Friday, November 30, 2012

Writing life...

And just like that the last day of November is upon us.

And I am happy to report that I did it, I completed the first rough draft of my second novel. Finally: after seven years of putting this story down and picking it up; after several months of trying to put words to paper and always finding a reason to procrastinate; I did it. I can now cross that off my list of goals for 2012. 

Of course I have a lot of work to do still, lots and lots of editing, lots more research. The novel is set in Lagos, Miami and Ibadan, with the exception of Miami, I know next to nothing about those cities so I need to go visit, maybe I will be fortunate enough to spend a month in Nigeria and two weeks in Miami.
But be that as it may, I am very glad that I took part in the NaNoWriMo writing challenge. It worked for me because I was ready to finally write this thing, and 2) i love a challenge, and I felt that I was letting down someone if I didn't sit down and write my words for the day. 

I have been using an productivity app called Remember The Milk to help me with my life and my novel. I was going to write about it last week but um yeah, I was distracted by food. But anyway, I love it. I used it to keep track of scenes or other things I wanted to expand on as I was writing. I love lists, and I love crossing things off lists, it just makes me feel very accomplished so I loved this app. Of course, I am way behind on a thousand things right now so I am not loving the app right now. 

Speaking of to do lists and being behind: my house is a total disaster. I haven't cleaned or put away laundry in a while so I am pretty much living in chaos and I am sick of it. I am supposed to be moving out this month, although truth be told, I had already started moving in October so my entire kitchen is boxed up. I guess this will be a weekend of packing and figuring out movers and things. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

24 hours away from the ELP.

So I did something that my usually financially prudent self wouldn't do. I hopped on a plane and went far away for one day to attend the wedding of one of my friends from medical school.

My travel day did not start off auspiciously. First I overslept. Next the zipper broke on the dress I had been planning to wear for days so I had to change into something that has been on facebook a thousand times. Hopefully no one will notice. Then I realized that I had left my powder and concealer in my desk at work, so I had to go barefaced! My skin is great ok, but I still have these spots and three big pimples that I didn't want to display to the whole world!

It was a long flight (3 hours to ATL, and 1.5 hours to HPN) and I was determined to get as much writing as possible done on the flight. And I did, alternating between my laptop and my notebook. When I got tired of writing, I read through the tutorial for Scrivener, an organizing program for writers I am trying out. I had made the conscious decision not to bring any novels with me because I knew that I would read those instead of writing which would start a chain reaction of guilt and self condemnation.

In Atlanta, I had some time before my connection so I rushed to the bathroom and took out my hair. I did a style called cocoon curls as explained by naptural85 on theYoutube the night before. I used my aloe vera leave in to dampen the hair, and then whipped shea butter (mixed with idi-agbon oil). I could literally see my hair stretching before my eyes as I worked in my mix. I must admit I took some shortcuts such as not doing precise parts, so when I took it out I was a bit disappointed. But I finger fluffed and shook my head a few times and went to board my flight.

I landed in the HPN a bit late. It was a traditional airport, even smaller than El Paso and we didn't even have a covered gangway. It was cool. I wish someone were there to take my photograph as I walked down the steps waving to my adoring crowd. What's that? Am not famous, and I have no fans? Not yet. Not yet.

The wedding was fabulous. The food was good. The music fun. And then it was time to go to my motel which was in Stamford CT.

I drove up there and I wanted to drive back somewhere else. I am not easily scared or fazed by anything. I was that girl that was jogging through Little Haiti and downtown Miami. I was that girl that walked to my favorite grocery store in Little Haiti and bought my gas from the gas station across the street from the place, only to learn from my friends that they had been told to drive through all those areas without stopping for the red light. People are people are people and most time they are not even thinking about doing you wrong. Ok?

But this place scared me. I guess it was all the people hanging outside. I didn't like that. My room was right by the front desk and the ice machine and the dining area. So it was pretty noisy. But hallelujah anyway, at least I was close to the front desk so the clerk could prevent anyone from doing anything to me, to be extra sure, I put the dead bolt on. Lol.

 I woke up early the next day, attempted to write but couldn't focus so I got dressed, checked out and went to a diner I found on Foursquare.

I love breakfast in diners. I love the toast, home fries, and eggs. When I used to work at Northeastern, there was this little place across the street that my coworker put me on to. Once a week, I would treat myself to breakfast: two scrambled eggs, toast soaking in butter, and homefries. Yummy and cheap too! So I recreated that here, plus I got some banana pancakes. I had a feeling that I would probably forget to eat lunch so I was eating for the long haul. I was very right. 

Anyways, the diner did not look like a place that welcomed lingering so I paid my bill and got up and went looking for a cafe so I could get my words for the day in. I got lost! I could feel myself getting agitated because I wanted to write something before I got on the plane, at least type in my freewrites. I could see my limited amount of time decreasing. Finally, I just picked a random street and walked, only to find the place I was searching for. 

Unfortnately by the time I paid for my latte, the place had filled up. So I went outside and sat on the library steps and breathed in cigarette smoke from the people who were sitting there waiting for the library to open. I sacrificed my lungs for my art yall.

I had limited time so I focused on typing one of my freewrites which turned out to be 1500 words long! Yeah! That was just 100 words short of my daily word target so I felt really good about that. Especially since I had about 4 others to type in. I people watched a bit, and saw some delightful children.

Then I heard the sounds of a parade and I went to take pictures and even shed a tear as I thought about the veterans service to the nation. I am totally against war ok, so I shocked myself with that one.

His swag was killing me. 

It was a great trip  (even though I did spend most of it writing) and I am glad I went. I made a few promises to myself though:
  1. no more last minute ticket buying - so not frugalista.
  2. No more motels, straight up hotels for this girl, 3 star minimum
  3. must do this more often.
I just realized that Atlanta is a plane ride away, so also is Phoenix and Vegas and Houston and Dallas and Chicago, and California (yeah the whole state lol). So I guess I will be creating some serious mileage in the coming months as I explore the United States one city at a time for 24 hours at a time.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Writing Life.

So, it is day 16 of this NaNoWriMo thing, and I am happy to report that I am still here. Writing away.

Last night was a good night. I came to the page with great reluctance, confused and sleepy and distracted but once I got into the groove, I got into the groove. I even surprised myself. At the end of the night was at 26058, and I added 3000+ words. Are those words any good? I don't know. I will deal with that at the edit stage.

I found this cool writing tool called Scrivener. Actually, I read about it on one of these NaNo pep talk letters. At first, I was like why would I need a tool for writing a novel, like I couldn't get it. But then I actually read about the features and I got it.

What got me was the fact all my scattered word files  could be stored in one place. So I have been writing this novel separated into years instead of chapters, with the major characters telling each year from their view. I would put each year in their own file and then after I edited, would transfer it to the main document. Whenever I needed to look up something I had written before, I would have to open the respective document to get at it.

Meanwhile, I have been doing freewrites for several scenes that I felt could be expanded. A freewrite for me is a tear out scene that I write with the plan of putting that in the novel somewhere at a later time. Sometimes I do them so I can get a handle on the characters, like one time I just sat and did the background of the families of both major characters. I write these in a notebook. The other day, I was trying to write about the family of the female protagonist and I realized that I couldn't remember a thing, not even the names I had given her family members. Well, with this Scrivener program, I can create these documents and refer to them easily within the program, including my pictures (for which I had a pinterest board), I was sold! Plus, it has a word count write at the bottom of the screen so I do not have to stop and do a count which with my mind means that i might meander into something else entirely.

A picture is a thousand words. 

So far, I am loving the program and I do plan to buy it very soon.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lianne La Havas

I heard her songs when they were running a profile on her on NPR Morning Edition.
Her voice is so amazing!


Don't wake me up, Live

Lost & Found

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pinterest Cookbook: Recipe 2 -Cannellini & Cabbage Soup

This turned out to to be very easy to make, and quite delicious too. Of course I modified the recipe. I added onions to the cabbage, carrots and garlic mix and sauteed that with black pepper and curry. I was generous with the black pepper because it is freezing out here and I need to warm up. Also, I'm battling a bit of congestion.  I used a mix of beans, garbanzo and cannellini, and also added tomatillo and celery. I think I was too generous with the tomato paste, I had a can that I had opened for the black bean chili so I wanted to be done with it so it wouldn't be a waste.

It took no time at all to cook, I made this after work on Monday, and it was good and filling and comforting especially after the hectic day that I had. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cravings--Bed edition

My bed has fallen apart. It unfortunately did not make through my 4 million moves. It's time for a new bed, and I have been craving an upholstered bed since I saw Rachel Zoe's dramatic white upholstered bed on her TV show. Yeah, i know that show was all about fashions but i can't get excited about fashions i can't afford, however, I can and did get excited about that bed!

I tried to look for it on the innanets but I can't find the original. Anyway, here are some beds that are similar.
68" Adler Tufted Platform Bed | Upholstered Beds | Restoration Hardware 

Z Gallerie-Jameson Bed

Monday, November 12, 2012

What is mine is mine!

My lease ended at the end of September and of course I waited until the absolute last minute to search for my next place. Truth was I was not feeling anything that I saw close to my job, either the price wasn't right or the amenities were not too great. Anyway, I finally found a place that was closer to my job (6 miles vs 20 miles); had a great view (the mountains are in my backyard) and the rent was cheaper too. Truth be told, I had originally planned to move into this place when my lease was up, but I read some reviews on the innanets and I talked myself out of it. I liked it not because of the amenities (not a luxury apartment, whatever that is) but because it was very close to my writing office during the summer time. In fact, I learned of the apartment because I passed in front of it on the way to the canyon.

Anyway, I went to the leasing office and applied for the apartment, got approved, paid my deposit and put the move date on my calendar. I started packing, and even packed up my entire living room, guest suite and kitchen and began to think about how I would decorate, and daydreamed about trying again to grow some plants. But then I got a nasty little surprise, apparently I had to give 60 day notice even though I was now a month to month tenant.


I was so mad. I lost my temper big time because I was ready to go, I was tired of the long commute. I was tired of living in my apartment and I was ready for the next thing. I called my present apartment about my options and I was told snarkily that I could leave, they weren't holding me hostage, but I had to pay them their rent. Umm, dear not very brilliant person, you are holding me hostage because you are making me pay rent whether I stay or leave despite the fact that I do NOT have a lease with you.

So I sat and waited because I was not paying rent in two places. My sisters reminded me that God is in control and maybe there was something else going on that we could not see at the present time. So I waited, grumbling and mad, but I waited. The minute November rolled around again, I called the place to find out if they had any apartments. I was pretty sure they would tell me no or that they had an apartment with an ugly view but to my surprise she said Yes, your original apartment is still available.

What now? (halle????)

And the rent is, and she said something cheaper than the original quote (hallelu!).

Someone had put in for the apartment, but they were unable to rent it after all and the apartment still remained available. (hallelujah!!!)

That really made my day.

Now check this out, I didn't tell the whole story from the beginning. You see, when I originally went to rent the apartment, I had been looking at a smaller apartment on the same side of the complex. However, I did not make my mind up on time and when I returned to rent it, it had already been rented out. But not to fear, the woman said, a larger place is now available, and check it, the rent has gone down too so it's almost the same price as the smaller apartment. I immediately paid the deposit and application fee only to run into the roadblock above.

In short, that apartment was always meant to be mine.

You know me, I am a total extrapolator. There is something that I really want. I have even prayed and fasted for it twice, dreamed about it at least twice, that's how strongly I want this thing. About a month ago, I got some disappointing news. I even cried, that's how hurt I was that this thing was out of my reach. My sisters, who can be really mean to me by the way, told me to stop the sniveling, woman up, grab a hold of my faith and let go. Meanies!

Where was I? Oh yeah, so who knows. If this thing that I want so badly is really for me, some things may shift in the atmosphere to make it happen for me. In the meantime, I keep praying for God to open my eyes and help to see His hand at work in my life.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I don't mind waiting...

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Romans 8:22-25 MSG.

I am currently in the waiting room, waiting on God to answer some of my heart felt desires. Sometimes I feel like I have been waiting for eternity for Him to show up and show out. Sometimes I wonder if God hears me and ever plans to hear my prayer. Sometimes I get frustrated and act out of my own strength which of course sends me back to square one, at which point I get mad at God and call myself not talking to Him.

It can be painful and lonely in the waiting room, especially when you have done your best, prayed and believed with all your might, and confessed positive things over the situation. For me, by the time the latest rejection came, a numbness settled over me such that God's voice became distant. Truthfully, it's more that I had become insensitive to His voice, and would rather turn up the soundtrack of negative thoughts playing in my head: you lose again, you failed again, you are nothing but a reject, you are no good, give up. Forget it.

I heard the song above while I was asking God for something huge for someone else. I would sing the song but as I sang I could hear my thoughts saying instead, I do mind waiting I do mind. I do mind. But then a shift took place a few weeks ago, and thanks to that shift, I could finally understand the scripture I quoted above.

Thanks to that shift, I moved from God why God? to God what do You wish to form me into while I am here in the waiting room: what skill, what spirit, what mentality do You want to cultivate in me? What do You want to cut out of my life?

I realized that being in the waiting room does not make me less loved by God. Rejection does not make me a failure. God has already seen the end from the beginning so only He understands why He chose to say no instead of yes. In fact, I started to see no as get ready. I started to see no as rethink that desire. As I let go of my sense of God has done me wrong, His still voice became more distinctive to me. I became more sensitive to Him.

Finally I can sing the song with truth.

I don't mind waiting.
I don't mind waiting.
I don't mind waiting on you Lord.  

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28 MSG

Friday, November 09, 2012

Writing life...

So, it's about eight days into NaNoWriMo and I have been pretty committed to it.

I have stopped going back to sleep after waking up early in the morning, and started writing instead. I don't know if what I am writing is any good and sometimes that little editor in my head is in my ear whispering sometimes shouting that what i am writing is pure garbage.  But, I tell it i will edit after I am done and to leave me alone.

I have stopped making excuses not to write. I tell myself that even ten minutes is something. So now, I write during my lunch hour, there is a park I drive to sometimes. I eat my lunch and then type as much as I can in the time that I have.  I even went to Starbucks after work on Friday last week, and this tuesday, in the hour between work and bible study. (Can I just tell you that it feels like there is a  Starbucks on every corner out here?)

I don't know why I put off all those things that make me me. I love praying, and at one point, I thought I was called to be an intercessor. I love writing, in fact, my tag in college was the one who writes to survive, but I have allowed the cares of my life to choke my loves to death, leaving me restless, discontent and out of sorts.

The amazing thing is, the minute I take a step towards writing or God, I always feel a shift, without fail. I no longer feel out of sorts, depressed, down and out, resentful or hopeless. I even felt motivated enough to start exercising again. Walking, not jogging yet because my knee likes to complain when I overwork it, but I am moving at last.

I think what helped my momentum was writing in Starbucks. Unlike the library where I always end up grabbing a book and just reading other people's words instead of writing my own or my house where I look at the chaos that surrounds me and start cleaning, I actually get work done there.

I even went to a write in on Sunday. Mad late, and super anxious (my sister and mom had to hold my hand over the phone to help me walk in there, can you imagine? I didn't realize I was that socially anxious. Hmm.) Anyway, I went in there. I saw people who i suspected were writing in writers but I didn't have the guts yet to go up and say hi. Maybe next time.

But yeah, cafe writing can be costly (wonder if i can write it off, hmmm) so I became obsessed with finding a teapot. I don't know why I need to have tea but that's what my artist demanded, and by golly, I plan to satisfy her so she can write and make me happy. I came upon this one at World Market for a mere 4.99$. It was green but the price was right.

Home Cafe. 

Whatever it takes. Funny thing is, in about 8 days, I have written more words for this novel than I have written in the past 8 months. Whatever it takes! This book shall be finished this month, God willing!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Pinterest Cookbook: Recipe 1 Black Bean Mushroom Chili

I had to divide by three because I have a tiny little crockpot. I didn't have cardomom so I just used my jerk spice instead. I was generous with my spices because I wanted to feel the heat, and it was spicy. The only thing was that I couldn't taste the tomatillo, it got lost in everything. The beans and mushroom on the other hand were reporting very nicely. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be to make, after all, the whole point of a crock pot is to throw everything in there and let it cook right, what's all this sauteing and what not?
But, I did enjoy the results so there's that.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Fig Tree

Though the fig tree may not blossom 

Though the rivers run dry 
Though the world around me crumble
Though I heave and I sigh 
I remember where my hope lies 
Where my help comes from 
If you could care about the sparrow 
I know you won't forget me 

Lord there is much 
That my mind can't handle 
Puzzled by 
The billowing of waves 
Of this one thing 
I am certain 
You remain the God unchanging
Lord you're watching me 

Keeping me 
Restoring me 
You will never 
Forget your own 

Though the fig tree may not blossom 

Though the rivers run dry 
Though the world around me crumble
Though I heave and I sigh 
I remember where my hope lies 
Where my help comes from 
If you could care about the sparrow 
I know you won't forget me 

Through the raging storm 
Through the fiery blaze 
I will hold on strong 
I'll stay in your face 
Let the howling wind 
What it chooses bring 
Even through it all 
I will always sing. 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Hallelujah anyway...

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength -- Phil 4:11-13 NLT

I stayed home from church today. My excuse was that I had to work tonight so therefore I needed a break from people. But the reality was that I just had an overwhelming sense of loneliness and discontent, and I thought to myself, I just can't put on the happy all is well with me face today. No way, no how, no can do. So I stayed home and drowned my sorrows in a novel and food, my two drugs of choice, and tried not to think about how weak I felt because I was losing my joy.

I eventually left the house, and I went to a write in for the NaNoWriMo. A whole hour and a half late but I went, and I wrote for a bit, just 1500 words but I wrote and afterwards when I couldn't stand being there any longer, I took myself to the McKelligon canyon and enjoyed the silence. Well, I distracted myself by chatting with my cousin on Whatsapp because I didn't want to face my thoughts. Thoughts like why can't I just be happy with whatever it is I have, wherever it is I am, whomever it is I am with, whoever it is I am right now? Thoughts like: what would it take for me to be fully content?

I wondered: if I do get what I want, will I be unhappy in that space too? 

Finally, I came to the conclusion that I needed a mental and spiritual readjustment.

This week, I plan to just be happy with whatever situation I find myself in. I plan to to stop looking at everything with a “woe is me, why me, why can't things turn out my way for once” eye. My new phrase is going to be Hallelujah anyway.

Stress on the job, hallelujah anyway, at least I have a job to stress me out, just last year I had no job and no ends and plenty stress. At least the money from the job can ease the stress.

Feeling all alone out here in the ELP? Hallelujah anyway, maybe I can get this novel that I have been working on for the past 7 years written finally.

Missing my family like mad? Hallelujah anyway, then the reunion will be even sweeter.

No little munchkin of my own? Hallelujah anyway, until the time is right, I can travel and see the world, and have fun so I can tell her stories about mommy's adventures when she finally arrives.

And so on and so forth and such and such.

May God help me, amen.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Writing Life

So this month is NaNoWriMo.
My friend put me onto it last year, and I was to work on Cheat Reflex. However, it was also the first month I started working at my new job so as always, my writing took a backseat to my job. But this month, I am committed to getting this book done!

I don't know if it is a story worth reading but I must get it out, it's been too long. I made a plan to write during my lunch break and of course I found all kinds of ways to waste the precious hour of lunch that I had, self sabotage at its best.

But I shall show up at the page no matter what, whether it's garbage or not. I shall write and not edit until after November 30.

I have done it before, I can do it again.