What’s Next?

October’s almost over.  Packing for my eventual move and starting up a new volunteer gig with FaerieLand Rescue has filled these late October days. This past weekend, I attended a three-day restorative yoga teacher training.      In every other year of my life, Halloween has been a Big Deal.  I pull out some items from my extensive Halloween collection to decorate the house, buy a few of pumpkins to carve into jack o’lanterns.  This year, it’s only the fake or super easy stuff. Two electrically lit jack o’lanterns, plastic but realistic looking if you don’t touch them, a couple of folk art wooden ghosts at the door.   I don’t need to get anything out that I’m going to have to repack.   No energy, no time.

That said, I am starting something new tomorrow, November 1.  Sit down, if you need to.  I am participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  Yes, participating in something.  I’ve come to be something of an expert in avoidance and non-participation.  Earlier this month, though, I went to a full day writer’s conference and stayed for most of it.  This is a change.  Usually, I sign up for things, pay the fees and everything and then don’t attend.  Most of the time, anything involving groups or assemblages of people brings out the claustrophobia monsters. Especially where writing is concerned.  I mean, it’s a solitary activity, right?

NaNoWriMo takes place every November and has done so since 2000.  Writers are encouraged to write a 50,000 word novel (or beginning of a novel, if you are, say, Diana Gabaldon) in the 30 days.  Writing daily, that’s 1666 words a day.  Easily doable.  I’ve done it, just not in November.

There’s a website, Twitter page, Facebook page for it.  There are many ways writers can interact electronically; I suppose there are in-person support groups as well.  I have no intention of that level of participation.  My locus of control resides firmly within myself and cheering on by well-meaning helpers just makes me sad.  Knowing they are trying to be nice, I realize they probably really really really enjoy receiving encouragement from others.  But I just can’t play that way.  Mis-wiring at birth, what can I say?

Anyway.  Back to me and NaNoWriMo.  I have started writing a novel at the beginning of several Novembers.  Once I made it to November 10 before abandoning the story (it’s around here somewhere, still). Three or four times, I had ten excellent pages the first couple of days, then zilch.  A memorable year left me with an Amazing Title and nothing else.  This year, since I have so much else on my mind and plate, I figure that I will use my expert-level work-avoidance techniques to start and finish my novel within the prescribed dates.  Writing is a great way to avoid messy things like packing and sorting your accumulated junk.  Take it from me.

Say, here’s an idea

Pretty much any story idea you come up with will be more compelling than this one.

From The News of the Weird,

Minneapolis Star Tribune, 10/22/16


The 1,496-page German novel “Bottom’s Dream,” translated into (broken) English and more than twice as long as “War and Peace,” recently reached U.S. bookstores as a 13-pound behemoth, bound with a 14-inch spine that, based on a September Wall Street Journal description, will almost surely go unread. The story follows two translators and their teenage daughter over a single day as they try to interpret the works of Edgar Allan Poe.






Out with the old, on to the new

I can’t stand this any more, I grumble.  The water heater has sprouted a leak, just the latest in a long line of things that have gone wrong in my house in the past several months.  Air conditioner?  Replaced.  Dishwasher? Repaired.  And now this.  My future buyer will get a much better house than I’ve had, that’s for sure.

I stand back and watch myself.  Why do you tolerate living with faulty equipment but shell out thousands of dollars to prepare a house for sale?

My secret hope was that the house would be deemed a tear-down and I could just clear out my possessions and skip away, leaving it to the wrecking crew to have their fun.  The acre lot my house sits on is filled with mature trees.  Although it’s a corner lot, it offers a wonderful degree of privacy.  I envision a charming cottage sitting here rather than the mid-60’s ranch house that I’ve called home for the past 11 years.

But, no such luck.  My realtor laughed and said the house is perfectly sellable.  It just needs some work.  Darn it.  I had been on the verge of calling “We Buy Ugly Houses”.

As I go about the process of sorting and packing, the donation pile grows.  Several car trips to Goodwill, my SUV packed to the gills.  Why do I have so much stuff, things I rid myself of with a big sigh of relief?   I mentally add up the money spent on the discards.  It could easily have paid for the air conditioner, a new kitchen and probably a new roof, too.  And maybe made a substantial contribution to paying down the national debt.  From here on out, I vow only to purchase things I will love forever.

As I carry a full box out of the office, I accidentally kick a doorstop from its position.  The door slowly goes half shut, the doorknob poking me in the back.   I am so sick of this!  There’s always something here that isn’t right.

The new house will be better, of course.  Clean and new, everything made to order and just how I like it.  I won’t be around long enough for it to hit its fourth decade, when windows become hard to open, appliances fail and garage door tracks are bent, making the door hard to work when the power goes out for days as it does at least annually.  Once, this house was new and someone was eagerly looking forward to living in their dream house.  That family knew it at its best.  I have just been here for the portly middle age, the time when things start to fall apart.

There are things I will miss when I move away.  Friends.  The yoga studio that is saving my back.  My caring, trusted vet.  The shopping and restaurants and the resort aura that flows around Lake Minnetonka.  Living in suburbia but only being a quick car ride from Minneapolis.

But there is a lot I won’t miss.  The rusty orange water that even a pricey whole-house water filter and high powered water softener doesn’t abate.  I haven’t had a white stay white for years, despite trying every whitening-brightening laundry product available.  I won’t miss having to prop every single door in the place open.  I won’t miss the kitchen that was likely here before the house was, or the groovy avocado green tiles in the master bath.  I shall not miss the humidity and dampness that makes me keep the the air conditioning running on perfectly beautiful days.

Still, I know that one day I will look back on this house, this place in the world, with nostalgia.  I will miss my trees. The ones I planted have grown so much in a decade.  The ones that were already here provide a thick screen from prying eyes and a lovely backdrop year ‘round. I will miss the burgeoning patch of lily of the valley that has grown from one lonely, depressed plant that struggled to live in the middle of a sunbaked wildflower garden to a delightfully fragrant patch growing in the shade of two large maple trees.  I’ll wonder if the luscious bleeding heart plant just outside the back door still thrives, and if the tiger lily is as studded with blooms as it has been in recent years.  Maybe the new owners will tear it all out, start over, do their own thing.  I’ll never know.  In my heart, the place will be the same as it always has been, only better.