Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Little More Than Two Hours to Go...

Okay. NaNoWriMo starts in a couple of hours and my nerves are shot. I don't know why I feel like jumping out of my skin. Probably because I sent an email en masse to a bunch of my good friends and family telling them that, yes, I am writing a novel in a month and, even more surprising, I actually have a blog and a body of work under my belt.

Many of my friends know about my blog and so do some members of my family. Almost nobody knows that I have written a novel before and have something on the order of 10 (ten) short stories that have already been written. All of them are in rough draft form. None of them have been read by anybody except my ex (he read only one because he was convinced it was about him) and a very dear friend of mine because I gave it to him for his birthday (my first complete short story, by the way).

I'm a writer, people. A real writer, and I'm coming out of the closet.

Preparations have begun. I've been steadily reading "No Plot, No Problem" by Chris Baty, Founder of NaNoWriMo and just bought myself a new PDA which will sync to my Mac (this was the perfect excuse to spend the money). I have not made the all important shopping trip. I'm considering doing that right after I finish this post.

What I like about NaNoWriMo is there's a whole lot of support. Write-ins and weekly writing meetings have been set up here in my hometown. There's even a first minute write-in not to far from where I live. I think I'm going to have to pass on that one, I'm still setting up my PDA.

Less than two hours to go. I'll need to shake my booty to Black Eyed Peas, take the dog for a walk and consider running to the grocery store before everything starts.

(Miss Turtle takes a deep breath....)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

NaNoWriMo - Writing a Novel in a Month

Today was disappointing so I decided my channel the knee jerk reaction to go off the deep end into something completely different.

Miss Turtle has been known to react to such disappointments by crying for hours on end, sending futile text, email, phone messages in desperation, etc. No more!

I considered my options: 1) sing really loudly to "We Gotta Get Out of this Place" by The Animals and "Spill the Wine" by War and Eric Burdon, 2) shake my booty to "Push It" by Salt-N-Pepa, 3) drink lots of water, 4) have my palm read, have a tarot reading, or a crystal ball consultation, 5) cry some more, 6) stuff myself with a dozen fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts, 7) whine at one of my friends (as if they haven't heard enough) or 8) write a novel in a month.

Having completed nos. 1, 2 and 5, and being in the middle of no. 3, I decided to pass on the doughnuts (for now) and the palm reading, etc. for money/health reasons. This left no. 8.

I wrote a novel a few years ago. It's about a 200 page skeletal document in very rough draft. I never went back to edit it or get it ready for publication. Mostly, I wrote it to see if I could make myself focus enough to start such a project and finish it. It took about three months. Although not worthy of publication, it is a real novel with characters, character development, story arch, good guys, bad guys, plot twists, a subplot I really like, a climax and a proper ending.

I've had another novel rolling around in my head for about five years. I've made notes about it here and there, tried my hand at drafting a page or two, but never took myself seriously enough to write down a first draft. Lately, I've been thinking about this story I love so much. I have a very good idea about how it begins/ends and possible major points in the middle, but I'm curious to see if I can pull it off and what surprises will come out of the writing.

So I signed up for the NaNoWriMo (click on the icon to the left there). The basics: you sign up, write your novel of 50,000 words or 175 pages during the month of November, have your word count verified, attend some parties along the way and win your badge/certificate. "Winning" comes from the satisfaction of knowing you finished your 50,000 words. There are no best novel contests, no guarantee of publication, just the personal satisfaction of reaching your goal. I'm all over that.

I have serious doubts I will complete this goal, especially since I only have a couple more days to prepare and get my head wrapped around the idea, but I thought doing something constructively nutty was a better way to channel my disappointment. I could go back to sending desperate text, voice and email messages, but that's the old way of doing things. Miss Turtle is gearing up for the new! Even if I don't complete my goal, I'm sure to find out something new about myself in the process and that's usually a good thing (usually).

Wish me luck. And keep drinking water and shaking your booty to Salt-N-Pepa.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Second Show this Week

I'm living it up, people.

My brother has been going on about Badly Drawn Boy for a few years now. I even have one, possibly two CDs he's burned for me somewhere in my humble CD box.

No, I'd never listened to them. In fact, I have quite a few CDs my brother has burned for me over the years that I've never listened to. It's time to change that stupid mode of non-behavior.

Inspired by the show I went to Saturday night (to see a band I'd never heard of with a friend - good show, really fun time), I stuck my head on the local newspaper's website, pulled up the search engine and ran a search for everything playing in San Francisco today (or rather yesterday).

Badly Drawn Boy was at the top. I called my brother. He was at work. He got really excited. I got a couple of tickets via fax request that I sent in around 2:45 p.m. for that night's show.

Badly Drawn Boy, Great American Music Hall, SF
Taken with phone camera because I forgot my regular one.

Damon Gough is the main guy from Badly Drawn Boy. He's from Manchester, England. He was having a difficult time of it. Had to stop in the middle of the set because he kept crying during his songs. Was really pissed off (he yelled at everyone to "SHUT THE FUCK UP!!! YEAH, ALL OF YOU AT THE BAR!!! SHUT THE FUCK UP!!! HAVE SOME RESPECT!!!"). He finally apologized to everyone saying he wasn't in a great mood. Cried during the last song and cried while we stood up and screamed at the end.

Sure he was having a bad night of it, but Damon was FUCKING awesome!!! He sounds better having a terrible night than most people have during their best nights. Shit. Can any of you think of any band that sounds fantastic while the lead guy is crying through most of the set? Can you? I don't think so.

Great show. If you're feeling up for it, check out his new CD. Just released in the UK yesterday. Will be released here today.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fog, Lazy Day and Quiet

Three beautiful things:
  1. The cool fog of a Sunday afternoon in San Francisco.
  2. Not getting up until 1:30 pm and spending the rest of the afternoon deciding what picture to change your profile to and which movie you're going to see tonight.
  3. Not going to the movies at all today, but enjoying the quiet of the evening and playing with the dog.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

What's Bad for Me is Good for Him

When you work with penguins there are certain things you learn. One is no matter where you are in the penguin display, you are in their way. It doesn't matter if you are bigger than them. It doesn't matter if you're human and they're birds. The display is their territory and their home and you are in the way even if you are standing on one side of the display and they are standing on the other.

Another thing is that most penguin behavior is done for a good reason, no matter how random or contradictory it seems.

Last Saturday, I was in the display on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor when I someone came up behind me and bit me in the butt (ouch!). I turned around and it was my old friend, Pierre the Alpha Male. Head lowered, eyes blazing, he was ready for a fight. I stood up slowly and backed up a little. I talked to him quietly ("Hey, Mister, what're you all pissed off about?"). He continued to advance towards me ready to bite me again with his sharp beak.

This was a little unusual. He almost never comes after me like that. When we first moved the penguins into this space and Pierre was running around kicking penguin and people ass left and right, he was letting me pet him on his chest. Sometimes he takes pot shots at me with his beak as I'm walking by his nestbox or when I try to pet him and he's not in the mood, but that's about it.

Since this was unusual, I paused and looked around. This is always the best thing to do when something different is going on in the penguin display. I noticed I was scrubbing close to Homey's rock. Homey, recently widowed, had taken to hanging out on the rock next to Pierre's nestbox. As both of them are at present mateless, we have been hoping they would couple up. Homey herself was taking a dip in the pool. I kept looking around. I was close to Homey's rock, but that's too far from Pierre's own nestbox to prompt this kind of behavior. Sure enough, the explanation became very clear for Homey climbed out the of the water and went to the other side of the penguin display. Pierre abandoned his challenge for a fight and ran up to her. They proceeded to do a little necking (mutual preening is the penguin equivalent of making out).

Pierre the Alpha Male. Pissed off, Defensive, Romantic.

This is good. In fact, it's good that Pierre came back later and tried to beat me up again. Why? Because he and Homey are finally taking positive steps to pair up and this includes Pierre defending both his and her territory. I'm hoping that by the time I go back to the Aquarium later this morning, she will have moved into his house. I watched them after I did the morning feed and observed Pierre indulging in the devoted mate behavior he is so good at (following her around, preening her head, calling to her and defending her space/honor).

During the afternoon feed, Pierre begged and pleaded to be fed on land. The penguins usually feed in the water unless they're molting, sitting on an egg or raising chicks. Or if they are at the top of the pecking order and looking all adorable with those wide eyes. I consented by giving him a big fat herring. Our relationship seemed to be back to normal. He must have forgiven me because when I left the display and did my usual call, he answered back.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Three Things. Well Okay, Nine Things.

Three things I learned about myself today:
  1. Since I have an overactive imagination, I need the following things: some structure (too much is restrictive), somewhere to channel my imagination and belief in my own authority.
  2. Some pampering is good, but exercise is as important for me as breathing.
  3. It's all about balance, balance and more balance.
Three beautiful things re internal stuff:
  1. Learning and accepting myself more and more.
  2. Getting better at staying in the moment.
  3. Meditation, especially when you meditate on what you want, is tremendously grounding and empowering.
Three beautiful things re external stuff:
  1. Standing in the morning sunshine while waiting for the bus.
  2. Writing about getting my butt kicked by Pierre the Penguin on the Choka.
  3. Receiving an unexpected souvenir of chocolate from Germany from a fellow employee.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Blog of Note: Three Beautiful Things

I don't check all the Blogs of Note, but the title for this one caught my eye. This blog is so simple and wonderful. Very inspiring. I'm going to try my hand at listing three things that gave me pleasure today:
  1. Redecorating my blog with the new beta.blogger.com.
  2. Talking to penguins while I'm feeding them (and while avoiding getting body slammed by the males during a particularly enthusiastic feed).
  3. Having a leisurely lunch with an old friend I haven't seen in a long time.
Years ago I used to make Happy/Want lists. Each day I would make two lists, one of everything I was happy about and one of everything I wanted. It was interesting how these lists impacted my life. I found myself really paying attention to things because I would think "I can put that on my list!" As for the list of what I wanted, the lists started out with material wants, but gradually changed into what I wanted my life to be.

Please feel free to leave a comment about three beautiful things in your life right now or you can send me an email.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Burgess Visits Seattle, WA

Burgess the Puffin jaunts around the Emerald City...

On Alaska Airlines Flight 351 out of SFO just before 7am.

In front of a fountain, downtown Seattle.

Breakfast of Crumpets and Earl Grey tea, overlooking Pike Place Market.

At the Museum of History and Industry (devoted to history of Pike Place Market)

Saying hello to a cousin at the Seattle Aquarium.

Overlooking Elliot Bay, Seattle waterfront.

Salivating over homemade donuts, Pike Place Market.


I bought a book called "Experimental Travel" by Lonely Planet. Inside are intriguing games, one of which is entitled "Mascot Travel." Similar to the idea of the garden gnome in the film "Amelie," which has been ripped off by Travelocity for their ads, you take pictures of your mascot in various places on your trip. The idea is to make it look like you were not there and to use easily recognizable places.

Burgess is a handstitched puffin a friend of mine gave me some years ago. Most people assume that he is a penguin. I picked him over Mr. Potato Head because I was worried I would lose some of Mr. Potato Head's parts along the way. I also felt that Burgess would be easiest to get through airport security.

I must admit I was self-conscious about the whole idea and considered not doing this at all. I worried about what people might think of me. Silly, I know. Why worry about people you will probably never see again?

In fact, people are so focused on themselves and who they're with that most didn't notice when I was setting Burgess up for a shot. A couple of guys asked me if I wanted them to "hold my bird," but that's about it. The guy at the donut place did help by holding Burgess at the right angle. Too bad I didn't go back to the fish market (where they throw fish around). I'm sure those guys would have wanted to help me get a good shot of Burgess staring at some fish. A shot of Burgess looking at the Space Needle would have been nice too. Oh well. Next time.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

There's No Better Way to Start Off a Big Day...

than by listening to Leonard Nimoy singing "Proud Mary."

While Mr. Spock's infamous rendition of this song didn't make up for a much needed medium soy mocha no-whip from Peet's Coffee, it did provide a unique perspective on things.

I'm in the Big Life, people. Dig that groove.

More later.