Sunday, December 27, 2015

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like F*&$ This

For the past two months, it seems like I've been trying to do my best impersonation of a force-fed Christmas goose or perhaps a veal calf. Between the sedentary, candy fueled marathon of Nanowrimo, the post Nano blahs, and two major eating holidays, and a general aversion to going out in the dark and the bullshit winter weather, my pants zippers are just about screaming to be put out of their misery.

Like most of the lemmings, I have officially hit the end of my endurance for all manner of things that end with "olly," so of course I started back into running yesterday. And I can say that after nearly two full months of doing fuck-all, running two days back to back in the cold and the rain has all my bits hurting anew. In fact, I may have discovered entirely new bits to hurt. It makes me want to curl up around a computer and binge watch Netflix while I suck on my thumb.

My dog, on the other hand, couldn't be more thrilled.


It's not all a bunch of cold, damp bullshit. Running is the best thing out there that doesn't come in a bottle for boosting my super sunny disposition. The more I run, the longer my "fuck this" tether gets, and my "fuck this" tether has gotten really, really short of late. Short enough that I actually set my alarm clock for four a.m., an hour that shouldn't exist anywhere, so I could get a run in before the work week. That was before I found out we're supposed to be getting an all day ice storm starting in the wee hours.

Because of course we are.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Turky Trauma and Thousands of Words

If you have participated in NaNoWriMo, you know well the challenges surrounding Thanksgiving. It's a quagmire  for writers. Word counts die on this day. In the past, I have felt lucky just to get a couple hundred words

My accomplishment for this Thanksgiving? Writing two thousand words while navigating family, the OH DEAR SWEET BABY JESUS I JUST ATE MY WEIGHT IN STUFFING sensation and binging on Candy Crush Soda Saga (is this a humble brag? I think I may have just humble bragged.)

Black Friday I spent adding another two thousand words, and I can finally, proudly say: The End Is Nigh. I am finally caught up with this month's word goal and I can see the sweet, sweet light of freedom.

What have I learned from this NaNoWriMo?

1) I hate writing literary fiction. Hate. It. I have precisely 0% interest in producing anything the League Of English Professors will approve of ever again. It's back to wizards and space operas for me, thank you very much.

2) Outlines are helpful. Seriously, that I have one is the only reason I did not bank out entirely. It's why I am going to finish this monstrosity.

3)If you put your plot bunnies in time out, they will eventually settle down and let you get to work. I have a couple Word files filled with story ideas right now. And I am going to start working on one in earnest the second this month is over.

So that's it. I am going to try to get three or four thousand words done today, so I can finish up entirely by tomorrow. Because Monday is my birthday, and I don't want to be working on this damn project when I could be crafting myself a Tuesday morning hangover, that's why.

Ciao for now.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

For The First Week Of NaNoWriMo, I Lost My Sanity....

In which I give a brief summary of this week's activities.

Day One:

Wake up late. Look at the goal of hand writing this novel. Realize I was clearly crack addled when I made that goal. Open up Scrivner. Write a bunch. Go to the write in at St. Peter's. Write a bunch more. Eat diabetes inducing quantities of sugar despite having brought healthy snacks. Like an asshole. Crush my word goal. Forget coat at St. Peter's. Realize the fact far too late to do any good. Swear a bunch. Drink a beer.

Day Two:

Wake up in agony. Pop pain killers. Pull a few hundred words out of my bone marrow at lunch. Go home. Get shitty news. Write some more anyway. Curse the stupid inefficacy of stupid painkillers and stupid, ill timed migraines. Hit my word count goal anyway. Flip off the universe. Go to bed.

 Day Three:

First two plot bunnies show up. They are fluffy and adorable. Put them in a pen and promise to play with them the second November is over. Receive yet more shitty news at lunch, and spend the rest of the day trying to proofread through tears. Go home and write anyway. Hit my word count goal. Flip off the Gods of NaNo for daring to try to thwart me then  apologize and swear I didn't really mean it. Please stop hurting me.

Day Four:

Wake up late, feeling like Satan personally shat in my Wheaties. Whimper over coffee.Write at lunch. Nearly forget to feed myself. More plot bunnies show up. Beg them to stop fucking and let me finish my novel. Go home in the goddamn dark. Trip in the yard and sprain wrist. Write some more despite feeling like someone tried to beat me with a lead pipe. Go to choir. Sing. Write some more. Barely squeak past my word count goal. Whimper some more. Go to bed.

Day Five:

Write at lunch. Resign myself to the rampant fornication of the plot bunnies. Manage neither to injure myself nor receive shitty news. Go home. Write more. Hit word count goal. Drink celebratory beer. Pat self on back. Go to bed.

Day Six:

Write at lunch. Go to a cafe and write a little more. Realize I am a half step away from chanting "red rum RED RUM" in a shrill, crazy voice. Decide to take the rest of the night off for my mental health. Get drunk. Regret nothing.

Day Seven:

Do several hours of printmaking. Go to the library and do a couple of word sprints. Curse myself for falling so far behind. Take the dog to the dog park and watch him run around like an idiot. Transfer my Scrivner MS into Word. Realize I was massively off on my word count because Scrivner can't count. Cry. Vow to spend the rest of the night doing word sprints to catch up.

Post Script:

I just found my missing words. I had managed to hide one of my chapters in Scrivnerland. So, maybe wait until the month is over to start learning this program? Yes. Sounds like a plan.

Monday, November 2, 2015

What's Black And Blue And Pissed Off All Over

*This post first appeared at Tumblr. I am re-posting because I anticipate losing my soul to NaNoWriMo, and I want to try and stay consistent with this here blog.

I have a love hate relationship with going on long runs with my dog Buster. On the love side, he’s a great motivator. All I have to do when I’m on the fence about going on a run is pick up my running shoes, and that damn animal explodes with joy. It’s contagious. He’s even conned my husband, an avid and committed couch surfer into running a few times, and before Buster I was convinced nothing short of a velociraptor out for sweet, sweet white guy blood would do that.
On the hate side, there’s the pulling.

I don’t know if any of you has ever tried to train a Pitt Bull how not to pull like the little Goddamn engine that could, but it’s challenging.  It made me wonder at times: is trying to rip my spine out through my arm a life goal for my dog?

We’ve made some progress over the years. He mostly heels when we’re on a walk and he runs a few feet ahead of me. Normally, running with my dog is pretty enjoyable.


There is one notable exception to the happy, well-mannered running rule. Critters. Man, you put a terrier… any terrier in front of a small and fluffy, and they will turn into laser guided killing machines. It doesn’t really matter much what kind of small fluffy it is: rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, whatever. If he sees it, he’s gone, and screw whoever happens to be holding the leash at the time.
That brings me to my tale of woe. Saturday morning I woke up early. The weather was fine, and I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to take his nibs out to the Great Western Trail for a long run. For those of you who don’t know it, the Great Western Trail is up in Northern Illinois. It’s about eighteen miles through farm and marsh land. Tall grasses and trees line the path. It’s a great place to go, and I tend to run at least ten miles. That day, my plan was to do about thirteen.

Well, about four miles in, I was feeling great, the dog was happy. All was right with the world. And then a fucking chipmunk darted out in front of us. And Buster gunned for it with every ounce of strength in his body.

Perhaps it might be helpful to note that while he is only 49 pounds, those 49 pounds are 100% lean muscle, and I was in mid stride.

Most people would just sort of instinctively let go of the leash at this point. Not me. Oh hell no. My reflex reaction to my dog tearing off like a bat out of hell is to form a death grip on the leash. My stubborn goes all the way down.

I sort of did a belly flop onto the gravel, and the dog proceeded to drag me three feet until he finally ripped the leash out of my hand.

I flailed on the ground for a few minutes, holding my gut and gasping for breath. TMI moment of the day: I have a fibroid tumor. It’s about the size of a grapefruit. When I was diagnosed, I joked with my husband that it’s really my twin that I ate in the womb. And I named him Eustace. Because he’s a painful asshole, and Eustace seems kind of like an asshole name. That’s why.

Guess who I landed on?

Oh yeah, that’s right. Eustace.

Instead of doing the sane thing and turning right the fuck back around and going home, where there are ice packs and heating pads, I was so mad that I ended up running ten miles.
Ten miles was how long it took me to stop chanting “Red Rum. Red Rum. Red Rum” in my head.
The dog was naturally perfectly oblivious to this fact. He’d chased a chipmunk AND gone on a run. Best Day Ever!

The next morning, I woke up bright and early, and because I am a total masochist, I went on a run again. This time sans dog.

Sweet saint fuck, was that ever a shitty idea.

It turns out Eustace really doesn’t like being dropped hard on a gravel trail and dragged three feet because the next day when I went running he felt sort of like he was trying to chew through my abdominal cavity. We already know who won that battle, so I kept running because if Caesar Milan has taught me anything, it’s important to assert your dominance.

Fortunately, that experience burned out all the pig headed I have in me for the week, and I won’t be running at least until tomorrow at the earliest.

So here I am again, dog sulking at the foot of the bed because I can’t run with him yet, cozied up to a heating pad, waiting for the swelling to go down.

Ain’t running grand?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Non Medical Medical Expenses And Other Unicorns

OK, before you read this and freak the fuck out, my husband is OK. Spoiler alert: He was not actually having a heart attack a few months ago. He is about as well as a middle aged man who smokes and tries to convince me that Entenmann's donuts are a vegetable can be. Surprisingly, this is far more well than I would credit.

It didn't feel like it at the time. At the time it was Sunday evening, and he was experiencing chest pains. The doctor's office was closed. And like a reasonable grown ass man, he decided to go to the Christing ER to make sure he wasn't about to make me a widow.

Did he do this because he's afraid I'd dig him up and kill him twice again for doing this to me?

No comment.

Fast forward to this Saturday when we get the statement from his health insurance denying his claim.

Apparently, according to my husband's health insurance,  going to the ER because you were experiencing many of the symptoms of a heart attack while driving does not constitute a medical expense and is therefore is not covered.

Now I could understand if he tried to get the ER to bill for an emergency beergutectomy. I'd probably question the medical necessity of that as well, but chest pains, jaw pain, dizziness and shortness of breath seem, pardon me because I didn't go to med school, sort of fucking serious and probably something you shouldn't ignore.

Thank you for clarifying that for me, health insurance. Heaven forefend anyone accuse you of just trying to step out on your obligations, probably so your CEO can justify giving himself another bonus (ex wives and hookers don't pay for themselves, y'all) I trust my health insurance provider's morality implicitly.

And I also sell bridges for a living.

Perhaps you might be interested in this one:

Easy payments of $99.99! It's a steal!

Isn't it great that we don't live in a socialist hell such as Great Britain and Canada, where citizens don't have to play "Is this pain going to kill me if I ignore it" roulette?

It's awesome.


Fuck yeah.
Monday we got a check from his health insurance flex plan. It covers most of the ER bill. So I guess not covered means not not coveredish.
I don't know.
Pardon me while I beat my head against a brick wall.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Seriously guys, if human babies were anywhere near this cute, I would have like a dozen easy. You wouldn't think that eating a berry in super slow motion would make anything cuter, but it does. Exponentially.

Frankly, I think the whole slower = cuter thing is what my cat relies on because, to be quite blunt, he can be quite the little turd burger. We're talking about an animal who spent this Sunday afternoon alternating between trying to get me to feed him by licking any part of my body I left undefended (he had a full bowl of food that he did not deign to touch) and trying to tip over my glass of water (he had both the dog's bowl and his to choose from, but water spilled from my cup is always better). The fact that he does a passable impersonation of a slow loris; however, seems to cover all sins in my book.
If he had a shell, I think he might just be able to get away with murder.

Please nobody tell him. I want the dog to live.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Opening Salvo

OK, so this isn't so much a new blog as a change in venue. For a while, I've been blogging over at the Tumbr, which has plenty of lovely pictures to scroll through. That's the problem. The pictures.

You see, I'm fairly distractible, (No! Gasp!) and all of the lovely pictures tend to take me off in about ten dozen different tangents, which is fun but not so great for the old productivity. Also Tumblr isn't so great for the almost exclusively text-based blogs. So there's that.

Hopefully, this new platform will be a little more conducive to writing, but I'm not going to kid you. This blog is named The Shiny Squirrel Diaries for a goddamn good reason. I like doing new things. Recently, I have taken up computer coding, etching, and Spanish. Next month, I'll be participating in NaNoWriMo. I'm in a book club, and I game twice a month. And I'm a distance runner.

Because I live by the philosophy that sleep is for assholes, apparently. That's why.

Consistency isn't exactly my strong suit. Or it would be if I could get JK Rowling to send me one of those goddamn time necklaces.

But I'm going to try.

Because writing is fun, and because I like inflicting my crazy on the rest of the world.

You're welcome.