Wednesday, September 27, 2006

the most boring work ever

Looking up policies from other organizations and then writing policies for mine based on the research has got to be the most boring work ever! I spent most of my day working on these policies, and I hope I'll be finished soon.

Tomorrow should be pretty good, though. I'm going to a preview party for Mobile's music festival (Bayfest) because they are raising money for my organization. So I get to spend a few hours talking to people and collecting the money they want to donate to us. I love events like this. It's so much fun to be out there, doing the PR stuff you see on TV.

Also tomorrow I need to start looking at the 2007 farm bill. I've been told I might be working on some policy stuff related to this bill, so I need to understand it! If I'm going to be lobbying next year, I need to know what I'm talking about, lol.

Still flipping back and forth on the NaNoWriMo novel. I think I might just forget the projects I'm trying to decide between and start completely from scratch. Or maybe not...

I was told recently that I should look at The Snowflake Method, so I found this very detailed site about it. I didn't have time to read it tonight, but I plan to get through it within the next couple of days and see if it might be helpful. I really have no set method when I write. Last year for NaNo, which is the first time I've actually finished a novel, I actually did a detailed outline with a summary of each chapter and a very nice timeline of events before, during and after the story. That worked nicely and really kept me in line when I started to stray too far. Of course, I allowed myself to stray a little. Allowing the story to come alive and take over is a large part of my creative process. So anyway, I'm going to see if this method would be good for me or if it would only stifle my creativity.

My friend Marcus might do NaNoWriMo this year. I really hope he decides to do it. I keep telling him it's a great experience. So Marcus, if you're reading this, DO NANOWRIMO!!!!! You won't regret it!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More NaNoWriMo and some travel news

First, I'll do the travel news, since part of it is happy and part of it is sad. Due to work and money-related issues, I will not be going to Paris in December. It makes me sad, but I know I will keep trying until I can go.

But here's the bright side. I've been looking for something really special to do for my parents next June. They will be celebrating their 40th anniversary. I know that's not a traditionally big anniversary, but they're both pushing 60, so at their 50th, they may not be physically able to have big adventures. I hope they are, but you never know. So we talked about it, and they want me to take them on a road trip. They've never been further North than South Carolina, so we're going up to Niagara Falls, then to New York, then to Philadelphia, then to Washington, DC. (my boss has already said they would count it as a work day if I pop in and see a couple of our representatives about the 2007 farm bill while I'm up there!) After all that, we're going to drive along the East Coast all the way home. My mom wants to see some lighthouses and my dad wants to take pictures of boats. Now, I've already been to all these places, but it will be so great to show them to my parents, who are terrified to travel by themselves, and will only do something like this if I go with them. So if anyone has any ideas about some neat things we can do in any of these areas (besides the touristy stuff, which we will be doing already, let me know!)

We had thought about going West, but by the time we actually made it to something interesting out there, we would have to turn around and go back! (they are also terrified of flying, so we will be doing all this by car)

So anyway, I'm having fun planning this crazy trip. We're probably taking Noah, who will be 11 by then and who loves taking pictures and seeing new places. So it should be a lot of fun, and a chance to really put some miles on Gonzo (who saw quite a few miles last weekend, actually!) So anyway, I think it will be fun.

And then, of course, in 2008 we will be taking all the kids and my sister and her husband to Disney World for our traditional trip. We always go when one of the kids graduates from Kindergarten, and Hannah will be graduating in 2008, so the plan is to go then. I'm so looking forward to dressing her up in a Cinderella costume for that first day at the Magic Kingdom! I will, of course, have a change of clothes in my backpack, but she has to meet Cinderella dressed like her. Think of how cute the pictures will be! :)

So there's a lot to look forward to in the next couple of years...

Now on to the NaNoWriMo stuff. I only have a few days before I have to decide which story to write this year. There is a self-imposed deadline of October 1. If I haven't decided by then, I will force myself to decide!

Another new development is that I bought a GPS unit online today so that I can start geocaching. I'm going to take Noah with me on caching trips, and my mom wants to do some too. It'll be a great way to enjoy the fall weather that we are having right now. I also have a few friends who want to cache with me, so I should never have to do it alone. But even if I have to do it alone, I think it'll be fun. I'm looking forward to discovering new places in my own region, and even when I travel I can find caches in different places. Perhaps I can hunt a few on our road trip, and when I go to Chicago and Pasadena for conferences next year. Wow, talking about all these trips makes me sound like quite the traveler. I love to travel and only wish I could do it more often! But back to what I hope will become my new hobby, I'm looking forward to getting my GPS in and testing it out on my first cache! Maybe I can do it on Saturday morning. That afternoon/evening, I'm taking the kids to a county fair (complete with the cheesy carnival rides, candy apples, and rodeo) Noah loves the rides and likes to try winning stuffed animals for his younger brother and sister at the various games. He's pretty good at ring tosses and throwing darts at balloons. It's fun to watch him play the games. So I guess what I'm saying is, it'll be another busy, but fun-filled weekend. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Film festivals are so cool

Just got back from my weekend trip and I have to say, I wish I could just go to these things all the time! It was so great. We saw some wonderful short films and features, and my favorite film of the day was a documentary called 10 mph. When they release this for sale, I'm buying it! Go to the site and see what it's all about.

We also saw We Go Way Back, which was a very beautiful film that I am still thinking about, an entire day later. I love movies that make me think. I love books that do the same thing, actually.

We saw some other films, several shorts by Alabama filmmakers, and a couple of other features and shorts. I can honestly say I didn't like only a couple of the films we saw this weekend. Most of them were great.

So anyway, we had a great time, and are already planning to go for the whole weekend next year. It'll be so great!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Day 2 of the Fall Cleaning project

Yesterday I bought some plastic bins to help organize things, and got started on the cleaning project. It went well, I think. Tonight I'm working on the closet, and after that I will reorganize the books. I actually think the books will be the most difficult task, considering that I have hundreds of them, and not nearly enough room!

On another subject, I decided a couple of weeks ago that I would not wait around for another day to do things I want to do. If I want to do something, and I have the means to do it, I'm not coming up with excuses for not doing it. I'm going to live my life while I can.

So this weekend I'm driving to Montgomery to see Chris, and we're going to the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham. We went to this film festival a few years ago and had a great time, so I'm sure this weekend will be just as much fun as it was before. And... today I decided that I want to go with him to Paris in December. I've never been anywhere except the US and Canada, and I've always wanted to go to Paris. In fact, it's on my list of things to do before I die. So.... if there is room on his flight and a room in the hotel he booked, I'm off to Paris! Well, if I can get the time off too. I don't see that being a problem, though. I was going to take the last week of November off to help with NaNoWriMo, and that wasn't a problem, so I'm sure the week in December will be fine. Of course, I can't take both, but that's okay. Paris is so much better than some extra time to finish NaNoWriMo. After all, I did it without a week off last year.

Still trying to decide which novel to do for this year's NaNo. I have a couple of weeks to decide, then I have to start the outline.

Well, I'd better get back to the fall cleaning project!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

lunchtime post: fall cleaning

So I didn't do much of anything last night on the writing or anything else, because I sort of got struck with a cleaning bug and have decided to rearrange things and really clean things, especially in my bedroom. It has gotten out of control, so when I get off work today I'm going to go buy some plastic storage bins and tonight I'm going to clean out my closet, rearrange the room, organize my books (huge job) and work on getting rid of the clutter. Honestly, I don't know why I'm holding on to some of the junk I'm keeping. Some of the cute little figurines and other little girl decor from when I was a child could go to Hannah. I'm sure she would love them. I have computer games that don't even work on my computer because it's too new. Those could go to Noah. Some of the young adult books could go to him too. He's a big reader and is always looking for new books. There are lots of things I could do to help de-clutter my world, and I'm ready to do them! After all, what is the point of keeping something around when you don't even use it? If it's been sitting in a closet for 2 years, you probably will never need it again. I honestly think one reason I'm so unfocused in all aspects of my life right now is because there is too much clutter. Not just in my room, although it doesn't help matters that my room is filled with stuff I don't need, but my mind is cluttered too. Everything is jumbled up in little compartments, nooks and crannies. So I'm taking action. And the first step is to get rid of the physical clutter. The mental clutter will take a little longer and will be more complicated, but I'm determined to get rid of it too.

November is coming, and you know what that means. National Novel Writing Month! Once again, I will embark on the crazy journey, attempting to write 50,000 words in one month. Last year went so well that I'm kind of afraid of what will happen this year! I have two solid ideas, and one not so solid one. I'm probably going to start over on After the Storm in January, because I don't like where it's going and it has just been impossible to stay focused on the story. I think it may still be too soon for me. One year after Katrina and things are still a little too raw for me to really work on a story that takes place in the aftermath of a storm. The breaking point for me was when I read an article about the suicide rate in Mississippi going up since Katrina. That's when I stopped writing. I just couldn't continue. Emotionally, it was just too hard. So I have another story in the Faithgirls series that I could do, continuing the tradition of doing Faithgirls books for NaNoWriMo. I also have a YA story I've been planning. It's sort of a coming of age, but in reverse, if that makes any sense. It's kind of nonlinear, which might be fun. I've never done a story like that before, and I'm not sure if there is any real market for it, but I think it might be fun to write. It doesn't have a title right now, and I really want to have a title before I start, so we'll see what happens.

I have LOTS of great plans for my group this year. Being ML is going to be great this year, because I'm already working on recruiting and have already made some really fun plans for the parties and write-ins. I love NaNoWriMo!!

Well, I guess that's about it. Lunchtime goes so quickly...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lazy weekend

Well, the completely lazy weekend was indeed completely lazy. But I was sick half the time, so it wasn't much fun. I've been watching Veronica Mars on DVD, and managed to get through Season 1 on Saturday and Sunday and started on Season 2. It's always interesting to me when I watch a TV show like that, because I can see the overall story arc. You can tell if the writers did a good job or not when you see the episodes back to back. I have to say, these guys did a great job with that. Anyway, I'll write more a little later. I have a few updates on writing and other stuff that I want to share. My lunch is over, so this post has to be over too...

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I'm so happy! The friend I emailed was the right person and she sent me an email back! What's more, she's going to be in town in a few months, so we might get a chance to catch up a little. It's interesting how things work sometimes, isn't it?

I'm still sick. These sinus problems tend to just hang on forever. Now my throat hurts even more, and I'm sure by tomorrow I won't be able to talk at all. Yuck. I hate being sick. I've decided to spend the weekend resting. I even bought some TV shows on DVD today so I'd have something to watch while I am completely lazy. It's going to be great. (I know it's a little sad to be excited about a lazy weekend, but I don't care. I've been way to busy lately and need a break. Even when I say I'm going to rest, I don't... so this time I'm really going to do it!)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Looking for some people...

Maybe it was the spark mail from yesterday, or maybe it's just that time in my life, but I really want to find some people who used to be important in my life. You know, the people you always wonder about? The ones who pop into your head every once in awhile and you want to know what they are doing...

I googled one friend, Jamie, and couldn't find anything that I thought sounded like him. There were all kinds of people with his name, even with his first, middle and last names, but I'm certain none of them were him. The other friend was easier to find, if it is the right person. She got married, but finding her married name was pretty easy. The married name is not very common, so I think I got the right person. I emailed her, so we'll see what happens.

I've gotten in touch with some old friends through myspace, which is very cool, but I can't seem to find these two, and I'd really like to talk with them. Anyway, I wonder what they are doing now...

Today was nice. I went to a United Way campaign kickoff, went to a store to buy picture frames for work (I'm going to frame some newspaper articles we've gotten recently that were very good) After that, I went to take pictures of one of our agencies. Then I came home and did absolutely nothing. I'm still feeling sickly. Now the sinus problems have taken over my chest, so there are coughing issues and a raspy voice. Not sexy raspy, more like the kind of raspy you get when you've smoked for sixty years. Needless to say, I'm trying to avoid phone conversations right now so that I don't frighten anyone! And now I'm going to get ready for bed. I know it's early, but I've been so tired lately (most likely because I've been sick) and have been going to bed early every night. So goodnight, cyberspace!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


This was my Spark Mail today. Spark Mails are emails of reflection and/or encouragement that come from SparkPeople, the Web site that is helping me maintain my healthy lifestyle program. (it's a great site, if anyone is looking for a way to become more healthy or to track other types of goals) I thought this was a particularly interesting email, especially for me, today.

Are you a good friend? Even if you aren't an antique lover, you can probably appreciate old things. The most worthwhile, long-term investment you can make is investing in relationships. A healthy, edifying friendship can have a huge impact on your well-being, character, and even your success. Old friends have seen us through celebrations, grief, births, graduations, marriages, and so much more. They love us for who we are- warts and all! Think about the most formative friendships in your life and consider writing a note of appreciation to each of your friends. Maybe there are some buddies that you need to reach out to because they have a need, or others you just need to reconnect with. Your gratitude shows them that they are cared for, which everyone needs to know.

My thoughts on this? I agree with it totally. Friends are vital to my well-being, and old friends are especially important to me because there is so much history. I really hope I'm a good friend to each of them, because they are wonderful friends to me.

I'm not sure how many of you read this, but I want all of you to know that I love you and appreciate your friendship more than you will ever know. I'm here for you, just as you are here for me. And that's what healthy friendships are all about. And a special thank you to those of you who have been so encouraging in my attempts to lose weight. It's a long and difficult road, and it helps to know that there are people to cheer me on as I travel it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

still sick

Ugh. I hate my sinuses. It's an exhausting struggle just to breathe right now. Work was fine today. We finished printing all the newsletters and I delivered them to the volunteer group that has agreed to fold them for us this time. They said they would see how it goes this time and if it's not too bad they may do it on a more permanent basis. Something I've made a priority for me is a way to recognize the people who help us so much. We normally do a certificate and order pizza for our volunteers, but I think some of them deserve more recognition for everything they do for us. So I'm going to work on that in the coming weeks and see what I can come up with.

We are starting to work on our annual fundraiser again. I have a new intern coming in tomorrow and I'm going to ask her to research some new restaurants to see if we can get some new participants for our tasting event. New restaurants would breathe some new life into the event, which is something I'd really like to see.

Oh! I did my measurements today and have actually lost 10 inches in the last month, including 2 in my waist and 3 in my hips! I think that's good progress. At least, I hope it is. I'm working way too hard to not make any progress!

Anyway, I'm going to bed now. Sooo tired...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

sick and tired

Literally. My sinuses are horrible, I'm exhausted, and I feel like I've been run over by a train.

Yesterday was fun, though. Rhea and I watched North by Northwest, which is her favorite movie, and one I had never seen. You would think after being friends for over 11 years I would have seen her favorite movie by now. Anyway, I really enjoyed the movie, and it was especially fun seeing it with her, since she's seen it a million times! After that, we went to Soul Kitchen with some friends. A great band was playing, so we had a good time dancing and hanging out there. My ears are ringing a little today because we were right by the stage, but that always happens when I hear live music.

Today I'm taking it easy, watching SportsNight on DVD and taking Tylenol Cold and Sinus. And sleeping quite a lot because of the medicine. Hopefully by tomorrow I will be able to breathe. This week is going to be interesting at work. Our executive director and my boss will both be out of town for a conference, so if anything happens, if the media calls for any reason, I get to take care of it. It's a great chance to really prove that I know what I'm doing.

I weighed myself today and found I lost another pound. I'm a little shocked because I expected last weekend to ruin things for me. But it didn't! I am determined to do this. Rhea is so skinny and cute. She can buy trendy clothes and she gets a lot of attention. When we go somewhere together I feel huge and gross. It's depressing. I used to be the one who got attention. I was the flirt, the fun one, the person everyone wanted to talk to. But for some reason, I'm not tha tperson anymore. I think it's because I feel so unattractive that I don't feel like I should draw attention to myself. I withdraw rather than being the outgoing person I've always been. So anyway, I'm trying to do something about that. I've actually lost 10 pounds since I started the diet, so I feel pretty good about that. I'm still working on getting the right amount of water each day, and am still learning about better eating habits, but I think it's going well so far.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My new boyfriend... hahahaha!

I met a fabulous guy at DragonCon! Don't we look great together? Kidding, of course! But then again, he might be more sane than the last guy I dated. I shouldn't say that... it's not very nice, is it?

Anyway, this was just sitting in the hallway of one of the hotels at DragonCon, so Rhea and I both posed with it. There were so many random things like that, but this one was my favorite, mainly because he's from one of my favorite movie trilogies.

The parade down the streets of Atlanta was a blast! I had to get this picture of the Storm Troopers on parade. There were so many of them! The parade was so fun, because it was a great chance to see all the costumes. There were some extremely creative people at the event.

I think my favorite part was the costumes. Just seeing the work that went into some of them was amazing. Of course, these guys didn't make their costumes. I'm sure they ordered them from somewhere.

And this is the reason we went. Summer Glau and Alan Tudyk. Both from Firefly and Serenity, and both amazing people. Of course, they have done other things since Firefly and Serenity. In fact, Alan did Spamalot on Broadway. Anyway, I went to several of their panels and enjoyed every single one. Alan is incredibly funny, and just really knows how to work a crowd.

So those are my favorite DragonCon pictures. I should have taken more, but I was just so overwhelmed with everything I saw that I couldn't decide what to take pictures of, or what would even be appropriate to take pictures of. Now that I know everything is pretty much fair game, I'll be snapping a million pics a minute next year if we decide to go. (we probably will)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Okay, so here's the skinny on the last week or so of my life, if anyone is curious...

Tuesday, August 29
I'm starting with Tuesday because it was the first day of the insanity. As everyone already knows, that day was the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Being the communications person for an organization that does disaster relief, and that was very active in the relief efforts following that particular storm, I had a pretty busy day. We planned two commemorative events. They were different from the many others, however, in that we were actually beginning some new programs that will help with disaster relief. We are not just remembering, we are planning for the future. We had a few politicians at our events, as well as local media. Since my goal is always to ensure good media coverage and to make the local politicians aware of the things we are doing in their areas, I had a good day. But what touched me more than the politicians coming out to join our commemorative events, and what made the day better than a hundred articles or segments on the news, what really made the day worth all the effort was the opportunity to see people I haven't seen in person since just after the storm, and the opportunity to see that progress is being made in some areas. There is still a lot of work to do, but some things almost look normal again.

Later that night, I went to two benefit concerts for my food bank. We actually had nothing to do with the concerts, the radio station (92 Zew, which I love!) called us and asked if they could do a "Show the Love" promotion on the Katrina anniversary with two concerts they had coming to town: Lyle Lovett and G Love. They were at two different venues, but were only about a block from each other. We set up tables and collected food and funds before each show, and when everyone had entered the Lyle Lovett concert, Marcus (who was generously helping me) and I went to Soul Kitchen to watch G Love. It was a great show... or what I saw of it was great, anyway. We were there for about 3 songs, until an extremely drunk girl staggered up to Marcus, took his drink from him, drank about half of it in one gulp, and then gave it back to him. He wanted to leave after that (understandably) so we split. So that's the way my 16 hour day ended. Interesting, huh?

Wednesday and Thursday
After that, I had one day to endure before having a few days off. Wednesday is kind of a blur. I was so tired that I don't really remember what happened. I had arranged to be off on Thursday and Friday, and we were closed on Monday for Labor Day, so all I could think of was my time off. Unfortunately, I'm obsessive and can't let things go. I ended up working all day Thursday. Our quarterly newsletter has to be mailed on Sept. 18, so I needed this week to print it and next week to fold it. We send out 6,000 of them, so it takes some time to prepare them. Every quarter I have to find groups of volunteers who are willing to fold and label 6,000 newsletters. It is more difficult each time, I'm afraid. (ah, the joys of working for a nonprofit!) But anyway, I had to finish the newsletter before I left town, so I worked on it from home on Thursday. There are some major advantages to working from home, especially when you work for an organization that is as "high tech" as we are. Everyone is used to using messenger and email to communicate, so you can actually do most of your work remotely if you must. I managed to write the entire 8 page newsletter in about 5 hours, including having to wait for coworkers to send back emails answering questions about articles that had to do with them. So I'd say that's not bad. One thing I loved about working from home on Thursday was the fact that I could sit on my bed, in my PJs! I stopped only to make lunch, and got so much more done than I ever do when I'm at the office, with constant interruptions. (not that I mind the interruptions... I like the people I work with and enjoy the occasional visitor, but I really needed to get that newsletter done, so it was nice to be able to do it all in one day. Another advantage... I did laundry while working from home, so I was able to prepare for my weekend trip.

I was supposed to be off work, but I ended up going in anyway. I had to pick up a banner and drop it off at the local United Way for their kickoff rally (which was today, actually) It was okay, though, because I had to pick Rhea up at home and it's not too far from work, so it was kind of on my way. Kind of...

Anyway, I picked Rhea up, we went to lunch, and then hit the road. Our destination? Atlanta. Why? DragonCon! It was our first DragonCon experience, and I have to say it was an interesting one. In fact, I've already decided to go next year if the guests are good. Hopefully I will have some time to check out the writing track next year. I didn't get to do that this year. I'll post some pictures from DragonCon later, but let me just say that it was a lot of fun and I met some truly awesome people. Geeks are so nice! (and I can say that, because I'm one too, lol) Anyway, we went to lots of Firefly/Serenity panels, the Buffy prom, the Serenity Shindig, the Harry Potter Yule Ball, a Star Trek panel, and several other interesting panels and events. Actually, looking at the people milling around in costume was the most fun I had all weekend. Well, the Shindig was a lot of fun too. Emerald Rose played at the Yule Ball, and they were great. I checked iTunes and found them, so I'm going to have to download some of their music soon.

Oh! On Friday and then again on Monday we spend some time with Chris. I've never missed anyone like I miss Chris, and seeing him twice in such a short time just makes me miss him even more now that we are apart again. He is the dearest friend I've ever had, and I enjoy his company so much! Everyone needs someone in their life that helps them recharge, you know? I spend most of my life encouraging people, helping them to feel good about themselves. Sometimes I need a friend who can do that for me, and when I need that, Chris is always there. Even when he has other things going on in his life, he makes a point of being there for me. I can't say how much that means to me. (and Chris, I know you're going to read this, but I want you to know it's the truth. I love you!) So anyway, we met Chris and his boyfriend for dinner on Friday and Monday. It was the first time we both met the boyfriend (whose name I am not mentioning because I don't know how he feels about having his name "out there" on the Internet) and we both really liked him. He's nice and funny, and really seems to care about Chris, which is the most important thing. He's also smart, which is extremely important because Chris is very intelligent and needs someone who can provide stimulating conversation. We are very much the same in that respect, we both need someone we can really talk to about important things. So anyway, it was great seeing both of them, and even though our dinner experience was sort of bad on Monday, it was still nice to see them and spend time together.

Today was fine. We started printing the newsletter, so everything is on schedule. If I can get all of them printed by Friday, everything will be okay. I did get some good news today. I got a raise! It's not a big one, but my boss kept saying, "it's only a mid year review, your annual will be better" so I guess I should just wait until January to see what is going to happen. It's nice to get a raise, even if it's smaller than expected.

The writing is still moving along. I've found that even when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about my various stories. I've even been dreaming about the stories and the characters lately. I love when I'm in that place with my writing. The stories become like friends that I can't wait to visit. It makes writing every day very easy. Of course, the challenge is writing every day when it isn't easy, and I'm working very hard on that.

The healthy lifestyle program is back on track. The weekend was very bad for me! When you're at a convention and the only places to eat are fast food joints in the mall next to the hotel, you tend to gain a few pounds. I did get a lot of exercise walking between the three convention hotels and our hotel, which was about 3 blocks away (up a massive hill) but I didn't eat right, and I won't even report how many sodas I had!!! So today I started over and did very well. Luckily, the rest of the week will be pretty calm for me, so I'll be able to come home from work, work out for 45 minutes, write for a few hours, and do everything else I need to do before going to bed. And this weekend, I plan to rest as much as possible! I only have plans for one evening, and that's Saturday. I'm going to see a band at Soul Kitchen with some friends. I think it'll be a lot of fun.

So anyway, that gets everyone up to speed on what's been going on.