Word count: 50,385. Goal: 50,000
WOO HOO! I DID IT! I submitted my novel at 8:30pm and met my word count deadline! Time to celebrate with a lovely seasonal coffee from Starbucks. I’ll write a full update soon, but YAY FOR ME!
‘Tis the season, ya’ll. In lieu of physical gifts, I’ve opted to make donations in the name of people close to me. There are tons of charities out there but if you don’t know where to start, let me recommend Passports with a Purpose.
According to their website, “Passports With Purpose was founded in 2008 by Debbie Dubrow, Pam Mandel, Beth Whitman and Michelle Duffy as a way to build community among travel bloggers and to give back to the places we, as travelers, visit…Each year the Passports With Purpose founders select a charity based on several criteria along with our sense of what would inspire us and the Travel Bloggers community.”
This year, Passports with a Purpose is donating the collected funds to Water.org. This organization works to provide clean sources of water around the world. Super sponsors of this project include Expeida, Tripit, TBEX; a full list is found here. This year, Passports for a Purpose hopes to raise at least $100,000 that will go towards building wells in Haiti. Today is the first day to donate and they’ve already reached at least $5,000.00.
So how can you help out? By making a donation to win some awesome prizes! It’s sort of “Silent Auction” style, but better. By donating in increments of $10, your name enters into a raffle drawing for that prize. You don’t have to worry about out-bidding someone, everyone who donates has a shot of being chosen.
Look at the prizes. All have been donated by various travel bloggers; the list can be found here (go ahead and follow your faves!). Even if you don’t win a prize, you have donated to a wonderful, unique cause and can reap the benefits of feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
But act fast! The last day to donate is December 11, 2013.
What’s your take on Passports with a Purpose? What prizes did you make a donation for? Will your travel blog donate a prize next year?
Travel is awesome! Duh. Let’s talk about how awesome it is to travel and the awesome things travelers do!
Awesome is defined as such:
This is a story about my favorite sandwich. You can find the best kind in any box in the United Kingdom.
I stand in front of the open cooler, ankles pursed together, hands in the pockets of my red woolen coat. The boxes ware stacked so perfectly. I can’t help but wonder, did the staff receive tutorials on product placement during training?
It must be, that if something so mundane as a sandwich is displayed in such a smooth, geometric fashion, it makes it more appealing to consumers and therefore, I contemplate, the odds of a purchase are greater.
There are more varieties of sandwiches than I have ever seen before. Some elements, I am familiar with – sandwiches with ham, sandwiches with turkey, sandwiches with mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce and tomato. Except there were no predictable “baloney and cheese” varieties like those found in American sandwich shops. These have creative twists to them – pairings of different tastes which I’ve never dreamed could be possible.
“Parmesan and celery,” I think aloud, examining the pink box. “I wonder how that is?”
The less expensive options are the vegetarian sandwiches. These typically consist of a dairy and a vegetable. The more meat, the more exotic the combination, the more expensive the price tends to be.
“Prawn St. Marie,” I hold up a light blue box to my face. Between two slices of chocolate brown wheat bread is a mess of peachy-pink goo. White mounds protrude through every now and again. “That’s a fancy way to say ‘shrimp salad’ I suppose.”
I look at sandwiches with smoked salmon and cucumbers. “Too raw,” I think. I find one with avocado, spinach and pine nuts. “Too messy,” I reason. I pick up a brown colored box stacked high on the top shelf.
“Cheese and onion?” I grimace. Gingerly, I place it back on the shelf.
“I suppose I’m going to have to be boring and predictable,” I whisper tomyself as I reach into a middle grating for a light yellow box.
“Egg Mayonnaise and Watercress,” I smile softly. “Perfect.”
In a public square outside of Marks and Spencer, I find a quiet bench and sit down to eat. The sandwich is the perfect consistency – more egg than mayonnaise, as opposed to the artery-clogging alternative I am used to in the States. The watercress, not normally found on the US version of an egg salad sandwiches, provides a clean crispness to the meal. The wheat bread has traces of walnut baked into the dough, and is outlined with grains. This is no ordinary sandwich. Who knew something so simple could be such a culinary masterpiece?
I contemplate licking my finger and picking up the crumbs left at the bottom of the triangular box. Enough is enough, I agree. Tomorrow, I can get a whole new sandwich. This one was absolutely perfect, just the way it was.
Word count as of today: 41,006 (out of 50,000)
I’ve fallen behind on my NaNoWriMo schedule. The past few days were filled with several events that kept me away from computers for a majority of the day and I wasn’t able to meet my goal of 5 pages per night. I have a lot of catching up to do. I’ve also been engrossed in several projects, professionally and academically, which of course have to take precedence. I know it’s cliche, but there really aren’t enough hours in a day to do all of the things I need to do!
I’m satisfied with the work I’ve produced thus far however. Every day something new happens that I can add to my story and make it authentic. What I’m hoping arises from this project is how amazing people really are. The amount of resilience, kindness and power people have offered during this tragic time is truly astounding. It’s been almost five weeks since the storm hit but for many, their lives are starting to get back to normal thanks to help from others. People just want to help, and I, along with those in more need, are eternally grateful for this. It has really restored within me a sense of hope and acknowledgement that yes, there are assholes out there but when the time calls for it, people really band together and make good.
So I have to be more diligent about my work and try to cram in a page or two whenever I get a free moment. I’d really like to make a significant dent in this project just to prove to myself that I am capable of writing something cool within a short amount of time. Whether or not this goes on to be published, I don’t know, but at least I’ll be able to say to myself “You did it! Congratulations!” and maybe buy myself a drink.
Have you had any trouble with your NaNoWriMo process? What have you done to remedy the situation?
As travelers, it’s easy for us to forget that not every country celebrates Thanksgiving. It’s even easier for us to forget that not all countries sell frozen turkeys. Recently, I wrote an article for Matador Network on my improvised Thanksgiving meal that occurred in Slovakia in 2008. That was probably the best Thanksgiving I ever had and it was a really special memory. Check it out!
Figure out a menu that will show your new Slovak friends how Thanksgiving is your most favorite holiday in the world. Feel slightly intimidated that many Slovaks make their meals from scratch, so obviously instant mashed potatoes will not do (not that they really exist in Slovakia…). The trepidation wears off as you recall that part of Thanksgiving’s charm is having an excuse to eat everything in sight.
I am grateful for Thom.
I am grateful that I get to date my best friend. I am grateful that he said he loved me first and that he meant it. I am grateful to be in a relationship with a man who has a sense of adventure and will travel around the world with me, who wants to see the world through a camera lens and let go of his inhibitions by my side. I am grateful that we went snorkeling in Grand Turk Island together, and I am grateful for our romantic getaway last year in Puerto Vallarta, swimming with sea lions, sunset sailing, and ziplining at 109 feet over at desert. I am grateful that he loves me no matter how angry I get, no matter how many times I curse out loud, no matter how much I sob into his shoulder or fall asleep at family functions. I am grateful that he and I can still be strong after everything that has happened to our home recently, and I am grateful that he makes me laugh so much. I am grateful to have found someone I actually wouldn’t mind spend the rest of my life with (that’s a big deal for a vagabond like me).
It feels good, to be grateful.
As an emerging writer, I am not yet used to receiving responses to articles I’ve published on the web or in print. I’m usually elated if I get one or two, and especially cheery if they say something positive like “Good job!” Who wouldn’t be? But then, there are the critics. Critics, it seems try to bring you down for only reasons they understand.
The clink of the silver tray on the table top announces the arrival of our libations. A young waitress places in front of me a beautifully curved carafe accompanied by a slender mixing spoon. On the side of the plate is coconut treat wrapped in cellophane. The carafe holds a misty mixture of water, slices of lemon, and several pieces of freshly cut ginger.
Horký zázvor s medem a citrone. Hot ginger water with honey and lemon. If Coca-Cola is the “nectar of the Gods,” this drink is clearly meant for Goddesses.
I never do listen to the literature lectures that are held every Monday in the back room of Krásný Ztráty. And I never really read the assigned literature the lectures are based upon. I try, believe me – I got through a good amount of the stuff, and enjoyed all the stories except Kafka’s Amerika. I may have finished To Loud a Solitude but Havel’s The Garden Party was left pages unturned, Bringing Up Girls in Bohemia lost its fire and City Sister Silver remains one of my favorite books, even though I never got to finish it. It’s unfortunate, because the book is nearly impossible to find state-side.
The honorable Tomáš Vrba, acclaimed NYU and Charles University professor, hocks and grunts his way through lectures to the point that I can’t concentrate on the brilliance of his words for fear the man will drop dead at any moment. I bullshit through my reactions to the stories I failed to finish or and create auspicious, post-modern theories about. Mostly I show up because Sarah buys us cafe drinks. I should stick with the cappuccinos – they would save me a lot of drowsy head-bobbing – but the hot ginger with lemon and honey is too good to pass up.
I sip on the stuff and recline in my chair as I tune out the literary discourse and focus on the drug abusers directly outside the cafe’s window. Vrba informs us that a rehabilitation center is located in the alley but it seems to have the opposite effect on visiting addicts – I watch them blatantly shooting up heroin, pissing in public, and every so often, if I was lucky, I catch two of them walking behind a bush and emerging soon after, wiping their mouths.
Smiles, and sex it seems, are the most universal of languages.
It is like watching a human aquarium. As bad as that sounds, it really is an experience. Only the glass separates my world and theirs. Often I wonder if they have half-read the same stories as I at any point in their lives.
The hot ginger with lemon and honey is such a comfort on chilly Czech mornings. If sense-memory holds any water, a glass of that today would take me directly back to that time when the nine of us sat in a horse-shoe and attempted to sound intelligent. Only Tom and Claire really did. But that’s okay.
It was the first time in my life where I wasn’t the smartest person I knew.