NaNoWriMo Day 6

File under: NaNoWriMo

Thinking and writing about myself is getting a little old. Even I'm sick of myself. I also feel like I'm narrating everything in my head now. I feel like that episode of Family Guy where Peter starts narrating own life. Pretty annoying, eh?
I am 6 days (out of 30) and 11,865 words (out of 50,000) down.
Shortly after that, a hairdresser was ready for me. She had seen me talking to ______ and asked me how I knew her. I said, "Oh, we went to high school together." She asked, "Was she a bitch in high school?" I said, "Ah, she wasn't that bad." The hairdresser pressed me further and said, "I bet she was a bitch, right?" I said, "Well, yeah, actually she and her friends were actually pretty rude to me in school." The hairdresser said, "I knew it!" And then yelled across the salon, "Hey, ______! I knew you were a bitch in high school. This girl says you were mean to her. How could you be mean to this nice girl?" I couldn't believe what was happening to me. On top of everything else, the haircut she gave me was one of the worst I'd ever gotten, and she had put me in a horribly awkward albeit mildly satisfying position. When I was done, I had to face ______ and pay for my lousy haircut. I was prepared for her to chew me out or at least give me attitude for calling her a bitch, even though it was indirectly. As I walked up to her I waved my arms in a mea culpa and I said, "I don't know how that...happened." To my surprise, she said, "I'm sorry I was so mean to you in high school. My friends and I were really narrow-minded back then and we just didn't know how to act around anyone who was different. I'm a much nicer person now." I wasn't at all ready for that. I replied, "Hey, that's cool. It was a long time ago. I appreciate it, though." My response was not exactly as eloquent as I would have hoped, but I've never been known for being quick on the draw. Thankfully, the bullying I experienced was really isolated to those few months by that handful of girls, and I've never had to face any of them again, on a good hair day or a bad hair day.

NaNoWriMo Day 5

File under: NaNoWriMo

Writing actually felt pretty fun today! Here's today's blurb (and don't worry, this will be the last one about porn - I think - even though I could probably fill a book with just stories involving those customers).
I am 5 days (out of 30) and 10,321 words (out of 50,000) down.
My bus driver, who I had never seen in the store before that or ever again after, came in, walked right up to the counter, made some brief small talk, and then asked to see the blue book. I was astonished. I was powerless attempting to stifle a laugh. After searching his face for a moment to see if he was just joking and determining he was not, I handed him the giant binder. He chose a title in record time, he handed me the money, and I handed him the video. I couldn't even muster using my have-a-good-night line on him. I did not want to think about him having a good night in even an abstract, cartoonish way. As he was about to leave, he stopped and asked, "You're not going to tell anyone about this, right?" I winced and said, "No." I seriously contemplated not telling anyone, but this was the greatest golden nugget of kid-against-adult information I had ever had. It seemed preposterous that he could expect me not to tell anyone, but of course I understood why he asked. I finally came to the following conclusion: The man is human, and he drives a bus for a living. If he wants to masturbate to porn, who am I to judge?
And then I told just a few select people.

NaNaWriMo Day 4

File under: NaNoWriMo

When I wrapped up my writing today I turned to Pat and said, "I wrote almost 2,000 words of crap today." The key there is that I wrote almost 2,000 words.
I am 4 days (out of 30) and 8,577 words (out of 50,000) down.
For two days I obsessed about the video and hoped ____ would return it early like he had promised so no one would find out what I had done. But the due date came and went, and he still hadn’t returned the video. Whenever I wanted to try to clear my head there were some woods near my house I would go to. So I took a walk down my street toward the woods. _____ happened to ride his bike down the street and asked me how I was doing. We hadn’t seen each other in a while. I told him what happened and how nervous I was and how stupid I felt, and his approximate response was, “Who cares?” I felt shortchanged that he was the one person I confided in and all he could come up with was, “Who cares?” The next day I went to work the 4 o’clock shift, and the movie still wasn’t there. I knew ___ would be coming in to take over at 7, and I was going over and over in my head how I would respond to whatever questions he was sure to ask. As I was sitting behind the counter, fretting, I heard an unmistakable sound: the thud of a movie being dropped in the drop box. I sat bolt upright, quickly walked over to the drop box, and breathed a huge sigh of relief when I saw it was a video in a brown case—the telltale sign of the store’s X-rated movies—and confirmed the number on the spine of the case. ____ never asked me to do it again, and I promised I would never do anything to put myself in a position like that again.

NaNaWriMo Day 3

File under: NaNoWriMo

I surpassed my word count goal again today, but it wasn't easy. I got up early again and knew exactly what I wanted to write about, but when I sat down to write it was slow going. After about 45 unproductive minutes, Greta woke up (about 45 minutes earlier than usual), so that was a bust. Work was slow today, so I took a long lunch break to write. My writing today focused on my close group of friends, and I was trying to choose my words very carefully. The last two days I was writing about people that a) I had sort of these discrete, notable interactions with and b) I don't really care that much about. Writing about your dear friends is hard.
So writing wasn't the highlight of the day. For the first time I can remember I actually used the birthday money my parents gave me for something other than bills, groceries, etc. I used it to order these really great boots, and I was so excited that they came in the mail today and they fit well and met my expectations in person. But that is still not the highlight of the day! The highlight of the day was when I went to pick Greta up from daycare and when I walked in, she immediately noticed my new boots (even though she had no clue I had bought boots), and she ran over, hugged my legs, and said, "Mommy! I love your boots! I want a pair just like them!!" that girl.
Okay, so today's blurb is dicey, but I am pretty happy with how it came out and I know no one other than the 8 or so people who were in the room at the time will have any clue who I'm talking about in the second paragraph. Plus, I need spice things up so I can scrounge up some comments in ye olde comment section because I'm a comments grubber and I want some comments!
I am 3 days (out of 30) and 6,616 words (out of 50,000) down.
My primary group of friends was all super smart and by most accounts ridiculously wholesome. The peer pressure I felt most was to do really well in school and get good grades. Secondarily, I felt peer pressure to be social and date but to guard my virginity like it was money in a vault. Those are two types of peer pressure I can get behind. The fact that probably a number of us were sexually active, at least on some level, is beside the point. We felt our bodies were sacred, we chose our partners and activities wisely, and we certainly didn't brag about what we did with who we felt at the time were our very serious boyfriends.
Even the summer after freshman year in college, we got together at a friend's summer camp and I remember the girls sitting in a circle, our friend _____ going around and pointing at each girl, looking her straight in the eye, and saying, "Are you still a virgin?" "Are you still a virgin?" "Are you still a virgin?" And each girl dutifully nodded or said, "Yes," except for one girl who actually admitted she not only lost her virginity but that it was a one-night stand. (Gasp!) She bravely relayed the long and sometimes embarrassing saga to a room full of attentive girls, complete with hand gestures, clinical terms, and many breaks for laughter. This was a rare, refreshing event, and I remember one friend seeming upset with her, but I don't know if she was upset her friend lost her virginity (in that way or otherwise) or if she was annoyed with the bravado with which the story was being told, but I remember thinking, "Thank God," and feeling glad that there was the potential to be able to think about and talk about sex without feeling like a miscreant.

NaNaWriMo Day 2

File under: NaNoWriMo

Writing today felt a little better and less “painful” than yesterday. Before I started this, I sort of envisioned me doing nothing more than doing work-work, spending time with the family, writing, and sleeping. I’m pleasantly surprised to find out that I’ve been able to fit more in than just those four things.
I am most clear headed in the morning, so this morning I got up early, showered (I do all my best thinking in the shower), and did most of today’s writing before Greta woke up. The bad news is I went to bed late last night, had insomnia from 2–3 AM, and then woke up an hour and a half earlier than I usually do, so I’m tired. The good news is I had a great sense of accomplishment early on today, and since I was tired I was a little punchy, which I think actually helped my writing. Today I also managed to work almost 8 hours, have lunch with Greta at school, run a couple errands, make a nice dinner, VOTE, do the dishes, do a load of laundry, email my dad some photos, drink a glass of wine, and update this here site.
I am 2 days (out of 30) and 4,477 words (out of 50,000) down.

___ always looked bedraggled. His comb-over was often askew; sometimes the long part of it would be completely flopped over on the wrong side. He would walk up to the counter, sort of squint at me, and either bark hello or make a mildly rude or inappropriate remark. One day he came in, grunted at me, and tossed a small paper bag up on the counter in front of me. The bag was unmistakable. It contained a prescription from the pharmacy three doors down from the video store. ___ said, “Would you ever make your father pick up this kind of prescription for you?” I looked closer and saw it was birth control pills, and the label had his daughter’s name on it. After some uncomfortable silence, I blushed and sputtered, “No.” In retrospect, I realize the appropriate response would have been to laugh.

NaNoWriMo Day 1

File under: NaNoWriMo

After a lot of anticipation, I finally started actually writing the book today. So far it feels sort of painful. I don't really like anything I've written so far, but it's the first day and the focus of this exercise is quantity, not necessary quality.
I am 1 day (out of 30) and 2,660 words (out of 50,000) down.
I hope to post a little blurb from each day's writing to keep me honest and motivated. Names will be omitted from the blog (thus the blanks below).
Here goes nothin':
On October 27, 1991, I turned 15—the legal working age for most jobs in New York State. Less than a month later, my dad's best friend, ___, who owned a little mom-and-pop-shop video store less than two miles from my parents' house, saw me and said, "You just turned 15, right?" I think I just nodded; I probably didn't even speak, but if I did, I'm sure it was no more than a softly spoken one-word confirmation. "Come to the video store at 4 on Thursday. _______ will train you." And with that, I started my first job—the job I would have from the fall of my freshman year in high school until a few days before I left for college in 1995.

Sing a Song for Old Marcellus

This weekend I went home to do some "research" on my wee little book project known as NaNoWriMo, which starts a week from today. Gah! (Deep breaths.)

I can't remember the last time I was so excited for something or so nervous. The book is going to be an autobiographical novel my high school years, and I'm realizing my memory of those four years in Marcellus is a little rusty. I was hoping the trip to my hometown would help dislodge some memories and also help me collect my thoughts. When I get all jazzed up about writing something, I tend to narrate in my head a lot, but that wasn't really happening with the book. I have been taking lots of little notes and *thinking* about it a lot, but I haven't been able to figure out how I actually want to write this stuff. So I figured I needed a little immersion therapy time in Marcellus. I made plans to get together with Taryn, who has been living back in the area for the last few years and who always had a better memory and attention to detail than I do.

So Saturday, we went to the Marcellus senior class spaghetti dinner so I could actually get in the school. There were two main highlights and two main lowlights:

  • Highlight #1 was seeing one of my favorite high school teachers. (Ms. Nic!)
  • Lowlight #1 was when one of the nice senior girls gave Greta a 12 oz cup of apple cider that was filled the brim and Greta took two sips and then promptly dumped the rest on the floor and then I had to sit there nervously while said favorite former teacher mopped it up. Ah well.
  • Highlight #2 was when we took a little uninvited tour around part of the building, and it was really fun to see what had changed (almost nothing), what had stayed the same (just about everything), and watch Greta and Oliver running through the halls like they were in a John Mayer song.

Greta and Oliver in Marcellus

  • Lowlight #2 was partway through dinner I got a bright red, itchy rash over a good portion of my face due what I'm guessing was either allergies or nerves or a combination of the two. I think the key takeaway is that Marcellus gives me a rash.

Sunday, we hung out at my parents' house for a bit. My mom pulled my old dance costumes and Halloween costumes out of the attic, so Greta got to dress up like the devil (or what we were calling "a red kitty" because I didn't have the wherewithal to explain to a four year old who the devil is at the time), a cheerleader, a jailbird, and, um, I guess a Yankee Doodle Sweetheart?

Red, White, and Blue Greta

In the afternoon I ditched my family and spent a few uninterrupted hours with Taryn so I could "interview" her and drive around Marcellus a bit and take pictures.

Talking to Taryn was great. It was not only informative, it was also really fun to spend time with Taryn, reminiscing and rediscovering our old stomping grounds.

Taryn took a picture of me where the building once was in which I worked from November of 1991 until a few days before I left for college in 1995. It has since been replaced by, um, really tall ornamental grasses (I'm not a little person - not that there's anything wrong with that). This picture could be titled "NERVOUS." That's me.

I was still feeling pretty scattered about the book yesterday during the drive home and in the evening, and then when I went to bed my brain wouldn't turn off and I was narrating the book in my head! Hallelujah!  I kept using my phone to draft notes. (Note to self: get a pen and notebook on the night stand.) That was sort of a breakthrough for me, and now I really, really can't wait for November 1st!

The other purpose of going home this weekend was that Greta has been asking for weeks if we could go to Grandma Norma and Hoppa's to jump in their leaves. Yes, we have leaves in Rochester, but apparently they're not as good as theirs.

Missions accomplished.


Good times, bad times (and lots o' pictures)

This week was full of highs and lows. Lists and lots of pictures seem in order. Still, this is a long one. You might want to grab a snack.

- The father of one of my best friends passed away. Knowing one of your best friends is in pain and knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do about it is a horrible feeling, to put it mildly.

+ We went with friends Michael, Christy, Colin, and Miles to the George Eastman House, making it Greta's first visit (I'm guessing of many). Michael took some wonderful pictures of Colin and Greta playing in the gardens, and he will hopefully not mind me reposting some here.

This one I took with my phone during a moment of quiet. She looked like I felt (see minus above), which is why I let her get comfortable on a big bench in a room that was occupied but just us while we watched an old black and white movie for a bit.

+ My brother wears a suit all week long and then transforms into "Weekend Phil." Here is a great article featuring my brother and his latest obsession, cyclocross.

- I was in such a fog this week I completely forgot to go to my book club meeting. This is very unlike me. It's the thing I look forward to most each month, and I'm sad I missed it.

+ We have a new tradition. Pat has been staying late at work on Wednesdays as a focused effort to catch up on school work, and Greta and I have declared Wednesday night "Funsday Night." We have done something fun each week to really appreciate our one-on-one time together. It usually invoves some type of tasty dinner and some other fun activity, like going for a hike, browsing books at Barnes & Noble, a manicure, listening to live music, baking, etc. It's something I look forward to each week (even though we miss PattyCakes, of course).

-/+ We wrapped up what has been a process of more than three months worth of dental work for Greta. I lead a pretty damned charmed life, I gladly admit, so I will say that at the outset of this process, this felt like the hardest thing I've ever dealt with. We have a great pediatric dentist, though, and Greta was such a huge trooper that, all in all, it was actually fairly painless (in a this is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you kind of way, of course). And now I'm glad we're done - for now at least, and in the grand scheme of things, I feel lucky that everything was fixable and that Greta probably won't require therapy later in life (due to this experience, at least).

-/+ After a bit of a scary night Thursday night and an appointment first thing Friday AM, Greta was (finally) diagnosed with asthma and we (finally) got her some therapy/medication that is helping her. She's on three meds right now and we are the proud renters of a nebulizer/compressor, but my baby can almost breathe like a normal person now, thankfully.

+ We went to an awesome squash dinner. Our friend Ian has had an annual squash dinner for 10 years, and we were excited to invited to the 10th anniversary event. I've always been sort of "meh" about squash, but all of the food was so great that this week I have been having a love affair with squash. I can't stop preparing and eating squashy foods. Yum. Speaking of squash, if you don't mind some naughty lauguage and like to laugh a lot, you should check out this genius piece of writing.

+ We had a great day today. The highlights include walking around at RIT's Brick City festival and just having a nice low-key day. Pat and Greta carved a pumpkin while I cooked dinner (a pasta dish with two types of squash, if you must know).

Here are some pictures of Greta at Global Village (a new area in RIT that when I heard about it I thought sounded hokey as hell but which is actually a really cool place).

And here's the aforementioned jack-o'-lantern. Look how cute!


It's All Right

File under: greta

Greta's finally going to start pulling her own weight around here because we made her get an after-school job.



You again??

File under: weekend update

Hey dudes,

We had a very full weekend and I feel like I can barely put a sentence together, but I'm practically on a blog-writing bender here, so here you go.

Friday morning we headed out to Ithaca to meet up with some friends to go to a Dan Zanes show and get a great meal at Moosewood. The show was ball of chaotic fun. Pat "Fast Fingers" Reed scored us third-row tickets, but it really didn't even matter because I think almost everyone in the theater squeeze in front of the first row. Toward the end a bunch of parents sort of tossed their kids up on stage. I thought DZ or someone else would put the kibosh on that, but he and the band were unfazed. Eventually I let Greta go up there too, and I think it's pretty awesome that she got to do that. I have been to many shows, but I've never been up on stage. How cool is that? Here's how DZ does the smooth exit. You can see Greta on stage and you can almost see the thought bubble over her head, wondering where he's going.

Greta at the Dan Zanes show from Fran Reed on Vimeo.

Greta was like a young Courtney Cox in that Bruce Springsteen video, but with 50 of her closest friends.

After a fantastic meal at Moosewood, we went to the Children's Garden to play for a bit and then headed home.

Today, we headed to Brown's Berry Patch for a very chilly birthday party. I think I am still thawing out from that, but we had a blast.

Getting ready for boot camp.

Greta: I'm on a Boat.

On the hayride.

I am incapable of making a nice face around this creepy Pooh.

I am better now that I'm not near Pooh.


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