words

I haven’t had an entry with text in it in a while. I’m actually excited about doing photos this March, so I’ve been focused on that. I’m also settling in to life here finally, and nothing spectacular is going on. It bothers me at times but, overall, it’s fine.

Now that the weather is almost consistently warm, I’m looking forward to getting outside and walking again. I discovered earlier this month that I regained all the weight I lost in 2012. And a little bit more. My mom bought us a freezer full of food and that has cut down my eating out a lot. I still need to master when to cook so I’m not slapping something together from scratch at 11:45 p.m. then going to bed soon after. It helps that my mom got larger packs of meats so I can cook nearly three pounds of pork chops and have lunch and dinner for a couple of three days.

I have to stagger cooking, though, because Renée doesn’t like eating the same food for several days. It’s never been a problem for me because I had no choice in my extreme poverty days when I was just starting out in the Tri-Cities. I would get a giant pack of chicken breast from Food Lion when it was on sale and some bags of fresh or frozen vegetables.  I’d be set for a week. I kinda miss spending $20 and not having to worry about meats or vegetables for days. I want to get back to that. I ate out once or twice a month in Richmond.

Anyway, I’m trying to keep what little money I have closer for the next year. I had nearly forgotten that I sent some things up so that I’d have my car and some other bills paid off in early 2015, which meant 2014 would be crunch time. Back at Christopher Newport University, I figured I’d have my act together by 31/32. I do, but I spent 22-29 in a hole of journalism-induced poverty, hence being able to find creative ways to prepare chicken breast for five days at a time.

I also thought I’d be married by 30. Well, I’ll be 30 for about eight more hours once Drew pronounces us man and wife.

In other news, if you saw the last two photo entries, I think we found our reception space. All that’s left is finding a caterer, me making sure one of my coworkers can shoot our wedding, FINALLY sending the invitations and getting suit rental locked down. I might miss out on a sweet deal because my wedding party is one short, unless I can convince someone to have a matching suit with us, which shouldn’t be hard. If not, whatevs. It was only a coupon.

Well, the VCU game is vaguely starting soon. Enough of this blogging nonsense.

I miss Richmond.

on the road again

This time next week, I’ll be in Tennessee. Last weekend, I was in Northern Virginia. At the start of this month, I was in Fredericksburg. Since the end of June, I have been in Roanoke, West Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond.

I haven’t torn up the roads like that in a while. It feels good.

I’m looking forward to the Tennessee trip for a few reasons. I promised Isaac’s brother Tim that I’d hang out with him a few years ago. He lived in Manassas at the time. Procrastination has led to this trip because I keep my word, damn it. Dave is taking the trip with me. Dave is a copy editor at my paper. Dave will no longer be a copy editor at my paper by the time we take this trip. This wasn’t planned.

I don’t have any other major trips planned the rest of this year beyond two fraternity-related trips (I think I accidentally scheduled myself to miss one) and Renée wants to go somewhere for her birthday. There was supposed to be a giant joint birthday party but that fizzled out. I blame it on everyone’s age.

On the wedding front, I’m 95 percent sure we have the venue down. Now that that’s essentially done, we can actually do the rest of the preparations. We need to do that soon because my mom is starting to freak out and I’m obsessive with planning major events in advance so I’m starting to freak out.

In other news, we’ll be in the house upstairs in 30 days or so. I’m looking forward to getting out of this mostly basement. I’ve been partially packed for some time now and we might buy Dave’s couch. We’ll still need furniture for the rest of the house. I wish I still had my seating for 11 people I had back in 2006.

I’m continuing my writing breakthrough. The biggest, easiest fix to that chapter that became my brick wall was killing some of my favorite dialogue, including my favorite line in the novel. That’s the nature of the beast. That’s how you get it done. You can’t be married to any part of it. There’s very little left of the original 25-part outline: There’s a lot of dialogue that made it over and the plot’s the same to an extent. I passed out some “final drafts” a few years ago that are nothing but red herrings at this point. To that I say, good.

We’re approaching my year anniversary here. It was Sept. 10. Last year had a lot of turmoil and September was the beginning of me coming in for a landing. A lot has changed in the past 12 months and I’m relieved that, overall, it’s been for the better.

Let’s continue.

house of leaves

We toured the house upstairs today. I never finished the book in the title of this post, because it was a short-term loan and I’ve been meaning to buy it. The the plot includes a house that is markedly larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

The house has the same footprint as my apartment.

It has two decent-sized bedrooms, real closets, a large kitchen/dining area and an intimate living room. And it’s not much more than down here.

Sure, it’s not the biggest house, but I can’t get over how much more room it has over where I am now. IT HAS THE SAME DIMENSIONS.

Sold.

In about a week or so, the landlord will be back from vacation and we’ll do a formal walk through. Then we wait. Our neighbors aren’t leaving until the end of September. Then we’ll haul our things up the ramp and finally get real/more furniture because we’ll inexplicably have a lot more space. And a deck. And a porch.

Maybe this house is actually a TARDIS.

ALSO

We probably have our wedding venue nailed down. There’s a discount at the University of Virginia Chapel for employees. We did want to have the ceremony in Richmond but whatever.

We need to send out the save the dates pretty soon as well. I’m starting to get questions about them.

ALSO ALSO

Obviously, I think talking (writing) through what was causing my writer’s block has ended it. Not only have  I been a blogging fool lately, I have jumped back into the novel. All I have left to do is stop sucking at something else and get some decent sleep. I’m still doing this making up in the middle of the night BS. I also took a nap today, after which I was still sleepy. Hopefully, having tomorrow off will do some good.

RIVER NIGHTMARE

I just saw that as a headline (on a TV new outlet, of course). My first thought was that it was just … well … awful. We’re talking about real people’s lives, not some Sci-Fi (pardon, Syfy) original movie here.

Obviously, I’m feeling surly and I’m also trying very hard to pick and choose where I focus my malevolence. Where’s Pete when I need him?

That said, if you’ve been following this blog long enough, despite its lack of updates lately, I’m feeling normal.

I meant to update sooner. I mean it. I actually had things worth writing about but they’re no longer timely. I did see Bill yesterday, though. He finally had enough leave to come to Virginia and we decided to hang out for an entire afternoon and then get as many people together as we could that evening. It was up in the air for a while, as his grandfather just died, I had to beg to get Saturday off and we both had things to do today. But it was amazing. Absolutely amazing.

I think being away from Richmond makes going back there feel so much better. Either that or it’s just the act of going out and doing something. I can’t wait to have a larger space so I can have a party. As I get older, I’ve realized that I can be pretty quiet like an introvert but I need the recharge of a massive social situation like an extrovert. And I need road trips.

Last week, I drove to West Virginia for absolutely no reason. It was the first time since moving back from North Carolina last July that I’ve personally driven myself out of the state. Other than, I think, between getting my license at 15 and turning 18, that year had to have been the longest stretch I’ve ever had of not personally taking myself out of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

I can’t do that again.

I’m taking my largest road trip since New Orleans in September. I’m driving to Nashville, possibly by way of North Carolina. I’m beyond excited and it’s mostly for the ride itself.

A year ago today, I was wandering around Richmond on foot, anticipating getting my life back together. I still had a few months ahead of me then.

Do you have any idea how odd it is to not feel like yourself for more than a year? That’s what made Saturday so great. I was cruising along Interstate 64. It was a beautiful day. I had all the windows down. I was wearing a seersucker blazer. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if Renée was there but she’s about to go to Orlando for fun and, while she’s there, I’m vacuuming the floors, beginning to pack up the apartment and working. At some point we’ll get this whole having vacation days at the same time straightened out. It could have been earlier this summer if I knew I was going to have the surprise 10 calendar days off from work.

Well, it wouldn’t have been a surprise then, now would it?

I can’t remember why I started writing this entry in the first place. I think it was to vent some anger but I’m old enough to know better than to go full rage mode on the Internet. I think the act of writing itself was enough of a catharsis. And using 10¢ words like “catharsis.” And using a cent sign.

I still don’t know the source of my current writer’s block (despite this entry, I’m still calling the well currently dry). I haven’t been taking a lot of photos nor have I been posting to Facebook or Twitter regularly. This has been going on since before January, back when, if I went to a doctor, I probably would have been told I was clinically depressed. That’s a whole ‘nother entry entirely that I put off  because I didn’t want to talk about it then and, when I felt better, didn’t see the point of bringing it up.

But I digress.

Is it even possible to digress in this disjointed mess?

Anyway, I need this to stop. I miss writing, especially since I spend more than 40 hours a week surrounded by paper and ink. I lost track of the outline of the final change I need to make to my novel (remember that I was writing one? and have been since 2007 or so? and it’s still not completed but, in a way it is?) and I really want to get that done. I keep thinking about tricking myself into writing a killer query letter so I’m forced to finish because my future agent is waiting for the full manuscript. But that wouldn’t help anyone.

Especially one of the main characters in it.

For those of you who have read this far, I’m going to share something with you.

I created a character on Dec. 17, 1998. I named him Lorenzo Santiago Williamston because, when I took Spanish classes up until 10th grade, we had to pick a Spanish name to go by in class. I originally picked Santiago but changed to Lorenzo and stuck with it. I fancied an alter-ego of sorts named Lorenzo and I though I coined the last name of Williamston until I saw it was a city in North Carolina.

I first created a universe for all of my writing in 1993 and I ditched it all in 1997. I destroyed every single short story I had then and even considered being a business major instead of an English major. Then Lorenzo appeared and all but the “Asunder” story I wrote a couple of three weeks back have been in his world. Although Lorenzo has become an old friend, I had no intention of him being in my novel when I began it, which may be obvious when you first read it not that I’ve told you. When he did appear, I did decide that it would be the final time I wrote about him. I do wonder that I’m stalling to hold on to my friend a while longer.

But, even when the book is on a shelf somewhere, the story of Lorenzo Williamston isn’t over.

If and when I have a son, his middle name will be Wilson as an homage to my Uncle Wilson. That’s been settled for years. His first name will be Lawrence.

Over the years, Lorenzo has mentioned consequences of being named Lorenzo Santiago and not being Hispanic. I figured anglicizing his namesake was the least I could do as a parting gift.

I think that’s it. Once I hit save for the final time, that 15-year-old kid who grew up with me and became a journalist with me will no longer be mine.

But that’s the point. Unlike this blog, I created Lorenzo for you, not me. The absolute best thing I could do is share his universe.

After 14 years, 7 months, 12 days — 5,338 days and counting — it’s truly the least I could do.

It only took me 1100 words to get to what this entry was about.

it’s about durn time

I am beginning to feel my writer’s block break. I’m happy about that because I nearly said with all seriousness earlier this week that my novel was over, that I wasn’t going to do anything with it because I just wanted to write out a story and didn’t care if anyone actually saw it. That was a funny statement because it came not long after I dug the notebook in which the final revisions I scribbled out at 1 a.m. one night this winter reside.

For those of you who have been following my spotty updates about Brown River Blues since it began as a 25-part short story in December 2006 (that was set in the summer of 2007), this thing has gone from that short story to an expanded version of that short story to  novel-length short story that had no real plot to warrant it being so large to me weaving a plot into the holes to me now reaching the final phase of reconciling the actions of the actual plot with the spirit of the original short story.

Overall, it was (is?) a fun thing to write. At one point, I created a companion piece for my own edification (that I regretfully deleted) to help me flesh out characters. There is an entire universe for this book, especially for Lorenzo Williamston, that dates back to Dec. 17, 1998. I drew a map of the city Blues is adjacent to back then. There are landmarks, civic buildings, historic sites, people and items fixed in our own global narrative that have everything and nothing to do with Blues. One of Lorenzo’s closest friends lives in San Francisco and plays the violin as a hobby. None of that is mentioned in my novel. Three main characters share a hometown and mention events in a short story I wrote in college and what I wrote out in 1998-99. It feels good to have canon, to know why Lorenzo does what he does in 2007 because I know what he did as 1998 rolled into 1999. It feels good to have great chunks of things that happened before, during and shortly after the action in the current draft of Blues that have been cut from the text that still exist, apply and happen because, although they aren’t there, they’re still there. Although I told myself that this tale of 2007 marks the end of me writing about Lorenzo’s activities (as far as anything that happens to him after August 2008), it’s good to know what he’s been up to for the past seven years. The same for the character of G Scott Smith.

It’s fun to talk about it at times, even if it is one-sided and no one, including those who edited an early draft, have seen what the actual plot is. I vaguely recall texting Mandy what truly happens in the middle of the night once but I might be imaging things.

I can’t remember the last time I wrote a post this long. This block is breaking.

 

* * *

I’m 90 percent sure I know what caused the writing process to dry up within me. Well, there were several things . I know what a large problem was but I’m too polite to bring it up. I do have a modicum of decency left. It’s even been a while since I’ve used a word such as modicum.

I’m musing on what is causing me to regain my power.

It’s been gradual. Back in December, I mentioned that I’ve been in the category of “fake it till you make it” for a good chunk of 2012. That was the beginning of the reawakening; I’m sure of it. As of late, I’ve been feeling the hunger of righteous fury. Lee mentioned today that he liked that I’ve been getting progressively cynical. Angry, cynical Elliott who bangs out blog entries well over 600 words, sends his car screaming into the night with the windows down and obscure music blaring and had delusions of grandeur he can barely call delusion because they’re true is the  Elliott I know and love.

Hanging out with my fraternity brothers next weekend might be exactly what I need right now.

 

* * *

 

I got distracted for a bit here. I don’t think I mentioned it but Sasso works in Monmouth County, N.J., home of Bruce Springsteen and, of course, Asbury Park. During World War I, my maternal grandfather, who possibly was born in what is now Suffolk, Va., was stationed in New Jersey and two of his sisters lived in Asbury Park somewhere between the 1880s, when they were born (my grandfather was born in the 1890s) and the 1970s. I know we Elliotts are from the former Nansemond County and my grandfather was living in Hampton when he met Grandma. At some point, his two sister that I know of moved to Asbury Park.

I have a general idea of when they died and I possibly found relatives still living in Monmouth County. One of the sisters married a man with a very German last name so I think it’s safe to assume it’s my family I just found. When I wake up, I’m calling someone who might remember my Great Aunt Lillie and her sister, my Great Aunt Cora.

I’m visiting Sasso next weekend.

Once I establish these cousins, I’m moving on to tackling Grandma’s parents. Over the years, we keep getting her mother’s and her grandmother’s names confused. We have her father’s and grandfather’s down since her brother’s name is based on his father’s and at least one of my cousins is named after my great-grandfather (we were recycling names for a bit). When I visit my mom, my Aunt Betty says she was able to save some Robinson records from when her house caught fire.

Either way, I think it’s kind of cool that my grandfather was born at the start of Grover Cleveland’s second term and my Great aunts in his first and that George and Cora Elliott were born in either the 1850s or ’60s, possibly later as my grandparents had children late, hence the whole “I’m just turning 30 and my grandfather is way older than your grandfather” thing. My mom can’t top John Tyler’s grandkids with the whole “my grandfather was born in the 1790s” thing but we have three generations where there should be about five.

But I digress.

I need to go to bed so I can figure out a better way to start a phone conversation than, “I’m sorry to bother you, but are you related to? …”