Well, I'm back from Thanksgiving Break. After finishing my second draft of The Dreamer, and after a few lonely evenings in my apartment crawling through Kindleboards' vast forum so I could join the conversation without making an ass of myself (thank you, Asperger's Syndrome), I remembered it was NaNoWriMo. "Just how long is this thing I just created?" I asked myself. I wasn't really keeping track as I was writing; the fact that I was writing my novel during NaNoWriMo at all was purely coincidence. Still, I decided to check. I copied and pasted my RTF file into Pages and did a word count. Over three months, I'd written 150,280 words, which roughly translates to three NaNoWriMos in a row. No wonder my brain hurt. I also remembered the Distance Ed course I'd enrolled in five weeks earlier, which probably had a few assignments due by now. Or a dozen.
With due apologies to Dr. Stone, I'm more or less caught up by now. I still have a Case Study project due at the end the of next week on the topic of "Change Agency," or how to get a group of people or a culture to accept and propagate innovations. I was reading and studying in the hopes of figuring out how to get thousands of people to buy my books and help me dig my way out of this swampy mire of student loan debt, but I think Dr. Stone was thinking more along the lines of getting more Bhutanese refugees to utilize the new drop-in center we've opened for them.
I just started volunteering at International Village, a brand-spanking-new nonprofit on Rice Street in St. Paul. It's in a dinky little office building we've leased, but we've spruced it up quite a bit with some couches, lamps, posters, and almost every fake plant I could fit in a box at the Unique Thrift Store up the road, to make it look homey. The beauty of working with an organization this new is that I feel so much freer to try new things and build up new skills; just this past Tuesday, Sarah, one of the other volunteers, gave us a list of philanthropic organizations to hit up for grants. Seriously, grant-writing! The most recession-proof job there is, and not a whole lot different than writing query letters and hitting up book blogs for reviews (okay, it's massively different, but something I can still get weirdly excited about).
Also, I learned how to make homemade farmer's cheese (paneer) over Thanksgiving. It's easier than you think. Here's my incredibly ghetto recipe, if you're interested:
1 gallon whole milk
1 cup white vinegar
First, bring the milk to 190 degrees F. Add the vinegar, stirring for a moment or two until the milk separates into curds and whey. When looks like it's as separated as it's going to get, scoop out the curds with a strainer. Cool the curds, and mix in salt to taste (it'll probably take a lot, so be generous). Then wrap the curds tightly in saran wrap and place under a heavy weight in the fridge overnight so it presses into a block. What you end up with is something like ricotta salata, and I find it's best either crumbled over salad, or sliced and drizzled with honey.