12 December 2006

Bookstores

So today, to get out of the house before I went bonkers trying to appease Ms. Baby, who has decided - after 6 days - that Monsieur Helmet is not so much fun after all and spent the day whimpering pathetically and making big eyes at me (she's smart for 4 months old, lemmetellya), then refusing to nurse unless I removed Monsieur Helmet from...

Where the hell was I?

Oh, right. Getting out of the house.

So today, to get out of the house, Ms. Baby and I made An Expedition to the nearest bookstore in search of a cookbook.

I was fairly certain that this particular cookbook would be easily located, since it's by a popular cookbook author and was published fairly recently. Not only that, but I was headed to a Large, Chain Bookstore, whose selection - I assumed - would far outpace any locally owned bookstore's selection.

Guess what. Not. There.

As in, they didn't fucking have it. As in, I packed Ms. Baby, Monsieur Helmet et al., into the car with all her paraphernalia in the rain and they didn't fucking have it.

Now, I ask you, what GOOD is it being a Large, Chain Bookstore if your selection SUCKS?

I mean, what is the POINT? Don't Large, Chain Bookstores EXIST to dazzle us with their amazing selection and bamboozle us with their incredible size so that we can't even remember the whereabouts of the Poor, Locally-Owned Bookstore that we used to go to?

So disgusted was I that, out of pure spite, I would have marched off to a Poor, Locally-Owned Bookstore and ordered my damn cookbook even if they didn't have it on the shelf. However and most unfortunately, the Large, (Crappy) Chain Bookstore that didn't have my cookbook is the only bookstore at all within reasonable driving distance. Probably because they drove all the Poor, Locally-Owned Bookstores out of business years ago. Bastards.

10 December 2006

Operation Finish Novel: Take 2

A thousand words a day sounds like a good idea. In close proximity to NaNo, it even sounds reasonable. And if I didn't have a job, this mommy thing, a house to clean, meals to cook, and Christmas to put on, it might even be reasonable.

But reality has set in.

As you can see from my self-fabricated ticker, I started off well. And then sleep deprivation, doctor's appointments, work-work, and well, LIFE, happened and 500 words a day started sounding like some pie-in-the-sky pipe dream.



I can still hit 1,000 on a good day and usually weekend days I hit 1,000 no problem. However, I have decided to revise my daily goal a bit.

The new, unbreakable rule is: I have write SOMETHING every day. Even if it's no more than my current low of 190 words, I still have to write SOMETHING.

If I do that every day, it will get me to the end of the novel. It may be painfully slow and I may be arguing with teenagers before that happens, but whatever. It will happen.

Then I can start on Operation Revise Novel. Woot.

08 December 2006

Dinner, Quick and Easy

Or Quick and Cheesy, If You Prefer

THE BASICS
A package of chicken (boneless breasts or boneless thighs are my fav)
A can of diced tomatoes

ARRANGE the chicken in a PAN. POUR the tomatoes over the chicken.

ADD TO THAT

A can of diced green chilies, if you want to go Mexican

OR

Some Italian seasonings, if you want to, er, go Italian

TOSS (not literally) into the oven at 350-375 if you have an hour and 15 or an hour and a half or at 425 if you really can't wait that long.

ADD some cheese towards the end of cooking time.

EAT!!

07 December 2006

Helmet Head

Yesterday was Helmet Day, here in Exile, and Ms. Baby is now - willing or otherwise - proudly sporting pretty pink head gear.

Below, her initial reaction:



Yup. I'm a Mean Mama. You see how I torture my young'uns...

Seriously, the whole thing appears, thus far, to be a whole lot less traumatic than I was fearing. We'll see what the next few days (weeks, months) hold, but ill effects have been limited to a few funny looks from people we don't know. So far.

05 December 2006

I Make Milk. What's Your Superpower?

I have two things to say about the following news report:

Breastmilk Likely Saved Girls Lives in Frozen Wilderness, Experts Say

Number 1: I hope they find the girls' daddy soon and alive.

Number 2: Go, boobs.

I'm gonna re-read this story every time I get sick of breastfeeding from now until Ms. Baby decides she's done. No matter how sick of it I get. If she's done at 1 year, fine. If she hangs on and hangs on until she's almost 3 like her big sister, fine.

03 December 2006

This Year's NaNo Lessons

1. Finishing in Not-So-Record Time. Every time I write 50,000 words in 30 days it takes me longer. The first time it was 23 days, last year it was 27 days, this year it was 28 days. I vaguely wonder why that is.

2. The End. This NaNo represents the first time I have not reached The End, as in The End of The Story. The other two NaNos were dragged kicking and screaming to their respective ends. In the case of the first NaNo, this meant condensing about six chapters into four sentences. In the case of the second NaNo, this meant rushing through a vampire fight scene that ended up including a muskrat. Yes, really. I'm much happier having blown off that particular No Plot, No Problem advice this time.

3. Hijackers. Normally, my plot hijackers have names that start with L. So this time I deliberately avoided L names for my characters. Not only did that not do me any good - I still ended up with a hijacker named Luther (in chapter 1, no less) - but I also ended up with one named Sigrun. Go figure.

4. To Hell with Padding. I admit to having used such padding techniques as avoiding contractions in my first two NaNos. I planned to do it this time, too. And I did it. For one day. And it drove me nuts, so I said forget it and just wrote. I did just fine and my brain was much happier for not having to force my fingers to laboriously remember to avoid the apostrophe key.

5. Accomplishment with an Infant in the House is Actually Possible. This is, perhaps, my most important lesson. I had serious doubts this time about finishing. Hell, I had serious doubts about being able to write at all, what with Ms. Baby and her frequent screaming fits. But I proved to myself that it can be done (even in the midst of said screaming fits). I also reminded myself that, when I make myself find the time, I really do know how to do things other than change diapers and ensure that babies are properly latched on.

The Shiny Lining

There always is one, isn't there? Even inside the darkest of clouds.

The shiny lining inside the dark cloud of last evening's loss of wordage came in the form of a plot bunny that jumped me during Ms. Baby's 5AM feeding. (Why a plot bunny at 5AM? I don't know. You'd have to ask Dorothy (the muse). That's when she tends to pop in for her little chats.)

Where was I... Oh yes, dear Dotty showed up to tell me that I had that scene all wrong, so it didn't much matter that it went up in cyber-smoke, since I would have had to rewrite it all anyway. Which I did. This morning. When I should have been folding laundry. (Which was fine, really, because who the hell wants to fold laundry?)

Anyways. I'm back to where I was last night. And I triple-frikkin'-checked that I had the right file this time.

02 December 2006

God Fucking Damn It

I just spent the better part of two hours writing a thousand words. They are now gone because I am stupid.

I FUCKING KNOW BETTER than to click on the Recent Files list in Word. I know better. But I fucking did it anyway.

I fucking did it anyway and wrote my thousand fucking words in the fucking backup file that Documents To Go uses to sync the fucking laptop version to my fucking PDA.

And then I fucking synced the files. And lost my thousand fucking words.

I am so FUCKING PISSED I can't see straight.

01 December 2006

How Amazing We Aren't

This headline was reported the other day by several online news agencies (go ahead, read it, it's short):


Synopsis (for those in a real hurry): Basically, somebody has studied an ancient Greek device, reconstructed it and found out that it does amazing and very sophistocated and advanced things. Scientists are astonished that an ancient civilization could produce anything quite so amazing, sophistocated and/or advanced.

Stories like this always leave me shaking my head at the scientists. Well, not at the scientists, but at their reaction to how complicated ancient civilizations were.

I mean, why is it so amazing that ancient peoples could create complicated things?

This shouldn't amaze us. It's not like they were Australopithecus or Homo erectus or something. They were us, Homo sapiens sapiens. We create complicated things all the time. Why shouldn't the ancient Greeks have been able create things just as complicated? Shouldn't we expect to find complicated things in the ancient world?

Winter Blows In

Wind shrieks through frantic trees
Windows rattle
Wind chime, a constant clangor,
slowing, never stopping
Leaves scurry, in droves, in circles, in corners
There is no place to hide

30 November 2006

Operation Finish Novel

So I won NaNo, but haven't actually reached the end of the story. Which means now I have a novel to finish. Here's the plan:

1,000 words a day. Until it's done.

Which will be anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 more words, if I'm gonna be honest. Hmmmm... maybe they should call it National Novel Starting Month...

29 November 2006

New Digs

You'll notice the new layout.

Two reasons:

1) I wanted to be able to have a list of my categories ("labels" in blogger-speak) and going to blogger-beta was the only way to do it.

2) I suppose I could have chosen the old layout/template-thingy and done this. But the aging eyes just couldn't take the light-on-dark text anymore.


*sighs* Sucks getting old.

28 November 2006

'Nother Novel

I did it! I made it to 50K!! Woot!



The story's not done. More to write. Much more. Un-Woot.

Oh, puh-LEEEEZ

Normally, I leave political rants to my betters (please see dirt city paranoia), but this has me grinding my teeth and it ain't even 8AM yet:


I mean, COME ON. How fucking stoopid do they think we are?? Do they really think anybody is going to believe them? Did the results of the last election tell them nothing?

This new line of utter bullshit is clearly the work of the Iraq "Study" Group, the latest attempt by King George and his Evil Henchmen to make it look like they give a shit about the clusterfucked quagmire they've created in the Middle East. "Study", my ass. They should just be honest for once and call themselves His Majesty's Spin Doctors and be fucking done with it.

Graah! They make me SICK.

25 November 2006

I'm Hopeless

It isn't fair. And it shouldn't be this fucking hard.

I'm a girl, after all. So you would think that writing girl characters would be easy. Well, easier than writing boys. You would think writing girls would come naturally. You would think trying to imagine life from the inside of a boy brain would be a truly astonishing feat for me, a girl.

You would think. And you would, apparently, be wrong.

I blame being eight years old, because that's when it started, I think: my first taste of boy envy. See, eight years old is when I discovered that boys can pee standing up. Laugh all you like, but I was insanely jealous.

I mean, c'mon, let's face it -- unzipping your fly and whipping out your weiner is a whole lot more a) convenient, b) quicker and c) sanitary than pulling down your drawers, exposing your buns and 'drip-drying'.

Anyways, that's where it started. Ever since then, despite a Barbie doll phase and the occasional long-fingernail phase, I'd much rather tag after boys and do what they're doing than go shopping or do my hair.

Which leaves me BORED TO DEATH with all my female characters, while my subconscious surreptitiously starts chapters from the point of view of male characters who aren't supposed to have POV chapters all to themselves. Arrrgh!

I will learn to do it. I will. It's just going to be a really fucking difficult uphill battle. Joy.

24 November 2006

Widget Thingys

OK, I'm liking the NaNo widget thingy:



I didn't get it at first (I'm slow, what can I say), but I'm finding that getting rid of the red is very motivational. Makes me hit quota since I started using it (note lack of red after a certain point) and thus forces the story forward (whether it feels like cooperating that day or not).

Wonder if I could get one for off-season (non-NaNo) use?

22 November 2006

Agnosta-Joke!

Miss Snark posted a joke on her very snarky blog the other day. I've heard it before once upon a time, and as an almost-Unitarian, I felt I had to share:


You know why Unitarians are such poor hymn singers?

Cause they are always reading ahead to see if they agree with the text.


Ba-hah!

19 November 2006

NaNo Excerpt is Up!

Check it out!

Do keep in mind that it's still very much a draft... so, yeah, the guys in kilts pretty much show up out of nowhere...

18 November 2006

Latin Lessons: Octo-pus

So the other night we're riding in the car. Ms. Baby - for once - is not screaming bloody murder (although I am sitting in the backseat to provide assistance, just in case).

Since it is unusually quiet due to the lack of screaming, Ms. Four and I are having A Conversation.

"A hexagon," she says matter-of-factly, "has six sides."

"That's right," I chime in, ever ready with the reinforcement.

"And an octagon has... how many sides?" she asks. I know she knows the answer, but she doesn't like to guess wrong.

"Eight!" I say.

"Just like an octopus has eight legs," The Husband adds from the front of the car (where he gets to sit because he's driving).

"See 'oct' means 'eight'," I say, resisting the very strong urge to tell her it's Latin.

There's a thoughtful pause.

"So what does 'puss' mean?" askes Ms. Four.

"Well, 'puss' is another word for 'cat'" I explain, wondering at the sudden switch of subject. But, I figure, she's four and launch into a discussion of how we sometimes call our cats 'puss'.

She looks more and more mystified the longer I go on.

"No," she says slowly. "I mean the 'pus' in 'octopus'."

"Oh!" I laugh at what now seems obvious. "Well, I don't know."

I never actually took Latin, see. (What? It's dead! No one speaks it! I took French, instead... which is close enough, anyway.)

So. Any help out there? What's the '-pus' in 'octopus' mean??

16 November 2006

You know you have a colicky baby when…

…you can eat a steak dinner with one hand while standing up, singing lullabies and swaying back and forth.

… the sound of a howling infant doesn’t even make you flinch. In fact, you don’t even notice it until somebody else points it out.

… the definition of colic, “unexplained crying for three hours a day, three or more days a week”, actually sounds like a vast improvement.

… you have never, EVER sat down with your baby awake.

… you don’t believe people who say they have.

… you have trouble dressing your baby because she/he won’t bend.

… you can balance your baby on one hand when it is angry. Kind of like a board.

… your baby is sitting and quietly staring into space and you call the pediatrician in a panic thinking something is terribly wrong.

15 November 2006

Halfway

Well, I did it. Despite grant deadlines that took up most of my damn weekend and babies that won't sleep and a house that insists I clean it and a family that insists I feed it and friends that insist on visiting, I passed 25K today.

That means that I am technically still on schedule to complete NaNo on the 30th.

Technically.

'Course me being me, I am so used to being ahead of schedule and finishing early that I feel like I'm behind. (What can I say? I'm a freak.)

I also have this unshakable feeling that I'm actually a day behind and don't know it... but that's probably just the chronic lack of sleep talking. Hard to say.

Anyway.

As usual, I'm halfway to 50K and only about 1/3 the way through the actual story. If that. At least, I'm doing better at keeping my characters under control and not letting them run off with the plot quite so blatantly as they did last year. (Damn vampires. See if I ever write another vamp novel again, you ungrateful bastards.)

Yep. This year I'm the Bitch with the Whip and my characters are my fearful crew of galley slaves.

Best start rowin', y'all.

08 November 2006

Updates

1) NaNo, NaNo, on the wall...
Right, um, I've kept up with the Word Count Gypsy until today. Haven't made quota today. Yet. Long way to go, too, but I'll get there. Hopefully.

2) Ms. Baby's Head
Saw the doc this morning and the verdict is: NO SURGERY!! Boo-yah!!! Mama is a happy camper! Mama also has No Excuse for not carrying on with NaNo...

Here are some nifty shots of Ms. Baby's funny head -- from the inside! If you know what you're looking for (which I mostly don't), you can sorta tell that none of the sutures are actually fused (they shouldn't be), which is why she gets to wear a handy-dandy helmet instead of having bits of her skull removed so there's room for her brain. It's a happy day...


06 November 2006

NaNo Mantras.

In order of use.

1) It's an outline. A very elaborate outline.

2) I'll fix it later. I'll fix it later. I'll fix it later.

3) Just let it suck. Just let it suck. Just let it suck.

01 November 2006

Another Random Thought

This has nothing whatsoever to do with anything. But my brain is now in NaNo mode and won't shut up or shut off --- SO:

The Fifth Element is one of my favorite movies of all time. It's great - funny, adventurous, great characters. One of my favorite parts is when they're on the cruise ship and Bruce Willis' character is in some stand-off with the bad-guy aliens and offers to 'negotiate'.

He steps out from behind a wall or something, shoots the bad guy dead and says, "Anybody else want to negotiate?"

Nobody does.

Ba-hah! Kills me. Every time.

NaNo Day 1

Today's Mantra: Let it Suck. C'mon, say it with me now, letitsuckletitsuckletitsuck... Yeah, I feel better now. But it's damn hard to get used to again.

Today's Tune(s): Lithium, by Evanescence (something like that. I have no idea who they are, but Napster had an album available to download, so I did.)

Other Comments: Scene 1 is almost done. It's sort of having trouble ending. Story of my (writing) life. I had it all planned out and BAM! an extra character shows up and starts commandeering things. This guy is important, but only because he gets executed. Off camera. Well, he was supposed to be ALL off camera. I refuse to name him. But I'll bet whatever his name is, it begins with "L".

31 October 2006

Eeeeeeeeeeee!

Less than 4 hours til NaNo officially starts in my time zone!!! I'm so excited, I can't stand it!!!

30 October 2006

Daylight Saving Crap

I just have to say this to get it out of my system and then I'll shut up about it:

I fucking hate the whole daylight savings thing!!

I just wish they'd leave it one way or the other, because the "Big Switcheroo" always messes with me. It's like having fucking jet lag without having gotten to go anywhere.

Bah! Humbug!

OK. I feel better now.

29 October 2006

When Plot Bunnies Attack

I was going to post my NaNo plot summary, such as it is, but ended up posting this Plot Summary Metamorphosis on a NaNo forum this morning and thought it did a better job:

I started out with a Nice Young (Viking) Girl, who gets transported to another world, meets a Nice Young Boy and has a bunch of Adventures in the process of trying to find her Dad.

Enter My Muse (Dorothy).

Now the Nice Young Girl has a Twin Brother who follows her and gets abducted by the Evil Empire, a Radical Religious Sect is bent on dismantling the Nice Young Girl's brain, a bunch of Bad Guys in Kilts are bent on dismantling the rest of her, a Random Malevolent Creature is bent on dismantling Everyone Else and a Herd of Mythological Beasts are wandering around and have not yet adequately explained their presence...


Yeah. That's about how it goes for me.

FFFF99

OK, I'm experimenting with colors here, trying to make El Blogo easier to read. Didn't like the purple, wasn't an improvement, I don't think.

This is some form of yellow whose hex code is FFFF99.

Thoughts?

24 October 2006

NaNo Survival Stratagems

As stated in a previous post, time is of the essence for this November’s NaNo adventure. That is, I will have very little of it.

With that in mind, I am collecting methods of conserving time by being more efficient with what I’ve got so I can have enough to pound out those 1,667 words every day. (Other suggestions would be most welcome.)


And My Muse Will Have the Merlot

1. Caffeine. I drink lattes, since straight-up coffee messes too much with my stomach. Lattes take time to prepare – time I’m not willing to give up. Therefore, I plan to make a Small Vat of Espresso on a Sunday or whatever and keep it in the fridge. Then, when I wake up at 4AM and decide to get some writing done (instead of some sleeping), I can quickly and quietly (latte preparation is also rather noisy) pop a cuppa in the microwave and be on my way.

2. Supper. Ideally, I would have been preparing and freezing stuff for most of October. Unfortunately, my freezer is still stuffed with last year’s deer meat. I’m thinking instead that I’m going to stock up on crockpot items. I have a great recipe that my mom gave me. Actually, I’m sure we could think of something to with some of that venison. Which would make some room in the freezer. Which means mac ‘n’ cheese, meatloaf, meatballs, mole enchiladas here we come!!

3. Snacks. I can’t have dairy, since it doesn’t sit well with Ms. Baby, so cheese is out for a protein-based snack. I’m going to substitute nuts. Other than that, veggies and fruits.

4. Chocolate. I’ve laid in a supply of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips (on sale at Wally-world, $1.88! Woot!). I should be set. At least for the first week.

5. Wine. Waiting for the end of the month when I get paid, but I’ve got it all planned out. Box o’ wine: merlot and cab, one of each. Chardonnay: Australian, Yellow Tail, (Which for some reason smells to me like sawdust, which for some reason reminds me of Wyoming. Yeah. I have no idea either.) for those really trying days between 25K and 30K.


1,667 Words Per Day

1. Word Count Padding. Just as a review for myself:

a) I will not use contractions.
b) I will not use hyphens.
c) I will describe every blessed thing in excruciating detail.
d) I will not delete ANYTHING. If it really, really bothers me, I will color the text gray and put it in italics so it can more easily be ignored.
e) If I discover that I have written something that requires me to go back and “fix” something I’ve already written, I WILL NOT DO IT. I will instead tell myself that I’ve already fixed it and move on.


2. Making Quota.
a) I will keep my PDA synced with my laptop at all times.
b) When I am away from my laptop, I will have my PDA on my person at all times.
c) All spare moments not spent eating, sleeping, feeding babies and other members of my family or working will be spent writing. If this means foregoing showers, So Be It.
d) I will write. I will not worry about whether it is total crap. I will not worry about whether it makes any sense at all. I will remember that it can all be fixed – or set afire, as appropriate – come December.
e) I will reward myself for completed chapters, paragraphs, and – if it comes down to it – sentences, as necessary with snacks, treats and perusals of the NaNo forums.
f) I will not spend inordinate amounts of time forum-whore-ing.


3. Maintaining My Sanity.
Ba-hah! Just kidding.

23 October 2006

Cover Art

I didn't have a computer capable of doing this last year, so I never made a cover for that NaNo-novel. This year, however...

Credit for the background pic goes to Lynnette Cook. The other images are a photo I took in Nepal in 1994 and my very poor attempt at sketching a natural land formation in my fantasy story's world.

The proportions aren't really right for a cover, but I figure I'll just say it's a "wrap-around" type cover... yeah, that's it... heh.

22 October 2006

We’re Doing WHAT in November?

So.

I started putting together a list of what I’ll have to work around in November in order to do the Great Novel-Writing Adventure thing that is NaNoWriMo. Just so I could be prepared, ya know?

I’ve succeeded in sorta freakin’ myself out.

Here’s what I know about at the moment:

Nov 1: The usual grant deadline. This one is less of big deal, since – because I’m still working from home – the major work I’ll do on the proposals should be prior to November 1. When I’m trying to iron out my plot wrinkles. Oh well.

Nov 2: Ms. Baby's head scan. I suspect this will take up most of the morning by the time we’re done. (She has to have her head scanned because there’s a funny bump on the back on her skull. See photo.)



Nov 8: Appointment with the plastic surgeon. About Ms. Baby’s funny bump. At 7:30 in the morning. In the middle of the city. This will necessitate getting up at an ungodly hour and driving through the city’s rush hour traffic. With Ms. Baby screaming her discontent at being in her carseat the entire time. Joy.

Nov 9: The Husband’s Birthday. He doesn’t want anything for his birthday. Except to go hunting. Which means he’ll gone for part of a weekend.

Nov 10/11: More birthdays. The Husband’s stepmother’s birthday is on the 10th and his grandfather’s birthday is on the 11th. Or vice-versa I can never remember.

Nov 15-ish: The not-so-usual grant deadline. Hopefully, there won’t be a ton of work for this one, since it’s the 3rd and final submission. Hopefully.

Nov 19: Visitors. My sister-in-law and her very cute 18-month-old arrive for a 10-day visit. They live in California, so we don’t see them very often. We’ll be wanting to make up for that. I mean, look at this hair. We can’t miss out on that.


Then, there’s Thanksgiving on whatever, the 24th or something. And there will probably be more doctor's appointments, depending on what Ms. Baby’s scan shows. (Hopefully that will be nothing more than her skull is growing funny and she’ll have to wear a helmet. Hopefully.) I’m figuring at least two more fun drives into the city for that dealio.

And I’m going to try and write a novel.

Where IS my brain? I seem to have misplaced it.

19 October 2006

Eirik’s Boat

OK - so this is your typical pre-NaNo 'Oh, crap' moment:

So one of the characters - Eirik - has this boat. He and the main character are supposed to escape her execution on it. It's a special ship, probably been in the family for generations, handed down from father to son, yada,yada, yada...

In my mind, it's a Viking longship. Complete with dragon-headed prow.

So last evening, in a bid to constructively procrastinate instead of work on the outline for the story, I decide: I might as well do some reading up on longships just so's I know what the hell I'm talking about.

I mosey, ever so languidly, over to Wikipedia. Longship, I type. Here's a bit of what I find: lapstrake construction, fastened with iron rivets, oar-driven, center mast, prow carries a dragon carving.

So far, so good.

And then, the kicker: they were BIG. Most longships were 60 to 75 feet long or longer (bet that's why they called 'em ... oh, nevermind...). Not only that, they had crews of 60 or more big, burly men.

My brows draw together and my lips begin to purse. This is going to be a problem. Well, not so much a problem as a MAJOR PROBLEM. Mainly, this is going to be a problem because I do not have a crew of 60 or more big, burly men. In fact, I have no men of any sort.

Five kids. That's what I've got and I can't even count the two youngest, really, because one is 4 and the other isn't even a year old yet. So three kids: an 8-year-old girl and two 16-year-olds, one of which is also a girl. And these three kids, even with help from the bossy 4-year-old, are not going to be able to sail a ship that big. Not by a longshot, not even in a world where they could have 'magical' powers (which none of them do at that point in the story).

Oh. Crap.

I spend the next 10 or 20 minutes doing some rather frantic, panic-stricken research into other kinds of Viking ships. The only ones I can find that these kids might be able to handle is called a faering. Faerings are sort of small and canoe-like. And quite decidedly unfit for the stretch of open ocean my kids have to cross. Besides, I need a dragon-headed prow. And not just because they're cool and I like them - it's an important plot point (it is!).

I go to bed, dejected, depressed and really, really annoyed with the Vikings for having such big-ass ships. I figure I'll sleep on it. Maybe something will turn up in my dreams.

Morning. Nothing. Lots of dreams, not a single ship to be had.

I go about my day: feed baby, convince Ms. Four to wear clothes to school instead of her Cinderella costume, make lunch, deliver Ms. Four to school, feed baby, prep manuscript for submission, feed baby, etc, etc.

Finally, work-work done for the time being, I make myself sit down and work it out. This is exactly what I type:

OK, OK – it’s like a mini-longship. A longship-shaped ship that has a dragon headed prow and all that, plus a mast that can be stepped by a couple of reasonably strong people, even two 16-year-olds, say. And it has a sort of hold and a covered/sheltered sleeping area that’s barely big enough to fit the 5 of them. We could even call it a faering, if you like. A dragon-faering. Yeah, that might work…

*deep, satisfied sigh*

I love writing fantasy. If it doesn't exist, you get to make it up. Solves everything, real easy-like.

16 October 2006

Twitch, Twitch

I love my job. I really, really, really love my job.

I'm not being facetious. I'm not even being sarcastic. I really do love my job.

But sometimes, the people I work for, they're enough to kill me.

Like today, for instance. I sat down to edit this manuscript. I've edited it before. It got submitted to a journal. It got rejected by the journal.

As part of being rejected by the journal, it underwent peer review. I believe there were three different reviewers and you know what? Each and every one of them said that the manuscript had - and I quote - 'many grammatical errors'.

Many. Grammatical. Errors.

You know what my job is? Correcting grammatical errors. You know what I did to that manuscript before it was submitted? I corrected the grammatical errors. You know what the first author on that paper did? He ignored my corrections of the grammatical errors. And submitted the paper with them.

You know what I think of that? Well, to quote Hermione's comment from one of those Harry Potter movies: Wot. An. Idiot.

I mean, c'maaahn. What does he think they pay me for?? Does he really assume he knows my native language better than I do? (He's Chinese and probably, in this guy's case, he does. But that's another story.)

Here's the deal, people: If I put in a 'the' and take one of yours out - trust me. If I tell you it's supposed to be 'widowed' not 'bereft of spouse' - trust me. If I break up your 99-word sentence into something the human brain can actually process - trust me. If I rewrite a whole sentence from your Abstract because it doesn't make any frikkin' sense as written - trust me.

I understand that there is an 'issue' here: I don't have an MD. I don't have a PhD. And I don't have an MA, MS, MPH or M-anything. But for fuck's sake people, I am a native English speaker, I'm not an idiot and while admittedly, there are plenty of jargon, technical and medical terms that I may not be familiar with, I always try my damndest to familiarize myself and figure out what the stardard practice is. Furthermore, I will readily admit - in writing, because I always type up my "editing notes" and send them along with the edited manuscript - when I can't figure it out.

Crikey! That will be all, people.

15 October 2006

Damn Hyperactive Imagination

[a NaNo rant ]

Knowing it to be an exercise in futility, I wasn't going to outline this year. I mean, I learned my lesson last year. I know how hard my characters will laugh at any outline I come up with when I start referring them to it. I was going to save myself the trouble.

Unfortunately, as soon as my imagination gets wind of a new project in the works, it gets all these illusions of grandeur and epic tales begin to blossom in my mind. Sort of like the mushroom cloud from an A-bomb.

Next thing I know, I'm frantic to find a pencil or pen or crayon or SOMETHING to keep all these wonderful ideas from disappating into thin air and BOOM! An outline starts taking shape under my fingers.

Pretty soon, I'm starting to organize it into chapters. Then I get all in a tizzy about the ending. Then I start obesessing about details large and small. I've got Character Bios started and now I'm trying to decide if I'm going to have more than one POV character.

Gah! Somebody save me from myself!

12 October 2006

Extra, Extra...

OK, this one wins my prize for Bizarre Headline of the Week:


The first time I read it I was envisioning the faces of teenagers leaving trash all over powered antennas attached to bras... the real story is only slightly less bizarre (thankfully no one was killed).

09 October 2006

NaNo, NaNo

Yeah. I can't help myself. I'm gonna do it again.



Wanna join me? C'mon. I dare ya!

08 October 2006

Can You Say: Doh!

Or: Sometimes life really sucks when your kids are smarter than you are

So Ms. Four had a minor hissy fit over something I told her she couldn't do this morning and threw her scissors.

She is not allowed to throw things. Things that she throws get taken away for the remainder of the day and put out of her reach until the following morning.

So I promptly removed the scissors from her possession and placed them out of her reach.

And spent the rest of the day cutting things out FOR her.

DOH!

06 October 2006

Reverse ATM

OK, the Poor Little Agnostic Brain has now seen everything.




Apparently, churches are finding this an attractive alternative to the traditional offering basket, since people don't carry cash or checkbooks around anymore. This way, even if all you have on you is your debit card (does it TAKE credit cards - that'd be interesting), you can still give your god your money if the spirit moves ya.

Well. Hallelujah.

Dumbass Mama

Yep. I get the Dumbass of the Day award today:

It's 8AM. I'm starving. I decide I want eggs.

It's a nice day. The doors and windows are open.

Ms. Baby is sitting in her Bouncy Seat growing progressively irate.

I butter the pan. I run over to the Bouncy Seat to rearrange the blanket, snuggle bunny and Sucky Thing.

I run back to the kitchen and crack my eggs. I run back to the Bouncy Seat to rearrange the blanket, snuggle bunny and Sucky Thing.

I run back to the kitchen to find my eggs rapidly overcooking. I flip them. I run back to the Bouncy Seat to rearrange the blanket, snuggle bunny and Sucky Thing.

Back to the kitchen. Yeah, eggs are gonna be over hard today. I put the english muffins in the toaster and run back to the Bouncy Seat to rearrange the blanket, snuggle bunny and Sucky Thing.

Too late. Ms. Baby has gone from irate to ballistically pissed without passing Go and without collecting so much as a nickel. I pick her up and throw her onto my shoulder.

I run back to the kitchen to find my english muffin burnt and my eggs rubbery. Grumbling, I put them on a plate, toss the plate on the table and proceed to hack at my breakfast with a fork, shoveling bites into my mouth as fast as I possibly can.

All the while I am bouncing Ms. Baby on my knee. She is not impressed. In fact, ballistically pissed is starting to look mighty calm compared to where she's headed.

I try the swing. No. I try different positions. Not even, Mama.

Resigned, I sit back down at the table and shovel faster as Ms. Baby works on one masterpiece of a Royal Hissy Fit.

I give up on eating. I start walking up and down the hallway trying to find a happy position in which to hold the hissy-ing Ms. Baby. This includes up on the shoulder again. Her little arms are waving wildly, probably trying to flag down better help around here.

One hand slaps into my face. It's freezing cold.

I look at the open doors and windows. I look at my flannel PJs and fleece bathrobe. I look at Ms. Baby in her single-layer cotton outfit. Cute. Not insulated.

I grab a big fleece blanket and wrap the now howling Ms. Baby up really tight, pop the Sucky Thing in her mouth and bounce her a few times.

In less than a minute, she's given up on all hissy fits, ballistic pissy-ness and generally fussy behavior and has fallen fast asleep. I put her back in the Bouncy Seat and finish hacking at my breakfast in peace.

Dumb. Ass. Mama.

05 October 2006

Technical Difficulties

Right, so Ms. Baby slept FOREVER last night - like two, count 'em, TWO four-hour episodes In A Row - so I'm feelin' pretty together this morning.

She's down for her morning nap. I decide to make coffee.

Furthermore, having slept an Almost Normal Amount, I'm feeling all kinds of ambitious. I decide before making coffee, that I'm going to descale the espresso machine. It's been about a year since the last descaling, so it's about time. So I go out to the garage and get the gallon jug of vinegar that I keep on hand for that purpose (vinegar doesn't go bad, I'm pretty sure).

I then search the house for the steam stopper-thingy, eventually find it and run a bunch of vinegar through the espresso half of my wonderful coffee machine. That finished, I prepare to de-vinegar it by running a bunch of water through the espresso half of my wonderful coffee machine.

Now. If you've ever seen an espresso machine, you know it's under pressure and there's a screw-on top to the little water chamber-thingy.

It got stuck.

I just spent TEN MINUTES trying to get it off. It wouldn't budge. No matter how I turned the wonderful coffee machine, the lid to the little water chamber-thingy just refused to move.

Was it still under pressure? Do I not know my own strength?

I don't know. I finally got it off, but it was very frustrating.

And I still have no coffee.

29 September 2006

The Night's Work

Word count: 100 or so
Wikipedia consultations: 1 (Viking ships)
Tune-age: None

I was editing, see, instead of writing. Somehow that justifies not cranking out quite so much. Actually, I was hoping to CUT 500 words. Didn't do so good there. Oh, well.

Organizational Orgasm

Right, so I just spent the better part of an hour labeling most of my past posts. Yes, I just went through the whole goddamn list and opened every post I've posted since I started posting and thought up a bunch of snappy-sounding labels for them. I'm ridiculous, I know, but I've been itching to do this for over a year.

Now I feel better. So organized. So clean. So refreshed! So envigorated!

OK, yeah, that could very well be the caffiene talking.

28 September 2006

Whoa... 'the fuck just happened?

Word Count: 552
Forays into Wikipedia: 0 (Eh?!!?)
Other Peripheral Distractions: Multiple checks of email leading to the discovery that Blogger FINALLY has fucking categories! Woo-hoo! Had to sign up.
Tune-age: Hand That Feeds (NIN) (yes, over and over and over...)


OK, this 500-word goal thing is working. I churned out all this crap and suddenly found my chapter swirling at light speed to a (sorta) cliffhanger ending I hadn't seen coming. Not only is that cool, it also made clear the solutions to all the other problems with this chapter AND means I might just squeeze out that deadline on Sunday. !!

27 September 2006

Fess Up Time

Word count: 619
Forays into Wikipedia: 5
(Chinese surnames, 100 most common Chinese surnames, Chinese Nobility, Han Dynasty, Warrant Officer)
Tune-age: The Hand That Feeds (NIN)

That actually wasn't so bad. Today. 'Course I got to sleep for 4 hours in a row last night. THAT probably won't happen again for a week.

Goals

So I was reading this thing about increasing your "writing productivity" today and one of the tips is to set yourself daily goals. They can, thankfully, be small goals, but all the same, it apparently helps you to crank out the wordage.

I'm thinking about trying it.

Partly I want to try it because I'm one of those people who's so annoyingly goal-oriented that I can't function properly without a damn To Do list even when I'm on vacation. I also need SOMETHING to get my ass in gear with this book. I want it finished. I want the fucking thing out of my head so I can move on to something else.

I also need something else to think about besides whether or not I should brave changing the baby's diaper (there's always a chance she's not quite done) or how to get Ms. Four to do something else besides chop scrap paper into teensy, tiny pieces (yes, I'm the friggin' idiot who bought her the scissors, and yes, my living room floor looks distinctly like it's been snowing... or somebody had one hell of a confetti party...). (I'm really not cut out for this stay-at-home/work-at-home mom thing, can you tell. Hats off to any woman (or man, and I gatta hand it to The Husband on that one) who's done it.)

'The hell was I on about anyway. Oh yes. Goals. Here's mine: 500 words a day.

That might be too much. Guess I'll find out. To keep myself honest, the plan is 500 words of fiction (this crapola doesn't count). And I'll post the daily word count here to keep myself even more honest (like I know how to lie in the first place...).

OK. Off to it. I'll post results in a bit.

25 September 2006

Shopping

I am not a shopper.

Well, let me rephrase that. Slightly. I am a shopper, but only for certain items. That is to say, I do not like to just “go shopping” in the conventional sense where one spends hours joyously wandering around some mall with one’s girlfriends spending gobs of money on god-knows-what just for the sheer pleasure of it while one’s significant other sits mournfully but patiently on a bench somewhere with other significant others.

I know I am betraying my gender, but unless it involves books, textiles or shoes, I am not that kind of shopper. I’m not sure why exactly. Probably a combination of things. I don’t like crowds of people. I don’t like looking at every single, stinkin’ thing in the store. I prefer to get in, get what I need and get the hell out before the crowds of people get me, which is probably why I don’t like stores that aren’t properly organized (TJ Maxx and its ilk are a nightmare). In addition, I don’t like buying things I don’t really need (unless it’s books, textiles or shoes, which I always need). And I despise the very thought of bargain hunting (ugh – it sends a shiver down my spine even as I type), since it typically involves all of the above.

So as I say, I’m not a shopper. However – all is not lost – I married one. On certain occasions, I am very grateful for it. (On other occasions – primarily when I have been sent to the significant other bench – I am less grateful.)

Here is the story of an I-am-grateful occasion:

I get a catalog every so often from Williams-Sonoma. Williams-Sonoma sells phenomenally expensive kitchen gadgetry and even more phenomenally expensive gourmet food items in its catalog. Not being phenomenally rich, I rarely ever buy anything from them. BUT. Once in a while I see something I think is really nifty and Simply Must Have.

These stemless wine glasses are one such item:



So. I am perusing the catalog one afternoon when I see them. Gorgeous! Functional (they fit in the dishwasher)! I’ve never seen anything like them! I pale at the price (two glasses for $22), but these are most definitely a Simply Must Have item.

I casually mention them to The Husband, show him the picture in the catalog and plan on ordering a set after I get paid at the end of the month.

A few days go by. A few (sleepless) nights go by. We end up wandering around Target (a very well-organized store) waiting for a prescription to get filled. Ms. Four (ensconced in the shopping cart), Ms. Baby (ensconced in her car seat and perched where Ms. Four should be sitting) and I (peeking around the sides of the cart because I can’t see over the car seat) wander one way and The Husband, the ever-intrepid shopper (sans babies or cart), wanders another. A few minutes later he catches up to us with a box in one hand.

“Look what I found,” he says, proudly holding up said box.

“What,” I ask, squinting at the box and wondering what nifty-but-useless item I’m going to have to talk him out of purchasing.

“It’s those glasses you wanted,” he says, beaming (as much as one can on Almost No Sleep).

I blink, the brain slowly gearing up to access the memory banks. Then I see the picture on the side of the box. It’s those glasses I showed him in the Williams-Sonoma catalog. Only there’s four of them, not two.

“Oh!” I say, excited now. “Cool!” Then warily, “How much are they?”

“They’re on sale - $7,” he says. Then he gives me a grin, “It was the sale tag that caught my eye.”

Cool!” I say again and stow the box safely in the cart.

You see why I married him. I mean, SEVEN BUCKS! Is he good or what? And the sale tag caught his eye! Wow! What would I do without him??

Moral of the story: It just goes to show that every family could use a shopper.

22 September 2006

Back to Work

It’s my first day back at work after maternity leave.

Somewhat sleep deprived, I arrive at my office just before 9AM. I sit down in my swivel chair and turn on my computer, then go get some coffee from the kitchen. I check my email first. Nothing new. Not too many people know I’m back yet. I get started on my first project.

Then suddenly, it hits me: I’m still in my pajamas.

Not only that, Ms. Four is watching Sesame Street just behind me and Ms. Baby is sleeping in her bouncy seat about four feet away.

I’m at home. I’m working.

I love my job.

20 September 2006

Pajamas

It will never be cold enough here for me, but last night I got to wear pajamas.

It got down below 50. We left the windows open. We threw another quilt on the bed.

I'm not sure we needed the second quilt (not with the pajamas on anyway), but there's just something about the weight of that extra layer. It was positively delicious.

18 September 2006

Spider Chronicles: Episode IV

So I am happy to report that we have not one but two resident arachnids at the new house. I am also happy to report that neither one has taken up residence in any of our windows. Both have located their webs in rather more conventional spots. Well, at least one has.

At right and below are front and side-view shots of the larger one, which I'm betting, based on her size, is a female. She has affectionately been dubbed by Ms. Four as "the new Jack" and has a very nice web set up between our garage and the path into the backyard. The location, as far as people are concerned, may not be ideal, since one must walk past it in order to visit the backyard. If one is not overly fond of spiders, the proximity could be distressing. In addition, I suppose there is also the possibility that the new Jack could relocate her web across the path into the backyard. However, based on last year's observations of the old Jack, I think we're safe - the old Jack had her web in exactly the same spot for several months.


At right is a shot of the other Jack. Because it's smaller than the new Jack, my money is on this one being a male. (We'll just have to wait and see who makes an egg sac.) As you can see, this one has chosen a decidedly less conventional spot for its web - in the wheel well of The Husband's 1972 Toyota Landcruiser. In fact, this dude hitched a ride in this exact spot over to the new house from the old one, which is pretty impressive and reinforces my impression that it's male (Would a female in her right mind be into joyriding? I think not).


So I have a male and a female practically within spitting distance of each other. What are the chances of getting a shot of spider sex? I actually witnessed spider sex at the old house. I think. Hard to be sure, but here's the story: Some other non-Jack species of spider had set up a web in the bathroom window and one day I watched as a very small spider approached the web. It (He?) delicately wiggled some of the web threads to get the attention, I assume, of the web's owner. She sort of ignored it at first, then all of a sudden, sped up to where the first spider was and sort of pounced on him. Then they ... well, sat very close to each other for a couple of minutes and then she went back to the center of her web as if nothing had happened and the first spider took off. I suppose they might just have been visiting. Who knows. Anyways, if I am lucky enough to digitally capture some spider porn, I'll be sure to post it.

11 September 2006

9/11

I went blog surfing for the first time today. Not sure what I was looking for. Not sure I found anything. But lots of people are writing about The Anniversary, so I thought I ought to contribute, if for no other reason than to record what I remember. (And let me forewarn you by saying that I found out I was pregnant two days after September 11, 2001, so everything about that day is colored for me by a hormonal haze. What does that mean? Well...)

The smell of bagels. I was at some meeting that morning, a meeting with breakfasty snacks, and the odor of fresh bagels about knocked me out.

Shaking. I was living in the Mountain time zone and hadn't listened to NPR on my way in to my office, so I had no idea what was happening until my boss called me. I turned the radio on and just sat there shaking so hard my teeth chattered and I couldn't seem to stop.

No planes in the sky. We lived out West where the sky is really, really big and you can see lots and lots of it all at once. The only planes we saw for days were fighter jets and after that - for days, weeks, months - I looked up, suspicious and with a weird pang of fear, when a passenger plane went overhead.

Churches. We went for a walk the Sunday afterwards. Every church parking lot we went past was full to overflowing. "A good place to be," The Husband said quietly, "If you're into that sort of thing." We kept walking. I think we may even have gone climbing. That was our 'church'.

Rental cars. My in-laws were visiting. They were scheduled to fly home September 12th. Instead, they kept their rental car and drove back East. The rental car company didn't charge them any extra for taking a Denver-based car across the Mississippi and not returning it.

Ashes. I stopped by my house with my boss on the way back from that bagel meeting. The Husband was watching TV. We saw people covered in ashes. White people, black people, Asian people? You couldn't tell.

Naming. Just hours into it, I wondered what we'd end up calling it, this collosal disaster. It had to be labelled somehow, because we're human and humans must name things. And it would end up being something neat, something quick, because "the planes that went down in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania" is too long a sound bite for the media. I remember for a few hours or days it was the World Trade Center bombings. Then people remembered that two other planes went down in other places and the only thing that could encompass it all was just the date.

Numbers. It's a bit macabre, or maybe a lot, but I remember the numbers kept going down. First it was 10,000 dead at the World Trade Center, then 8,000, then 6,000. I don't know why in those first few hours anyone even tried to estimate, but day after day it kept going down, which was sort of good, sort of weird and sort of horrible all at at the same time.

Sympathy. I'll never forget how the whole world, for once, was on our side. (I also will never forget how completely and utterly we've squandered that.)

Movies. This isn't really a memory, I suppose, but I knew they'd make movies about it. It was only a matter of time. I won't see them. It seems like it's in very bad taste to me. Besides. I lived through it. I don't want to experience it again. Ever.

The Future. I grew up during the Cold War. I grew up understanding that nuclear annihilation was just the push of a button away. My childern will grow up under a similar threat. Except they won't have the luxury of understanding anything like "nuclear deterent".

Guess that's mostly it.

09 September 2006

Big Bugs

So they've got a lot of bugs here south of the M-DL* and they grow 'em BIG. If you're a regular reader (um, yeah, like all two o' ya), you'll recall last fall's Spider Chronicles (Episodes I, II & III), which featured Jack, the great, big, yellow-and-black arachnid who had taken up residence in our living room window and who I was, bravely and against every natural instinct that I have, using as a science lesson for Ms. Four. Now Jack was large as spiders go – she definitely warranted classification as a Big Bug. But Jack had nothing on some of the too-many-leggeds we've come across since moving to our new abode. Most of them have warranted classification as Downright Monstrous.

Example # 1: Cave Crickets. Don’t they sound cute? They’re not. Nothing that gigantic is cute. I'm sure they have a scientific name (I don't know it), but I’m not sure why anyone would think to call them crickets, because from my perspective, there’s nothing even remotely cricket-ish about them. If they chirp appealingly like regular crickets, I’ve never heard them, and in all honesty they look a whole lot more like giant cockroaches than anything. I know this, because I caught one not too long ago. No, good grief, of course I didn't deliberately go looking for one. I just found A Gigantic Thing lurking by the back door early one morning and quickly (and bravely and against every natural instinct that I have) clapped a glass over it so it could be exterminated by The Husband, since I was sure it was a cockroach.

Example # 2: Wasps. I don’t like wasps. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that the wasp is the only insect ever to have stung me (apparently, the rest can’t fly fast enough to keep up with me running away from them). That was long ago and far, far North of the M-DL where there is only one variety of wasp to the untrained and terrified eye. They are plenty big enough, thank you. Down here in The South there are at least two varieties of wasp to the untrained and terrified eye – red and black – and both are Downright Monstrous. (Think flying golf ball with legs. And stinger.). The Husband keeps an old tennis racket (we call it the Wasp Whacker) handy to keep them at bay when they trespass on our patio (hey, I paid a lot of money for that patio…and there’s plenty of space in the yard, or better yet other people’s yards, for them).

The red ones also appear to be rather aggressive, swooping and diving towards one’s head to defend their territory (or right to exist … or something). I’m embarrassed to admit I got cornered by the other day. Imagine this: a 140 (give or take a few) pound woman with broom (I was sweeping off the front steps), immobilized by an irate insect (I had inadvertently swiped it with the broom) one ten-thousandth her weight crawling piteously across the concrete (having been injured by said broom swipe). It had me pinned, sweating and adrenalized, for five full minutes before I could work up the courage to spear it with the business end of the broom (No, I did NOT have the balls to step on it with my teva’d foot – what if I missed? what if it moved as I went to deliver the crushing stomp?).

Example # 3: Cicadas. I know, I know. Cicadas are perfectly harmless. They don’t bite. They don’t sting. They’re positively miraculous because they only crawl out the ground every 17 years. Yada-yada-yada. They also look like a mega-huge house fly, make an alarming buzzing noise when they fly and are prone to crashing into people who get in their way, which while not hazardous can be quite distressing when unexpected (I speak from experience on this one).

And check out these pictures of actual cicada … er, parts … direct from my very own yard. The first picture – the one of the mud covered … thing… clinging to the post – is a cicada that has recently extracted itself from the ground. (I thought it was just a huge-ass beetle. Thank goodness for The Husband, else I would walk around totally ignorant of so many things.) The second one is a cicada. A live cicada. Which I happen to know, because I prodded it with a stick to find out and it buzzed, rather petulantly, that it was.

Example # 4: Cicada Killers. This bug tops all lists of Downright Monstrosity. In fact, I personally have to file these guys under Fucking Knarly. They're straight out of a horror movie, take a look (that thing is sitting on a business card). They are actually a form of wasp, but they look more like mini hovercraft - fully three inches long and bigger around than a cigarette. And they're territorial in the extreme – they make wasps look like they're homeless. If you get too close to their underground burrow when they're home, they fly this figure eight pattern around the entrance that is the most menacing aerial display by at insect that I've ever seen. In fact, it’s so menacing, I’ve considered having The Husband take the Wasp Whacker to the one in our yard, which is against my general let’s-get-along-with-nature-when-we’re-outside take on life, but I can only scream like a ninny and grab my children so many times a week, ya know.

Incidentally, their name is a definite misnomer. They don't actually kill cicadas, they hunt cicadas. Then they paralyze them, drag them back to their burrows and lay their eggs in the cicada’s helpless and still living bodies so that their young have fresh meat when they emerge. Nice.

When does it get cold around here, anyway? Yeesh.

07 September 2006

Stupid Question

I'm a fairly smart person. I should be able to figure this out myself. But alas, I think my age is showing.

I want to buy a song. One song. I don't want the whole damn album. I just want the one song off it that I know I like.

HOW THE HELL DO YOU DO THAT? (Arrgh!)

01 September 2006

Intuition

The milk startles me when in drips onto my arm. I don't know why. I felt it let down, after all.

I grab a cloth diaper from where I keep it on the back of the couch and stuff it inside my shirt so to catch the rest of the drips. Then I save the chapter I'm working on and listen.

Sure enough, within a minute or two, I hear Ms. Baby stirring. How my body knows she was about to wake up and need her 'nummies', I have no idea. I turn the monitor down and walk to the other end of the house to find Herself, eyes still closed, waving her arms in the air and nursing her blanket.

I pick her up, latch her on and watch as my body fills her tummy. She does her usual - five very intense minutes, followed by five minutes of 'don't take this thing out of my mouth yet' token sucking. Then I put her on my shoulder and make what I know will be a fruitless attempt to burp her. My theory is that people just don't burp in their sleep (she has yet to bother opening her eyes).

I lay her down. She's restless. I know I'll be back shortly. She gives me enough time to pee.

I decide to rearrange her blanket before putting her on the other side, since I know she'll be out for a couple hours after this. She's patient, lets me do my thing, then does hers.

When she's done, I lay her down, tuck her in and go back to my chapter.

24 August 2006

Missing The Obvious

(or: Doh!)

I hate when I'm struggling with some piece of writing, and I'm hemming and hawing and dilly-dallying, instead of actually writing, because I KNOW something's "wrong" with whatever it is, but I can't quite figure it out so the chapter or story or whatever is going nowhere fast and then suddenly I SEE it and it turns out the answer has been there all along - as in, had I bothered to READ my own writing, I would have seen all the clues to where the chapter or story or whatever was "supposed" to be going and saved myself a butt-load of beating my head against the wall, false-starts, procrastinatory activities and a whole slew of Angry Letters to my characters, muse, and assorted other scapegoats, not to mention TIME. Sheesh.

(God, I love run-on sentences.)

23 August 2006

Progress

My belly button went back to being an inny today.

Ms. Baby has gained over a pound since we left the hospital two weeks ago. (I make milk. What's your superpower?)

I've lost 20 pounds since Ms. Baby was born. (Only 25 more to go. Heh. Ugh.)

Chapter 2 of the novel is actually being written. By my very own brain.

I can drive my car myself (since I fit behind the steering wheel again).

I can bend over and reach my toes.

I wear a C cup. Woo-hoo! Life is good!

19 August 2006

The Return of The Brain

It's back.

The brain, I mean. Not that it went anywhere physically, but the placenta has been doing 95% of my thinking (if you can call it that) for the last 9 months of my life.

It happened almost immediately upon the departure of said placenta from my body. I could tell because I remembered all my nurses' names in the hospital. (I still do.)

And progress continues because I want to write again. Granted, I haven't done much, just a little editing on the novel, but I can't even tell you how happy I am about it. I haven't even wanted to do that for the last two months. The placenta just wasn't interested in my little make-believe world or its characters or their problems, and I was terribly worried that breastfeeding was going to result in the same lack of motivation. However, prolactin doesn't seem to have the same deleterious effects on the imagination as whatever hormonal cocktail the placenta churns out.

As I said, I am ever so happy about it. It's nice to have a brain again...

17 August 2006

Full Moon Surprise

I always knew she'd be born in August. There was never any doubt in my mind about that. She'd be late and she'd be a Leo - no water babies for the water mama.

But I couldn't have guessed she'd be born under a full moon. That almost makes up for the long wait. (Almost.)

I suppose I should have seen it coming that day. I mean, I did make her a birthday cake that morning. Not only that, the husband bought his celebratory cigar that day.

Still. I was scheduled for induction at 6AM the next morning (how obnoxiously early is THAT?) and I had resigned myself to it. So I was more than a little surprised when my water broke in the hot tub (have I mentioned how much I love my hot tub??).

I didn't know what it was at first, so I sat there for a minute weightlessly wondering. Then decided to get out because I had to pee - and found the bottoms of my tankini full of water I couldn't seem to drain off. So I went inside and used the facilities. When I stood up, liquid was running down my leg. And I knew I wasn't still peeing. That's when it finally hit me - the induction plans can get stuffed.

Off to the hospital.

I took a towel to sit on in the car, just in case I kept leaking. The husband dropped me off at Admitting and I waddled in and stood on the towel (so I wouldn't leak on their floor), while the nice lady at the desk did her paperwork.

Meanwhile the husband arrived and I told him he'd better find something for me to throw up in, just in case (I did a fair amount of heaving with Ms. Four). Ever resourceful, he came back with the first serviceable item he could find - an umbrella bag. You know, a long, skinny plastic bag that you're supposed to put a dripping umbrella bag into so it doesn't leak on the floor of the place supplying the bag. I giggled (and leaked onto my towel).

They brought me a wheelchair and I put my towel in that (so I wouldn't leak on their wheelchair) and let them wheel me upstairs. They got us into a room and as soon as I stood up out of the wheelchair, well, I didn't leak so much as gush.

"Oh, sorry!" I cried grabbing my towel from the wheelchair and flinging it down to sop up the puddle. I really felt bad for messing up the floor.

The nurse - who quickly became my favorite - just smiled serenely and said, "You don't have to use your towel, honey. You're in a hospital. We've got plenty."

She had me change into one of those hospital smock thingys, which I purposely put on backwards (that way I know what's showing) and got me hooked up to a monitor (with the volume mercifully low).

And that is when the fun began.

It isn't supposed to work this way, but labor with my second child was much, much harder than with the first. I mean, labor with Ms. Four was induced and induced labors are supposed to be "worse". Not so in my case. In my case, things got difficult fast. Difficult with not rest in between. For five hours straight. With NOTHING happening. As in, every time I'd throw up, the nurse would check me only to find that nothing had changed. I was still 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. After 1 hour, after 2 hours, after 3 hours, 4 hours, 5 hours: 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced.
Half an hour later, she checked me and told me we were making progress - I had finally started to dilate. To 4 cm.

Now thoroughly discourgaged and ensconced in an agony that seemed likely to never end, I asked for drugs.

It apparently took about 10 minutes for the nurse to get there (she was in the middle of another delivery), although to me it seemed like it was only a matter of minutes. When she finally got there, she checked me again. I had dilated to 6 cm.

Even in the middle of a contraction, I could hear the unmistakable note of urgency in her voice as she paged the nurses' station and told them to call the doctor. Now.

Two contractions later, I announced to anyone who would listen that I had to push.

I didn't have that with Ms. Four either. I mean, I pushed, but that "undeniable urge" you read about? Didn't have that. THIS, however, was undeniable. Hell, it was beyond undeniable. It was an unalterable, unstoppable force of nature. I couldn't NOT push.

So, of course, they told me not to push.

They weren't sure if I was dilated enough and if I wasn't dilated enough and pushed, I might tear my cervix, which would put me in serious doo-doo. I understood this, so I tried my best not to push. I did. But pushing was happening, whether I wanted anything to do with it or not.

They turned me over onto my back, sitting up somewhat (more than with Ms. Four), and presented me with handles that popped up from the hidden depths of the bed. Some other doctor I had never met came into the room, told me his name and then they told me I could push. I grabbed them handles and four or five pushes later, Ms. Baby was born.

The nurse told me afterwards that I was her hero. I guess they don't see a lot of women give birth without an epidural there (I'll pass on the needle in the spine every time, thanks). And she said she'd never seen anyone smile while they were pushing. (Smile? I could hardly wait for the next contraction.)

So there you have it. The arrival story of my full moon baby, my little Leo (whose mane has yet to grow in...).

02 August 2006

Dang.

So. After two days of contractions every 20 minutes, guess what I've got to show for it. Go ahead, guess!

Jack, that's what.

Last week, I was 50% effaced and 2 cm dilated. This week, I'm 70% effaced and 2 cm dilated. All that effort for a measly 20% of effacement. Woop. I am so Not Incredibly Impressed.

I don't suppose it helped that the uterus, inexplicably, decided to take the day off yesterday either. What's up with THAT? I mean, let's get it the fuck on with it already.

It's also not helping that my mother titters every time I come around a corner and my belly precedes me by - she claims - 3 steps. She can't be right. Can she?



It really isn't that funny dammit.

Oh, fuck you, don't talk to me. I'm going to soak in the hot tub now.

31 July 2006

Oh, Woe Is Me

/*begin rant*/

My feet hurt. My hands hurt. My left hip is getting pulled (pushed?) out of its socket, i.e., dislocated, i.e., it really fucking hurts.

I've had contractions every 20 to 40 minutes for the last day and a half. Most of them are the serious kind. Well, they don't hurt (not like the hip thing, which either doubles me over or drops me to the floor depending on whether there's something handy for grabbing or not). So I know it's not labor, but I pretty much zone out during them and don't hear what anyone says to me. (Except Ms. Four, but she's special.) So I know things are happening. We're effacing. We're dilating ever so slowly. Progress is being made.

I still have no baby.

I mean, she's still there. On the inside. I want her to come out and play. Hell, everybody wants her to come out and play. But no one more than me.

I can't take another day of waddling. I can't take another day of everyone rushing around trying to do everything for me. I can't take another minute of everyone telling me what I am and am not allowed to do. (I'm a fucking grown-up, fercrissake!)

They don't want me to go to work today. They think I don't fit behind the steering wheel (they may have a point there). They think I'm going to go into labor any second (I won't, of course, I'm not that lucky, and even if I did, I work in a fucking hospital, people! Not only that, I work in a hospital two floors directly above Labor and Delivery! Lay off!).

Besides, if I don't go into work today, I'll be Bored Stupid. And besides that, I'm not taking one minute of maternity leave until I have an actual baby to enjoy it with. I only get six weeks paid and after than I only get six more (unpaid, since my vacation and sick leave will run out, or more likely, paid but working from home) because this country has its priorities so pathetically ass-fucking backwards when it comes to social infrastructure. (I mean, really, how do you expect women to breastfeed their babies for a year when you won't give them the support needed to actually do that? And if you think you can get the breastfeeding relationship well-established enough in six to twelve weeks to make it to a year: THINK. AGAIN. Only the very stubborn (i.e., me and women like me) will stick it out.)

OK. I think that's everything for now.

/*end rant*/

26 July 2006

Hot Tub. Yeah, baby.

So I was planning on posting another litany of complaints (complaints new and different from those on the last litany-of-complaints post) this evening. But I can't remember what they are.

Why? Two words: Hot Tub. As in, the house we bought last month came with one and we finally got it drained, scrubbed, refilled, pH-balanced and had a sit in the fucker tonight after Ms. Four went to bed.

It was fucking great. No. It was SUPER fucking great. I mean, you have no idea what great is until you're 9 months fucking pregnant and suddenly find yourself weightless. With massage.

I couldn't stop giggling and didn't even care. It was absolutely fan-fucking-tabulous. The hip pain disappeared (it's been with us since April). The lower back pain melted away. The aching feet thing dissapated. Even the finger joint pain (a result of the relentless edema as I understand) took a hike for a bit. Oh yeah, and whatever it was I was going to gripe about took off, too.

Now my only complaint is: What in the bloody hell did we waste all that time painting and unpacking for when we should have been getting the hot tub operational?? Priorities, people. It's all about priorities.

17 July 2006

Questions I'm Totally Sick Of

1. How much longer do you have?

Too long. Whether it's one more hour, one more day, one more week or three more weeks, it's going to be too goddamn long. The only person who can ask me this and not piss me off is the girl at Starbucks and that only because she gave me the "Mommy Discount" and I got my decaf tall mocha for free one day a couple of weeks ago because I was having a bad-mommy morning. The rest of you need to shut up.

2. Do you have a name yet?

No. Actually, yes. We have a list. As I've explained nine dozen times, I cannot and will not name someone I have never seen. It just seems wrong. When we see her, we'll name her. Please stop asking.

3. Can I get that for you?

This is the hardest one for people to understand. Especially, bless his heart, The Husband. He's only trying to help and make these last few (*cringe*) weeks easier for me. But, really. I can get a glass of water by myself (sort of) and I hate needing help with stuff. Therefore, having people help with stuff pisses me off. (I'm going to make a Fantastically Bad invalid when I'm old and decrepit. Can you tell?)

4. How are you feeling?

I am nine months pregnant. How do you think I'm feeling? Miserable. Bloated. Fat. Unwieldy. Uncomfortable. HOT. Pick any. Pick all.

Post-Script: I composed the foregoing litany of complaints in my head on the shuttle from the parking lot (which I am forced to take since it's 95 fucking degrees out at 8:45 in the morning and I can't walk that far anymore, anyway). I trudged to my building, suffered the elevator (since it about kills me to take the stairs) and waddled miserably to my cube - to find one of our postdocs, a lovely woman from Mongolia, leaving me 9 red roses. Nine. One for each month of suffering. I just about cried.

Post-Post-Script (11:09 AM): And just now one of our interns, a lovely woman from China, brought me a little something for the baby. It's very cute - all the more so because it's blue. (You can't even imagine how sick I am of putting pink on little girls. Honestly, they look great in other colors.) Perhaps I'm the one that should shut up now...

13 July 2006

Bumpah Stickah: Episode III

Spotted stuck to the back of a shiny red Dodge Ram pickup:

What would Homer do?

It made my commute and I grinned all the way home. Hah!

30 June 2006

Barbie

So when Ms. Four turned four a month-ish ago, it was princesses all around. Right down to the birthday cake, which this Mama-Lady managed, by some sort of honest-to-gahd, frikkin' miracle, to pull off by herself. Check it out:

No, I didn't get this from a store, and no, I didn't really intend for the dress to be quite so Pepto-Bismal, neon pink.

And yes, that really is a gen-u-ine Barbie wearing that contraption.

A Barbie that I bought of my very own volition with my very own money. Me. The very same Mama-Lady that, for just over three years now, has been actively forbidding all forms of grandmother to purchase Ms. Four any form of Barbie.

Why, you ask? Well, duh. Present femi-nazi dogma states that allowing little girls to play with Barbie with warp their poor little innocent brains into thinking they need to be six foot tall, blond, big-boobed, tiny-waisted, unnaturally curvy hipped bimbos. Right?

Well, maybe. Unfortunately, the femi-nazis forgot one very important fact, which I discoverd after we got home with Barbie and her twin (one of the grandmothers ignored the moratorium this time). Playing with Barbie is fun.

Lots of fun. Loads of fun. I had forgotten how much fun. Changing their clothes, putting on new shoes, sticking them into their jeep and taking off on an adventure. changing their clothes when they get back, sitting down and having a tea party, changing their clothes, playing with their hair, changing their clothes. Oh, and did I mention changing their clothes??

My great-grandmother, if you can believe this, made Barbie clothes for my Barbies when I was a kid. Made them. Herself! With a damn sewing machine! I don't remember much about them, except that they were hard to get on because Barbie's legs were sort of rubbery and that made fabric stick to her, so pants were a bitch to pull up. And my Barbie days were in the days before Velcro (yes, I'm really that ancient), so all the clothes my Grammy made had metal snaps that - after struggling for 10 minutes to pull on a sleeve or pant leg - were even more of a bitch to fasten. Maybe that's why I don't remember what most of them look like.

But I'll never forget that fur coat.

There were fights over that coat, if I remember right. Everybody wanted her Barbie to be the one to wear it. It was a wrap-around affair, so no snaps. And it was a winter coat, so it was roomy and not so hard to get on. And it had this great collar. Light brown fake fur, it framed Barbie's face and crossed elegently over her boobs. Barbie was just absolutely glamorous whenever she wore it.

You can't imagine how badly I wish I still had that coat, because as I was sitting on the living room floor with Ms. Four and trying to convince her that she really needed to play Barbies with me for just five more minutes, pleeeease!, I decided the femi-nazis are wrong. No amount of playing with Barbie is going to warp a kid's mind so badly they think they need to look like a doll. That's just silly.

I mean look at me. I spent countless hours playing Barbies. I plan to spend countless more hours playing Barbies (if I can convince Ms. Four to sit still long enough, that is). I have never, ever been in any danger of wanting to be tall or big-boobed (although I will admit to a bout of blondness once in a while).

So I don't think it's going to hurt Ms. Four much, if at all. And really, I just wish she'd let me swap the tutu on that one Barbie for something more comfortable for lying around the house.

24 June 2006

You might be a Yankee if...

  • You think barbecue is a verb meaning 'to cook outside'.
  • You think Heinz Ketchup is SPICY.
  • You don't know what a moon pie is.
  • You don't know anyone with two first names (i.e. Jo Bob, Billy Bob).
  • You've never, ever eaten Okra.
  • You eat fried chicken with a knife and fork.
  • You have no idea what a polecat is.
  • Instead of referring to two or more people as 'y'all', you call them 'you guys', even if both of them are women.
  • None of your fur coats are homemade.

I clipped the foregoing out of a New England newspaper many, many years ago (I post it here only because it is so yellowed with age I'm afraid I'm going to lose it in the move to the new house because it may disintegrate at any moment). I clipped it because I thought it was funny. I had been in The South once or twice and thought I knew why: I THOUGHT it was making fun of Southerners. Now I'm not so sure.

Take the barbecue one, for instance. I didn't know until I moved here three years ago what barbecue - Southern barbecue - actually is: fabulous! It's some kind of meat that's been smoked (usually it's pork, but I've had beef and turkey as well) and is eaten on a hamburger bun with some kind of fiery sauce, pickles and - if you're a little out there like me - mayo. Usually, you get it with sides, which might include beans (sort of like baked beans, but a bit spicier), potato salad, green beans, etc.

In other words, 'barbecue' in The South is a noun bearing no resemblence whatsoever to the Yankee definition of 'barbecue' (Southerners use the term 'grilling out' for that). So when I first read that clipping, I assumed it was meant as a slight to Southerners. Now I understand. What it really means is: Yankees don't get it.

I hold up my mother as a perfect example of the ketchup one. She probably does think it's spicy.

As for moon pies, well, Yankees do have 'em. But we call 'em 'whoopie pies'. Yes, really. 'Nuff said there.

I don't know about the rest of it. Yet. Guess I haven't lived here long enough, but I suspect one day I'll discover some inside knowledge about okra and homemade fur coats that will have me rolling on the floor at myself and what I thought I knew... Yep. It's all about perspective.

23 June 2006

The Joys of The Pregnant

Things I’ll miss

  • Playing guess the body part while watching my belly distort itself into configurations that even in my wildest nightmares I could not have thought up.
  • Hiccups. (Hers not mine.)
  • Taking my time crossing the street at the Medical Center where everybody is in a hurry. Everybody but the Pregnant Lady. Nobody dares rush her.
  • The don’t-mess-with-the-Pregnant-Lady-if-you-value-your-life aura I seem to exude. People just do what I tell them. They don’t fuss. They don’t argue. They just do it.
  • The Husband’s occasional participation in kitchen cleaning duties. Without being asked. (Minor miracle, that.)
  • The extra scoop of Spicy Tofu that the ladies in the hospital cafeteria give me after eyeing the belly.
  • The fact that the cafeteria's older cashier gentleman who wears a hairnet and always has a hand-written quotation taped to his register never charges me extra for the extra scoop of Spicy Tofu.

Things I won’t miss

  • Waddling and the constant pain that goes with it. Giving birth should be a cinch after this – it only lasts a matter of hours. Not months. And months. And friggin’ months. Without end.
  • Taking 15 minutes and the assistance of a small crane to turn over in bed at night. (You think I’m kidding. Aren’t you cute.)
  • Every other person I run into – including, and perhaps most especially, perfect strangers – telling me I’m about to pop. In those exact words. I wouldn’t mind this so much if I actually WAS about to pop, but I’m not. I’m 6 to 8 weeks out from poppin’, people. SHUT. UP.
  • Standing sideways at the sink. So I can reach it.

Things I’m looking forward to

  • That first smile. And don't tell ME it's gas. I know gas. That ain't it.
  • Handing the baby to someone else to carry for a while, so I can walk around BY MYSELF.
  • Not having to pee every 10 minutes. (You think I’m kidding. Aren’t you cute.)
  • Not eating. I’m tired of eating. I’m tired of being hungry all the friggin’ time. I’m tired of…. oh, crap, that doesn’t go away until you’re done with the breastfeeding thing. So much for that one.
  • My brain. I miss my brain. (I think it's hanging out with the placenta at the moment.) It'll be nice getting to know it again... oh, wait. I don't get THAT back until after the breastfeeding thing either. Crap.
  • Permanent forms of birth control. (Plural entirely intentional.)