Elephants in the Room and Elsewhere

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

A: One bite at a time.

If you want some elephant jokes that are real groaners, click here: The Top 131 Elephant Jokes.

Why are elephants on my mind? In this instance, I use elephant to describe any project that can generate a sense of overwhelm. And I am surrounded by them. There’s the NaNoWriMo elephant looming. Tick tock, tick tock — on November 1 we start writing as fast as we can. I’ve done little to prepare, other than jot down a loose outline of what the novel is about. Thankfully, on Saturday while out with hubby, the first scene started to unfold in my brain. Even the next day, after the wine wore off, it still sounds pretty good. So, my first bite of the elephant will be a chapter that introduces the three generations of my imaginary family at the Thanksgiving dinner table. I don’t know what happens after that, but if I have a beginning, I’m good to go. I may have nibbled off a toe or two of that elephant.

The second elephant is finishing LAST year’s NaNoWriMo winner, Blood and Loam. Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, you “win” if you write a 50,000 word draft. It’s like Little League, where everyone gets a trophy. It’s a great sense of accomplishment, but it doesn’t mean you’ve created a masterpiece. The real work begins with the revision process, and a year later, I’m still refining last year’s story. As of today, though, I have just 65 pages of revisions to go through before I finish yet another draft — and I’m hoping that I’ll just have one more after that before I feel justified in returning it to my ever-patient and ever-suffering editor. So, okay, I’m maybe down to nibbling on the last elephant leg. Burp.

The third elephant is getting the house ready for sale. We have sent multiple carloads to Goodwill and others. We discovered cool organizations such as The Green Bag Lady and Chemo Caps, where we donated fabric and yarn. We also sent some fabric to the Quilt Guild of Greater Houston, which also needs fabric for its charitable endeavors. On Sunday I organized boxes of products, most of them from my late in-laws’ house, that need to go to a hazardous waste facility. Now, the likelihood that we’re moving is darn near 100%, but even if we don’t move, we are finally whittling down years of accumulation to a modest collection of memories. I also started some work in the yard and realized that spiffing it up for when we list the house isn’t nearly as big as job as it seemed. We have a list of to-dos to accomplish before we put that “For Sale” sign in the front yard, but it’s all looking pretty do-able. We’ve eaten about a third of this elephant, I would guess.

Of course, when I clean out the house, I’m bound to stumble across some elephants in the room — you know, those things we don’t really want to look at. I’m not going to put those out on display, but let’s just say there are a few more elephants than I expected. The good news is, I am eating all these other elephants, and I can eat these, too. One bite at a time. At least these elephants don’t have calories!

Last night, just for grins, I watched Water for Elephants. I had read the novel a while back and loved it. Rosie the elephant was a (literally) larger-than-life character, misunderstood and treated cruelly. Everyone thought she was stupid until they realized that she responded to Polish. She was, in short, something seen as “other,” an outsider, something different and strange, and therefore inferior. I’m going to write more about that this week, especially on Wednesday, but we will leave elephants to the circus, the zoo, and the wild, and focus on people. I hope you’ll join me!

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