Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunny & Gray, Chapter Four

I guess it's time for another chapter. Probably well past time actually, but anyway, here we go for chapter four. Hope you enjoy it. Feel free to leave comments. Positive ones really help me to keep going. Do please be constructive if you have advice. Really negative stuff might kill my momentum, and I actually have some, so I'd hate for that to happen.

Chapter 4

Robbie made sure there was no chance that he’d be waylaid this time. He set his alarm, and was out of bed early, almost before the sun rose. He took a shower, made and ate some breakfast, prepared a lunch for himself as well, and left a note on the counter for Brynlee, who still wasn’t even awake.
The trek through the woods to the glade as pleasant as a journey could be when you’re desperate to arrive at your location. The still rising sun streamed through the leaves and needles of the trees with a soft amber glow. The wildflowers dappled the hills with color as if a careless artist had spilled his paints all over the world’s canvas. Steller’s jays squawked back and forth at each other from nearly every branch, and swooped and soared through the treetops, adding yet more color to the scene.
Robbie barely noticed. He had his head down, watching the rocks and earth he trod upon with intensity. He was probably hiking faster than he ever had before in his life. He wanted to avoid slipping or stumbling on a loose rock, because it might slow him down or force him to turn back. After yesterday, he was determined that nothing would keep him away. There could have been a bear in the path and Robbie would simply have swerved around it and kept going.
At last he arrived. The fairies were everywhere including his fairy. He grinned broadly, and waved to her. Then he held his hand out to her for her to settle onto it.
“Robbie!” she said when she spied him.
She zoomed down from the branches and spun around him several times as he laughed with delight, before pulling up, and coming to rest on his hand.
“Robbie!” she said again, and lifted off his hand, flew to his chest and tapped it in imitation of his gesture from the other day. “Robbie!”
“Yes,” he said, laughing, “Robbie, yes. Man, I wish I knew what your name was. I’m tired of just calling you my fairy. Somehow, we’re going to figure it out before today is over.”
And so it went. He spent the morning strolling through the glade teaching the fairy every word he could find a representation of in the glade. Stick, rock, sky, cloud, weed, bush. He showed her the difference between a rock and a pebble, a tree and a bush, a log and a stick. He taught her concepts of language like bigger and smaller; over, under, and through; up and down, and alive and not alive. After a while he felt like he was putting on an impromptu episode of Sesame Street. He actually made a mental not to watch some episodes of the show before tomorrow so that he would know what to teach her on subsequent visits. As if Brynlee didn’t think he was weird enough, what would she say when she saw him soaking in episode after episode of Big Bird and Elmo?
The time passed much faster than Robbie thought it could. His phone chimed in his pocket to inform him that he had a text. He looked, and found that it was Brynlee checking to make sure he had taken lunch with him, and if he hadn’t, he needed to come back home to eat. He couldn’t believe that it was already lunch time. He texted back, and let her know that he had come prepared, then sat down on a big rock, and opened up his lunch bag. He upended it, and a Gogurt, a string cheese, a Capri Sun, and a sandwich tumbled out into his lap.
He opened the Ziploc bag on his sandwich first, and took a bite. He’d made this sandwich himself, so it wasn’t the bland numbers that Brynlee always prepared for him with Wonder bread and Miracle Whip. He liked to think of himself as a sandwich aficionado. Of course, being only twelve he didn’t really have that much experience. Living in Denver didn’t give him a lot of access to the varying cultures found in other big cities, not a bunch of Jewish delicatessens or Italian panini shops. He’d heard of things like Rubens and Cheesesteaks, but never really had the chance to try them. He’d discovered pesto, though, and he loved slathering that on his sandwiches.
The fairy hovered around his head as he nibbled away at his sandwich. She seemed curious.
“Eat,” Robbie said, and put the sandwich in his mouth for another bite.
“Eee,” she parroted back.
“No, eat,” he said again, putting a heavy emphasis on the T at the end of the word.
“Eee Tuh,” she said, copying his emphasis.
“Good,” Robbie said, and smiled.
She hovered in closer, and inspected his sandwich, reaching out and touching the bread with a tiny, blue-green hand. Robbie tried to hold it completely still while she looked at it. Then she flew away from the sandwich in his hand and up to eye level.
“Eat?” she asked, distinctly raising her voice on the tail end of the word to make it a question. Robert was mildly flabbergasted. He hadn’t taught her how to make questions. Somehow she had picked up the voice inflection trick through her own observations of Robbie’s speech. Wow! Soon enough, they might be able to have an actual conversation after all. Robbie was assuming that it would take much more than the whole summer before they could talk with each other like adults--although he was still years from adult and she was...he had no idea what she was. She was a fairy, whatever that was.
“Yes,” Rob replied, “Eat.”
He put the sandwich into his mouth slowly, bit an exaggerated bite, and chewed with his mouth open (despite how many times his mother, Brynlee, and his various nannies before her had told him never to do that) so she could see what was happening. Then he swallowed, and opened his mouth again to show her that it was gone. The fairy cocked her head, confused.
“You want some?” Robbie asked. He broke a corner of the bread off, as small as he could make it, because even a single bite that Robbie might take would be the size of her entire upper body. He held out the crumb of bread on the tip of a finger, and waited for her to take it. She flew in close and looked at it distrustfully. She looked up at Robbie, and he smiled, then mimed putting it in his mouth with his other hand holding the sandwich. She looked down again, then up again, and then back down again, and finally took it in her hand.
She put it to her face, smelled it, and finally opened her mouth and bit down on the crumb.
“That’s it,” Robbie said. “Just like that. Like this,” and he put his sandwich in his mouth for a bite that he again chewed with his mouth open like a barbarian. The fairy chewed as well in response. Then Robbie swallowed.
“Okay,” he said, “Swallow it.” And he displayed his empty mouth as inspiration. The fairy kept chewing, and chewing, and chewing. “ You don’t have to turn it to paste,” he said, “swallow it already.” He tried to act it out for her, pantomiming a swallow. At last, she followed suit, but clumsily. Her eyes widened for a moment, and Robbie was afraid she was choking on the crumb. How would he give a fairy the size of his finger the Heimlich? He had no idea. But, instead of dropping from the sky while she struggled for breath, she smiled broadly.
“Eat!” she yelled, and zoomed toward his sandwich again. Robbie pulled a second crumb off the sandwich and handed it to her.
“Eat,” he said, “bread.”
“Eat bread?” she repeated, making a question out of it. Robbie guessed that she was asking him to correct her pronunciation if needed, but she sounded great.
“Eat bread,” he said.
She put the crumb in her mouth, and chomped away with her mouth open. Don’t these fairies have anyone to teach them manners? Robbie thought, and chuckled to himself. He took a big bite of the sandwich himself, and chewed on it as the fairy came zipping back to him for another bite.
“Be careful,” he said, “You don’t want to lose your girlish figure.” Robbie peeled a strip of lettuce off the edge, and handed it to her. This made him chuckle more. Her figure was way beyond girlish. She could give a twig a run for its money. A praying mantis, a daddy long legs, a walking stick were all fatter than she was. He needed to give her some meat for her next bite.
She looked at the lettuce suspiciously. It wasn’t bread. Robbie guessed she thought he was trying to trick her somehow.
“Eat bread?” she asked.
“No,” he said, “Eat lettuce.”
“Eat…” she faltered.
“Eat lettuce,” Robbie said again.
“Eat lettuce,” she replied haltingly. Then stuffed it in her mouth and again chewed with her mouth open. She seemed to like the taste of the lettuce.
When she came back for more, Robbie pinched off a chunk of turkey and handed it to her. She inspected it with the same curiosity, and said, “Eat lettuce.” She stuffed it in her mouth, but this time, she didn’t even chew for a moment. She spit it out immediately, and then flew over to Robbie and bopped him one on the nose.
It didn’t hurt, but Robbie was very surprised. “Whoa, What? What’s wrong? No eat turkey?”
“Eat tur...key?” she asked, and then shook a fist at him.
“No eat turkey?”
“No eat turkey!” she replied with a shout.
“I guess maybe you’re a vegetarian, huh? Okay, what about cheese?” He pinched off a dab of cheese and gave it to her. She looked at it for a long time, smelling it, holding it up to the lights, then finally touched it slowly to her lips. That was enough for her, she pulled it away from her face and dropped it to the ground. “No eat turkey!” she said.
“Cheese,” Robbie corrected her.
“No eat chee,” she said.
“Cheese,” he said, putting a lot of emphasis on the Z sound.
“No eat cheese,” she replied.
“Okay,” Robbie said, “You’re not just a vegetarian, you’re a vegan. All right, that will limit what I can give you here. I bet you probably won’t even do mayo or pesto.” He took care to pinch off pieces of the bread from the outside of the sandwich, so he didn’t expose her to any animal fat or oil. She enjoyed pieces of lettuce and tomato, but it was a good thing that she was tiny, because he could barely manage to get any clean bits off his sandwich for her. Robbie worked his way through his lunch, eating the string cheese, and Gogurt without offering her any, and also chomping down the majority of the sandwich that was drenched in sauce.
Then it came time to drink the Capri Sun. He wanted to share it with her, because he figured she’d enjoy it--it was vegan approved after all, but he wasn’t sure how to go about it. He popped the straw into the pouch and sucked down a swallow for himself, then pulled some juice up the straw. He held it in place plugging off the straw with his tongue, and pulled the straw out of the pouch. Then plugged the other end with the tip of his finger, keeping the juice trapped in the straw.
He pantomimed holding out his hand to receive some juice to the fairy, and luckily she got the gist easily and did exactly that. This was the tricky part. For her, a drop of juice would be plenty, but how to let such a small amount out? He’d have to be lightning fast with the tip of his finger, lifting it off and then sealing the hole back up like lightning.
“Okay,” he said, “here it goes. You’re gonna like the juice. I just hope I don’t completely soak you in it.”
He lifted his finger off and then covered the hole again as fast as he could, but the entire straw emptied all over the fairy anyway. She spluttered as the flavored liquid drenched her from head to toe.
“Oh no!” Robbie said, “I’m sorry!”
She quickly gained her composure again, and took one of the drops that still clung to her iridescent skin, and put it in her mouth. Her face lit up like a spotlight.
“Eat!” she said. Robbie thought she would like it, and she certainly did.
“Drink,” he said. “Drink juice”
“Drink?” she repeated, confused. “Drink joo?”
“Juice. Drink juice.” He sucked another strawful out, and held the straw out to her. This time he didn’t lift his finger off. He waited to see what she might do. She just looked in the straw, then looked back up at him, waiting. He decided to empty it out into his cupped hand, and let her drink from the puddle he’d make. That worked much better than opening a waterfall of juice onto her face. She knelt on his palm, and pulled drinks in her own cupped palms up to her face. She really liked it, and drank until she could drink no more. That still left some of the pool of juice in his hand. She was just so tiny. He dumped what was left, and packed everything that was left back into the bag he’d brought.
It was getting very hot, and he decided to strip off his shoes and socks and soak his feet in the pond. The fairy watched him with rapt interest. He narrated what he was doing, trying to teach her words.
“Shoes,” he said as he lined them up next to each other.
She looked confused about what she was seeing. She wore no clothing whatsoever,  so she probably didn't understand the concept. Her body was covered by nothing more than her iridescent blue-green skin. He imagined that she might be thinking that he'd just removed his feet and put them on the ground next to him, except of course he still had feet at the end of his legs.
He peeled his socks off too, and laid them on top of his shoes.
“Socks,” he said, and then pointing at them, “feet.”
“Shoo. Sock. Feet,” she repeated.
He dipped them into the water, and smiled, sighed, and laid back on the shoreline. The fairy flew over and hovered above his face.
“Hi,” he said.
“Feet?” she asked.
“Yes,” he sat back up, lifted his feet out of the water and pointed at them again. “Feet.” He started going through his body parts, naming them off to her. Then he pointed at each of her body parts and did the same. Then he went through them again on his body, but only pointing, and waiting for her to supply the word for what he was pointing at. The fairy named each one of them with minimal pausing to remember. The fairy was really catching on…
The fairy. All at once Robbie grew sick and tired of not having a name to call her. She was catching on so well, maybe she could supply him with a name finally. If not, or if it was some impossible to pronounce chirping sound, then he was just going to give her a name himself.
He pointed to his chest, as he had done that first day, and said, “Robbie.”
“Robbie. Robbie,” she reapeated.
“What’s your name?” he asked, pointing to her.
“Robbie,” she said.
“No, no. I’m Robbie,” he said, pointing to himself. “What’s your name?”
Something seemed to click in the fairies head. She glanced left, then right, then smiled big. “Fower!” She shouted.
“Flower?” Robbie asked. Then he pointed to a blue wildflower growing beside the pond. “Flower, like this?”
She shook her head violently. “No!” she shouted, and suddenly zoomed out of sight. Robbie searched the sky for her, but couldn’t see her among the other fairies and insects circling about the glade. He pulled his feet from the pond, and stood, still looking. She came racing back, circled his head, then grabbed his ear and tugged.
“I guess you want me to follow you then. Okay. Lead away.” He started walking the direction she had pulled his ear. She let go, and flew ahead. She didn’t fly slowly, and Robbie realized he was going to have to run to keep up. The water on his feet mixed with the dirt he ran through until his feet were covered in mud. He would have to wash them in the pond before going home, or Brynlee would flip out at him. Maybe it would help though. Could mud make a sort of protective barrier? He wasn’t allowed to run around without shoes on outside much, so his feet were pretty tender. Dashing through the woods like this he was bound to step on a rock and hurt himself.
Even running as fast as he could, the fairy flew out of sight. She circled back, tugged his ear, and flew on again. “Fower,” she said as she zoomed away. This same routine repeated four times before they finally made it to the spot she wanted him to see. It was a huge leafy green bush with perhaps a dozen large yellow petaled flowers on it.
“Fower,” the fairy said, pointing at the giant yellow flowers and then pointing at herself. Robbie didn’t know plants all that well. He could name a bunch of trees and a lot of human cultivated flowers like roses, tulips, daffodils, and irises, but wildflowers were a lot harder, because there was no adult to ask. Adults could tell you, because they were the ones who had planted them, and they could look on the seed packet to be sure. Wildflowers spread a different way.
The bush was enormous, several feet taller than himself. Robbie was just hitting puberty and surely had a lot of growing to do, but he was five feet two inches now, and was dwarfed by this wildflower bush. They almost looked like daisies, but daisies weren’t this big, and anyway, weren’t daisies white with yellow in the middle. These were yellow with brown in the center. He wanted to say that this was a sunflower plant. The flowers were smaller than the monstrous sunflowers that his grandpa liked to grow in their backyard. Those plants had been twice as large as his head, but they were the ones that would make the seeds that you could buy roasted and salted at the store. People farmed those ones. This was a wild plant.
He grabbed one of the flowers by the stem and looked at it closely. He’d seen these plants growing along the side of the road every summer his whole life, but he’d never thought to ask what they were. One thing he did know was that sunflowers were packed with a load of seeds right under the fuzzy stuff on the middle of the flower. He thumbed at the center to see if it would reveal the seeds to him, and there they were, not fully formed yet, but packed down in there was a bundle of black seeds.
“Fower,” said the fairy, hovering in close to his face were he examined the flower’s head. She pointed to the flower and then pointed to her narrow chest.
“Sunflower!” Robbie said, a huge grin spreading across his face. “Your name is Sunflower.” He started repeating the word, pointing to the plant and then pointing at the fairy. “Sunflower. Sunflower. Sunflower.”
She repeated after him. “Sunfower. Sunfower.” Then she even managed to get the L sound into the word. “Sunflower.”
“Repeat after me, Sunflower. My name is Sunflower. My name is Sunflower. You can do it. My name is Sunflower.”
And she did. “My name is Sunflower.”

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April Week Two...And A Few More Days Besides

I guess I'm a little late for a report on week two of April. It has proven to be as busy as the first week of April was. I have managed to get my words written before 11:00 on a couple of occasions, but only a couple. For the most part, when I've gotten my words written, it's been late. And sadly, I have to admit that I missed again.

Here's my chart:

Yeah, I missed two days in a row. I know! I can't really believe it either. The worst of all was that I just plain forgot to write those days. I had no other excuse. The first day was a Friday. I was really tired. It had been a long week. I'd actually gotten together with Rish twice this week, both Monday and Wednesday, and we'd stayed up till about 2:00 AM on both of those nights. The the Tuesday in between that, I'd spent the whole evening meeting with our real estate agent, who looked over our house, then had a sign a bunch of papers to get the process of selling our house in gear. Then Thursday, my in-laws arrived from Canada, so we spent the evening talking with them.

Come Friday, I was tired, and I really wanted to get a decent night's sleep. So, when I took my son up to bed for the night, I just fell asleep at his side, happily, completely oblivious about the fact that I hadn't written at all.

Then, the next day was the Saturday before Easter. There was an Easter egg hunt for the city that we always go to. Then a family get-together that included another egg hunt. We stayed at my sister's house for a long time afterward because someone was coming to look at our house at 6:00 PM, and we didn't want to be under their feet when they came. Then, when we got home, I spent the evening, well into the early morning putting together the Easter basket treasure hunts that I do for my kids for Easter.

It wasn't until morning came along, and my wife said, "have you been writing this week?" when I realized that I in fact had not. I'd completely forgotten that I did such a thing. I'd done it without fail for more than sixty days in a row, but somehow it had completely slipped my mind. How the hell does that happen? That's crazy!

Well, I did get back to it. I've written every day since Saturday. I was going to try to write 3,000 words on Sunday to make up for the days I'd missed, but I just couldn't find the time or the energy to do so. Maybe I'll manage to do that another day this month or something, but if I never do, I'll be fine with it. I'm back at it. I remember that I do it again, so that's what matters, I suppose. I'm a writer, because a writer writes every day.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Millenials v GenX: Dawn of Mark-ups

Rish was at a Star Wars panel at our local Comic Con a few weeks ago, and when they asked for questions from the crowd, a guy got up and prefaced his question with this statement:

"I just wanted to say that I love the prequels, and if anyone doesn't agree with that they need to grow up!"

A bunch of people cheered and a there were probably a few boos. Rish sat there a little stunned and incensed, and though he didn't have a question, he almost got up just so he could say, "I just wanted to say that Star Wars is just movies, and if anyone doesn't agree with that they need to grow up!"

It's kind of funny to me, because it's such a silly thing, but it's the first quarrel that I've seen between Millenials and Gen-Xers. There's been countless blog posts and Huffington Post articles about how Millenials are feuding with Baby Boomers, and as a Gen-Xer, I feel left out. It's just another time that we haven't mattered. Hell, they called us Generation X because they couldn't come up with a real name for our generation.

But now, we've got a feud! And I am firmly in line with my generation. I don't think I need to grow up for not liking the Star Wars prequel trilogy. They were awful. Some people on the old end of Gen-X also hated Return of the Jedi because they found Ewoks to be ridiculous. I guess I can understand how they feel a little, because everything Star Wars between 1984 and 2015 was absolute garbage.

So, this has become a long winded load of BS for a stupid payoff. But here it is:

I found these Phantom Menace posters in the basement this week. We're getting ready for a garage sale, and I figured I'd put them up for sale. They're posters that I bought in 1999 before the movie came out. We were so excited about those films back in those days. I remember Rish Outfield nearly jizzed in his pants when he saw the shape of the shadow in the poster on the left. Should have known better, after all Lucas had already released those Special Editions of the original trilogy.

I thought, however, that I might be able to make double or triple off the posters if I put a sign on them that says: MILLENIALS LOOK!!! VINTAGE STAR WARS PREQUEL POSTERS! YOU LOVE THEM!

(If you don't want to buy them for triple the price, then you need to grow up).

Friday, April 7, 2017

April Week One

This week has been very, very challenging for me. It looks like we are going to be listing our house for sale here very soon. To make that work out, we used this entire week, spring break for my kids, to get the house ready to sell.

What did that entail? A ton of yardwork, deep cleaning, sorting our possessions and deciding which ones go to the dump and which stays with us in the trip to the next house, carrying heavy things up narrow basement stairwells or down the other twisting stairwell, working outside in the surprisingly cold wind, and driving loads to the dump and emptying them. I'm sure I left a lot out too.

Each night, I had a really difficult time sitting down to write my words. I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open, much less write a story. And it was a challenging portion of the book too, so it took thought, and I could barely muster any.

After the road trip on Sunday, we worked the whole day Monday. We rented a trailer from U-Haul, and had to get our money's worth. So, we went to Ikea to pick up a new mattress for our bed, the dump to unload the old mattress (along with several other things we were done with), and then loaded fifty bags of black mulch into the trailer for the yard work planned for the next day.

That night, I could barely write. I checked the word count every few minutes, hoping I was almost there. It was well past midnight when I finally made it to 1,047, and could go to bed. Two days in a row without achieving my goal of finishing my words before 11:00 PM. But it was going to get worse.

Tuesday was the longest day of them all. We worked in the yard for probably eight hours. I was so tired by the end of the night, that I just about forgot to write my words. I went upstairs to take a shower before going to bed, and as I was getting in, I remembered that I still had to write. I didn't know what to do, because I knew I couldn't do it. I couldn't even stand in the shower. My wife has a plastic footstool that she keeps in the shower to rest her feet on when she shaves her legs, and I knelt down and lay over that thing while the water splashed on my back because I couldn't stay on my feet any longer.

In the end, I just didn't write. It's the first time in two months that I've missed a day, and I felt like a complete failure for doing it, but I just couldn't help it. My streak ended at sixty-two days in a row.

It's funny, because my wife is not very into my writing. I don't think she even knew that I was trying to write every day until I'd been doing it for more than a month. So, when I told her that I hadn't written on Tuesday, I was surprised when she told me that I had to work extra hard Wednesday, and do 2,000 words to make up for it. I think maybe she felt a little guilty for working me beyond my ability to do those words the day before.

So, on Wednesday, we knocked off the house work a little earlier, and she watched Netflix while I flailed away at Sunny & Gray. But it worked. I got 2,151 words written that night. It made up for the night before, and was a record total for me in all this time.

Since then, I haven't missed again, despite being very tired each night. On Thursday, I got 1,267 and today I got 1,409. I'm going to have to step it up at some point, because I said I would do 40,000 words this month. That means that I actually need to do 1,3333 words a day. I haven't hit that much so far, which means I actually need to do something like 1,500 or more from here on out. We shall see what I can do.

I guess I ought to get back to it.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Road Trip

Rish has been asking to go on a road trip for a long time. We always have a great time, driving, talking, podcasting, and I suppose even visiting some place at the end of all that driving.

Rish has been looking for something that we'd both enjoy like a Sting concert, or a Louis CK standup, or the traveling version of the Broadway musical Cats, but we just never found anything that would work.

He finally gave up, and said we could go to something that he would hate and only I would enjoy. I finally won. Immediately, I worked it out that we could take the drive out to a National Park for a hike. I went to Arches one time with my family last year, but the one thing we didn't do was hike to the Delicate Arch. It's the most iconic arch in the park, and we didn't see it. Instead, we made the mistake of going to the lookout point. At the lookout point, the Delicate Arch looked like this:

In case you're having a hard time seeing it, maybe this will help:

Yeah, a little less than spectacular. Especially considering that in every picture I've ever seen of it, it looks more like this:

Well, I wanted to go back and do the actual hike that gets you close. So, I dragged Rish along for the ride. He was glad to go on the ride, because we podcast the entire way. But I don't know how glad he was to go on the hike.

It took us about four hours to get there, and we podcast about a bunch of things. Several episodes of That Gets My Goat, including one that has a sort of big announcement in it. Then we arrived:

We drove straight to the Delicate Arch trail, podcasting the whole way, and then we hit the trail. First we stopped in at the bathrooms, because it was going to be a long hike. Somehow Rish didn't notice this sign in the stalls:

I'd hate to know just what kinds of things were going on in those toilets for them to have to create a sign like that. "DO NOT use the floor. Use the toilet." WTF? I feel bad for the guy who kept having to clean that shit up, until it got to the point that he said, "You know, we should make a sign that tells people not to shit on the floor. Maybe that will make them stop."

Anyway, we hit the trail. It didn't take long until I was huffing and puffing, and Rish was making fun of my extreme out-of-shape state. It was quite a hike though. You got about a hundred yards of flat ground and then it was a steep incline from there on out. This picture is from about the halfway point:

If you look close, you can see the parking lot way off in the distance. I'll admit that I had to take a few breaks along the way. Sometimes it got hard to follow the trail, because, as you can see, it was a lot of bare rock we were walking on. We discovered that in parks like this, though, they mark the trail by making stacks of rocks called cairns. One time we were lost, but then we found some cairns to help us along our way:

It was really hot out there, and it's barely April. They recommend that you take a gallon of water per person on the hike, to be sure that you don't get dehydrated. I saw a couple of guys doing it the low-budget way, each of them carrying a gallon-sized milk jug filled with water in their hands. No wasteful expensive backpacks or water bottles for them. Of course, I probably should have taken their example. Eventually, we got thristy, and had to resort to whatever means of sustenance we could find:

At last, however, we made it:

Rish said it was nice and all, but he just wanted to check out the attractive female hikers that had taken the trail along with us. The arch didn't interest him all that much. And I suppose I could see his point, but I also liked the arch too.

We struggled our way back to the car, and then drove home, podcasting for a little of the trip as well. We got involved enough in our podcast that we missed our turn, and had to drive several miles out of our way to turn around. Then several miles further along, we realized that if we didn't turn back and go to the town that we had just passed that we were going to run out of gas in the middle of friggin' nowhere. My gas gauge was lower than it had ever been before in this car.

Eventually, we got home, and then I still had to write my 1,000 words. It was the second day of April, and I totally failed and fulfilling my goal of writing my words before 11:00 PM. I didn't even get home until after 11:00 PM, so I really had no chance. But I did 1,021 words in before going to bed.

I had a lot of fun, and I hope Rish did as well. And I hope you guys enjoy the podcasts that come from it. Get ready for some That Gets My Goat On The Go episodes coming your way soon!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Day 31 Of March And The 1st Of April

Yesterday was the very last day of March. It was the culmination of a pretty awesome undertaking for me. This year has been, as I said in a podcast earlier, the year of Big Anklevich. It's not the year that everything happens for me. I don't think that's what it's going to be. But it is going to be the year where I turn the course of my life from the aimless meanderings that it has been so far to the straight and purposeful direction that I have always wanted it to go in but never had the dedication to do so.

In February, I pledged to write 500 words every day. I'm sure that plenty of people scoffed at that, but I meant it, and, surprise, surprise, I did what it took to make that actually happen. Then, to avoid the let downs that I've had in the past, where my writing progress peters out and drops back to nothing, I pledged to take that 500 word goal from February and double it. In March, I had to write 1,000 words every day. Truthfully, even I thought that might not be possible. It would be quite a stretch. I've never written at that kind of level ever. But I was going to give it a shot.

The first few days were difficult, but an interesting thing happened. As I saw that I could do it, even if it was hard, then I grew more confident. Soon, it wasn't as hard as it was before. After a while, writing 1,000 words was about as easy for me as writing 500 words had been. Some days were worse than others, but I'm here to tell you that last night, I wrote1,014 words, completing a full month of thirty-one days writing 1,000 words each and every day.

I wrote 36,809 words in the month. I have also written for 59 straight days. In the space of two months, I've written 57,116 words. Thus sayeth my chart anyway:

So, now it's April. What do I do to top it? Do I need to go to 1,500 words? Actually, no, I don't think I'm going to do that. I'm sure not going to try avoiding hitting the 1,500 mark or anything, but that's not going to be my goal. Instead, I'm putting a deadline on my writing.

I've been having an issue with staying up too late at night to get my words written. Often, I don't get my 1,000 words in before 2:00 AM, then I have to be up at 6:30 AM to get my kids up and ready for school. Lots of Diet Mountain Dew or coffee have been the only things that have kept me alive for this past month. Now, I love coffee and Mountain Dew...though not together...but it's just not healthy to do this to myself. I need some better habits. And that is what this whole process is about--establishing habits.

So, this month, the mark will remain at 1,000 words, but now, I have to have them all written by 11:00 PM, no later. So, you might notice that this post is publishing after 11:00 PM on April 1st. So, how'd the first day go? Well, I failed miserably. I didn't even write at all.

The end.

Nah, I'm just kidding. April fools, everybody! Here's my new chart:

Yeah, I got 1,052 words in before 11:00 PM hit. Now, it wasn't an easy thing, mind you. I didn't get started until 10:00 PM, and I got a little lost in the weeds when I was trying to find out a few things about horses on the internet to make sure what I was writing made sense. Eventually, I checked my word count at 10:55 PM, and found that I was still only at 964. I had five minutes to get in about forty words. I could do it, right?

Of course I could. As you can see, I got in about one hundred in that time, so I was fine. But I don't want to push it that close any more. Hopefully tomorrow will be even better. And the next day even better. I'd really like to get to the point that I get my words in the morning before I even leave for work, maybe sitting down to write them right after waking up my kids at 6:30 AM. Of course that will require making this before 11:00 PM thing a reality for sure. It's hard to stay up and do anything at 6:30 AM if you didn't go to be until 2:00 AM after all.

So, here's to another great month.

Oh! I almost forgot. I have one further goal for April. In March, I wrote 36,809 words on the month. That's 5,809 words above and beyond the required 31,000 that I had to get to achieve the goal every day. Well, I'm not going to be satisfied with that in April. My goal for the month is going to be 40,000 words. It's only about 3,000 more than what I got in March, but with one less day to do it. I think it's definitely doable, and I'm going to do it. If I manage, then that means that in just a few short months, I went from 20,000 words in a month to 40,000. That seems like significant progress. After I kick all those goals asses, then I'll think about possibly upping the count again.

Jeez, this post is almost 1,000 words. Maybe I should count this for tomorrow.