What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

30 November 2012


I gave myself a real fright this year, thinking I wasn't going to make it. But with 25 hours to spare:

Heck yeah, zero excuses. Here's what my stats look like:

If you look closely, you'll see there are only six days when my word count peeked over the par bar even a little bit. Today will be the seventh day (ha, ha), since I'm past 50K already. I still have one final chapter to write, and I hope that nabs me another thousand or so words before midnight. This will be the first time in my three years that the story is done when the month is done. 

Will I revise? No idea. I'll make that decision after my grad papers are all finished and I'm a little bit bored. (HA! Unlikely...)

Did you do NaNoWriMo? How did you do? Or did you do something else super-fun in November?

27 November 2012

Book Lovers, Rejoice!

Author extraordinaire Beth Revis (Across the Universe, A Million Suns, Shades of Earth) is having a massively massive book giveaway. You can get all these:

... if you're the lucky winner. 

Why do I love YA books? For a few reasons, really. One is that I got to YA in the natural course of reading and just never moved any further down the road. But that's only a small part of it. YA is filled with great stories and fabulous characters. For adults, it also provokes a fair amount of nostalgia, or possibly some "I wish my school had been like that!" or for the really harrowing stories, "Thank goodness my teen years were not that eventful".  Plus, I find them a lot easier to take in terms of language choices: there's less swearing and much less graphic violence and sex scenes. YA authors have this miracle of suggestion, it seems, and leave a lot more to the reader's imagination, which I prefer.

If you must enter to win this contest (and I wish you wouldn't; I hate to see my chances narrowed!) go here

Do you love YA? Why or why not?

26 November 2012

Run Right

I ran a Turkey Trot last Thursday, as is my wont, and enjoyed it very much, as is also my wont. However, I noticed once again that many people participate in these fun runs and family-oriented event with no clue how one is supposed to act, line up, or indeed, with no awareness at all of race day etiquette. (For repeat offenders, see Race for the Cure.)

I am here to help you with that.

Now, I in no way want to discourage anyone from gathering family, neighbours, friends, coworkers, random strangers, etc., and doing a holiday race together. There are a lot of nice Jingle Bell 5Ks around this holiday season, if eating chocolate, drinking cocoa, and watching yet another Hallmark Holiday Movie is starting to bring you down. Strap on your walking shoes, grab a coat and the kids, and get out there! No, this list of tips is just to make sure you and everyone around you can all have a fun time and show some basic courtesy to one another.

1. Slower participants start at the back. No exceptions!
This is the grim face of a
crazy person. Do you really
want to be in front of this?
Photo courtesy of the
West Texas Running Club.
This is so important, I'll say it one more time: Fast people get the front of the start area. Slow people get the back. Why? Because the fast people might just trample the slow people in their way, and the slow people will almost certainly frustrate the life out of the fast people. Remember, whatever this race may be for you, others in the crowd will be using it to get a serious workout or try to beat a previous time. Trust me, we are slightly crazy when we're in that mode. You get in front of us at your peril.

If you're walking, go to the back of the crowd at the start, no matter what your friend says about how she started at the front last year and everyone just went around her and it was no big deal. And-- I can't stress this enough-- no matter what time you arrived. Please don't come to the race an hour early so you can be up front, unless your name is Shalane Flanagan.

Not sure if you're a fast runner or not? Here's a good way to find out: If your running friends that you usually train with are at the front, go ahead. In all other circumstances, move back. If your race has signs with your expected pace, LINE UP THERE. Seriously.

2. Please do not form a human wall.
Walking two abreast is fine. Three abreast is sketchy. More than three abreast, and you've become a roadblock. Don't do it! It's great that your family is all walking together as a group, but you need to arrange yourselves so that every other person on the course doesn't have to squeeze through the tiny gap you left them out the side.

On the same note, please be aware of the space between you and other groups on the road. If you are walking three abreast and you happen to fall in step with another group that's also walking three abreast, the same problem ensues. If people are yelling "Excuse me!" a lot or you get brushed by more than one sweaty arm, it's time to re-think your position.

3. Do not, do not, do not stop in the middle of the pack.
Feeling a cramp? Screaming baby in your jogging stroller? Just tired and need to walk? That's fine. Pull over to the side, make sure that no one is directly behind you, and then stop. Alternatively, you can tuck in behind another walker if you just need to take a breather. Whichever one you choose, know that stopping dead in the middle of the road is a recipe for someone running into you. And I promise, no matter what kind of distress your baby is in, there is no universe in which stopping so that runners can knock into the stroller and send you both flying is a better situation. Take a few seconds to get out of the road.

4. Be kind!
Remember, whether it's your first race or your fiftieth, there will be people who don't know about race etiquette and it won't even have occurred to them that they need to look it up before heading out. Reserve your patience for those people, and if you must correct them, do so as kindly as possible. Do your part to make sure everyone has a great race. And be sure to thank all the volunteers and race officials that you see, including the police officers directing traffic!

Do you do fun runs? Do you bring the kids? Which is your favourite?

23 November 2012

Light Up Your Life

This post is not seasonal or jolly in any way. Happy Thanksgiving!

I finally remembered to gather my compact florescent lights (CFLs) a couple of weeks ago and take them in for recycling. Which, for me, involved wrapping them carefully in plastic bags and packing them into a box get to Home Depot on my bicycle so they didn't crack or anything goofy like that on the way. They do have a bit of mercury in them, which is not the sort of thing I want hanging around in my panniers.

The guy I found in the lighting department at Home Depot was really nice, and pointed out that Home Depot keeps the CFL recycling box at the front of the store, not near the light bulbs, which is just crazy. Anyway, he was very kind about praising my earth-friendliness, which makes me think that Home Depot really is recycling properly, and not just putting out a box to make people feel good. And if your CFLs run out, you can find a recycling spot near you here.

The man also said the amount of mercury in CFLs is smaller than the tip of a pen, which is good to know-- the way people talk about CFLs sometimes, I felt like I was handling a fragile deathtrap. Turns out, cleaning up a broken CFL is not terribly different from cleaning up any other broken light bulb, except that the EPA recommends letting the room air out for 10-15 minutes in case any mercury vapour escaped.

The whining on Facebook about incandescents being banned has picked up again lately, which makes me think that one of the "the government is coming for your children next!" horror stories is probably circulating again. Yeah, not so much. (In case you don't want to click through: incandescents aren't banned. You can still get them.)

Do you use CFLs? Do you recycle them?

11 November 2012

Remember, Remember

I re-read my old Remembrance Day posts and decided I couldn't do better today than what I've said before. Here's my 2008 Remembrance Day post:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

— Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD
Canadian Army

I have a Canadian coworker, who has made huge contributions to my sanity over the course of the past three years.

So I wandered to her desk yesterday morning, and announced, "I am here in my capacity as someone who asks stupid questions." She laughed and said, "Thanks."

My question was, "Does Canada observe two minutes of silence at 11 AM today?"

Yes, they do. A lot of countries do.

Why don't we? I have a variety of theories, but here's what I have settled on: We do not know war like Europe knows war. We don't even call November 11th "Remembrance Day". We honour our veterans, and rightly so. We fly our flag, as so we should. But we don't remember.

We have been blessed; our cities do not have the scars of war still upon them. Our elderly do not tell stories of huddling in air raid shelters while the sounds of planes and bombs roared outside. We do not have a war memorial in every town. We do not have these collective memories handed from one generation to the next, as Europeans do.

Our people, our families, have been touched by war. But our land, this past century, has not: not like France, or Poland, or Russia, or Britain. Or Iraq. And that, I think, is why we do not observe the collective moment of silence; we do not know, as they do, the relief of hearing two minutes of silence after years of hearing nothing but suffering.

Think of the poppies. Remember. And give thanks.

09 November 2012

Enviro Your NaNoWriMo

As soon as this merry little post appears in the blogosphere, I've written more posts for November than I did in October. That's just sad. I haven't had a 1-post month since 2004.

The other evening in class (I'm an online grad student; I know you've probably all forgotten about my adventures in education), our instructor asked, "Does anyone have any questions about today's assignment before we begin?" I said "Can I have October back? I'd like to give it another go." She agreed that she would also like to try October again, but she doesn't have that kind of power. How sad for all of us.

Anyway! NaNoWriMo is in full swing, except here, where I've spent the week catching up on homework, a work assignment, and another top-secret project that is not remotely NaNoWriMo-related. Not even a little bit. And since in theory Friday is my environmentally friendly posting day at Cheekyness, I decided to think of ways I could green up NaNoWriMo. (I've been typing it #NaNoWriMo so often on Twitter that I have a hard time leaving off the hashtag. Ye be warned.)

My mug of choice. So big it's
practically two mugs of choice. Also,
it's brilliant, as you can plainly see.
1. Drink your caffeinated beverage from a reusable mug. You're going to be on a first-name basis with the baristas at your local watering hole by the 30th anyway, right? They may as well know what your mug looks like so they can return it to you if you leave it behind one day in a sleep-deprived, alternate-world, writing haze.

2. Unplug your electronics when they aren't in use. Save energy, save money, save yourself from getting up to use the loo at 3 AM and seeing your computer sitting in idle mode and deciding to type "just a couple of quick paragraphs" and still being there when your alarm goes off for work.

3. Short showers. It'll save you time, water, and money. Get a whiteboard and pen in there to write down ideas, but not if it will cause you to linger. If you forget to shower, don't worry about it. You'll get it next time.

4. Only do laundry on the weekends. Save your weekday evenings for writing, and save all your clothes up until you have a full load. And then ask your spouse/roommate/children/neighbours to do it for you so you can keep writing.

5. Writing by hand? Make sure to get as much use as possible out of your pens and pencils. Sharpen those things down to nothing. Use the last drop of ink. Write on both sides of the paper. Use those discards from the printer that have one little line of text at the very bottom.

6. Eat oranges, tangerines, pears, and apples. They're in season now. (Okay, in most of the US they're in season now.) No prep required, the peels are edible or compostable (or both, if you're anything like my husband-- he loves eating orange peels), and you can stave off the NaNoWriMo 10. (I don't know if that's really a thing. But I bet it is.)

7. Resist the urge to print. Look, it's a first draft. Those are always going to be cruddy. Don't print it out until you de-cruddy it a bit. Or a lot.

8. Seven is probably a good number of tips, yeah?

9. Just leave the dust alone. It will still be there in December. That's not really an enviro-tip so much as a NaNo survival tip. But hey, it will save you either washing or tossing the dustrags for a while, and there's probably an environmentally friendly practise in there somewhere.

10. Don't drive! Carpool or take the bus. Valuable writing time. Save gas. Less pollution. Transcribe bizarre conversations directly into your novel. It's a win-win-win-win. Change the names of your carpool buddies in your novel before you get it published, though.

Well, that was the longest "I'll just write a quick blog post before bed!" ever. Dangit. Have a happy Friday, everybody!

Are you a WriMo? Let's be friends! I'm cheekysu. (The one in Austin, in case that link doesn't work like I think it's going to work.)

05 November 2012

The Ten-Minute Update

My bus comes in exactly 20 minutes. I'd better make this quick.

I haven't died, fallen in a hole, or been cut off from the internet. I'm not in exile, prison, or a Cone of Silence. I didn't decide to be done with blogging forever.

Captain Underpants at the Texas Book Festival. Pic taken
on my phone, so it's not the best. Sorry!
What I have done is finally reach that point that so many other people have... I come home from work and discover that I've used up all my creativity on my employer and now I've been sucked dry. Austin Kleon talked about that a little bit at the Texas Book Festival last weekend, and he's totally correct. I absolutely must do my writing in the early morning or there's nothing left afterwards.

So! Completely mired in NaNoWrimo, starting to glimpse the finish line of my first semester of grad school, busy busy at work, and some other things going on that I'm not ready to share publicly. I miss you all! I promise that I'm not gone forever, and I can't wait to come around and read all your blogs once I finally get a handle on that 'time management' thing.

And my time is up. Bus coming.

Quick update time! What's going on with you?