Of Finishing Things and Putting them Into the World

Liz Gilbert’s mom once said, “Done is better than good.” Someone else said, “Done is better than perfect.”

You know what? She and that someone else are right. And you know what else? I’m friggin’ done.

I wrote a story. I made a few covers. Now you get to see what this Dusk book that I used to mention is finally about.

First, it’s no longer called Dusk (thank goodness). As you may or may not remember, I retitled it The Road to Hell. In short, it’s about an underrated high school boy who must try to save his father from the clutches of a vampire before his father is either killed or turned into a vampire himself.

Here are the covers, lettered A, B, and C. Let me know which one you like best:


theroadtohell cover1 clmannarino


theroadtohell cover2 clmannarino


theroadtohell cover3 clmannarino


…And I hit publish way too quickly. By total friggin’ accident. Oh well.

Here’s the poll:

goodness clmannarino

Food for Thought: Goodness

goodness clmannarino
You are so good. So good, you’re always feeling so much. And sometimes it feels like you’re gonna bust wide open from all the feeling, don’t it? People like you are the best in the world, but you sure do suffer for it.
Silas House, This is My Heart for You

Of Getting Pummeled by a Mountain

Boyfriend’s body is made of steel. Mine, unfortunately, is not. Every time we climb a mountain together, be with Wachusett or Monadnock (that one time), I’m reminded of this.

It takes me three days afterward to really recover, too.

Let me say this: Monadnock has been, of all the mountains we’ve climbed together, the top dog of mountain climbing experiences. Wachusett’s turned into a sneeze.

There’s a sci-fi writer, Hugh Howey, who wrote a post about false summits. Most of the post is about growing older, but he relates it to mountain climbing. The whole time I was reading it, I thought this reminds me of Monadnock. Completely.

Almost every woman I know has, at one time, said these exact same words, but I’m going to say them anyway: my boyfriend is the greatest. He really is. You want to talk about supportive? He’s right there beside me. He holds my hand going up and down the mountain. If I get scared or stumble, he’s right there watching, reaching out if I need help.

That didn’t make Monadnock any less difficult.

We reached the first peak and I didn’t think anything of it. Sure, we’d literally scaled the side of the mountain at times, dodging these bright red and yellow Daddy Long Legs on the way. (Those were the creepiest thing I’d ever seen and I still shiver to think about them.) But by the first peak, we were sweating pretty bad. We could get some nice views. We had decent vantage points.

Boyfriend is like a mountain goat. He probably was one in a previous life and the mountain-climbing DNA managed to follow him into this one. He scales rocks and jumps from boulder to boulder like he’s taking the steps down from one floor to the next in his apartment.

So him, in all his mountain-goat-ness, climbed to the very tippity-top of the peak we were on, the part where the peak had been basically rounded by weather. The part I was too scared of going onto. I stayed back, had a drink and a snack, waited for him to come down from the view and let me know we were ready to go home.

“Is that it?” I asked when he hopped back over for water.

“No, there’s the peak of the mountain over there,” he said, casual as anything, pointing off to our left.

Having not seen this, I stepped to the side and glanced through the short trees hemming us in from the edge. I got a lump in my throat. Sure enough, there it was. The big kahuna. The top of the goddamned mountain.

“I want to scale the ridge,” he said between drinks.

We were with his friends at the time, and they were fine with this, if not in total disbelief that “climbing a mountain” was Boyfriend’s version of “taking a hike.” I’m pretty sure I was the only one wondering just how far I’d fall before I hit the ground if I, at any point, slipped.

Like Hugh Howey wrote in his blog, there were a lot of false summits on that mountain. Each time we reached another peak, we’d see there was more to go. That first was fine. It was manageable. It was expected.

But mountains are rarely ever what you expect them to be when you have little to no idea what you’re getting yourself into. I mean, we knew this one would be big. Hell, we had to drive so many hours just to get there in the first place. And we knew from the searches we’d done that it was going to be bigger than Wachusett.

One peak just wasn’t enough. There had to be, like, seven of them. By the time we got to the top, I didn’t care that we reached the end. I just wanted to sit down for a while, relieved and totally done with the upward climb. Reaching the top didn’t excite me all that much. (I’m glad Boyfriend enjoyed it, though. He was a kid at Christmas.)

I’m such a whiner on here. I could’ve chosen not to go, but I didn’t. I wanted to do something new. I wanted to hang out with my boyfriend. We both enjoy hiking, nature, the woods, and it’s getting more and more apparent as we get older that nature’s where we want to spend our time. Also, my dad loved Monadnock. Loved it. He took so many hikes and camping trips up there. It was nice to see where he’d been, and to do something he loved.

I also spend a lot of time whining while I’m actually climbing. Boyfriend’s incredibly patient with me, and I tell him this all the time. It takes a lot to get him upset. When I climb, I mutter stuff to myself. Not bad stuff, but tiny words of encouragement. Sort of. He and I will joke around, saying, “what have you gotten yourself into this time?”

And yes, I mutter that kind of disbelief to myself while climbing. I muttered it all the way up Monadnock and I muttered it even more often on the way back down. I’m terrified of heights. I’ve gone on all of two roller-coaster-type rides at amusement parks and that is enough of that. But literally, once you put yourself on top of a mountain, you’re the one who has to get yourself back down.

I crab-crawled the whole way. Hands and feet. Hands and feet and knees. Any time I stood up, my knees knocked together so hard, I couldn’t hold myself. All I could see were the way the rocks were lined up along the edge of the mountain. They were like badly done stairs, poking out just enough so that you could stand, but not comfortably.

It was a long way down, and we took the easiest path there was.

By the end, I was thirstier and more tired and more covered in grime than I’d ever been while hiking. Maybe it was my fear (it probably was), but it felt like the ride down was way longer than the one going up. I was so exhausted — physically, emotionally — that I laughed hysterically the whole way home at the dumbest things.

Boyfriend stood by me the whole time. His friends went ahead — there wasn’t much they could actually do for me, since I did this to myself — and he kept close, helping me down the entire way. I hope he didn’t get sick of all the “thank yous” and “I’m so lucky”s I gave him when we finally, finally!, reached the dirt road again.

More recently, we hiked Wachusett for the third time. I still shook at parts. I still sweat through my shirt. Boyfriend still held my hand, and offered to carry me down. We still made jokes about how I’d gotten myself into this mess. He still insisted we’d cure my fear of heights through baby steps. (I guess this counts as exposure therapy?)

But I walked the whole way down that mountain. I didn’t let myself crab-walk. To me, that’s progress. :)

What does your hiking experience look like? Do you go with friends and family? Do you prefer hiking alone? Do you enjoy hiking at all? Do you have people who help you tackle challenges you take on?

PS – book cover poll!

beyonce Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 8.54.54 AM clmannarino

Beyonce: Self-Titled, Part 2

This whole series (and album) is fantastic, but my favorite part is where she talks about how you can work really hard at something and give it everything you’ve got and love what you do…and still lose. It’s such an important lesson and not one that’s taught enough. It’s something I need to hear and be reminded of CONSTANTLY.

PS — book cover poll

leavethepastbehind clmannarino

Food for Thought: Leave the Past Behind

leavethepastbehind clmannarino
Do not go back to the past. Whether it is someone you once loved, something that someone said about you, or if it’s just a mistake you made. It does no good to visit a world that you can never change; become the person you needed back then, so that your future will be thankful.
T.B. LaBerge // Things I’m still learning at 25

Photo Challenge: High Angle

I like wearing watermelon colors. :) Also, the iPhone 6 takes some really impressive photos. The quality is amazing!

PS — book cover poll!