29 December 2008

Water, Water Everywhere

In a bout of schizophrenia, the weather decided to turn springlike this weekend, as in 50 degrees and deluge of rain. I kid you not, we got about 2 inches worth of rain over our snow and frozen ground. And, since the water didn't have anywhere else to go, it ended up in our basement.


Having been through this before, my husband pulls out the fans, the electric blower, and the bleach spray, and goes to work. The problem? He refuses to acknowledge that the carpet beneath his wrestling mats has gotten wet, and will not pull them up so that it will dry.

The result? An increasingly strong mildew smell, so strong it's making me ill, that he tries to cover up with various air fresheners. And when I try to go downstairs to do something about it, he yells at me to leave it alone.

Well, I won't let him make me sick. As soon as he leaves for work, those goddamn mats are coming up; both they and the carpet beneath are getting sprayed with bleach water, as is anything else that got wet and could be growing spores.

This macho "I know how to fix things and you don't" shit has got to stop. Now.

24 December 2008

It's a Miracle!

I know you're tired of hearing me whine about the weather. But it's my blog. Deal. ;-)

As a little background, the Frozen Tundra has been hammered with significant snowfall almost every day for the past week. Not only are we growing weary of driving in the white stuff, but my husband's fast running out of places to put it all when he clears the driveway.

Today was no exception. Since the bank closes early on Christmas Eve, I wanted to get in my hours, and so I left for work well ahead of schedule. Good thing I did - the flakes were already falling hard and fast, making the world look like a giant snow globe. The roads were slick, but that's been SOP of late.

For days we'd been inundated with dire predictions of heavy snowfall, so by this morning I was pretty much resigned to it. After all, it's nothing I can change, so why am I getting so upset over it? So when I left work early this afternoon I was fully prepared to go through the now-familiar ritual of clearing off my car and driving home through treacherous and visibility-limiting snowfall.

Wonder of wonders, my car was clear - not a trace of snow covered its lustrous purple surface! More startling still, the roads were wet and completely snow-free! Working in a basement with no windows leaves me guessing as to the weather outside; while I was toiling away, the temperature was rising, melting the nasty icy coating on the roads.

What a lovely surprise! I was all but dancing as I made my way to my car, and I sang with my iPod all the way home. See? Christmas miracles *do* happen!

To all of my readers, friends and loved ones, have a wonderful, wonderful holiday. Be safe, stay warm, and may similar miracles come your way.

20 December 2008

Lost - and Found

Wow. This is now officially the winter that Just Won't Quit. Now that we've dug ourselves out from the over 12 inches of snow that fell yesterday, I've learned that we're due to get smacked with two to six more tonight. Followed by a few more on Tuesday.

For f*ck's sake...enough, already!!!!!!!

Winter doesn't officially begin until Sunday, and already I'm sick of it. Yes, the snow is lovely and pristine, but trying to drive in it can be anything from annoying to (as I found out yesterday) downright dangerous.


I apologize for all the weather-related whining I've been doing lately. And yes, I do suspect I have at least a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I know it's bad when I can't get into the Christmas spirit until the week before, and even then it's lukewarm. That, combined with angst over whether or not my full-time status at my job is in jeopardy (my boss assures me it's not, but can't commit until next year's budget is approved), and I've been a right mess.

What else is new?

Perhaps, with the advent of the New Year, it's time for me to take the principles of Buddhism to a higher level of practice. Enlightenment is a journey, not necessarily a destination, and I've been so focused on material things that I feel I've lost my way entirely. Time to go back to the beginning, methinks, and get a fresh perspective. It'll probably be accompanied by some fresh snow, but c'est la vie. This *is* the Frozen Tundra, after all.

See? I'm better already. :-)

19 December 2008

Well, THAT was interesting...!

Let me 'splain.

Since bank operations never close, we're expected to try to get in to work, even during a winter storm warning. They just say, "Oh, take your time and be careful." Yeah, right. Sometimes, even time and care don't mean jack sh*t when there's a blizzard blowing through.

I tried to get to work. Really, I did. Although our subdivision had been plowed (a miracle unto itself), the main roads had not. I was literally crawling along in 2nd gear, unable to see more than 15 feet ahead of me, hoping to keep my car's tires in the existing ruts.

And then it happened. I turned onto the road that connects to the main drag between where I live and where I work, and discovered it was in even worse shape due to the winds. I thought "What the f*ck am I doing out here?" and tried to turn around.

And promptly got stuck.

Fortunately, two police officers were driving by just about then, saw that I was stuck (I'd put my hazard flashers on while I was trying to rock myself out of the drift I'd landed in), and very kindly helped me out. A third good Samaritan (a guy in a 4WD pickup truck) arrived with a shovel and helped dig out my car.

I should have known. I drive a Saturn coupe, which rides very low to the ground. When I opened up my door to talk to the nice officers, I couldn't get it open right away - there was too much snow.

F*ck, f*ck, f*ck, f*ckity f*ck f*ck!!!!!!

Well, they did eventually get me out, and the senior officer looked at me very sternly and said, "You're never going to get very far - it gets even worse to the west of here. Go back home and stay there." (I had explained where I lived and where I was trying to go.) At this point, I agreed with the very nice officers all too quickly.

I'm home now (obviously), and I just called in to say that the police told me to stay home. What a great excuse, right? Anyhoo, the gal I talked to in my department said that the only people who made it in were the ones with 4-wheel drive, and the ones who lived very close to the bank (as in 2 blocks). I feel somewhat vindicated, but dammit, I *still* feel guilty for not making it in! Even after getting stuck and having the police push me out! How whacked is that?!!!

What a mess.


I guess the only thing to do is make another cup of tea and settle in, and get a jump on my weekend chores.

To all the police, fire and rescue workers who have to be out in this gawdawful stuff, bless you all. You're wonderful.

Oh, the Weather Outside is...

...bloody f*cking awful.

The snow's coming down so hard you can hardly see five feet in front of you, and the wind's not helping.

They're predicting up to 12 inches of accumulation, and if I know our local highway department, the plows won't get to the side streets until tomorrow, which makes even getting out of our driveway problematic.

As much as I would LOVE to stay home, I can't - my boss made the rounds yesterday and told all of us to take lots of extra care and time getting in to work, because we need to be here; our department cannot close, even in extreme weather.


Anyone got a spare snowmobile or dogsled I can borrow?

18 December 2008

Jedi Master Now Am I...

Or at least, look like one now do I.

Let me explain.

In the winter, I am almost always cold. Cold nose, cold fingers, cold feet - you get the idea. My husband constantly complains about my icy appendages, especially when I get into bed and try to warm said appendages on the furnace that is his body. (Heh.)

So this year, he took action: he got me a Snuggie. Now, for those of you who haven't seen the TV commercial, a Snuggie is basically a fleece blanket with sleeves. Warmth and mobility. Gotta love it. So does the cat; no sooner do I wrap myself in the Snuggie and sit down - no matter if I'm at the computer or on the couch - the cat is right there, demanding lap rights. It's amazing.

Not only that, it's provoked much hilarity in our household. The first time I wrapped myself in my new cocoon, my husband started chuckling and asked me how I liked my "Jedi robe." I, of course, being a smartass, immediately took this ball and ran with it. In my best Yoda voice I addressed the cat as my "padameep" (instead of padawan), and told her that pouting for more chicken is not the Jedi way. Things only went downhill from there.

Yeah, we know we're geeks. But it was damn funny.

Just had to share. *grin*

17 December 2008

Oh, (S)No!

My most abject apologies for my lack of blogging lately - between work, the weather, and the holidays, I'm worn out!

Last night we had (yet another) snowstorm, and it took me twice as long to get home as it normally does. Driving white-knuckled, with my shoulders bunched around my ears, 'cause the roads aren't plowed, I can barely see anything ahead of me for all the snow, and the other drivers are reckless idiots.

Aaaand we're supposed to get socked by another major storm in another couple of days!


One of the weather sites I frequent says that this December is supposed to be the harshest month by far all winter. It had damn well better be; if our entire winter was this awful, I'd renounce the outside world completely and become a recluse.

At least the cat would be happy; she'd have a full-time lap! *grin*

10 December 2008

Take This Snow and Shove-l It!

Have I mentioned that I'm already sick of winter? And it's not even officially winter. But that doesn't seem to matter to the weather gods, who are inundating us with frequent snow storms. Last year at this time we got a whopping 17-20" in one snowfall; this year it's coming in 3-4" increments every 3-4 days. It's like being nibbled to death by ducks - ducks you have to clean up after with a snow shovel.

Case in point: yesterday, we had a nasty mix of snow/sleet/freezing rain turn to all snow by mid-morning. The slush began to freeze. The snow was wet and nasty, especially with the growing layer of ice underneath. Since I had garnered some overtime this pay period, I persuaded my bosses to let me out of work early. Man, I'm glad I did; it took me fifteen minutes to un-bury and de-ice my car, then another 45 to get home. (It usually takes me 20.)

I pull into the driveway to find that the bloody ^&*#$! wind has left an 8" drift right in front of our garage door. Rather than leave it for my husband to take care of, and because I didn't want to have him do all that work after what was sure to be a horrible commute, I went inside, changed into my snow gear (including my rabbit fur-lined Russian tank commander hat that comes complete with ear flaps), and went out to do battle.

45 minutes later, I'm soaked with sweat, my glasses are iced over, and the driveway is only 3/4 done. And it's still snowing. My husband drives up, shoos me inside, laughs at my sweat-soaked pigtails as I take off my hat (hey, I had to get my hair out of the way somehow!), suits up, and goes outside to finish the job - which he does in 15 minutes.


Have I mentioned how much I hate winter?

06 December 2008

File That Under...

...what was I thinking?

A little background: I'm a very stubborn person. Once I get an idea fixed in my head, I'm gonna go through with it come Hell or high water. This morning's idea? Finish my Christmas shopping, which involved driving 30 minutes down to the big, new, as-yet-unspoiled Target.

The problem? Snow. The forecast called for an inch or so to fall overnight, but what greeted us this morning was more like 2-3". *sigh* But I wasn't going to let the white stuff stop me - no way, no how! So I bundled myself up and set out.

The roads were *awful.* At 7:30 AM, nothing was plowed yet, or if it was, it was a half-assed job. I clutched the wheel in a white-knuckled grip, thinking, "What the hell am I doing out here?", but kept going. That damn stubbornness of mine, again. I drove well under the speed limit to stay safe, but now and again some jackass in a pickup or SUV had to play quien es mas macho and either ride my bumper or blow past me like I was standing still. Whatever. See you in the nearest ditch, asshole.

It took me a while to make it down to Target, but I arrived safely, parked, and went be greeted by a huge crowd of parents with kids, along with an equally large number of uniformed sheriff's department officers.

Oh, crap.

Yep, for two years in a row, I've managed to hit the store right at their "Shop with the Sheriff" celebration. The local sheriff's department takes donations for underprivileged families, then invites the kids of said families to go shopping for Christmas presents; each kid/family gets an equal amount of money, and one of the deputies accompanies them around the store, helping them shop for gifts for their family. And Santa's there, of course. A neat idea, but one that made for a totally PACKED store! I hastened past the assembled throng, smiled at the nice officers, grabbed a cart, and desperately hoped I could finish before the masses hit the checkout lanes.

The gods of karma must have been smiling down on me, because twenty minutes later I'd managed to find everything on my list (mostly stocking stuffers, plus a couple of things for me) and got out before things got totally crazy. Then I loaded up the car and headed home. By this time the roads were decently plowed and salted, so travel was wet and sloppy, but not slippery, thank goodness.

Dang. Glad that's over. A successful trip, one that marked the official end of my Christmas shopping, but why in the heck did I have to go *this* morning? Any sane individual would have taken one look at the weather, said "Maybe tomorrow," and gone back to bed. But no, not me.

What was I thinking? That I'm a stubborn idiot, that's what. :-)

05 December 2008


It's 12 degrees this morning, and it's not even officially winter. As I sit here in my chair, huddled in my robe and clasping a steaming mug of tea for warmth, I wonder what the %^&*! I'm still doing in the Frozen Tundra.

And then I realize - I have a job I love, friends who care for me, and a husband whose career is really starting to take off in the right direction.

All that, plus I will have my very own copy of Carrie Lofty's What a Scoundrel Wants to heat things up come Monday.


Being here isn't so bad, after all. ;-)

02 December 2008

What a Scoundrel Wants

It's here! It's here!

Carrie Lofty's awesome debut novel, What a Scoundrel Wants, goes on sale today.

Long ago, I read the first ten pages of this book as a judge for a writing contest, and the story blew me away. Well-written, intelligent, with unique and unforgettable characters, this book is sure to earn a place on your keeper shelf.

I already have a place for it on mine.

01 December 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

...winter, dammit.

For the past two years we've had a major snowstorm smack us on December 1. This year is no exception - 3 to 5 inches of blowing and drifting white crap, plus a layer of ice underneath, with 1 to 2 more inches on the way.

Three years in a row. Sheesh.

I remember when I used to love snow - when I was ten. Now, I just mutter invective under my breath as we shovel, and shovel, and shovel, and prepare to go to work on slick roads populated with multitudes of idiots who can't seem to remember how to drive in winter conditions.

And it's not even "officially" winter.


28 November 2008

Cluelessness? Premeditated Murder? You Be the Judge.

I occasionally lurk on a forum for men and women who have in-laws from Hell. Yesterday (Thanksgiving) I expected some doozies of stories, but not a tale of premeditated murder.

This poor woman has a fatal allergy to a certain food product. Her husband, unfortunately, is so enmeshed with his parents that he's still trying to crawl back into his mother's womb. In other words, he will let his parents badmouth and bully his wife, and say nothing in her defense. Not much of a man, and less of a husband. But I digress.

After much argument, wife lets husband persuade her into hosting his parents for Thanksgiving. She did so with much trepidation; her mother-in-law (MIL), in the past, had made desserts with the ingredient to which she is deathly allergic. In fact, this MIL had gone so far as to push this dessert toward the poor woman and urge her to take a bite to "see what happened." After that incident, the woman started carrying an epi-pen with her at all times.

Back to the present. Before dinner, woman's husband keeps telling her to make a certain dessert that the woman likes. Woman declines, because MIL has been asked to bring dessert. Husband again insists that woman make a pie. Again, woman declines.

Then MIL and FIL arrive, bringing not only a pie to which woman is deathly allergic, but they also BRING THEIR OWN FOOD. Turns out FIL "hates" the woman's cooking. Who in the fucking hell brings their own food to someone else's house for dinner?! But here's the kicker - during dessert, woman is sitting, stony-faced, while the others eat MIL's pie, and MIL is telling the woman all about how good and tasty and yummy the pie is. Woman's husband is shoveling pie in his face without comment.

Woman realizes that her husband knew all along that his mother was bringing a dessert that could potentially kill his wife, and said (and did) nothing. Nor did he call them on the gross insult of bringing their own food and scorning the meal he and his wife had prepared for them.

Now this woman is nearly apoplectic with anger at herself for letting herself be persuaded to host these evil people for a meal in her home. I say she should be more enraged at her husband, who KNEW what his mother was doing and stood silently by and let her do it.

I think she needs, in this order: a police report against her MIL (there's an established pattern of behavior of this woman trying to kill her), a locksmith, and a pitbull divorce attorney. Because I don't care how much that man claims to "love" his wife: no husband should let his parents do that to the woman he married.

What do you think?

27 November 2008

Happy Dysfunction!

During the past week all I've heard about at work is how much people are dreading this holiday: the cooking, the cleaning, the family and the attendant family arguments, the expectations, the passive/aggressive comments, and the boredom. That's what Thanksgiving's all about, right? Years ago, I might have agreed with you; in the early days of my first marriage, I spent many a Thanksgiving with my in-laws (who bore an eerie resemblance to the Borg), which meant either being bored out of my skull or biting my tongue so hard in the face of sly remarks that it's a wonder I have any tongue left.

Somehow, over the years, the thanksgiving celebration has devolved into a Norman Rockwell parody - you MUST be with your faaaaamily, and you WILL be happy, even if it kills you! Even my own dear parents, who are traveling to SoCal to spend the holiday weekend with my brother, have expressed trepidation about being there; even though they love my brother and his family, there's always the possibility that a disagreement will escalate into a full-blown argument. (Yes, it's happened before.)


On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful to be able to spend the holiday the way I wish, with people I truly love and want to be with. I am thankful for my loving husband, my talented and caring friends, and for the fact that my family lives half a continent away.

Wherever you are today, I hope you are spending the holiday the way YOU want. I wish you generous portions of love, warmth, peace, happiness, and pie.

Mmmm. Pie.

22 November 2008

He's Back.

My husband has returned from his business trip, and all is right with the world. I never sleep well when he's away; plus, I've been fighting off this flu-shot-induced cold, *and* trying not to strangle my socially inept, uncooperative, uncommunicative, know-it-all, passive/aggressive, martyr-wannabe co-worker.

Yes, it's been a week.

But I'm better now. :-)

18 November 2008

Ugh. Again.

I got a flu shot on Friday. I thought I was doing myself a favor and helping to avoid a winter of misery.

Boy, was I wrong.

Saturday, I woke up with my injection-side arm aching in every joint. No problem, I say to myself. Just a little reaction to the vaccine.

Sunday, I'm feeling kind of tired and worn down. No problem, I say to myself. I'd had a busy day, and didn't nap.

Monday, I wake up with that telltale tickle in the back of my throat. My nose begins its impression of a leaky faucet.

Oh, shit. Not again. My hubby has it, too. I'm not sure if I had it first, and was fighting it off until the flu shot came along, or if my husband had it, decided to share, and my immune system couldn't handle both it and the flu shot.

Whatever the pathology, it sucks. And I can't take time off from work; there's too much going on. Hubby has it worse - he's got to fly today for business. Gah. Much suckage all the way around.

Not much to do for it except stock up on more Cold-Eze, Mucinex, and decongestants. Kleenex, anyone?

15 November 2008

Sleep = Made of Win

Have I mentioned how awesome sleep is? I'd almost forgotten, 'cause this past week I got precious little of it, what with either dreaming about work or laying awake in the small dark hours, worrying if the previous day's problems with this new electronic process had been fixed yet.

My husband tells me I obsess too much about things I can't control. He's right. And I'm really trying to correct that.

In the meantime, I intend to pamper myself this weekend. Like I said in my last post, I have absolutely no intention of getting out of my jammies today. Except to work out. But after I shower, it's back into the embrace of comfy fleece. There will also be much nappage. Yeah, it's a slug's life, but after the week I've had, I feel absolutely zero guilt about spending the weekend in first gear.

I'm off now for more tea, and the first decent breakfast I've had all week. About bloody time.

14 November 2008

Anyone Get the License Plate of That Truck?

You know, the one that ran me over. Oh, wait a minute - that wasn't a truck. It only felt like it.

Last week I trained a small set of co-workers to perform a new electronic task. This week that task went live; I had to go in to the office early every day (up at 4:30, in the office by 6:45) to provide more detailed, on-the-spot training and to serve as emergency backup. We encountered a couple of rough spots early in the week, but things eventually settled down and my co-workers started to feel comfortable with the new process.

Thank goodness. 'Cause any more of this and I'd be dead on my feet. As it is, I'm only mostly dead. Ugh. I hate feeling like this - drained, cranky, listless.

I know how I'm going to spend *my* weekend - in my pyjamas!

12 November 2008

Bodhisattvas Rule.

A bodhisattva, according to the Mayahana tradition of Buddhism, is "a person who already has a considerable degree of enlightenment and seeks to use their wisdom to help other human beings to become liberated themselves. In this understanding of the word the Bodhisattva is an already wise person who uses skillful means to lead others to see the benefits of virtue and the cultivation of wisdom." (source: Wikipedia)

Right now, I'm convinced my friend Nancy is one such individual. Not only does she listen to me whine about the vicissitudes of my search for meaning, but she helps me cut through the bullshit to see into the heart of my troubles.

She recently imparted these words of wisdom:

"Sometimes romance writers get in a cult-like mind have to write to have worth- you have to be published to have worth- you have to publish big to have worth-you have to write everyday to have have to hit the bestseller lists to have worth. It is so easy to buy into - but it's all nuts."

This simple statement hit me like a bolt out of the blue. I realized that I *had* been brainwashed. That I had bought into the whole "romance writer" litany of worth, lock, stock, and barrel - hence my current bout of hand-wringing.

None of the "cult mindset" determines my worth: I determine it. I determine what makes me happy.

And right now, I'm so happy to have such a wonderful friend (and bodhisattva) in my life.

11 November 2008


I just realized it's been almost a week since my last post. Mea culpa! I've been assisting with a MAJOR project at work, one that has me going into the office early all this week. (Except today. Thank goodness for federal holidays.)

While it's required a hellish amount of prep work, this project has also been highly satisfying; I have a real sense of accomplishment when I come home. Which makes me realize know what's coming...wait for it...I get more satisfaction out of my day job than I get out of writing.

But I wonder if that must necessarily be A Bad Thing.

These days I find energy to write only on the weekends. And even then, other things clamor for my attention - chores, errands, and books on my TBR shelf. Lately, I must confess, I would rather curl up and read someone else's words rather than struggle to forge my own.

What's wrong with me?

I've asked myself this question several times during the past few weeks. No story seems capable of holding my interest past 10-20 pages. No one idea is so compelling that I must drop everything to focus on it. I bounce back and forth between concepts like a caffeine-crazed Capuchin monkey, unable to settle down.

Do I want to focus my energies on my job? It has the promise of becoming a very rewarding career for me; it ceased to be "just a job" quite a while ago. Add to this the fact that I simply cannot make a living from writing; I cannot put that kind of pressure on myself and deliver good results. But if I choose to concentrate on my career, what happens to my writing? Do I *have* to choose between the two? If push comes to shove, does the writing get relegated back to "occasional hobby" status, and am I OK with that?

My gut response says I am. I'm not sure whether to be relieved or disappointed. I mean, I have the ability, but not the desire. There are a lot of writers out there with plenty of desire, but not the ability; I've read lots of complete and total wallbangers lately. Is it better to have the talent and not use it, or have no talent and do it anyway? And why do I feel that I must write full time to have any sort of identity as a writer?

I guess it all boils down to these questions: What do I really want to do? Where does the heart of my desire lay? And can I find an identity as both a writer and a career-minded individual?

And at the moment, I truly have no answer.


The journey continues.

05 November 2008

Happiness By the Numbers

Number of electoral votes: 349
Percentage of popular vote: 52
Number of days until Barack Obama is sworn in: 76
Getting the most hated man in the Western world out of the Oval Office: priceless

On a side note, hubby and I both woke up around 1 AM this morning. Without saying a word, we both got up, put on robes, and shuffled into the living room to turn on the TV. We sat there for half an hour, jubilant smiles on our faces, as the winning results scrolled across the screen from MSNBC.

Never mind that it was pitch black outside; it was the start of an absolutely brilliant day.

04 November 2008


I'm sure you're tired of hearing this from every quarter, but I'm going to say it anyway.


I don't care who you vote for. Yes, I have my preference (go, Senator Obama!!), but voting isn't about Who's Right, or Who's Evil and Who's Not (sorry!). It's about the process.

If you don't vote, you're throwing away one of the prime privileges of living in a democratic society. Don't fall for the rationalization that your vote won't count. It does. Without voting, we succumb to dictatorship, totalitarianism, or worse.

There. Public service announcement over. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blogging.

31 October 2008

Happy Samhain!

No, I'm not pagan, Wiccan, or even a closet Goth. But I've always been in tune with the darker side of All Hallows Eve. The reason for those brightly colored costumes? So spirits can't recognize you and hie off with you across the Veil Between the Worlds, which is at its thinnest on this night.

Gives you a delightful shiver, doesn't it? And that's what I've always loved about Halloween - the spooky possibilities, the thought of all the things from tale and legend that just might exist, after all - the things that go bump in the night, or worse.

That's courtesy of the folklore junkie in me. Samhain marked the end of the old year and the beginning of the new, the death of the Summer King and the growing season, and the beginning of the reign of the Winter King, with his attendant long, dark nights and bitter cold. This was a night of transition and change; small wonder it became associated with all things not of this earth. This message has been usurped by modern commercialism, leaving us with a mere husk of what used to be a major yearly event for ancient peoples.

But c'est la vie - there's no going back. Enjoy your night, however you choose to celebrate. Me? I'll be curled up by the light of a jack-o-lantern, huddled in a blanket, reading scary stories.

Wait a minute...did I just hear something upstairs...?

29 October 2008


Now that I have your attention.... (*grin*)

Seriously, though. This is about sex. Writing it, that is. This past weekend I found the beginnings of an historical Blaze I started quite a while ago, and it sang with enough promise that I began working on it in earnest. After all the angst I've put myself through, and all the dithering about what I want to write, I found myself not only enjoying this story, but looking forward to writing more. Why? 'Cause sex is fun.

I can see you rolling your eyes and saying "well, duh." Okay. So, I'm a little slow on the uptake. I blame my renewed interest in the subject on Carrie and a hot scene she shared with me from her latest venture.

Whatever the cause, I'm not about to look this gift horse in the mouth. For the first time in months (years?) I'm enjoying writing. I really can't wait to see where this story takes me.

Neither can my husband (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

26 October 2008

Opiate of the Masses

No, this post isn't about religion, but about the more modern opiate of television.

My husband is watching a recording of the show Fringe, which is J.J. Abrams's homage to the X-Files: a government agent teams up with a mad scientist (literally - he's a moonbat) and his estranged son to figure out weird-ass crimes and situations. Hubby is hooked, ergo the recordings. Me? All I've got to say is...meh.

I used to love J.J. Abrams. The first two seasons of Alias absolutely rock. Then it started to get waaaaay too weird. Ditto with Lost. Fringe is just jumping right to the waaaaaay too weird part, bypassing any good stuff. Unlikeable characters, or worse, characters we don't care about one way or the other. Strange plots with not enough clues for the viewers. Odd character motivations. An East-Coast setting. Again, meh.

Fortunately, there are shows - Life with Damian Lewis and Supernatural with Jensen Ackles (drool!) and Jared Padelecki come to mind - that are both well-written and well-acted. My husband enjoys both of these, as well, which is why I fail to understand his attraction to Fringe. He does freely admit to being an X-File fanatic in his younger years, which I suppose explains part of it. But the author in me can't get past the wretched mediocrity of the show. If I'm going to spend time in front of the TV, I'd much rather it be for something worth watching. Which is why my husband's in the living room, and I'm in here, typing.

Ah, well. C'est la vie, and c'est la TV.

24 October 2008

Cat vs. Printer

In an effort to distract myself from how awful I'm feeling (and because daytime TV just sucks), I've been doing some surfing for cute cat vids. I know, I know - I'm incorrigible.

But you gotta admit - this is *damn* funny! I've never seen a feline do a meerkat impression before. :-)


Well, I now know why I've been so tired: I've come down with the cold virus that's been making the rounds at work. There's no escape; that place is a viral petri dish. Everyone gets what everyone else has. I'm telling you, it's worse than a daycare.

Ugh. Death by mucus. Not fun.

Yes, my head feels like it's about to explode. Yes, it'll probably keep me from going in to work today. But on the upside (and I'm looking very, very hard to find the upside), I should be able to nap, drink tea, and read the books I bought on last weekend's foray to Barnes & Noble.

Then again, if I doctor the aforementioned tea with lemon, honey, and a shot of brandy, I'll probably be doing more napping than reading. But if it keeps me from drowning in my own fluids, I'll make that sacrifice.

Ugh. This sucks.

23 October 2008

So. Tired.

Lately all I seem to do is work and sleep. Seriously. When I get home, I'm so spent all I want to do is collapse. In the past few days it's taken all the energy I can muster just to make supper. Afterwards, I medicate the cat, watch about an hour of TV (while sitting on the couch like a slack-jawed zombie) with my husband, then shuffle off to bed and fall instantly asleep.

There's gotta be more to life than this.

21 October 2008

She Shoots, She Scores!

Last Friday I posted about having to set boundaries with the social klutz at work, the one who insists on telling me all about himself even though I am always very obviously busy.

Well, I went through with it, with the expected results. Very politely, I told him I really didn't have time to chat in the mornings due to my heavy workload and deadlines. He got very defensive, snapped that "he didn't know he was bothering me" - um, hello? getacluethanxbai - assumed the whipped puppy expression, and left.

Yesterday (Monday), he avoided me completely, as I suspected he would. He took my boundary-setting as a personal attack. It was anything but - like I said, I was polite, and even thanked him for understanding that this is work, and I NEED TO WORK. I made no accusations, deliberately said nothing that would put him on the defensive, and yet he chose to make it All About Him.

Any normal, social, well-adjusted human being would have apologized and felt at least some remorse for having overstepped his boundaries. But this klutz's motivations were purely selfish; because I'm friendly, he thought that gave him the right to walk all over me. In other words, our interactions had to be strictly on his terms. Arrogant, much? And when I disabused him of that notion, he got ticked off. I am perfectly willing to remain cordial; I just cannot spare the time to let him chew my ear off. But for him, it's all or nothing.

Maybe I'm getting better at reading people as I get older, 'cause I pegged that one.

Unfortunately for him, I have no tolerance for selfish, self-serving, self-absorbed, boundary-ignoring users. He wants to play the "I'm ignoring you" game? Fine by me. All I can say is, good bye, and good riddance.

18 October 2008

Home Again

SuzieQ is home, and all is right with the world. Despite being drugged out of her tiny mind (she had been under general anesthesia for her surgery), she was obviously happy to be home - we've never heard her purr so loudly. It goes up to eleven. *grin*

She had a tooth extracted, but that's a good thing. She's never had good teeth; her body tends to treat her teeth as foreign bodies, and her immune system attacks and weakens them to the point where they get cavities/holes very easily. One of her molars apparently had a HUGE hole in it, and it was very painful for her. Now it's gone, and she's a happy baby again.

I'm just so happy to have her back. Our home isn't complete without her.

17 October 2008


Okay, now I'm turning into a Crazy Cat Lady.

In order to cheer myself up, and brace myself for what I have to do at work today, I started surfing YouTube for cute cat vids.

Had to share this one, of the cute, talky calico kitty. Couldn't embed it, sorry - you'll have to click the link to experience the amazing cuteness.

I'd better get to work before I give in to temptation and hie myself to the nearest pet store and get more kitties.

Social Klutzes, Part Deux

One more thing to make this day suck: this morning I have to deal with one of the social klutzes at work.

I've blogged about this guy before - tall, looming, no sense of personal space, and who seems to mistake my friendliness for an open invitation to tell me all about his "love" life. (Eeuwwwwwww!) He hasn't taken any of the outs I've given him (from dodging him outright to telling him I don't have time to talk), but then again, klutzes like him are too thick to take a hint. So today I get out the clue-by-four. I'm going to have to tell him that while he's a very friendly guy, it's gotten to the point where his need to chat is interfering with my work, and I have to cut him off.

I'm sure I'll get more of the hurt puppy routine, but stick a fork in me - I'm done. If this doesn't do the trick, I'll have to go to my manager for help. The guy isn't a company employee, but a consultant, so if action is necessary it should be easier to implement. But dammit, it never should have gotten this far.


Sometimes I hate people.


Last night both my husband and I commented on how empty the house seemed without the cat. She's such an integral part of our lives; we're always aware of her presence, even when she's cuddled up in her bed as a seemingly headless ball of fur. Not having her there made everything seem much more...lonely.

My subconscious agreed; while they weren't exactly nightmares, I did dream all night about trying to find her. Things weren't any better when I got up; I went through my morning routine without a small insistent fuzzball throwing herself against the backs of my knees or tugging with her teeth at the hem of my robe.

She's having her procedure this morning. Barring any complications, she'll be home late this afternoon.

It can't come soon enough.

16 October 2008


My apologies for being MIA on this blog of late. I've been busy, and honestly, haven't had much to say.

But not this morning.

Today I have to take SuzieQ to the vet to get her teeth cleaned. No big deal, right? Problem is, I have to drop her off this afternoon and the procedure is tomorrow morning. Which means she has to endure yet another traumatic car ride in order spend the night in a strange place, surrounded by strange animals and strange smells.

I keep telling myself that this needs to be done. She's always had tooth problems. Her gums are inflamed and tender from the tartar buildup, and there's no way she'll stand for having a stranger scrape the stuff out of her mouth when she's awake. Heck, given the choice, *I'd* elect for the dentist to put me out every time I go in for a checkup! But I still hate to have to put her through all this.


My husband tells me I'm too soft-hearted for my own good. Times like this, I tend to agree with him. Angst sucks.

14 October 2008


One of the precepts of Buddhism is compassion for all living things. Easy in theory, difficult in practice - especially when one of those living things is a fellow human who has hurt you deeply.

I recently heard news about one such person, and rather than wax wrathful and angry about what he did to me in years past (although I admit it was my knee-jerk reaction), I later found myself actually feeling compassion for him. He was a bitter, sick, and twisted individual when I knew him; now, it seems, he has found the happiness that eluded him all those years. The revelation astounded me.

Although a small part of me still hopes karma will serve him for his previous actions, the larger part has forgiven him. Previously, I had not thought this possible; I thought I would hold on to that hatred and anger forever. Compassion, I find, is a welcome relief from all that toxicity. I just wasn't in the right place to consider it until now.

This can only been seen as another signpost on my healing journey, and it makes me smile. There's hope for me yet.

13 October 2008

Working for the Weekend

Last night I was seriously bummed. Not unusual for a Sunday evening. The end of the weekend, the end of doing whatever the heck you want, and the beginning of another work week. And then it hit me: why am I assigning meaning to only two days out of the week? That implies that I'm living in a void the other 261 days of the year.

Scary thought.

In our society it's ingrained in us from an early age that work/school is something you're supposed to do, but not necessarily like. That weekends are fun time, free time, your time. But I don't dislike my job; in fact, I like it very much. I come home tired, yes, but with a sense of accomplishment. So why do I feel like my weekends are the only days that matter? This is not just my own conundrum; in reading books on Buddhism, I've come to realize this is a common problem. I really don't like the idea that only my weekends are meaningful because those are the days I get to write, spend quality time with my husband, and read to my heart's content. My weekdays have meaning, too - I just need to find it and make it a greater priority.

Hmmm. I need to think more about this.

10 October 2008

Maybe There's Something to This Happiness Thing, After All

I met with my counselor again yesterday, and she made me realize that I've gone almost two weeks now without a single nightmare or anxiety attack. I feel like I have greater control over my life, and even if bugbears from my past should pop up and try to wreak havoc, I realize now that I don't care - that threat no longer has any meaning for me. It doesn't change who I've become, or change any of my current relationships.

Amazing the feeling of freedom that power engenders!

To top it all off, I wrote some amazing stuff yesterday, not the least of which was the tribute to my dad for his 80th birthday. I was teary-eyed while I wrote it; there was a direct emotional connection between my mind and the words on the page. That hasn't happened in YEARS. And for the first time in a long time, I'm looking forward to doing more of it.

I feel like I'm starting to walk out of a long, dark tunnel, and that the light I see at the end isn't an oncoming train. Sure, I still have some baggage (like I said earlier, I tend to pack things in Samsonite for long-term storage), but that's okay. I don't *have* to deal with everything right now; I can wait until I'm ready.

Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy my newfound freedom.

09 October 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad

When I was in fourth grade, I drew a picture of Snoopy sporting a pair of sunglasses, with the caption, "My dad is Joe Cool." At the tender age of nine, I didn't hesitate to tell the world that my father was my hero.

He still is.

Born on the cusp of the Great Depression, Dad has done amazing things with his life. He mined for gold with his father - using dynamite, no less! He went to UC-Berkeley at age 16 and got his degree in civil engineering. He married my mother soon after graduation, and they're set to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary next year.

There is no chemistry, physics, or mathematics problem he can't solve (for which, in my high school years, I was infinitely grateful). Always easy-going, he handles difficult problems - and difficult people - with grace, dignity, and aplomb. He taught me how to throw a curveball, and how to fish. Although, it must be said, his patented fish call of "Here, fishee, fishee, fishee" seemed to work for no one but him!

Today is his 80th birthday. Though it's made him a little grayer, age hasn't diminished him one bit. He's my favorite fishing buddy, my mathematics tutor, my fellow pun-a-holic. He's the man who taught me to do the right thing, even when the right thing wasn't always easy. He's *still* Joe Cool. And he's still my hero.

Happy birthday, Dad. I love you.

08 October 2008


This morning, Carrie blogged about the rotters over at AIG who, a few days after their storied bailout, were living it up at a pricey California resort and spa. They spent over $440,000, which is an insane amount of money to us normal folk. Not to them, apparently. Anyone else who thinks these asschapeaus should be made to pay restitution, raise your hand.

Thank you, Mr. Obama. You, at least, get it.

Problem is, those AIG executives don't. Read the article above; they think they did nothing wrong. And that, in a nutshell, is why Wall Street has tanked: too few of the executive types of these failed companies have any sense of shame.

Time was when a person felt shame at doing a poor job at work. Now? Here, have a $50 million compensation package for running the company into the ground! Worse yet, these executive types expect it. Can we say entitlement?

Shame on you, AIG. And shame on every other entitled, shameless, money-grubbing executive putz who thinks like you.

07 October 2008

Star Wars + Cartoon Network = Teh Awesome!

During his perusals of the on-screen cable TV programming guide, my hubby often finds gems that otherwise would escape our notice. Case in point: this past weekend, he found a stunning little half-hour series called Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Being a child of the 70s and 80s, I (of course) can't help but squee with delight. Star Wars? Bring it on! But the kicker? It's on Cartoon Network! Dude!!

We watched the two half-hour episodes my husband had recorded, and we were absolutely astounded. Not only is the animation awesome and the stories well-written, but the series also features many of the original voice talents from the Star Wars movies: Frank Oz as Yoda, Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the guy who played Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious. At least, it sure *sounded* like him.


After all my complaining about a serious lack of anything decent to read or watch on TV, I find myself eating those words.

Hand me a fork.

05 October 2008

SciFi Channel - WTF?

Don't get me wrong - I love the SciFi Channel. They bring me my beloved Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica, not to mention reruns of kewl, albeit canceled series like SU2 and Buffy.

But WTF is up with their movies?!

Saturdays are the worst. Cine-turds like King Cobra, Ba'al: The Storm God; and Beneath Still Waters grace the small screen for hours on end. Even their series aren't immune - last night my husband and I cringed through the original, yet highly flawed two-hour premier of Sanctuary. Cool idea, really bad follow through. Hackneyed plot devices, stock characters, and a sagging middle only begin to describe the problems with this program.

And yet, it got produced. Somewhere, some writer got paid for coming up with this dreck.

And I worry about ever getting published again? Dude! Maybe I should go write for the SciFi Channel!


Making Scents

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm a girly girl. When the weather turns cooler I get a yen for new shoes and new perfume. The shoe part of the equation is easy. The perfume part...well...let's say that after my last misadventure at the perfume counter I'm hesitant to go back for a second helping of retail idiocy. Since then I've confined my new fragrance testing to magazine inserts and haphazard sample purchases on eBay. This hit-or-miss approach is inefficient, to say the least. That, and I'm not too fond of the overly synthetic scents being marketed today.

On a whim, I checked the 'Net for people who could create a custom perfume for me; I know exactly which notes smell good on my skin, and which I like in my fragrances. My findings ranged from companies that wanted me to take a personality test to determine my "perfect" perfume (WTF?) to a company that would send me individual scent bottles in lieu of an in-person consultation. The price for these services varied, as well, from $40 for the hit-or-miss, hope-this-combo-works approach to over $1,000 for the long-distance consultation. A few places didn't even list their prices, and I got the distinct impression that these were the kind of companies where if you had to ask, then you couldn't afford it.

So what's a perfume junkie to do?

Why, create her own, of course.

I got on Amazon and found a couple of books on natural perfumery, then located a couple of Internet sites that not only sold natural perfume supplies and equipment, but also had several treatises on creating one's own perfumes. I find the whole concept intriguing, but whether I want to commit that much time and effort into this venture remains to be seen. I'll see how I feel after doing some more research.

03 October 2008

Lap Season

The equinox has passed, and fall is upon us. As such, the weather is getting steadily chillier; lately the temp's been getting down into the 40s at night. The thermometer's downward slide has triggered something in my cat's little pea brain, 'cause now she's become a furry heat seeking missile. Two nights ago she hopped up on the bed and nudged me awake to let her under the covers. This morning, without prompting, she leaped onto my lap and settled into the designated cuddle position, purring like a miniature Hemi.

I'm not averse to being used as a kitty bun warmer. There are worse things. :-)

01 October 2008

Reading Like a Writer

Carrie and I were talking Monday night about how writing has spoiled us on reading - that how, as writers, we tend to analyze what we're reading in terms of quality of craft. Oy, isn't that the truth. Nowadays it's very difficult to find a book that holds my attention, much less makes me forget I'm a writer!

Take, for example, the book that sits next to my bed. David Weber's Honor Harrington series, a multi-book sci-fi "space opera" saga, boasts a legion of dedicated fans. Sadly, I am unable to count myself among them. I've got the first novel in the series, and it's so rife with infodump and backstory that I can't bring myself to read more than three or four pages at a time. Basically, the only reason I haven't thrown it against the wall and into the trash is that I need something to lull me to sleep at night. (Ouch!)

Contrast this with Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series, also categorized as space opera: I read the first thirteen books over the span of a week. Yup. Thirteen books, seven days. Didn't get a whole lot of sleep that week, but it was worth it. Ms. Bujold's talent is mind-blowing; she sucked me in from the first and had me drooling for more. No analysis, not even for a millisecond. Nor was I ever tempted.

THAT is the essence of a writer's craft - to yank the reader into the story and make him/her crave that prose like crack. Unfortunately, not many modern authors have that appeal for me - one in ten, if I'm lucky. Which is why I'll probably have to make a run to the used bookstore this weekend to offload my overflowing box of rejects.

It is my goal in life to write as well as Ms. Bujold, that my books never qualify as wallbangers.

The quest continues.

29 September 2008


more animals

28 September 2008


From earliest memory, my mother has taken great pains to correct my grammar. This has stood me in good stead as a writer and proofreader. So, when I saw this item in the latest Signals catalog, I nearly snorted my tea up my nose.

Love you, Mom.

27 September 2008

Shiny & New

Many writers have an inevitable attraction to new ideas, the bright and shiny ones that glitter with promise and lure writers in with their siren song. Sometimes the attraction is so strong that it diverts writers from their current work. But once the edge comes off the glitter, and the reality of work sets in, another new and shiny idea is sure to take its place. The cycle continues over and over, and the writer never finishes anything.

Happily, I don't have that problem right now; I don't have a work in progress from which to be distracted. What I do have are too many ideas racketing around in my head, all begging for my attention, making it difficult to choose just one.

I blogged earlier this week about an idea generated from a recent nightmare; that idea is still on the back burner, percolating. While interesting and compelling, I don't think I'm prepared to write that story right now - I'm not in a good enough place emotionally to deal with the feelings that working with that idea is sure to engender.

Which leads me to the other new and shiny idea that's clamoring to be written. After my divorce, I started a dark, very grim urban fantasy that was more about me getting my emotions out on paper than anything else. Needless to say, that story, while promising, never went anywhere; there's too much baggage attached to it. I told myself that the urban fantasy market was too glutted, that it had reached its high water mark, and my story wouldn't have been fresh enough to sell, anyway.

This idea makes me change my tune. I have yet to read anything like it. And it's something I won't have to agonize over to finish plotting; it came to me fully grown, like Athena from Zeus's head. Conflict (internal and external), plot arc, characters, the twist - everything. I'm hoarding all these images with superstitious fervor, for fear that writing them down will take away that gorgeous, gilded, glittery newness. The excitement this idea engenders is amazing; I want nothing more than to sit down and pour words onto a blank page.

Which is, in fact, what I'm off to do. Watch this space.

26 September 2008

The Power of Positive Affirmations

I've slept beautifully for the last two nights, despite some flashbacks/past baggage things happening during the day. The reason? Positive affirmations. Don't laugh - they work.

Prior to this, I've been a little leery of "therapy speak" - I mean, can you really make a difference in your sleep patterns by talking to yourself in the mirror before going to bed and repeating to yourself that you will have a good night's sleep? A couple of nights ago I would have snorted and said, "Yeah, right." Now I'm happily singing a different tune.

I've even started saying affirmations to myself in the morning before I go to work, and it's made a real difference in my mood. Of course, it also helps that my hubby was in full-on comic standup mode this morning and making me laugh fit to fall out of my chair. But I'm still going to do my affirmations; I'm not taking anything for granted. When you're feeling vulnerable, a shot of something positive can make a difference in your entire day. I'm living proof.

25 September 2008

Grins and Giggles

Starting off the day with a laugh is a way to put you in a good mood for the rest of the morning. Here's a little animation I found a while ago, and it never ceases to make me giggle - hope it does for you, too.

24 September 2008


...the difference a good night's sleep can make. No nightmares, not even a whiff of one. Plus, Carrie blogged about SYTYCD Canada, complete with videos of ultra-hawt Quebecois ballroom dancers, so this morning I am one happy camper.

Yes, I know happiness is often fleeting, but I've learned to hold on to these rare moments when the weight of memory is lightened, and I actually feel free.

23 September 2008

The Subconscious Strikes Back

So, here I am, gleefully cleaning out my attic of past injuries and fears, and I think things are great. But they're not. I had another (small) panic attack yesterday, followed by a doozy of a nightmare last night.

My husband has taught me the mantra of "nothing unreal exists" to help me cope with my nightmares. In this case, however, I think I may need more than a mantra. Even though I think I'm starting to take care of my issues, it's clear that I'm not processing them; my subconscious is hoarding them like they're mint-condition Star Wars collectibles still in their original boxes.

It's come to the point where I think I might need some help.


This sucks.

22 September 2008

Stark, Abject Terror (*yawn*)

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been doing a lot of reading about creative depression and how to overcome it. This blog is one method; it gets me writing, whereas before now I've been studiously avoiding doing anything on the computer except surfing the 'Net.

In his books, Dr. Eric Maisel writes about creative people (writers, artists, musicians, etc.) experiencing anxiety about their work. You know, the "what ifs:" "What if what I create isn't good enough? What if people don't like it? What if I sell, but can't come up with anything else?" At worst, that anxiety closes them off from their muses, blocks them entirely. That's what happened to me. And right now I'm doing my best to beat it, and in doing so find what kind of writing has meaning for me.

Well, this weekend, amidst running a ton of errands (including the trauma-fest that was taking SuzieQ to the vet for her annual checkup), I glommed onto an idea for the story I want to write next. It started with a nightmare a couple of weeks ago; I can't get a couple of images from that dream out of my head, and I've decided to write about them. It's a complete departure from anything I've ever written before, and as such, I'm terrified.

But ya know, at this point, I'm getting really, really tired of being anxious and scared. It's boring. Part of my mind is starting to say, "Yeah, so you're scared. So what?" That realization was huge. Like a megazillion kilowatt bulb going off.

My mother, who knows me better than I'd like to admit, said once that she thought I had a work of literary fiction in me. This new idea might just be it. I can't wait to find out.

20 September 2008

Review: "The Harlequin" by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Harlequin's warning to Anita Blake is presented in a gift box, left where she'd be sure to find it. Inside, carefully wrapped in folds of pristine tissue paper, is a white mask, utterly plain. The fact that it's white, Jean-Claude tells her, is the good news. White means they are only being observed.

The flow of power that connects Anita Blake with Jean-Claude, vampire Master of the City, and with Richard, Ulfric of the werewolves, has been growing and changing, increasing exponentially. Their power seems to have attracted attention, and it's a kind of attention no one would desire. Jean-Claude and Richard need to be strong allies now. Nathaniel and Micah need to give all their love and aid. And Anita will need to call on Edward, whose utterly human ruthlessness in her defense makes him the right man for the job.

Anita Blake has the authority to pass judgment on vampires. The Harlequin have the authority to pass judgment on her. It is forbidden to speak of The Harlequin unless you've been contacted.

And to be contacted by The Harlequin is to be under sentence of death.

I keep telling myself that I should have given up on this series long ago. Like many other readers, I think Ms. Hamilton jumped the shark around book eight. And yet I've kept reading in the hopes that maybe, somehow, the books will return to their fun, ass-kicking urban fantasy roots and have an actual plotline. Well, happily, I can say that The Harlequin does just that. Yes, there is Le Sex Hot that we've come to expect, but it doesn't sustain the book, and there's an actual plot arc, not to mention lots of the aforementioned ass-kicking. Yay!!!

My only grumble came at the end, where everything is wrapped up with a too-pat narrative reminiscent of "Gray's Anatomy." Still, when I finished reading it I felt an emotional satisfaction I haven't felt in quite a while with Ms. Hamilton's work. Could this be the begininng of a resurgeance for Anita Blake? I certainly hope so.

I'm not going to discuss the plot or the writing style; there's much of that elsewhere, if you're interested. What intrigues me is the reader disgust over the sexual content of Ms. Hamilton's works. The author has created a fantasy world where sex plays a primary role in the acquiring and keeping of Power (yes, with a capital "P"). Yet so many readers are turned off by the thought of the heroine with multiple partners. My thoughts? This is *not* a romance series. For one man, one woman stories with an HEA ending, look elsewhere. Ms. Hamilton's work is unique in this sense, pushing boundaries in a way few others have - and succeeding.

Puritanism, so deeply ingrained in American society, has taught us that enjoying sex (gasp!) is bad. Bad, bad, bad. And sex with more than partner? Oh, mega-, burn-in-Hell bad! *yawn* Personally, the sexual content of Ms. Hamilton's work doesn't bother me. IT'S FANTASY, PEOPLE. Not real. And as such, a person can write whatever he/she wants. And if she wants to write lots of Le Sex Hot as part of the plot, it's fine by me. She writes it well. (Although the editing, I must say, has been less than stellar.) It must be said, however, that sex alone cannot sustain a good book. As much as I enjoy hotness, it must be balanced with character development and action. That is why I enjoyed The Harlequin; it's a breath of fresh air in a long-standing series.

Grade: B

18 September 2008

Spring Cleaning

My subconscious is still cleaning house. Last night I dreamed about a one-time "friend" who years later I recognize as off-the-wall crazy. But unlike previous dreams, where she would confront me and insult me and physically fight with me, this time I kept her at a distance. I was an observer. Better still, I didn't feel any of the emotions I associate with dreams about her; I just felt...detached.

I realize now that I am making progress. It's a long, painful road, but I think I'm finally getting past the construction section.

Lap Kitty

This is my SuzieQ in full-on morning lap mode. I have to type one-handed while she's up here, because the other is devoted to keeping Her Royal Tubbiness from slipping off. (She's never had much of a sense of balance.) She'll stay up here for hours (usually until my arm falls asleep), or until I have to get up.

I wouldn't trade this time with her for anything.

Simple Joys

Our cat, SuzieQ, was a stray before we adopted her from the shelter. A former street waif, she didn't know the joys of laps, of sleeping on our bed (or any other piece of furniture, for that matter), and of being brushed.

Now, four years later, she loves laps, especially when the weather turns chilly, and she continually asks - nay, demands - to be brushed. She doesn't sleep on our bed often, but when she does it makes me smile.

She'll hop up on the bed in the middle of the night, and gently nudge me with her cold little nose until I wake up. I, in my half-comatose state, obediently lift up the covers. (Yes, she has me trained.) She snuggles in against me, and I pet her until she puts her head down and settles in for a snooze. I gently set the covers back in place, and am soon lulled back to sleep by the happy purr of a warm and contented cat.

A simple pleasure, yes, but one I've come to treasure. She's come such a long way from her street waif beginnings. And if one small cat can learn to change, then there's hope for me, too.

17 September 2008

Letting Go

One of the components of my search for personal enlightenment is to find the ability to let go of past injuries. There are lots - from my narcissistic ex-husband who manipulated me, emotionally abused me, and refused to take any responsibility for the implosion of our marriage, to the "friends" who betrayed my trust and proved themselves to be no friends at all.

In the past, I had a habit of packing all my grudges in Samsonite for long-term storage. Now, I realize how burdensome all that baggage has become. I am gradually accepting the reality that I will never get apologies from any of those individuals who hurt me, much less any acknowledgement of wrongdoing. Thus, the only person I'm hurting by hanging on to all this stuff is myself.

I still have nightmares - my subconscious's way of fighting my attempts to purge these thoughts. Fortunately, my conscious mind doesn't like to take "no" for an answer. All this negativity has taken up way too much space for way too long. Yes, spring cleaning may take a while, but the results - ridding my mind of poison - will be worth it.

16 September 2008

Dealing With Social Klutzes

You know the ones - the people who have no social graces and no clue on how to get some. The people who talk on and on and on about themselves and their their pets and their children and their families and their ailments and their family members' get the picture. The ones who openly eavesdrop on your conversations, butt in on said conversations and never let you get a word in edgewise, or try to read e-mails over your shoulder, or who never seem to get the hint that you're busy and don't have time to listen to their verbal diarrhea.

I work with a couple such klutzes. And in the past, I've simply bitten my tongue and not said a word in order to be nice and keep the peace. Well, for many of these people, nice=doormat. They'll take every inch you give them and steamroll over you without a second thought.

Yes, I would prefer to be pleasant, but I've learned when not to be. Mondays are the busiest days of the week where I work. A certain male klutz has made a habit of stopping by my desk when he finishes his tasks in my department, 'cause he wants to tell me all about his freelance jobs and his "love" life. (Ewww!) Yes, you guessed it, he had a crush on me at one point until he found out I was married. Gee, buddy, you'd think my wedding/engagement rings and the photo of me and my man on my desk would've given you a clue. But like I said, these klutzes are clueless.

So after weeks of putting up with this guy's hovering and inane chatter, and my complaining about it afterward, yesterday I took a stand. When he loomed over me (did I mention he has no sense of personal space?), I smiled, said hello, and told him I was just swamped and had no time to chat. Then I went back to my work. I wasn't rude, but I was firm. First he looked startled, then his face fell. He mumbled something about "have a nice day" and schlumped out liked I'd kicked his puppy. But I'm no longer falling for the "kicked puppy" manipulation. I'm tired of being steamrolled by someone who wastes my time so he can feel better about himself. Frankly, it pisses me off.

That's one good thing that came out of my divorce. I'm no longer a people-pleaser with the word WELCOME stamped on my forehead. I'll give people chances to see the error of their ways and get a clue, but failing that, I'm perfectly willing to set boundaries; I've learned I am responsible for my own happiness, and no one else's. A very hard lesson learned, and I'm not going back.

15 September 2008

Pet Peeve: Don't argue with me when you're trying to sell me something

Let me preface this by saying that I'm a girly-girl. I like perfume, nail polish, and high heels. And when the seasons change, I tend to get a hankerin' for new versions of all of the above. So this past weekend, when my husband and I went shopping at a mall close to his place of work, I thought it would be a great opportunity to sniff out some of the new olfactory offerings at the perfume counter.

Oh, how wrong I was.

I was immediately accosted by a pantsuited, makeup-applied-with-a-trowel, 50-something sales associate. "Oh, have you tried this new fragrance?" she cooed. Yes, I had, and it went straight to powder on me. Disbelieving pout from Trowel Face, followed by, "Oh, it shouldn't have done that!" Trust me, lady. I know my own body chemistry, and how it reacts to certain fragrance notes. Trowel Face then stuck her wrist in my face and said, "This is the new Notorious. Isn't it fabulous?" I said, no, that is the new Notorious on you. I've tried it and it doesn't do a thing for me; peony in any form blasts away anything else it's paired with until peony is all I smell. Again, I got the pout. "Well, it shouldn't do that! It's got cocoa and vanilla and--"

I gave her a tight smile and asked her why she was arguing with me. She looked stunned, followed by immediate CBF (Cat Butt Face - the pursed, annoyed look women get that reminds you of the south end of a northbound cat). "I'm just saying," she started to protest.

And I'm just saying that if you want to sell me something, don't argue with me. I've been in sales; I know that you don't like to take "no" for an answer. Well, I don't like being patronized and argued with. I told her she'd just cost herself a sale, thanked her tersely and stalked off, leaving her more than likely annoyed and wondering what the heck was wrong with me.

So much for my foray. But that's OK. I'll just order samples off eBay. It's much quicker, less painful, and I get what I want without argument. What could be better than that?

14 September 2008

Who am I?

I've been wondering lately why I have no desire to return to the genre in which I'm published. I have no yen to read it, either. Why? Because it no longer has any meaning for me. It's not that romances are poorly written; far from it. It's just that I'm having a difficult time winnowing through the myriad novels currently available for the few that will actually speak to me.

The same thing is happening with my writing. I've started a couple of romance stories - good stories, with interesting, well-developed characters - but I have no desire to finish them. Again, they have no meaning for me.

So what constitutes meaning? That is my quest.

For the longest time, whenever I've come up with an idea for a story (which, for me, is almost on a daily basis), my next thoughts are how I can market said story. I completely bypass the joy of that new idea and focus instead on the commercial aspects. Then the stress of finishing the story in order to make some money kicks in, and kills the fun right off the bat. So right now I'm working on a story that's just for me. And there will be no discussion of publication. No stress. No self-applied pressure. I am no longer dependent on my writing for income, so I can afford to be selfish in that regard.

I wrote a few paragraphs on this story last night, and was so tickled with them that I laughed. THAT is the joy of writing. THAT is what has eluded me for so long. Sure, I didn't write very much, but it's the meaning that counts, not the quantity of words.

And right now, I can't wait to write more.