Challenge Day Thirty

Nearsighted, nearby, nearly there.

It is strange and also exhilarating to almost be done with this project. I’ve definitely fallen into a familiar pattern of procrastinating, and then not quite getting everything done that I want to get done. It stopped bothering me a while ago, and that was when I knew I was mentally and emotionally done here.

But I still have things to do! I still have big goals to achieve in the next 24(ish) hours! I’m not going to get everything done that I wanted, but by jove, I’m going to get as much done as I can!

Daily Challenges

Intimate Time
CookingToday’s Menu: I started with a breakfast shake (I long ago stopped keeping track of what Guy was eating, unless it wasn’t made in-house); I had a light cottage cheese lunch while I assembled cake balls (TBA tomorrow!); for dinner, I whipped up some red sauce with ground turkey, and served it over linguini, with a side of roasted broccoli.
Reading (Poetry)Cage” by Rigoberto Gonzÿlez is a sort of satirical take on the practice of putting children in cages. It’s a direct commentary on the concentration camps currently peppering our southern border and it’s pretty chilling.
Reading (Fiction)I managed to stop myself from finishing The Poisonwood Bible today, so I don’t have to stress about picking another book until Friday at least.
Reading (Nonfiction)Another day with no nonfiction, but I’m okay with it. I have been reading a lot of news articles, so I’m technically reading nonfiction, I’m just not “learning” things in the spirit I set this challenge. *shrug*
MusicI played so much ukulele today that my whole left arm hurts about it. I wanted to play some bass too, but I ran out of grip strength.
Postcard Poem
I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about the wildfires in California, which are largely caused, it seems, by the crumbling infrastructure not being maintained by PG&E, combined with the forces of climate change. I also have been hearing about the US government beginning to adopt out the children that they’ve separated from their parents upon entry to the country, and I was inspired by “Cage” (above) to write about these things. The closest I could get was to compare keeping a kid that arrived here in the wake of disaster (tell me that having your entire life upended and trekking through unknown lands only to have your parents torn from your side isn’t disastrous to a child) to keeping your neighbor’s cat because they were escaping conflagration. Why would you? Maybe you’d watch it for a while, let it recuperate, and then maybe if your neighbor were dead, you could keep it, but even then, if the cat wanted to run away, it’s not your concern. It’s not your cat.
When your neighbor’s cat
flees the house fire set
by power grids overloaded
with corporate avarice
and weather careening like
the hormones of adolescence,
you can offer food, water,
the confines of a box,
but that doesn’t make it
your cat.
– Sarah Reebs
Trash Pickup By the time I went out for a walk with Howie today, it was ASS COLD and I couldn’t bear the thought of walking slowly to pick things up. Tomorrow I will take a walk and pick things up while there is still daylight, and maybe a few more degrees of warmth.

Today’s Challenges

I started the day off right, with a couple of solid hours at the food bank. I ended up packing very few bags today, and instead spent my time breaking down boxes and refilling the assembly line for everyone else. It was kind of nice to do a slightly different task. What’s nice about the group is that there’s an unspoken understanding of what needs to be done, and everyone is always trying to do a little bit extra, so the time really flies by! I am starting to get to know people some, and it’s an enjoyable group to spend my afternoon among.

After the food bank, I was pretty pooped, and while I wanted to work on my songwriting challenge, I just couldn’t organize my brain. Even reading was tough to focus on today—it was really a video-game-playing sort of day, except that would interfere with everything else. I ended up making buttercream frosting and rolling cake balls in preparation for tomorrow’s marshmallow fondant fun. I hope they turn out well, because I’m excited for them!

I still couldn’t really focus on my writing, so for my NaNoWriMo prep today, I took it easy. All I did was officially announce my novel on the NaNoWriMo website, and associate it with the 2019 challenge. I’ve tentatively titled my book The Waterman, and slotted it in with Science Fiction. It’s weird to think that this time tomorrow, I’ll probably be blogging, but I could be working on that challenge. November seemed so much further away, yesterday.

Finally, when I could make no more excuses, I sat down with my uke and started to work on my songwriting challenge. Well, here’s the thing I ran into: the lyrics I started writing, what? A week ago? Those lyrics are not upbeat or happy. The chord progression I also created a week ago? Definitely major key, peppy, resolves-to-the-dominant stuff. Tonight, I was struck by the juxtaposition, and embarrassed that I didn’t think about the conflict sooner.

By my calculations, this left me with three options:

  1. Rewrite the music to fit the feel of the words;
  2. Rewrite the words to fit the vibe of the music;
  3. Change nothing and put sad lyrics with happy music.

I toyed with the idea of option 3. I tried to think of songs that were protest songs, or otherwise social commentary, but paired with superficially upbeat and unchallenging music. The first thing that came to mind was “Alice’s Restaurant” by Arlo Guthrie, which (if you don’t know) is a satirical indictment of the legal system, the government, war, and specifically, the Vietnam draft. It’s nonsensical and goes on forever, but it points at some of the major flaws in society. I also thought of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”:

It’s also nonsensical and upbeat, and a touch absurd. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided absurd isn’t what I’m going for right now. Option 2 (rewriting lyrics) seemed like a much easier thing to do, given that it’s really just writing poetry, and I’ve been practicing that for the past 29 days.

But why would I go with easy options? It’s not like I’m under a deadline or anything! What ended up happening was, dismayed with the obstacle ahead of me, and suddenly overcome with hatred for the chord progressions I created, I decided to rewrite the music instead. I ended up playing around and finding a chord progression that satisfied my melancholy mood. The only problem now? The rhythms don’t match what I was writing to before, so now I have to rewrite the lyrics too. Ha!

So tomorrow, the last day of this project, I have the following items on my list (aside from the daily challenges):

  • Marshmallow fondant (the final Great British Baking Show/Bake-Off challenge)
  • Songwriting Challenge (rewrite lyrics, pull something together for a demo recording)
  • Recording with Guy (we’ll be piecing together instruments and voice for “Ain’t No Sunshine”)
  • Boudoir Dance (I need to do fondant before class, so I can take treats with me to my dance friends)
  • Thursday Thing (writing support material for NaNoWriMo)

Guy has a guitar lesson from 1:00-2:00PM, and at this moment, so we’ll be recording after that; it makes the most sense to my brain right now to use the time he’s gone to make fondant and decorate the treats, which I’m guessing will take about 2 hours in total. But, maybe I’ll be more into writing melodies and lyrics, so we’ll see where my energy takes me. I’m really hoping to get our recording done before I go to dance class, so that I don’t have to think about it while I’m dancing. This is a tall order.

Here goes nothing….

Featured image by StockSnap from Pixabay


  1. Ladafi says:

    I really love sad songs to happy sounds. The songs that trick people into thinking they’re happy, when they’re actually pretty dark. I was recently making fun of a friends “Happy” playlist on Spotify because there were multiple “dark” songs on it, like Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Jumper” and Outkast’s “Hey Ya.” One of my favorite’s is Jenny Lewis’ “Head Underwater,” which I guess is happy in a sense that she is deciding to kill herself, and how freeing that idea is.

    Whatever your song ends up as, I’m sure it will be great, regardless. Songs can be kind of like dance class—just doing it is beautiful in of itself.

    1. Keep Right says:

      Those are some good examples! My issue is just the mental block, trying to get the two sides of my brain to cooperate. Maybe someday, but not my first song.

Comments are closed.