Mr. Durov, Please Take a Bow

February 11, 2018The 'Julius' Chronicles

A few months ago, I introduced a new character to Julius. He appears in the beginning of Part One, but the reader doesn’t know much about him, his motivation, or his relationship to Corinne. After much debate, I decided to give Yevgeny Durov his own point-of-view. He no longer is a minor secondary character, but a major player—one who has an important job within the story.

I suppose I can give it all away here, but I won’t. My accountability partner has the privilege to get acquainted with Genya, but you can obviously guess, considering the theme of the story (for those who have been following the saga) that my new character is Russian.

Corinne has become quite fond of “The Russian” as she refers to him. And I admit that I don’t blame her one bit. He’s charming, attractive, and she’s comfortable with him as if she’s known him for years. Okay, that’s all I’m saying.

Why introduce a new character and give his own POV in the second part of the book? Simply because it works in the narrative. I know the followers of craft rules will tell me that I am adding too many characters and that too many point-of-views will get confusing, but I’ve come to realize the deeper I get into this story that I need all these different voices. They are the many layers of a complex tale I’m attempting to write. By complicating the story, I think it’s becoming more interested. AAnd because I am the main reader, I want to know what’s next.

On that note, it’s time to see what Corinne’s Russian has up his sleeve and how he’ll be complicating everyone involved in Julius.


December 26, 2017Goals

Do you watch soccer? I don’t, but I remember when I lived Prague in 1994 there would be soccer matches on TV at some of the bars I used to frequent and I’d hear “Goal!” when the home team scored. This isn’t about soccer, but about my goals for 2018 and two new tools I discovered to help me achieve them.

Over the years, I’ve written about my love of planners. I buy them with the very best of intentions only to abandon them a few months down the road. Why? I wish I knew the answer. Could it be because I don’t like that much structure? Or is it possibly I don’t know how to properly create goals (either too broad or too ambitious?) or perhaps I haven’t found the right planner that suits both my aesthetic and practical needs?

Looking back at last year, I bought the Planner Pad, which is more task and appointment oriented and three other planners for well-being, fitness and nutrition, and business (yes, I went overboard) to set goals and actions. By April it all petered out. In part because I became consumed with anxiety concerning my health, and the ownership status of the Land Rover.

Now that I know I won’t die and that the Land Rover is no longer a concern, I can once again focus on setting and achieving goals. Am I buying more planners? No. Two of the planners didn’t get much use and because they’re undated I can still use them for 2018. My Planner Pad still has about six months left that can be used for this new year.

I’ve noticed when I actually jot down my tasks and appointments—as opposed to keeping them all in my head—I am productive and efficient. I like to list what needs to be done and to see each task crossed out after I complete it. This year, apart from the unused portion of the planners, I want to see how productive I can be by two using digital tools: OmniFocus and Goalscape.

In the next few weeks, I’ll offer tutorials on how to use both applications plus share my progress with my own goals. In the meantime, my big goal for the remaining five days of 2017 is to not sweat the small stuff. See you in 2018!

Fearing Fear Itself

December 20, 2017Life

This month, I faced two fears: the dreaded mammogram and potentially not having a car for the winter.

Truthfully, the mammogram itself didn’t scare me. I figured it would be an uncomfortable ten minutes and then I’d be done. What concerned me was the likelihood of getting a questionable reading that would later entail an ultrasound and biopsy, resulting in a scary diagnosis.

Although I am low-risk with no breast cancer in my family, I waited too long to have my first mammogram. Why? Inertia, fear, and no insurance (Pre-ACA). The more time I allowed to pass and kept putting off the mammo, the more fearful I became about the possibility of breast cancer.

With the urging of friends, family, and my GP, I made the appointment. All was good until I felt a soft, pea-sized lump in my right breast a week prior to the exam. I spent those seven days constantly reexamining myself. Sometimes I felt it and panicked. Other times it disappeared and I relaxed.

But something changed. This time, I didn’t want to put off the exam. I didn’t want to wait a week. I wanted to know now if I had a tumor and take care of it immediately. I didn’t care if that meant a lumpectomy, cutting off my entire breast, radiation, or chemo. I’d take anything that would get rid of the cells that could potentially kill me.

As it turns out I’m fine. What I felt was most likely a calcified milk node. My next mammogram is this time next year, and I don’t plan to put it off or fear it.

Unlike my breasts, the fear of not having a car this winter was forcing me to keep the Land Rover. Since August, I’ve been trying to set aside some money to make two major repairs, but extra cash came in spurts. I had a recent infusion of money and I thought that next month I would shell out $1,200 to get a U-joint and calipers. After those repairs, I’d have a vehicle that would be issue free. Ha! How I deluded myself.

The latest mechanical problem was a sticking clutch pedal. I called my mechanic and told him about this latest inconvenience. His response, “That’s gonna cost ya some big money. You really should get rid of it. You’ll keep on having problems with it all the time.” And that convinced me. I was done with Greg’s “Man Rover.” It had turned itself into a cancer and I wanted to be free of it. I found an auto salvage dealer to buy it and who will sell the parts. I didn’t get much, but I wanted that piece of costly junk to be gone. So now it’s back to hoofing it until I replace it with a newish vehicle.

No breast cancer and no more Frankensteined Land Rover. How do I feel? Relieved. I hated that car. When it ran well, I semi-convinced myself that I liked it, but I’ve come to the realization that like its former owner, it was manipulating me. “I’m paid for. You can use me to cart groceries around or take the dogs to the park. Think how handy I am when it’s raining or cold. For Pete’s sake, you’ll never own another Land Rover ever again!” Yeah, but you’ve cost more to repair than what was originally paid. Sorry, but I’m not paying for a new clutch. I don’t care about your so-called luxury status or name. Ta-ta.

So I end the year on a pretty good note. No more expensive vehicle to upkeep and repair, but also no more negative ju-ju that was attached to it. As for my breasts, I keep thinking back to that Seinfeld episode with Teri Hathcher: “They’re real and they’re fabulous.” But I’ll add this: “And healthy.”

Happy Holidays!