Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.
I haven’t said a peep about life all month, thanks to NaNoWriMo. Let’s stick with NaNo for a moment: On November 18, I hit my 50,000 word goal and, incidentally, wrapped the story up. That said, I feel that it’s my best novel yet, and the first one I actually care about enough to want to improve. As I wrote, I left a number of inconsistencies and unexplored avenues open that I would like to correct or expand upon.
To this end, I have taken the unprecedented step of actually printing and re-reading the tunnel novel, something I have never done with one of my novels before. Typically I believe in a scorched earth, do-it-and-don’t-look-back policy for National Novel Writing Month efforts. In fact, most of them embarrass me deeply, and I wouldn’t mind if they vanished forever. I leave them up on and publicly available on my blog to keep me humble.
This one I really invested in the characters; they feel like real people to me, although unlike in previous NaNos, I didn’t base them on anybody I knew. These people are truly fictitious, although they definitely draw characteristics from people I know. I care about them, what they think and feel, and I want to do right by them and tell their stories the best I can. This was a first attempt, and I plan on cleaning it up significantly before I post the PDF online. For the remainder of the month, I will be editing and revising the story.
For those of you who haven’t read it but are interested in doing so, contact me and I will give you access to the Google Doc version that’s much more reader-friendly than the daily blog posts.
November has been a difficult month in many other personal ways. First and foremost, on Monday, November 14, we found out that my cousin Valerie had passed away unexpectedly. This came completely out of the blue for us, and kicked off one of the hardest weeks I’ve had in a very long time. I didn’t know Valerie very well, but now I never will. Her choice breaks my heart, and I’ve spent a good amount of time after finding out about her choice red-nosed and puffy-eyed.
Within two hours of learning about Valerie’s passing, I was on the road to Goldendale to teach a Train the Teacher workshop. I spent almost three hours stopped, waiting in Snoqualmie Pass; while waiting, three truckers helped me put the chains on my car. Six and a half hours after leaving my house, I arrived, only three hours overdue. I taught the Goldendale training, which was the worst I’ve had in a while, for a variety of reasons. It couldn’t end soon enough for me. On Wednesday I drove home the southern route, through the Gorge, which had snow and slush on the ground to within 30 miles of Portland. That commute home took another six hours.
The rest of the month has involved a heavy concentration of Train the Trainer work. I taught in Mt. Vernon the first week, Pateros the second week, and Goldendale the third week. This coming week I have off, which is good because we’re flying down to LA for Valerie’s funeral. The following week I teach in Vancouver, WA; then, two more weeks in a row, Castle Rock and Kiona-Benton (near Tri-Cities). So I will have taught 6 out of 7 weeks from the end of October through mid-December.
Each training I refine what I do and say, and I have become very comfortable with doing the trainings, so I no longer get nervous or stressed beforehand. I’m confident that I can teach them, and fairly confident in the outcome. But each training is hours of preparation and packing, more hours driving, and hours of high-energy work. I come home exhausted. Have I just forgotten what it feels like to work a regular job, or is this harder than my previous experience? I don’t want to complain to people that I’m tired from my work, because mostly they look at me and say, “Um, yes, that’s what it feels like to have a job.” But it’s hard, and I come home really tired.
Having teaching work is generally good: I’m happy to have work, to earn money. After that last training in mid-December, I don’t have any work scheduled for months; and the grant (and my job) end March, 2012. The back-to-back trainings, however, start to wear on me. I’m alone in very remote parts of the state, tiny towns with nothing out there. I get lonely and depressed, especially the second night in the hotel room by myself. I don’t have a computer or smartphone, and start feeling deeply disconnected with my Internet brain eliminated. I read books and take hot baths, but I can’t ride out on dark, unfamiliar country roads by myself — that’s a recipe for disaster. I’m crazy, but not stupid.
Meanwhile, every weekend Team Group Health has been holding team rides, which all newbies are strongly encouraged to attend. I go to every ride I can, which means definitely Saturday morning, and Sunday morning if we don’t have church. That happens once or twice a month. Counting forward, we only have about 3 months until the first road race. I have so much to learn in those months, not to mention fitness to build, I’m excited and intimidated at the same time. I’m starting to learn teammates’ names, but there are 80+ members, and I don’t think I’ve even met all of them, and even the names of people I have met elude me frequently. I enjoy the team rides, but they’re also a lot of new information coming at us fast.
In short (I know, too late!), to be completely honest, it’s been a difficult month for me. Christmas is coming and I’m already feeling stressed at not having presents for people I love (or have to give presents to for other reasons).
I’d love to end this on a happy note, so here’s a picture for you. Not of puppies, sadly, but of the reorganization I did in my office. The back story first: I really hate running on tracks, and I’ve avoided bike trainers as essentially a track for bicyclists. However, people who know these things strictly ordered me to obtain a trainer so I could get ready for racing. As you wish.
It’s in my office so I can watch movies and/or listen to music on my computer while riding.