Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This is What I Do

From reading other blogs, I’m starting to learn that some day-to-day activities are worth writing about. I find it interesting knowing what people are doing each day. And I know looking back that my own life will be interesting. So, here, in no particular order, is what I’ve been up to:

I’m yet again training for a half marathon. The Mister and I have been doing it together this year, which has been nice. Each Saturday morning, we get up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a.m. to meet a training group put together by RunnersWorld Tulsa by 5:45. I feel really lucky that we have such a great organization here in Tulsa. They put together routes, water stops, find group leaders for pace groups and give us weekly encouragement through email. This week will be 9 miles – a distance PR for the Mister. Saturday’s route isn’t exciting like some of our routes that have taken us through downtown Tulsa and around some of the most beautiful historic neighborhoods, but it will be a welcome rest. It’s a down-and-back on Riverparks trail, which is mostly flat, and very easy. We’ve been running hills every week for what seems like forever. By the time of the race, I’ll feel grateful, but right now I’m just annoyed at how hard it is.

I’m thisclose to starting my thesis research. Right now I’m going back and forth with my adviser on my prospectus for my committee members. I give it to them today (I hope) and meet with my committee in full for the first time on September 9. That’s a pretty big deal, as it will give me their complete input on my research before I finalize IRB applications and submit for review. With any luck, after this meeting, I’ll be able to submit my applications by September 15, and be ready to begin my research by October 3. Exciting. Terrifying. This is the life of a graduate student.

Work is becoming more responsibility. So far this year, I’ve been to Kansas City twice, Phoenix, and there are plans for another trip to Kansas City and possibly Dallas as well. Somehow, I’ve avoided going to our corporate offices in Chicago so far. Although, I’m hoping at some point to get up that direction. Maybe it’ll coincide with a weekend, and I can make a mini-vacay out of it. Who am I kidding, though? They’ll send me up on a Tuesday night, I’ll have to stay in Zion (which has been described as “the armpit” of the state by many of my coworkers), and they’ll pack me so tightly with meetings and dinners that I’ll be lucky to see the inside of my hotel room for more than 6 hours. For sleep. But really, getting to do any travel is pretty exciting, so I’m not complaining too much.

Home has been pretty calm lately. Greg accidentally flushed one of my hair product bottles down the toilet (don’t ask how – he CLAIMS it was an accident), and now we’re pretty sure the toilet is down for the count. During the process of trying to fix it, however, we discovered that if you take the toilet in the backyard and fill the tank and bowl, you can flush it just like in the house. And it sounds EXACTLY the same. Perhaps it’s sad that this fascinates me, but I live an exciting life, so there you go. I’m crossing my fingers that by the end of September we’ll have a new toilet in the bathroom and a new planter in the backyard to go with our “bathroom gardening” theme. We might have to paint the toilet blue, though.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Novel Idea

About three years ago, I decided to do NaNoWriMo. I had an idea worth writing about (I thought) for the first time in my life. Something that was novel-length, at least. So I wrote. I participated, and tried to get to my 50,000 words. I didn't quite make it, topping out at 30,000. I got to what I thought was the end of my novel, but it didn't sit right with me. So, I left it for about a year and didn't touch it.

I returned a year later, and decided on a new ending for my novel. Unfortunately, the new ending only made the novel shorter and even less satisfying. I was losing ground quickly, so again I boxed the novel up and walked away.

Then, about two months ago, I began thinking of my novel one more time. And this time, rather than begin writing, I decided to read. I went to Amazon and found a few books I had wanted on the topic my novel covers. I bought the books, and sat down to read them. I found myself absorbing the first book at record pace, as far as nonfiction goes, anyway. I was underlining passages, making notes in the margins like, "This would make sense!" or "Add this aspect in." At some point, I grabbed a piece of notebook paper to use as a bookmark, and soon found that I had filled an entire side of the paper in tiny scrawl of different things I wanted to add to my novel.

There are three points that have plagued me since I started this thing - The title, the main character's name and the ending. Last night, I came to a conclusion on two of the three, with only the character's name left to decide. It was kind of surreal, though, as I sat and read a passage in my research book and suddenly saw my novel's title in plain print. Like it was waiting for me all along.

With any luck by the end of this year, I will have a novel finished, a thesis completed, and maybe a few more things accomplished, too. What a year it's been.