I suppose, since it's been thirty days since I've updated this blog, I should tell you about all how awesome my Christmas vacation has been. BUT. Thirty inches of snow fell here in the great state of New Jersey overnight and all anyone around here is talking about right now is the apocalyptic state of things.

Burdy and I have pretty much been trapped indoors for two straight days and our moods have shifted from festive to anxious. Our flight back to Seattle this evening was canceled, and we still haven't been contacted with a rescheduled flight. Burdy's been calling the airline all day, but he keeps getting the same recorded message: "Due to the Northeast Blizzard and high call volume, your call is going to be disconnected..mmm.... now". The Internet, for once, is not helping. Continental Airlines' website is a tangled mess of red capital letters and exclamation points. The news is one long slideshow of pictures of snow piled eight feet high in front of buildings and snowplow drivers smiling giddily. Burdy is starting to get cranky and when Burdy gets cranky, bad things happen.

To escape the ennui this afternoon, I bundled up in Burdy's mom's black and white one-piece snowsuit (which was at its peak, fashion-wise, in 1982 or so) and took a good long walk. The winds here have been gusting up to 60 miles per hour. I didn't really do the math on that when I packed myself into the penguin suit. I left my face exposed and walked around the neighborhood for a good hour and a half. When I got home and looked at myself in the mirror, my inner East Coaster reached around and kicked my inner West Coaster in the ass. My cheeks were completely windburned.

Definitely no children at play today. Definitely none in bobby socks and lace up leather shoes, anyway. </p>

Parts of the Parkway AND the Turnpike were closed down yesterday. No bus service, no train service. Today, 50% of the vehicles on the road were plows.

To make myself feel better about being stuck here, I pretended these were from Truckasaurus.</p>


I almost had to pull out my luge for this portion of sidewalk.

This is the snow the plow piled up in front of Burdy's mom's neighbor's house. Pretty much the whole neighborhood looks like this. </p>
The plan right now is to head over to the airport in the morning to see if we can talk to a real live human being about scheduling. My guess is that NO ONE ELSE in the tri-state area is going to have that very same idea, so I'm pretty sure they're going to hand me a genius award as I step onto my very own privately chartered airplane. That's the thing about natural disasters around these parts. They make everyone super smart. </p>

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Holy crap. I did it again. I spent another whole November writing 50,000 words and now I'm DONE!

This novel adventure would not have been possible without the help and encouragement of a great many people. Without them, I might have actually done a load of laundry this month, or gone to bed before 2 am most nights. Here, then, is my ode to you:

To Thank you for providing me with free endless hours of moody music to be inspired by.

To Purple Bunny Pencil Warmer: You just sat there the whole time and said nothing. No judgment, no harassing me to type faster, no telling me to stop filling out crossword puzzles when I was supposed to be writing. That means a lot to me, buddy.

To the Java Bean in Ballard: Thanks for running one of the most cozy, most relaxed coffee shops in town. I bet you didn't know I wrote almost 10,000 words in a single Sunday afternoon while tucked into one of your tables, did you? You make a divine London Fog, by the way.

To that damned meowing cat keychain my sister brought home from Iceland.... okay, you made me laugh, damnit. I admit it. I needed you, too.

To Kevin, or John, I can't remember which one of you now first turned me on to NaNoWriMo: THANK YOU for pushing me to do this.

To Layla and Tara, who talked me through my mid-novel moral quandary about incorporating too much "real life" into a work of fiction: Thank you for being fellow artistic souls and taking this endeavor seriously and shaping it into something real. Your insight was just the thing I needed to keep going.

To Victoria, who urged me on with a mother's faith that it would all work out if only I just went to my room and typed. You will always be my favorite Cheerleader of the Suburbs.

And finally, To Mr. Burdy. Thank you for being my snack-fetcher, tea-maker, movie-watchin'-in-the-other-room, writer's-block-solving man-servant, and the recipient of more "Get the hell out of here, can't you see I'm COMPOSING?" evil stares than I can count.

I can't promise this thing is going to go anywhere. It may sit on my computer forever and never see the light of an editor's office. I'm just happy to have committed to something and FINISHED it.

And now, dear Internets, I'm going to watch some TV and paint my nails. In one and a half hours, it's December. Hoo-freakin'-ray.

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The Mr. Yuk Sticker: Now A Handy Way to Label My Life

I'm beginning to think my doctor pulled a fast one on me. The horrible, horrible herbal tincture I have to drink to kill the second set of parasites is the most God-awful stuff on earth. Seriously. It's so bad it comes with a Mr. Yuk sticker on the bottle. That's right kids. You might want to consider downing the Dran-o before you touch this stuff. This stuff is POISON.

Imagine leaving a 25 gallon bag lawn of clippings, a bottle of nail polish remover, and about a dozen bicycle tires in a bathtub of old rainwater and you might come *close* to being able to imagine the flavor of this stuff. I'm beginning to think it actually IS old rainwater and tires and that my doctor just charged me $140.00 for the bottle just to see if I would actually hand over my credit card. I have to take it every day, three times a day, for the next THIRTY DAYS. And I can't tell if the stuff is working or not. It would be more tolerable, I think, if I could tell it was working. Like, if the parasites would scream a little every time I tilted my head back, you know, because they could smell it coming or something, THAT would make me feel better. But, no. I just have to swallow this crap and hope that it's killing SOMETHING down there. I DO know that my taste buds, the lining of my esophagus, and I'm pretty sure the outermost layer of skin on my gums are all dying. Yup, those are definitely dying. I can tell because those first doses made me feel like I had just swallowed a teaspoon of Ebola virus. After the first one or two, though, I finally got wise and utilized those early drinkin' day techniques and just opened up my throat and threw the stuff back without it even hitting my tongue. And here I thought my early twenties had taught me nothing....

I have been trying to avoid wheat lately. And eggs. And sugar. And dairy. Because, you know, the sugar is not going to help out my yeast problem. And the dairy and the wheat just cause inflammation. And the eggs... well, we're not sure exactly what the eggs are doing, just that they're in the red zone of the allergy test I took a few years back. So pretty much I'm eating boatloads of lentils and tomatoes and an occasional rice cracker. I have been experimenting with baking gluten free breads for a while now and I've gotten quite good at whipping up gluten free batches of cookies and pie crusts. Most of these recipes require a mix of flours, flours I usually have on hand, but which I may have run out of recently. You see, it's important not to get cocky about one's gluten free savoire -faire. It's very important to follow recipe directions to the T. When the recipe calls for potato starch, for instance, it's important to use potato starch and not, for instance, potato flour. Because, you might, for instance, even after the thirty minutes in the oven, wind up with a gummy, undercooked bread, and you might, for instance, throw your oven mitt in a blind rage at the pot of beans you've been boiling for an hour because you've ruined dinner, and you might, for instance, miss the pot and hit the burner instead and have to imagine explaining to a firefighter that the reason your apartment is on fire is because you are an impatient idiot who thinks "starch" and "flour" are interchangeable words. Burdy ran to the turntable and put on Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" after the whole fiasco. "You know", he said to me, "To soothe the savage beast?" And then darted out of the kitchen to avoid getting caught in the eleven foot stream of lasers shooting out of my eyes and my short, windmilling arms.

This whole having to swallow paint thinner three times a day combined with not being able to eat, oh, I dunno, about 75% of the things I have been eating most of my life is making me REAL cranky. Good thing I also signed up to write a novel in thirty days to make me less stressed out.

On a positive note: I am unnervingly excited about the holidays this year. The feeling of insatiable giddiness doesn't usually come on this early in the season. I usually spend most of December grousing about the weather and working twelve hours a day and having panic attacks over what to buy who until about December 22nd or so, when I am finally strapped into my seat aboard an airplane and can't do anything but crossword puzzles for six hours. But this year, I am filled with this uncanny calm. And, I can't believe I am actually going to admit this, but I am enjoying the cold weather a little bit (does that have something to do with the fact that being outdoors in the freezing cold flushes my cheeks a healthy shade of red, suggesting I am actually more robust and hale than a parasite-harboring, gluten-sensitive, sinus-infection-prone basket of nerves? Maaaaaaaybe.....) Anywho, I can't get George Michael's voice singing "Last Christmas" out of my head. Also? When I'm at the supermarket, I have to resist the urge to buy up the requisite ten pounds of nuts, fifteen pounds of flour, ten pounds of sugar and eight bags of chocolate chips for cookie making. "Not yet, Preciousssssss", I have to tell myself. "We havesssssss to waitssssss to make the cookiesssssss...."

Another reason to be in a good mood? Eating lefse and looking at carved wooden toys at the Norwegian Heritage Museum's YuleFest today. Also watching old Norwegians dressed in traditional costumes do a dance on stage. And by "dance", I mean "move in a slow, moderately coordinated fashion around in a circle making only minimal and utterly platonic contact with dancing partner." God bless the Scandinavians for making this fair city the civic-minded, egalitarian, sensible-shoe-favoring place that it is. If it were up to my people, we'd all be smashing each other over the head with giant root vegetables and drinking vodka out of soup pots.

Hey, just kidding, motherland! These Swedes ain't got nothin' on ya. Except maybe for their ways with crocheted potholders and sweaters. I mean, have you SEEN these things? It's like a national freakin' treasure, these people's abilities to turn a skein of yarn into an itchy, bulky utilitarian item! Uff-da, indeed!

Seriously, December. Hurry it up. I'm totally over this whole November thing.

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Halfway There

Well, happy halfway mark, fellow writers. It's November 16th, which means that, sitting in computer files all around the world, half baked novels are awaiting their as-of-yet-unthought-of endings.

I'm dragging my feet today because I'm under the weather. It's making me not want to write, or go to work. About the only thing I can get excited for is the new Bubble Burst game I installed on my phone.

I'm trying to be okay with not filling every second of my day with writing. It's tough. I feel like I should be dedicating every spare moment of my time to this thing, but there's also other stuff to do. Stuff like surfing Craigslist on Saturday morning, making a snap decision about a piece of furniture, driving out of town to pick up friends truck to haul said piece of furniture back to house, bug downstairs neighbor (still in pajamas) to haul said piece up the stairs, turn house updside down in attempt to fit new piece of furniture in house, and then decide maybe buying piece of furniture was not the best idea I've ever had.

The only part of the house untouched by chaos is Burdy's half of the office. My part of the office is a minefield of unfinished art projects and boxes full of fabric and sewing paraphernalia, which you have to walk through to get to Burdy's side, so the poor man has about four square feet all to himself. I did finish hemming all my pants that needed hemming, so at least I won't be flopping around like a moron in too-long pants this winter. So, you know. Hooray for that.

Here's something to tide you over till the end of the month:

Bottle from Kirsten Lepore on Vimeo.

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Tricks Of The Trade

Well, It's Day 4 and I've got nothing so far. Just a bunch of stream of consciousness stuff written in the first person. The anti-novel, you might call it.

Since inspiration has not hit yet, I have busied myself by preparing the writing room. I kind of feel like an expectant mother folding tiny cloth diapers into a drawer waiting for the Big Day. Except pregnant ladies eventually birth their kids... and I'm not so sure at this point that I'm ever going to deliver this 50,000 pound baby.

1. I'm using a stack of books by some of my favorite authors as a riser for my laptop. Why not a real riser, you ask? Well, cheapness, for one. And two, I'm hoping for the miracle of digital plot-osmosis.

2. I've cleared off the rest of the desk and moved my favorite keyboard from my work desk to my writing desk. I've thrown out organized everything I had in my inbox so there are no distractions.

3. I've faced this gem of a gift from my sister in my direction so that when I lose my train of thought, his benevolent smile will goad me on. He comes from Iceland, where even writing instruments need winter coats. (I guess...)

Internet, meet Purple Bunny Pencil Warmer.

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