Planner Things

Quick disclaimer: I am listening to Josh Groban’s new album Bridges as I write this and it is so freaking beautiful. If this post seems random, it’s because I am distracted by his angelic vocals.

I am doing something I almost never do today: planning the next two weeks at once in my Plum Paper Planner. I usually do the upcoming week on the weekends as one of my relaxing routines, but since I am going on vacation the first week of October, I am breaking that habit and doing that week as well (and the October monthly pages).

I technically have three planners including the one LA Fitness gave me for my personal training. My main day to day one is a Plum Paper horizontal planner, and then I have the Happy Planner mini fitness to keep track of steps, exercise, meals, etc. They make up my life, and I really could not function without them.

And when I said decorate earlier, I meant it. My planners are full of stickers from Etsy shops. Checklists, boxes for events, savings trackers, non-functional decorating stickers… You name it, I have a sticker for it. It’s wonderful.

While it is mainly relaxing for me, I use planning to stay focused during the week. I can keep track of goals I have and what I still need to do at work and at home. Checking things off a list makes me feel like I’m on track, like I’m accomplishing something. It may sound weird, but that’s just who I am.

Anyone else a planner? What do you use?

A Blurb from a Work in Progress

November 2, 1982

Victoria skipped through the front door and immediately ran upstairs to get her new Barbie. It was her favorite gift from her birthday, but her parents would not let her take it to school to show her friends. Humming John Cougar’s “Jack and Diane,” she made her doll dance in the air all the way back to the kitchen. She took a cookie from the jar and looked around, “Mommy! I’m home!” There was no answer.

She took a bite of the sugar cookie and wandered into the living room. Looking around, she noticed her mother lying on the couch, her eyes closed, “Oh, Mommy is just tired and taking a nap. I’m going to wake her up and give her a kiss!” Victoria sat on the edge of cushion and gently shook her mother’s shoulder, “Mommy, it’s time to wake up. What do you want me to make for dinner?” When she did not move, Victoria shook her again, “Mom?”

It was then that she began to worry. She shook her mom harder for a moment before placing her head on her chest to try to hear a heartbeat, but the sweater Abrielle was wearing made it difficult to tell. Crying, Victoria ran to the kitchen to grab the house phone from the wall. She quickly dialed 9-1-1 and twirled the wire while she waited.

“9-1-1 emergency.” The woman’s voice sounded slightly bored.

“I need help. I don’t think my mom is breathing and Daddy and Nolan aren’t home.” The words came out jumbled, “I need you to come help me.”

The tone immediately changed, “Calm down, sweetie. Where are you?”

She took a deep breath, “1949 Pearl Way. Please, hurry!”

“Help is on the way, sweetie. Stay where you are until they arrive.”

Victoria hung up the phone and went back to sit next to her mother, hugging her Barbie close to her chest. She stared at her mom, but she did not see her. Instead, her mind was far away from the house, “I need to call Daddy. Daddy needs to help me. Maybe Miss Blake will help, but I don’t know her phone number. Should I call grandma to come pick me up? The lady on the phone told me to stay here. How long is the help going to take? I hope she sent everybody- the police, firemen, doctors, and anyone else who is supposed to help us. I don’t think the army would come, but they might. That would be good. They know how to keep me safe. I wish Mommy would just wake up and she was playing a joke on me. That would be mean. It’s not April Fools’ Day. My birthday was two days ago; maybe Mommy is still really tired from the celebration. She is sick after all.”

She stayed by her mother’s side even when she could hear the sirens approaching her house. She refused to move as the ambulance and police cars pulled into the driveway. Six men entered through the unlocked front door and rushed to the living room. The emergency medical team began to examine Abrielle as a police man pulled Victoria away, “How old are you, sweetheart?”

“I turned eleven two days ago. Is Mommy okay?” She looked at the man with big teary blue green eyes, “She’s been sick for a long time. Something called cancer.”

His kind eyes grew sad, “Cancer is a bad disease, sweetheart. The doctors will let us know how your mommy is in a minute. What’s your name?”

“Victoria, and my mommy is Abrielle. Abrielle Williams.”

“I am Officer Owens. Where is your father, Victoria?”

“He’s probably at work or about to leave work. I don’t know if he’s coming home yet. His name is Louis, and he works two jobs. One is at an electricity place and the other is Winn Dixie. He comes home with free cookies sometimes, but he didn’t work there until Mommy got sick.” She kept babbling, “My brother should be home soon.  His name is Nolan, and he tutors kids after his high school is over. He’s fourteen.”

“Was your mom like this when you got off the bus?”

“Yeah. I thought she was taking a nap. Her medicine makes her really tired, so she sleeps a lot. Daddy said that’s normal for her kind of sickness.” She glanced over at the couch where the medics were transferring Abrielle to a stretcher, “What are the doctors doing? Mommy is probably more comfortable on the couch.”

“They are taking her to the ambulance so they can try to wake her up.” Officer Owens looked at his partner who shook her head. He sighed, “Victoria, do you know when your brother usually gets home?”

“Around four, I think. I don’t pay much attention to time. Why does the police lady look sad?”

“Why don’t you ask her yourself while I try to find your dad.” He waved her over, “Victoria, this is Officer Stiles.”

“You can call me Lauren.” She knelt down as Officer Owen walked away, “That’s a pretty doll you have.”

“It was my birthday present from my mom.” Victoria studied her, “Will you please tell me what’s going on, Officer Lauren? I called you because my mom wasn’t breathing. Is she dead?”

Lauren blinked at her straightforwardness, and then took Victoria’s hand in hers, “Yes. Her sickness killed her. You did the right thing by calling us. She is in Heaven now, and she is no longer sick or tired or in any pain.” She hugged the crying girl close to her chest, “Everything will be okay, Victoria. We are going to take you to the station with us until your father can come and get you. I will stay with you the whole time.”

“W-what about Nolan? He can’t come home to an empty house.” She hiccupped, trying to be a big girl and talk through her tears.

“My friend, Officer Wayne, is going to wait for him. He will let your brother know what happened and take him to you. You both will be together and in my care until your father comes.” She paused, “He will probably want to visit your mother first.”

“I understand. He will want to say goodbye.” She sniffed, “I thought she was sleeping, Lauren. I didn’t say goodbye, and now she’s gone. I should have given her a kiss.”

“She knows that you love her, and she is still watching over you as a guardian angel. God is keeping her safe now.”

“God was the one to make her sick in the first place.”

Lauren didn’t know what to say. This was a distraught and confused girl who would be traumatized by this moment for the rest of her life. Wiping away the tears running down Victoria’s cheeks, she finally said, “Why don’t you take your doll outside for some fresh air? We will be leaving soon.”

“Can I take my book with me?”

“Of course.”

Victoria trudged up to her room, tears streaming down her face. The pain she was feeling was almost too much to bear, but she did not truly realize how this day would affect her future. She looked at the cross hanging on the wall above her bed and stared at it for a few moments. Then, with a strangled cry of rage, she climbed onto the mattress and tore it from the wall, throwing it across the room. She grabbed The Hobbit from where she had left it on her dresser and ran from the room, not looking back to see the shattered pieces that were now scattered on the carpet.

A Not So Secret Secret

Growing up, I did not want to be an accountant. I was an English major, and I had decided that years before college (but after dissecting things in middle school biology made me realize I did not have what it takes to be a veterinarian). I wanted to be an author, and I had also accepted that my English major would probably lead to teaching.

More literally: I wanted to be like Christopher Paolini, best-selling author at age 19.

Spoilers: that did not happen.

Anyone who knows me can tell you I do not have the patience for teaching. Now, I knew that going into my freshman year of college, but I still enrolled as an English major with a concentration in creative writing. That lasted a year. My style of writing was just not a good fit for the program I was in, so I switched to Business and eventually Accounting.

Don’t get me wrong. I like accounting. I like math. But I LOVE writing. I haven’t put as much time in as I used to because of the CPA exam and working full time, but I still find ways to practice my passion. This blog is one of them. National Novel Writing Month is another, although I have not come close to the 50,000 words needed to win the challenge since 2013. Part of that is because I am a writer who uses a notebook first before typing, so it takes double the time to get the words into a word counter, BUT I edit as I type, so lose-win there.

I have a few novel-y projects in progress. I honestly don’t see myself ever seeing my dream of becoming published at the moment, but the stories I write are for me anyway. It’s one of the ways I like to escape. And who knows, maybe my current crap will be crap that someone likes (note: I think most of my writing is crap, even when others tell me it’s not. That’s how I get myself to improve).

Maybe one day I’ll have a panel at Dragon Con about the world I created and my characters. Gosh, wouldn’t that be amazing. I went to Brandon Sanderson’s panel a few years ago (another side note: Christoher Paolini was also there that year and I did not get in line early enough to make it to his events. So sad), and that was so much fun. How often do you get to hear from your favorite authors like that? If I ever become a published author, that’s the kind of author I want to be- open to fans and willing to talk to them about their theories and questions.

So, yeah. That’s my “secret.” Accounting is not my dream- writing is. I just happen to be really good at numbers and accounting pays the bills. And once I get this CPA thing done with I will have more time to dedicate to my dream. Lord knows I already have more than enough notebooks to use.

2018 Reading Progress

I like to think of myself as an avid reader. When I was younger, I practically lived at the library. Hell, I even got grounded from reading when my mom found me past midnight reading Goblet of Fire in my room on a school night. I was in fourth grade.

The past few years has seen a large decline in my habit. I barely reached my Goodreads challenge of 20 books last year, and I am only on book 11 of 30 for my current year challenge. It just seems like I am out of energy whenever I sit down to read or that I am forcing myself to read because I think I should.

Now, there have been a few books that get me back into that “OMG I LOVE READING” mood. Most of them are from the Star Wars expanded universe (pretty much anything having to do with Thrawn. He is one of the best characters ever.), but there has been a couple other books that caught me by surprise.

One was a book that caught my attention at Barnes and Noble because there was a comparison to Wheel of Time on the cover. It was A Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington, and the comparison has actually proven to be true. Most of the time those blurbs are there just to trap readers, and I have fallen prey to many a book I did not finish because of those little “if you like Harry Potter, you’ll love this!”

I am not a young adult book fan (for the most part).

Anyway, A Shadow of What Was Lost is the first book of a trilogy. It has magic. It has action and adventure. It has that “I really like this girl but my duty is to saving the world” plot line. The characters are intriguing and well written, and I found myself devouring it within a week. It was a great change of pace. I have the sequel right now, but I have been in a slump, so I am hoping my vacation next week will change that.

The other book that I have absolutely loved this year was Wall of Storms by Ken Liu. Now, this one started really slow, especially compared to the first in the series, but once it got going it was great. I am really glad I stuck it out, because everything came together perfectly and I am looking forward to a third novel, if there is to be one.

I hope that the rest of 2018 will include a return to feeling the joy of reading more consistently. I am thinking about getting a Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Unlimited to see if that will help (plus, all seven Harry Potter books are on unlimited which means my gorgeous, never read, hard back books will continue to look magical while I fulfill my need to reread the series).

Please, feel free to send me any recommendations for books and authors. I am always looking for new adventures. You can also add me on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/Karissabrust.

 

Camp NaNoWriMo

Three days in and I have nothing. Thank goodness this not the big one. I still have a couple of months before November. At least Camp NaNo lets you pick your goals. I opted for 20,000 words for the month of July. It’s a little less than half of the full NaNoWriMo, but a few good days of writing should work.

My project this year is a rewrite of a series I wrote back in high school, and, believe me, it reads like a teenager wrote it. I am no Christopher Paolini. This is actually my third attempt at rewriting- I keep getting a couple chapters in and deciding I like things a lot better a different way so I have to start over. It’s frustrating, but I know it will make the project better in the end.

My author name on all NaNoWriMo sites is DestinyDalma. Feel free to add me as a buddy. While the CPA exam and other things mean my writing is on the back burner, I do try a little harder during the event months. I look forward to the day I can write more consistently as it has been a huge part of my life.

What are your Camp NaNoWriMo projects and goals?

Obligatory Ice Breaker

Thanks for joining me! My name is Karissa, and this is that awkward first post to introduce myself. Much like those annoying first day of school activities where the teacher makes you tell everyone what’s weird about you.

I am an accountant working in one of the major cities of the United States. I am in my mid-twenties, been at my current job for a three and a half years, and am on my fifth go on the C.P.A. exam. You will probably see a lot of posts complaining about the exam. I technically only have one section to pass, but I am waiting on my score for a section I had previously passed and lost the credit on. Yeah, the C.P.A. exam is timed and conditional. If you don’t pass all four four-hour sections within 18 months, you start losing your passing scores. And if that expiration falls within tax season, you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose that score. Studying and tax season do not mix well. At all.

Back when I had free time, which was when I was in college and not working, I loved to write. I mainly stuck to fantasy and fan-fiction, and I am a pro at failing NaNoWriMo. I did win in 2013, but I never finished that book. So, half victory there. I still write when I can, mostly one-shots of my various characters from role-plays that I have with my cousin. A lot of those characters have been with me for over a decade, so I tend to use them when I need to get some emotions out.

I read the same stuff I write: fantasy. Lately I’ve been in a Star Wars extended universe kick, but I do take breaks with other stuff. Harry Potter and Wheel of Time are my favorite series, and I love anything to do with mythology. I have dabbed in the Stephen King world with non-sleeping results, and classic novels like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice are a couple of my go-to titles when I need an escape. Yes, I read Game of Thrones. Yes, I am mad that we still do not have Winds of Winter.

Nerd confessions: I wish I had time to cosplay. I have a sewing machine with no time to make anything. Video games bore me before I finish them. I have only completed the Batman: Arkham games and Dishonored. I want to re-try Kingdom Hearts before the third one is released, but I know I won’t. If it is Disney or Broadway related, odds are I know it. I used to work at Disney World as part of the Disney College Program, and I just really freaking love theater. I cannot sing or dance, but I will rap Hamilton like the white girl I am. Marvel movies are better than DC, but I am a Batman girl when it comes down to it. He has the best villains (I don’t care it’s cliche, the Joker is the best).

I have been married two years come October and have been with my husband for seven years this month. We have two adorable cats who are assholes, and we will probably get more cats when we finally move into a house. I am very type A whereas he is type B, but we love each other and he gives me plenty of heads up when plans change (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I wish). He’s teaching me about soccer and Warhammer, and I’m trying to teach him baseball and there’s more books than Warhammer in the world. I must preclude that last bit with the fact we started our relationship with him letting me borrow the Wheel of Time series. I like to tell people it was a con to keep me around. It’s a fourteen book long series. It took up the first three years of our relationship. Now, he’s just really picky when it comes to books because nothing lives up to WoT. I get it, but I don’t at the same time.

OH! I have two planners: one for daily life and one for fitness tracking. They are covered in stickers and I have spent way too much money on Etsy getting things to decorate them with. I also have three different sets of colored pens, but I need more. This kind of goes with the whole “I am type A” thing. Planning is one of the ways I relax. I love it. It soothes me.

Um, I guess that’s a good start for now. Let’s do this thing.