i’m still alive!

I’m still here. I’ve just not been blogging. Nothing to write home about? Yeah, well, that’s where I’ve been. I did NaNoWriMo again last year and managed to get 35,000 new words for Destiny (which is still searching for a new, real title, by the way). Also, I picked up some editing and reading for hire and will be picking up more.

I’ve also been going through this big organizational project. The apartment, myself, my life. Everything.

I got a 2013 Peanuts Moleskine dayplanner and finally got over my fear of actually using my Peanuts 60th Anniversary Snoopy Moleskine journal. This is all helping getting my life/mind/home “still” and organized. Organized isn’t really the word I’m going for here. The ADHD isn’t letting me find the proper word for this, of course. I know what I mean but just am not able to convey it right now.

I’ve wanted for a long time to get back into scrapbooking, the kind I did all through school while I was growing up, but I’ve never been happy with all the themed scrapbooking stuff that’s been out there for the longest time now. Scrapbooking isn’t supposed to be that orderly! So I just never did. Then last Summer while I was thinking real hard about getting back into journaling and trying to get my mojo going again, I ran into ‘smashbooks’. What neat things! And they’re so portable!

Like I said above, I got over my fear of using my Moleskines, and I’m so glad I did! Both of the ones I have are the 5″x8″ size, which is perfect for what I need them for. The dayplanner isn’t huge or bulky, and the journals isn’t one of those daunting 9″x11″ books I was hooked on for twenty years. Seriously, I think that’s why I burned out. I was trying to fill up those enormous pages with every thought and activity I had, and with the uncontrolled, undiagnosed ADHD I had going on, I got some righteous burn-out.

As for the dayplanner, I’ve known for some time (like three years) that dumping everything into Outlook Calendar just wasn’t cutting it. Especially over the last year. I’ve not been keeping Outlook open around the clock like I used to. I’ve not allowed myself to continue being a slave to e-mail (as a result, I also have a continuous backlog of e-mail, but I’m trying to break that habit, too). I don’t need it on 24/7, so I leave it off. But I needed something to help me stay organized and on task through the day, and everything I’ve read for months about ADHD is that having a physical dayplanner is a blessing. And it has been. It helps keep me on task.

Getting over my fear of actually using my Peanuts journal took a long time. But I’m glad that I did. Honestly, what got me going again was the time I spend on Pinterest and Flickr looking at beautiful and creative (and beautifully creative and creatively beautiful) things. I was searching for inspiration, and one afternoon, I found it, and got my books out and started using them. It’s made a world of difference.

I got into this whole journaling/dayplanning thing so much that I created a group on Facebook. The group is just over a month old, and we’ve all had so much fun and learned so much from each other already. Everyone supports one another. It’s been amazing. If you’re on Facebook and keep a journal or are considering picking the habit (back) up, if you scrapbook, art journaling, anything similar, we’d enjoy having you as part of our group. Daily, we start a Link thread to keep everything as corralled and orderly as we can. So like, if it’s Tuesday, someone will start an empty thread titled Tuesday Links, and everyone is welcome to post up outside links to anything journaling or scrapbooking related. We have a long thread about handwriting, even! (I’ve been working hard on improving mine, and it’s working.)

One thing I’ve learned over the last six or so months is that I’d been journaling wrong for the last thirty years. Wrong for me. I wasn’t exploring it as a creative outlet. I had, for all that time, created what could be called nothing more than Bitch Books. Finally, at one point, I sat down with the ones I’d kept from 1992 through 2007, when I stopped (I’d told myself I didn’t need to journal any more because I had my biog!). I went through some thousand pages of crap. Serious. I kept only what I found important. My poetry, good quotes, pictures, cards, letters, some stickers, comic strips. Stuff like that. I took, wrapped in two tightly tied T-shirt bags, and chucked them into the nearest dumpster. That act along took a load of weight from my shoulders. Amazing how stuff like that works out! I wanted to burn those books, but when one lives in an apartment, one does what one can with what one has.

Since then, I’ve gotten everything I saved, which was little, into its proper scrapbook or journal with the exception of my poetry. I still need to see what I already have in electronic copy and type up what I don’t. I think there are maybe eight poems I need to go through. Yeah, real hard work.

But like I said above, I’d been journaling wrong. I had approached it my entire life as a repository of gripes and sorrows, rants and raves. While I ripped those books apart, I rarely found anything good. That, and I’d insisted all that time in writing in 120 page, 9″x11″ books. All of them beautiful. I refused to buy them if they weren’t pretty! So on days when I didn’t have anything to gripe about, I just didn’t write. Those large pages were intimidating, and I allowed them to intimidate me. The odd part is that I had (a few months ago) a small slew of 5″x7″ journals that I never used. I bought them because they were pretty and just never did anything with them. I still have two I need to find a home/use for.

Then I searched “Moleskine” and “Journal” on both Flickr and Pinterest. My eyes were opened. Wide. What a wealth of creativity!

I don’t have to write an entire page to record my entire day. I don’t even have to write. I don’t have to do it in chronological order. Nor do I have to orient every single page “top to bottom”. When I was in therapy at Comprehensive Care in 2010/2011, my therapist “had a thing” about coloring therapy. I rediscovered coloring and art because of her. She especially favored mandalas and bright colors. Google “mandala” and “zentangle”. Wonderful things. I searched for and found good, easy to follow (and free!) drawing instructions at the art is fun website. My journal is littered with mandalas, doodles, lines, circles, shapes. I’ve filled it with pictures I’ve drawn and colored. I’ve added stickers. I started a collection of ephemera. I bought crayons, pencils, markers, and other things (including a box to keep it all in).

I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed this, how much it’s all helped me already.

Below, I share some pictures of pages I’ve made. More to come!

pic12221125

This is the opening page in the Snoopy journal.

 

2013 dayplanner

This is the opening page in the dayplanner. I can control only what’s inside my hula hoop.

 

dream page

This is from my K&Company Smashbook. I got the Retro Blue one – because it’s blue and because I liked the pages inside; they’re all themed. I don’t generally care for themed scrapbooking or journaling, but most of the ‘prompts’ are great. I also got a themed ‘smash pad’ which is also great for prompts. You pull what you want to use on a given day from the pad, glue or tape the whole thing (or part) down, and write on it. Then decorate the page the best way you see fit.

 

hch page

This is the page I started for HCH. It’s not finished. I still have a ton of ephemera I want to stick in. The left-hand page is made of up a recent Harlan County map, a Harlan County directory, and the US 119 tag is from a packet of information I got from a Pine Mountain tour thing several years ago. The places I highlighted in yellow are settings in my Harlan Vampires stories. The right-hand page is a postcard about HCH and the welcome card from the book launch at The Morris Book Shop.

 

midnight page

This is the Midnight page. Totally unfinished. I started with printouts of the 100 word blurb, snippets of poetry that didn’t make my final cut as chapter headers, a writer ‘trading card’, maps of Loyall and Harlan, and excerpts from the book. Then, when the books is published, I’ll add more things in. Lots more things.

So that’s where I’ve been for the last six months. Embroiled and enjoying it. I’ve also relaunched my editing service – which now has a name! – and have taken in three projects so far. I’ll be free to take in more near the first of April. And yes, I’m still working on the apartment. Organizing, cutting down, simplifying, scrubbing everything to a showroom shine.

All of this has been so very freeing.

how i organize with onenote

About this time last year I made the switch from Evernote, which I’d used since it came out, to Microsoft OneNote, which is an integrated part of my Office software. After making a ‘trial run’ of OneNote to see how I could organize everything, I knew this was the better program for me. I hated to let Evernote go – they’ve been very good to me! But I just needed more than what their program offers.

imho, the worst thing about OneNote is that there aren’t a lot of templates available (although I’ve found they’re easy made), and there doesn’t seem to be much support / tips’n tricks available.

The biggest plus is that it integrates with the other Office programs – you can “print” to or from OneNote and share in the Office cloud (though I don’t use Skydrive – does anyone?). I keep my OneNote files inside my Dropbox folder – so it backs up its own backups, essentially. The program is largely intuitive. It’s easy to figure out what does what and what you can and can’t do with it. As for the lack of support et al, googling OneNote turns up what I’m looking for. I like that I can customize the interface, too. In the quickview bar, I have only the tools I use most often; everything else is tucked into the ribbon.

I have ADHD (leaning toward the Inattentive/Distractive side), so the way I organize things drives people straight up a wall. For them, it’s not intuitive or organized. For me it makes perfect sense. (I have friends who don’t like using my laptop because they never can find anything – but to me, its organization makes perfect sense)

From this article:

OneNote is designed to mimic a collection of spiral notebooks, with metaphors of tabs and pages. It has six total levels of organization–notebooks, sections, subsections, pages, and two levels of subpages. OneNote also has a system of links that allow notes to contain links to other notes, or to a Web page, a Word document, or a PowerPoint presentation.

I have three notebooks. One is for all my personal stuff, one is for all my blogging stuff, and the third is for all my writing stuff. I could break the writing notebook down into three notebooks, really: writing advice, adult stuff, young adult stuff. And I might if it keeps getting more crowded in there.

Another thing about OneNote is that you can size and position the sidepanels. You can put them on the right or the left and collapse them or widen them as large as you need them to be. When you open a notebook, tabs open across the top of the display, so really you can collapse the notebook pane entirely to give yourself more workspace. As well, you can minimize the pages panel. You can also color the notebooks and individual tabs any color you like, just like a physical notebook, to help sort this into that. “Oh, that’s in the green tab.” Click! Very handy if you’re as visual as I am. One thing I don’t like is that each page and subpage (and sub subpage and sub sub subpage, ad nauseum) under a given tab is the same color as that tab. I’d like to be able to color the individual pages – that’d be awesome!

Like I said, I prefer OneNote over Evernote; it’s what works for me. OneNote gives me so many more organizing / sorting / filing options. Also, the workspace is more user-friendly – I can make everything else smaller in order to view what I need to see / work on. OneNote pastes text into blocks (similar to a text block in Word) that you can click and drag around to reposition where you’d like. If you have a lot of small elements (small text bits / pictures) on a page, this comes in handy; it allows you to put things where they’re more available to you.

Since I started using OneNote last year, I’ve dumped almost all of my writing notes into the program. Some stuff still remains on my hard drive, but bit by bit, I’m moving it all into notebooks. This is so much better to (and for) me than having endless folders with endless streams of documents. Click FAQ tab, and voila, there’s everything in a neat little row for me to pick and choose from. Even with descriptive file names, I’d find myself sitting here thinking, “Is this the file I need? Or is it this one?” I don’t have to do that any more. Less muss, less fuss – I’m all for that!

mari’s so behind it’s … shameful, really

I know. I know. I said months ago (and then months before that) I was going to start blogging more regularly. We all see how well that turned out. Here’s the thing. There’s just not been that much going on, not anything that would make a blog post, anyway. I use Twitter now for the “this is what I’m doing right now” stuff – instead of using my blog for those one and two sentence updates I used to make throughout the day the first few years of my blog’s life. Also, I use check-ins at GetGlue for a lot of stuff, too. For example, I just checked-in to “pot pie” because that’s what I’ve got in the oven for our supper. I don’t want to let this blog go, though. It’s been part of my life since 2002, and there’s so much stored here (even if I did accidentally dump all the pictures a couple of years ago – whoops!). Yeah, I could archive it all on my hard drive, but that just doesn’t sound appealing.

So, here I sit. Trying to figure out where to start on catching up since … Christmas? New Year’s? My birthday? The funny part about all of this? Starting sometime in October, I created a tab in OneNote labeled “Blog Topics”. I have subtopics: brainstorming, love, memories, mental health, pagan, ‘women in fiction’, and writing. We won’t discuss the number of topics and ideas listed within each. I mean, I probably have enough material in there to work from for at least three months of intermittent blogging – like every third or fourth day kind of intermittent – especially with the memories stuffs. I probably should be shot for having all of these things and just sitting here and not doing one damned thing with them.

It’s a writing problem.

It’s a writer’s problem.

It’s so simple to create all these lists and jot down thoughts and ideas – and then just leave them and never once think about coming back to flesh them out. Especially with me. The whole ADHD (lately I’ve been joking and calling it ADDH – because CDO insists I keep everything orderly) thing makes me scattered. I have to keep telling myself over and over, “Focus on one thing at a time! One thing at a time! Easy now! Easy!” And that’s harder than it sounds. See, if something isn’t right in my face where I can’t see it or glance at it at least on occasion, I forget about it until I run into it again, be that a day or two or a decade or two later. This is the curse of having distractibility ADHD. (just look at this paragraph!)

Thing is, I don’t work at a desk; I work at our kitchen table. I’d have a garbage dump of a mess if I left everything out where I could see it all of the time – then I’d get cranky, irritable, and whiny because everything was a mess! What I end up with, then, is a pile of different notebooks containing this, that, and something else, pencils or ink pens clipped to each, and my cellphone stacked on top of that. I keep Outlook open all day because I need the reminder alarms, but I fail at keeping OneNote open all day – and that’s where my daily task list lives (but I tell myself I keep a duplicate in this one notebook …).

And see, I sat down here this morning with the intent of making one of those what I call “catchup posts”. I even pre-tagged it so I could look at the tags list and, with some hope and forethought, not leave anything out. But no. I’ve sat here doing everything but writing a blog post. I think I’m going to save the other half for tomorrow! If I don’t show back up tomorrow, just jab me and make me do it!

02/14 – metrics

Destiny’s Story [draft 1]

opening count: 9122
closing count: 9818
page count: uncertain*
chapter count: n/a
weekly words: 1740
yearly words: 9818

current music: none

opening line:
After our hands touched again inside the popcorn bowl, James got up to put more movies into the player.

closing line:
Is it really rushing when two people have known each other their whole lives?

reason for stopping: time for bed

favorite phrase:
Besides, we hadn’t done so bad in the garage the other night.

oy vey phrase:
We laughed a lot.

left to write: tons

commentary: I’m still enjoying working on this story. Writing YA has been fun, even if I’m still uncertain about what it is I’m actually doing. I know what’s ‘proper’ for adult fiction, but YA is a whole other ballgame. Writing from Destiny’s point of view has been as enlightening as it’s been interesting. Am almost up to the point of ‘the accident’. If I’m remembering my notes right, it’s like two or three scenes after this current one.

Do people like these kinds of posts? What metrics aren’t on my list that interest you? What metrics are on my list that you don’t care to know?

*it’s all in bits and pieces at the moment.

a tale of three appointments

I had two appointments in the last week (not counting my trip), and Miss Kitty had one. My next appointment isn’t until the 29th, and that’s with the UK Eye Clinic.

I saw my OB/GYN at UK on the 1st before I went out to pick up my rental car. I had lost 5# and my blood pressure was still down. My blood pressure was a bit elevated, but I blamed trudging from the bus stop in the heat. At least it’s not topping at or over stroke levels like it had been. She told me to stop using tampons – I’d been using the smallest I could find – and use pantyliners and minipads instead. She and I are both hoping I will continue through menopause over the course of having this Mirena, and she said if for some reason I don’t, at the end of six years, we’ll insert another one. I’m all for it.

I took all of my tampons that were unopened back to Wal-mart (couldn’t take back the super-pluses because I’d opened them at one point expecting I would need them) and bought a supply of pantyliners and minipads. And she was right. The spotting has stopped. The hot flashes and night sweats have increased, but as long as I’m not bleeding to death, I’m not going to complain.

Over all, my doctor is very pleased with my progress. She is still calling me her “Mirena Miracle”. It’s a comfort knowing I’m not going to bleed out (or gush blood for a month like I did back in the Winter) and feel like I’m going into labor every 25 days. I can go out without worrying about taking a box of tampons and a change of clothes with me “just in case”. She said I’m no longer anemic and said my jaw hit the floor and bounced when she told me. I’ve been chronically anemic for my entire life! But of course flowing like the River Nile once a month and being intolerant to iron supplements didn’t help me at all. Since we got the bleeding under control and found an iron supplement that I can actually take without causing a mess of problems, my system has finally had a chance to correct itself. I’m also no longer as pale as the bride of Dracula, either.

Monday afternoon before I turned in the rental car, I saw my therapist. My blood pressure was a bit down from what it had been when I saw my OB/GYN Wednesday – but I’d been to Harlan and had been able to drive to my therapy appointment instead of walking from the bus stop in the heat. I had also lost 2# over the last five days (selling books and going to Dairy Hut is hard work!). We chatted on the way back to her office, but before we could get sat down, she saw my arm and yelled, “Oh, my god! What happened?” I’m surprised the entire clinic didn’t hear. So I told her about my dog bite. Which led into why Bill and I hadn’t seen each other for almost sixteen years and why and how we’d managed to get back in touch now.

We talked about the other topics we talk about, but I failed to tell her about the anemia and that my agoraphobia has improved somewhat. I see her again in July just to touch base and to get new prescriptions. After that, I can see her whenever I need or want to see her or need new prescriptions. She’s very happy with the progress I’ve made over the last year. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long already!

And Miss Kitty Thing went to Pharr Road Animal Hospital last Thursday for her annual check up and routine vaccinations – as well as her license renewal and rabies vaccine. Her new carrier is really neat. It’s small but high enough for her to stand in if she wants, and it’s lightweight even with her inside. I like that it has notches in the top so you can buckle it down with the lap belt part of a seatbelt. As usual when we went inside PetSmart and she saw Dottie, she did a little tap dance inside her crate. She adores her veterinary staff, even though she sees them twice a year. They crack me up over there. They call the day before the appointment and say, “We’re just calling to see if (appointment time) is still convenient for Miss Kitty tomorrow (afternoon/morning). We know she has a busy schedule.”

She did really well. She had a complete physical, and on top of that I had her claws trimmed and her teeth cleaned. They have to sedate for the teeth cleaning, so they did her claws while she was under. They always sign her paperwork, “Thank you for bringing Miss Kitty in today. She’s always such a sweetheart.” I always wonder if they’re talking about our Miss Kitty or someone else’s (there were two other Miss Kittys awaiting adoption there when we got ours).

I hated to take her straight home and leave her, as loopy as she still was. But Preston had left work early, so he was there with her. That made me feel better. She curled up in her Amazon box and went back to sleep. I’m sure she doesn’t even remember the trip home.

and that’s when the dog bit me

or: “What Happened When I went to Harlan for the Poke Sallet Festival”

I picked up my rental car on Wednesday afternoon. When I got there, they didn’t have the car I reserved, and I almost cried. I thought to myself, If I don’t get to go this time, I’m just giving up and never trying again. This is ridiculous – you know, as if something was trying to keep me from going back again for whatever reason. But before I could complete the thought, the clerk said, “Let me call New Circle and see what they have.” They had a white HHR with XM Radio. I almost panicked, then he said the magic words. “Free upgrade and free XM.” I almost fainted. My system can’t live at that speed! I hated to give that car back Monday afternoon. It handled like it was on rails, got great gas mileage (I spent $40 on gas on a 500 mile trip), it was comfortable, and I lost the XM signal in only two places in Harlan County. I was surprised; I didn’t think I’d have signal down there at all (and had taken my mp3 player just in case), but I lost it for like three car-lengths in Baxter and about two car-lengths in Mollus. I would spend the extra $5 a day, if I had it, to rent an HHR again.

I swear it took me all day Thursday to get to Harlan County. I got up at 6, took Miss Kitty Thing into Banfield at 7, and then sat and waited. I forgot that when you get the cat’s teeth cleaned, the cat has to undergo sedation, and then you have to wait for the cat to wake up and be semi-normal before you can pick it up and take it home. I didn’t get her picked up until 4, didn’t get home until 4:30, and then didn’t get on I-75 South until 5:05. At least it wasn’t Friday so the traffic wasn’t that bad – but it was bad enough. Thankfully, I know the back way around and didn’t have to sit in the Clay’s Ferry Bridge construction traffic along with everyone else.

My original plan had me leaving Lexington between 10 and 11 Thursday morning. I thought I’d stop in Woodbine and spend a couple of hours with Bill before I went on into Harlan around supper time. I didn’t cross the Harlan County line until right at 8. That’s partly because I spent probably half an hour in Corbin when I got there. I thought since I needed to eat, I would go to the Rootbeer Stand and pig out, then head southeast. The place was packed elbow to asshole, so I drove around the high school to take pictures. I took one picture. Apparently there was some kind of ballet recital or dance team something or other going on there. I didn’t want to attract a ton of attention, so I went on.

Now, I’m not very sentimental about Corbin. I never have been. I couldn’t wait to get out of the place after high school – although I went back to have my boys there but left promptly after Tayler was born. I stopped and took one picture downtown. Otherwise, basically cried from one end of downtown to the other. Even though I’ve been back there several times over the last ten years, nothing was the same. Everything was different. Shop names, business names. I didn’t recognize much of anything except for the huge bank where the Hippodrome used to be, Hardee’s on its usual corner, and the Moonbow Coffee House (which is new, but I had a signing there two years ago). And now instead of going down Main to Center and going through the railroad underpass and turning onto Laurel to get to Masters, they’ve taken out a chunk of mountain and built a bridge over the railroad (and made Main Street one way north and Kentucky Avenue one way south). I recognized very little on Masters, as well. East Ward is no longer a school. Vankirk’s Funeral Home is still there and still looks exactly the same. Even almost everything at Trademart Center was rearranged and different.

I ended up picking up dinner at Arby’s and eating while I drove toward Harlan County. In Pineville I managed to get a picture of Chained Rock and part of Pine Mountain. But I didn’t get a picture of The Narrows. I always try, but it’s a short distance through to the light at the Highway 119 turn off – and busy. I’m probably going to have to stop at the Marathon at some point, run out into the middle of the road, snap my picture, and run back, all while praying I don’t get flattened by car, RV, or coal truck.

I passed some dude from out of state doing 30mph around Varilla. The entire way around the curve, I was thinking, Come on, boys, you can do this at 60 both ways if you know the road. Either they were overly cautious or they didn’t know the road or both. Of course, if you fuck up driving west around the curve, if you fly off the road, you land right through the Missionary Baptist Church. I’m sure they’ll take great care of you. (“Lord, be with us as we commit car, body, and soul…”) I generally fly through Bell and Harlan Counties (when the roads are dry), but I know the roads and could likely drive them in my sleep. We won’t test that, though.

The rock slide in Coldiron had been cleaned up – it got repaired not long after I was there in February. But I could see places where it had already started falling again. But the way Highway 119 is cut through Harlan County, I’m surprised the entire road hasn’t been covered county line to county line at one point or another. There are places where I swear the rocks defy gravity. If I hadn’t been so tired and in such a hurry just to get home, I would have stopped and taken pictures of a few of them on the way in – and on the way out, I was an hour late, so I didn’t stop then, either. Maybe next time.

The sign telling you where Dayhoit is was missing. Or if it was there, I just didn’t see it. While I was pondering this, I drove right by the Loyall turn off, which is right around the corner. So I said, Self, this is kismet. Hie thee straight to yon Dairy Hut and purchase thine ownself a peanut butter milkshake. And I did. After I drove around downtown to familiarize myself with where I needed to be at the tourism building the next morning – which I already knew, but still. As hot as it was Thursday (albeit much cooler than it had been the day before), I wasn’t surprised to find Dairy Hut jam packed with people. I cleaned out what garbage I had in the car and went inside and up to the counter, also jam packed with people – customers and staff. One of the staff asked, “Have you been waited on?” And I said, “No, but I want the biggest peanut butter milkshake you can make me!” She said, “Are you sure?” And I laughed and said, “Of course. I drove down from Lexington just for a Dairy Hut peanut butter milkshake!” And everyone laughed. While she was away making my drink (dessert?), the woman beside me and I waxed poetic upon the wonderfulness that is the Dairy Hut peanut butter milkshake.

I had to carry this thing with both hands, y’all. I’m fairly certain it was in a 32oz cup if not a 40oz (what’s the largest to go cup you can get?). I would pay $10 for one of their milkshakes (I did pay $4.29 for it, no joke). I drank it so fast that I got brain freeze by the time I got back around to Dressen, and by the time I got back to Baxter, the whole thing was gone.

I pulled up in front of the house, took a picture, and sent it out with a “Now, I’m home!”, to which Preston replied that no, I wasn’t. Art turned Tasha, their Yorkie, out to meet me on the driveway. She remembered me from last time and wanted to play. She kept looking up at me and grinning and sneezing. A sneeze is her way of saying, “Yes.” Art asked what had taken me so long, and I said, “Well, you see, there was this fairy that met me in Dayhoit, and I don’t know what happened.” I held up my empty cup from Dairy Hut and jiggled it. “But next thing I knew, I had a Dairy Hut peanut butter milkshake in my hand!” Art and Jan laughed. We didn’t get to visit very long until I had to go to bed. I was just too tired to sit up very long.

Friday was good on the convention hall floor. I sold seven books. Which, to be honest, I thought if I went to Harlan and sold two books, I’d be happy (and make back my booth fee). And I laughed so hard all day. The day was good. My first sale, a man managed to draw blood with one of my bookmarks. I offered to dip my thumb in the blood and thumb print the book beside my signature. We laughed. One guy came by my table and said, “You know what the real Harlan County horror is?” I said, “What’s that?” He said, “Being stuck in this county with $4 gallon gas. There’s no way out!” I ached I laughed so hard – and Jan, who was on the opposite end of the hall selling cookbooks for The Relay for Life, heard me. Where my table was, I could look up through the windows and see straight onto a funnel cake cart. I starved to death all day. Funnel cakes are required summertime food, but I made myself behave. At one point, Jan watched my table for me while I walked across downtown (a whopping two blocks, let me tell you!) for some one dollar bills. I got sunburned because I didn’t have on any sunscreen (it’s almost useless on me, anyway) and because of the beta blocker I take for my blood pressure and migraines. It had turned into a nice tan by the time I got up Saturday, though, and I’m not someone who tans. After we couldn’t stand sitting any longer, Art came and picked Jan up, and we drove out to Dairy Hut (duh) for supper.

Saturday was slow, but it was so damned hot. I don’t know how the people who were outside working stood it. I couldn’t have, that’s for sure. Even though I was inside in the air conditioning, I still wore my hair in a ponytail and wished I’d worn shorts – I was in jeans and comfortable, but going outside at all was miserable. Art came in at lunchtime and gave me $10 to get a funnel cake. So of course I trotted off like a good girl and fetched myself a funnel cake. These were delicious. They had just a sprinkle of cinnamon mixed in with their powdered sugar. I died of delicious. With Art at my table all day, knowing everybody like he does, I sold another eight books. For a total of fifteen sold for the weekend.

After we I finished up at the convention center, I went upstairs and left some business cards and bookmarks on the information desk with all the other stuff. Then I drove out to the mall to run into JewelCraft and got there just in time; they were closing for the night. But I collected what they owed me and left them with six more books. They asked me to a signing on July 10th. It’s tempting, but renting a car over the weekend is so expensive, and I want to have as much cash on hand as possible when I go to Louisville the 22nd. I met Art and Jan at Ken & Paul’s for supper. Jan and I went to claim ‘our table’, but a family was already sitting there, so we took a booth. They left not long after, though, and we moved so we could be more comfortable and have more room. I told myself, Don’t order dessert. Don’t order dessert. So what did I do? I ordered dessert. The waitress came back to the table with my hot fudge cake and told Art the price, and looked at me and said, “Unless it’s your birthday. Then, it’s free.” I said, “Sure. I’ll turn 42 again right now for free cake.” It took them a good fifteen minutes to put my cake together, though. They were putting fresh cakes together when I placed my order. I kept making jokes about someone having to go out to shoot my fresh, wild, hot fudge.

Back at the house, I brought in the box with what books I had left, took one out for Bill, paid for it, and put it in my backpack, and gave the rest to Jan. She was going to buy one or two for gifts and take the rest out to the hospital to put in the Gift Shop. We sat up talking until almost midnight – until the three of us just couldn’t go any further.

We got up Sunday morning; Art went out and brought back breakfast from Dairy Queen like he had the last three mornings. We had coffee and talked a bit, then decided we were tired, and went back to bed. I didn’t mean to, but I slept (I even dreamed!) until 11:30. I had told Bill I’d be in Woodbine by noon. Whoops. I left the house around 12:30, and Jan promised not to watch me leave – it’s bad luck. Neither one of us promised not to cry; it’s futile, anyway, because we always do. I stopped at the county line to take pictures of the Air Mail box and the “Welcome to Harlan” marker that’s set in a base of Harlan County coal. In Barbourville (you have to pronounce it right – “bar-vull”) to use the restroom and to call Bill to let him know I was definitely on my way. I was almost there by then. He asked me where I was, and I told him, and he said, “Driving and talking on a cell phone. Don’t do that.” I told him to stfu; that’s one thing I refuse to do. We guessed it would take me about fifteen minutes to get from McDonald’s to the new little cut off on the Corbin bypass. We timed it right because we pulled up to the corner at the same time. He turned around in front of me and led me out to his house in Wilton.

And that’s when the dog bit me.

We pulled up into the driveway and parked and hugged, and he shut the gate and yelled at Matthew to let the dog out into the yard. Before anybody knew what happened, Blackjack had jumped up on me and bit my arm twice. The first bite was the worst, but I hadn’t even realized he’d gotten me until it was all over and Bill was sending the dog back inside and making sure I was okay. Lucky for me, Blackjack’s canines are blunted, so he neither broke my arm nor ripped meat from the bone. It sure felt like he had, though, and still does! Now Blackjack ended up being a really sweet dog, and in his own way, he really did try to apologize for hurting me – and Bill didn’t stop apologizing the entire time I was there! (He probably still is, and I just can’t hear him from this far away) We treated the wounds with Neosporin, so I wasn’t too concerned. I figured, I have medical financial aid with UK Healthcare until the end of this month, and if it looked too bad, I could take myself to the ER when I got back to Lexington. As it turns out, my arm is black and blue from the wrist to the elbow. I look like an assault victim, and I guess in a way, I am.

We had a great visit. I just wish we had more time. I could have spent the night, but I had so much to do on Monday and was so tired that I just wanted to get back to Lexington and crash. Bill and Blackjack went into Corbin to pick up pizza, and while he was gone, Matthew and I found out we both like Seether, Breaking Benjamin, and Three Days Grace. He found out I’d seen them all in concert and laughed and said, “You suck,” just like Tayler always does. I gave him my external drive so he could rip my music off, but I’m not sure if he ever got it to work or not. We both also like Pantera, Megadeth, and Staind. Bill gave me a cd full of family pictures, and I swear I look like Nannie and Bertie. We didn’t talk about half what we should have. There just wasn’t time. It would take a month of sitting and talking to completely catch up, I’m afraid. And then a month after that to fill in all the gaps. It makes me mad that they were in Winchester until right around the time Thomas moved in in 2009 – and I didn’t start seriously searching until the beginning of this year. I can’t let it piss me off too much, though, because there’s nothing anybody can do about it.

And that’s about it, really. I got back into Lexington around 9:30, went to the bank and Kroger, and unloaded the car, came in, piddled around a bit to calm myself back down, and went to bed. I’ve not gone to bed that early on a Sunday evening in a very long time.

[june 13 eta: I totally forgot to blog this part! I was busy selling books, and this little boy yelled, “Mom! Mari Adkins!” And his mother looked at the table and at me and burst out laughing. She said, “I’m Mary Adkins, but with a Y.” I laughed and said, “My legal name is Mary with a Y.” We laughed and laughed. Then I got up and went around the table and asked if I could give her a hug. I’d never met another Mary Adkins before. We hugged, and she told me that Adkins is her married name, and I told her it didn’t matter. I should have gotten a picture!]

[pictures follow]