A Rainy Weekend

It’s been a dreadfully rainy weekend here u Natashi (at Natasha’s), which means outside activity (i.e. walking) has been impossible. Therefore, I’ve mainly been inside reading, writing, and making macaroni and cheese.

The reading material has consisted mainly of nonfiction. In fact, I’ve read nonfiction almost exclusively this year thus far, but more on that in a later post. The most recent book I finished was Albert Speer’s Spandau: The Secret Diaries.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read that book. I think I read it a few in high school, but it’s been over ten years since I read it. I think I remembered the book as better than it actually is. Don’t be me wrong, it’s fascinating as a historical document, but I’d forgotten how miserable and depressed Speer was at times, which makes those sections difficult to read.

As for writing, I didn’t write at all yesterday, but I’ve done 2,000 words so far today. My book is rapidly approaching the end, so things are getting very exciting and dramatic. I love writing epic confrontation scenes between characters and my poor protagonist is about to have the biggest confrontation of her life. (Granted, she’s only seventeen, so she hasn’t exactly had that many confrontations before, but there are some nasty surprises awaiting her.)

I have to work tomorrow, but I wish I had another day off to write fiction and write more blog entries… and to spend some time walking since I couldn’t go on a walk this weekend. Too bad I couldn’t have worked today during all the rain so that I could have tomorrow, which is supposed to be nice and sunny, off!

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Where Does The Weekend Go?!

If there’s one complaint I have about most weekends, it’s that they’re too short. Seriously, I have so much to blog about, but no time to do it. It’s not like I was sitting around wasting time online this weekend (that’s definitely something I have been known to do…). I was out and about, running errands, walking around in the freezing cold (for exercise, not the errands), and listening to my audiobook. And now it’s Sunday night and I feel like I didn’t get anything done! Well, I did make a ton of progress on my photos organization project today, so that’s a good thing. But I didn’t blog or write fiction or even read very much.

When are three-day weekends going to become a thing?! I, for one, eagerly await such a development.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! Shortly after I wrote my prior post,* I went to the Balmy Tropics. It… wasn’t the best trip to the Balmy Tropics. The weather was great but the certain events continue. At least my mom and I went shopping and out to eat multiple times when I was there.

I wanted to start the year off right, so I wrote over a thousand words today. I still need to post my 2017 writing report—it probably will be lackluster, but I’m just trying to push forward and keep working on my writing. I’m planning to finish the draft I’ve been working on and I have a couple of short stories to edit.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a good New Year’s Day. It’s back to work tomorrow, which I’m not looking forward to because I haven’t gone to work in over a week! It’s going to be a rude awakening tomorrow…

*In my prior post, I mentioned a book I’m excited for later this year. In fact, I’m so excited that I put a countdown in the sidebar of this blog! It’ll be in the sidebar or at the bottom of the page, depending on what device you’re using to read this blog. If you’re reading via RSS or email, I think you have to click through to the blog.

Why I Canceled My Free Hulu Trial

The last time my mom visited me, I signed up for a free trial with Hulu. I wanted to watch the BBC adaptation of War and Peace, which came out in early 2016 when I was at the tail end of the job search that brought me to my current job. Needless to say, I was a bit preoccupied back then, so I missed all the news of this adaptation. I created an account on Hulu, provided my credit card, and had a free month to watch whatever I wanted—with no commercials.

Two weeks into my free trial, I canceled it.

Russians? I think not!

Why did I cancel it, you ask? First off all, I didn’t like the War and Peace adaptation. Before I started watching it, I never considered that I wouldn’t like it—it’s a costume drama based on great Russian literature, so what could I not like?!—but I didn’t. My mom watched it with me and when we finished the first episode, we both agreed that it just wasn’t that good. We couldn’t picture the actors actually being these Russian characters. The acting, at least to me, seemed very flat.

Since we were so unmoved by War and Peace, we tried 12 Monkeys, which, as you may have guessed, left us equally unmoved. We watched the recent Star Trek movie (Star Trek Beyond) and enjoyed it, but that was the only movie we found that we wanted to watch. There were some other decent movies on Hulu, but I’d seen them all already. The remaining movies were just plain bad.

So there you have it. There was no point to keeping my Hulu trial—I didn’t want to forget to cancel and then owe $11.99 for something I didn’t like anyway. I’m still baffled at how many people watch TV. I know a lot of people with Hulu and I thought I was missing something, but apparently not. For now, I’ll stick to my Russian news clips and shows—and books when I don’t feel like watching something because in general, reading beats watching TV any time.

The Great Digital Photos Organization Project

I wrote a lot early last week, then paused in my writing (yet again). This time, though, I wasn’t reading or feeling sad and unable to write. I was doing something else: I decided to embark on a project to organize my digital photos once and for all.

I have a lot of pictures. A lot. My mom bought me a digital camera in 2006 and I used it for years. (I still have it, actually.) Then, the iPhone came out and I took pictures with my phone, too.

All this to say that I’ve accumulated a rather large photo collection over the years. I used to do a good job of going through and deleting bad pictures and renaming the ones I kept so that I could actually find what I’d taken pictures of. (It’s pretty hard to tell which pictures are of your family and friends and which are of your cat when they’re all named “IMG_1001” and such.)

Somewhere along the line, I’d sort of given up organizing my photos. I kept taking pictures, though, and my collection ballooned. One reason why I don’t post a ton of pictures, either on this blog or on my social media, is I can never find anything I want! Sometimes I’ll know I have a good picture of a flower that I’d like to use, but good luck finding it. I have almost ten years’ (!) worth of photos on my computer. I haven’t checked to see how many photos in total I have, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s ten thousand, minimum.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to organize this mass of digital imagery once and for all. After much thought and research, I’ve decided to use the Mac Photos application with a referenced library. (A managed library is the default.) That way, I can preserve my file structure, but will still be able to browse my photos in chronological order. Best of all, the Photo application will scan my photos for faces (it found my cat’s face in addition to human faces!) and will index everything so I can search for a topic (like “cactus” or “snow”).

I made a lot of progress on my photo organization project last week. It’s going to take a while to go through and delete what I don’t want and move everything I do want to keep into the right place. But I’m hoping to have a completely organized catalog of photos by early next year, which will be amazing.

Yarn Bomb!

This weekend, I decided to organize my yarn collection, once and for all. I don’t have a ton of yarn… but I don’t exactly have a paltry amount, either.

This was the result when I had all of my yarn out in my living room.

Click to see larger.

Now, I know this isn’t a yarn bomb per se, but it does look like part of a yarn shop exploded there.

So yes, I did organize my yarn. I allocated some of it to patterns I want to make. (I have a bad habit of buying random yarn I like without a specific pattern in mind, which leads to the yarn just sitting around and accumulating without being made into something.)

I also made something last night. Yes, this cowl can be made in an entire evening, it goes so quickly. It’s crocheted, which helps. I crochet a lot faster than I knit!

It reminds me of the desert!

We had off from work on Friday due to snow. The snow was so beautiful that I went outside to admire it. We had a good 3-4 inches, from what I’ve heard. Of course, it’s almost all melted now, but it was gorgeous on Friday.

Massive Four-Month Writing Report

I’m back, dear readers! Don’t worry, my silence this time wasn’t as long as last time… I was just busy celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with my mom. We ate a ton of food and did a ton of shopping. I ended up with some new yarn—which I definitely do not need, considering how much yarn I have lying around at home, but it’s such beautiful yarn that it’s okay—and I went back to work last week. (I will post some pictures of the yarn, but not tonight because it’s getting late!)

I also am trying to get back into my writing. I’m tired of feeling too demoralized and sad to write. I will write! I will finish the book I’m working on. I hate leaving projects unfinished. There’s always hope that a finished project, even if it’s a bit raw and ragged around the edges, can be edited and polished into something a bit more beautiful. As it stands right now, my current work in progress is about halfway complete. I need it to be fully complete to edit it.

Anyway, I realized that I haven’t done a monthly writing report since July. That’s appalling! I don’t want to write four separate posts for August, September, October, and November, especially since those months weren’t so great for writing, so I thought I’d combine them in this post.

  • August: 17,400 words, daily average 561 words
  • September: 12,116 words, daily average 403 words
  • October: 11,086 words, daily average 357 words
  • November: 5,119 words, daily average 170 words

Now, this wouldn’t be a bad thing if I’d been outlining on paper, as I often do, but the sad truth is that by November, I was barely writing anything. In August, I did pretty well. In September, I wrote one short story. In October, I went back to my current work in progress briefly. And in November, I did a little bit of outlining for another project (because I was convinced I’d have to abandon my current project) and wrote a short story (my first in the horror genre!), but that was it.

The good news is that so far this month, I’ve written more than half of what I did last month, which is good. I don’t really have a word count goal for this month beyond reversing the dismal trend above. Basically, I just want to write more words this month than last. And I am going to finish my current work in progress so that it can someday be edited. Now, if only I could get better at editing… fellow writers out there who have the whole editing thing down, how did you do it?! Inquiring minds want to know, as I’m so much more comfortably brainstorming and outlining and writing than I am editing.

I Have Returned.

I am Grand Admiral Thrawn. I have been away, but now I have returned. I know some of what has occurred. You will fill in the details of the rest when I come aboard. Rejoice, Captain, for the Empire will rise again.

–Grand Admiral Thrawn, from the story A Grand Admiral Returns

Yes, dear readers, it is true: I have returned. I’ve been away from blogging for a while—over a month, by my count—and I was questioning whether I wanted to continue writing this blog. You see, there have been certain events taking place in my life over the past month or so that really threw me for a loop. These events are ongoing, by the way, so unfortunately there is no resolution (yet). Due to this, I’ve been having trouble doing anything I enjoy lately, aside from reading.

Since I wasn’t doing other things I like—writing, knitting, playing violin—I’ve been reading. A lot. I’m on track to read over a hundred books this year. So much for getting a lot of writing done like I planned. To look on the bright side, though, I’ve had the chance to read a ton of random books I may not have picked up. I read a Star Wars trilogy, which isn’t something I ever thought I’d do! I’m not a hardcore Star Wars fan—I’ve seen one of the movies, know the basic premise of a few others, and that’s about it. I do like science fiction a lot, though, so the books I read (Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy) were right up my alley and I enjoyed them immensely. I haven’t read the story from which I took the quote at the beginning of this post, though. I’d love to read it, but it’s a short story, not a novel, and I can’t seem to get my hands on the book in which it was published.

What else is new? I’ve been trying to study Russian more. I feel like I’ve gradually gotten away from Russian and I don’t want that to happen, so I’ve been making a conscious effort to incorporate more Russian into my life. (And just so you know, you can never have too much Russian in your life.) I’ve been listening to some audiobooks and knitting—doing two things at once is amazing, especially when they’re two things you like. And I’ve been going to work, of course, since I need money to fund my reading and knitting.

One thing I have not been doing is writing fiction. The certain events that are taking place made me so upset I couldn’t write. I became especially upset at the novel I was working on—I can’t even look at the thing right now. (To be fair, I had been getting rather frustrated with that book long before the events started taking place. I have a bit of a history with that manuscript and I’m beginning to think it’s time to just let that idea go and work on something else.) I’ve started brainstorming for a new book I’ve wanted to write for years. It’s historical fiction that takes place in Soviet Russia. I also have a manuscript I need to sit down and edit, but I haven’t done that yet, either.

I am back, though. I don’t want to give up blogging. I don’t want to give up Russian. I don’t want to give up writing fiction. I’ve missed having them in my life. It’s late enough right now that I’m going to bed soon—but I will work on some writing tomorrow, even if it’s just editing a few sentences in my manuscript for fifteen minutes.

Decluttering

Fear not, dear readers, I am still here! The past couple of weeks have been busy for me—we’re trying to wrap up the first stage of a project at work—and so I’ve been working and reading and working on a bit of fiction writing.

I’ve also been decluttering. Now, I don’t think I have that much stuff. Compared to a lot of my friends, I’m very decluttered indeed. But there are a fair amount of things I have that I’m not so sure I need anymore. (Did I ever need them in the first place? That is a good question.) As of late, my focus has been on decluttering papers. My papers are stacked in various places throughout my apartment. There are the financial papers on a shelf I use for office supplies and other stuff. There are the old notes I have in a cabinet. And there are the completely old and random papers in my closet.

A couple weeks ago, I found a bunch of old papers from high school in my closet. High school, you guys! I didn’t like high school and so I have no idea why I was even hanging onto these. I put them in the stack to be disposed of, along with some other things from my college graduation (I’ve saved some materials from that event, but I didn’t need three copies of the same exact document). I also found old sheet music I never play anymore, along with a few old music articles that I have no use for.

The biggest thing I decided to declutter, though, are my class notes. Longtime readers will know I was a history major back in the day. I loved my major. In fact, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a person who loved that major more than I did. I planned on teaching history and ended up saving a lot of my notes from various history classes.

Except then I left the field and found something else to do. Don’t get me wrong—I still love history. I read history books, both nonfiction and fiction, and would like to write some historical fiction of my own someday. But it’s been over five years since I last took a formal history class. Did I really need a bunch of old history class notes hanging around? For ages, I’ve thought the answer to that was yes, but today I realized the answer is probably no, so the old notes are in the to-be-disposed-of pile right now. I saved a few papers I wrote that made me happy, but that’s it. There’s no point in keeping some notes around that I haven’t read in nearly ten years.

This goes for electronic version of notes as well. During my freshman year in college, I typed all my notes. I switched to handwritten notes during sophomore year, but I still had old Word documents from freshman year sitting on my hard drive. Those are now in the trash on my computer. I hadn’t opened those since 2008 or 2009. Did I really need that? Obviously, the answer is no.

What I didn’t expect is how good I feel after deciding to get rid of all these papers (and computer files). I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t even realize how much they were dragging me down until they, well, weren’t anymore. Seriously, the cathartic and therapeutic value of decluttering is seriously underrated. If you want a quick pick-me-up, go declutter something. It doesn’t have to take hours. I do it in fifteen to thirty minute spurts and I always feel great afterwards.

A Labor Day Weekend in Bullet Points

  • I don’t feel like writing a traditional, proper posts with paragraphs because I’m tired, so I thought I’d use bullet points instead. I didn’t sleep well last night, so I’ve been tired all day.
  • I didn’t really do anything for Labor Day Weekend and it was kind of glorious. I mainly lounged around and read. In fact, I binge-read a Michael Crichton book (Sphere) because I basically could not put it down. I also needed to vacuum but I didn’t get around to that, but it’s no big loss. 😉
  • The weather here has been gorgeous for the past several days. Very low humidity, which is amazing. I’m always surprised at how much humidity can ruin an otherwise nice day.
  • I went on a trip to Arizona recently (last weekend, including Monday and Tuesday as well, making it a long weekend). I was so tired that I slept for eleven hours on Friday night. I will post pictures at some point—I haven’t even gone through all the ones I took on my phone! But rest assured I plan to create a photo gallery.
  • I haven’t been writing fiction very much lately, so I’m going to go work on a novel after I type this post. I also have an idea for a historical fiction detective story that I’m eager to brainstorm and write. I always brainstorm with a pen and paper—because I’m old-fashioned like that—and it can be really relaxing to just sit and handwrite.