Thursday, November 30, 2006


I done it! I mean it's done and I did it! I wrote 50,000 words in one month! By, like, steady plodding and sacrificing good writing on the altar of quantity!


And also, Yeeeeeaaaaaah, BABY!


(Well, that last exclamation may have been a bit much...)

As a newly inducted NaNoWriMo winner, I get to put this lovely image up on my blog:

(Yeah. I went with the biggest one available. Totally.)

However, as impressed as I am with my own personal writing feat, (and at 166 pages in Word it's the most (by a long shot) I've ever written for any one project), I'm even more impressed with my little sis's writing skills.

Even now she's madly dashing off her last 1000 words, having written an average of about 5000 every day for the past week. WOW. She was only about halfway to the goal a week ago and now... THAT AWESOME AND CRAZY CHIC! SHE'S TOTALLY GONNA MAKE IT!

So tomorrow she and I are going to have our own little "Thank goodness it's over" party. We're probably gonna go to a movie, she'll eat some popcorn ('cause I'm abstaining...shoot...), and we'll laugh and we'll cry and we'll fall asleep onto each other's shoulders halfway through the movie because, by heck, this writing 50,000 words in one month is pretty tiring work.



Get your car out of the gutter, girl!

It has recently been snowing here in Utah, thus launching the season of white-knuckled, brake-tapping, generally terrifying driving experiences we all know and…er…love? It always takes me a few weeks at least to get used to the different way you have to brake and to recall just how to ease your car out of a spin instead of making it go around in a 360.

In short, I’m still in that How the heck do I do this? stage, currently at least another two weeks away from that blessed blissful moment when I'll be able to skid my way uphill with an inch of solid ice on the road and not get stuck even once.

So it really shouldn't have surprised me today when I tried to park on the street just north of my workplace and ended up in the gutter. Yes folks, the gutter. I pulled up into a nice open spot (which was also unfortunately covered with ice) and when I tried to stop the car, it slid down inevitably into the gutter, and just slid more quickly when I hit the brakes in surprise. (Yeah. Smart move there, Lizardbreath.)

So I got stuck in the gutter. And after a few tries of backing up and twisting my wheels to the left and trying to get back on the road again, I just gave up, kicked the car (not really) and let it just sit and think about what it had done while I went in to work.

Work has been stressful this week because of a large sale we had over the weekend which flooded us with orders, phone calls and emails that all urgently needed attention. So I felt frayed and low when I went back out to the car at lunchtime to see if I could get it out of the gutter and into the parking lot of the local Subway shop.

And call me foolish, but I was so distressed that I decided to pray and ask if I could get just a little bit of help to get my car out of the gutter, mainly so I wouldn't have to ask the company's owner if he could tow me up onto the road. I think I couched it in terms like, "I know this isn't a big deal, and you don't have to if you don't want to, but I would really love it if I could just get out of this gutter on my own."

I think I sometimes feel like God is rather reluctant to answer our prayers, as if He sifts through a stack of them, setting some aside because the requests are too insignificant, or don't match precisely what He knows we should want. At times, this feeling makes me believe that God will not answer prayers at all, but that whatever I'm asking for will be answered with a firm "No."

So I was surprised, and very, very grateful when, with a single backing up and a twisting of my front tires to the left, I was able to get my little Geo back up onto firm road, leaving that gutter behind me (I hope for good).

As I drove off to Subway to get lunch, I found myself in tears. I realized (or remembered) that God actually delights in helping us, and I believe that He will aid us in every small or large thing that He can. He's not reluctant to answer prayers; it's just that we're sometimes reluctant to place our faith in Him. That's why He answers a child's prayer to find his lost dinosaur toy, or a student's desperate prayer to remember the mathematical formula she needs on a test, or a sin-bound person's desire to be freed, at last, from his heavy burdens of guilt and pain.

Answering these prayers shows us that He loves us, but they also help us to learn to trust God and to turn to Him again when we have greater need.

It also changes something inside of us. This morning I was a wretched customer service rep who, frazzled, tried to leap from one task to another and berated herself after every phonecall for sounding like an idiot. This afternoon I was me again: Lizardbreath, who has a Heavenly Father who looks out for her and delights in helping her.

And I hope I don't have to slide into the gutter again to be reminded of that.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm in the mood to be insulted.

We had practice for ward choir today, and with all the rather difficult pieces we're doing this year and with only about four weeks to go, it's feeling like we're getting into real crunch time here. I wonder if that might have been part of it.

Also, I didn't really want to come to choir today. It's really that way most weeks--for some reason, I just really want to keep that hour for myself to do something like read. Or sleep. (Both of which I am exceedingly good at.) That definitely was part of it.

And then there's the fact that, in the choir, I'm used to being petted and coddled as the alto 'golden child' who always gets her notes right and leads the section in sounding out her part like a human-shaped trumpet. That was the biggest part of all.

Today, while practicing, one of the good sisters in my section kept insisting that we weren't hitting the notes of a particular section very well, and she kept looking at me while she was insisting it. I started to feel rankled, especially since I've sung this piece numerous times over the past thirteen or so years and I feel like I pretty much know it by heart. So, I got offended. Every time she said we hadn't gotten the notes right, I would dig the fingernails of my left hand into my palm and try to convince myself not to get up and storm out like a tantrumy child. Then when she pointed out a timing problem in another section of the song, I had to physically bite down on my tongue to keep myself from saying something that I knew I would regret.

Now. Let me express to you--I love this sister. She's funny and wry and has this wonderfully deep voice and eyes that twinkle and just generally embodies all that is good. I give her hugs on a regular basis (or rather I used to give her hugs, before I got called into Primary and pretty much lost contact with the rest of the ward).

After my temper had cooled and after we had moved onto another song I was left to sit and wallow in my shame at having been so taken aback by this sister's implication that I was not getting the notes of this song right. I had simply been offended because I believed she was accusing me of singing the wrong notes, which I believed I was incapable of doing. Aargh! My pride! My vicious, vicious pride!

There are times that I thoroughly despise myself. For instance, when I make a mistake that costs my company a great deal of money, I feel like a slug that has slimed its way across somebody's wedding cake. Or, when I fail to get up on time and walk in a few minutes late to church, I feel like a spider that has crawled into someone's sundae. Man, I hate that!

But the time I despise myself the most is when I let my stupid, bullheaded pride in my minor talents & accomplishments overrule the honest affection I have for someone, when I'm more concerned with being right than being kind, and more occupied with my status than with being humble. I hate that about myself the most of all things.

So, I suppose this free confession to all of you is my penance. Thanks for reading. (Now for some more self-flagellation...)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

For one thing we give thanks above all

I must admit--I can be a bit of a scrooge. I'm the one who winces when coworkers break out their Christmas music CDs the day after Halloween, the one who glares at the Christmas decorations that appear on store shelves right next to the swimsuits and beach balls.

Fortunately, by the time Thanksgiving rolls around I'm usually resigned to the idea of the Christmas Holiday Season finally being here, as well as a bit ashamed of my reluctance to enter into the spirit of said season. That was the way I felt today, or rather last night if you want to be particular.

And I suddenly realized what a serendipitous thing it is that the holiday of Thanksgiving is just a month before Christmas. It's Thanksgiving that makes us remember that all good things come from God, from the turkey & jello salad to the birth of a new nephew into the family. Then, just as the holiday closes, we're rushed right into another even busier, hectic holiday season. But this holiday is the celebration of a life for which we should give the greatest thanks of all.

On this Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for my family and for all the wonderful, delicious food which is, even now, bulging my stomach out to indecent proportions.

But most of all I'm thankful that God did choose to send His Only Begotten Son, and that the Son perfectly obeyed the will of His Father in all things, both setting an immaculate example for us to follow and freeing us from being trapped forever by our own stupid, persistent errors.

I'm finally grateful for the Christmas season. I'm finally being a little more grateful for Christ.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Yay! I'm ahead of schedule!

Oh! I'm just swept away with excitement! (And yes, folks, that is the sort of terribly cliche sentence that is oh-so-typical in my NaNoWriMo novel.)

I actually managed to write about 1100 words more today than I needed to. Hurrah! And hooray! And general fantabulous celebratory...erm...actions!

Well, I'm really just pleased that I got caught up enough in the story that I didn't want to stop writing until I'd finished a scene. Hah! That's true authorship for ya, ain't it? Yeah.

It's good to be an author.

(And seriously--NO, I mean SERIOUSLY--I need to think of a blog topic that does not, in some way, involve NaNoWriMo. Maybe come December.)

Holy Eggs!

Wow. I completely forgot I took this picture, that is until I was searching through my image files just now looking for something to spice up my blog, and maybe provide a topic.

So. Yeah. Holy. Cow. Or, rather, holy egg. (That is, if you believe that an egg having two yolks makes it holy. Which, erm, isn't really consistent with any religion I know about, but then I could be ill-informed. Although if this egg was holy, I'm afraid it's long gone by now. And yes, it was delicious.)

Uhhhh... I'm so sorry. You see, I'm spending all of my creative juices (mmm...delicious creative juices) dreaming up unlikely plot elements for my novel. Like finding a box with a compass that's kind of filled in with blue wax. And a woman who appears dramatically riding a glowing bear.

Yes. My story has definitely taken some weird turns. And, like, unexpected ones. And holy heck, (that is, if you believe that 'heck' is holy, which, in my book, it most certainly is not), I haven't even gotten to where the original fairy tale begins. STILL. In fact, as I pointed out to my younger sibs this evening, I'm still roughly five to ten years before the fairy tale starts, depending on what age I decide everyone will be when the adventurous siblings head off into the woods and one gets turned into a deer.

Yup. That's what I said: a deer.

So, I'm afraid my poor little blog posts will continue to be dull and boring and...will have pictures of eggs with two yolks...maybe...until November has ended and I've participated in that giant December 1st "Thank Heaven it's OVER" party. Except, at the rate I'm going (glowing bears notwithstanding) it'll be January at LEAST before I finish the rough draft of this darn thing. Of, like, 2008. So there.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Only a little obsession

Heya, guys!

I just wanted to say, Hi! Here I am! And also, I'm alive!

I just keep having all my free time sucked away by trying to write many words in a novel. may not see much of me. Or, you may see some of me, but it will likely be a me who is trying to escape from novel-writing.

Alas, the current me is tired and still has to email some pictures to herself so she can post them from work. And she also realizes that the last sentence didn't make any sense whatsoever.

Alas, again.


So, steak is pretty tasty. And water is nice to drink. And bed is calling.

Gooooood night.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Duh. Typical Me.

So the whole reason I turned on my computer about an hour ago was to Google how to clean a chenille throw. And then I thought: Well, as long as I'm online I might as well check my email. So I did. Which took a long time. Then I checked my blog, then I checked other people's blogs, then I tried to listen to a song excerpt from Borders, then I listened to Holst's The Planets for awhile, then I shut down my computer.

And remembered that I hadn't found out how to clean that chenille throw.

Darn me.

(It's apparently dry-clean only anyway. Guess the thing'll have to stay dirty for awhile longer. Ew.)

Still going and going and going

It's getting harder to write 1667 words every day. I guess that's why over at NaNoWriMo they suggest that you get a huge head start that first week in November. Which I didn't. Oops.

I'm still keeping current with my word count, but the time between word-count checks ("Okay--I'm at 13874... Now I'm at 13882. Woohoo! Progress, baby!") is getting shorter and shorter. Also, my plot is moving about in ways I didn't expect. Also, I am easily distracted by babies. Also, my characters are behaving differently than they did when I first introduced them. Also, I am very tired. Also, I don't think I like artichoke hearts.

So, as you can see, writing a novel is difficult.

However, tomorrow my page count should jump up to 54 or 55, which will make this project the one for which I've written the most (my previous attempt, written during an entire semester, came only to 51 pages) and I'm also finding that despite really really wanting to get through those 1667 words so I can go to sleep, I'm actually enjoying my novel. I like the way things are happening, and characters and places are getting described naturally as I go along. I think it's working, mostly, and that's rather surprising to me.

At my book club this past Tuesday, I found out that Shannon Hale (author of recent Newbery honor book Princess Academy) sets a goal of writing 1000 words every day. Hearing that, and knowing that right now, with a full-time job, I'm pulling off 1667 words a day, I thought to myself, "Hey. I could do that."

So, I decided to quit my job, drop all other plans for the future and write full time.

Hahaha! Ohh.... *wipes tears from her eyes* That was a good one. Yeaaah.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Either we are the most boring family ever, or babies are the most interesting things ever invented.

Today was my nephew's blessing day. He's now just over 2 months old and is doing an astonishingly good job of holding conversations with people (necessarily consisting almost entirely of the letter 'g' and assorted vowel sounds, and thus making words like: "ooh...gaaaeeeehhh....guruuruughh"), rolling over, sort-of-standing (assisted in the balance-bit by numerous adult helpers, but pretty much holding himself up), and just generally looking adorable.

Here--see for yourself!

So while my family did play the awesome game "Apples to Apples" for a bit, the majority of the evening (and the afternoon, and a darn good portion of the morning) we spent by simply looking at him, or watching others look at him, or thinking about looking at him except he was nursing at the time and that would have been weird.

It's crazy how fascinating a baby can be. When it's your kid sister's babe, especially. Or a friend's. Or whatever.

Or maybe my family is just boring. (But if we're boring for staring at babies all day, then I say 'boring' is SOOO the new 'exciting, 'interesting' and 'dare-devilish.' Well, maybe not 'dare-devilish.' But it's close.)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ripping ABBA and The Redeemer and avoiding novel-writing

Hello, all.

I just wanted to tell you that you are all cool. And that sitting here on my bed typing in my blog in the half-dark (because it's cloudy today here in Utah) I kind of miss you all. Because you are cool. And because I currently feel...a little separated from you all. I guess.


And also, I'm currently transferring more of my (rather eclectic) CD collection onto my laptop so I can more easily listen to music while I type up nonsense for my NaNoWriMo novel. I've just finished ABBA and The Redeemer (an oratorio written by former Mormon Tabernacle organist and LDS composer extraordinare Robert Cundick) and now I'm moving on to the MoTab CD Consider the Lilies and then I'll do Elgar's Enigma Variations. (Mmm. Delicious Elgar... Oh. Er...wait...)

Novel-writing is actually going swimmingly so far, and I've surprised myself by being exactly on schedule. Apparently if you write 1667 words per day you'll just make the 50,000 word mark by the end of the month. So far, I've got 5412, which is just about right on for the first three days of the month. (Of course, I haven't written anything today, but I'm sure I'll get up where I should be. After all, it takes 3 days of doing something to form a habit, right? Right???)

Speaking of habits, I've also surprised myself recently for the last two months by getting up early enough in the morning to give myself roughly an hour of exercise time. (In case you were wondering, I DID exercise that day I slept in--I just exercised rather late in the day.) As a consequence of that (and other little changes like eating NO sugary stuff & consuming more veggies (veggies now quiver in fear at the sight of me, the great veggie predator)) I've now gone down one pant size (hooray!) and only have (mumble mumble) more to go until I'm...there. You know. THERE. Where the beguilingly beautiful women hang out. (I think it's some sort of nightclub, with a blue neon sign above the door that says "The Lovely Lounge," or maybe it's "The Lovely Lozenge." Yes, that's it. In fact, I'm quite sure of it.)

I guess I didn't really need to tell you all that, because it's not really all that important, (except that it's nice to snuggle into pants that aren't quite as large as they used to be, and it's nice to be using holes in my belt that have never been used before), but I thought that since I recently spent a post ranting about how miserably dumb I can be, I ought to post a minor accomplishment as well.

So, I guess I ought to get down to business & actually accomplish something today besides posting to my blog & ripping CDs and making Primary phone calls and reading a third of Princess Academy for the book-club meeting on Tuesday and...HOLY COW! Missing a very important message from Cathy!

Sorry folks--gotta go!

(P.S. It's a GOOD message, so no worries!)

***Edit: Okay! Just got off the phone with Cathy, and she authorized me to tell you that they have a new baby daughter who was born yesterday at about 3pm-ish! Her name is Gwyneth Schaller, although I forgot to check the spelling, and I also forgot to check & see if she has a middle name, so I'll have to adjust this info later. Also, you might be interested to know that she weighs 8lbs, 4oz and that she's 21 and 3/4 inches long. For more info, I'm sure you could call the Schallers sometime, and they likely wouldn't mind. Not even a bit.***

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

At last! It's time to procrastinate!

November 1st has arrived at last, and with it that feeling of fresh new challenges that every new first-of-the-month seems to convey. However, this month has an even fresher (and newer) challenge than usual. As you may have noticed, I've joined the ranks of those attempting to write an entire novel (or at least 50,000 words) within the 30 days of the month of November. (NaNoWriMos, we like to call ourselves, and for more info about our worthy endeavor, you can check out

So at last I have the chance to get started on that novel that's been percolating around my head for roughly the past, oh, week or so... And what do I do, I pray you, good readers? Naturally I sit and blog about writing a novel, without actually getting started.

Ah. The joys of procrastination. Especially when one has a blog. 'Tis joyful indeed.

(But do wish me luck. My sister helped me figure out that one must write about 6 pages of double-spaced 12-point text in order to reach the 50,000 word goal in 30 days. I have high hopes of being certifiably insane by the end of this month. Huzzah! Oh, and for those of you interested in tracking my progress, my NaNoWriMo username is lizardbreathmcgee (in case you didn't catch that in the comment on my previous post). I'll keep y'all updated anyway.)