Little Women

As I said yesterday, I’m going to try for writing about books in the order they were written. Let’s see how how this works out. I’m reading one of Victoria Holt’s old novels (from 1968) and a book from 2015 and it’s been a long time since I’ve read any of the older novels from my younger days . No Hawthorne or Dickens or Twain or anything like that. So I’m going to do Little Women today and then, you know, in a couple of months or years or whenever, I’ll reread a 19th century novel and I’ll have to go backwards to catch that one.

This may take more editing than usual. I’m dictating this while I’m on the Riverwalk, so this is kind of fun. When I dictate a post at home, I’m walking around my neighborhood at night and there’s usually no one around, so I’m more comfortable speaking out loud. I’ve already passed two groups of people now and as a result, I’m speaking really quietly. I’m talking into my phone, so I’m pretty sure they won’t think I’m carrying on a monologue like the street preacher I passed about 15 minutes ago, but still.

Okay now if you live in United States you probably have some familiarity with Little Women. I mean, you might as well if you’re in a different country, but I have to admit that when I was in Italy, I never asked anyone “Hai mai letto Picolle Donne?”

So a little overview of the book may well be in order here. Little Women is the semi-fictionalized autobiographical story of Louisa May Alcott’s family. Alcott had three sisters, Anna Bronson Alcott Pratt (Meg), Elizabeth Sewall Alcott (Beth), and Abigail May Alcott Neiriker (Amy). The girls of the book have similarities with the sisters in real life such as the second sister (Jo/Louisa) being a writer and the youngest (May/Amy) being an artiest.

In Little Women, we start out Christmas of 1863, which is during the United States’s Civil War. The Marches live in Connecticut so they’re on the side of the North, the Union, the Yankees, whichever you prefer. And their father was off being a chaplain during the war. The family had had money at one point but Mr. March had lost their money in a bad business deal and so now they’re living in genteel poverty. They only have one servant left! The horror!

Anyway, the girls have no fashionable clothing and they have to make repairs on the clothing they do have. This doesn’t set well with Meg, who is very envious of the members of her peer group who can buy nice things. The girls become friends with Theodore Laurence, the grandson of the older man next door and we watch their families, one with love but no money, and one with money but no knowledge of how to express their love for one another, interact. We watch Jo attempting to make money from writing, and Amy become the favorite of their rich Aunt March, who helps her get training in her art. Meanwhile, Beth becomes friends with Mr. Laurence, and Mr. Laurence supports her love of music.

The book that we know of as Little Women is actually two books – Little Women and its sequel Good Wives. Little Women ends with the wedding of Meg and John Brook. Good Wives follows the young Brook couple and we also watch Jo and Amy find love. As for Beth? I don’t know if I need a spoiler alert for a book 150 years old, but Beth is too good for this world and dies young.

My mom was in English education major and she had Opinions about this book.

She hated the pairing of Jo and Friedrich Bhaer. She was totally a Jo/Laurie shipper. I can see that, but I can also see the Jo/Friedrich pairing. I ended up buying Jo & Laurie in part of the Germane Amazon Link and also so that I can see the ending my mom wanted.

On the downside, as much as I love my mother, I’m not blind to her misandry. Men scared her and confused her. So anytime something went bad in the life of one of the wives of a writer or a female writer or whatever, it was always a man’s fault. Like with Zelda Fitzgerald. My mom always said that F. Scott Fitzgerald drove her crazy.

She was very angry with Bronson Alcott for failing to support his family and leaving it to one of his children. She may have been onto something.

Bronson Alcott was a dreamer. He wanted abolition and to reform American education and convert people to vegetarianism and a pure way of living in harmony with the land. I mean, these were all good things, but the way he went about them was. . . suboptimal. For example, he tried to found a school without corporal punishment (hitting the students), which is a good thing. However, current sentiment hadn’t yet turned against corporal punishment, and that, combined with an unorthodox teaching style, based more on the Socratic method, where students and teacher converse in hopes of finding truth, which was also not the preferred method. Oh, and before I forget, he didn’t hit his students, but he encouraged his students to hit him, telling them that their failure was because he had failed them. He openly admitted that he was playing on their guilt and shame in doing this. Wow. I’m 110% against corporal punishment, but at least corporal punishment is honest.

Well, Bronson attempted to keep this school going for 10 years and ended up penniless. Then a friend gave Bronson the money to start Fruitlands, a farm dedicated to clean living and rejecting the use of farm animals. You know, like to run plows and things. So the people living there had to push the plow themselves,which is hard work. They also started this farm too late in the year to get a full harvest in by winter, so they almost starved. Fruitlands lasted seven months.

As a result of this lack of practicality on the part of her father, Alcott ended up writing children’s books for the rest of her life because they sold well and she could use the money to support her entire family.

Things I’ve been reading since I started my reread of Little Women indicate that Alcott may have been a transman. Now, I’m reluctant to decorate this post with pink-white-and-blue flags because, well, there was no real term such as transgender back during her lifetime and I really hesitate to sit here in the 21st century and label people based on what they might have defined themselves as today. One of the quotes that supposedly prove their status as a transman was one where they say “I am more than half-persuaded, that I am, by some freak of nature, a man’s soul put into a woman’s body. . . . because I have been in love in my life with ever so many pretty girls, and never once the least little bit with any man.”

Generations of lesbians have seen themselves in this quotation. So was Alcott a straight transman? Were they a lesbian? Were they nonbinary?

I can hear some of you now, ‘does it matter’? And as a straight-passing ciswoman, I say it does. Representation matters. Being able to see yourself in fictional characters and historical figures matters. And seeing yourself in somebody who may very well have been one of the heroes of your childhood really matters.

Book Blogging

I am starting a second blog post for today. It’s July 1 and if I finish this today this should post on July 3, 2022 at 12:30 AM.

I know I go back and forth on whether to make this a book blog. Right now, I’m forth, I think. Like, I’m planning to do some book blogging. I mean I do still want to travel blog here but my hopes to make money from this to pay for travel haven’t materialized and I need topics, so . . .

Now, since I’m going through my Goodreads account, listing books in the order that I’ve read them for my Gratuitous Amazon Links. Maybe if I’m going to book blog I should talk about the books in the order they were written which will be a completely different order from the one were major where my gratuitous Amazon links work. Now at some point I may well end up blogging about the book which would have been my Gratuitous Amazon Link.

Here I took a brief break to go play Pokemon Go. The gym in my neighborhood was empty and I had a chance to leave a Pokemon there.

Anyway I think the oldest books I’ve read at this point are my Nancy Drew books. Sort of. The Nancy Drew series was written in the 1930s and then in the 1950s, they were edited/rewritten. I’ve been reading the 1950s version, but Goodreads has them listed as the books from the 1930s. So maybe I’ll blog about the Nancy Drew series. Or have I already done that? I think I’ve already done that.

I’ll have to go looking for that post and maybe update it with a picture of Riverside, Illinois, the town I picture as River Heights or something. I don’t have any pictures of downtown Riverside that I took myself, because when I went there I was too young to have a camera, but still, I probably have I maybe will find one Wikimedia Commons or a government site the would have it. Something where I wouldn’t have to pay to post it.

As for the next oldest, I don’t know. I’m working on some old Victoria Holt books so maybe those? When was the first Discworld book written? (N.B. 1983, so not even close) I went through a Discworld book reading phase for a while, until I started to burn out and stopped.

I know I’ve read a lot of older books, but I don’t think any of those are listed in my Goodreads account yet. Like, I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and The Three Musketeers, among other old books, for fun, and I’ve read a bunch of, like, Hawthorne and things for school and I think I’ve lost my mind. The oldest book I’ve read since I started keeping track in my Goodreads account was Little Women, which I just finished recently. It’s been a long week.

So I guess my first chronological-order book post will be Little Women and I can even fold in some travel, since we went to Orchard House in Concord, which is where the Alcotts lived when Louisa May was writing Little Women. W00t!

I hesitate to try to sell y’all a copy of something you can download from Project Gutenberg, so I may need a Gratuitous Amazon Link. I just bought the Kindle book of Jo and Laurie, the fanfiction which ends with Jo and Laurie ending up together. I haven’t read it yet, but the reviews are pretty good. Also that’ll make a good Germane Amazon Link for my Little Women post.

So back to Percy Jackson for a Gratuitous Amazon Link, I guess. The Titan’s Curse, by Rick Riordan, the third book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. We go to the Smithsonian Institution, and to Hoover Dam (the exhaustion-fueled dam pun scene is one of my favorites!) , and to San Francisco. I’ve been to one of those!

July Goals

So today is July 1. This will post on July 2, of course, because I’m posting stuff at 12:30. I don’t actually know why I decided on 12:30. It might be because I didn’t want to take the risk of accidentally launching at noon. I wanted to post overnight in my time zone, so I guess I decided, “okay let’s make it half past midnight.” But that was you know six years ago? Seven years ago? Dear God, have I been working on this blog that long?

Sigh so it’s July 1 and I decided what kind of figure out a way to get all of my goals in during this month. My goals, such as they are, are let’s see: writing, reading, exercise, learning, and savings I think. I think that’s it the maybe more. But I’m going to just… Chug forward on those five.

My reading goals are easy. I read before bed every night, if not more often. I have a t-shirt that has Belle on it saying, “My Weekend is All Booked” and yes, yes it is.

My writing goals kind, kind of obvious, I’m going to write. I have, of course, this blog, and I have a couple of novels in mind. I also need to get back to Pep Talks for Writers (Germane Amazon Link!). (A) They’re pep talks. For writers. and (B) my reactions and things about them gives me something to write about.

My first novel is my flipped Beauty and the Beast. Beauty goes looking for the Beast, rather than being kidnapped by him. I’m afraid it’ll read like a teen romance, and I don’t know if I want them to end up together.

I also have another couple novels that I’ve been kind of toying with. One actually started as an alternate history version of what might’ve happened if Zheng He had, actually, traversed the Pacific Ocean and landed in North America and set up a colony. This was my female dominated culture story, because in this version, the European colonists just don’t know that they’re outclassed by the Chinese people who were already here and they end up in a multigenerational war. Eventually, the girls have to be raised to have careers and the boys are trained for the army. However, this would end up working so that I, a white girl so pale I disappear when I stand against a blank wall, would be telling brown people’s stories.

I think I’m going to maybe make it a fantasy novel, but I don’t really have room for magic in it. I may have to put some kind of subconscious magic thing in there to make it fantasy. I may be onto something here. I wonder if healing magic would work. The boys coming home from the war will definitely have different levels of PTSD and I could invent psychotherapy using magic. Not “and your PTSD is gone. Poof!” But more “next week we’ll work on healing the trauma of killing a person for the first time.” I don’t think that’d interfere with the plot I have in mind.

Let’s see, next is learning goals. This is mostly foreign language learning, I need to work on my Spanish this month because June and July were Spanish, my Italian for my book, and my Chinese because I’m getting somewhere with it, actually. I spoke Chinese to one of my patients. She was having trouble understanding the problems she was having with her bank card and so I ended up telling her to call her bank. I don’t know if I was perfect, but she understood. And now when she comes in, I say hello to her in Chinese. I also have The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan in in Spanish both as an audiobook and a hard copy book, so I may do something with that during the course of July.

Exercise goals. I play Pikmin Bloom and the game has a weekly challenge. I go back and forth between the too-easy goal of 20,000 steps in a week, and the too-hard goal of 100,000 steps in a week. I’m also doing the Samsung Health Global Challenge which is 200,000 steps in a month. My record for finishing early is on the 14th of the month, which is around 14,000 steps per day (brief interlude where I count up by basically counting to 200 by 14s using birth control pill packs to double-check my math (most packs are 28 pills, so two is 56, 3 is 84, etc.)). I also would like to go start going back to the gym. I hesitate to go back there when the manager’s there because I don’t want to attract any attention by coming back. So I guess I’ll time it to be there when he isn’t for awhile.

Savings goals. I’ve lost a bit of money in the last year. My house had a major repair, and I chipped in half of it plus I had to take the whole mortgage onto myself for the rest of 2022 to pay my dad back for his half which of course means that I should’ve just cashed out and paid the whole repair off and we should just kept going with the mortgage payments. We were both stressed out and not thinking clearly. So now I need to recover from this. I have an account with Acorns, which I’m saving up around $100 per month by rounding up my purchases. I’m also putting aside $10 per week, so once I can buy a share of stock with that, I will do so. I’m going to get a bit of a raise soon. According to my boss’s boss, the raises will be every six months “until a certain point,” and then every year “until a certain point,” but what that raise will be or what that point is? Who knows. I think that maybe I’ll bump up my stock purchase plan a bit and increase my savings that way. Depending on what the raise is, I maybe will increase it by a couple of hours per week (so if it’s $0.50, I’ll increase it by a dollar or two) and I won’t even notice the change. Also, I’m still paying myself to study my foreign languages, so that works out to a couple of bucks a day. Unfortunately that’s not going into the deficit from the house repair, that’s just the tuition and stuff for getting the modern languages degree I should’ve gotten in the first place. But at least as long as I have those, I’ll never run completely out of money.

In future months, I might add cleaning goals, photography goals, or music goals, or other goals. I need to get back to practicing the piano. For July, though, I’m just going to hope that doing a bit a day will chip away at these four. And once I do a bit, it’ll follow to do a bit more. One blog post will lead to two. One page in a book will lead to another. One Duolingo lesson will lead to more. And so on.

Missing Pictures

You know, I really wish Thomas had given me more warning that we were going to split up. I mean, I know I this is the stupidest reason in the world for something like this, but I’m very disappointed that so many of my photographic memories and things are gone.

Ages ago when digital cameras first became a thing, Thomas bought a digital camera that used floppy disks and he filed floppy disk after floppy disk when we traveled and then he copied them onto his computer and I figured we were going to be together forever and that they were safe on his computer. I figured I’d be able to access them whenever I needed to. In fact, getting my own computer was something of a bone of contention. He figured that I could do my writing and things on his computer when he wasn’t using it. Finally he gave in.

Part of me wants to go back to all the places we went during that era, but now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure where we all went. I mean we have pictures from when we first moved to San Antonio. We took trips to Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. We went to Austin and to wherever-we-were in Louisiana. But I think those were all before the digital camera. We may have been using one of those el cheapo cameras. Not the disposable kind, but one of those little plastic point-and-shoot cameras. Did we have a Kodak disk camera at some point? We may have.

I have some old undeveloped rolls of film. I wonder what’s on them. I should take those and get those developed. I also should put on a pair of gloves and a mask and go into the dusty garage and see if there’s pictures in there.*

During our marriage, we took, let’s see, the trip our first honeymoon which was right after our wedding was Indianapolis. We went to Union Station and there’s, like, a Civil War monument there, and we went to Eagle Creek Park, and we discovered that the art museum is closed on Mondays. I think I may have gotten a picture of Love, by Robert Indiana, though I don’t know. God. Our second honeymoon I know there’s a bunch of pictures from that. We left Chicago and went down through Indiana and Kentucky and Tennessee we stopped at Rock City on the border between Tennessee and Georgia and then we drove to Florida we stayed at my mom’s best friend’s house. We went to Corkscrew Swamp and Disney World and did Epcot and some of the Magic Kingdom. On our way out of Corkscrew Swamp, we decided to take Alligator Alley to the end, so we ended up in Naples at the beach. We dabbled in the Gulf for a bit and headed back to the East Coast. We met my cousins who were living in Florida at the time. We got there really late because I couldn’t find the turn and this was in the days before Google Maps. We finally had to stop at the Circle K which is literally around the corner from the house for a map.

On the way home, we went to Stone Mountain Park has a very problematic history but it’s beautiful. We went to Shakertown in Kentucky and should have pictures from both of those. We also stopped at Berea College because I was very interested in a college without tuition (students work to earn their education). I don’t know if I have pictures from there, though. Then we went to Wyandotte Caves in Indiana and I should have pictures of that. These were all before the first digital camera. Oh! We stopped at St. Augustine on our way down, too. There was a pigeon bothering the employees of a bakery that we went into. I think we took a picture of the pigeon.

That’s 1991 and 1992. In 1993 we moved down here and went to Chicago for the Visions science fiction convention. I think we went every year until they stopped. We probably have pictures of a bunch of Doctor Who actors somewhere, but not much in the way of sightseeing pictures. Oh! One year we hung out with my parents and cousins (different cousins from the Florida ones) and went lighthouse spotting. That might’ve been after Alex was born, now that I think of it, so it probably was during the reign of the second digital camera.

I know that in 2006 we went to Fort Lauderdale and saw the smaller King Tut exhibit at the art museum. This one had a Akhenaten, speaking of problematic, but the statue was amazing. One of of my trips, we went to Miami but the friend are going to meet got sick and didn’t make it.

I’m very fortunate that I grabbed all of the pictures of Alex and all of the pictures that Alex took that I could find. In fact, that covers a lot of territory. Alex got his first camera in 2003, so it covers the 2003 trips to Disney and Key West. I also copied all of the pictures from our UK trip that I could find to my computer.

Now there was a long pause while I tried to remember if Thomas and I really went anywhere else. Mentally, I was going over a map of the US.

We went to Toronto, but I have a lot of those pictures. We went to a wedding in Eau Claire Wisconsin and decided to go to the Minnesota State Fair and then stopped off in Madison on the way home. That was just before our wedding, so no digital pictures there.

I always thought that Thomas and I did a lot of traveling, but I don’t think we did. We basically just traveled around Texas and went back and forth between San Antonio and Chicago, and San Antonio and Florida. We did go to California several times and I retook a lot of those pictures in 2017.

We took a weekend trip to Seattle once. I’ll have to go back there and take pictures.

I’ll also have to try to remember where all in Texas we went. We went to the Dallas Museum of Art and to the Galleria in Houston. The Texas State Aquarium. Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, but Alex and I were back there just . . . 2018?

I’ve been thinking that I missing a lot of memories and I don’t think I am I think most of what he have is in the garage covered in dust. That’ll be fun.

Speaking of travel, our Gratuitous Amazon Link for today is a Percy Jackson and the Olympians book, The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan. And the Percyverse books are all about the travel, even when the travel is just among the realms of Norse mythology. Which isn’t the case here. That’d be odd. In The Sea of Monsters, they spend a lot of time at sea and also visit Chesapeake Bay.

Long Day June 29, 2022

So today’s been kind of adventure from a phone perspective. Well, in general, really. 

First, I had a nightmare about Thomas and the end of our marriage and that was distressing. I mean come on now my 17 year marriage ended. That was by definition pretty stressful. And it has been on my mind a bit lately. That woke me up at 5:30 this morning, and I had trouble getting back to sleep. Mind you, I had to be up at seven to go to work. It took me a while to get back to sleep. I ended up getting up at 7:10, got myself together as fast as I safely could, and got to work 10 minutes early. Additionally, thanks to a clerical error that I didn’t catch until too late, I was actually scheduled for half an hour before the pharmacy opened. So I was there 40 minutes before the pharmacy opened. I got some steps in, so that was nice.

The day went okay, mostly, and, well, I have a Pokémon Go friend in Houston who always sends me raid invites during Raid Hour on Wednesday (from 6 PM till 7 PM in your local time). I always feel bad, because I’m in the suburbs and there’s not really anybody playing at that time. I mean, Walker Ranch Park usually has someone, but the parking lot is small and the overflow parking areas are now taken up by construction. So I almost never can send invites back.

So, after doing some research, I realized that I could be at the Pearl by 6:00 pretty handily, and there’s lots of parking there. So today I decided to go down to the Pearl after work. I could get some more steps in and hopefully get some Pikmin Bloom . . . I’m not sure what to call it. It seems that the game has new Pikmin spawn in places where you spend a lot of time. Like, there are always a bunch up by my work and a whole lot by my house. Since, as I said before, I live in a suburban area, that means I have a lot of Pikmin with stickers that say “S” for, near as I can figure, “Street.” So I’m always on the lookout for new locations. I figured that after I did my raid or raids, I could do some expeditions around the Pearl and maybe get some more expeditions out there in the future.

So after work, I headed off. I don’t like the Google maps navigation thing. The last time I used it, for example, it literally told me three times what street I should be on, then said, “turn right here” with no warning, so I ended up having to go around again, which was a waste of time and gas. So I just memorized the street names and the direction I needed to turn and headed out.

Okay, time for an interlude. When Thomas got his first cell phone it was on his work plan with Sprint. Once he left that job, they let him take the phone and number with him. His new job also gave him a phone, so I took over that original phone account. Basically, someone in Alex’s family has had this phone number for 25 years. Then after the divorce, I took over the account. Well, once T-Mobile bought Sprint, they said they’d shut down Sprint’s network and they sent out Sim cards. The deadline for the shutdown of the network was June 30, 2022. Which is tomorrow. Turns out, they shut it down right at midnight Greenwich time. I intentionally sat on the chip until the network went down because as fond as I am of my current phone, it’s starting to show its age (locking up, overheating, etc.). And in order to get a new Samsung phone at my store, I need to be fully on T-Mobile’s network. So I figured that once Sprint’s network shuts down, I should be fully on T-Mobile’s network and can get the Samsung phone I want.

I was not expecting it to go down just before I arrived at the Pearl. I was approaching McCullough, preparing to turn right, when my phone beeped. It was the notification that I no longer had service. So, rather than turning right and going to the Pearl, I had to make a left and head home. OMG.

So I headed home. Once I got connected to my Wifi, I discovered that I’d missed a raid invite. After doing another raid, courtesy of my friend, I installed the SIM card. I restarted the phone, which was apparently not restarty enough, so the phone restarted again and then it started to overheat. Eventually it settled down, and now when I boot the phone up, it has that nice violent pink color of T-Mobile instead of Sprint’s yellow. I am giving the thumbs up now, but you can’t see it.

I ate a little dinner and then decided that I wanted to do some more walking, partially for my health, partially for my Pikmin Bloom weekly event, and partially because it’s something I enjoy doing. Unfortunately, it was still way hot outside. So I went to take a one-hour nap, which ended up being a one-and-a-half-hour nap. Now I have to give my dad his eyedrop, eat a little something else, get rid of some more Easter candy (I still have a little more than one bag of jelly beans), maybe take a brief shower, since it’s really humid and I’m sweating like whoa, take my medicine (including my tretinoin for my acne scars), brush my teeth, and head to bed.

Now for a Gratuitous Amazon Link. Hm. Where was I? I think that The Witch’s Heart, by Genevieve Gornichec, is up next. The Witch’s Heart is the tale of Angrboða, Loki, and their three children, Hel, Fenrir*, and Jörmungandr.

*I have the worst time trying to remember Fenrir’s name. I keep wanting to call him “Fenris,” as in Fenris Ulf, from the Chronicles of Narnia, and Fenric, from the Sylvester McCoy Doctor Who episode The Curse of Fenric. I’ll figure it out someday. I hope.

A Short Note About My Book

I really need a title, even a temporary one, for this book project.

Anyway, I’ve decided to have the characters speaking Italian most of the time. Our Heroine spent most of her prep time focusing on things that interested her, and since she’s a budding geologist, she knows the very, very basics, like “What time is it?” “What is this?” “How much does this cost?” and “Where is the bathroom?” and a bunch of geology terms. She can talk about fumeroles and calderas, and name an assortment if igneous rocks, but not much more than that.

So when her first friend tries to make friends with her, she is friendly, but has to go around the long way to describe concepts she doesn’t know the vocabulary for for a while. This will pass after some practice.

This is also why she starts to look for the prince at first. She overhears a conversation and cannot understand what they’re saying, but since the participants in the conversation are acting sneaky, she figures that they might be up to no good.

The only thing is that I need to find a way to differentiate between conversations in English and conversations in Italian. I’m thinking that I will use a serif font for one and a sans-serif font for the other. If this story were set in Switzerland, I’d use Helvetica, because I think I’m funny.

I know that I don’t need to brush up my Italian for this, but I guess if I refresh my memory about the basics, I’ll have an easier time building realistic beginner Italian sentences? Maybe?

Scheduling Writing, Part 2

Wow. I started trying to schedule my writing and immediately blew it.

Let’s see. I worked on my novel on my lunch hour for one and a half days. I actually wrote the first day. On the second I was about to write and suddenly it hit me that if the people of the island that may well end up with the name Santa Chiara are so eco-conscious, then they’d probably want to be served by electric, rather than gas-powered passenger boats. So I stopped writing to see if that’s possible. And I found a few concept vehicles like that, but nothing in production. I’ve decided that that’s close enough.

Then, on Friday, I used my writing time to figure out what to do about my phone. My phone locks up and reboots for no apparent reason, and since I am one of those unlucky people who had Sprint and are being migrated over to T-Mobile, I’ll need to put a new SIM card in to make it work anyhow, I’ve figured that maybe I should just get a new phone. I asked the phone guy at my store about getting a Galaxy S22 or whatever the newest phone is and found that T-Mobile will need to migrate my plan over by hand so that I can use the T-Mobile version of the phone.

I worked Sunday, but on Sunday, I only get half an hour lunch, so I didn’t have any noveling time then.

So, tonight, I couldn’t sleep because details are backing up in my brain since I haven’t been able to put them into actual writing since Wednesday. I’m not even supposed to be up now (it’s 1 am on Monday, June 6* as I write this). I was going to go to bed early so that I can get up early and get my walking in before the heat hits. Then I lay awake trying to sleep instead of, what’s the meme? About some people being able to sleep instead of plotting seven-book epic fantasy series or broiling in existential dread? I can’t figure out how to post it here, but the author is C.G. Drews, who posts on Instagram under @paperfury.

Yeah. That’s the kind of night I’m having.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! I know I’ve done this one before, but it’s a goody, so I’m posting it again. Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh. So funny and relatable and just amazing. If I didn’t have 400 books in my to-read, I’d probably go back and reread this again.

*I remembered that today is the birthday of one of my childhood friends and then I spent half an hour trying to figure out what he’s up to these days.

Scheduling Writing, Day 1

I took a stab at doing some fiction writing on my lunch hour.

My protagonist (I’ve named her Abby temporarily, after the mom of my cat Velcro) and her dad are still on the hydrofoil out of Naples, and I’m using this time to start to establish the family and the relationships.

Much like me, my protagonist has motion sickness in boats, so she’s bored. She can’t read because she . . . . Actually, her motion sickness is more like Alex’s and Thomas’s. Abby cannot read in a moving vehicle. I can, so long as I’m completely wrapped up in what I’m reading. Neither Alex nor Thomas can do this in most situations.

My motion sickness comes from a mismatch between what I’m seeing and what my inner ear is feeling. I do pretty well with open windows or in the front seat or, again, if I’m distracted.

Anyway she’s bored and her dad’s keeping up a conversation with her, telling her what they’ll experience there and things. Abby wants to be back home helping her mom, who is a jewelry designer, open her first showroom.

I really only know two cities well — Chicago and San Antonio, so I’m setting Abby’s home in Chicago. I figure that it’d be more likely that a diplomat of some sort would have a home base in Chicago than in San Antonio.

Even though it’d be nice to put them in San Antonio. I remember a couple of years ago reading an article about how the city has been trying to encourage “creative class” jobs in San Antonio and how it’s just not working.

Heck, they can’t even keep corporate headquarters here. In the last few years, we’ve lost the headquarters of both the La Quinta hotel chain and AT&T. Both left here for Dallas, because Dallas has better infrastructure for large corporations and also is better connected to the rest of the world.

San Antonio’s airport is better than it was, but it’s no DFW. Additionally, if you look at a map of San Antonio, the perimeter of the city is 330 degrees of not much, and 30 degrees of congestion in the form of US 281, Interstate 35 and Interstate 10. More or less. I’m not going to pull out a protractor. It could be 320 degrees of not much and 40 degrees of congestion.

But if San Antonio wants more “creative class” jobs, having Abby’s mom be a world-class jewelry designer opening her first showroom would help raise awareness there.

I know it might be more realistic to put the family of a diplomat in New York or DC or somewhere like that, but I don’t really *know* those cities like I know San Antonio. It’s likely that this book may be set entirely on the island (I’m toying with calling it Santa Chiara, after St. Clare of Assisi, St. Francis of Assisi’s BFF). But what happens if I finish the book and discover that the story of Abby doesn’t end there and we have to follow her home? That home better be somewhere I know well.

Abby is going to, of course, have friends. One is a young man who is like Snuffleupagus. No one else will see him for a long time, if ever. Is he the missing prince? Is he a ghost? Is he just shy? Or does he just have lousy timing when it comes to everyone else? Her other friend is a young jewelry designer who makes friends with Abby, then realizes that Abby is her mother’s daughter and that her mother is kind of the friend’s hero, but the friend is trying to figure out how to be “Hey, your mom’s my hero” without sounding like that’s the only reason they’re friends.

I’m still working on what happened with the Prince and where he is going and what’s going on and things like that. It’s kind of funny because like nobody reads this blog and so I’ve been like “Let’s talk about plot points of my novel; no one is ever to read that either.” But I’m going to keep plugging away at both novel and blog and hope that someday I’ll be able to make the money I need to pay off my mortgage.

Speaking of money, here’s today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link. Ooh! Palace of Stone, the sequel to Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale! Britta’s wedding is coming up and the other girls from the Princess Academy are coming to the capital to help with the festivities. Miri is particularly excited because she is going to spend a year at the university.

Hm. One of my plot bunnies that I’ve been feeding for the last . . . 10 years? It started out as alternative history, but I would be telling brown people’s stories and aside from a thin line leading me to a Krai of Russia on the border with Mongolia and a rumor that my father’s mother’s family have Rom ancestry, I’m so white I disappear in front of a blank wall. So I’ve been, like, “Fantasy?” But I don’t really have room for magic in this world. But the Princess Academy books are fantasy despite not having spellcasting and things. The magic is that the people of Mount Eskel can communicate through some kind of kinship with Linder, the stone they harvest. I wonder if I can use something along those lines . . . .

Summer Travel Plans?

Unfortunately, I don’t have any money to travel this year, well, not much travel at least.

Here’s the deal. Years ago ,Thomas and I went to Louisiana. We didn’t really have a plan, we were just tired of being in Texas, so we got on Interstate 10 and when East. It was a nice drive we ate at Popeyes in Orange. Our local Popeye’s had been tasting sort of off for while by then. I think that they hadn’t been cleaning the fryers correctly or something.

So this Popeye’s looked pretty new, so we stopped there and the chicken tasted really good. It didn’t have that rancid oil taste. By the way, in the years since then, our Popeye’s has gotten their act together and it’s much better.

We stopped at a Welcome Center in Louisiana that was on a bayou or something and had beautiful plants, Spanish moss, and bugs. Lots of bugs. We were just amazed at the quantity and quality of the bugs available at that rest stop.

We got back in the car and drove until we got almost to Lake Charles Louisiana. At this point we saw a sign for some kind of nature preserve so we exited from Interstate 10 and made a right turn we just kinda drove south trying to see this nature preserve. There was a big ditch, or creek, or canal or something by the side of the road. We saw lots and lots of alligators and the stupid things clearly didn’t want to photograph them because every time the car stopped they sank. I got lots of lovely pictures of the ditch, creek, canal, etc. We never did see the nature preserve but we got to the ferry. We were out for an adventure, so we took across the, I guess it’s probably a bayou. The road that we got on on the other side took us back Interstate 10 and we drove home.

I had no idea where we were. I mean we were in Louisiana, clearly, but we weren’t that far into the state. Alex and I are planning to take a day trip at some point to find it. These days we have Google maps and things. We might even be able to find the preserve because it looks like there is a nature preserve down by Cameron Louisiana which also has a ferry. My guess is that that’s probably where we were, but my memory of the ferry is there being something like a small town on the eastern side of the ferry. In my memory it looked kind of like the town from the Popeye movie with Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall. Of course, that was 30 (!) years ago, so I’m probably misremembering. .

Oh also when I first came up with this idea, I researched ferries in Louisiana and that seems to be the only one that actually fits. It’s not impossible that this is not the fairy and the fairy I went on the very wrong has been replaced by bridge also it’s been 30 years (!).

Actually it’s no less than 30 I became friends with Ray in 1994 and we told him about the trip we came back, so it had to been 1994 or later. So there’s that.

Of course, there is a another wrinkle to this, which is the cost of gas. My car gets some pretty good mileage for the age of the car. I tend to run about 25 miles the gallon on the highway. So, since gas is supposed to get more expensive as the summer wears on, I’m going to estimate how many miles it’s going to take and budget six dollars for every 20 miles to make sure we have extra. Additionally, we may end up with car trouble, so I probably should budget extra. Or, alternatively, we could rent a car, which would cost more upfront in car cost but save us may save as little gas and may not end up with a stranded in Louisiana with a car that doesn’t drive.

I wish my mechanic hadn’t closed. I am looking for new mechanic — reasonably priced, does good work also Alex is looking for one for me because my car is making is kind of strange noise when I turn. The noise goes away once the car warms up. Alex is actually going to get one of his friends who can identify car sounds to listen to my car turn.

Maybe I should look into how much it would cost to rent a car for the day.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! Today we have Heist Society, the first, well, Heist Society book by Ally Carter. The Heist Society series is about a bunch of teen art thieves. Our heroine, Kat Bishop, comes from a family, both biological and found, of professional thieves. And Kat has her own found family of thieves who help her as she uses her skill set to right wrongs.

Setting A Schedule for Writing

Today’s chapter in Pep Talks for Writers was about setting a schedule for writing. Ha ha.

My current job has a variable schedule. This means that I can start work anywhere from 8:30 AM to 12 noon and I can get off work anywhere between 5 PM to 9 PM.

Figure out how I can come up with the schedule with that, well, schedule.

For the most part, I tend to do my writing 11-ish? But I don’t know if that’s really a schedule.

I guess I could do some writing on my lunch hour, because that gives me a little bit less of a spread. Lunch is basically between 1:00 and 5:00, but that still works out to that four hour spread that I have at the end of the day. At least it’s a normal time for human beings to be working. I guess?

If I were to try to dictate like I’m doing here on my lunch hour, like I said it would be a pretty constrained amount of time. Of course, I would be walking around the store talking into my phone like an idiot, kinda like I am now. But at least, right now I’m alone, nobody there to watch me and wonder what I’m doing.

Additionally, I do have to work eating and going to the bathroom into my lunch hour. So I guess I’m back to 11 o’clock-ish. It’s ten minutes to ten as I’m writing this right now, because I’m walking around my neighborhood. This is something I can’t do every day, though, particularly since I’m usually really tired after I get off at nine, and sometimes I have to be back to work early the next day.

In fact, I’m really tired right now. It’s 12 zillion degrees out here and the evening breeze hasn’t started*. I’ve been walking for almost an hour and I’m really tired and really hot, so let’s try going back to the 11-ish. Of course there’s nothing says I can’t do both. I can write a short blog post on my lunch hour with the about a half an hour I have available on my lunch.

Oh! I could work on my novel on my lunch then blog posts either now during my 9 o’clock walk or my 11 o’clock sit down my computer. I could even do one of each a blog post now a blog post at 11? I like this idea. Of course that’s assuming I can keep with it.

My theme song when I’m when I feel my enthusiasm for whatever it is I’m doing start to flag is the Daft punk song Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. Even though it’s like about the hustle and having no work-life balance, which do I need more? A work-life balance or the money to to pay off my mortgage? I will leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Yeah I need the income. My job is not keeping up with inflation. It’s not even keeping up with my first job out of college. I finally reached the purchasing power of my first job out of college and then get this hyperinflation thing starts and now I’m two dollars an hour behind.

I’m thinking I can can stop rambling now and save this to post. I just realized I haven’t gotten my Duolingo in yet. I’m going to copy this to an email, then email it to myself, clean it up, and post it.

*The evening breeze started up just as I was coming back to the house after my walk. Figures.