It is the last night in my apartment. I’ve been in a sleeping bag for two nights now, which I should get used to: I leave for the Appalachian Trail in 11 days. It’s always a bit odd for me to leave a place. I always have to say “goodbye” to the space I’ve called my own for months on end – right before the moving truck pulls out, or my parents’ car, or the boyfriend with the UHaul. I take a few moments just for me, thank the space for hosting me so well, and shut the door.

This time, I’m shutting the door on something much more major. My life is about to change in a very real way, and in ways I can’t even imagine yet. I’m going “off the grid” – or, as off the grid as one can be in our age of cell phones and iPads and data plans. According to my insurance, it would be easier for me to go abroad than to stay in the country while I hike. I can’t get any prescriptions in advance – no way no how – though I explained to them at least three times I would  be without access to a pharmacy for 6 months. Someone had even told me they could do 3 months, but never entered it into the system. I pleaded, the pharmacist pleaded: no exceptions. This makes things a bit more interesting.

Today was my last day in the office, too. I take a leave of absence for the next 7 months. It was very weird. I made my goodbye rounds after a lunch out. It reminded me a little bit of leaving camp: I know I’ll be back, but I work with some really great people, and I’ll miss them. There was not much left to say, really. It’s been said, variously, at different times and places.

“Good luck, have fun, be safe.”

“Yes, I will.”

On to my big adventure.

With that comes the leave of absence from this blog, too. I’m already trying to keep up with 2 other Appalachian Trail (AT)-related blogs. And besides, all of life’s tomatoes for the next several months will hit me while I’m on the Trail.

My main blog while I’m hiking is here.

I’m also contributing to Appalachian Trials.

Au revoir. I leave you with this quote:

It starts as an uneasy sleep, a deep restlessness. That’s how it began for me. Perhaps for you, too.

Underneath the slick, secure, same surfaces of daily life, “things” begin to stir. Soft whispers are heard, faintly, in the heart; a restlessness moves in the solar plexus. These stirrings, easy to ignore at first, remain as tenderly persistent as a plant pushing through asphalt. The restlessness seems like the enemy within, threatening to blow up the status quo.

And, of course, it will. That’s the news I want to convey.

But it is no enemy. It is, in fact, the very best friend you have.

– The Ordinary Adventurer, by Jan Leitschuh.

I am petrified of the dentist.

Yes, I’m in my mid-twenties, yes, I’m planning to go hike alone in the woods for six months, yes, I rode horses and sang in public and fell down the stairs when I was little and kicked them instead of crying.

But one of my biggest fears is the dentist. Which is a little odd, because I am the most self-conscious about my teeth and smile. The dentist ought to be my best friend. If only my teeth were better, and healthier. But despite my teeth being my biggest area of body image concern, I don’t take very good care of them.

Actually, last week was the first time I even used my own dental insurance, which I’ve had for three years now. So it had been longer than that since my last visit. I’m not good at sticking with habits. I go through phases of flossing every day with care, and just as suddenly, I stop. I crawl into bed and don’t get out to brush some nights. So forget about flossing.

So one day, with a lot of support from my boyfriend and a stroke of courage, I went into the dentist office I’d walked by several times on my way to work. I stood waiting for the couple in front of me to finish, wishing for a paper bag to breathe into. I told you, I am petrified to point of unreasonableness. I forced myself to be this “adult” word I hear so much about, and stayed. With wringing hands, I walked to the counter.

“Hi,” I coughed out. “I need to make an appointment.”

“Okay, have you been here before?”

“No, I…I…I haven’t been to a dentist in a very long time. I’m terrified. But I need to fix my teeth.”

Actually, this all made me so nervous that this post is likely the first my parents are hearing about it at all, and I am very close with my parents.

My first appointment actually went really well. I like my new dentist a lot. Bedside manner was great, and he actually recognized me from the building I used to live in (apparently he lived there too, still does). I told him I was nervous, he told me not to be. He talked about things besides my teeth, then eased into my issues. He does this – he talks about small details, then your teeth, then back to not-teeth. He and his tech are a great team. He cleaned my teeth himself that time, and it barely hurt (I am used to bleeding, terrible pain and techs on seemingly bad days – oops, got your gum). Except for those wing things for the X-rays. I have never done well with those. They had to go down a size, since I couldn’t close my mouth down on the first ones.

This week consisted of not one but two appointments to fill cavities. I had a lot. I had more than even I expected. So Monday, they numbed the right side of my face and drilled away for a good long while. Today, they numbed the left side of my face and drilled away for a bit longer. Pretty much my jaw has been in some form of pain all week. My right side is still sensitive, so I bought Sensodyne and yogurt tonight.

This post was going to be better. Something about thanking dentists. How bedside manner can make such a difference. How at ease I was compared to what I recall. Blessings on anyone who actually wants to be a dentist. I suppose I should have written it last week, as this week has been an utter week from hell. I think it’s been like that for a lot of people. Pre-holiday stresses? Travel? Work? You name it.

I get to see family in less than 24 hours. And my boyfriend. I won’t have as much time off as I’d hoped (and am at a pretty low point mentally for that), but I will get to see them. And that’s all I’ve got to hold on to now. Let shit-hell-week be over.

Anyway. Face your fears. Go to the dentist. Don’t ever, ever put it off for this long if you can afford the visits. It will be worse for you the longer you’re in denial. Trust me. I know.

I did it! I just won National Novel Writing Month – 50,000 words in…wait for it…only 29 days!

Excuse me while I go dance on air.

Numbers are in and validated at:

winner 2013


Thanks to everyone who helped me get there!!!

It’s Day 18, and I won’t be writing tonight. I am ahead! And exhausted. But look, see!

Night of Writing Dangerously

This weekend, I attended an all-night affair we lovingly call “Night of Writing Dangerously” – an event which is always put on in San Francisco, OLL HQ. A group decided to make our own here in northern Virginia, and at the last minute, secured a free space where we could spend the night. I coordinated to get a ride to the library that was hosting us, and arrived around 1pm. We scattered around the library until 4, when we got one of the meeting rooms. At 5, the library closed and the madness began. People brought lots of food to share, a coffee machine, sleeping bags and blankets, copious amount of caffeine, and lots of energy. At peak, we had about 30 people there! Everyone cheered when someone yelled out a milestone:

25,000!!! WOOO

60,000!!! WOOO

They finally kissed!!! WOOO

The giggles came and went several times. We had periods of loud talking and laughter and jokes, and then suddenly all would go quiet as people refocused on their novels and characters. I was there 21 hours, and slept just an hour and a half, at the very end, the next morning. The library bought us pizza! And juice and donuts for the morning. Seriously, they rocked it. They were the greatest hosts, which is saying something: have you ever been in the same room as 30 frantic novelists?

My Novel Updates

As for me, I trudged through and managed to write 10,000 words! So now I’m up to 35,000, which means I have just 15,000 left. So weird. I don’t think 50,000 will be the end of my novel, which is strange and exciting. My last novel I wrote ended pretty close to 50,000, and so I’m excited that this one is so sustaining. I’m also excited because I can feel myself growing as a fiction writer. My characters have stepped out of the pages and faced me head on (one even left). When they discover a will of their own, when they make decisions you didn’t make for them? It’s an incredible feeling (and also wildly disconcerting). Two major things happened with my characters and their wills. One, my villain, put up a fight to my wicked plans for him, and there were hours when I thought he wouldn’t do what I wanted him to. That he wouldn’t become the villain I’d planned him to be. I mean, villains never think of themselves as villains, right? As I increased his rage, he started yelling – but at me. And all of a sudden I thought: he’s not going to do it. It was weird, to get that sense. I have a plan to wrangle him into at least keeping part of my plot – the one I spent days outlining, including several concerning him. Hours went by, and I pushed this problem out. Then, I flipped back to my “present-day” setting and wrote a chapter – and at the end of it, one of my characters told me he was not coming back from the trip I sent him on. He was gone. And he didn’t even have the decency to tell me beforehand! And he’s generally a good guy. It was shocking, really, to realize that. From afar – and I do mean afar – he waved and said “bye.” Come on!

Oh the thrills and woes of writing. I am having so much fun!

What is going on in my life???

The basis for this blog name is me NOT liking tomatoes. I’ve now tried caprese salad – twice! – and enjoyed it. The first one I devoured. All of it. The second, tonight, was giant but I left quite a dent.


Blog crisis! Life crisis revelation! Ahhhhh!!