NaNoWriMo


During the month of November, I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month! That's right, I decided I want to be a writer. My goal for the month is to write 1000 words a day. Depending on baby's temper and Byron's patience I might be able to complete 50,000 words by the end of it. We shall see. So I ask your forgiveness in advance. Any pictures that I post in November to my blog will probably be taken hastily with my iphone (besides the few posts I have saved and ready to go). I will try to post updates on my progress and general mindset about the whole thing. If I get really crazy maybe I will post some unedited excerpts. I have spent the last few days getting ready. Here is a list of 11 things I am doing in preparation for NaNo.

1        cleaned the house
2        organized a meal plan for the month (thank you Real Simple)
3        trimmed my nails and left them unpolished :(
4        found a place to stop and write on my way home from work
5        named my characters
6        researched 
7        plotted/ outlined my idea
8        joined a local YA writers group    
9        read all advice given by Janice Hardy via twitter
10      telling everyone I can that I'm going to write a novel 
11      believing in myself

a short story


The crisp autumn air and cloudless sky were everything the couple had hoped for, the weather a perfect mirror of the joy they shared with their closest friends and family on their wedding day. The months of planning ended in an afternoon of love and perfection. Mary was glowing in the ivory organza gown her mother had meticulously sewn by hand. Thomas was as handsome as ever, with a look of love and longing in his eye that melted her heart. They spent their wedding night in the apartment they shared, in the bed that was their own. The comforting familiarity of each other transformed into a deeper love ever since they pledged their vows.

Mary took her time in the morning, watching the cream bloom in her coffee like some kind of specter. She let Thomas sleep in while she ran errands and crossed all items off the final to-do list. Once the car was packed they were off on their honeymoon--a trip that would come to be their last.
The hours passed quickly in the car. Their voices were light with stories of their cherished moments from the reception. As they turned off the main highway and headed east, a heavy rain began to fall from the darkening sky. They ceased their conversation so he could pay attention to the road, now slick with the mixing of oil and water. By the time the rain let up the darkness of a moonless night had settled in around them. Tail lights were flashing red in the distance ahead, then disappearing around a curve.
"Look out!" Mary screamed as Thomas swerved the car quickly to the left. A dog, white with a dark mask and razor-sharp teeth stood growling in the grass. As they rounded the curve Mary saw it lunge toward the car. She felt a blood curdling terror when the fiend met her eye as if she was its prey. The ferocity of the dog scared her more than the car skidding on the wet roadway. To think of a creature that was so hate-filled it couldn't see the danger of its death skidding past. Pity was not what she felt for the animal. She hoped it would be crushed and killed soon, its anger released into the universe and its curse forgotten.
As they pulled into town, the heat of the day that baked into the pavement was melding with the aftermath of the rainstorm, creating pockets of steam rising from the ground as if the ghosts of the city were welcoming them in. They had come to Savannah for its sense of southern romance as well as its rich history of haunts. They mocked the sight and laughed at how the foreboding scene might scare away lesser travelers.
The couple reached their hotel in the heart of the city without any further incident. Thomas dutifully carried their suitcases, brand new wedding presents from his parents, through the lobby and over the seal of a pineapple mosaic in the marble floor. Their laughter filled the hollow and empty room. The young eagerness of their too loud voices alerted the old woman behind the counter to their presence. She slowly took them in. Perfect white teeth behind smiling full lips, their eyes combing over each other greedily between their laughter at the aging hotel decor.
"We were expecting you--earlier, I mean. Most guests arrive in time for the nightly wine and cheese reception from 4 to 6. It really is lovely."
The old woman felt their mockery turn towards her and Thomas stifled a laugh as he told her his name and reservation information. Mary was startled by her greeting. It was such an odd thing for the old woman to say before they even gave their names. Mary came to tell her husband later that it felt as if the old woman was waiting for them to arrive.
The couple went about their tasks of signing forms and getting local tourist information. As usual, when the old woman chose the room key from under the counter Mary inquired as to the haunting of the hotel. The old woman relayed the same stories that countless guests asked of her--Civil War soldiers roaming the halls, the lady of the hotel carrying linens in the hallways and the echo of a child’s laughter in the dead of night. The couple traded looks of excitement and skepticism. Thomas was not a believer like his wife was. They ate a late dinner and had a few drinks in the hotel restaurant and tucked in before 10 o’clock. There was a lot of fun to be had and they wanted to get a good night’s sleep after the tireless excitement of the wedding. He was lucky and slept like the dead. Driving always did that to Thomas and the comforting warmth of his wife in the bed welcomed him to repose.
The constant footsteps in the hallway kept Mary from restful sleep all night. Obscure voices echoed in the hall and more than once she glanced at her peaceful husband and wondered how he couldn't hear any of it. It was so odd that there would be so many hotel guests in November. They hadn't seen anyone else upon check-in. Mary’s tired body was no match for her uneasy mind and she finally drifted off into a fitful slumber.
The sun rose over the moss-covered trees that lined the river walk and the smell of pralines filled the air with a sweetness that scared away the ghosts of the night. The couple awoke early and made their way through the town. Beignets and coffee on the riverwalk for breakfast. Lunch at The Lady and Sons and dinner at 17Hundred90, a restaurant with a haunted history all its own.
The feel of the town had intoxicated them, bewitched them by its wild and wacky extravagance. They ended their late night with a haunted pub crawl. Part history, part frat party and everything they wanted to learn about the city that locals claimed was built on its dead. Stories of home remodelings turned into tales of crypts hidden in the walls. They had more than their fill of Savannah's favorite beverages when the tour stopped at their hotel. The tour guide, in period costume and holding a lantern, regaled them with the story of The Marshall House. The building had housed a Civil War hospital. When the basement was cleared, more than a century later, bones from hundreds of people littered the foundation. As if that was a proper bedtime story, they bid farewell to the rest of the group and headed to their room.
Sleep found them both quickly, no doubt the debaucherous activities of earlier had taken their toll. The town's living souls silenced outside their window and the couple slept deeply.
Sometime in the night Mary awoke to a chilling sensation. A firm and claustrophobic pressure was aching her chest, pushing her down deeper into the mattress. She opened her eyes to find the room empty and nothing there but the skulking feeling of something dark. Her voice welled in her throat but would not come forth. Panicked now, she tried to move, but she was paralyzed. Her awareness was complete. She could see the room and its contents clearly from where her head lay on the pillow but her body would not respond to the thoughts of movement in her mind. She began to say a sort of prayer. Wake me up. Wake me up. Wake me up. She repeated the words over and over again, hoping they would take root somewhere in Thomas’s consciousness and he would wake and save her from whatever bindings confined her. Thomas’s head felt heavy as he drifted awake. He could feel Mary’s twitching movements beside him and hear her whimpering like an animal running in a dream. After what felt like an eternity his warm hand caressed her arm and she was free. Immediately she threw the confining sheets off of her sweat-drenched body, sat up on the side of the bed and found comfort in the cool wood as she placed her feet to the floor. With her face in her hands she confided to him her fear.
"That was weird,” she gasped. “It felt like I couldn't move." Embarrassed by the frightening event she made her way to the bathroom to splash some water on her face. The liquid was cool and calming and grounded her back to reality. How silly she had been. Clearly she drank too much and let the sinister stories seep into her unconscious mind. Thomas asked if she was okay and she replied a cool yes and they drifted back to sleep, cradling each other for the last time.
In the morning, Mary awoke early to a feeling of horrible nausea. Thomas tried to nurse her with some soup and a few jokes about what a scaredy cat she was. Her eyes seemed changed, like there was an emptiness inside. Maybe she just needs rest, he thought.
"I'm gonna shower then maybe go to that used book store if that's alright with you,” he said, as usual asking her permission even though he never needed it. He was kind and knew how she liked to be in charge.
"I just need to rest a little more, then I think I'll feel better." She tried to sound assured when she told him to go ahead and have fun without her.
The hot water massaged his skin and awakened his senses. He thought about what had happened in the night. It was so unlike her to have such heinous sleep disturbances but with the stress of the wedding he could understand how one drink too many could have affected her that way.
There was an eerie change in the air as soon as he turned the water off. An ominous feeling crept under his skin. He didn't leave the bathroom door ajar and Mary certainly wouldn't have gotten out of bed to peek in on him in the shower. Thomas dried off quickly and put on the hotel robe. Its downy softness was comforting and he shook away the dark thoughts that were trying to creep into his head. He faced the foggy mirror and wiped the steam from its surface. In the clear streak Thomas saw his wife standing behind him. With the tilt of his head and a question on his lips, she wrapped her arm over his shoulder and hugged him tight.
"I'm suddenly feeling better,” she whispered into his ear. She was pressing against him with a strength that he didn't think she was capable of. His lips parted into a smile as the knife she had been holding cut deep through the skin of his neck and severed the pulsing artery that she had kissed sweetly so many times.
The mirror was awash in blood and steamed moisture, the sterile white of the hotel's bathroom a macabre scene of shock and death. Mary held him close as his life rushed out and spilled over her hands. The hands that he envisioned caressing his babies as they would draw their first breaths in this world held him as he drew his last. His eyes reached her face and looked through her to ask one final question: Why? Her reply was not needed or given--it was already too late.
The last and final thought in his mind was a memory: the first time he saw her, sitting on the brick steps waiting for a lecture to start. Her cool and confident exterior thinly veiling her young need for love and acceptance. He knew right then that he would give her what she craved until his dying breath, and he had. His warmth faded quickly and with it any remnant of humanity inside her died.
A sudden knock at the door drew Mary’s attention. Everything was moving in slow motion; she felt super aware of her body grounded to the earth. Her thoughts were clearer than ever. The life she had planned for herself now felt like the distant rumor of a stranger. Mary opened the door to find the old woman who had been waiting so patiently for a worthy successor to arrive.
"Don't worry honey, we'll clean this right up. We always do." Her gray eyes wrinkled with a seriousness that brought the widow out of her apathy. "You belong here now, with us.”
The city and its spirits had claimed Mary among its moss covered graves and the death hidden in its walls. She raised her head to meet the old woman's gaze and saw a single flicker of an emotion reflect in her ancient face. It was something between guilt, fear and relief.




nails of the week: The Walking Dead


I love everything horror, especially zombies. The Walking Dead inspired my nails this week with the green decay color of the zombies and the blood spatter from their final demise. The green base color is Revlon's Spanish Moss. The red splatter is Revlon's Raven Red. To get the proper splatter effect take a plastic straw and cut it into a piece about 2-3 inches long. Dip one end in the nail polish so it covers the opening. Hold it about 3-4 inches over the nail to be splattered and blow a swift puff of air through the straw. As long as enough polish was covering the opening of the straw it should splatter fairly well. It takes a few tries to get right and the clean up is intense (yet appropriately zombie-esque). I recommend using scotch tape around your nails to make clean-up much easier. It also helps to practice splattering the polish on a paper plate before doing it on your painted nail.

better call saul


Since we found ourselves in ABQ on business we decided to go explore some of the shooting locations of our favorite show, Breaking Bad. We had such a fun time seeing Walt's house, Jesse's duplex, Skyler's car wash, and of course we had to eat at Los Pollos Hermanos. We had an unforgettably weird morning while eating breakfast at Twisters (the chain restaurant that stands in for Los Pollos Hermanos). We met and had a very nice conversation with a real live Elvis Impersonator. It was surreal. We thought it was pretty funny that the restaurant had "management opportunities" available too. 










Did you notice that all of my posts from Albuquerque were named after Breaking Bad episodes? 

mandala


While we were in ABQ we kept hearing about how amazing Santa Fe was. We decided to visit the nearby town to see what all of the fuss was about. There were beautiful art galleries tucked in the corners of a residential street called Canyon Road. We wandered in and out admiring the beauty and creativity that seemed to thrive there. Sculptures were everywhere. It really was a unique visit. We headed over to the more touristy area for some chocolates before we said farewell.





cornered


I really enjoyed our vacation out west. The landscape and colors are so different from the sights that we are used too. I love the style of houses and the way the desert plants grow. My boots were covered in dust by the end of our stay and it made me a little sad to clean them off. I hope that I get to go back and visit the wild west some more. 






sunset


Route 66. We drove it up and down while we were in ABQ. Both sides of the highway were littered with diners and old signs. Some were the only remaining evidence of the time of family road trips out west. The hotels that they stood for, long gone into the dust. We would have taken pictures of every single one if we could have. I love their faded colors and distinctive fonts. I am pleased that we got to experience such Americana as driving down Route 66 at sunset. 



i see you


One of our favorite areas of ABQ was called Nob Hill. The streets were lined with fun, quirky shops, perfect for a couple of fun, quirky weirdos like us. Byron was overjoyed to find a comic book store. I had a great time sifting through vintage clothes and we both had fun at Larry's Hats. They actually encouraged the silliness you see below. 



one minute


While at the Biopark in ABQ, I stumbled upon the Harvest Festival. I couldn't believe my luck. Fresh pressed apple cider and the best BBQ brisket I've ever tasted were the perfect lunch. Bluegrass bands played in the distance while Alice and I toured the Heritage Farm. They have their own apple orchard and even some persimmon trees! There were chickens, a cow and some horses too. It was a beautiful fall day with clear skies and crisp air. We had such fun out west! Yeehaw!




fly



While in ABQ, Alice and I spent a day at the Biopark. It consists if a zoo, aquarium and botanical garden. I had a blast. I tend to have the same level of enthusiasm as an eight year old when I am at any kind animal enclosure. This zoo was quite enjoyable because the animals were so close. Maybe too close, a duck did try to eat Alice's baby toes. It was so much fun pointing out all of the animals to Alice. She really liked the giraffe (we called her Sophie) and chatted the whole time we were near the big cats.   We sat by the glass at the aquarium for quite some time watching the giant rays and fish swim by. I really liked seeing the Lobos. 






gliding over all



We gathered with all of the balloon enthusiasts to watch the final mass ascension at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We ate breakfast (corn dogs and coffee) while we waited for the sun to rise over the Sandia Mountains and the festivities to begin. 





Baby was bundled up tight and warm as we waited for the balloons to fill with air and lift off. 





The colors and beauty of it all was absolutely breathtaking. I was in awe at how fast and smooth the balloons lifted off of the ground side-by-side, some touching as the ascended into the sunshine. 





Just like that, they were filling the sky like confetti. I am so happy that we braved the cold early this morning to see such a site. If you ever have the chance to go to the Ballon Fiesta, do!