My 2008 Year End Recap

December 31, 2008

Let me start off by saying that I do not make New Year's Resolutions. I never have and do not intend to start. If you're going to make a promise to do something different in your life why wait until December 31st to promise yourself that. Just do it.

This year went by awfully fast I have to admit. The two biggest things that I did was start this blog and do NaNoWriMo. I am certainly glad that I started this blog and I am glad that I have begun a reader base. It makes me happy knowing that you have enjoyed my content enough to subscribe. Doing NaNo and winning on my first try was a great experience. I hope you had as much fun reading about my triumphs as I did writing them.

In other news this year I became addicted to Lost all thanks to finding First On Mars. I started at season one and watched it all the way to the end of season four in record time. There were times when I thought I had things figured out or knew what was coming next, but then the writers yanked me in a different direction. I am really looking forward to season five. I actually can't stand the wait.

This year I saw gas go as high as $4.77 for premium grade, and if my memory serves me it stayed at the horrific price for nearly a week. We all know the troubles the economy is going through, so I won't beat that dead horse. But I will say that I hope never to see the Dow Jones drop as much as it did.

Here are some random events from 2008:
  • Fidel Castro announced his resignation of Cuba
  • The moon moved to its closest point to Earth
  • Bernie Mac, Paul Newman, Estelle Getty, Heath Ledger, Charlton Heston, Tim Russert, Bobby Fischer, and George Carlin all passed away
  • America elected the first African-American president
  • OJ Simpson gets thrown in jail
  • 67,000 Chinese people died as a result of a 7.9 magnitude earthquake
As midnight draws nearer we say goodbye to 2008 and welcome in 2009. I wish all of you a happy and safe New Year. I hope that you ring in the New Year surrounded by friends and family, a champagne glass raised in the air, and some one to kiss as the ball sinks to one.


I Quit Smoking

December 26, 2008

Exactly one year ago today I made the choice to quit smoking.

I started smoking when I was 17 years old. My best friend in High School looked 18 and she was able to buy cigarettes for us. This was right before they made it mandatory for store owners to card people that looked under 30. My very first cigarette was a Camel Light and we would smoke only a couple of cigarettes a day. Mostly when we hung out after school. We always blamed the other when our parents would ask why we smelled like smoke.

Three years ago when I bought a new car I made the decision not to smoke in it. Doing this was the start of my road to quitting. I soon noticed that I was smoking less because I would normally have two or three cigarettes when I was driving to and from work. In addition to not smoking in my car I was not allowed to smoke in my house because my landlord's would not allow it. I respected their wishes. After all, who wants their house to stink like nasty cigarette smoke? So, through the rain, the wind, and the cold I would stand outside in my backyard puffing away. After two years I was down to less than a half a pack a day.

As I thought more and more about quitting I became more and more scared. What would I do at work? I had a schedule to keep. My breaks were like clock work. At 10 o'clock I was out there with the morning crowd. At lunch I would smoke one or two and again at 3 o'clock I was back outside smoking away with the crowd. I knew I could break the habit, but I didn't know if I was ready for it.

Quietly, on the day after Christmas last year, I smoked my last cigarette at noon, put my trusty lighter away, and bought Nicorette. I carefully read the instructions and popped the first piece in my mouth. It was peppery just like it said, but satisfying at the same time. Every couple of hours I would chew a new piece cravings or not.

All my fears washed away after a week of chewing the gum. I hardly had any desire to smoke and actually was enjoying the fact that my clothes smelled like laundry detergent. I found new ways at work to take my breaks and after a month of chewing the gum I gave that up too. Nicotine had me in its hold for 11 years, but now I can proudly say that I am smoke-free and I will never take another puff.

Are you a smoker? Is it time for you to quit?


Wishing you and your family a wonderful and magical holiday!

A Letter To Santa

December 22, 2008

Dear Santa,

I know it has been eons since I've written you, but I felt compelled this year. I have been good, so I am confident that I am on your 'good list.' With that said I have a couple of Christmas wishes.

This year for Christmas I would love a Nintendo Wii. You might think that I am too old for such a gift, but let me tell you that the Wii is the BEST thing that Nintendo invented. I have to admit when I first saw it I wasn't impressed, but ever since I played it at a friend's house I am in love. Tennis is great, and even though I don't bowl in real life I love Wii Bowling. I would also like a digital camera. I think I am one of the last humans on this great earth that does not have one. Any make or model will do. I'm not picky. My cell phone just isn't cutting it anymore.

Thank you Santa for reading my letter. I hope that you will be able to deliver these gifts to me on Christmas Eve. My house doesn't have a chimney so you will have to use your magic and go through my sliding glass window.

Oh, and one last thing. Please make sure that my family gets their Christmas wishes granted too. If nothing else, that's what I would like most this year.

CJ Harley

Christmas for me as a kid

December 19, 2008

I grew up as an only child. My parents divorced when I was young and I was raised by my father. I don't recall sharing Christmas with my mother, father, and half-sister but I know we did because I have seen the pictures in our album. I was wearing a Santa hat in all of them and you can tell they were taken at night because the Christmas tree was lit ,casting a rainbow colored glow throughout the photos.

My dad and I lived in apartments most of the time, but when I was six or seven we rented a house on a busy corner. I remember sitting in front of the Christmas tree one year with my dad and asking him how Santa got into homes or apartments that had no chimneys because every kid knew that's how Santa got in to leave the presents. He looked at me and said that Santa could get in through the windows. That his magic let him walk right through them.

He and I would put out cookies and milk for Santa. Sometimes even carrots or sugar cubes for the reindeer. I chuckle now, as an adult, knowing that it was my dad who took the sip from the glass of milk the night before. And it was he who ate the cookies and removed the carrots and sugar cubes. Wasn't it so exciting to see that Santa had actually drank your milk? The milk you left for him?

I loved Christmas as a kid. All the anticipation leading up to that one special morning when you wake up and see what Santa left you under the tree. My dad and I always opened one or two presents the night before. Then he would send me off to bed and of course I wouldn't sleep. How could I? In the morning there would be the unwrapped presents that Santa brought in the middle of the night sparkling under the Christmas tree.

I think my favorite Christmas present I got when I was growing up was a bicycle. It was my first bike that had hand brakes and I loved it. My dad and I, we did pretty good during the Christmas season for two people who just had each other. And I think that was the best gift every year...each other.

A Few Changes and "Would You Rather?"

December 17, 2008

Yesterday I spent some time updating and adding new things to my blog. I wanted my blog to have a more polished look and to introduc
e something new.

I added some links under my header: About, Contact Me, Blog Archive, and "Would You Rather?" I think the first three are pretty self-explanatory. I do encourage everyone to email me through my contact link if you have questions about my blog, see something a miss with the layout and/or pages not loading quickly, or if you want to suggest an idea.

Adding "Would You Rather?" to my blog is something that was inspired by a good friend of mine. We were out shopping last week and as we were driving up and down the aisles looking for a parking spot she said, "Wow that lady has short legs." I looked and sure enough she did. "Would you rather have short legs or a long torso?" I asked and the idea to put Would You Rather on my blog was born. "Would You Rather...?" was created by Zobmondo!! and since I get such a kick out of the questions I wanted to share them with my readers.

Every few days I will be changing the question. I invite you to stop by often to see the new "Would You Rather" question and share your decision. Some of the choices will be funny, some will be serious, and some will be bizarre, but they will all be fun.

Abbott & Costello - "Who's On First?"

December 15, 2008

I'm sure that most everyone has heard of the famous comedy team Abbott & Costello, and surely if you have heard of them then you have heard their most famous routine "Who's On First?"

I think I was about ten or maybe even as old as twelve when I first heard "Who's On First." If memory serves me I was sick and laying in bed when my father came in and brought me a tape. It was all white with black letters on it. He said that it was a comedy routine so I put the tape into my little boom box and hit play. For the next five minutes I could not stop laughing. I had forgotten that my head was stuffed up and that my throat was raw from coughing for the past two days. These two guys were geniuses, I thought. I played that tape over and over again until I cried from laughing so hard.

Years later I was on the phone with a friend of mine who wanted me to help her learn a little Spanish. We were just about to end the phone call:

Me: So, how about drinks after work tomorrow? Que Piensas?
Her: Sure sounds good. What was that you said in Spanish?
Me: Que Piensas?
Her: Oh, what does that mean?
Me: What do you think.
Her: I don't know. What does it mean?
Me: What do you think.
Her: If I knew I would tell you. I thought you said you'd help me with some Spanish.
Me: I am.
Her: Well then what does it mean?
Me: What do you think.
Her: I don't know what it means. That's why I am asking you!!

If you haven't figured it out yet Que piensas means What do you think in Spanish. My friend and I had a good laugh after I finally told her that I had been telling her the meaning the whole time. When I think about that conversation we had, I always think it sounded just like an Abbott & Costello routine.

Go on hit play. You'll laugh until you cry even if you have heard it a million times before.

First On Mars

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a website called First On Mars and now I just have to share it with you. The name intrigued me so I had a look. What I found was a vast array of TV shows at my finger tips and readily available for my viewing pleasure. I have always been a fan of being able to watch TV shows from the comfort of my computer, but have never settled on one particular site.

First On Mars is an unique site and that's what keeps me coming back. The layout is very user friendly, like nothing I have ever seen, and the graphics are wonderful. When you first open the web page you get a pop up saying you can add a mood to your favorites. This is a very neat tool. Say one day there is nothing on TV so you head over to First On Mars, but you don't really have a show in mind. You can pick a 'mood' and let First On Mars show you a list of related shows. I selected 'Futuristic' and got shows like Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and Heroes to name a few. I also went through the extensive library and picked out some favorites so I can find them easier.

A lot of the classics are on showcased here too. For example you can find Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Bewitched, and Fantasy Island. I absolutely love that anyone can watch these old shows that are not even being aired as reruns.

Ever since finding First On Mars I have been watching past seasons of Lost and have been utterly immersed in this spectacular series. Almost every night I find myself glued to my laptop until the wee hours of the morning telling myself that I will only watch one more episode and then go to bed. Ha! Five episodes later I am still watching it. I only have until January 21st to make it through 4 seasons before the new one airs on prime time. Think I can do it?

My crazy cat

All you writers out there had to know that I have a cat. I think it is a prerequisite; writer = cat. So, yes I have a cat. She is eleven years old but still acts like she's a two year old kitten. One of her favorite things to do is run up the stairs like a maniac, meow incessantly at the top of the stairs, and then tear down the stairs ending up where ever I happen to be.

Most of the day she spends sleeping in my closet When she's not sleeping you can find her in my lap so that it is impossible for me to use my laptop. She loves to lay across my right arm, rendering it immobile. When I nudge her to move she gets all huffy with me and tears off down the hallway.

The fun begins when it's time for me to turn off the TV, shut down my laptop, and head off to bed. Simple enough, right? Sure. No problem. I get my water and start my ascent to my bedroom. Typically, my cat is sleeping on the couch when I head to bed because she is waiting. Waiting for that perfect moment. The cat owners out there know the moment of which I speak. It's the moment when you have the blankets perfect, you're snug as a bug in a rug underneath them, and you have just begun to doze off into dreamland when "Meooooowwww. Meeeooowww." My cat is at the top of the stairs staring at me and crying. Why? I have no idea. All I know is it is the most annoying thing ever. This goes on for five minutes. In the meantime I am trying to get her to come to bed. Calling her name, using the sound I make to get her to come to me, but nothing works. She just sits there and cries at me. Finally, she runs and makes an acrobatic leap onto the bed. But the fun doesn't stop there.

Now we have entered what I like to call 'The Patrolling of the Bed.' I'm awake now and flipping through the channels trying to find something decent to watch at eleven o'clock at night while my cat steps on me, purposefully blocking my view, and doesn't move an inch. I gently nudge her off and she walks up the side of me, onto my pillow causing my head to dip, and back down the other side of me. Then she steps on me again and thus creating the vicious cycle of her patrolling. This goes on for a few patrols before she decides to sleep at my side. Then the licking begins. She licks my neck, my cheek, anything she can reach. Her rough tongue hurts but after eleven years I am used to it. She will lick for a good five minutes before I tell her to stop, I swear I should buy her a salt lick, and then I can get some rest.

So, while I go to bed around 10:30 the truth is I don't get to sleep until a quarter after eleven because of my crazy cat.

A Frazzled Fraze - Worth One's Salt

I'm not sure about you but I have heard this phrase many times through out my lifetime and I have to admit the very first time I heard it as a kid I had no clue as to what it meant. Me being the observant and quiet person I kept my mouth shut and decided to figure it out later. When I was a kid the Internet was not as readily available as it is today, so I couldn't just go home and look it up on Google. It was probably not until I heard it a few times in the movies or heard a friend or two say it that I finally caught the meaning. Ah ha! To be worth one's pay or to be effective, but where does the salt come in?

Apparently salt was a pretty big deal before refrigerators were invented because it was used to help preserve food. In addition to preserving food, salt was also an important commodity. In the Roman days salt was used as an item of trade and for its health benefits. Back then soldiers were given salarium which was an allowance for purchasing salt. The sal in salarium means pay in Latin and over time the word was shorted to salary. So because the words salarium and salt went hand in hand, the word salt became associated with pay or worth.

Aren't you glad I cleared that up for you? Don't you feel more knowledgeable?

Good. Now get out there and prove your worth in salt to the world!

How many different ways have you eaten turkey since Thanksgiving?

It's been nearly a week since you put 'ol Tom Turkey into the oven and baked him to a fine shade of golden brown. Chances are you bought a turkey big enough to feed the family and to have enough for leftovers. I know I did.

So there you are the day after Thanksgiving standing in front of the open fridge at around noon wondering what to have for lunch. Tom is staring at you from under the foil blanket he has on and you think to yourself,
A turkey sandwich sounds good with some cranberry sauce on it. You pull out Tom cut off a few slices of white meat and throw in a little dark meat for flavor. Not bad. Not bad at all, you think.

Four hours later you find yourself standing in front of the fridge again and good 'ol Tom is staring back at you from beneath his foil blanket. You look and see that you still have enough of the fixings to have another Thanksgiving dinner.
Why not? you say. I'm not tired of turkey, yet.

As the days go on it seems as though every time you open that fridge Tom is looking at you from under his foil blanket, and he doesn't seem to be getting any smaller. By now you have eaten your fair share of turkey sandwiches at work and had enough turkey dinners at home. You have even made turkey tacos because you were getting tired of the old standbys and one morning you threw it into your omelet just because. Then one night after putting Tom back into the fridge it dawns on you. Soup! You smack yourself on the forehead with the palm of your hand and say
Why didn't I think of this fifteen sandwiches ago? As it turns out good 'ol Tom Turkey made an excellent soup and now every time you open the fridge you see that humongous pot of turkey soup staring at you, but that's another post.

How many ways did you eat your leftover turkey? Or are you still eating it?

NaNo Update - The Win!

On Saturday the 29th at 10:30 in the morning I crossed the proverbial finish line and claimed my first National Novel Writing Month victory!

The last 2500 words were the hardest to write. I reached 47,500 on Wednesday with the plan to take Thanksgiving completely off and resume NaNo on Friday to claim my win. It must have been the tryptophan still lingering in my system because I struggled to put down the 300 words or so I wrote that day. The last part of my novel is very intense and after a day off with family I had a hard time getting back my mojo. Thankfully I found it on Saturday and got out the last few words of my novel. In hind sight it might have been better for me to go for the win when I was in the middle of my intense scene.

I was amazed at how I was able to keep my inner editor at bay for so long. I hardly heard a peep from her the entire time. There were a few moments when I wondered if I had lost her completely, but then she would come back after a writing session and tell me what I just wrote was not my best work and we would have to surely revisit that piece in a month or so. My greatest fear when I started NaNo was not being able to turn her off or tell her to go on hiatus for 30 days, but I have surprisingly proved myself wrong.

I have learned in doing NaNo that I can write up to 4500 words in one day if I put my mind to it. I have learned that when writing the rough draft of your novel everything does not have to be perfect. That is what editing is for. I've learned that the power of the NaNo community is a huge driving force in keeping participants focused on that finish line and having upwards of 100,000 people doing the same thing at the same time can be very inspiring. And most importantly, I have learned that I can start and finish a novel. That treasure I will take within me and run towards my destiny.

I want to thank each and every person who stopped by my blog during the month of November and cheered me on whether by leaving a comment or just by reading my posts. You all have played a part in me being able to complete this challenge. I also want to thank my family and friends who stood behind me and told me I could do it.

I will most definitely be participating next year for another round of NaNoWriMo!