Monday, November 27, 2006
  Pediatric Grand Rounds Will be Here

A long time ago, in a galaxy, well, uhm... actually very close, I happily signed up to host Pediatric Grand Rounds because I love watching children learn and explore their world. I love how they make the world new all over again for us.

This is a call for submissions. What has a child taught you lately?

Deadline: Saturday Dec 2 at 10:00 pm Mountain Time, which is 12:00 am Eastern Time, Sunday 5:00 AM Greenwich, and Sunday 3:00 pm in Melbourne and Sidney.

You can email your submissions to me using: ami at geekatplay dot com.

Today, a child has taught me that water is not good unless it comes from both the tap and the refridgerator dispenser. Also, white out in bottles are great for making clicking sounds on tile floors in school bathrooms after running away from mom. What the little tike doesn't realize is how good of a homing device this is.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
  Nanowrimo: Too much to do + Writer's Block = not enough words

You may have noticed that I stopped writing. The reasons are many and varied, but all boil down to two facts: one you know - November is the worst month for me.

The second is that I stopped caring about the story that was developing, even though I liked the individual parts and I loved the premise. I think I actually got writer's block, something I've rarely experienced.

The diagnosis of writer's block is not simply the inability to write. Most of the population has that, including such luminaries as Dan Brown, William Shatner, and Christopher Paolini. Clearly such a lack doesn't necessarily stop one from creating novels.

Nor Writer's Block strictly a lack of ideas. And it certainly isn't laziness.

Writer's Block requires that a story already be in progress, and the author is working hard on it, but has been unable to write more of the story. This usually means that the author has taken a wrong turn somewhere. The solution is to find out where things went bad, erase it (even if they love what they had written before, and start over from that point on.

So that is what I need to do. Hrm... I guess I could still count all those other words in my word count. I don't think that will work though. Not for me, anyway.

The reason this is the first time I've experienced true writer's block is because in every case except this, I always know my endings and my main characters very well. In this case, I didn't. The idea simply hasn't cooked enough in my brain. It is good enough to be a novel, and too much to make into a short story. I thought of it just a couple of weeks before Nanowrimo began, and that isn't nearly long enough. It will probably end up being either the second or third novel I write (unless the other two end up needing more than one book which is a very good possibility.)

So rather than stumble through it and make myself confused, I may write more ideas down for word count but I will be focusing on rewriting the contest piece I recently finished and outlining the novel I want to have finished by next June.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
  Silicon Implants

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.

Well, silliness has been vanquished by more silliness in order to enact silliness. Yes, our government has decreed that silicon implants are safe. A company had to go under before that happened, but that's okay. It was just a big pharma monster that deserved what it got.

Breast implants are a pet peeve of mine. They are the ultimate symbolic action by a woman to say "Hey, it's okay to see me as just a sex toy. Look, I'm enhanced!" Ugh. It does not improve your health, it does not improve your personality, and it puts you at risk for several complications.

But maybe I'm a hypocrit, because I'm about to undertake the first steps towards a procedure that I've wanted done for a long, long time. It does, in fact, involve silicon that will be implanted into my body. Maybe.

I took my contacts off for the last time today for a couple of weeks in order to have an exam that will determine the best procedure to correct my vision. Since I have a diopter of 10.0 in my left eye and 10.5 in my right eye, I am not a very good candidate for lasik. There is just not enough cornea to accomodate that kind of correction.

So, I will have either the Visian or the Veriseye (formerly Artisan) implants.

The biggest reason I want them is because I hate my glasses. I do not like the shape they make my face, the way my eyes are much smaller, and I think I still hold a deep seated insecurity from being teased about them in elementary school. I try to deny this, by saying everything else that is true. I want to see things in the middle of the night, and as soon as I wake up without needing to wear my glasses. I want to open my eyes in the water when I'm swimming, or at the very least not be worried about losing a contact as well as be able to see. Messing with contacts is inconvenient and it would save me time.

But I have to admit, the biggest reason is looks and psychological. And so it makes me wonder: I am undergoing a surgery in order to enhance my natural form. Should I look askance breast implants?

Hrm. There is a factor that comes into play. My natural form is flawed. I cannot see well enough to function without correction. A small breast is not a flaw.
  Lessons and Miracles

Around 8:30 last night I got a call from my next door neighbor asking me to be a substitute teacher for a children's class at church, as she was sick. Luckily for her, I had traded with another teacher in the women's class so that I would be teaching next week instead of this week, so I was able to do it.

"Wonderful. Shelly* will be teaching the lesson so you won't have to worry about that," my neighbor said.

Wait a minute. "Shelly is your partner?"

"Yeah. I'll call her and tell her you'll be there."

It was too late now to back out. My neighbor was unaware of my situation with Shelly. It doesn't really matter to you exactly what had transpired, except to know that her and her husband's continuing denial directly harmed their children and indirectly harmed several families including ours. I was more upset at the neglect of her child, causing him to later require extended treatment, than at anything that happened with us. I was angry with her lack of integrity. She seemed to have been far more worried about appearances.

I wondered if I, too, were worried about appearances because I didn't want to now refuse because it might make our neighbor wonder why I didn't like Shelly. But really, none of it, including the hard feelings, was something I wanted to spread about when it wouldn't help anyone. Not to mention that these hard feelings I still harbored weren't worth me not helping out where help was needed.

At nine this morning we went to church and into our different classrooms, today in a different place for me. As Shelly taught the well prepared lesson, I realized what it was about.

No way, I thought to myself. I looked at the lesson manual. It was opened to a place near the end of the book, as appropriate for this time of year.

This woman was teaching a lesson on forgiving others.

For children, these lessons are simple, with stories appropriate to their age, but the concepts do not change no matter how old you are. She told a story of a boy who had worked hard raking leaves and his friend who had then scattered them all over. As she told the story, the thought came to me:

You've fixed what was wrong, you've gathered up all the leaves together again in your own yard. You've done the only thing you could to help their family. You may not be able to trust some things about her, but there are other ways you can trust her. This is where she is at, and that is none of your business except to accept her for who she is.

And then I went home to study the lesson I was to give the next week. When I traded weeks to teach, I became responsible for teaching a lesson that comes from talks that the world leadership of our church gives at General Conference, which occurs every 6 months. A specific one is assigned for each month. This month, my lesson was to come from a talk by Elder David A. Bednar entitled "And Nothing Shall Offend Them". Here is a choice nugget from that talk:

"In the grand division of all of God's creations, there are things to act
and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our
Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the
capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are
agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that
someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter
diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As
agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will
respond to an offensive or hurtful situation."
I'm reflecting on the course of events that transpired today. I had traded which week I would be teaching, making me available to help out during the week when Shelly would be teaching a lesson of forgiveness, a lesson which had essentially been assigned for this week over a year ago by lesson number, and many years ago when the manual was created. Second, my neighbor called me in circumstances which I could not refuse. And then the lesson I studied that very day, again on a subject over which neither I nor anyone involved had any control, was about choosing not to be offended.

These are the miracles that are meaningful. Most real miracles don't necessarily give us what we want, but help us become better people. I would say that these are the ones we should be praying for and looking out for.

*name had been changed
Thursday, November 09, 2006
  Nanowrimo day 9

You know why I kept writing tonight? Because I'm a writer. That is the only reason.

I wrote the words to make the count. They were appropriate to the story. But it wasn't fun.

I did it, because this exercise is about endurance. I need to be willing to stay at the keyboard and come back to the keyboard even if I'm frustrated. I need to be able to push through that last repetition of that last set when my muscles can barely even move the iron.

My "real writing" will not be accomplished quite like this where the goal is word count. When I'm really writing, maybe only 20 words will get down in a session, but I will have learned a lot about the story. And I will have sat at the keyboard to work that day, and stuck to it, wringing those words out of my soul with passion.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006
  Nanowrimo day 8

I had to be at 13,334 today. Just one minute ago I checked my word count at the end of writing a sentence. It was exactly 13,334. That was too good to pass up.

So tonight, I end right on target, just one minute before midnight and the next writing day.
Monday, November 06, 2006
  Nanowrimo Day 5 and 6

Success and joy are boring. So even though I'm excited that I've written 5581 words, bringing my total to a bit over the 10,000 I need to be on track for the 50,000, it doesn't make a very exciting post.

But that is where I am at. We'll see if I whine tomorrow.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
  NaNoWriMo Day 3 and 4

Day 3

I wasn't going to give up. I had the scene in my head, I liked where the story was going, and I had to log in my word count for the day. So I stayed at the keyboard, despite my exhaustion.

This is the result:

About an hour later, they came up on a house that looked very much like an inn, except for the fact that Joy had made no comment.

I had dozed off literally in the middle of writing that sentence and began writing some kind of dream thing. There is no Joy in my novel. No joy either, so far, really. I've been mean and cruel to my character. Anyway, at that point, I knew it was a lost cause and went to bed.

Word count for Nov 3: 1318

Day 4:

I tried yoga today at our gym for the first time. I'd gone at our old gym before, and liked it before the instructor moved away. It was kind of an active meditation, with lots of focus on breathing and control and relaxation. I wanted that this morning. I didn't get it.

At our gym they are teaching power yoga, it appears. There was very little talk of breathing. This was yoga to strengthen the body, and it pretty much ignored the more spiritual/psychological roots of yoga. If I hadn't been expecting a 'self induced stretching mind/body/spirit massage relaxing treat', I would have been fine with the workout. But as it was, this focused a lot on leg strength and core strength. That is something else I might have been fine with except that, well, I had done a kickboxing workout that did that yesterday(spontaneously because of the time I happened to go to the gym, but I like it and will make a point to attend that class now) and the day before, some a serious lower body strengthening weight session.

Ouch. I probably won't even get legs, buns, and abs of steel from this. Not nearly as much strength than if I had put some rest time in between those sessions filled with squats and lunges and deadly elbow swipes. Ugh.

Before that I baked a cake and cleaned the kitchen. After that, I put angel boy down for a nap, took a kid to a birthday party, then came home to finish preparing my oldest's birthday party, picked up kid from other party, etc. until the party was done at 9:00 this evening. I was exhausted.

Then I wrote.

Word count for today, Nov 4: 1071

I've gotten a little graphic thing, finally. The total is there, in the upper right.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
  National Novel Writing Month: Day 1 and 2

Some of you who know me know what this is. Some of you may know what this is regardless of knowing me.

Insane, that is what it is.

One month. 50,000 words.

In some ways, it was easier last year when my now toddler took several good sized naps. He's down to just one, and sometimes I crash with him, as I did today. Not only that, the poor kid is sick and has been very clingy. I've gone back to nursing on demand, since he doesn't eat well but has always nursed well when sick. It is an ear infection that he's had for about 9 days now. After 10 days if he isn't better, it probably isn't something viral or something he can easily overcome on his own. This is different from how my other kids were managed years ago. I'd hoped he was getting better, but he still had a fever when the advil wore off this evening and he still has a snotty nose. I'll let the medicine wear off more tomorrow and see what happens.

And this year's story just didn't pull me in as much as last year's, in which I basically made my own self the main character of a post apocalyptic story. It was fun to do, and easy to turn off the editor because I never expected to use the material to publish since post apocalyptic is cliche now. I just had always wanted to do one, so it made the perfect excuse to poor so much effort into something I would never publish.

But this one, I think I will try to beat into publishable format. I like the premise a lot. So it is a slower start but the love is deeper.

First sentence:

The last thing Owen heard in his short life was his mama's scream and then the cackle of his own flesh burning before the pain thrummed through his head, silencing the world forever.

Hint: he's not dead.

Word count (I'll get a graphic thingy here when I have a bit of time.):

Day 1: 418
Day 2: 2,109
A Mormon housewife who loves truth, science, rational thought, and reasonable action.

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Location: Utah

Granola is a mix of things: grains, nuts, bits of dried fruit, maybe some coconut. There's some fat in it, and it's a good source of fiber to keep those arteries and colons clean.

June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / April 2007 /


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