Monday, 16 February 2015

Mondays, Moods and Misunderstandings

The word of the week is solitary.

Feb 9 - Duh...

"Happy Family Day! By the way, why are you late to work?"

That was the question coming in from the other end of my cell phone shortly after nine this morning, which confused the heck out of me, I must admit. An my mind I was no longer working at Staples, having booked myself off-shift every day since February 2nd.

Yet here they were calling me to tell me I was late for my shift? Idiots.

In a remarkable feat of mental acrobatics, I juggled the pros and cons of going in today versus telling them where to go and quite a few other things, all the space of about 2 seconds. Quite surprising considering I hadn't yet caffeinated myself with my morning tea, just having finished a leisurely pancake breakfast to start what was going to be a nice day off of writing.

What decided me on the side of going in was that I was getting paid time and a half today, which I thought was a nice way to spend my last shift. I still took my time getting there though.

Turns out I made the right choice, as all of my favorite people were working today! Under no pressure whatsoever to do anything except enjoy myself, I did exactly that and I have to say that made all the difference during the busy day. I kept my teeth-grinding thoughts about the lost day of writing buried deep and instead focused on enjoying my time with my friends that I would see much less often now that I was officially going to be no longer an employee.

Fittingly, the general manager left for the day without saying goodbye to me, which I think perfectly summarizes my relationship with Staples: we’re done with you, why haven't you left yet?

I whistled happily into the wind all the way home on my bike.

Feb 10 – Super Siblings

Tuesdays usually mean movie night for me, but I didn't see a movie tonight.

Instead, I parents and I took my sister out for dinner as it's her birthday today.

I may have mentioned before, but it's worth stating again here: I've been extraordinarily fortunate in having my sister for a sibling. I won't give you a long list of all her fabulous qualities but instead simply state that if everyone's sister were like mine, there'd be no such thing as sibling rivalry. In fact, I give puzzled looks to people who bemoan the torturous relationship they have with sisters or brothers, as I've no idea what that's like. Fortunately.

It's been a joy to grow up with her and to spend time in her company today was wonderful as my family celebrated her birthday.

Tuesdays may or may not go back to being movie nights for me, as my schedule looks to be reshaping itself somewhat. According to what I currently have in terms of commitments, my best nights for writing will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week, meaning that Cheap Movie Tuesdays me become a rarity for me - at least for the first half of 2015, that is.

Or until I finish my second novel; whichever comes first.

Feb 11 – Learning from Spongebob?

As a writer, you have to learn to sift through the advice available on the internet. There's so much out there that you can get lost and end up never writing a word.

However, most of the advice that I come across is unsurprisingly from writers of books and novels, my choice in what I'm focusing my own efforts on. So when I come across some good advice from other sources, my ears perk up in case there are a few nuggets that I may not have been aware of courtesy of a different viewpoint.

Such is the case with the advice from Tuck Tucker, an animator.

Shouldn't he be wearing a Spongebob shirt?

Not just any animator though: he worked for many years on SpongeBob SquarePants and shared his thoughts on what that show taught him about the art of storytelling. Some of his points are excellent ones and one in particular surprised me:

“Even though full-length movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and The Little Mermaid were board driven, it wasn’t used in television very much,” says Tucker. “Even with The Simpsons, which is a very good show, writers drove all of the plot, and animators had to work within a script. The advantage of letting animators be the driving force behind the show is that you put art at the center of the show, and quite often something spectacular arises.”

In summary, Tuck is saying that sometimes when the creative flow is given free reign, amazing things arise. Some people might take this to mean that the writing for some of the most incredible animated shows must take a backseat to the animation itself, but I choose not to see it that way. Wherever a good story has its origins, it should be given room to blossom and morph into its final form, however that comes about: on a storyboard or a written page.

Feb 12 - Grrr ?

Sometimes foul moods take me by surprise, being fairly rare as they are.

I think perhaps their cause is a combination of things that occasionally come together at the exact wrong time. Today I think it was the growing migraine from the incipient arrival of sunny weather for the weekend, combined with my lack of writing time so far this month, among other things.

It's not the same as being despondent or depressed, both moods of which I'm familiar with from past years and for the most part have found effective methods of dealing with. No, I'm simply talking about a mood swing which catches me by surprise, for whatever reason it formed and stuck with me for most of the day.

Once I'd recognized today's emotional dip, I could do something about it. First up was to find out why I was feeling so out of sorts: was it related to a simple case of low blood sugar, or was something festering in my subconscious that I hadn't dealt with properly? A little bit of both categories, as it turned out, the one more easily dealt with than the other.

Once I was home from work, I had a chance to sit down and think about what might be bothering me, a calming methodology that I found is best for these occasional strange depths.

Turns out it's simply the time of year colliding with my expectations: I had thought that by now I would've been more involved with a relationship and it turns out that was merely wishful thinking. While my conscious mind had moved on, obviously my subconscious hadn't quite finished with things and the result was the few bad bubbles rising to the surface today.

Some humorous stories, a bit of funny television and a decent meal later, I was feeling much better. It's so much simpler now to get back to a balanced baseline then in previous years, when all my troubles would come crashing down on me whenever a really bad mood hit.

Assuredly, it's better to be the me I am now and I'm quite grateful for that.

Feb 13 - Lucky Me!

The number 13 has really grown on me over the last couple of years.

Ironically, I think it started in 2013, after I'd completed the initial draft of my first novel - how's that for timing?

I'm not a superstitious person, nor do I put much stock in things like horoscopes, numerology or other quasi-scientific pastimes. All the same, there are a few things in life that I find charming and one of them happens to be the superstition that other people have about the number 13.

I happen to like it: the number, not the superstition.

Subtle things in life are also something I like: those little gems that we all have in our daily travels but perhaps don't see too often. A good example of this would be the tradition of the baker's dozen, which refers to adding one more baked good to a dozen… which makes 13.

Neat, eh?

The number 13 also tends( at least in my mind )to indicate an odd person out, one excluded from the normal social circles due to unlucky circumstance or unfortunate choice. That could be one of the reasons why I chose it for the title of my first novel, whose protagonist is most definitely someone who is outside the normal order of things.

I don't see 13 as unlucky or unfortunate. I see it as a badge of honor for those privileged enough to be outside the humdrum ways of the normal, with both feet firmly planted in the strange… for it is only from there can the outsider truthfully comment on what they see.

Feb 14 – Take Heart

For those of you with a sweetheart, I hope you enjoyed today.

For those of you like me, without anyone special to share this Hallmark holiday with, I hope you found other activities to amuse yourself. While I don't dislike Valentine's Day, I'm not a fan of any holiday that rubs people's noses in what they don't have or conversely forces them to conform to social expectations of romance whether their partner wants to or not.

Bonus points of those who figure out how to ride the balance of this equation.

For me, I simply go about my day as normal, having generally most of the retail shopping stores for the last few weeks so as not to be overwhelmed by the displays of red hearts everywhere. I've made my peace long ago with Valentine's Day and while I used to enjoy picking up some discount chocolates in the days afterwards, now that I'm off the sugar wagon, that's out the door too.

You're here to celebrate ME? Well, wow...

Ah well; if you don't have your health, what do you have? According to one ancient Italian great-grandmother, being single actually contributed to her long life-span. Since she's managed to live over 115 years today, I think there might be something to her story worth investigating.

Most of my day was spent shopping, a very unusual activity for me, I must say. I drove around with my mom, going from place to place to make purchases that I wouldn't normally be able to transport easily without the convenience of a vehicle. Lugging bags around as part of a long loop the bus trip is not my idea of a fun way to spend my weekends or evenings off, so today was nice. As a bonus, I was able to spend many hours of quality time with my mother, which has been difficult to schedule in the last year or so with my working 1.5 jobs, among other commitments.

We also caught up on Galivant in the evening, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The songs by Alan Mencken are utterly fantastic and this is high praise coming from a non-musical person such as myself. I truly hope that Gallivant picks up second season as I now adore the show, as much for its humor and music has for its atypical characters who are very meta-aware.

They also had this great song about falling for someone, pardon if you've seen it posted before:

Hmm, I guess I found something new to fall in love with today after all!

Feb 15 – Book Thoughts

This weekend was like a mini-vacation for me, in some ways.

I spent a good part of today at my parents place, working on my writing and relaxing. It was very similar to this time last year, when I was writing the third draft of my first novel. 
Sometimes it's good to just get away from the norm to another familiar place where it's easier to work.

Relaxing was also on the scorecard and I did a fair bit of that as well, watching bits and pieces of all four Indiana Jones movies on the TV as I researched and wrote. I also took a break to walk along the beach in the beautiful sunny weather, so lovely that you wouldn't know that it was just the middle of February in Canada:

Cool weather, but more than comfortable.

There might've been a few naps in there as well, as I was feeling rather worn out. While I didn't develop a headache from the big weather change, I think the emotional whirligig of the week leading up to Valentine's Day along with the disappointment from unexpectedly losing an entire day of writing on Family Day really put the screws to my energy levels. All the same, today was a pretty good day as I got a great number of things straightened out in my head in regards to writing my books.

Also, today is my last ‘official’ day at my old job; I just thought I'd note that here for future reference. I made no special significant fuss about it today, as I simply feel relief on two fronts: the fact that the job got me through a very rough time in my life and that it's now over so that I don't have to deal with the often overwhelming stress that comes with working in retail.

As of today, I'll never have to work in retail again unless it's my choice. Yet somehow, I don't see that happening after 20 years on the wrong side of the counter.

It's hard to believe that February is halfway done already and I'm still struggling with outlining my second book. The scenes aren't come easily and I'll have to spend the next few weeks dedicating more than a few evenings to nothing but writing. Thankfully that's not an onerous task and will merely mean that I won't socialize as much; no shocker there for me, were my friends.