Addictions, Obsessions, and 1,000 Pages

Today is Tuesday, March 25, and I’m thinking, “Oh my God, I’m leaving home in three days– and I still haven’t done my taxes– I need to get on that!!”

Because I– like a great many other wonderful people– tend to push off doing things I don’t want to do until the Last Possible Second, and the idea of leaving home at the end of March without filing my taxes yet is a tad stressful. I envy everyone who has already completed this chore. I plan to join the my-taxes-are-done club in the next two days– because on Friday, I’ll be taking the train to Sacramento, California, so I can visit my adorable niece, Elana Belle.

This is she: the adorable cutie.

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I get to hang out with All That Cuteness this weekend. Pretty fantastic cool.

I just have to put up with a 24-hour train ride. In coach. With my mother.

Which I know I can handle, as I am macho and tough, a regular Rambo in the guise of a writer:

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I’m just not quite as ripped as Sylvester Stallone.

But still kinda badass, with my stick-arms and eyeglasses. Cause it Takes All Kinds, especially when the task at hand is riding coach with one’s mother.

Don’t get me wrong– I love my mom. She’s a good mom. And I’m glad to help her get a chance to see her first grandbaby, who will turn one this summer.

It’s just that my mom is going to want me to eat with her on the train, which means, eat the same food that she eats. Ice cream, and sandwiches, and french fries and potato chips. Train food. Food I don’t want to eat, but which my mom will insist, in a voice that grows increasingly louder, and then louder, and then LOUDER, that I Need To Eat.

It’s never cool for me to open a container of homemade seed mix (pumpkin, sunflower, flaxseeds) or almonds, or whatever it is I’ve chosen for sustenance. If I’m not drinking a Coke, having a sandwich and fries, and eating ice cream with her, I am acting like a baboon, and my mom isn’t cool with hanging out with a baboon for a daughter.

I wish she could be like, “You eat whatever you want, I’ll eat whatever I want, and that’s just fine.” Cause that is my motto, and I think it is awesome.

But no. My mom doesn’t live in that world. She’ll insist that I eat the ice cream and fries with her until I either cave in and eat it, or time ends. (In this case, time ends when we get off the train… because then we’ll be with Elana Belle, and my mom will forget about pestering me, because she’ll have a new target. Cause grandbaby trumps daughter, every time.)

When it’s time to board the train again for the return trip… the “You need to eat! What is the matter with you?? You’re anorexic! You’re starving yourself!” song and dance will follow me home. But maybe my mom will have a grandmomma-high from seeing Elana, and will be more chill about my pumpkin seeds then. So I hope.

One food item I might take with me on this trip:

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Cherry Vanilla Almond Butter. This is made with dry roasted almonds, dates, cherries, coconut oil, vanilla, and sea salt. I discovered this product on Saturday, and then discovered I can eat it like ice cream. (Well, I sorta eat it like ice cream. This stuff is too filling to just chow down on. A little bit goes a long way. Cause even when I’m eating gelato, I can usually eat more than two spoonfuls at a time. So this stuff is the high-fat/high-calorie version of ice cream.)

And I will also be taking my laptop with me, even though the battery no longer holds a charge, and will be worthless on the train. I can always write in longhand, and then type up the pages in California.

Or I can read Catch-22 on this trip. Cause if I ever teach creative fiction in graduate school, I will need to have read this book. Chapter One of Catch-22 has a great pair of opening lines:

“It was love at first sight.

The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.”

I couldn’t tell, by the end of the first chapter, if this was going to be romantic love or not, but the idea of reading about gay men in the military had me excited. So excited that I finished the first chapter in one sitting, even though the jokes weren’t enough to make me laugh out loud and the hospital scene was so creepy and sad and the dead man was disturbing.

But this is Great Literature: so often creepy and sad and disturbing.

And I am obsessed with checking certain classics off my “have not read” list, and Catch-22 is in first place this month.

I also fell in love with Rainbow Rowell’s YA novel Fangirl this month.

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I *loved* her first novel, Eleanor & Park, but it felt so different than my love for Fangirl. Fangirl had me equally hooked, equally addicted to turning pages, but I just gushed and teared-up and LOVED this book on a whole different level. Fifty billion hearts to this book. It’s making my Ten Best Books list of 2014 at the end of the year.

Anyone who loves YA– get your paws on Fangirl and devour it!

(Though, technically, Fangirl is New Adult/Emerging Adult, because the main character is in her first year of college… but Fangirl reads like Young Adult, so I think the college setting is just a ridiculous technicality. The Etiquette of Wolves is New Adult. Fangirl is YA.)

And one last note:

My work in progress,  Mark of the Pterren, hit 1,000 pages yesterday– for a minute– before I went on and kept typing. I have 1,010 pages now. That’s over 300,000 words.

It felt surreal to see the number 1000 at the bottom of my Word document. Because normally, I don’t pay attention to page numbers while I write. But something about the zeroes must have felt off in my mind, because I glanced down and noticed.

I didn’t understand, when I originally conceived of this story, that it would be so long. Sometimes I think it’s my best story so far, and sometimes I think it’s the dumbest thing ever, and mostly it just feels like this giant mountain I’m climbing… and climbing… and climbing… But I think 1,600 pages will be the stopping point. I get the sense I’ll be done with the characters by then.

Also, my beta readers might kill me. And that would be bad. I’ll never find out how the story ends if that happens.

One thought on “Addictions, Obsessions, and 1,000 Pages

  1. Wow, that trip sounds like a new level of hell. Not sure Dante got that far in… I truly wish that people could just be okay with “I like food. You like food too? Awesome! Let’s both eat food we like!” Good luck powering through; that cherry almond butter sounds like a delectable treat to help endure!

    Also, I don’t think your beta readers would ever kill you! At the least, they have read this far and would be VERY distressed to not know the ending too!! 😉

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