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.