You’ve got to hold me to it

OK, blog friends, are you ready for this? I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. That’s National Novel Writing Month. That means writing 50,000 words in 30 days, or 1667 words a day. Yikes! I already write for a living, so I’m crossing my fingers that I can pack another 1667 into each 24 hours.

So why am I telling you this? Well, the folks at NaNo recommend that writers tell everyone they know that they’re participating in the novel writing so we’ll be shamed into finishing our novels. Can’t tell everybody we’re writing a novel and then not live up to that standard, you know!

There’s a lot of criticism of NaNoWriMo, and rightly so. Not everybody is a good writer. Some people are just really good at churning out a whole lot of garbage (well, OK, I was an English major). What I hope to gain from NaNoWriMo is a serious kick in the pants. I have an idea for a novel that I think is pretty good, yet I keep backing away from it. “Oh, I don’t have enough time,” and “I’m a journalist. Anything longer than 30 inches is asking quite a lot,” and “It’s just going to be drivel anyway, so why try?” have been holding me back long enough.

Here’s what my novel is going to be about: A young journalist returns to his hometown of Two Ocean in northwestern Montana for a job at the local newspaper, the Two Ocean Times. He discovers a new side of his town, and learns that while a place like Two Ocean is hard to leave, it’s even harder to stay.

So, I expect that the vast majority of what I write will indeed be drivel, but I’ll have a solid start and clean up and edit from there.

OK, here’s the part where you all promise not to laugh at me in the middle of November when I’m insufferably whiny. As of right now, though, I’m insanely excited!


The hitch

There I was, lying in bed in the hotel room the night before my wedding, attempting in vain to get my brain to turn off so I could get some sleep.

In the room next door, someone whistled incessantly. Whistling? At 2:30 a.m.? I considered banging on the wall.

The phone rang. I ignored it. It was 2:30 in the morning after all. It rang again. And again. I stumbled out of bed and across the room.

The screen read the name of one of the groomsmen. He’s a sweet guy, but he’s always been kind of a wreck. We’ll call him Pete.

“What?” I asked, not bothering to hide my irritation.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t know where anyone is and I don’t have anywhere to sleep,” Pete said in a drunken slur.

A string of profanities whirred through my head. I pushed back images of the grisly violence I would inflict on the offending groomsmen to answer Pete’s cry for help.

“Can’t you call the others? Call them to come get you,” I suggested.

“They’re not answering their phones,” he told me. “Oh, hang on, Ashley’s calling.”

Who’s Ashley? I thought to myself as he hung up. Maybe she’s coming to get him.

“Just let him figure it out,” Shawn said in a sleep-muzzed voice.

“And have to pick him up from the police in the morning? No thanks!”

About two minutes later, just has I had crawled back into bed and pulled the covers up, the phone rang.

“What is it, Pete?” I answered through gritted teeth.

“I don’t know what to do,” he whined.

“Oh for heaven’s sake, come to our hotel room and spend the night,” I practically shouted.

I told the groomsman which hotel we were staying in and despite my specific directions and the fact that he lived in Lincoln for years, somehow he managed to lose himself. Again.

“Which streets is the hotel on?” he asked during the 10th phone call in the past half-hour.

Out we went into the muggy Lincoln, Neb. night to track down the groomsman.

Standing at the door of the hotel eating a taco was a good friend who had flown in for the wedding.

“Oh hey, Nat” I said to her as I walked past. It took me a minute to recognize her because of how out of place she was standing there.

She followed my then-fiance Shawn and I into the street. I complained to her about the situation while she munched on her taco.

“Well, when the other groomsmen get married, make sure Pete has to spend the night with them,” Nat suggested.

Pete came tottering down the block, finally. On the corner another group of drunks harassed him and Shawn went across the street to lead Pete over.

We got him up the elevator to the eighth floor and were walking to the room when Pete leaned over the railing to look down on the atrium below.

Oh god, I thought, now he’s going to ralph all over the hotel.

Shawn and I were of one mind and we dashed back to guide Pete to the room. We steered him toward the bathroom and then deposited him firmly on the sofa.

We were finally getting wound down and falling asleep when Pete’s phone started ringing. He answered and began talking to whomever was on the other line.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I muttered, while Shawn giggled about the whole affair. “Pete! Turn your phone off or you’re sleeping in the hallway!”

A meek voice answered. “Oh, OK.”

I’m proud to report that instead of killing Pete where he slept — I was sorely tempted — I even brought him a bagel for breakfast the next morning.

Our wedding went wonderfully. The reception was one heck of a party and everyone had a great time talking and dancing. I was glad the day went off nearly without a hitch.

Monday, as Shawn and I were making our way back to Montana, my mother called.

“I want to tell you about one incident at the reception,” she said.

Turns out Pete was hitting on her all night.

Oh, for Pete’s sake.

And sometimes you just get lucky

So, there I was, driving home from an assignment at a local school. I’d spent hours longer there than I planned. Somehow I got roped into helping students with their long division homework in the after-school program. I was waiting to get to the main event, in which the after-school program director was going to show the kids animal skulls and a lynx pelt. But they had to finish their homework first. Argh. Anyway, three and a half hours later, FREEDOM. (It had already been a 10-hour work day.)

I was driving back home and I saw this kid on a bicycle on the side of the road riding toward me. Then I noticed that he was sporting a foot-tall red mohawk. We gawked at each other as I drove past (me at the mohawk, him likely at the Nebraska license plate). I drove about half a mile and said to myself, “What was I thinking!” and turned around, hoping he’d still be riding down the road.

I found him, young Brandon, and pulled over. I coerced him (well, I think he was stoically excited, actually) into letting me take some photos of him for a feature photo in next week’s newspaper. What a good sport. Only had one person stop and ask if I needed help because my flashers were on (read: Are you trying to abduct this poor kid?).



It’s been a very stressful week at work and on top of it, I’ve still got an awful lot to do to prepare for the wedding in (gasp!) 16 days! I am trying my best not to become bridezilla. ROAR!

However, one of my lovely bridesmaids gave me a good piece of advice: it’s OK to be upset, but it’s not OK to be rude. Another friend, the fabulous Kristin K, suggested I delegate the responsibility of bridezilla to someone else. Now that’s good planning!

Things truly are coming together for the wedding. On my to-do list still:
– Take dress for altering to super-awesome, super-fast seamstress
– Draw up a wedding day schedule for the people who need to know where to be when.
– Put in a “not to be a badger — ROAR BRIDEZILLA! — but how are things coming?” phone call to the florist, cake maker, caterer, DJ, photographer, reception hall.
– Get my programs printed.
– Make sure the people who need to be at the rehearsal realize they need to be there.
– Draw up a list of toasters and coerce said toasters into actually toasting.
– Resist temptation to call the people who got invitations who haven’t RSVP’d and ask them what the h*ll is their problem why can’t they read that the invitation clearly says to RSVP by Oct. 5 don’t they realize how rude they’re being ROAR BRIDEZILLA! I mean, calmly continue to accept the slow trickle of RSVPs and grin and bear buying 25 extra meals that may not get eaten.
– Resist temptation to take Shawn and make a run for Idaho to the “Hitching Post” and elope next weekend. I think what’s preventing me from doing that is the overall cheese factor of a place called the Hitching Post. It might even be a drive-thru. Seriously tacky. My great-grandmother eloped, but that’s because she was a Dane marrying a Swede. Big no-no there. And somehow everything is more romantic in “the good ol’ days.”
– Get super excited for a week vacation and spending the majority of that time with my soon-to-be husband, who rocks my world. Most people hate 17-hour car rides (yep, Montana is a big friggin’ state), but I don’t when I have Shawn to talk to!

BUT! Saturday night is my Montana bachelorette party with some seriously awesome ladies and I am pretty stoked (and pretty afraid — please me nice to me, gals!).

To every season, turn, turn, turn

We’re having a gorgeous autumn in Montana. These photos are from nearby Butte. Shawn and I went on a picnic last weekend to a small state park on the Jefferson River. We had a lovely time and enjoyed driving through canyons bursting with color.

Here’s the river, winding its way through the canyon, the railroad tracks at its side.

We’re supposed to have a rough, cold La Nina winter full of snow. I hope autumn decides to stick around a long, long time. It’s just so beautiful! Just about everyone I know claims autumn as their favorite season, and I’m no different. The way the air smells — full of calm, crisp air and burning leaves — and the scads of baked goods involving pumpkin are my favorite parts. Oh! And it’s soup season again. I love soup.

Shawn and I had such a lovely weekend. Living apart is very difficult, especially after living together for nine months. I’m dreading the separation that comes after we get married. We don’t even get a honeymoon until next year, which positively stinks in my book. One thing can be said of our separation: we cherish each other and we don’t take each other for granted! Our picnic was such fun. We also went to a neat specialty foods store near his apartment that is beyond amazing. The wine selection alone is enough to make your had spin. I couldn’t resist and picked up two soup mixes, two bottles of wine, a jar of jam, some natural cleaning solution and some cheese. All will be mightily enjoyed in the weeks to come.