acting on impulse

After months of worrying over the thought of buying a new car I decided to plunge right in and do it. It took about 15 minutes to find the car I wanted and another 2+ hours to get through all the paperwork, but I’m now the owner of a shiny new Versa Note. Growing up poor, I have to keep reminding myself that I can afford this kind of thing. It’s a constant struggle sometimes, one that the boy (he of the impulsive buys) doesn’t really understand (he gets it, he just doesn’t know how it feels). It’s also a terribly adult transaction, this whole car-buying, loan-signing situation. It’s so nice driving a new car. The reality hasn’t quite sunk in; it almost feels like driving a rental. Guess that will change when the first payment goes through.

I bought a strawberry-shaped air freshener a few months ago–one of those cash register display, last-minute grabs at Forever 21 or H&M, whichever happy, shiny shop I was in at the time. I saved it, knowing a near car was on the horizon. Today, I hung it from the rear-view mirror. It smells like the Strawberry Shortcake baby doll I had as a kid. Something old and something new.

embracing changes and moving along

Looks like the change of season is just what I needed. There’s something about Fall that always makes me feel refreshed and energized after the agonizing heat and lethargy of the summer months.

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I’ve accepted that the reason I’m having such a hard time sticking to my editing schedule is that I’m still having trouble deciding on which of two deciding moments should come first. I’ve mulled this over for a few weeks and have plotted out more than one sequence of events, but I’m still going back and forth on the order of events. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, I find a reason to reverse the order again. I think I’m leaning towards one particular sequence, but either one will have a major impact on the rising action and I really don’t want to get it wrong. It’s all self-doubt. In my mind, one series just makes more sense, but it goes against the original sequence of events that lead up to the second half of the novel in the current draft…. I’ve been steaming ahead, keeping in mind that I will have to go back and mostly rewrite two major chapters, as well as several subsequent scenes. It feel like an impasse–if I don’t decide, I really can’t continue, so something must be done. I’ve been trying to leave myself a trail of notes throughout the manuscript to remind myself where I need to go back and make changes when I do make a decision, but the moment has come to make it stick. I just hope it’s the right choice. I think it is… Urgh, so many thoughts.

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I’ve been pinning like mad in anticipation of holiday cooking and crafting. (Yes, I’m one of those people who actually makes stuff). I’m about 95% sure that I’m going to have to buy a new car (or a new used car) this December and I’m hoping to mitigate the cost of holiday spending by making presents for the family and the office. I’m trying to stick to a $50 budget for my small list of loved ones, but I foresee practical/useful presents for all.

This will be my first time buying a car and I am so anxious about the whole loan, haggling, sales person situation. Ugh. Wish I could just use amazon.

Work is going well, though I don’t think I will ever get used to the 2 hours I spend driving to and fro every day. I really do miss the luxury of a short commute and a 7 hour work day (though not the pay).

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Gave up my first foray into Scott Lynch and Henry James. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for them, so I’ll have to give them a shot some other time. Meanwhile, I’m woefully behind on the Reading our own tomes challenge with 15 of 30 books read. I really don’t see myself reading 15 books before the end of the year, unless I “cheat” and read all the manga and comics on my TBR shelf. I’m taking a nice breather with Lauren Willig, whose books always manage to make me smile.

i did a thing…


With the weather turning and the year growing old, I decided to embrace change and adopt some new names. things she said served me well for over ten years, but it no longer feels right for the direction the blog is taking. Welcome, a domain that represents both my writerly and bookish self, as well as all the other pieces of me.

In keeping with the theme, I also changed my twitter handle to @booknerdcatlady.

Hope this doesn’t lead to too much confusion…

in which a decision is made

I’ve decided against participating in NaNoWriMo next month (next week, really). It kind of feels like quitting before giving myself a chance, but I know it’ll be a while before I’m done with the changes to draft 2 and even the energy of the WriMo community can’t change that… so I’m going to suck it up and push on without the instant-gratification of word counters and group encouragement. If all goes well, I’ll be able to join Camp NaNo with a new project.

In the meantime, I’m working and mulling things over (there is a lot to be mulled). Major changes are happening–plot-wise that is–and new directions are being discovered. At this rate, I think it’ll be at least another month before the paper draft is edited, and then another 2-3 before all the changes are applied to the digital draft. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to use some vacation time in the spring and give myself a writer’s staycation.

I’m trying to catch a second wind with this project. There are some days when it feels like I’ve been working this draft to death and I don’t want to spend another minute in Anuna’s head, but then I find myself doing research on magic, or plants, or myths, and I just want to rush back in as an element that was nagging at me suddenly falls into place. It’s a love-hate situation.

catching up

I’ve had one too many family crises this year. It comes of being surrounded by elders, but I just don’t think I can handle another one this year. Let’s just say the last week had me rushing across Miami at frantic speeds. I had a checkup today and decided to take the rest of the day off for a rest rather than try to force myself to get back to work and put in an extra three hours. Been there, done that; I’ll take the sick hours. Not that I’ve been lazing around. I took advantage of the afternoon to catch up on the chapter I was editing last week and realized that I’m half-way through the draft. I’ve been outlining major events and noticed that the scene I just read marks a natural transition between the two halves of the novel. Outlining definitely helps.

Urgh… my neighbors are standing outside my window talking. Hate it when they do that. Sometimes wonder if they have jobs because they have the weirdest schedules. Sigh. Can’t think through the murmur of voices.

autumn breezes and October words

And another month begins and finally there is a slight dip in the temperature (a very slight dip). I’m a little less than halfway through the manuscript read-through, which means that my NaNo plans will likely involve another rebellion rather than a new project. I’ve been kicking it old school with pen and paper (and post-its and note cards), so the going is slow and messy, but much more effective than trying to scroll through files every time I need to refer to an earlier chapter or scene. It’s double the work, but paper-based editing helps me make better sense of chapter length and flow, whereas editing on the computer just encourages me to add words that may not be necessary. I’m much more brutal when it comes to slashing scenes on paper.

Nevertheless, I kind of dread the moment when I’ll have to apply all the change, cuts, and rewrites, but it almost amounts to a second round of editing so I’ll think of the bright side–it’s like a two for one editing deal! If I finish this round by Christmas, I’m rewarding myself with something good. Maybe makeup. Or this necklace.

I’m really looking forward to the holidays. It’s kind of shocking to think that at this time last year, I started the application process for my new job and now I’ve been here for almost 5 months! I think I’ve earned a rest after the stress, planning, and changes that came with adjusting to a new environment, culture, and schedule. Winter break, I need you.

But first… Halloween! I have no idea what I’ll be doing this year, but the older I get, the more I enjoy playing with costumes. Maybe it’s the overgrown child inside me that makes it so.

Here’s to pumpkins, costumes, and other October festivities.

a few observations

I’ve been blindsided by a late summer cold that has left me bleary-eyed and half-drunk. Stayed home on my first official sick day on the new job. Not pleased.

I find it ironic that literary marketing folks have been hitting me up for reviews with alarming frequency, despite the fact that I put my book blog on permanent hiatus a little over a month ago. Bad form folks, very bad form. If you want a book reviewer/blogger to give a good review, find out if they’re still active.

The novel read-through was going well until the cold hit me. I can’t wait to be able to think straight once again.

Why are cold medicines filled with sugar? My mouth feels like a desert. Sugar free is no better; artificial sweeteners give me migraines.

I’ve become a grumpy old woman.

and September arrives without warning

Egads! September is upon us and the highs are still in the 90s! Ugh. Bring on the fall breezes please. A lot happened in August (a little too much, if truth be told), but not all of it worth lingering on.

on writing…

No writing happened. None at all. If you’ve been reading the blog for a few weeks, you’ll know why I had little desire to do much more than sit and be still.

on books…

There were books. And there were some wee tumblr reviews. I was in desperate need of a good, fluffy, sugar-coated read to take my mind off things, so I read Jenny Colgan’s Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams–which had been sitting on my TBR shelf for at least a year. I tried to finish The Winter’s Tale, but just plain lost interest and gave up on that, so I finished the rest of Sakura Hime instead.

Also read an ARC of Windows on the World: 50 Writers, 50 Views by Matteo Pericoli, which proved to be the perfect mental getaway.

I started the month off by reading Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, which was interesting, but not the satisfying continuation I was expecting.

on life…

Shit hit the fan. It’s a fact. It’s starting to get better and I’m finally starting to feel myself again.

everything else…

I’ve been doing a lot of walking and thinking. Also yoga. Yoga became one of my passions this year, and after years of thinking myself highly inflexible, I’m finding that I can bend further and feel more centered than I ever have. It really helped during the turmoil of the last month.

the weight of it

There is a heaviness to grief that cuts straight to the bone. It’s a feeling that cannot be explained or reasoned away. There is no easing it and no way of knowing how long it will last. It’s lethargic and inward and takes you beyond yourself. 

A Remembrance

After battling a rare form of cancer, my grandfather passed away on Wednesday evening at 10:59 pm. I was with him when he passed and, though it was difficult to watch him struggle in the hours before, I felt that his passing was peaceful and easy. In those last 20 minutes, he just settled. It was like falling asleep; he stopped gasping for air, his breathing returned to a natural, steady rhythm, and then he was gone. It was that smooth.

Though the loss is painful, I was glad that it happened so easily. I didn’t want him to be in pain any longer and I like to think that in those minutes he was at ease. He was not a perfect man, but he was loving and caring and he was a stubborn old goat who had a gift for opening up and telling stories no matter who was listening. I didn’t see him often enough, but in the last two years I lived closer to his home and was able to spend more time with him on the weekends. Though we had our differences when it came to certain beliefs, he always believed in me and made sure I knew it. I said goodbye to him on Saturday when I stopped by his place to pick up my aunt before taking her to the airport, and that was the last time I heard his voice.

He never gave me presents because he was a practical man and figured money was a better gift than an object, so I have few things to remember him by–an antique bracelet he found at a garage sale a couple of years ago, an old shoeshine box that he found and knew I would like (we shared a love interesting of wooden boxes), and an old hammer with three mismatched screwdrivers, things he knew I would need when he wouldn’t be there to help. Then there are the plants–my whole garden came from his, a living tribute that I have been worrying over for the last year and a half as the harsh, unpredictable weather tries to beat my efforts.

He uprooted his life and left his homeland to escape communism. He watched his family grow. And he made sure we were always looked after. When I had to have emergency surgery three years ago, he was the one who watched over me while my mom was at work, and when I moved out, he was the first to come inspect the place. When I met Edward, he was one of the first to approve, and when I graduated and became a librarian, he made sure I knew he was proud.

I have few pictures of us together because I was often the one behind the camera, but last Christmas I made sure to take one where we were together. However, my favorite pictures will always be those that my mom brought with her from Cuba, the ones where he looks like an old time movie star, and this one where he’s doing what he loved best–climbing and fixing things: