Accountability Tuesdays – Week 32

As mentioned yesterday before my little excerpt, this weekend has been more than a little busy. We spent the entire weekend visiting family and taking part in various events. We even spent a chunk of time just shopping around with the baby in tow. It was all a good time, and we ended it off with the baby’s first trip to a super-wavy beach (which was a blast), but it finalized in the most exhausted me you could imagine. I slept approximately ten hours last night, and I swear I could sleep at least ten more. But the world moves on, there are more things to do, and so I’ll have to just pretend that I slept twenty hours, okay? Okay.

Health and Body Image Goal

*insert slightly insane laughter here*

I actually probably lost a pound or two over the past four days, because that seems to happen whenever we spend a chunk of time visiting down home, but for the most part I can honestly say that this goal did not even exist in my mind this week. The only exercise I did was dragging the baby around, and the only non-fatty food I ate was the vegetables that we had with our steak on Sunday. And that trend isn’t likely to end for a little while yet because I have a children’s birthday party to go to this evening (sugar sugar sugar), and then sometime over the next week and a half we are planning on a shopping trip to New Brunswick (fast food, fast food, fast food). Wish me luck in not actually gaining a bunch more weight!

Editing Goal

I’m a bit up in the air on this one. I didn’t technically do any editing for my zombie apocalypse novel, since I’m focusing on trying to transcribe my notebooks right now. But then again, I’m technically editing as I’m transcribing. The transcribed stuff will likely still be revised and edited further once I’ve gotten everything properly organized into Scrivener, but I am editing bits and pieces as I’m typing them up, so I guess you could say I’ve been doing mini-edits? Yeah, let’s go with “mini-edits”.

1,000,000 Word Goal

I didn’t get as much writing in as I was hoping, because I grossly overestimated how much time I would be able to spend on my laptop while down home visiting people, but I still managed a chunk. By counting my transcribed words (which, I have to be honest, I still feel a little skeezy about, but whatever), I managed to eek out 17166 words. A fair bit of that is also The Artist’s Way exercises and tasks, of which I have many more to do this week, so hopefully next week’s word count will be as good as this one was!

And speaking of The Artist’s Way, I’d better go work on a bit of that while I’ve got a chance, before that children’s party I mentioned earlier. Later!

The 12 Posts of Christmas – Decorating

8. Decorating can be half the fun or it can be the most dreaded part of the season. Write about which it is for you and why.

When I was a kid, decorating was a huge deal. It just didn’t feel like Christmas until the tree was up and the house was covered in lights. It used to drive me foolish when my mother would insist that the tree wait until later in the month, or if my father kept putting off getting the lights up on the house. If I’d have had my way, the house would have been fully decorated by the evening of December 1st, every year.

Now that I’m a grown adult with a husband and a daughter, and we live in our own house…things haven’t really changed at all. I still feel that the second December hits, it’s time to decorate. I love having tons of toys, baubles, pictures, and pretty things all throughout the house, and we must have our lovely, large tree sparkling with lots of shiny decorations. The only thing I don’t concern myself over are the outdoor lights because I don’t even want to consider the logistics of my husband getting up at the eves of our two-story house. But everything else…absolutely has to be up as soon as possible.

Don’t get me wrong, the actual act of decorating is almost entirely hell. It requires a ton of cleaning that I don’t want to do, a bunch of packing away stuff that I have no room to pack away, and by the time the tree has been properly fluffed my hands and arms are covered in a million tiny, stinging scratches. By the end of the day I’m exhausted and usually more than a little cranky. But all in all it’s worth it, especially this year, when I got to watch my daughter drop ornaments onto the bottom branches of our tree and applaud herself as though it were the greatest thing she’d ever done. Because that’s what the decorating is all about to me…making the holiday more magical and playful. I hope that my daughter will continue to see the fun and beauty in turning our house into a winter wonderland for Christmas, and I will certainly continue making it so for her.

Day jobs ruin everything, am I right?

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

28. Write about the time you almost gave up writing for good

I won’t pretend that it’s an interesting story, but yes, there was a time when I almost gave up writing for good. It came as a result of my first post-graduate, degree-relevant job. You see, up to and including the moment when I graduated from university, I had only ever had part-time jobs. I’d worked summers, or evenings and weekends. I had positions that were Monday to Friday, 9-5 deals, but those would only ever last two or three months. Alternatively, the jobs I held in between those were 2-4 days per week, not even necessarily full 8-hour shifts. What I’m getting at here is that I had a lot of spare time to write. Even when I had the (temporary) full-time positions, they were the kinds of jobs where you could haul out a notebook and scribble away while you waited for something to do. Even at my most busy, when I was going to university during the day and working during the evenings, I’d still find time to write during free classes and slow shifts.

That changed quite dramatically when I started working at the paper mill. For one thing, this wasn’t the kind of job where you had down-time that you could fill however you pleased. Most of the time I was busy as hell, and even when I wasn’t it would be frowned upon if I curled up at my desk with a notebook. It was the kind of job where you were expected to be doing something even if there was no something to do. For another thing, this was a full-time, permanent position. I no longer had random slots of time to myself, multiple days off at any given time, and I got no breaks. I’m not talking about break-time during the work day – of course I got those, it’s illegal not to give them. I’m talking about chunks of time – days, weeks, or even months – during which I was completely off. This was a permanent job. After a few months that reality started to set in. I was going to do this job every day, five days a week, four weeks a month, twelve months a year. That first year I didn’t even get my two weeks of vacation because I couldn’t afford to take it (vacation pay is based on previous year’s earnings and since I got hired in December that would have meant I’d get approximately $80 for my two weeks).

With all that said and done, you also have to add in to the equation the fact that I was all alone in the world. I’d had to move an hour and a half from home for the job, while my boyfriend (now husband) was still back home finishing his own university program. Since I was living alone I had to do 100% of the stuff you have to do when you live alone: the grocery shopping, the cooking, the dishes, the laundry, the errands, etc etc etc. To make a long story short (is it too late for that?) I didn’t have a lot of spare time to myself. The spare time I did have I mostly filled with brainless things like watching tv and playing on my computer because I was just too exhausted to do anything else.

It took a while to work my way out of this rut. Eventually my future-hubby moved up with me and I had help around the house again. He would end up getting a job at the mill as well and as time went on things seemed to even out, become more second-nature, and calm down a bit. I’m still as busy as I ever was, but it doesn’t feel as busy because I’m used to it. So a while back I stumbled across NaNoWriMo for the first time and thought, “Hey, you know what? I miss writing. I should start writing again.” It’s been slow-going, and I still don’t always find the time I need to actually do it, but I’ve committed myself to keeping writing as part of my life. It’s important to me, even if it never takes me any further than my own laptop.

A Day at Kearl Lake

I have come to the conclusion that the Internet in my camp room is not going to get fixed while I’m actually still here, so let it be known that I plucked out this entire entry on my iPhone. 😐

Camp life is definitely a different kind of life.

I wake up between 4:00 and 4:30 am. The bed is a little stiff, but I’m used to a cushion-top mattress, so I might be a little biased there. I wash up at the sink in my room, throw on some clothes, grab my lunch bag and stumble down to the main area of the camp.

Breakfast is served in the dining room, should you wish to partake. There are dispensers of cereal, tons of fruit, and you can also get stuff cooked in the kitchen, such as various forms of eggs, sausages, bacon, etc. To drink you can get milk, several kinds of juice, tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. I don’t usually get breakfast in the dining room because I’m lazy and don’t normally eat much for breakfast anyway.

For your work lunch you go to the bag-up room. This room is full of easy-to-grab things like fruit, sandwiches and wraps, sweets, salads, and refrigerated portions of stuff from the kitchens, like lasagna, chili, chicken and potatoes, etc. These things are marked with stickers showing the day they go bad so you can see how old they are and judge whether you’d want to eat them. Of this stuff you can effectively take as much as you want. I usually grab some oatmeal and fruit (which I eat while waiting for the morning work meeting), one of the kitchen things (today I have spaghetti) and some snack stuff like celery and peanut butter, a bagel, some cookies, or whatever.

To get to he job, I line up at the gates at around 5:10 am. The buses line up at 5:15 and leave at 5:30. You have to swipe your card and go through a turnstile and then find the bus that goes to your section of the site. I haven’t actually counted, but I think there are close to thirty different buses. You have to get on the right one or you’ll end up in a section you’re not allowed in. The bus drive takes about half an hour to 40 minutes.

At work we have a meeting and then head out into the site. The site is so huge that you have to sign in to which area you’re going to in case of emergencies. I’m in the Froth section, which is the part of the system that will remove the oil (bitumen) from the sand. It’s still under construction so right now my main duty is to familiarize myself with the equipment. There’s a lot of walking and climbing. A LOT. The other day myself and a couple of the guys climbed to the top of the highest structure on site. It took almost half an hour to get up, but it was a pretty awesome view.

We catch the bus back to camp at the end of the 12-hour shift. If you’re quick you can jump in the bag-up room before it closes and grab some snacks to take to your room. I usually jump in and grab some cookies or something. For supper the dining room generally has two or three entrees and half a dozen possible sides, plus a bunch of deserts. Yesterday I had roasted potatoes and lemon-crusted sole. The night before I had hot wings and fries.

Finally, after supper I basically go up to my room, take a shower, and relax. There’s a gym with lots of equipment but I’m too beat by the end of the day to use it. Maybe I’ll get used to it after a shift or two and start adding in some stints at the gym but for now I just go up to my room, maybe give a call down home, and watch shows on my computer until I fall asleep (which doesn’t take very long).

Eventually I’ll figure out how to squeeze some writing into the day somewhere. 😐

Day 1, New Adventure

It has been a loooooong day.

I got up this morning at approximately 1 am. Never a good way to start the day, but there you have it. I grabbed a shower, and tossed my luggage in the car while my husband was (groggily) getting his shower. Together we went in to wake the baby, and were surprised by her happy acceptance at being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night. The little bugger.

Then we drove to Halifax, a three hour drive in the middle of the night. Always a good time. πŸ˜›

Waiting at the airport was the worst, because while I was waiting to head down to security all I could think about was saying good-bye to the baby, which just made me feel more and more ill as the time went on. Strangely, once I’d said my good-bye and gone through security I felt much better, but up to that point, I definitely wanted to barf. Luckily the baby took the good-bye well. Don’t know if that makes me happy or sad.

Going through security was fun. (Ha.) I ended up having to take off my boots because apparently they have metal in the heels. Huh.

On to the flight deck! I’ll tell you, the airplane was not what I was expecting. Maybe it’s because I’d only ever seen the inside of an airplane via Hollywood representation, but I was amazed at how small it was. I’ve heard all the usual complaints about cramped seats and lack of leg space, but just the overall size of the plane itself really surprised me. I felt like I was in a toy. Really.

The flight itself was reasonably enjoyable. Contrary to my previous beliefs that I would be struggling not to vomit everywhere, I actually really enjoyed the takeoff. It was neat watching the ground disappear beneath us, and when we hit the clouds it was like a sea of fluffy snow in every direction. I wish there had been less cloud on the overall journey because I didn’t get to see much else, but it was still pretty neat. My only real complaint about the entire flight was the descent…not because of turbulence or anything like that, but because my ears felt like they were being stabbed by a hundred screwdrivers. I expected my ears would probably pop, since they pop just going over Kelly’s Mountain (hint: it’s not a high mountain), but I wasn’t expecting the level of pain that I experienced. O.U.C.H.

So I landed in Toronto and did the whole thing over again, except the second flight was longer and I was seated next to an exceptionally overweight man. I don’t want to sound mean or anything, but the guy’s arm and side-fat were spilling over into my seat and making me very uncomfortable. I can only imagine how he must have felt, squeezed in a seat that is far too small for him. Because of this little issue, the second flight was not as enjoyable as the first, but I occupied myself by watching Deathly Hollows Part 2 and an episode of Just for Laughs. This time, when we were descending, I tried chewing gum to help with my ears. It didn’t help. Even now, 7 hours off the plane, my ears still hurt and feel like they’re full of cotton. I’m getting a shower after I finish this post and I’m praying the steam helps clear my head because goddammit, ouch!

The camp itself is definitely a bit of a culture shock for me. As I mentioned before, I’ve never had the dorm experience, so I’m going to have to get used to things. The room is small, but nice, and there’s a women-only exercise room that is well-stocked. The dining area made me a little uncomfortable, simply for the fact that I don’t know anyone and the tables are meant to seat 4-6. I ended up sitting at the only table for 2 and shoveling my food in as quick as possible so I could get out of there. I’m not one for eating by myself, but I’m also not the type who can just stroll up to a group of people and ask to eat with them. Double-edged sword. In any case, the food was pretty good. There were several choices of veggies, meats, deserts, etc., and there’s also a “bag-it” room where you can get things like pre-made sandwiches and wraps, fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt and pudding, etc etc. It shouldn’t be too hard to find things to eat each day, is what I’m saying.

And now I’m sitting in my room, wondering what to do with myself for the rest of the night. I’m pretty exhausted, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep. The hot shower might help with that, I suppose, but it’s also still really light out. It’s hard to believe that back at home it’s almost 11 pm. I’ve been awake for 21 hours. Yikes. Maybe I will try to go to sleep. πŸ˜›

Tomorrow continues the adventure! Wish me luck!