Goals & Zombies

The timer on the elliptical machine at the gym only goes up to 60 minutes, plus a five minute cool down. While you can’t up the length of your workout once you’ve started, you can add five minutes to the cool down, for a total of 70 minutes. (I don’t worry about cooling down too much at the actual gym, since I still have to walk back to the apartment.)

Most days I go about 4.5 miles. (I don’t always go for 70 minutes.) I give myself “bonus points” for hitting 5 miles before the program stops. Today I hit five miles. Hooray!

Now if I can only get 2500 words into my novel on top of that, I’ll be golden. Which means I should probably stop screwing around on the blog and hop in the shower already.

See you guys later! Happy Friday!

(PS – if you want a fun diversion today [via Nick Kaufmann], go to your Facebook profile. Look on the left and note the top 5 friends there. If you and they were trapped in the zombie apocalypse, what would your chances of survival be? Murphy decided to have a bit of fun with me on this…out of my 3000 friends, Bob Ford, Drew Williams, and R. Scott McCoy all just happened to be in my Top 5. As Nick pointed out, if they don’t laugh the zombies to death, at least we’ll all go down smiling!)

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5-Minute Muse

I’m always curious about what/who creative people use as their Muse. There are many definitions out there — most of them lofty and romantic. My definition is a bit simpler: whoever or whatever motivates your lazy butt to create whatever it’s meant to create.

Yesterday at the gym, Misty asked me how it is I get up every day and make myself stay on that elliptical machine for an hour. I actually have a really good — and very true — answer to this question.

Iris Johansen wrote a book — I think it was The Ugly Duckling — where a woman’s family is killed, and she only survives by the skin of her teeth. She has to have facial reconstructive surgery so she looks nothing like she used to, and she is determined to ramp up her physical therapy so that she can take revenge on the people who killed her child. The therapy is exceptionally painful, but she keeps telling herself: “Five more minutes. Just five more minutes.”

I do that sometimes at the gym — especially when I’ve been on hiatus for one reason or another and I’m just starting back. Right around 30 minutes I start to feel horrible and I tell myself: “Just five more minutes.” A few times, it has only been five more minutes. Most days, though, I can push myself to do the full hour (plus a 5-minute cooldown).

I always hate that I get up in the morning too late to join Catie Murphy in Twitter with her #Wordwars, but perhaps I can rustle up a few of my freelance friends and do some “sprints” throughout the day to get me started. All I need to do is get started, really. After that, it’s just five more minutes.

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It Doesn’t Bother Me…Much

One of the girls I know from the apartment complex was in the gym this morning — neither of us had been at the gym much since Thanksgiving, so we had a bit to catch up on. I don’t mind chatting, as long as it’s not for the entire hour I’m there — I enjoy using my gym time listening to audiobooks for review or working out the next scene in whatever short story or novel happens to be on my plate at the time.

Happily, we only chatted for about ten minutes before I turned on my iPod and got to work. She asked after my novel, which was sweet. We spoke a bit about the frustrations of losing weight…she said something about other people’s perceptions of her, to which I replied bluntly, “I really don’t care what people think about me.”

Because I don’t.

I know what it’s like, though, because I used to. For a very long time. It starts in grade school and takes the rest of your growing-up life to get over. Some people don’t get over it at all. I am very lucky with all the crazy adventures I have — magic and misery and all — those made me realize how beautiful and amazing and self-sufficient I am. (Because I am pretty awesome, you know.)

And then, right as our conversation was dwindling to an end, she said, “Oh, I’m so glad there are other people who don’t work during the winter.”


This whole issue of perception over a”normal job” has haunted me my entire life. I started working at the movie theatre when I was 16 and had become relief manager by the time I was 18. All through college I was an assistant and promotional manager, pulling down 25K a year, salaried with benefits and winning regional promotional awards, along with a courseload so full I graduated in three years. Granted, on any given day my schedule could be 11am until 4 in the morning, and my parents loathed the fact that I was still asleep at 10am on a Saturday (the time at which Mom inevitably turned on the vacuum). I had zero expenses and probably more money in the bank than they did, but it wasn’t a Real Job.

Fast forward to now. I am currently self-employed. I don’t get a check from someone once a week who takes 30% out for taxes, and I don’t have all those lovely benefits. I don’t drag my butt out of bed and go to a place I hate and pretend to fill a job description from 9 to 5 every day.


I sold my last novel for more than I made in a year of being a librarian, yet I still have close friends who make thinly-veiled snide comments about my “lack of employment.” Even the maintenance guys who come to fix the dishwasher say things like, “Gee, must be nice to have Mondays off.”

No, I don’t have Mondays off. I don’t have ANY days off. I just don’t punch a clock and I don’t hate my life. I don’t fit into your box. I never have. And I’m not sorry.

There’s a scene in Bright Star where Mr. Brown explains to the new tenants that if they see him or Mr. Keats staring off into space, that doesn’t mean they are doing nothing; it means they are writing, and they are not to be disturbed. I’m like a turtle who carries my job on my back, everywhere I go. Even when I don’t have something to scribble with, I can always be working, any time of day or night. And I NEED to be, or I can’t afford all those lovely things I used to splurge on when I was being paid by The Man. (Like Dragon*Con.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get down this new plot line I came up with at the gym, sometime around the 45 minute mark. God willing and the Creek don’t rise, this will be the next novel…fingers crossed!

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Mea Culpa

Yeah, this one’s totally on me — the girl in the first row, on the elliptical machine by the window. My fault entirely. I take full responsibility.

Yes, the second you leave me alone in the room, I will turn down your gawd-awful Today Show until I can’t hear it over my iPod, and I will turn off the overhead lights. Tomorrow I might even turn down the thermostat. That’s right. IN YOUR FACE, PEOPLE.

I am one of those lovely folks who get exercise-induced migraines. (Yes, fun!) The second my blood pressure rises, I start to go blind. The more my eyes strain to see, the more the headache actually hurts. My perfect gym is dark (daylight is fine, as long as it’s not direct sunlight) and cold…and even then, I’d still run with my eyes closed.

Have you ever closed your eyes and listened to the television? Especially daytime talk shows and the morning news? They are YELLING at you. Tune out the words and listen to the tone of voice — every sentence sounds like an accusation. They could be talking about puppy dogs and rainbows and you’d still get stressed out. And we won’t even talk about the volume of commercials, or the shameless screaming they film on the streets of NY to get your attention. It just can’t be healthy.

And I’m positive that turning up my iPod to drown it out isn’t healthy either. My father has worked with guns all his life. I’m surprised he can still hear any of us. I’ve always been very aware of hearing safety. I’m sure my brain’s going to explode eventually from all these headaches, but I’d like the rest of my senses to be tip top, if that’s all right.

If I come into the gym and you’re already happily bopping along, I promise I won’t touch a thing. If you come in after me and decide you want lights or volume, go right ahead. I’m just saying — if you want to know who keeps turning our gym into the Batcave, it’s me. Totally, shamelessly me.

You’re welcome.

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