real tendency to read only the same types of books (mostly supernatural YA books), and I am optimistic that this will get me out of my comfort zone. I’ll be using this blog to talk about what I’ve read. I’m 2.5 books in so far, which is technically ‘behind’ schedule, but I always catch up on reading over vacation, which is coming up at the end of next month.

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First up was A Book Written By A Celebrity. For Christmas in 2015, I got this book by Betty White, as well as Rue McClanahan’s autobiography (because I have a kind of serious Golden Girls addiction). While I wouldn’t really count this for the autobiography category, it definitely fits ‘written by a celebrity.’

I really loved If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t). It’s not a full account of Betty White’s life, but more like little bits of advice and interesting anecdotes from the adventures of her first 89 years. Betty White is SO sweet and positive and full of energy. Her attitude really reminds me of her Golden Girls character, Rose Nylund (although clearly the smarter, more sensible edition of Rose). Betty White holds true to her values, and she approaches things with such good spirits.

Of course, she won me over with her discussions on her work with animal rescue. She donates a lot of time and money to animal causes, and she’s a girl after my own heart in that way.

But I think the chapter that spoke the most to me was about her decision to remain childfree. As a childfree 30something, I get comments all the time, discouraging my choice. They range from the standard, ‘oh you’ll change your mind!’ all the way to ‘well that’s not fair to your husband that you refuse to have kids’ (nevermind the fact that he doesn’t want them either). It wears you down sometimes, feeling like you have to always be on the defensive when the question ‘do you have kids’ comes up.

Betty White addresses this so succinctly: “Barbara Walters once asked me if I had ever desired to have a child. The answer is, I never did think about it.”

Just: boom. mic drop. didn’t think about it. let’s move on.

She goes on to discuss what an individual choice it is for every woman, to decide whether or not to have kids, but she never apologizes. She’s not defensive. She’s just like, ‘hey, I’m 89 (the book was written in 2011), I never had kids, I’m happy with my decision, and if you want them, fine, but if you don’t, fine also, you do you, and you might mean childfree.’ I have a LOT of respect for someone who can put it so simply and matter-of-fact-ly.

And also, the next time I get a comment from a nebby person, I can be like, ‘Me and Betty White! We just love our dogs!’ So thanks, girl, for helping a fellow childfree broad out.

Overall rating: 5 of 5 stars. Enjoyed the book start to finish. It was an easy read, but you can take your time through it, really enjoying all the stories. Betty speaks from the heart, and I loved every minute of it.

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Book #2 will not receive as positive a review, unfortunately. My second book was my Book With A Blue Cover, Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella.

Let me start by saying that I will read pretty much any book that Sophie Kinsella puts out. She’s hilarious. I feel like, across my reading experience, British authors tend to do Chick Lit a lot better than American authors do, but this book feels kind of flat for me. (Some mild spoilers ahead, most of which you can get from reading the back of the book.)

The premise is this: Lottie, a 30something who’s just itching to get married and start a family, breaks up with her longtime boyfriend after an embarrassing non-proposal at a restaurant. In her usual style of ‘unfortunate decisions’ (a term her sister Fliss has coined to explain the bad choices Lottie makes immediately after a breakup), she hooks up with her first love, Ben, a man she hasn’t seen since the summer they spent together in Greece 15 years earlier. Both of them having recently been through crises (Ben has just lost his father and been forced to take over the family business, despite any experience in doing so), they decide to get married and go back to the place where they met and fell in love.

What follows is a series of awful decisions by most of the characters. Yes, it’s got some hilarious moments, but they are overshadowed by the cringe-worthy ones. The ending ties up neatly, but not in the way I started out hoping that it would. Honestly, I just felt like there was something missing, which is not something I often feel after finishing a Sophie Kinsella novel.

Overall rating: 3 of 5 stars. Still funny, but I was kind of disappointed with the characters’ behaviors in a few scenes. And the ending just didn’t quite work for me. In the middle of the book, I felt a very clear emotion of, ‘this is how I would be happy to see this end up,’ and it just didn’t end that way. While the ending made sense by the time it happened, and characters’ actions in the chapters leading up to the climax reinforced *why* it had to end that way, I was just kind of underwhelmed.

All 40 can’t be great! And besides, this is probably the first Sophie Kinsella book I’ve been this disappointed with, so it’s not like I’m going to give up on her as an author.

I’m about halfway through book #3 right now, which is Logan’s Run. This fits into a couple of the categories, so we’ll see where I end up counting it. Loving it so far though.

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2 down, 38 to go.

Day #2 on a Bowie-Less Earth

It is Day #2 in a Bowieless world. I am still not doing so well.

If you missed the news, David Bowie passed away on Sunday. Sunday, whatever time, but we heard about it here in Eastern Standard Time around 2am on Monday. And the posts began. The disbelief. The tributes. The memories. The TV interviews we hadn’t yet seen.

We treat his death like the death of a family member. David Bowie, who would not have recognized me on the street. Who I might not have recognized on the street myself, quite honestly. Someone I had never met. Someone I will never now, for certain, ever meet.

But gods, it hurts like I’ve lost a best friend.

I may not have ever known Bowie, but I feel like Bowie has known me. As far back as I have memories, I have memories dotted with Bowie songs and references and Bowie fashion and even faux-Bowie accents.

(If you have ever tried to tease your hair and convincingly walk around your house in tights over your pants as a child, you will understand where I am coming from with this one.)

These Bowie-things that are a part of my life are not going to go away, now that he does not walk the same Earth as I do. The fact that Bowie has died does not change my memories of listening to “Space Oddity” with my parents, sitting at the table at Pizza Roma and talking about him.

The first time I ever saw the movie Labyrinth, we had every single kid who lived on our street at the house. One of our friends rode down my parents’ steep-as-hell driveway on his bike, and the chain popped at the bottom, and he actually went over the driveway and down the hill onto the sumac trees below. He cleaned up okay, then we all sat in the living room eating the five pounds of French fries my dad made and watching Labyrinth together.

Years later, when I was in college, my best friend and I used to watch that movie over and over, dancing together every time “As the World Falls Down” came on.

These memories are still real. The events in these memories still happened. They did not disappear, just because Bowie left the Earth.

I turned 21 in 2003. Back in those days, the place to be every Thursday night was 80s Night at The Upstage. On a good night, we got “Under Pressure.” On a great night, we could talk DJ EZ Lou into playing “China Girl.”

When Michael and I met, he didn’t have a car. He was broke as hell; I was pretty much broke too, but I at least had a car to drive myself to work once a week. On our second date, we went to see a production of Equus on his college’s campus. He’d gotten free tickets through the drama school; I had to pick him up and drop him off, since, you know, the whole ‘no car’ thing. After the play, we drove back to his apartment, and before I dropped him off, he said, “Hey, come inside, I have a song I want to play for you.” Being the music addict I am and always have been, this was, of course, quite appealing to me. Michael’s room was in the attic; it was hot no matter the season because air just didn’t circulate up there, and he had this gigantic, really-ancient-seeming desktop computer with a great set of speakers, and the song he played for me was “Be My Wife”. We listened to the entire album Low on repeat that summer, mostly in my car, which had a CD player and was equipped for that sort of romantic thing.

We moved to Los Angeles together a year later and bought our first car. The name was a no-brainer. Our first car, a 2007 Subaru Impreza, was of course, Bowie.

And so it has been. David Bowie, whether he wanted to be, or not, was part of my life. His songs were part of the patchwork soundtrack that has woven across the moments of my 33+ years.

And now… Now what?

We still have the songs. Right now, if I was emotionally up to it, I could go into my living room and put on the Labyrinth DVD. I could sit down and imagine that I’m Sarah, and instead of saving my little brother, I’m going to give him up and take Jareth up on his offer to rule the goblin kingdom.

But right now, it doesn’t feel okay.

I am a strong proponent of the death positive movement. I don’t think that death is something we should shy away from. I don’t think it’s something we should hastily embrace, but when we are, like Bowie was, faced with a terminal diagnosis that means our moments on this planet are numbered, I think that we should take these final days, weeks, or months, and go out on our own terms. Finish off the bucket list. Prepare our goodbyes. Plan for a final farewell that embodies who we were as humans, who we will be as stardust.

Bowie did this. He gave us the final album. He gave us clues, in the videos for “Blackstar” and “Lazarus.” He kept his illness a secret until he was gone, never let us see him suffer, never let us believe that he was unwell or anything less than the immortal being we all believed – no, not merely believed, but knew – him to be. In his death, as in his life, he gave us something to hold and feel and witness, something to make us think and believe and understand. This, by all accounts, is a perfect example of a Good Death.

And I, so very much, am a believer in the Good Death.

So why does it hurt?

I remember being a kid in the late 1980s. I was not cool or popular. I did not fit in. People thought I was weird and nerdy. And I remember watching my idols on MTV: David Bowie, Adam Ant, Boy George, Robert Smith. I remember thinking, ‘these guys are weirdos too, and they’re FAMOUS!’ Turning on MTV in those days made me feel like, maybe, I had a shot. Maybe someday it was going to get better. The weirdos were going to win.

And now, twenty-something years later, I don’t know how I feel. I’m thirty-three, and I can’t say that I’m doing what I want to be doing. I can’t say that I’m where I thought I’d be at 33, all those years ago, watching MTV at my parents’ house. I still feel like a weirdo. A weirdo who has lost the chief of her weirdo clan.

The songs aren’t going anywhere. The albums I bought at Newbury Comics are still in my house. Friday night, we will go to Lava Lounge, and Sam will play Bowie songs, and I will dance and I will feel better for those moments. Soon, I will feel ready to watch Labyrinth again. And I will love it every bit as much as I loved it that night that Haz rode his bike over the hill.

But the world I’ve always known, for 33 years, is a world with Bowie in it. And it isn’t that world anymore. Yes, there are Bowie-things all around. Logically, I know this. I know that he left us in a way that is so poetic and perfect that I can only ever dream of leaving like that, someday. But there is still an emptiness that I feel today.

But the emptiness of a Bowie-less world today is nothing compared to the emptiness I would feel from a world that had always been Bowie-less. Yesterday, I had a number of friends reach out to me. They told me that when they heard the news, I was the first person they thought of. They knew how important Bowie was to me, and they knew I would be taking this hard. Several of these people, I haven’t heard from or seen in years. But they reached out to me to let me know they cared about me.

And so, even though I never even shared the same room as David Bowie, he and his music have had an impact on my life that I can’t even fully quantify. As the days and weeks go by, there will be more things that spring to mind. More memories. More songs that instantly transport me back to a moment in my past. Moments, later, that will become part of my future. And someday, those future events will become memories of the past.

We are only here for a short while. Each and every one of us. It doesn’t matter if we live to be thirty or a hundred or sixty-nine. It is a short while. What’s important is that we leave this earth a better place than it was the day we were dropped onto it.

David Bowie, thank you for doing exactly that. Thank you for letting me share this universe with you for 33 years. I hope I can leave behind some part of me someday the way that you left some part with me.

The Anxiety of Mornings After

Started working on a writing prompt tonight.

WHAT.

WHAT IS THAT FOX DID U RLY?

Yeah. Yeah I did.

(I’m already embarrassed!)

Am I the only one who goes through this?

Write something, usually at night. Sometimes fueled by too much coffee, occasionally fueled by a bit too much wine. Feel like it’s brilliant, feel SO GREAT ABOUT EVERYTHING.

bearhappy
LOOK AT ME I WROTE SOMETHING I AM A WRITER AGAIN AND EVERYTHING IS WONDERFUL.

Then the next morning, I wake up, excited to read that masterpiece from the night before… Pour my coffee, put on some tunes, pop open Microsoft Word, and…

bearashamed
OH GOD HOW DID THESE WORDS COME OUT OF MY HANDS THAT MEANS THEY WERE IN MY BRAIN ALL ALONG AND WHY OH WHY OH WHY MUST I CONTINUE TO EXIST????

And that crushing emotion is usually followed by a desire to just slip silently away, applaud myself for not showing this to anyone before I came to my senses, and pretend I’m not actually trying to be a writer.

beardrunk
I’M STILL A WRITER YOU KNOW KIND OF AND BY THAT I MEAN I BRING A NOTEBOOK TO THE BAR IN THE AFTERNOON ON MY DAY OFF.

But why does this happen? How can I feel confident and excited and like I’m this lightning bolt of creative energy one night, and then just a few hours later feel like my kind-of-obsessive series of Pittsburgh Pirates poems from 1991 was significantly better than what I’ve just written?

True life, I have been crafting a letter to Richard Simmons because I know for sure he will write back and tell me he believes in me and he will help me believe in myself and then I can thank him in the liner notes of my first ultra-successful novel and then we will have wine time together in Beverly Hills every afternoon.

Except that I write like two sentences, I get as far as, “Dear Richard, I am a longtime fan and I think I need your help. I am very sad and have stopped believing in myself and I need you to believe in me please” and then I go really?? Really??

bearsosad
YOU CAN’T EXPECT RICHARD SIMMONS TO BELIEVE IN YOU IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN YOUR DAMN SELF.

(Bear is kind of wise sometimes.)

So anyway. How do I get over all this? How do I come to terms with the fact that although sometimes, I will write great stuff, sometimes, I will write terrible stuff, and that doesn’t mean that I’m a terrible writer and a failure at life and incapable of writing anything good ever again?

Stephen Kellogg told this really terrific anecdote at his show in Pittsburgh last November that his wife said to him once, “You’re an asshole.” And he said, “I’m an asshole?” and she replied, “Well, no, but you’re BEING an asshole.”

It’s semantics, sure, but it’s important semantics.

If I write something that isn’t my best, does it mean I’m a bad writer? No. It means I’ve written a bad thing, maybe, but it doesn’t instantly make me a ‘bad writer.’

I think that’s what’s behind this. I have this fear of being a bad writer. This fear paralyzes me. I’m so afraid of being a bad writer that I’ve convinced myself that nothing I write is ever good enough. Because I’m a bad writer. It clouds my judgment on everything. The second I write something that I’m not happy with, the ‘you’re a bad writer’ track starts playing in my brain.

So now, even when I write something that I think is good, the morning after, I wake up and remember that I’m a bad writer. And I know that what I’ve written is foolish and embarrassing and how could I possibly have thought this was funny or clever or interesting.

You’re not an asshole, you’re BEING an asshole. You’re not a bad writer, you’re just going through it right now.

RIGHT NOW.

Not forever.

Because it isn’t what you are.

It’s what’s happening at the moment.

And it might not even be happening for real. It might only be happening in your brain.

Because you’re crazy.

(Good crazy though, mostly; even Richard Simmons would agree to that.)

But if it’s just right now, it’s going to be better. You’re being an asshole, but you won’t be one forever. You feel like you’re a bad writer, but you won’t feel this way forever. Because you aren’t.

(The sheer amount of fragmented sentences and unnecessary capitalization in this post would beg otherwise, but, well… blog! Blog! the writer-explanation-equivalent of, Pirate!)

It’s going to get better.

bearinbed
Because let’s face it, the alternative of ‘staying in bed forever so that there aren’t any mornings-after’ is kind of not practical.

Does anyone else ever go through this? How do you deal? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

An Ambitious Undertaking: Now with More Orphans!

So, a few days ago, I was reading Buzzfeed, as one is wont to do for hours at a time entirely on accident. I’m sure it started with something like, ’42 Dogs Who Are Having the Best Ice Cream Sandwich Ever!’ and spiraled into ’17 Horses in Unflattering Hats!’ and before I knew it, I was reading the ‘Definitive Ranking of All 131 Baby-Sitters Club Cover Outfits. This was, quite possibly, the most majestic list ever made on Buzzfeed (and that says a lot, coming from a broad like me who falls into a Buzzfeed hole at least once a week).

But it got me thinking.

I need a literary or creative project to keep me motivated alongside working on my own personal writing. My husband, over the past two years, participated in this challenge called #NerdBery, where he read every single Newbery winner in chronological order. While he complained a lot through the 1920s, he otherwise seemed to enjoy the event. And I kind of have this addiction to reading Full House Reviewed, which is exactly what it sounds like, every episode of Full House watched and reviewed in chronological order.

And then, this definitive ranking of all outfits of all Baby-Sitters Club books?

So I did what any ambitious nerd girl with a desire to embark upon a project that’s probably bigger than she needs would do: I took to social media for advice.

If I was going to read an entire series of books that were popular in our youth (and this is, indeed, what I was setting out to do), which one should I choose? In the end, I narrowed it down to these options:

Baby-Sitters Club
Boxcar Children
Goosebumps
Sweet Valley High
Encyclopedia Brown
Saddle Club

Encyclopedia Brown was a little on the short end, and Saddle Club I just threw in there because, OMG I love horses. But the real decision came down to the top four on that list. The debate got a little heated, but in the end, we threw out Goosebumps

Ermahgerd
(mostly because all of my posts would be like this, and also because I greatly feared that books I thought were goofy as a pre-teen would be terrifying to me in my 30s.)

Apparently, there is someone else out there reading and reviewing the Baby-Sitters Club series. And I just didn’t think I had the patience to read Sweet Valley High, because, although I’ve never read any of them, I presume it must be like 140 typewritten volumes of the movie Clueless.

And also, it seems my friends are really emotionally invested in the idea of me reading the entire Boxcar Children series.

List
My friend William even went so far as to find me a checklist of all 133 books, in order.

Lucy's Ready to Read
And Lucy offered to help me read.

BoxSet
And then it turns out that the first twelve volumes were on super sale at Amazon…

Notebook
So, I made myself this fine-looking notebook (I couldn’t find a 1980s-style Lisa Frank notebook, so I made this one myself with dog stickers), and starting this week, I will be embarking upon the journey of reading all 133 original edition Boxcar Children books, and blogging about it here.

I haven’t come up with a definitive format or timeline yet. I think I’m going to see how the first 2 or 3 volumes go and then take it from there. It’s been a looooooong time since I read these books, but I can promise you that I will bring you the finest in survival skills that I learn, and also, that you will have to deal with me complaining a LOT about how my life is not as good as those of the Boxcar Children when I get to that volume where they move into the houseboat.

So, check back as the week goes on to see my progress. I hope these are just as wonderful as I remember them, but also with maybe some bad fashion mistakes like I’m sure the Baby-Sitters Club would have delivered.

The New Year – On Non-Resolution Resolutions

I aimed to take a like… week’s break following the end of a disastrous National Novel Writing Month… and I disappeared for over a month. Yikes.

NaNoWriMo was a bit of a mess this year… I spent a lot less time like this:

Fox & Katherine Writing

And a lot more time like this:

Not Writing

And admittedly some time like this:

Writing Under the Influence

But by the end of the month, I managed to hit 50k for the twelfth consecutive year. It wasn’t pretty, but it was done. As I mentioned here in an earlier post, I chose to write a serious world-building story about ‘good guy demons’ and a girl who unexpectedly becomes their queen on her eighteenth birthday. It has a lot of flaws, including the fact that the boy who was *supposed* to be the love interest you root for became a friend, and the boy who was supposed to be the sexy-but-not-perfect-match boy became the one you root for.

The pluses? I could conceivably turn this into a trilogy if I wanted to spend more time fleshing out the mythology and working on it. And most importantly: I hit 50k words of new material that I wouldn’t have written if it wasn’t for National Novel Writing Month.

Fox at the Cage

(And I had an excuse to go to the Cage like four days a week so I could write!)

But after the month ended, I crashed hard: creatively, emotionally, physically. I was worn the hell out. I barely touched writing (even in my blogs), and I didn’t even have the energy to pick up any editing on the project I’d started *before* November. I guess every so often you need that little break (which I’ll admit was full of lots of other fun things, like Christmastime).

But here it is now, the New Year, which sparkles and shines in such a wonderful way that you can’t help but *want* to make resolutions!

Unless you’re like me and hate the idea of resolutions, in which case the New Year makes you want to just give out a lot of hugs and smile and make lists about all the vague, non-specific things you’re going to do to make this year Fucking Awesome.

So, it’s *kind* of like resolutions, for those of us who are shit at sticking to plans.

My lack of willingness to use the term ‘New Year’s Resolution’ was the ultimate inspiration for 101 Achievements way back in 2009. I was so full of upcoming-new-year energy, but I couldn’t bring myself to do a ‘resolution,’ which has such a negative connotation anymore. And thus, the 101 List was born.

If I made resolutions, they would be like this:

~ Be more badass.
~ Clean all the things.
~ Keep up on photo editing (Full disclosure: this is like, the single biggest problem in my life. I can’t keep my pictures organized! And I forget to take some off of my memory cards sometimes! I just found like 90 pictures from 2012 that I’d forgotten about!)
~ Write like, all the time.
~ Stop flirting with boys (hahahahahaha).

And you can see how poorly I’d stick to all of those.

So this year, a friend of mine started this idea of 12 30-day challenges in 2014. No long-term ‘resolutions,’ just a list of 12 different challenges to attempt throughout the year. She invited any of us who are interested into a Facebook group for it to help keep us all motivated. Here’s my final list:

30 Day Challenges

Obviously, not all of my challenges are specifically related to writing, but a number of them are, and many of them are creativity-based as well. I thought this blog might be a good place to keep track of how I’m doing.

This month is a fitness challenge. It’s a long story I won’t get into on here, but I’ve been having some health issues lately that have contributed to the general feeling of no energy and some weight gain as well, so I’m trying to get back into the swing of things with what Trainer Mike has dubbed ‘NaSquaMo’ (that’s National Squat Month) and some cardio dance videos. Today was Day #1, and I did 30 minutes of exercise, plus my 50 squats, so I’m off to a good start!

As things start to settle down more now that the holidays are over, I’ll hopefully get back into creative pursuits more regularly, but I’m going to try to be forgiving of myself if things aren’t perfect right away. (And that right there is waaaaaay out of my comfort zone!)

So what’s everyone else feel about the New Year? Did you make resolutions? Anything creativity-related? I’d love to hear!

And here’s to a happy, healthy, creative, and Fucking Awesome 2014 to all of my readers!

Week 2 Just Sucks.

Welcome, my friends, to the shittiness that is Week 2 of NaNoWriMo.

The excitement of Week 1 has worn off. You’re probably pissed at at least some of your characters. It’s possible your plot did one or both of two things that plots are wont to do in Week 2: died prematurely or got completely out of hand. (If your plot got completely out of hand before jumping ship… well, I’m sorry that happened to you.)

So what do you do?

First, it’s okay to go through the stages.

Fox’s Four Stages of NaNoWriMo Week 2
as interpreted by Fox’s dog, Lucy


Complete despair. You’ll never write this. Never. You’ll never catch up. You’ll never figure out what to do about that plot hole with the wombats back in chapter two.


Anger. You hate your characters, your plot, your non-WriMo friends who aren’t going through this, your WriMo friends with better word counts, the man, flowers WHY ARE FLOWERS SO DAMN HAPPY ALL THE TIME THOSE JAGOFFS.


Panic. You know you have to keep going but how? HOW WILL YOU KEEP GOING WHEN YOU MUST KEEP GOING SO MUCH? Write all the things! No! Wait! The laundry! Oh, the gym! And they want you to go to work? But! The words! The words!


The Inability to Give a Shit. You just don’t care. You just want it to be December 1 so you can have your life back. You will do whatever it takes to get that purple WINNER bar, and you do not care what you must do, because you are now so emotionally uninvested in it that there is no longer any regard for quality, just for the magical number of 50,000. You will kill any character if it is convenient, you will write lengthy scenes describing outfits, and you will allow your characters to deliver monologues about their favorite Cure albums. You just do not care.

And then it gets better! It really does!

But how do you survive, while you’re suffering through the Four Stages?

Do something that isn’t writing, but still inspires you.

Like cooking! Cooking leaves you with a sense of accomplishment AND something to eat at the end!


The more you cook, the more hours you have an excuse for not writing!

Take a couple of hours to embrace your exhaustion.

Acknowledge that you’ve really been working hard, and even if your word count isn’t reflecting all that hard work, you might need a little mental break. And go ahead, dream about how fabulous your book is going to be when you wake up and start working on it again.

Be understanding of yourself that you might be acting a little strange.

Don’t totally freak out if you wake up in the morning to find that you’d had a Drew Barrymore in Mad Love style meltdown overnight and moved all of your gargoyle and dragon protectors right next to your bed. Remind yourself that all the best authors were truly crazy, so this is just part of your process.

Go out with your fellow WriMos

Commiserate with them about plot holes and word count distress. Get completely off topic and don’t get a word of writing done at a Write-In, but walk away from the event with a thousand hilarious quotes and at least one really awesome picture like this.

Ease back into the writing.

Maybe start with a blog post, or some writing in your journal, just to get the hang of things again. Maybe brainstorm a little before getting back into the meat of the story. Just go casually into it.

Return to your happy writing place.

When you’re emotionally ready, head back to your happy writing place, and settle in for a few hours of hard work. Play the jukebox, wear your favorite outfit, maybe bring along a friend who will keep you on task but not distract you *too* much. Sit down and power through some words until you’re feeling more confident.


And before you know it, you’ll be looking like this when someone asks how your novel is going. You’ll tell them, “It’s just fine, and I can’t WAIT for Week Three to get here!”

YOU CAN DO IT. STAY STRONG OUT THERE, WRIMOS. WE ARE ON OUR WAY.

Fox’s Easy Guide to the First Week of NaNoWriMo

Why hello, readers! Bet you didn’t think you’d see little ol’ *me* again this soon!

(But a promise is a promise, and a promise made that distracts me from my word count is *always* a promise kept.)

So as promised, I’m here to chat a little bit about my favorite month-long endeavor of the year, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo). Briefly: NaNoWriMo is a month-long event held each November in which participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel across 30 days. (If only I could sum up my novels that succinctly, I might actually get work as a writer!)

I’ve been participating since 2002. Oh yeah. I’m one of the oldies (it started in 1999). And since this is my twelfth NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d share some of my sage wisdom expert tips for procrastinators throughout the month. Without further ado, Fox’s Easy Guide to NaNoWriMo.

So you’ve decided to embark upon a 30-day quest to write 50,000 words about something or other. Where do you even start? How do you even take the first step and get those first words down?

(First of all, you wait until 12:01am on November 1. I am a real stickler about that! NO CHEATING!)

Ahem. Prior to November 1, you are welcome to do all the planning, outlining, playlist-making, etc. that you want.

I mean. You *could* do that. If you’re one of those overachiever-types.

Fox’s Step #1. Stumble blindly into the month with only a vague idea of plot and/or characters.
I’m not even kidding here. Yes, you can spend hours and days planning for this month, but where’s the fun in that? If you’re like me and can only function under pressure of seemingly-insurmountable deadlines, staring blankly at your computer screen at 12:01am on November 1 is not the worst thing. If you can plan ahead, do it. But if you’re not a planner, don’t panic. You’ll be just fine.

I like to get a general idea of what world I’ll be writing in.

Fox’s Step #2: (Kind of) know your world.
Okay. So you don’t have to have it nailed down, but a basic idea of like, genre, or world, is a good first step. I like to write (badly) about ghosts a lot. One year, I decided it was time to go for broke and write the thinly-veiled Labyrinth rip-off I’d been dreaming of since age 13. This year, having exhausted ghosts, guardian angels, spirit healers, Death’s intern, Death himself, and a not-really-evil Goblin-king-esque hotty-villain, I decided to write about good-guy demons.


(Because out of all the comic book heroes out there, I identify with Hellboy the most.)

Fox’s Step #3: Accept your limitations.
For me, my number one limitation is world building. That’s why the Labyrinth-style fantasy crashed & burned so badly. Yeah, I made it to 50k, but will I ever go back and polish that thing? Probably not. Unless I’m super rich and super bored and have found a way to hire Guillermo del Toro to help my sorry ass out.

In general, I know that the less world-building I have to do, the faster the story will move along. I am absolutely that girl who will spend 43 minutes trying to figure out the name of that animal who’s like, part person, part horse, and probably a butler (it’s a faun, by the way, looked that one up for 43 minutes in 2010).

In the event that I will be faced with some world-building, I accept that I’ll have to do some research. So, yeah, my working knowledge of goodguy demons is limited to what I know of Hellboy. With that in mind, I set aside some hours for reading comics and fumbling around my husband’s iPad trying to read about the daily habits of fallen angels and gargoyles and succubi.

Fox’s Step #4: Find your happy writing place.
Every writer has both a place and a time where she is most productive. I’m a late-night kind of gal. My husband used to write at 7am (ughhhh and not just because he’d stayed up all night to get there, either). When I was in college, I was partial to this weird little alcove on the second or third floor of the Cathedral of Learning where it was freaking FREEZING and I had to write in mittens, but where I felt really inspired.


Ideally, I would spend all of November on a train. I get some of my best writing done while traveling, particularly on train trips. But since that’s not exactly practical, it’s important to find a local place that keeps the same hours as you.


I’m partial to this dive bar up the hill called the Squirrel Cage. Cheap drinks, good bartender, nice tables, and no one cares if I’m there sipping vodka and writing for hours, whatever time of day. Oh! And I can play the jukebox from my phone without even having to get up from my seat!

(Which brings me to my next point…)

Fox’s Step #5: Get the right soundtrack.
Okay, I’m a mixtape broad through and through, but I think the right soundtrack is important to all writers. It’s a good idea to keep building it throughout the process of writing your manuscript. I almost always make my characters their own mixtapes, but often I’ll start out with just a list of songs I’m kind of into at the time that fit the mood of what I’m writing.

Pro-tip: Sad songs are almost always the right choice.

Some bands who are always in my rotation include The Cure (bonus: you can find endless hours of Robert Smith remixes to keep things fresh!), Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, Ryan Adams (both with and without the Cardinals), and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. If I’m feeling uninspired, sometimes I like to put on my characters’ mixtapes and drive around after dark to get me pumped up. Take notes of any song that you hear in your daily life that makes you feel even remotely inspired and put it together when it’s time to write.

And finally,

Fox’s Step #6: Identify your allies.
Sure, writing is a highly personal thing. And I’m not saying, by any means, that you have to share what you’re writing with another soul until you’re fully ready, but it’s important to have people you can rely on to help you get through the month. The first time I did NaNoWriMo back in 2002, we didn’t have forums and Write-Ins and all that we have now. We had me, and my friend Christine, and AOL Instant Messenger at 3 in the morning. (I didn’t even have a laptop to go to the Cage! Nor was I old enough to yet anyway, but that’s neither here nor there.) My point is, I would never have gotten through that first year without our late night messages of ‘IT’S 3AM, DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR PLOT IS???’


You need to have someone who will leave you Tweets like this when you are feeling lost and alone in the noveling world (even if that person is your creepy co-ML).


I also like to stock a healthy supply of photos of my friends & family members looking at me disappointingly just to keep me on my toes and remind me of what I’ll have to face in real life if I let them down by not hitting my word count.

And if you can get a handle on those first 6 steps, you’re going to make it. Will it be easy? NOPE! And we’ll get to that, and we’ll get to it plenty in Week 2. But if you have an idea where you’re going, and know where to go and what to listen to when you get there, with your friends at your side (WriMo and supportive non-WriMo alike), you’ll get through November just fine. Trust me on this one :)

The Return of the Fox

First things first, can we just agree that any time I post in here, there is an assumed paragraph that’s basically like:

~ Sorry I’ve been away for so long!
~ Things have been busy!
~ I promise I’m going to write more often starting now!

so that I can stop *actually* starting with this?

That being said, of COURSE right now is the time I choose to resurrect the writing blog – it’s November! And what’s November, you might ask? Why, it’s National Novel Writing Month! And what’s NaNoWriMo? Why, it’s the month I’m supposed to be writing 50,000 words in 30 days!

So of COURSE I’m going to resurrect my writing blog instead of working on my word count!

(Pro-tip: those of us who participate in NaNoWriMo – WriMos, if you will – are expert procrastinators.)

This is my twelfth NaNoWriMo. I’ve written about it a little before, more so about my duties as ML, or Municipal Liaison, which is my role as Den Mother of the Pittsburgh region each November.


(Spoiler alert: I have two amazing Co-MLs this year who are making my life SO MUCH EASIER.)

But I haven’t written much about the writing part, itself. And the writing part is the most fun!

Don’t get me wrong: I love planning events and all that.


(Even when they’re enormous and give me panic attacks!)

But even more fun than being an ML is being a participant. I LOVE Write-Ins, I love nonsense Twitter threads that keep us up all night working on our word count. I love scrambling for plot ideas. I even kind of love that moment where I decide to throw caution to the wind and let my characters wander around the touristy sites of Boston just to up my word count by a few thousands.

And so, in a two-fold attempt to both make me commit to writing in here and start bringing interesting content to this blog, I’ll be talking a lot about NaNoWriMo this month.

Because let’s face it: I may not be full of information on how to get published or be a famous author (yet), but I *am* totally good at giving advice on how to write in pretty much any situation and get up to 50,000 words across a 30-day period under any life circumstances.


I’m the girl who writes during the setbreak at concerts. I mean, really.

So pop on by again tomorrow for my first official NaNoWriMo installment. Why not right now? Well, it *is* November, after all, and I’ve got my word count to attend to! :)