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.

31 December 2015

Goodbye, 2015

Lately, when people ask me how I'm doing, I either say, "Okay" or "I don't know." Both of those things are true.

The turning of the year brings a certain anticipation and the feeling of a clean slate, both in years when I set goals and in years that I don't. I do have goals for 2016, but I've kicked most of them off already, partly because starting a new thing on a Friday feels weird even if it is New Year's Day, and partly because it's hard to be festive this year. I'm not going to wake up any less widowed tomorrow than I am today. On the upside, 2016 can't possibly be worse than 2015 was, so there's that. (On a personal level, that is. On the societal and worldwide levels, well, here's hoping.)

There's a new world, indeed.
However! Without a doubt, the best day of 2015 was Saturday, July 25. I visited the Museum of Modern Art and saw Les Misérables on Broadway (plus a couple of other things) all in the company of my bestie. In the midst of an otherwise terrible year, that day shines like a beautiful beacon.

If I were to write to the cast of Les Mis, I would tell them what a bright spot they were in my year. I'd thank them for such a beautiful performance. I'd probably gush about how much I love this show and how they were all a joy to watch. I'd talk about how seeing the show was both escapism and healing for me. And I'd wish them all the best for 2016.

And I wish that for you as well. Happy New Year, friends!

29 December 2015

Goodreads Challenge 2015

I've now adjusted my goal on this challenge so many times I'm not really sure where I started-- 60, maybe? I adjusted it down a few weeks ago when it became obvious I was storming through books in a hurry just to meet my goal. If the challenge ruins the reading experience, then it's not really much use.

So, ever since then, I've upped the goal by one book every time I finished a book, just to have a goal in front of me. I'll probably get to 49, maybe 50 if I find a really short book. *grin* This is my fifth year doing the challenge, and the lowest number of books I've read yet, but whatever. 2016 is a new year with no grad school or spousal death in it, so here's to getting my yearly reading total back up to 100+ books where it belongs.

(On a side note: I really wish I'd kept better track of the books I read as a kid. That would be a fun record to have now. Oh, well.)

My list of my favourite books of the year is still coming, honest! Look for it Friday or Saturday. You know, in case I read a book that's fabulous in the next two days but didn't share it because I'd already posted my list. (That's a little thing I learned from Austin Kleon, by the way.)

Do you set yourself reading challenges? Do you use Goodreads' (or a similar site's) challenge? How was your reading in 2015?

22 December 2015

Christmas Reading

Wow, am I ever super-late with this post this year. If you're looking for some holiday reads, here's hoping that you have time to get to your local library before they close up shop for Christmas. (All images are from Goodreads.) These were hard to put in order, but I think I managed to get it pretty close:

#10: Anything by Debbie Macomber

I confess that after reading about four of her books, I've pretty much reached my lifetime limit of Debbie Macomber. Well, that's not true. I've identified the mood I need to be in to want to read Debbie Macomber, and that mood does not come around often.

If you like heartwarming, (usually) romantic comedies, pick up a Macomber. She does have a knack for holiday tales.

#9: A Texas Legacy Christmas, Diann Mills

Despite having lived in Texas my entire adult life, I don't really read a lot of Texas-based fiction. Turns out, in this one the setting hardly matters. Sweet holiday family story, part of a series but it stands just fine on its own. (I haven't read the rest of the series.)

#8: Finding Noel, Richard Paul Evans

This is a writer I really have reached my lifetime limit on, but this is one of two of his books I would willingly re-read. And really, if short, uplifting, but slightly sad holiday stories are your thing, head to your library and pick up a stack of Evans to go with your stack of Macomber. A key difference between the two: you're probably okay letting your kids read Evans, although give them a skim first to be sure you're comfortable with all the themes-- this one, for instance, does deal with past child abuse. (I know, in a feel-good holiday story. It's reality for a lot of kids, though, and kudos to Mr. Evans for at least addressing it--awkwardly, but he addresses it.)

#7: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller

Okay, you got me-- this one is not a holiday book. I just happened to read it for the first time around the holidays one year and that's what stuck in my mind. Great book that's good for all seasons, so if you haven't read it yet, throw it in your to-read stack for the holiday weekend.

#6: The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry

One of theatres in Indianapolis used to (and possibly still does) put on The Gift of the Magi every couple of years, so I saw it as a stage show a few times before I finally read it. When I finally did read the story, I was surprised at how short it is, since it was a two-hour show onstage. Read it!

Incidentally, The Gift of the Magi was my first-ever talkback with professional actors. Not the start of my love of theatre, but it sure didn't hurt.

#5: The Christmas Box, Richard Paul Evans

I first saw this story as the made-for-TV movie with Richard Thomas, and it was beautiful. The book is even better. If you get the chance, you should read and watch.

#4: A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

If you've never read the original, do yourself a favour and pick it up. (Here's a version that's free on Kindle.) It's a short read and utterly brilliant. Incidentally, my favourite adaptations are Scrooge, with Albert Finney; A Christmas Carol, with Patrick Stewart; and The Muppet Christmas Carol, with the Muppets and Michael Caine. Read it, then watch all of those.

#3: Let It Snow, John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

A trilogy of intertwined short stories and one of two books on my permanent holiday to-read list. In fact, I should get to the library immediately and check it out.

#2: Hogfather, Terry Pratchett

It's Sir Terry, it's Discworld, it's Susan Death. It's fantastic.

Incidentally, so is the movie adaptation starring Michelle Dockery (sometimes known as Lady Mary on Downton Abbey) as the most perfect Susan and Marc Warren (who's been in many things, including that one episode of Doctor Who) as Teatime. Another "read then watch" recommendation.

And finally...

#1: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

My favourite holiday book ever and the other of the must-read pair. I'll be reading this one on Friday.

I've been looking forward to re-reading Dash and Lily ever since I came back from New York. I've finally been to many of the places they mention, including Strand Bookstore, which was on my must-visit list for NYC because of this book. Seriously, don't bother calling me on Christmas; I'll be reading.

There you have it-- my top 10(ish) reads for a happy Christmas. Perhaps for 2016 I'll try a bit harder to read books about other December holidays. What will you be reading this weekend?

12 December 2015

Current Life Goal:

Goodreads has these neat widgets, although some days I
look at my "Favourites" shelf and think, "How did that
get on there?" I must have been in a really good mood the
day I read some of these. 
Keep my Goodreads to-read shelf under 1000 books.

I know that sounds like a reasonable goal, but if you've met my brain, you understand how it might be a problem.

I'm sitting at 999 and reading as fast as I can.

(Are you on Goodreads? Let's be friends!)

Seriously, nobody recommend me any more books. My other current life goal is to finish reading these before I die. I may need to set some serious reading goals for 2016. (Speaking of, my list of favourite reads from 2015 coming on New Year's Eve. Or maybe New Year's Day. Stay tuned.)

08 December 2015

All the Death Jokes are Really Funny Now

Source: Goodreads.
I don't own this book (yet). I haven't even read the whole thing.

But I was in a random shop on Sunday that had it displayed on a shelf, so I picked it up and got about three pages in, where there was a guy with wings and a harp who said, "All my friends are still alive, the jerks. It's boring up here." (Goodreads reviewers refer to this guy as the "creepy angel", and I suppose he is, but I don't care that much.)

I laughed so hard I had to leave the store. Without the book.

04 December 2015

The Wiz

Holy smokes. Holy smokes, y'all. If you didn't watch The Wiz live last night, ease on over to NBC and watch the replay. Do it NOW, before they take it down and start charging for it. Prepare to be blown away.

I was not really surprised, when I checked out hashtag on Twitter yesterday, to see that your average racist on Twitter is not a theatre buff (and apparently doesn't know how to Google), and so doesn't know about The Wiz and the show's history. I wonder if those folks have heard of Hamilton yet?

Source: NBC's Twitter feed.
So, idiots notwithstanding, the show was glorious. The costumes were beautiful, the staging was excellent (a glimpse of a camera in the first scene was the only glitch I noticed), and the singing left me needing to lie down. NBC finally found a formula that works for its annual live musical, and it was breathtaking.

I checked Facebook this morning hoping to squee or otherwise gush with my musical-loving friends about The Wiz, only to discover that no one said anything about it. Seriously? During the okay Sound of Music live a couple years ago, my Facebook timeline was full of bitter complaint--not about Carrie Underwood's atrocious acting, but about it being the stage version instead of the movie version. I said then that I had just discovered who among my friends actually likes musicals vs. those who like movies. Guess I just got my confirmation. Thank goodness for Twitter!

Did you watch The Wiz? Did you love it? Are you a musical fan, or do you just watch when there's nothing else on (or neither)?

30 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: The End

Went to The Winter's Tale (excellent!), came home, wrote a few more words, earned my update-every-day badge shortly before midnight.

Quote of the day: “You’re amazing, Sybs, if only for how thickheaded you are.”

Today's word count: 860

Total word count: 51,111

*frantic applause as a rather huge cast of characters takes a badly-spelled and plot-holed bow*

29 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015, Day 29: I Win!

I tried to write an emotional scene today. It didn't go so well in terms of emotion, moving the story along, or actual good writing, but it did get me across the finish line. I'll still write a bit tomorrow, just to get the "update every day" badge.

Quote of the day: So much for carpe diem—she was about to have cry all diem.

Today's word count: 2210

Total word count: 50,251

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 28

So, so close. Barring any insane circumstances, I'll reach 50K tomorrow. Likely with Sybil and Greg mired in some angst, because the two of them seem to live there.

(Incidentally, I've been binge-watching House while writing, and earlier today said "Angsty Chase is my favourite kind of Chase." So apparently I like everyone's writing to be heavy on the angst, not just my own.)

Quote of the day: “Greg, I swear to you, that was an honest question and you are losing your mind.”

Today's word count: 4310

Total word count: 48,041

28 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 27

Thank goodness for a long weekend with no homework in it. If I'd had to do NaNo and school at the same time this year, I don't think I would be able to finish. As it is, I'm catching up and hope to cross the finish line Sunday, because on Monday evening I'm going to see A Winter's Tale and will not have time for writing. (Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh are both in it, but as usual I'm more excited about Hadley Fraser being in it. Sure hope I recognize him right away instead of the second or third time he's on screen, which is what happened when I saw the most recent Les Misérables movie, thanks to his facial hair of unusual size.)

Quote of the day: “And while that is a small concern, it’s not my problem,” Sybil retorted. “We’re talkng about my best friend, here, and I’m a lot more concrned about his feelings than yours.”

Today's word count: 3063

Total word count: 43,731

27 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 26

My lovely lovely characters are not giving thanks today, because they're busy thinking about lots of other stuff and also because it's not Thanksgiving Day yet in their world.

Back to the boring participant badge.
Hoping to replace this with a winner
badge soon.
Favourite snippet of the day (well, favourite that doesn't require a bunch of context): “Run along, big brother.”
“Why do you keep calling me that?” he asked.
“Did it stop being true?”

Today's word count: 2802

Total word count: 40,668

26 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 25

Obviously the first sentence/last sentence thing is done for this NaNoWriMo, unless something crazy happens. So instead you're getting a sentence that I like. Which for today, is:

I saw this at the Museum of Modern
Art. It has nothing to do with this
“So you’re a good guy with a decent conscience,” Sybil said. “The horror.”

Today's word count: 2063

Total word count: 37,866

25 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 24

Gosh, I love these characters. I keep forgetting Sybil and Greg aren't actual people. It's possible they will never be published, not for the obvious reason that no one will be interested in reading it, but because I'm not sure I can bring myself to reveal my friends' private lives in this way.

Yes. I need some help. On the upside, today I need help because I'm obsessed with the characters I wrote, not because I've been making terrible Les Mis jokes. (That's only because I've been making terrible House jokes instead.)

I looked for an angsty photo, didn't
find one, but I haven't won yet,
so this is close enough.
Anyway, here's a fun little line from today: For Greg, it was all raw hurt and he felt every word.

(Did I say fun? I may have been exaggerating. Keeping my characters in emotional limbo is a thing I do, it seems.)

Today's word count: 3795

Total word count: 35,803

23 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 23

Yep, skipped another day. Why? Because Project #2 is providing my brain with ever-so-much fodder, and I haven't written anything on my original 2015 project since a couple of pages on Saturday. Yep, I'm working on the same set of characters that have proven to be NaNo gold, both in terms of getting the right number of words written and in making serious progress in the story. (It's a school story. She gets four years. Right now I'm halfway through year #2.)

This photo has nothing
whatsoever to do with
this post. I was just tired
of the other photo.
So, sorry Kathleen, but I'll come back to you if something interesting happens. In the meantime, I tend to write Sybil entirely in cliches from teen angst TV shows, so I hope it gets better in the editing phase, once I get there.

Like this, for instance: "I just didn’t know how to tell you how I felt.”
“So you thought acting like a jerk was the right way to do that?”

Yesterday's word count: 5585

Today's word count: 1822

Total word count: 32,008

21 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 21

A few days ago, my NaNo novel came up in the course of bikeschool (a Twitter chat) because I said I was headed off to write or something like that. In the conversation that followed, one thing led to another and suddenly a Twitter friend was demanding to be killed off in my novel. I finally got around to introducing him today: in honor of @Seannybucket, Mr. Parker the cranky neighbor has been introduced. Horrible death still to come.

Who am I? Wrimo 24601.
 Yes, I wore this
shirt on purpose knowing
this would happen today.
In unrelated news, I finally reached 24601 words. So my word counts below are actually low, because once I get to 24601 I like to stop and bask. The rest of the words I wrote today will be reflected in tomorrow's word count. (Yes, there is something wrong with me.)

First sentence: She still wouldn’t let him take her home, but did let him drop her off at a different bus stop that was closer to her house.

Last sentence: Jellylorum was probably devious enough to outsmart anything she tried.

Today's word count: 2111

Total word count: 24,601

On the Sport Involving Feet

This post is brought to you by recurring guest blogger Bill Hill: friend, former classmate, Twitter user extraordinaire (@MrBillHill), and all-around good guy. He was looking for a spot to empty his brain and I was looking for someone to write things for Cheekyness while I'm NaNoWriMo-ing. Bill occasionally blogs at Bill's Universe II.

Part of me feels annoyed when I look at this cartoon. It assumes that every American is bored by the game of soccer/football, which is obviously untrue. As much as ESPN may be hawking and exaggerating the overall effect, it is true that soccer/football is gaining popularity here in the States. If there’s anything I like about this cartoon, though, it’s the idea that the sociopolitical element is completely subverted in favor of a value judgment. The soccer/football player frames the sport as primarily a cultural or linguistic product, and the American’s response unveils the needless artificiality therein. It’s that idea I’ll be discussing today – the idea that soccer/football is first and foremost a sport, and that all its geopolitical entanglements only limit our ability to evaluate the game.

There are plenty of angles to start with, of course, but the best place to begin is the name.

1. The name of the sport should be used to relay information, and not to communicate any sort of social, cultural, ideological, or geopolitical viewpoint.

I think everyone understands by now that soccer is virtually a term used only in America.  When we were in second grade, this was almost like a trivia item – ‘Did you know that soccer is called football in England?’ In 2015, though, this is pretty common knowledge. And of course, it doesn’t only apply to England.

What’s really odd, though, is how the Difference-of-Name has actually begun to bother some people. I recall one macro image, for example, in which an indignant soccer ball cried out to an American football, ‘Find your own name!’ Moreover, the term soccer is sometimes treated with contempt and mockery. Certain English commentators, if I’m not mistaken, treat the word as if it’s some kind of cultural handicap: ‘Ha! You Americans use the term soccer! What’s wrong with you people?’

Guess what? When it comes to the terms soccer and football, both are useful terms.

Football is useful because:
a. this term is a decidedly accurate description of the general game-play
b. this term (or some linguistic variation) is used in the majority of global nations

Soccer is useful because:
a. it is a long-standing British term which originally referred to Association Football
b. it prevents unwanted confusion (particularly in the U.S.) between soccer-football and American football

The term soccer does not exist as a symbol of geopolitical defiance, nor are those who use the term typically ignorant of the alternate name. 

On one hand, the term soccer still existed in England for the better part of the twentieth century – therefore the idea that soccer is an American invention is nothing short of an old wives’ tale. On the other hand, anyone who thinks that this is a ‘stubborn America’ issue – that America should ‘adapt’ by phasing out the term soccer – needs to remember that there would be needless confusion with regard to American football. It would be like saying, ‘The nation of Mexico must adapt, and start using the English word see instead of ver!’ Besides how utterly presumptuous that would be, it would also be inconsiderate toward the potential confusion between see and . Therefore it is not stubbornness or ignorance which lets the term soccer survive in America – again, most people know by now that the term football is much more common – rather, it is practicality.

When someone calls the sport soccer, then, try and remember this: It is needlessly close-minded and combative to argue over what term they should be using instead. Think of it like this: A French-speaker approaches an English-speaker and says to them, ‘Bonjour!’ It would be incredibly unnecessary for the English-speaker to reply, ‘You are the only country in the world that has developed the term Bonjour! How dare you use such an unconventional phrase!’ With soccer/football, it is the same; the name of the game should summon the concept of the sport without inviting any sort of cultural/geopolitical criticism.

But I’m sad to say that the issue extends far beyond the name of the sport:

2. Any judgment concerning the game of soccer/football applies merely to the sport itself; it is not a comment on any sort of cultural or geopolitical issue.

Unfortunately, our society seems to have bought into this tiresome philosophy: ‘If you decide you aren’t interested in the game of soccer/football, it means you are xenophobic – too stubborn and close-minded to enjoy something culturally different.’ Maybe if there were someone who refused to watch a single minute of soccer/football on television (simply because it was unfamiliar), then this philosophy might apply. If we’re being intelligent and realistic, however, we know that isn’t what people mean when they say they don’t enjoy soccer/football. They’re making a judgment about the game, and saying (in so many words), ‘The game of soccer/football is a relatively uninteresting procedure.’

If this were a doctoral dissertation, I would probably conduct a statewide survey to illustrate the idea. Since this is a blog post, though, I’ll give you my own personal analysis of the sport:
I believe that the game of soccer/football is relatively uninteresting. The top-tier players clearly exhibit impressive athleticism, but essentially, the game itself provides a lackluster showcase for their skill-set. The most ‘exciting’ plays are often those where the athletes maneuver the ball past their opponents; unfortunately, the vast majority of these plays do not culminate in a direct scoring attempt (and most often, are eventually followed by a change of possession). The result is that even the athletes’ more impressive motions are usually without significant consequence. While successful goals are often entertaining (and sometimes spectacular), these goals do not occur commonly enough to enrich the suspense of the overall game-play. Essentially, the extended periods of inconsequential activity (as well as the fluid alteration of ball-possession) limit the game’s ability to demand attention and/or engagement. I watch the World Cup every four years to follow the interesting playoff narrative, but as for the sport itself, it provides little in the way of entertainment. 
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to convince you that soccer/football is uninteresting. I have plenty of friends who truly enjoy soccer/football, and I respect their individual tastes. I’ve only written that paragraph to illustrate the nature of sports-related judgments – judgments apply only to the game. Did I mention anywhere that soccer/football is uninteresting because it is popular in Europe? – Did I ever say that soccer/football was unwelcome in America? – Was there any comparison between soccer/football and more ‘Americanized’ sports? No, no, and no. The judgments relate to the game, and everyone should be free to make those judgments. Picture it this way: Someone says they don’t want any rice with their dinner, because they aren’t very fond of rice. Imagine how ridiculous it would be if someone replied, ‘Aha! So you disapprove of Eastern culture, eh?’ Not only would that be absurd, but you would also probably be suspicious about the cultural attitude of the person who said it.

I already know how some people would respond, though: ‘You may think that your judgment is based on the sport, but your judgment is actually a result of American indoctrination. Without being surrounded by a xenophobic American culture, you would have no notion that soccer/football is any less interesting than other sports.’

Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Now once again, if I were submitting this post as an article for an academic journal, I would conduct some sort of sociological research. But for the purpose of this blog post, I can look to myself for the counterargument; essentially, I am Walking Disproof of the ‘You’re-Bored-Because-It’s-Foreign’ argument.

How? Well, I look to the game of Rugby. Growing up, I had never even heard of Rugby. It wasn’t like soccer, which was part of every school’s athletic program; it was a totally foreign product. I think I first saw a game of Rugby when I was a High School Freshman – before then, it was nothing more than a rarely-heard encyclopedia term. But when I saw it, I sort of fell in love with it.

Rugby is fast, tense, and exciting. Not every possession results in a score, but even the less eventful possessions are marked by fast pace, hard hits, and desperate scrambles. The players tend to converge on the ball, giving the sport a highly contingent narrative centered around the game-play’s nucleus. If a player can get a solid run headed into the open field, there’s enough risk and variability that the game-play is suspenseful as a result.

At least in my case, then – and I imagine in others’ – the ‘Foreign = Boring’ rule holds no water. I don’t find soccer/football uninteresting because of its cultural context; I find it uninteresting because of what happens on the field. The judgment of sports, then, should be entirely separate from the geopolitical landscape – and we shouldn’t resent people’s feelings on soccer/football any more than we should resent what someone’s favorite color is.

What’s really funny is this: Xenophobia toward American football seems to be encouraged and celebrated here in the States. ‘Pah! American football,’ people will say. ‘Just a stubborn little American habit – nothing interesting about it at all.’ These are the same people who like to remind us (and flaunt before us) that ‘Soccer is the world’s most popular sport!’ Interestingly, their own logic suggests that they’re the xenophobic ones. If American football is so different – so quaint and unusual when weighed against other global hobbies – then doesn’t an aversion to American football suggest sticking within the global comfort zone? – that is, refusing to enjoy something only because it is culturally unfamiliar? It’s almost like going to the obscure village of North Ninsasprinsapo, and eating some food you have never heard of before: roast baganakwan. You taste it, dislike it, and then say ‘How close-minded the people of this village are! They eat this peculiar food, and don’t eat what the rest of the world eats!’ What you’re really doing is proving how close-minded you are. If you’re desperate to prove how sensible ‘the rest of the world’ is, you’ve obviously got a problem accepting your own surroundings. This is ultimately why we should refrain from entangling our sports-related judgments with the sociopolitical climate – an inability to distinguish these concepts is a kind of stubbornness in itself.

That’s probably a good stopping point, even though there are plenty of other things to say. If I had another blog post to write, I might explore why people treat soccer/football as such a competitive force with other sports, when really we are free to love any number of games without needing a competitive hierarchy. I think that is a blog post for another day, though. And for now, I leave you with the immortal words of Sigmund Freud, who reminds: ‘Sometimes a soccer ball is just a soccer ball.’

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 20

So, funny story about today's first sentence, and since Chadwick is no longer here to defend himself--this sentence together with the next one are a personal reference to Chad not remembering the actual first time we met. Our mutual friend Phill had to introduce us twice, once at Lubbock Christian campus where Chad was in summer session and where we met the first time, then again the next day at his (Phill's) house. Chad never remembered meeting me on campus that day. I remember it very well.

First sentence: “I had an appointment wth a swarm of bees on the day we met, remember?”

Last sentence: “For normal humans, perhaps, but I think I’ll pass. Thanks for checking,” Kathleen said.

Today's word count: 1882

Total word count: 22,490

19 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 19

Today's short writing segment in Kathleen's story is inspired by Glasgow's excellent Museum of Transport, which I love. And which has apparently changed its name and its venue since I was last there. Sigh. (Not that you get to see much of today's writing segment.) Project #2 is rolling right along and provided me with the bulk of today's words.

First sentence: “It’s been on my list for ages, it’s just never happened,” she said.

Last sentence: “If I’d known it was that easy to get your face to light up like that, I’d ahve taken you on a whirlwind tour of every museum in town the day we met.”

Today's word count: 2191

Total word count: 20,608

18 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 18

So today is the day I go rogue. I'm going to give Kathleen at least a couple of pages every day, just to see if something exciting happens, and it's her first and last sentences (ish-- or entire lines) that I'll keep bringing to you. But I also have another project that I'll be continuing at the same time, since I have ideas for that one and may make some real progress in the final two weeks of November.

First sentence: She had a text from Dom when she got home asking if she wanted to go out for coffee.

Last sentence: “What? Theatrical blasphemy! We have to fix that immediately,” he said.

Today's word count: 1182

Total word count: 18,417

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 17

Today I managed one paragraph (well, a paragraph plus one sentence), and I only did that because I didn't want to ruin my update-every-day streak I have going with my word count. So, you get the paragraph in its entirety, because why not?

Naomi summoned the team before the end of the day, as promised, and announced that Brad was moivng to another department. Kathleen was impressed that though her team did not manage to hide their happiness, they did at least keep themselves from outright cheering. If she hadn’t had warning that this was going to happen, she wasn’t sure she could have kept herself from being visibly delighted. However, Naomi did not give them any otehr details, so Kathleen had to go home that evening not knowing who her next supervisor would be.

She was prepared to live with the suspense.

16 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 16

I'm on the verge of going NaNo-rebel and working on two things at once. And yet, for now we continue with the adventures of the plotless Kathleen.

First sentence: “I’m not sure that’s necessary,” Brad said.

Last sentence: Although she suspected tha this coffee-making skills were also atrocious.

Today's word count: 659

Total word count: 17,135

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 15

First sentence: Kathleen nodded to save her breath, and found it was a bit harder to keep going during the second half of the run.

Last sentence: Maybe she could get someone her team could feel comfortable with this time.

Today's word count: 2256 (That's more like it!)

Total word count: 16,476 (... but I'm still over 8000 words behind.)

14 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 14

First sentence: “Waiting for a bus that I’m not going to take is my favourite thing,” Dom said.

Last sentence: “I won’t try to speed up or anyting, we’ll just hold this pace all the way to the end if we can.”

Today's word count: 1794

Total word count: 14,220

13 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 13

Oh, Paris. I definitely prefer the fanfiction where everyone is happy and in love to this reality that has been committed within that beautiful city. All my thoughts are with you, even as I'm trying to NaNo.

First sentence: “Really? Can I see it?” he asked.

Last sentence: “Waiting alone sucks.”

Today's word count: 230

Total word count: 12,426

12 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 12

Took longer than usual
to get to Les Mis. I must
be losing what was left
of my mind.
First sentence: She stopped walking.

Last sentence: “Ten years of my lfie carefully documented, now downloaded onto a thumb drive that’s tucked in the back of a drawer never to see the light of day again.”

Bonus round: Managed to work in a Les Misérables reference today.

Today's word count: 1752: First on-par day I've managed since the first weekend.

Total word count: 12,196

11 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 11

Today's words were entirely bus written, because this evening I went to see the Kinky Boots tour, which is fabulous and you should definitely go see it.

First sentence: She had a small cooler filled with snacks, sodas, and an ice pack, since her arm was still swollen past its usual size.

Last sentence: "It's Titus Andronicus," he said.

Today's word count: 402

Total word count: 10,444

Remembrance Day

I woke up this morning thinking that everyone was posting early for Remembrance Day before I finally got the date worked out in my head.

Source: Ali Taylor on
It still amazes me when I run into Americans who don't know about poppies or why other countries wear them. I don't know about everyone else, but I learned about the poppy tradition in high school (although U.S. veterans' groups that make and sell poppies usually do so around Memorial Day in May--but still, they do it). So I'm a bit sad to hear about the debate raging in the UK about the expectation that one must wear a poppy. As with so many other things, this is a personal decision about which different people will of course reach different conclusions, and it's a shame that it's become a battleground.

As it happens, "In Flanders Fields," while beautiful, is far from the only poem written about WWI. You can read several of them here, but the one I'm particularly touched by this Remembrance Day is "For the Fallen," which includes this beautiful verse:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
 May you and yours be blessed this Remembrance Day.

10 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 10

First sentence: The run-in with Brad came sooner than expected, as he appeared at her desk he second she put the phone down.

Last sentence: She reflected on teh trip that she probably had an unhealthy addiction to public transportation.

Today's word count: 1161

Total word count: 10,042

09 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 9

First sentence: “Very true.”

Last sentence: She would set an example for the team of how to do this right if it killed her.

Bonus round of most typos in a row: She hoped none of her taem was veelind estra-vulunerable that day.

Today's word count: 555

Total word count: 8881

08 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 8

First sentence: Kathleen gave her a treat, which also did not produce any excitement, so she gave up on making hte cat like her and instead went hunting for some medication.

Last sentence: “It makes it easy to get them to do their besa, but is not always fun to watch.”

Today's word count: 1221

Total word count: 8326

07 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 7

Yes, I missed a day of updating. I did write a few words on day 6, but nothing to get excited about. So, let's instead get a bit more excited for day 7:

First sentence: “Okay, obviously, or you wouldn’t be asking.”

Last sentence: She arrived home to the consternation of Jellylorum, who was napping on the couch and didn’t seem excited about waking up.

Today's word count: 1095

Total word count: 7105

06 November 2015

Fun Runs: Dos & Don'ts for a Great Race

This weekend is the Race for the Cure in Austin and it's that time for year all over for holiday fun runs, which are awesome. These events are great for runners and non-runners alike to have some fun with family and friends, maybe meet a goal, and mix up the holiday season. However, there is a prescribed etiquette for races, fun or otherwise, and it's not good to ignore it. Here's what you need to know before you head for the start line:

1. Slower participants start at the back. No exceptions!
This was my 52nd race in 8 years. Do
you see where I'm standing? That's
what you should do, too, unless
you're a speed demon.
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 any slow people in their way, and the slow people will almost certainly frustrate the life out of the fast people. Remember, however relaxed and laid-back this event 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 just so you can be up front.

Not sure if you're a fast runner or not? Here's a good way to find out: If your running friends who you usually train with are at the front, go ahead. In all other circumstances, including if you don't train at all, 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 say something, 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. They're out there working hard so you can have a great experience!

And one last thing...
There are some experienced runners who make a big deal out of not wearing the event t-shirt to the event. On the one hand, "nothing new on race day" is a good principle to live by-- when you put on new clothes for the event, you run the risk of chafing since you don't yet know how it will fit/rub/feel after three miles. So that's a good reason not to wear the event shirt. All other reasons people throw out-- well, what you choose to wear is none of anyone's business. I've known experienced runners, people who are age group winners and Boston qualifiers, to wear the race shirt to the race. If that's what you want to do, go right ahead. If other people wearing the event shirt bothers you so much, maybe run faster so you're too tired to care.

Are you running or walking a fun run this holiday season? Where and when?

05 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 5

I wish I could have worked in a Guy Fawkes joke today, but alas, it's only September in my novel.

First sentence: “Do you think you can guide us to a table, then?” Clara asked.

Last sentence: “Do we have a first aid kit?” she asked without even bothering to say hello.

Today's word count: 464

Total word count: 5897

04 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 4

First sentence: “Yeah, about that.”

Last sentence: “I wish I could deny either of those allegations, but I”m afraid it’s completely true that I”m brilliant at my job,” Dom said.

Today's word count: 242 (Yeah, not a good day.)

Total word count: 5433

03 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 3

In case anyone forgot this year's
unofficial motto of NaNoWriMo
First sentence: “Story of my life,” Kim said. “Well part of the story.”

Last sentence: “It’s just that we’ll never hear the end of it from Clara if we act liek we’re hitting it off that well.”

Today's word count: 1518

Total word count: 5091

02 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 2

(Remember, this series is as-is, typos and all!)

First sentence: Obviously, her own teachers had been interested in making sure she was ready for a world of red pencils and morons.

Last sentence: "You don’t want something so unusual that you can never find gifts with your name on it, but not so common that your nickname is practiaclly ‘No, the other one, not that one.’"

Today's word count: 1669

Total word count: 3673

01 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 1

First sentence: Kathleen Mitchell was already on her third coffee spill of the day, and was about to ask if four meant she could go home.

Last sentence: Kathleen didn’t understand how some of her coworkers had graduated from high school, let alone college.

31 October 2015

NaNoWriMo: The Plan

This is not my plan for NaNoWriMo itself, for which I still have no ideas and only 17 hours to come up with one. This may not be my most stellar NaNo ever. (BTW, are you a Wrimo? Let's be friends!)

Nope, this is what's happening here at Cheekyness during NaNo: every day I'll post the first sentence and the last sentence of the day, typos and nonsense included. This should be fun.

Additionally, a few kind folks, including some previous guest bloggers and beloved nieces, will be writing some guest posts for me. So some days will have two posts: one pretty one that makes sense and one with typos and goodness knows what.

Need more inspiration to get your November off with a bang? Check out NaNoMusical.

Here we go!

30 October 2015

And It Some Days Will

I never had the time to write the post I had planned for yesterday, which is a bummer, because now you won't see it until after NaNoWriMo is over. (With a wait period that long, it had better be really, really good, yes?)

So much this. Image from
wojciech wolak on
So! It's raining today and is likely to continue until tomorrow morning, which has canceled my work event for this weekend (the park would have been too wet to use). But today is supposed to be green living day, so I have a question for you: How do you deal with old rain gear?

I have an umbrella that's currently holding on by a hope and a prayer, and I'll probably need to get a new one in the next couple of months. I have an old poncho that I hardly ever wear but haven't been willing to toss yet. Is there recycling for old raincoats? What are some possible uses for broken umbrellas? I hate to send things to the landfill that could have a second life, but rain clothes have me bewildered. Surely with all that waterproofing, there's some use for them?

(Post title is a line from a Robin Mark song, "Lost and Found": the entire passage is, "When the rain falls/ and it some days will/ the pavement under my feet/ sparkles silver and gold/ in reflective light/ that I otherwise wouldn't have seen.")

28 October 2015

Stop Here, Not There

For my first week with my new theme days, I'm going to offer you a rare educational post. (This is usually the kind that brings out the folks who will tell me why I'm wrong, but hey, at least they're reading this thing.)

I was riding my bike for years before I found out how to trigger stoplights to sense my bike. It's not nearly as complicated as it seems. The bike goes directly over those lines in the pavement that look like someone with a good saw got there before you did. These lines:

The hard part may be having the confidence to put your bike over the lines. Don't be shy--it gets easier the more often you do it. And the danger in not putting your bike in its proper space at the stoplight is that you'll be waiting a while (although you can always use the pedestrian signal if taking the lane really isn't your thing).

What's something you do that's gotten easier as you go along?

27 October 2015

Light Reading

I'm very happy to have regular professional development, am okay with the realities of nonprofit life, and embrace the value in getting spare-time things done before NaNoWriMo starts... but y'all, this is a ridiculous stack of reading I'm working my way through this week.

When I say "light reading," I really
just mean I can carry these around
without hurting myself.
First: I highly recommend the top two, Social Media for Social Good and Mobile for Good, to anyone who works for a nonprofit, whether you're in the communications department or not. As the author, Heather Mansfield, often says, nonprofits can no longer afford to ignore the impact social media and the mobile web are having on our work. Get thee to a library!

Further down the stack is The Nonprofit Marketing Guide, which is slightly more outdated but still contains solid principles, and I also recommend just about anything Kivi Leroux Miller writes down. If you work in nonprofits at all, you need to be paying attention to both of these ladies. They know their stuff.

We have a work event on Saturday, our year-end appeal was supposed to have been written two weeks ago (that's my own deadline, not the office deadline... but since I'm in charge of the year-end appeal, I suppose my own deadline is the office deadline), and then we hit the ground running for our next big event in March. Oh, and I still have no ideas for NaNoWriMo.

I'm frantically reading all of these (or re-reading, in the case of a few of them) in the hopes of learning something in a hurry. The stack of magazines at the bottom are from the meeting and convention industry and are quick reads, thank goodness! The rest--well, I'm pretty good at speed-reading, thanks to grad school. Whaddya know, I learned something I can use in real life!

What are you reading this week?