Vegetarian Writer & NaNoWriMo

I wanted to let my blog readers know that I am now a writer for Examiner.com! My area title is Orlando Vegetarian Food Examiner. This is a great opportunity that I cannot wait to really take advantage of. The amount of articles for the remainder of this month will be low due to NaNoWriMo, but I hope to write at least an article a week once the novel writing is done. Please click on the link and bookmark my page. I really appreciate everyone checking it out and passing the links on to anyone who might also have an interest.
http://www.examiner.com/x-30279-Orlando-Vegetarian-Food-Examiner

Quick update on NaNoWriMo…. I crossed the 30k word count mark late last week and am very happy to be a little more than halfway to 50k. Some writing days are harder than others for me, as I have had days where my characters and story really speak to me and I can write and write and write. Other days have proven to be more of a challenge, as though the characters are telling me to leave them alone and go away. đŸ™‚
Anyway, I am further into Nano than I have ever made it the previous two years I have done the event, so that is already an accomplishment. Next up, hitting the 50k word count goal!

Distracted…

So, here it is 11:30pm on Saturday night and I remain distracted. Distracted and under some sort of odd funk. When I say distracted, I mean mentally just not fully able to concentrate on the one thing I know I must do. That is write my novel. True, I have been busy most of the day, getting errands and what have you done, but the last couple of hours, I could have, should have been writing. Instead, I played the procrastination game as I watched Seinfeld in the background.

Now, I’ve been experiencing this “off” sort of feeling now for two or three days. I’m not sure if it’s my ADHD or simply exhaustion, but I am not getting the things done I had planned to do. This distraction problem seems to extend to the rest of my day as well even when I’m at work. It’s going to attempt to get back on the production track tomorrow. It will be a challenge, but I’m up for it. đŸ™‚

NaNoWriMo Novel in Progress!

So, in the end, I opted to write my Asheville mystery novel for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Thus far, it is going well, I have almost 8,000 words written as of this blog post.

To give a bit of info on the story, it is set in Asheville, North Carolina in the 1930s. It is based upon a true murder that occurred in the Battery Park Hotel in 1936. I have done a great amount of research on not only the murder itself, but on the Battery Park Hotel. So, there will be tidbits of facts sprinkled throughout the book.

Car trouble, waiting and the Veg Fest

I awoke on Saturday morning excited to begin the day. The Central Florida Veg Fest was taking place and since I am a new vegetarian, this was something I was really looking forward to. The event would have food from all of the local vegetarian-friendly restaurants, animal activists, environmentalists, veg speakers, and more.

So, I left the house a little later than I had originally planned, but since the event was going on all day, the time I arrived that morning wasn’t really of consequence. Everything was going well, that is until I got on the interstate. My car then began to make an awful clicking noise on the right side. I knew that this noise must have something to do with the problem my car experienced on Thursday evening, the problem my brother had thought was solved. This noise made it obvious that the problem had only hidden itself the day before and was making a reappearance. I pulled off at the first off-ramp that I could and hit the button to call On*Star. It looked like my Saturn would be going into the dealership to be looked at after all.

The representative from On*Star and I spoke as I drove carefully down the road trying to find a safe place to pull over and await the tow truck. Spotting a high school, I decided to pull into the parking lot even though I wasn’t so contented with the area I was now in. It wasn’t the safest part of town and all I could hope for was that the tow truck would be able to arrive fairly quickly. Once my parked location was relayed to roadside assistance, I disconnected the call with On*Star and waited for the call that would inform me of the estimated ETA of the tow. A couple of minutes later, my cell phone went off and the automated voice informed me that it would be an hour and a half before I could expect a tow truck to get to my location. An hour and a half. I had already expressed my concern with my current location to the On*Star rep stating that I wasn’t really comfortable waiting there for very long, so hearing that my wait would be that long disturbed me.

Hoping to get the gears turning at the Saturn dealership while I dealt with my extremely long wait, I dialed the phone number to where my car would be heading for service. Upon speaking with the service adviser, she informed me that if I didn’t arrive by noon, there would be no way of getting a loaner rental vehicle. This would render me completely car less. Not good at all. I got out of the car and walked over to the side where I had heard the noise as I spoke with the adviser, and didn’t really see anything obviously wrong (a la a flat). Seeing nothing, I inquired about possible problems and what they could do if I drove the car in an attempt to make it to the dealer rather than await the tow. Of course, they couldn’t advise me that driving the car would be okay, but that if it was the CV joint (which is what my brother thought it was) that if it totally went, it would feel similar to loosing power steering. Having had experienced that loss last year, I felt that I could possibly carefully drive the vehicle.

Carefully, I started the trek toward the Saturn dealership. They were about 25 minutes from where I currently was, so I crossed my fingers that the car would get me there safely without further incident. As I drove, I came to realize that the car was a rough and bumpy ride and attempting to exceed 30 mph was not the best idea, as the car became very noisy and even more bumpy. I became increasingly more scared as I drove down the road, and decided that I could no longer attempt to drive this car any longer. So, I pulled over into a hotel parking lot and parked. I was now about 10 minutes from Saturn, but my fear of breaking down or causing further damage to my car overruled and I was done. Made a call to Saturn and spoke to the adviser informing her of my current address, stating that I was not only too fearful to continue the drive, but that I had to have a rental car to drive, there was no way I could be without wheels. Thankfully, I was in luck seeing as how I was near the airport, she made a call and was able to arrange a rental at the airport car rental company for after noon, since it was already quarter to twelve. I thanked her and then made another call to On*Star to update them about my new whereabouts.

Now, the waiting would begin! Having already experienced a lot of waiting at the e.r. earlier in the week, another period of waiting for something thrilled me. Alas, there wasn’t much I could do, and I told myself that at least I was in a safer location now and had a rental lined up, so things were looking upward. And, that I could still make the Veg Fest since it lasted until 6pm. That would at least bring some fun to the day in the end. I locked up my car and headed into the hotel since I wasn’t going to wait in the heat of the parking lot. Once inside, I told the desk employee that my car was in their lot (they had signs about parking there) and that I was awaiting a tow truck.

Fast-forward to over an hour later and lots of pacing around the hotel lobby and the outside of said hotel, I was still waiting. Finally, a ray of sunshine in the form of a black tow truck! The guy took my information and the car was off to Saturn. And me, well, I was off to the airport to get my loaner car so I could try to enjoy the rest of my day off. It was now over three hours from the time my car began making that clicking noise and I was slowly but surely getting my day back on track.

Upon getting to the airport, I walked down to where the rental car company’s desk was. Guess what I saw? Yup, another line! Waiting and I were serious best pals this week. On top of that, I now had a killer headache. I was sure it was from not only the stress of everything, but from a lack of eating. So, the noise of the airport combined with my throbbing head made the twenty plus minute wait for the rental so much fun. Even after checking in with the desk agent, the journey to get the car wasn’t over, oh no. I then had to take the elevator down one more level and then take two escalators to reach the parking garage where my vehicle would be. As I reached the top of the escalator and turned the corner, I saw cars and rental company employees! And yes, my car was just feet from me. Two minutes later, I was pulling the little Kia out of the airport garage and heading back on the road.

Less than a half hour later, I was at my original destination, the Veg Fest. I told myself to let the stress go and have a good time. And, I did. The event was awesome, I spoke with a lot of nice people about being a vegetarian, animal rights, organics and eventually converting to being a vegan. I also enjoyed some amazing veggie/vegan food. When I first arrived, I approached the Z-Cafe, this is a vegetarian cafe that is located in the Orlando library. From them, I got a very tasty strawberry smoothie. Then later, I was able to try one of Pizza Fusion’s vegan chocolate brownie’s which is heaven in the form of a baked good. To top it all off, I did have some protein in the form of Dandelion Communitea Cafe’s delicious veggie chili with blue corn chips and iced green tea. It was such a fun event and it really made my day go from bad to great.

Hospitals and waiting

Tuesday night post-work, I started to feel incredibly sick and was experiencing horrible pain on my right side. The pain and accompanying nausea, bloating and general “just not feeling well” had me calling my family doctor. The on-call Doc informed me that I should head over to the local e.r. to rule out something acute like appendicitis. So, off I went to the local hospital with my mom in hopes of finding out what was going on.

Once we arrived, I gave my information and the nurse checked my vitals and such, and I was asked about my problem. Then, the waiting began. And, oh how we waited. Thirty minutes turned into an hour, an hour turned into three hours. I didn’t get seen until the next day. It was past midnight by the time my name was called. Now, I realize walking into an e.r. you are going to wait, but three hours seems pretty excessive to me. Not to mention having to wait in uncomfortable chairs and in a freezing waiting room. I felt like a popsicle sitting there watching the Disney Channel (this was the channel the room’s TV was left on). Not a good experience in the least.

You’d think things might improve upon getting brought in to be seen. You’d be wrong. The nurse was friendly, but odd. He had me put on a gown and then complained about how difficult it was going to be to take my blood and put in the IV. Apparently, I now have bad vains. Once he was able to draw my blood and get the IV in, he disappeared into hospital-land, pulling closed the curtain to the “room” I was in.

As I lie there and my mom sat nearby, the both of us very tired, we could hear commotion in the room next door. Apparently, there was a women brought in and Baker Acted. She was cursing at the nurses and staff, telling them about her abusive childhood and life. Part of me felt very bad for her, the woman has some real troubles. She struggled as they tried to get her to give a urine sample. The original nurse with the woman was calm with her, but once a second nurse joined, she wasn’t nearly as friendly or professional. This second nurse was downright rude and disrespectful to the drunk patient. When the Baker Acted woman used some colorful language at this nurse, she verbally fought back at the patient. I’m sorry, but you just don’t do that. Yes, maybe the woman is mean and difficult, but this nurse’s job is to be a caring provider for the patient, not the judgment police. If you can’t handle the patient, walk away and let someone else do it. No call for how this nurse handled herself.

After waiting for what was probably 20 minutes, but felt like another hour, the Doctor finally came in. He asked me some questions and then examined me. My right side was very tender and bothersome to me, so he sent me for an ultrasound. Before I was taken for the test, my nurse returned with some IV solution and an offer of pain meds. Now, I am not one to just take pain meds unless absolutely needed, so I declined them. Pain meds are great when and if you need them, but I believe people take too much of this sort of thing sometimes. Once he started the IV, it began to burn and bother me a great deal. Seeing as how the nurse left my curtained area, my mom went to get him. He didn’t seem the least bit bothered or alarmed by my discomfort. He said, “oh, it’s okay, nothing’s wrong.” Um yeah, because my arm should be burning because of the solution you are giving me. Irregardless, me, the patient was not liking the resulting feeling of this IV and he should have been more responsive to that. Thankfully, the ultrasound tech came at that time to take me for my test and the IV was stopped.

The ultrasound itself was a long process and very uncomfortable for me. What was supposed to have taken thirty minutes took over an hour to complete. Not a fun experience in the least. When I was finally wheeled out of the testing room, my mom was waiting and told me she had to go home as she had to go to work later that day. She went with me to the extended waiting area where I would be able to rest while we awaited my test and blood results and then kissed me goodbye. I really appreciated her being there, always nice to have someone you love nearby when you are sick.

I tried to sleep in this extended waiting room, as I was in a bed thankfully with warm blankets. What ended up happening though, is that I dozed in and out of consciousness all the while listening to the two young nurses (or nursing interns) who were next door chatting about their cell phones, what they were going to do for the weekend and I even heard one playing a video game at some point. Once I did finally completely fall asleep, one of said nurses awakened me for vitals and to tell me I was being discharged. So much for any rest. I was instructed to get dressed, as she was going to take me to the Doctor. I guess he was too busy to come to me.

Anyway once dressed, I was escorted to a little room that was near the e.r. hospitals beds and told I could take a seat, the Doctor would be over in a couple minutes. Yeah, a couple minutes in their time meant a good fifteen or more in real time. I sat there, again freezing my butt off (couldn’t put my jacket on, as I still had the I.V. in my one arm), waiting. It felt like forever since I was of course exhausted. The Doctor appeared, seemingly confused. He looked at me and said, “where’d she go?” Assuming he meant the nurse, I responded that I was just told to sit here and wait. He then scratched his head and peeked back out the door he entered in from and then quickly returned. “Where is Shannon?” I looked at the man puzzled, “uh, that’s me.” The confused look remained on the man’s face. “You’re Shannon?” I looked up at him, seeing as I was huddled in a ball in the chair and nodded. Who did he think I was? He had seen me before, and while I realized he more than likely had seen a number of people that early morning, this was moronic. The Doctor shrugged and mumbled something about seeing a lot of people and that it was busy that night/early morning. He took a seat in front of me and explained that nothing was wrong. They had found nothing wrong with me. Nothing acute anyway. So, I was being sent home with no answers. As quickly as he sat down to tell me the non-information, he was gone. A different nurse then appeared in the room and said she was there to remove my IV and give me my paperwork. She said that I should follow up with my regular doctor.

Now, I realize that the hospital isn’t supposed to work miracles or anything, but I was none too pleased. I had spent three hours waiting, another five hours getting tested and again waiting for them to find no answers for me about my pain. It’s also nice that I paid $100 for all of this nothing. That all said, the moral of my story is that while I am not against hospitals, as they do help people, is that for me, I am going to seriously really think twice or even three times before I go back to the e.r. in the future. Even though I am happy that nothing serious was wrong like appendicitis, I feel that the whole experience was just bad. Next time, I am going to either wait for my regular doctor or go to a walk-in clinic.

NaNoWriMo 2009 is almost here!

National Novel writing month begins on November 1st. The challenge of course is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This will be my third year participating in the event. I have yet to “win” and achieve the 50,000 word goal, but I am hoping to do so this year.

Originally, I had planned to re-start my Asheville crime novel that I attempted to dive into last November. However now, I am debating on changing to another idea that recently came to me. This second story idea is still coming together, and would be more of a literary fiction type of genre. If I can flesh out the basics, this will more than likely be the one I go with.

Irregardless, I am gearing up for a month of crazy writing fun filled with frantic typing, much caffeine and more than likely, some late nights.

Going Vegetarian

A little over a week ago, I decided to give up meat and go vegetarian. Eight days later, I am going strong on a veggie-only diet and feeling pretty good. I’ll admit, there are times that I feel as though I’m a big hungrier than I used to be, but I’ve gotten through this hurdle by telling myself that it’s all worth it.

Why did I decide to go vegetarian and stop eating meat (for me it was mostly poultry, never was a big red meat eater)? The main reason is for health reasons. I have already gone organic, making 95% or more of my food choices totally organic. So, this next step just seemed to make sense to me. Also, a number of my friends are vegan or vegetarian making my interest in this eating lifestyle more so. I never thought I could possibly give up meat…of course, I never thought I’d give up most of the things I previously have as I got healthier and lost weight. If you would have told me a year ago that I would be where I am now, I would have never believed it. I’ve come a very long way and I am proud of myself and feel better than ever.

The last meaty meal was at Chipotle on October 4th. It was my favorite, the chicken bowl. Very fitting since that was my favorite, my treat lunch every Saturday and sometimes Sunday.

Still eating Chipotle, as I love their food, but the difference is now, my bowl consists of all veggies instead of chicken. And yes, it is still just as delicious. đŸ™‚

Being a vegetarian is a whole new eating journey, and I am enjoying the ride thus far, even through all the bumps in the road. I believe it’s a good change for me and I can’t wait to explore all the new eating choices this gives me.

Orlando Heart Walk 2009

This past Saturday was the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk. It’s a 5k walk to raise money for the Association’s fight against cardiovascular disease. The event started at 8:30am, with registration and what have you starting at 7:30am. I had planned on getting to the location, which was Loch Haven Park by 7:30, but traffic prevented that from happening. Traffic was horribly backed up because of the event at the designated exit off of I-4. And unfortunately, the rude drivers of the state were already out and about even before 8am on a Saturday. Trying to merge into the turn lane proved to be a nightmare because of this. One of those, everyone’s in a hurry and being nice to you is the last thing on their mind.

Thankfully, I got to Loch Haven Park eventually and found the Track Shack tent. I was walking with the Track Shack team for the walk. After checking in and getting my nice, spiffy Track Shack shirt, I was able to go over to the Tribute Wall and write my tribute to my grandfather, Lye “Pop-Pop” Chenoweth. Also, I got a tribute sticker to wear during my trek to let everyone know that I was walking in memory of someone.

Before I knew it, 8:30am arrived and the event began. There were a lot of people walking which was nice to see. I ended up losing track of my team, so I ended up speed walking and running on an off through the three miles. This gave me a great workout, especially since the route included uneven terrain (sidewalks, stone pavement, hills, etc). Along the miles, there were volunteer “cheerleaders” who cheered us all on as we walked as well as people handing out cold bottles of water. Each mile we made it through had a marker, so you knew how far you’ve come and how much further you had to go.

Heart Walk Orlando

That third mile sign came up and then the finish line. While it felt good to complete the 5k, now that I’m in such good shape it didn’t seem like as much work as the Breast Cancer Walk I did a few years back did. Amazing what getting healthy and in good physical shape will do for you. I discovered that I was the first Track Shack walker to make it back to the tent which was cool to hear. Obviously, it wasn’t a race, but that made me feel like I had come a long way.

All in all, I enjoyed the Heart Walk. I will definitely participate in another one, and have plans to do some other upcoming walk/runs with Track Shack.

Busy, busy, busy!

Apologizes for my lack of updates, life has been keeping me running around lately. I have a lot of thoughts and ideas floating around in my head right now, so much is going on. In fact, one of the things going on is my plan or goal to move back to Asheville next year. I have come to the conclusion that I just miss the mountains so much that I want to move back there as soon as possible. However, I stepped back and realized that while I would more than love to move back there tomorrow, I needed to be realistic. So, I have created a time goal for myself for moving back to AVL. This journey, to get things in order and all will be chronicled in a new blog I started called, Chasing the Dream: The Journey Back to Asheville. Please check it out if you’re interested. I will also use that space to post various Asheville news and what have you, as I am always checking in with what is going on there.

Nanowrimo 2009 is just a month and a day away. I will be participating again this year and cannot wait to get started. Last year, I barely started my crime novel when everything fell apart with my job and all, so I have decided to push the few pages I did write aside and re-start that novel. I haven’t even looked at what I did write, so this will be a completely fresh start on the story. I have already done so much research on it, and have been wanting to get back into writing it. Nano is the perfect time to do just that. So, I can’t wait to dive into a crazy month of writing my ass off. đŸ™‚

This Saturday is the National Heart Association’s Heart Walk. I will be participating in my local 5k walk here in Orlando. Very much looking forward to this, as not only is is a great cause (I will be walking in memory of my grandfather), but it is a great workout. Pictures and a report of the event will be posted either after the walk this weekend or by Monday.

Finally, my married couple friends from Asheville are coming for a visit for a few days to Florida. I will get to have a nice lunch with them on Sunday (vegetarian/vegan style!), so expect some musings and such on that fun time as well with the next blog update.

2009 Vacation Day Six

August 30, 2009. It was Sunday, and my last day in New York City. I awoke just after 8:30am and took in the views and all from my friend’s apartment in Manhattan. It was a beautiful day out I could see, looking out the bedroom window in the room which I had just spent the night. The window had been open just a bit through the night, which allowed breezes of fresh air to enter the apartment. I took in deep breathes of the air, it was unlike what I was used to in Florida, and I loved it.

After relaxing for about an hour and getting ready, I headed out into the city. While the subway station closest to the apartment was down the block and around the corner, I decided to keep strolling along and take in the neighborhood some. There were people lined up down one block with various clothes, electronics and what have you for sale on blankets. Normally, street vendor types in NYC have folding tables, so I figured this was a garage/street type sale going on. Though, later I learned from another friend that this sort of thing is common in the city, so maybe it was typical street sales going on after all.

Spotting a subway station, I decided to head over and take a train to Times Square. Before I knew it, I was walking up the subway stairs and greeting Times Square. There truly isn’t anything like New York’s Times Square. It’s always buzzing with activity and excitement year-round. I took some pictures and then got in line at the first Starbucks I spotted. Yes, a much needed caffeine jolt was in order. Mocha Light Frap in hand, I walked around the Square taking it all in. Then, I headed down the street in search of the NBC Studios store. I wanted to pick up a new Biggest Loser tee shirt, as the one I owned already was very big on me now after my weight loss thus I couldn’t wear it outside of the house.

Spotting the Studios, I entered the building, only to quickly come to the realization that while yes, I was in the NBC Studios building, I had no clue where the store was. Then, I saw a couple of security guards and walked over. One of the guys smiled at me as I asked my touristy question and informed me that I looked like a young Carmella Soprano. This make me smile and laugh. The guard told me he meant it as a compliment and smiled back at me. We chatted for a couple minutes about New York and Florida and then he directed me toward the part of the building where the store was. Inside the store, I was in love. I had found the section just for The Biggest Loser and it was neat. Nearby, there was merchandise for e.r., Law & Order and many other NBC shows. I looked around the store for awhile before finally making a decision on which Biggest Loser t-shirt I wanted (Team Jillian!). Also, I picked up a neat syringe pen from e.r. for my mom who loved that show.

Having had my fill of the Times Square area, I located the subway again and got on. Now, I was headed to the seaport in search of some New York hoodies for myself and mom. Next stop, Fulton Street! Upon arriving at the destination, I got off and headed down the block to the infamous Seaport. The last time I was up this way was a couple years ago with my mom and Aunt Kyle who showed mom and I the neat area. The Seaport was as busy as Times Square was, lots of people, mostly other tourists everywhere. I looked around the shops in search of New York merchandising goodness to take back with me to Florida. Ended up getting a good deal I think on New York embroidered hood jackets, each were $20. Got a grey one for myself and an aqua colored one for mom. Also, I found a neat vintage-looking New York tee for myself. Then, I went outside and shot some great photos of the Brooklyn Bridge before finally heading back to the subway.

I got back to my friend’s apartment almost an hour before I needed to be at the train station. This gave me the opportunity to climb out onto the apartment’s fire escape and shoot a lot of cool pictures of the old buildings in her neighborhood and the great view being at this height gave you. The late afternoon breeze out really made the experience even more memorable and enjoyable.

Robyn accompanied me on the subway through part of the ride to Penn Station. She got off a few stops before me and we said our goodbyes. I thanked her for allowing me to stay with her, as I had a great time in the city. At Penn, I bought my train ticket and then got a smoothie and the day’s New York Post as I awaited the LIRR train that would take me back to Long Island.

Looking back at the weekend I spent in New York City, I have to say it was the best experience of my entire trip up to New York this year. Obviously, I wish I had more time to take in NYC, and plan to give myself another day or two next time to do just that. New York City is definitely one of my most favorite places to be, and already can’t wait for my next visit.