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On pop and Lenten things

Once, back in high school – maybe my senior year? – I gave up pop (or soda, for the coastal peoples) for Lent, because the thing always seemed to be to give up some particular food item for Lent alongside the meatless Fridays. The year I gave up french fries was particularly awful, because my pre-two years of vegetarianism in college-self hadn’t really figured out what to eat other than french fries and mac and cheese when I couldn’t have meat as part of a meal. So in keeping with the foodstuffs-elimination-Lenten-observance-ritual, I gave up pop my senior year of high school.

It sucked. At least, it sucked at first because I had a massive caffeine headache from the withdrawl. Once the withdrawl symptoms finally dissipated, I was left with a profound sense of boredom. Until then, I had drunk pop at every meal and was prone to downing one or two during school. I really didn’t drink much of anything else – I’d occasionally grab a milk at lunch if I was feeling virtuous (or like my meal was otherwise entirely devoid of nutritional value and I was having one of those moments where that bothered me), but otherwise, pop. I hadn’t discovered coffee as anything other than an occasional drink, couldn’t/didn’t drink alcohol yet, and hated pre-made lemonade* and bottled tea.

I found myself stuck with water something like 95% of the time. For 40 days, I had water with pretty much every meal and any other time I was thirsty. I got bored with water quickly – the only thing that kept me going was that I reasoned I ought to be able to deal with *anything* for 40 days.

The only major break in my water consumption was a standing Friday night cappuccino/bookstore outing with a friend. The coffee outings turned into a sort of barometer for how long Lent had been going. The first week was awesome – caffeine! flavor! – until my caffeine headache returned the next day with renewed vigor. The second week was a repeat of the first – wonderful to taste, but headache-inducing the next day as my body tried again to figure out how to deal with the loss of the glorious, glorious caffeine molecules.

Then things got ugly.

By the third week, an 8pm cappuccino was a bad idea not because it gave me headache the next day, but because my body was becoming really adjusted to *not* having caffeine at all times. The upshot was that I was up until after 1am, trying desperately to fall asleep.**

The next week, it was later. And then later.

Meanwhile, I got to the point, roughly a month in or so, where I didn’t mind so much that I was having water all the time. I wouldn’t say I loved it, but I did notice eventually that I could taste my food better when I wasn’t slurping Coke between every bite or three.***

Anyway, right when I got really used to having only water at meals, Easter happened, and there was pop. I remember being really excited to get out of church so that I could have a pop with lunch – I was more excited about pop than I was about anything else that day. Except that I then had one, and I couldn’t finish it. It was too sweet, too bubbly, too syrupy. The sugar and caffeine combination made me jittery. I’d never been jittery before. I didn’t like it.

I had another pop at dinner, simply because I could, and had the same reaction, plus the added inability to sleep that night. I continued on in the pop-drinking  anyway . My body adjusted quickly to the sugar, and almost as quickly to the caffeine. The flavor got closer to what I remembered every time I had one.

The thing was, though, that it never quite got all the way back to the light and fizzy drink I remembered. It felt heavy, and drinking a pop made me feel heavy in a way it never had before. Once the initial yay pop! feeling was gone, I found myself reaching for water at a meal as often as I would go for anything else. 

When I discovered coffee full-on early in college, I switched allegiance and relied on coffee for the vast majority of my caffeine intake, eventually elimating pop out of my diet altogether in the fall of 2000.+

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*Seriously, the “let us squeeze a lemon into a cup and then fill it with semi-pre-made lemonade” stuff that we got at Worlds of Fun over the summers killed Minute Maid for me. Killed it.
**In high school, I was typically so exhausted from getting up so early and running nuts all day that I could set land-speed records for falling asleep.
***I refused to eat McDonald’s ever again at some point either immediately prior to or right around this time. I wonder sometimes if the pop ban contributed to the McDonald’s ban.
+Lest I sound really holier than thou about all of this, I should point out that my coffee habit at that point hovered around the ten cup a day mark. I am not trying to pretend health was a part of the no-pop decision – the decision to dump pop came entirely out of a sense of trying to make sure my caffeine level didn’t cause my heart to explode out of my chest. At this point, I’m down to a much more reasonable two cups or so a day (or three shots of espresso, depending), but yeah. It’s not gone.

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Hello.

Just thought I’d throw out there that there has been very little writing here because there has, in fact, been actual *writing* being done. The rest of the time I’ve been at work. So I haven’t forgotten about anyone who stops by, I’ve just been productive.

Also, should she stop by: my alpha reader is an awesome critiquer ❤

With the admission that everything written last night about not having the right soundtrack for noveling being a fetid pile of excuse, I have finally gotten past the song “Kiss with a Fist” and bought myself the Florence + the Machine album that pretty much everyone else of my music taste bought themselves, oh, say, 18 months ago.

TONIGHT THERE WILL BE WRITING. OH YES. THERE WILL BE WRITING.

Also from-scratch fetuccine alfredo with chicken and spinach.

Moods

So I’ve been in this* mood lately where I’d really like to write, like, a lot, but I cannot get myself into the proper headspace to get back into the novel. I’m trying to work through why this is, and I think I’ve come to some sort of dodgy conclusion.

The main issue (well, not right now – right now, the main issue is a headache)(and by main issue, I mean main issue besides the usual writerly issues of fear of failure or low self-esteem or what have you) is that I never managed to soundtrack the novel properly back in November. Or maybe, to be proper, the novel hasn’t managed to create a soundtrack for itself yet. A project I’ve got hanging out on the back burner right now managed to soundtrack itself about 500 words in. However, current project, in its over 55K word glory, remains soundtrackless.

I’ve never had this problem before.

The weird thing is that I can hear echoes of characters in all sorts of music I listen to – there’s a bunch of stuff in the National’s High Violet that really works for two of the main characters – but for some reason, I haven’t found anything that I can sit and listen to that tells me “this is what you listen to while you’re writing novel-y stuff.”

I’m torn between telling myself to force it, either by creating a playlist that isn’t really quite what I’m going for or by writing in silence, or telling myself to pick one quiet, easily ignorable song that gets the mood right for a particular scene and just leaving it on repeat until I get through a section. I think for the moment, I’ll be trying the latter.

When I wake up and my headache has fucked on off, I mean. I’ll be trying it then.

I hope everyone’s writing pursuits are going smashingly right now!

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*the asterix marks the exact moment that I realized I’d started not just the sentence, but the whole blog post with the word “so.” I’ve realized lately that “so” is a major writing tick of mine, and one that I need to reduce my usage of. Rather than edit it out, I’m leaving y’all with this little bit of how quickly I type v. how quickly I realize what the words are that I’m typing.

There was an earthquake in New Zealand earlier today, as I’m sure you all have heard about by now.

I heard about the earthquake on Twitter before I heard about it anywhere else. This is my fault for checking Twitter before I checked any “real” news sources, but it’s still a weird feeling.

My reaction is largely the same as everyone else’s – I want to say something that will express concern or sorrow about what happened. You know, something meaningful. Anything meaningful. As a facebook status update or a tweet or blog post or something.

But I can’t seem to get there, no matter how many times I rewrite this post or retype my would-be tweets or anything else. My thought pattern is as follows: there’s no point in calling it a tragedy, because this is obvious, and labeling it as such accomplishes nothing. There’s no point in saying “I hope everyone is okay,” because they aren’t okay. People are dead, or they’ve lost family members or their homes or just the sense that the earth will not actually move out from under their feet. And saying some variation on a theme of “I’m sending thoughts/prayers/hopes for recovery” seems repetitive, as it’s already been said in 50,000 other posts/updates/tweets before mine.

So I find myself sitting here with multiple social platforms on which to say anything at all about the New Zealand earthquake, and all I can come up with is that I think it’s odd, yet indicative of life (either my life specifically, or “life in these times” if you prefer the global version), that I heard about it from Neil Gaiman’s Twitter feed before I learned anything else about it.

I’m leaving it with that, and hoping that people don’t think I’m callous for not posting some sort of platitude about hoping things get better quickly. I do hope that. But I can’t see the point in clogging peoples’ newsfeeds with it.

I was writing this blog post a few nights ago. Everything was going along fine: I had a lot I wanted to say, a clear idea of how to organize it, a list of links to fit in, pictures that would help illustrate what I was saying. Blog posts rarely go quite *that* well, so I was buzzing along and feeling great.

Except for one problem.

Given my boss sees that blog, and that I use that blog on my resume as one of the examples of my writing, I need it to be at least semi-professional. The upshot to this is that I have a no-swearing rule for that blog (which I don’t worry about here).

The problem came when I was trying to describe Christopher Elbow’s chocolates. The *only* word that adequately describes my feelings toward those beautiful, beautiful creations is “fuckawesome.” Because that’s what those chocolates are: fuckawesome.

Fuckawesome, however, flagrantly violates my no-swearing rule. Therefore, despite how perfect a word choice it would have been for every other reason, I had to go with significantly less colorful language.

The thing with fuckawesome is that it’s a word I picked up from the internet. I don’t know that it’s a pair of words I would have combined together on my own. I love it, however, because I feel like the adding of the “fuck” to the “awesome” somehow elevates “awesome” to a level beyond its normal connotation – i.e., a word to describe something that is generally pretty good.*

So I’m left wondering what word I would have used to describe the said fuckawesome chocolates had fuckawesome not been so primed in my brain. It no doubt would have been better than whatever hyperbolic nonsense I did end up writing.

I think I need a thesaurus, y’all.

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*Given what the word used to connote, i.e., that feeling of something being overwhelmingly amazing, awe-inspiring, etc., I think “awesome” is an excellent example of words to look at when studying how meanings change over the years. It’s had a pretty sad downgrade.

That said, it should also be pointed out that the main purpose of “fuck” most of the time is to intensify whatever is being said. It doesn’t have a meaning beyond that in most cases anymore.

Some timewasters for you

This tumblr was recently pointed out to me: hungover owls. This blog continually cracks my shit up, but I don’t think the pictures are funny. The whole thing is funny solely because of the blog title. As a note to writers/me: titles are important. I hate titling my work – it never feels catchy or clever enough. I love hungover owls because it reminds me why I need to keep working on titles: when it’s right, it’s really, really right.

The other website recently brought to my attention is Catalog Living, a delightful little site which uses pictures from catalogs to tell the life and home story of Gary and Elaine. It’s excellent. Plus the catalog pictures remind me of Fight Club. There are some truly bizarre objects out there being offered for our conspicuous consumption.

As for me, I’m finally all set to get back into serious business writing mode, having spent the past few days setting up my new wine-and-beer-amalgamation blog, www.kimandtonic.com. Feel free to drop by! I’ll be posting all of my reviews there, and I’ll keep up my ADHD-fueled writerly nonsense here.

People, this is a link to a trailer for one of those films that is guaranteed to give me a migraine.

For the link-phobic or trailer-haters, it’s a link to a trailer for a film of Atlas Shrugged. Part 1. Because at least Hollywood was thinking clearly enough to realize that a book that weighs in at 1200 pages (for reference, pretty much the same length as War and Peace) shouldn’t be fit into one two-hour film. I mean, thank heaven for that at least.

That said, I have a million-billion problems with this. There are many blog posts out there detailing how objectivism (Rand’s philosophy, set out most grandly in this book) is a fundamentally selfish, nasty philosophy, so we’ll skip that here because I am tired. But I will note that at least fivehundredthousand-billion of my problems with this whole project have to do with objectivism as a philosophy and my general sense that the last thing most people need to be told is that it’s okay to be even more self-serving.* That said, I do believe it’s a book people should read. It’s hugely influential, and one of those books where the ideas are so strong that everyone should wrestle with them and draw their own conclusions.

Anyway. The problem that’s worth bringing up here isn’t really Rand’s philosophy or my problems with it, but the fact that this is going to be a movie. Because turning this into a movie means either focusing solely on the murder mystery/plot-heavy part of it – thus MISSING THE ENTIRE FUCKING POINT OF THE BOOK – or trying somehow to get the philosophical stuff onto the screen in some sort of meaningful, intelligible, non-boring way. What I’m saying is that I don’t think it’s going to be possible to film this book without a severe case of Adaptation Decay, because so much of what makes the book worth reading and wrestling with is fundamentally unfilmable.

By which I mean “good luck, people.”

I assume the film will likely dumb everything down and include a few too many explosions. I’ll read the reviews anyway – maybe I’ll be surprised into deciding to go see it and thereby give myself the migraine I know it’ll give me.
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*or hate women, or rape women because they don’t actually matter, or just generally enjoy and be proud of being an egotistical twatwaffle asshole, or…

ETA: this is apparently part one of a flipping trilogy. To quote a friend, “I guess this means part 3 will just be an asshole giving a speech.” 

He’s probably not wrong. Lovely.

Quick brainstorming

I’ve been beer blogging now for almost exactly 6 months. I have 80+ reviews at last count. I’ve also got a wine blog going, but I need to be better about updating at least once a week. 

And I want to review liqueurs and cocktails and whatever else I have when I have them and they’re really good.

And I want the blog to be more professional than it is, because I’d like to make sure it’s a way I can be taken seriously for my writing and for my beer knowledge.

Upshot: I’m thinking that what I need to do is combine the beer and wine blogs into one blog (heavily categorized), register my own domain name (sans wordpress.com in the address), and go from there. Doing this, I’d need to figure out how to move my old content over to the new blog – either via some sort of fun fancypants way to transfer content or just via simple copypasta. (i.e., if anyone knows how to transfer contect in a quick/easy fancypants way, lemme know!)

So I think I have a domain name, and I think I could get a small print of business cards with my name, the domain name, my twitter feed (which needs setting up and which could share the domain name), contact info and that sort of stuff. That way, I could be a bit more “frealz writer/blogger” than I am right now, which would, you know, be nice.

Any thoughts would be welcome.

On Being a Not-Morning Person

I am currently sitting at a Panera, waiting to go to work in another hour (work being further down the strip mall). My coffee has cooled to the point it’s *almost* drinkable, which should do something to indicate how long I’ve been here.

The place is fairly full – there are at least as many occupied tables as there are not, and there’s a steady stream of customers coming in the faraway door (which I am hiding from, because people, it is 4 degrees outside). Everyone here seems happy and genial and like they’re functioning perfectly fine.

I hate all of them.

It’s not anything personal, mind you. It’s merely that it’s 7:55am, I’ve been here for 20 minutes, I’m bleary, and they’re all chipper. Not to be too stereotypical about it, but morning people piss me off.

It’s not their fault. I know this. Given I am doing this bitching at pretty much 8am, I know that most people are functioning perfectly fine by now and the morning-hating issue is on me more than them. I also know that later at night, say 1am, I will be wide awake and perfectly functional, and they will be wasting precious nighttime hours sleeping.

Part of my problem today is sleep-deprivation. It is my choice to have gone to bed at 2am in full knowledge that I would have to be out the door by 7:15. That said, when I did finally go to bed, I wasn’t tired. I had stopped writing for the evening and was reading* in a fruitless attempt to make myself tired. So when I stare groggily at the chipper morning-lovers around me, it is part in frustrated sleepiness, knowing that they don’t share my desire to faceplant into a pillow for another 4 hours.

I’m jealous. I tried for a solid year (2003-4: The Year I Tried To Be An Motherfucking Adult) to turn myself into a morning person, to get up by 7 when I had no reason to and function just as well as my morning person then-partner could. I would have figured that getting up at 7 every day and going to bed by 11 every night with few exceptions would have been enough to shift my circadian rhythms into the sort of cycle that is shared by chipper morning people everywhere.

Every night was the same. We’d go to bed. He’d fall asleep within a few minutes. I would lie there, growing steadily more awake by the moment, brain fizzing and spinning and popping, until I’d finally manage to pass out from sheer frustration around 1:30. Then I’d drag my sorrowful ass out of bed at 7 am, hoping that my lack of restful sleep would be enough to propel me into sleepiness earlier at night.

It never happened.

So here I am, 2 weeks before my 31st birthday, staring sleepily at my laptop screen, waiting to go to an uncharacteristically early shift at work, waiting for my coffee to kick in, wondering if I’ll ever be functional at a time when most normal adults have been at their jobs for 20 minutes, wondering if I’ll ever be a motherfucking adult.

Or maybe I’ll figure out at some point that being a night owl does not necessarily mean I’m somehow an over-old adolescent. If I come to that conclusion, it will probably be because future best-selling novel 😀 will have been written nightly between the hours of 11pm-3am, and my inability to sleep at normal person hours will have been justified.

Until then, I’ll settle for trying to convince myself that everyone else’s generic cheeriness is not meant to be an assault. They’re enjoying their mornings. 16 hours from now, they’ll be enjoying their pillows, and I will be writing.

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*I was reading The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson, which is not at all (as I had initially assumed) about the popular girl at high school whom everyone loves to hate. Unexpected YASciFi FTW, yo.

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