Fall: The Best Smelling Season

A word to the wise from me: if you have a loyal dog, regardless of how old or young they are, and they sleep in your bed at night, it is not wise to ignore it when they bark at your door. This is normally a sign that they, being the good dog that they are, need to go to the bathroom. Failure to respond to this simple request can result in unpleasant consequences, up to and including a bedroom that doesn't exactly smell fresh. I learned this lesson the hard way with my Dachshund, Freckles, which goes into what I spent my Wednesday off doing.

After work on Tuesday my dad drove me over to the Safeway just down the hill from my work to rent a Rug Doctor machine and get the needed cleaners that go with it. The funny thing is that the last time someone I live with rented one, when we were getting ready to move out of my parent's rental house and into our new home, I was charged with the task of using the machine to clean the crotchety old carpets that were in our former residence. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to run the thing, so I switched with Dad and finished the job he was doing while he ran the machine on the carpets and got that done. This time, though, I knew that I wasn't about to wait for someone to do the job for me, partially because this was my mess that I had to clean up. Thus, I was proud of myself when I figured out how everything worked, and the weird way you run it on the carpets: backwards. In the end, it cleaned my carpets well, got the smell out, and got the job done.

The only thing that kind of sucks even after the fact was realizing that the fact that I need to keep my window shut for the better part of the day (such as when I am at work or otherwise away from the house for prolonged periods of time) creates not just mad humidity, but also a smell that isn't pungent, but isn't pleasant either. So, tonight I alleviated the problem by picking up some cool stuff to freshen the air. I totally was going to go for one of those Lysol sprayer units like we have in both of the bathrooms in our house. After all, they work pretty well and most of the scents smell pretty good. Not in my room, though.

After realizing that I liked none of the scents for one of these devices, my mind went to the little warmer lamp that includes a light bulb and a plate that melts scented wax cubes and distributes the scent around the room. My big sis and her wife sent my parents one of these as a house warming gift, which sits in the living room and gets regular use. The gift from the two of them also came with several scents of the wax cubes. I sought out the same thing tonight, and found one of my absolute favorite scents in the whole world: pumpkin spice. I also picked up a reed diffuser in pumpkin spice as well, which will distribute scent when I am not home to use the wax melter plate.

In other non-stinky news, we celebrated my mom's birthday on Monday, before the actual event which was Wednesday. I was so happy that mom loved her gift that I got her, and dinner was quite good. I somewhat wish that this could be a place that we could go for my birthday. But then again, since mine falls in November, northwest weather typically will not be cooperating somewhere from here to Spokane or back. In this case, I am learning towards wanting to go have some fun bowling at this place here called Zeppo's which is basically a combination bowling alley, bar, and casino. I haven't been bowling for real in ages, so it just might be a cool thing to go do.

I am still slowly hand-crafting the scene of back story I was talking about in my last entry. It's weird, though; I know exactly where the story is to go in this scene and what I want to convey about this particular antagonist. I can totally envision the end result, but then I just was having the hardest time yesterday from getting from Point A to Point B. On the other hand, I also have been working a lot both at work and at home the last few days, so I have only been able to grab a few minutes between this and well-needed sleep.

While at work today as well, I finally cooked up, in the back of my mind, the way to piece together a cogent plot that revolves around a main story line employing something generally inspired by my love for ICP, Psychopathic Records, and Juggaloes. I have been trying to come up with some way to turn this into a fiction project, with my senior project I did for my Bachelor's Degree serving generally as the main catalyst for wanting to undertake such a project. I know it will not be about Juggaloes, but something completely fictitious that is still inspired by Juggaloes. I have I guess the major premise in the works for it, so I was seriously considering doing this for Nanowrimo 2011 instead of my original idea I have been slowly piecing together in my mind. By the end of the night, though, I have decided that my original idea is what I am doing for Nano 2011. This idea will not go by the wayside, though; my intent is to develop it more and use it for next year's Nano, if not Camp Nanowrimo which I fully intend to do next summer.

On a final sad note, I was very saddened yesterday to learn of the fate of one of our store's managers who I especially liked a whole hell of a lot. One of our overnight guys, Fletcher, who was only twenty, married, and had a new baby boy on the way, got into a nasty ATV accident which basically left his brain completely unable to process any information. Doctors, from the get-go, said that it didn't look good at all. Well, yesterday morning my mom called me with the very sad news that they took Fletcher off of life support which was helping him breathe, and that he passed away on Wednesday. My heart goes out to you, man, and your family as well. You will be missed more than you could ever imagine.

(no subject)

I'm just making an update before I hit the hay. My mom's birthday is Wednesday, though since she and my dad both work, we celebrated today. I gave her a new bed set for her and dad's bed that they just got a brand new mattress for. Then, we went to this quite awesome Italian restaurant called Tomato Street in Spokane, which is the large city that's about and hour and a half or so away. All in all, a good day, even though I am still glad I don't live in Spokane anymore.

On another note, I am yet again hard at work on my solo project, Unclean, which will be put on hold for just a month while I do Nanowrimo 2011. As always, I am not out to give anything away before I post new chapters to what I have thus far on Fictionpress, but let's just say that I got an idea for a minor character based on some previous experiences and, namely, the way I used to be in some regards. In a way, this feels as if some kind of healthy way of finally washing my hands of the person I used to be before I took that inevitable look in the mirror and realized that it was time to change.

I am still in the process of editing the fifteenth chapter of Unclean, and hope to get it posted soon. That is, as long as I can stop drafting for a minute and continue editing what has already been written long enough to get the latter ready for posting.

It's an on-off week this week. I work tomorrow and Thursday, have Wednesday and Friday off. I have plans for both days off, in addition to hopefully some more work on this project.

Book 13 for 50 Book Challenge: Deadline

Title: Deadline
Author: Chris Crutcher
Genre: YA Lit
Pages: 316
Progress: 4320/15000 pages, 13/50 books

Synopsis: A well-respected cross country runner gets a lot more than he bargains for when he goes into the family doctor for the sports physical he needs to participate in his sport for his senior year; he's got a terminal illness and has the equivalent of about the remainder of his time in high school to live. This inspires Ben to, in the spirit of living like he's dying, do all he can to get the most out of his high school career: go out for football; pursue love with the girl of his dreams, as well as nearly drive his current events and social studies teacher, the Bill O'Reilly within the pack, to near insanity.

My take: This is my third book by Crutcher, of whom I first got to know of in my sophomore year of high school. As with the other two I have picked up, Deadline has most of the things that I have quickly come to expect from this author. That is, a hell of a lot more than meets the eye.

In a lot of cases, the brief synopsis on the back of a lot of the books I've read, or those on the inside of the jacket, basically tell you everything you're to expect from the plot line. In reading the synopsis of Deadline, I thought I had the whole story down from the get-go, and would be wondering how the whole thing ends. Man, this one gave me a lot more. Besides the main plot, there's that with Rudy, the town drunk; there's a much deeper plot with Dallas Suzuki, the aforementioned girl of Ben's dreams. Then, there's the drama within main character Ben's family.

Even in this case, I didn't call the ending. Honestly, I was thinking it would go one way, but I was way off. In the end, it's one of the few that I found to pack the most punch.

Grade: A

Now reading: Cujo by Stephen King

(no subject)

With back to school/back to college definitely in full swing at our store, my life as of late has basically been work, sleep, and reading, with little else going on. That is, except for one time in there when a co-worker and her family, who just also happen to be neighbors, invited me over for some Rock Band fun and a BBQ. I came over after work for the former, but the other one was going on while I was at work. Truly, this is one of the few down sides of always working the weekends.

As per previous entries, it is pretty evident that I have been doing a lot of reading lately. Sadly, I haven't been up to much writing lately, and I guess this might be a good thing. On the other hand, I am hopefully soon to be doing warm-ups, or a little more work on one of my projects, the one I am co-authoring with Maria (solitarywoman_). But most of all, I might just be saving my writing mojo, if you will, for Nano 2011 which I am definitely going all-out on, and am determined to win this year.

Meanwhile, while working and reading all that I have been, I have been patiently waiting for something else that means that I can finally get on with the life that I should've been living years and years ago; that of someone that is responsible, honest, and doesn't spend all of his money on wants in favor of saving and the such. What I am referring to, because I don't think that I posted this in my LJ since I got it, is the fact that back in April, I began the process of filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

For anyone not familiar with this, a Chapter 7 is where your debts, in the end, are wiped away, but then your assets are examined to see if you can use anything to pay back the debts that you owe. Given the fact that I was highly irresponsible in the past, selling all of my non-essential things just so I could eat and pay the rent, largely because I was using the better part of my money on buying CDs, clothes, and other needless bull shit when I was living on my own, I didn't have much left to list as assets by the time I was filing.

I filed my case back in April, which only cost me about a thousand dollars between the court filing costs and my lawyer's fee. When I went in for the consultation, which came just a few weeks after I came clean, after several years of being deceptive, sneaky, dishonest, irresponsible and even hateful (see: my relationships and stint as a Christian, as well as the rift that I caused between my sister and the rest of my immediate family), I was honestly ashamed and scared half to death.

The lawyer I got calmed my nerves right away, and assured me that my case was quite simple to him. Meaning, yes, I got myself in a big mess and did so out of brazen irresponsibility and complete disregard for common sense, he said that as long as I followed the steps, I would be able to get my discharge. He also did explain to me that this would stay on my record for 7-10 years, but then it would clear out all of the mess I got myself into and allow me to give myself a fresh start.

So, I paid the money I needed to, waited for the lawyer and his team to file my case. Then, I got notice in the mail that my court date, also known as the meeting of the creditors, would be in the beginning of June. My dad drove me there, while I calmed my nerves reading in the back seat the better part of the way. Things looked optimistic at my meeting of the creditors back in June; none of my creditors showed up, and I was only speaking to a member of the court for less than five minutes.

Thursday or Friday night in the mail, I received noticed that I have been granted my discharge, and that my case is closed. For lack of a better expression, the weights have been lifted off of my shoulders and it feels so good. Now, I have been living within my means for the last few months, and am budgeting carefully. I am doing much better in this regard. Best of all, with my bankruptcy finally cleared, I am free to do things such as put money in my savings account again, which I have not done in forever. A couple of nights ago, I started this off right by putting 250 bucks in my savings, and am going to go to my bank in order to sign up for their program where they transfer a little bit every payday into your savings. Then, every time you either bank a thousand dollars or keep it in for a year, they send you a 50 dollar prepaid Visa card.

All I can say is that my life is going a lot better now that this discharge has been granted to me. It has also taught me how to live without credit, which is something I believe that I should have been doing much sooner.

Anyways, it's getting close to the time where I gotta go to work today for my second to last day before a couple of days off. Right now, I am reading Deadline by Chris Crutcher, and it is already awesome.

Books 11 and 12 for the 50 Book Challenge

11. Title: Athletic Shorts
Author: Chris Crutcher
Genre: YA Lit
Pages: 194

Synopsis: Basically a collection of six short stories, primarily culling characters from his previous novels. One story, A Day in the Life of Angus Bethune, did not fit this bill.

My take: I am now in the process of reading several more of Crutcher's work, having only read his book, Whale Talk, previously. None of the stories were a disappointment, and none of them did I find predictable. To anyone looking for a quick read that will make you think, and laugh hysterically at the same time, this is a prime candidate.

Grade: A

12. The Bible Salesman
Author: Clyde Edgerton
Genre: General Fiction
Pages: 241

Synopsis: Set mainly in the early 50s, but also augmented with plenty of back story regarding the main character's life, The Bible Salesman tells the tale of Henry, a traveling Bible Salesman who is picked up by a member of crime and car theft ring while hitchhiking. Raised in a very strict Fundamentalist Christian household, Henry is asked by Clearwater, the man who picks him up, to assist him with his "government job," assuming that his new passenger is gullible enough to believe it. In the meantime, being part of it gives Henry plenty of time to think about what he really believes, and even possibly find love with Marleen, a beautiful woman who writes poetry and runs a fruit stand.

My take: I picked this book up on a whim, totally not knowing what to expect. Then again, I may or may not have picked it up to balance out the serious stack of YA lit I was picking up the first time around, and how I definitely wanted to add some variety to what I was getting. The synopsis really was what sucked me in, as well as a great review on the front cover by David Sedaris, who is also pretty cool, too.

I loved how detailed the back story into Henry's growing up is, as well as how it plays into what goes on in the main portions of the story. I also hate a story that tells and doesn't show what's going on. The back story allows The Bible Salesman to show and not tell. The humor in this book is great as well, in addition to some of the ironies I find in how Henry is ademant on being  a Christian, but then does some relatively immoral things on his own.

All in all, this was a great read. I would give the book an A, except for the fact that there were a couple of loose ends that weren't tied up that I thought should've been by the end.

Grade: A-

Progress: 12/50 books read

Book 10: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Author: John Green, David Leviathan
Genre: YA Lit/GLBT
Pages: 310
Progress: 10/50 books, 3569/15000

Synopsis: In two separate Chicago suburbs, two guys share the same name, Will Grayson, but little else. One Will Grayson is heterosexual, gains strong attraction to a female music snob who loves some of the same bands, and whose best friend, Tiny, is a very flamboyantly gay guy whose putting on a musical based on the story of his own life. Other Will Grayson is gay but yet to come out of the closet. The only person who knows this, however, is an online friend named Issac, of whom Will gains romantic interest in. Little do either Will know is how different their lives shall be once they meet in the strangest of places.

My take: In this case, the synopsis is what really roped me in. But just like in my previous entry into this year's challenge, but for different reasons, I will not give much away. What you need to know is that there is a pivotal point in this novel, which I will not give away totally, that partially involves a chance encounter between the two Will Graysons. The other part of this, is revealed, would kind of spoil the better part of the novel. In my opinion, the novel as a whole was great, but isn't the best book ever read. When reading it, I was thoroughly entertained and did feel the pain of certain characters. Still, this was not a book that made me lose sleep because I just HAD to get through it. Took a few notches off of my overall score, though, because one main plot twist after the pivot point was quite predictable. But, the story does recover from this quite nice, and the ending is great.

Grade: B+

50 Book Challenge Book 9: Goth Girl Rising

Title: Goth Girl Rising
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 390
Progress: 9/50 books read; 3259/15000

Synopsis: The sequel to one of Lyga's other books, the Astonishing Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl, this book is told through the perspective of Kyra Sellers, the latter part of its predecessor's title. Following the final events of the first book, this one opens up as Kyra is putting a cap on a six months' stint in a mental institution; her father goes through the proper channels to get her there after she attempts to commit suicide. Following this, Kyra now must return to school and back home. Her friends, for the most part, have remained the same, but then some things, namely Fanboy, have not. Soon enough, bad memories come rolling her way like a raging tide, prompting Kyra to want to get even with those who inflicted so much hell on her before being sent away.

My take: I'll say two things regarding Goth Girl Rising to kind of set the mood for the my take section on this, my ninth book for the challenge. Better yet, make that three. First of all, I have been dying to read this book ever since I learned, through a library catalog of Lyga that he'd not only written other books, but also a sequel to one of the ones I most thoroughly enjoyed over the past few years. Second, the reason I read this one, as well as its predecessor, is because of my history with the Goth scene; I used to be really into it, and dressed the part accordingly. And while I no longer dress the part and do have a much more colorful musical pallet, it's still something I dig a lot. Third of all, this book is hardly a stand-alone, meaning that you really need to read Astonishing Adventures before delving into this one.

With the third thing in mind, I will not say much about this book since, just as I was typing up my synopsis, doing so would very likely spoil the ending of the first book that really gives you a base for all of the stuff in this one. What I will say is that I really did enjoy the continuation of the story from the first book, as well as the unpredictable positive fate with the other main character's passion. I also love some of the more amusing twists and turns regarding Kyra, her friends, and some of her takes on the goth scene, relationships, sex, as well as other choice rants.

On the flip side, though, there were some portions of the book, some particular events that were a little predictable. A couple of these were, I guess, supposed to be revelations uncorked of things that just sounded a little bit too strange to be true in the first book. One or two were surprising, but a lot of things were predictable. This book also, in a way, really reminded me a lot of the subject of Catcher in the Rye; namely, the scatter-brained speaking style, the ranting, as well as trying their best to dodge the big issues at hand. With that in mind, this book, like CITR, borders a lot of time on whiny...sometimes even in the same ways.

In the end, taken as a whole, Goth Girl Rising delivered as much as I desired from the sequel to AAOFBAGG, perhaps a dash more. A few other little things, however, made the book lag in parts, but redeemed itself in most others.

Grade: B

Chase the Voodoo Down

After Freckles woke me up just after three o'clock this morning either to go outside, or to just be a little brat, I had a hell of a time getting back to sleep. So, when he 'woke' me up again just after, like 4:30 or so for breakfast and to go outside again, it honestly wasn't too much of a struggle for me to do this. And after his belly was full and I walked him once more (we still can't put him outside, because the yard isn't ready yet), he calmed down and let me sleep. I ended up being up at 7:30.

My mom had been having a crazy hankering for lasagna as of late; for the last week, if I remember correctly. The only problem was that I either have been busy, working screwy hours, or didn't get around to it. So, last night I decided that I would finally bite the bullet, bought the cottage cheese I needed to make it last night, then made it this morning. I haven't made it in absolutely forever. But with that aside, it came out quite well.

I worked an early shift yesterday, and now I work a closer today. I also, as I posted last night, finished my 8th book and did my write-up for the 50bookchallenge. Right now, I am reading Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga, which is the follow-up to one of his first books, Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. I thoroughly enjoyed the latter and, right now, the former is pretty good and I am just about 50 pages into it; I began it late last night after work, after finishing Just Listen on my lunch break.

This has just been a quick entry, though, considering that I am now needing to shower and dress for work.
  • Current Music
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Book 8: Just Listen

Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: Young Adult/Chick Lit
Pages: 371
Goals: 8/50 books read; 2869/15000 pages

Synopsis: Annabel, like her two sisters, Whitney and Kirsten, has been modeling since she was a small child. Towards the beginning of a new school year, she stars in a well-known department store's ad campaign geared towards the junior high and high school markets. On screen, Annabel looks as if she has it all. But in real life, things are in shambles; first she loses one best friend as a result of choosing another over her. Then, she loses the latter friend as a result of a grave misunderstanding. Then, to top it off, her oldest sister is diagnosed with an eating disorder which makes it feel as if Annabel's problems are being thrown by the wayside for an indefinite period of time. In the midst of living this double life, a guy with a history of anger issues and a stint in anger management, Owen, offers her an ear and copious amounts of the medicine that had been helping him from way back: music, but not the kind played over mall PA systems or featured on Top 40 radio.

My take: To anyone who knows me, you know that I'm a total sucker for not just good YA lit, but especially music-centric lit. So, when I was scoping out books at the bigger, better, library in my new hometown, this and one other thing made me add it to my first stack: I've heard good things about the work of Sarah Dessen, and had been hearing more about her as of late either on the 50bookchallenge community, or from other places since she just recently released her newest book. More than anything, though, the synopsis sounded at first like a lot of other stuff within the genre being released today. That was, until I got to the part about how one of the main characters is obsessed with music.

Some of the characters in the book, in my opinion, are really formulaic, two-dimensional, and add very little to the story. One that comes to mind, right out of the box, is Owen's sister, Mallory. Still, on the other hand, while it is a nice contrast to what Owen stand's for, she has no depth whatsoever and is a dash overdone and irritating. I also thought a little bit of the premise at first, when I first started reading the book, was also formulaic. Still, as I read on, I saw where she was getting at, and was no longer disappointed with that.

In a way, the book also plays up a well-known and well-exhausted stereotype; that is, the model, who gets lots of work, starving herself for several months and eventually developing an eating disorder. Also, the other two sisters are models as well; how is it that they eat well, sometimes even regular non-diet food yet still get a fair amount of modeling work? This part, I didn't get. On the other hand, the thing I did like, gripes aside about a very trite plot line, was how light is shone on the other side of it; meaning, how does the family cope with it and deal with helping the affected get healthy, as opposed to staying exclusively to an account of someone going through treatment, etc.

Three things, however, I most dug about this book. First of all, Owen in general; his vast love of music, his borderline music snobbery, and his working to break little-miss Top 40 out of her mainstream shell. And as someone who loves community/public radio and their offerings, this part was quite awesome. Most supporting characters, namely Rolly and Clarke, were quite awesome as well, and were quite developed for not exactly being in starring roles. Lastly, the fact that the ending didn't veer off to where I was dreading it would when I got within 50 pages to the end impressed me. It ended how it should have ended, given the rest of it.

All in all, for an entertaining read, as long as you're not looking for something that breaks new ground within the arena, Just Listen does deliver for the most part.

Grade: B-

This entry is Unclean

This morning, I came to the realization that the short story that I thought I was going to write recently would be a bit of a lost cause; not because it's actually a bad idea, but mainly because I originally had the intent of using its main plot twist as one in my project I am working on with solitarywoman_. So, I scrapped the project, and am going to still save that twist for this longer form project, which I hope to revisit sometime very soon.

Today, I revisited one of my projects, Unclean, for the first time in a long time; the first time since our move to the new house, and the first one ever since I made the realization that writing is something I definitely love doing as a hobby, but never could do professionally. Still, Unclean is something that is starting to take shape, and it's starting to become pretty solid. Thus far, I have posted about 13 chapters of it, and I think I just might have enough for the 14th, just as soon as I finish editing what's in the rest of the second of three notebooks that I have been drafting the entire project in. I really have no intentions of publishing this or making any money off of it with all of this in mind, so I have posted all I've got thus far on Fiction Press. It can be read here and, of course, I really would love to compare notes with people and see what they think of this.

This morning, I even replaced a couple of the chapters as they originally read, rectifying a couple of the things that I felt needed to be changed. For example, a person on another writing website that I used to post on, before I realized just how elitist and not at all about writing it is (not to mention, catering almost exclusively to those who write paranormal, but especially vampire fiction), did give me a critique that the opening was a little bit awkward. So, I tweaked this, as well as cut out some stuff that didn't jive well with the main plot line in eleven.

In other news, it feels so damn good to have a day off for once, especially with the fact that back to school/college at our store is just about in full swing. This is the most evident in the fact, though, that I have forty hours for three weeks in a row. The manager over our department, however, said that this is going to be so for at least the next few weeks, probably to the first weeks of September. This is awesome, but then I keep on thinking that after this, next comes halloween, then thanksgiving, and of course Christmas. Needless to say, I am thinking that the end of the year is definitely going to keep relatively busy, with hours not dropping off much if at all.

Anyways, getting back to hopefully posting number 14 of Unclean. Just decided also that I will go ahead and also post my work on the joint project, just to see what people think of it. Also especially looking forward to seeing how solitarywoman_ is doing on her parts.
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